Archive | May 21st, 2016

Choosing the next UN boss: A political quagmire


Ban Ki-Moon’s term as UN Secretary General ends this year and already political jostling is underway ahead of the selection of the new head of the world body. There are strong indications that favour a woman candidate. And how has Africa positioned itself for the unfolding contest?

This past year, the United Nations marked the end of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and ushered in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global goals as they are commonly referred to.  Since its inception the organization has mitigated intra- and international conflict, promoted international cooperation and good neighbourliness around the globe, making it the epicentre of global diplomacy, economic cooperation, and development.  The institution is headed by a Secretary General who is the most visible representative, and undergoes a vigorous process to be selected.  Throughout the years several exceptional   individuals have held the prestigious position. The organization however, has had a long history of men leading it although, several attempts made to elect a female candidate have been unsuccessful.

With the current Secretary General’s mandate coming to an end this year, several groups including member states are contemplating a female choice to lead the organization.  Various lobby groups have proposed names of suitable female candidates who are very much qualified to take the reins. Several of the names proposed including, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, who is currently an administer of the UN Development Program, Irina Bokova  a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bulgaria  and elected twice as the Director General  for UNESCO.  Others include, Michelle Bachelet former President of Chile, Rebecca Grynspan former Vice President of Costa Rica, and Maria Holguin Foreign Minister of Colombia.

It is, however, customary for the position of Secretary General to be rotational between regional grouping, and it is Eastern Europe’s turn to occupy the position, thus favouring Irina Bokova.  If it was Africa’s turn to select a candidate, there would also be very many female candidates qualified to lead. The African Union dubbed 2015 as the year of ‘Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063’, which is geared towards achieving equality in the continent. The Secretary General position is however, a political post that needs lobbying and diplomatic clout to get it. The rich and powerful states eclipse the interests of the poor nations in pursuit of national interests. In Africa, several states have continuously improved their standing within the organization through resources, and enough qualified personnel that can manoeuvre the sticky waters of diplomacy.

African states face a few challenges within the organizational structure of AU creating divergence among its member states. This divide began with its predecessor Organization of Africa Unity (OAU), with its member states divided into two alliances, the Monrovia and Casablanca groups, each with political and economic interests compounded with domestic politics. There is also the matter of suspicion between Anglophone and Francophone states, as witnessed during the election of the AU chair in 2012. The ‘big’ states including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Egypt had a gentleman’s agreement excluding them from vying for chair of AU Commission putting the ‘smaller’ states at an advantageous position. South Africa however broke the unwritten agreement by proposing and lobbying for a candidate from their country. The competition reared its ugly head creating a bigger divided among the member states, and leaving the poorer nations to punch above their weight. With this kind of rivalry it becomes challenging and harder for states to garner support for their candidate.

A number of African female candidates with the right credentials fit to lead the UN exist. They include the current chair of AU Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma from South Africa, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed who’s worked in several international organizations including the UN, and currently the Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Kenya, and Amina J. Mohammed, a former UN Secretary General Special Advisor on Post 2015 Development Planning and currently a Minister of Environment in Nigeria. Others include  President Ellen Johnson of Liberia, and Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka – a former Vice President of South Africa and currently an Executive Director at UN women.  These are but a few of the qualified candidates that can lead the organization. These individuals do not only understand domestic political affairs, they also comprehend international politics that makes it easier for them to manoeuvre the UN system or any other international organization. With this in mind, does Kenya have the diplomatic weight to lobby and get their candidate elected?

There other persons in Kenya who can do a tremendous job as the Secretary General. This however, will depend on Kenya’s resources, ability to mobilize other states to support their candidate, and influence the decision making process at the UN. With diplomatic heavy weights like South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and the rest, competition will be very stiff. In the past one year though, Kenya has hosted several significant international events that have taken the global centre stage including,  the Sixth Global Summit on Entrepreneurship, Pope Francis made his maiden visit to Africa beginning with Kenya, and also hosted the 10th Ministerial Conference on the World  Trade Organization. This year it is to host a number of other high profile events including the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

These events and others to come have raised Kenya’s profile tremendously within the region and at a global level. This goes to show that Kenya has the prowess to lobby and influence or punch above its weight class in the international politics. What remains to be seen is Kenya’s influence in selecting and lobbying for a candidate when the time comes.  Whichever way the chips may fall, the UN should recognize the importance of its commitment to gender equality and women empowerment to fulfil its global goals.

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Monarchy a luxury that Swaziland cannot afford

Club of Mozambique

Swaziland’s big-spending absolute monarch King Mswati III is spending millions of dollars on a new personal jet and other luxuries, while many of his poor citizens rely on food aid to survive.

“The monarchy is a luxury that Swazi’s cannot afford. It is like a blood-sucking parasite that has sucked its host dry”, says Swazi activist Bheki Dlamini.

He is doing a Masters in Public Administration, is president of the banned Swaziland Youth Congress and spent nearly foru years in a small filthy cell in one of King Mswati’s prisons. The charges against him were soon dropped once his case finally went to court, but he subsequently had to flee the country because he criticized the government in a speech.

One example of the opulence of King Mswati is that he is presently buying a new jet for $13 million of public money during a drought that has seen a large part of the population receiving food aid from the UN to survive, says Dlamini.

Land is central

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy that is not unlike a medieval feudal state. In a report on the country from 2013, called “Swaziland: a failed feudal state”, American NGO Freedom House speaks of the “shocking realities of oppression, abject poverty, hunger and disease” in a country where the king has seized “private and public property for his personal benefit” while being “immune from civil suits and criminal prosecution”.

At independence land and mining rights were granted to the monarch and not the government or the people, Bheki Dlamini explains.

“Just before independence in 1968, a fund was set up to buy back land from the British colonialists that gave birth to Tibiyo Taka Ngwane [that has stakes or shares in agriculture, property, a printing company and the Swazi Observer newspaper and a host of companies] and Tisuka Taka Ngwane [a residential and commercial property developer]. But these two public companies have been taken away from the Swazi’s and tuned out to be royal purse. The land that was bought is now royal land it was never returned to the people for the development of local communities”.

The king rules supreme
Today King Mswati therefore controls over half of the land, as well as the parliament and judiciary. He also has a personal fortune of $100-200 million, receives over $30 million a year from the taxpayers, and generally leads a playboy lifestyle with his umpteen wives and many palaces.

He is a shareholder of many of Swaziland’s companies, from which he receives a considerable percentage of the profit. Ordinary citizens, on the other hand, have no security of tenure in a country where 75 percent depend on subsistence farming for their survival.

Many are therefore evicted, whenever the king or his chiefs want to use the land for vanity projects such as Mswati’s new international airport. Control of the land and economy is therefore at the centre of the struggle that rural people face on a daily basis, says Bheki Dlamini, who himself comes from the rural areas.

Political and economic control
Apart from agriculture, much of Swaziland’s use of land and wealth comes from the utilization of other natural resources such a sugar, coal, gold and iron ore.

“25 percent of everything from the mines goes to the Monarchy. But for what? These huge resources could be best utilised under the national treasury. What is the local community benefiting in Maloma, where coal is mined? What did the community benefit in Ngwenya where Iron Ore was being mined? What is the country benefiting in the recently opened Lufafa Gold mine? Nothing except degradation of the environment and exploitation of workers. All this is meant to soothe the insatiable appetite of a greedy monarchy”.

Bheki Dlamini believes that the resources that are currently being looted by the monarchy could go a long way in eradicating poverty and lack of development in Swaziland. But for this to happen, Swazis must gain control over both the political and economic system.

“The solution to economic emancipation lies with us Swazis, but the struggle for multiparty democracy must never be about voting rights only. The real struggle is on changing the unequal distribution of our resources”, Bheki Dlamini concludes.

[‘Swaziland – Africa’s Last Monarchy’ is a documentary about Bheki Dlamini, made by award-winning Danish investigative journalist Tom Heinemann. Watch the film here.]

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The spirit of Nelson Mandela in Palestine: Is his real legacy being upheld?


The Mandela that now stands erect in Ramallah has been incorporated into the zeitgeist of this city, particularly the rich and beaming neighborhood of massive white-stone villas and luxury cars. It would have meant much more if it had stood in the center of Gaza, a city that is withstanding an ongoing genocide.

I had mixed feelings when I learned that Palestine has erected a statue of Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African anti-Apartheid leader. On the one hand, I was quite pleased that the unmistakable connection between the struggles of Palestinians and South Africans is cemented more than ever before. On the other hand, I dreaded that rich, corrupt Palestinians in Ramallah are utilizing the image of Mandela to acquire badly-needed political capital.

The six-meter bronze statue now stands in its own Nelson Mandela Square in Al-Tireh neighbourhood in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority headquarters are based. The PA is known for its endemic political and financial corruption. In some ways, its survival is both essential for the richest Palestinian class and also for the Israeli military Occupation.

Thus, it was quite disheartening to witness the travesty of political theater where the likes of PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, who rules with a long-expired mandate, unveiling the statue in a ceremony attended by his ministers and foreign diplomats.

The statue was a gift from the City of Johannesburg, and its costs of R6 million was paid for by the people of that city, whose solidarity with Palestine is rooted in a long history, that of blood and tears, and the haunting cries of pain and freedom. At that, the gift is most appreciated.

But the Mandela that now stands erect in Ramallah has been incorporated into the zeitgeist of this city, particularly the rich and beaming neighborhood of massive white-stone villas and luxury cars.

It would have meant much more if it had stood in the center of Gaza, a city that is withstanding an ongoing genocide; in the heart of Jenin, a town known for its bravery and hardship; in Al-Khalil, in Nablus or in Khan Younis. Seeing rich Palestinian officials and businessmen rubbing shoulders with unmistakable giddiness while fighting for space before the many cameras, made the occasion vastly less special.

Oddly enough, the main location of the Nelson Mandela Square and statue in Sandton City in Johannesburg is equally unsettling. I visited the place more than once, and despite my immense admiration for Mandela, it failed to move me.

The commercial atmosphere there felt as if it was an attempt at redefining who Mandela was: from a populist leader and a former prisoner with proud ties to the Communist Party to an emasculated icon, a warm, fuzzy figure with no radical roots.

Worse, he is being promoted as if merchandise within a precarious neoliberal marketplace, where revolutionary values are shunned and everything is on sale. This is how the Sandton City website describes the square:

“Home to some of South Africa’s finest restaurants, exclusive couture and designer labels and a European styled piazza, Nelson Mandela Square offers chic sophistication, culture and glamour, all under the African sun.”

Yet, the Mandela that is promoted by some in South Africa and their counterparts in Palestine is fundamentally different from the Mandela many of us knew about.  The man passed away on December 5, 2013, but he clearly left behind two legacies: one celebrated in Palestinian refugee camps and South Africa’s slums, while another is sold to the culturally ‘sophisticated’ tourists and Ramallah’s corrupt class.

The name ‘Nelson Mandela’ was a staple in my family, living in a dilapidated refugee camp in Gaza under military Occupation and the constant threat of violence. We rushed to the television to watch whenever his name was mentioned in the news. The finest young men in camp were chased down, beaten, arrested and shot while trying to write his name on the decaying walls of our humble dwellings.

That was the Mandela I knew, and most Palestinians remember with adoration and respect. The one standing in Ramallah, unveiled by those Palestinians who speak proudly of conducting ‘security coordination with Israel—as in jointly cracking down on Palestinian Resistance—is a whole different Mandela.

He is a different Mandela because Abbas and his Authority do not, in the least, embody the spirit of Mandela the freedom fighter, the defiant prisoner, the unifying leader, the champion of a boycott movement.

In fact, the Palestinian leadership as represented in the unelected government of Abbas in Ramallah, is yet to endorse the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), itself modeled after the South Africa boycott movement.

Instead, Abbas’ PA has wasted over 20 years of nonsensical and futile negotiations, collaborated with Israel, divided the ranks of Palestinians and is actively involved in suppressing Palestinian Resistance in the West Bank.

With his popularity falling to an all-time low among Palestinians, Abbas is desperate to concoct hollow victories, and insist on presenting himself as a national liberation leader, despite all evidence to the contrary.

But the bond between South Africa and Palestine is much greater than a photo-op in Ramallah, involving well-dressed men repeating insincere clichés about peace and freedom. I dare say it is bigger than Mandela himself, regardless of which legacy we insist on remembering him by. It is a link that has been baptized in the blood of the poor and the innocent and the tenacious struggle of millions of black and brown Africans and Palestinian Arabs.

I was fortunate enough to experience this for myself.

In my last South African speaking tour a few years ago, I was approached by two South African men. They seemed particularly grateful for reasons that initially eluded me. “We want to thank you so much for your support of our struggle against apartheid,” one said with so much sincerity and palpable emotions.

It made sense. Palestinians saw the struggle of their black brethren as their own struggle. But the two men were not referring to sentimentalities. While the Israeli government, military and intelligence supported the apartheid government in many ways, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had actually trained and equipped ANC fighters. Cuba and others did

too, but to think that the then Palestinian leadership had the kind of political consciousness to extend a hand of solidarity to a nation fighting for its freedom, while the Palestinian people were themselves still enduring that same fight, filled me with pride.

Those men told me that they still hold onto their PLO-supplied military uniforms, even after all these years. We embraced and parted ways but, with time, I came to realize that the present struggle against apartheid in Palestine is not merely similar to that of South Africa. Both struggles are extensions of the same movement, the same fight for freedom and, in fact, against the same enemy.

When Nelson Mandela said, “We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” he was not trying to be cordial or diplomatic. He meant every word.

Someday, we hope that a statue of Mandela, one that represents the spirit of Resistance in Palestine, will stand tall amid the people who championed his cause and loved him most.

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Britain and the labeling of Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’


British Prime Minister David Cameron described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt.” Many Nigerians are reacting to this comment.  Some believe the British politician said it either in bad or good faith. Assuming this labeling is even correct, one is tempted to ask to know the motive. To put down or support the present regime’s effort at ridding the country of corruption? At a time when the government under the leadership of Mohammad Buhari l needs more than encouragement to successfully carry through her crusade against corruption in the country, one is bound to interrogate the significance of certain comments by those seen to have so much influence on the domestic affairs of other countries.

For some, mulling over the Prime Minister’s comment is unnecessary; after all, Nigeria has been notorious among the most corrupt countries of the world. In any case, it calls for deep reflection and self-assessment to be sure of where Nigerians stand presently in the eyes of those who claim to be friends. There are good and bad people everywhere. And there is no need to label or even give an impression of everyone being good or bad.  Britain was fantastically morally corrupt for being a leader in conquering and colonizing other territories in order to rule them against their will in an atmosphere of monarchical, unitary style democracy. This broad and undisassgregated labeling of Nigeria as fantastically corrupt by the British Prime Minister calls for deep contemplation, especially in the context of history.

The prime minister is a politician. British politicians were at some point in the history of the world among the most morally debased. They were at the forefront of taking decisions about conquering and colonizing territories abroad. This was part of her expansionist ambition of remaining a world political and economic power. Yet not all Britons were part of these decisions and therefore need not carry the broad labeling of being fantastically morally debased.

How scientific is the description of Nigeria as fantastically corrupt? What insinuations come with it? Does it mean corruption in the country is like none in the world? Not only has an impression of every Nigerian being corrupt been sent out; Nigeria’s image has been equated with the evil work of a few politicians who rule over the majority poor. The British politician should have seen the need to qualify his name-calling by being more careful to indicate those he had in mind when it comes to corruption in Nigeria.

Financial corruption is anti-development; no doubt it has hindered development in Nigeria. It has stolen from Nigerians what rightfully belongs to them. The same way British politicians unethically took what belonged to Nigerians during the days of colonialism without putting back something for the development of the country. It is often said that some of the major cities in the UK were furnished with wealth stolen from Africa.  Indeed, Britain practiced political corruption in her colonized territories of Africa.  To be sure, racism was the bedrock of her colonialism, as with the other world powers involved in colonization of territories in the 19th century.

British politicians formally handed power over to Nigerian politicians in 1960 at the instance of political independence. It is as good as saying that, having trained a set of politicians to take over the baton of leadership, handing over should have engendered change and sustainability in society. Unfortunately since then, the mentality of lordship over the ruled, which colonialism imposed on Nigeria, has continued to affect the country.

British politicians had no mission of changing living conditions of locals during colonialism.  This, also, has been true of many politicians in Nigeria in the post-independence era. Britain had a mission of lining her national pocket with resources obtained in Nigeria during colonialism. Corrupt politicians in Nigeria today have the objective of lining their pockets with resources that belong to the people. There is a great similarity between the behaviour of British and Nigerian politicians, which means an unsuccessful or polluted mentoring relationship has taken place. Succession at all levels of human relationship, including power, requires some level of mentorship or learning. What did Nigerian politicians learn from the British colonizers? Corruption or option? It would have been option if they saw the unethical orientation of failing to develop the country and took the alternative paths of ensuring the same crime did not catch up with them.

Billions of dollars have left Africa through illicit channels, but not without active collaboration with partners in the developed countries like Britain and other countries in both North America and Europe. A terrible collusion of financial institutions in both worlds is responsible for the raping of Africa.

In the distant past, British oil company Shell BP secured license from the colonial state to explore for oil in the entire country. The dominance of the company was well orchestrated perhaps to lessen the probability of competition. What is crucial today if the prime minister and his friends in the developed countries really want to help Nigeria fight corruption successfully is not to be sarcastic but return all the monies kept in their financial institutions by corrupt Nigerian politicians and their friends in these countries.

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The myth of Canada’s benevolence to Uganda


Self-described Africa scholar Gerald Caplan’s recent praise of Canada’s relations with Uganda is superficial and misleading. He ignores Canada’s support for imperialism in East Africa that goes back to the days of the slave trade.

A recent Globe and Mail article (reprinted on by Gerald Caplan detailing Canadian relations with Uganda made be mad. Why?

It was not so much for what’s in the article, but rather what it ignores, which is reality. Any progressive author writing about Canada’s foreign affairs betrays his readers if he ignores the bad this country has done and feeds the benevolent Canadian foreign-policy myth.

“Canadians have had ties to Uganda for many decades”, writes Caplan, a self-described “Africa scholar” citing the establishment of diplomatic relations soon after independence. He also mentions many Canadians who “found their way to the country” amidst instability and the federal government taking in Asians expelled by Idi Amin. The former NDP strategist points to some private Canadian aid initiatives in the country and details a Canadian lawyer’s contribution to a suit over the Ugandan government’s failure to provide basic maternal health services, which may violate the Constitution.

But, Caplan completely ignores the unsavory – and much more consequential – role Canada has played in the East African country.

For example, he could have at least mentioned this country’s role during the “scramble for Africa” when Canadians actively participated in subjugating various peoples and stealing their land. This is necessary to acknowledge if we are ever to build a decent foreign policy.

In the late 1800s a number of Canadian military men helped survey possible rail routes from the East African Coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza on the border between modern Uganda and Kenya. The objective was to strengthen Britain’s grip over recalcitrant indigenous groups and to better integrate the area into the Empire’s North East Africa-India corridor.

Beginning in 1913 dozens of Canadian missionaries helped the colonial authority penetrate Ugandan societies and undermine indigenous customs. The preeminent figure was John Forbes who was a bishop and coadjutor vicar apostolic, making him second in charge of over 30 mission posts in Uganda. A 1929 biography describes his “good relations” with British colonial authorities and the “important services Forbes rendered the authorities of the Protectorate.”

In 1918 Forbes participated in a major conference in the colony, organized by Governor Robert Coryndon in the hopes of spurring indigenous wage work. The Vaudreuil, Québec, native wrote home that “it’s a big question. The European planters in our area, who cultivate coffee, cotton and rubber need workers for their exploitation. But the workforce is rare. Our Negroes are happy to eat bananas and with a few bits of cotton or bark for clothes, are not excited to put themselves at the service of the planters and work all day for a meager salary.” British officials subsidized the White Fathers schools as part of a bid to expand the indigenous workforce.

Canadians were also part of the British colonial authority. Royal Military College of Canada graduate Godfrey Rhodes became chief engineer and general manager of Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours in 1928. The Victoria, BC, native was in Uganda for over a decade and was followed by Walter Bazley, a colonial administrator in Bunyoro from 1950 to 1963 (after Ugandan independence, Bazley joined the Canadian public service).

Throughout British rule Ottawa recognized London’s authority over Uganda. After fighting in the 1898 – 1902 Boer War, Henry Rivington Poussette was appointed Canada’s first trade commissioner in Africa with “jurisdiction extending from the Cape to the Zambesi, including Uganda.”

Poussette and future trade representatives helped Canadian companies profit from European rule in Africa. By independence Toronto-based Bata shoes controlled most of the footwear market in Uganda while a decade before the end of British rule Falconbridge acquired a 70% stake in the Kilembe copper-cobalt mine in western Uganda. In a joint partnership with the London controlled Colonial Development Corporation, the Toronto company’s highly profitable mine produced more than $250 million ($1 billion today) worth of copper yet paid no income tax until its capital was fully recovered in 1965. In 1968, post-independence leader Milton Obote increased the country’s copper export tax and then moved to gain majority control of the mine. Falconbridge quickly stripped out $6 million in special dividend payments and threatened to withdraw its management from the country.

‘Falconbridge: Portrait of a Canadian Mining Multinational’ explains: “Although Kilembe Copper was both profitable and socially important in the Ugandan economy, this did not prevent the Falconbridge group from withdrawing capital as rapidly as possible just before president Obote forced it to sell Uganda a controlling interest in 1970. The implication was that its management team would be withdrawn entirely if the government did not restore Falconbridge’s majority ownership. Dislocation in the lives of Ugandan people was a price the company seemed willing to pay in this tug-of-war over the profits from Uganda’s resources.”

The Kilembe mine also contaminated Elizabeth National Park and tailings seeped into Lake George, near Uganda’s western border with the Congo.

Upon taking office, General Idi Amin returned control of the Kilembe mine to Falconbridge. (This was maintained for several years, after which Amin returned the mine to his government.) He had managed to overthrow Obote’s government in January 1971 with the aid of Britain, Israel and the US. A British Foreign Office memo noted that Obote’s nationalizations, which also included Bata, had “serious implications for British business in Uganda and Africa generally… other countries will be tempted to try and get away with similar measures with more damaging consequences for British investment and trade.”

While this country’s “Africa scholars” have largely ignored Canada’s position towards Amin’s rise to power, the available documentation suggests Ottawa passively supported the putsch. On three occasions during the early days of the coup (between January 26 and February 3, 1971) the Pierre Trudeau government responded to inquiries from opposition MPs about developments in Uganda and whether Canada would grant diplomatic recognition to the new regime. Within a week of Obote’s ouster, both External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp and Prime Minister Trudeau passed up these opportunities to denounce Amin’s usurpation of power. They remained silent as Amin suspended various provisions of the Ugandan Constitution and declared himself President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Army Chief of Staff and Chief of Air Staff. They failed to condemn a leader, now infamous, for plunging the nation into a torrent of violence.

In ‘African Pearls and Poisons: Idi Amin’s Uganda; Kenya; Zaire’s Pygmies’, Alberta bureaucrat Leo Louis Jacques describes a conversation he had with the CIDA liaison officer in Uganda who facilitated his 1971-73 appointment to the Uganda College of Commerce. Asked whether the change in government would affect his CIDA-funded position, the aid agency’s liaison officer in Uganda, Catrina Porter, answered Jacques thusly: “‘Yes, there was a coup on January 25th, 1971 and it was a move that promises to be an improvement. The new administration favours Democracy and Western Civilization’s Democracy, while the former one favoured the Communists.’ I [Jacques”> said, ‘I understand the present government is being run by the Ugandan army under the control of a General named Idi Amin Dada. What is he like?’ Porter said ‘General Amin’s gone on record as saying he loves Canada and the Commonwealth. He also vowed that his country of Uganda would have democratic elections soon. The British and Americans have recognized him as the Ugandan government and so do we.’”

Two years after the coup the Canadian High Commissioner in Nairobi visited to ask Amin to reverse his plan to nationalize Bata shoes. After the meeting, the High Commissioner cabled Ottawa that he was largely successful with Bata and also mentioned that “KILEMBE MINES (70 PERCENT FALCONBRIDGE OWNED) IS DOING WELL.”

But, just in case you think it’s just our unsavoury history that Caplan ignores, there’s more. He also ignores more recent developments such as SNC Lavalin’s alleged bribery in the country, Montréal-based Canarail’s contribution to a disastrous World Bank sponsored privatization of the Kenya and Uganda railway systems or Ottawa’s “logistical support and some funding for the Uganda led [military”> force” dispatched to Somalia to do Washington’s dirty work.

Why did this article make me so mad? Because it’s part of a pattern of the social democratic Left ignoring how Canadian corporations and governments impoverish the Global South. Too often social democrat intellectuals dim, rather than enlighten, progressives’ understanding of Canada’s role in the world.

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Getting away with murder: Canadian firms continue abuses in Africa

Image result for CANADA FLAG CARTOON

Despite a long list of abuses by Canadian mining companies in Africa – and elsewhere – it’s very difficult to hold them accountable at home. Will the new government of Justin Trudeau defy the powerful mining industry and adopt legislation to constrain their abuses abroad?

Two weeks ago police shot and killed an individual at Pacific Wildcat Resources tantalum mine in central Mozambique. The incident received some attention in Canada because community members responded by seizing the Vancouver-based company’s mine site and setting some equipment ablaze.

One protester told O Pais newspaper this wasn’t the first time someone was shot dead at the mine and another said: “We don’t want to see the managers of this company operating in the mine anymore. Otherwise we will take the law into our own hands. The director of the company does not respect us, and we cannot allow someone to come and enslave us in our own country.”

In recent years Canadian mining companies have engendered a great deal of violence across Africa. In 2008 Guinea’s military killed three in a bid to drive away small-scale miners from SEMAFO’s Kiniero mine in the southeast of the country. BBC Monitoring Africa reported that “the soldiers shot a woman at close range, burned a baby and in the panic another woman and her baby fell into a gold mining pit and a man fell fatally from his motor while running away from the rangers.” Blaming the Montréal-based company for the killings, locals damaged its equipment.

To the south east the Ghanaian military opened fire on a 5,000-person demonstration against a Canadian-owned mine in June 2005. Seven of those protesting Golden Star’s pollution and refusal to compensate those impacted by its operations were hit by bullets. Backing a hardline approach to the local community, a company official called for “some radical way” to change the “mindset” of small-scale unlicensed miners in the region.

Fifteen hundred kilometers north, Mauritania’s national guard raided a peaceful protest, killing one employee and wounding several others during a July 2012 strike at First Quantum’s Guelb Moghrein mine. A release from the Vancouver company afterwards called the strike illegal, but failed to mention the death or injuries.

On the other side of the continent security guards paid by Barrick Gold (now Acacia) have killed a couple dozen villagers at, or in close proximity, to the Toronto company’s North Mara mine since 2005. Hundreds more have been severely injured by the security and police Barrick pays to patrol the perimeter of its Tanzanian mine and regularly calls on site. Most of the victims were impoverished villagers who scratch rocks for tiny bits of gold and who mined these territories prior to Acacia’s arrival.

Two thousand kilometers southeast Anvil Mining transported Congolese government troops who killed 100 people near its Dikulushi mine in the port town of Kilwa, Katanga. Most of the victims were unarmed civilians.

After a half-dozen members of the little-known Mouvement revolutionnaire pour la liberation du Katanga occupied the Canada-Australian company’s Kilwa concession in October 2004, Anvil provided the trucks used to transport Congolese soldiers to the area and to dump the corpses of their victims into mass graves. A Congolese military commander told UN investigators that the military operation in Kilwa was “made possible thanks to the logistical efforts provided by Anvil mining.” Immediately after the massacre, an Anvil press release celebrated the return of law and order to its mining territory without reporting the use of Anvil planes and trucks to support the military intervention or the deaths near Kilwa.

Despite a long list of abuses by Canadian mining companies in Africa (and elsewhere) it’s incredibly difficult to hold them accountable domestically. The previous Stephen Harper government opposed legislation modeled on the U.S. Alien Torts Claims Act that would have allowed lawsuits against Canadian companies responsible for major human rights violations or ecological destruction abroad. Similarly, the Conservatives and some opposition MPs defeated Liberal MP John McKay’s private members bill (C – 300), which would have withheld diplomatic and financial support from companies found responsible for significant abuses abroad.

Is Justin Trudeau prepared to defy Canada’s powerful mining industry and adopt legislation to constrain their abuses abroad or will he continue to place the full power of Canadian foreign-policy behind this controversial industry?

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Canada’s military footprint in Africa

Unlike the US or France, Canada is not a leading military force in Africa. But Ottawa exerts influence through a variety of means including training initiatives.

Canadian Forces have trained hundreds of African soldiers at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre in Kingston Ontario and Lester B. Pearson Centre in Nova Scotia. Canadian forces have also directed or participated in a slew of officer training initiatives, running courses in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Mali among other places. In recent years Ottawa has funded and staffed various military training centres across the continent such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Ghana, African Centre for Strategic Research and Studies in Nigeria and Ecole de Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin in Mali.

Canadian Special Forces also train a number of African militaries. Along with the US, Canadian troops trained counterterrorism units in Niger, Kenya and Mali and in 2014 Canadian Special Operations Forces Command spokesman Major Steve Hawken told ‘Embassy’ that his force had recently trained 800 African military personnel.

Canada is increasingly involved in “counterterrorist” training exercises in the Sahel region, which covers parts of Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, South Sudan, Sudan and Eritrea. The Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) has participated in Exercise Flintlock since 2011. Fifty members of CSOR and the Special Operations Aviation Squadron traveled to Senegal and Mauritania for Exercise Flintlock in 2014.

The New York Times Magazine reported: “For the past three weeks, Green Berets, along with British, French and Canadian special operators, had been training 139 elite troops from Niger, Nigeria and Chad” as part of Flintlock 2014. Sponsored by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Flintlock takes place in a different Sahel region nation each year.

Canadian officials generally tell the media the aim of training other militaries is to help fight terror or the illicit drug trade but a closer look at military doctrine suggests broader strategic and geopolitical motivations. An important objective is to strengthen foreign militaries’ capacity to operate in tandem with Canadian and/or NATO forces. According to Canada’s Military Training Assistance Program, its “language training improves communication between NATO and other armed forces” and its “professional development and staff training enhances other countries compatibility with the CFs [Canadian Forces”>.”

At a broader level MTAP states its training “serves to achieve influence in areas of strategic interest to Canada. … Canadian diplomatic and military representatives find it considerably easier to gain access and exert influence in countries with a core group of Canadian-trained professional military leaders.”

When Ottawa initiated post-independence training missions in Africa a memo to cabinet ministers described the political value of training foreign military officers. It stated: “Military leaders in many developing countries, if they do not actually form the government, frequently wield much more power and influence domestically than is the case in the majority of western domestic nations… [it”> would seem in Canada’s general interest on broad foreign policy grounds to keep open the possibility of exercising a constructive influence on the men who often will form the political elite in developing countries, by continuing to provide training places for officers in our military institutions where they receive not only technical military training but are also exposed to Canadian values and attitudes.”

As part of Canada’s initial aid efforts in the early 1960s, Canadian troops trained armed forces in various African countries. In Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania, Canada endeavoured “to fill in the vacuum left by the withdrawal of British officers and training facilities,” notes Professor Robert Matthews.

Military historian Sean Maloney further explains: “These teams consisted of regular army officers who, at the ‘operational level’, trained military personnel of these new Commonwealth countries to increase their professionalism. The strategic function, particularly of the 83-man team in Tanzania, was to maintain a Western presence to counter Soviet and Chinese bloc political and military influence.” By the end of the 1960s Canada had spent over $23 million (around $170 million today) training the military forces of seven African and Asian countries.

In 1966 Ghana’s Canadian-trained army overthrew President Kwame Nkrumah, a leading pan-Africanist who was dubbed “Man of the Millennium” in a 2000 poll by BBC listeners in Africa. After independence Ghana’s army remained British-dominated. The colonial era British generals were still in place and the majority of Ghana’s officers continued to be trained in Britain. In response to a number of embarrassing incidents, Nkrumah released the British commanders in September 1961. It was at this point that Canada began training Ghana’s military.

Canadians organized and oversaw the Junior Staff Officers course and a number of Canadians took up top positions in the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence. In the words of Canada’s military attaché to Ghana, Colonel Desmond Deane-Freeman, the Canadians in these positions imparted “our way of thinking”. Celebrating the influence of “our way of thinking”, in 1965 Canadian high commissioner in Accra, C.E. McGaughey wrote the under secretary of external affairs: “Since independence, it [Ghana’s military”> has changed in outlook, perhaps less than any other institution. It is still equipped with Western arms and although essentially non-political, is Western oriented.”

After Nkrumah’s removal the Canadian high commissioner boasted about the effectiveness of Canada’s Junior Staff Officers training program at the Ghanaian Defence College. Writing to the Canadian under secretary of external affairs, McGaughey noted, “All the chief participants of the coup were graduates of this course.”

When today’s internal documents are made available they will likely show that Canadian military training initiatives continue to influence the continent’s politics in ways that run counter to most Africans’ interests.

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The case of Benoit La Salle: How Western do-gooders exploit Africa


The Canadian mining magnate is just one in a long line of Westerners who ask the world to believe what they say but ignore the actual results of what they do — a “spin-sploiter” publicly professing humanitarian ideals all the while exploiting Africa.

What do you call people who try to make other people believe what they say but ignore the results of what they do? How about spin-sploiters?

After a few years of research I have come to realize that there is a long and ignoble history of Westerners exploiting Africans while touting humanitarian objectives. Unfortunately, this practice is not confined to the distant past.

A leading Canadian NGO official, who then founded Québec’s largest mining company, provides a recent example.

In a 2012 Gold Report interview titled “First, Do Good When Mining for Gold: Benoit La Salle”, the President of the Société d’Exploitation Minière d’Afrique de l’Ouest (SEMAFO) boasted about the company’s social responsibility. La Salle said: “SEMAFO is not a company that mines gold, ships it out and, once that is done, breaks down camp and leaves. People see SEMAFO as being a very good corporate citizen. Today, many people believe that the CSR report is more important than our annual report.”

This is a startling claim for an individual obligated to maximize investors’ returns, but a cursory look at the company’s record suggests it has little basis in reality.

Those living near SEMAFO’s Kiniero mine, reported Guinée News in 2014, felt “the Canadian company brought more misfortune than benefits.” In 2008 the military killed three people in a bid to drive away small-scale miners from its mine in southeast Guinea. BBC Monitoring Africa reported that “the soldiers shot a woman at close range, burned a baby and in the panic another woman and her baby fell into a gold mining pit and a man fell fatally from his motor while running away from the rangers. Blaming the Montréal-based company for the killings, locals damaged its equipment.”

In September 2011 protests flared again over the company’s failure to hire local young people and the dissolution of a committee that spent community development monies. Demonstrators attacked SEMAFO’s facilities, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.  Some also targeted a bus carrying company employees, prompting the authorities to evacuate all expatriate staff to Bamako in neighbouring Mali.

In 2014 the Guinean government’s Comité Technique de Revue des Titres et Conventions Miniers concluded that the Montréal firm evaded $9.6 million in tax.  The Comité Technique also found that the company failed “to produce detailed feasibility studies” and was not “in compliance with new measures in the 2011 mining code.”  The Comité Technique recommended that SEMAFO be fined and stripped of its mining rights in the country.

To the east, SEMAFO opened the first industrial scale gold mine in Niger. A 2007 Montreal Gazette business article headlined “Local Miner a Major Force in Niger: It’s not every day we receive a press release from a gold mining company that includes a warm personal message from the prime minister”, reported on the close ties between SEMAFO and Hama Amadou, then Prime Minister of Niger. “We work very closely with him,” said La Salle. “We’re part of his budget every year.”

La Salle described how the prime minister helped his company break a strike at its Samira Hill mine in the west of the country. “He gave us all the right direction to solve this legally,” La Salle said. ‘We went to court, we had the strike declared illegal and that allowed us to let go of some of the employees and rehire some of them based upon a new work contract. It allowed us to let go of some undesirable employees because they had been on strike a few times.” (In mid-2008 SEMAFO’s preferred prime minister was arrested on corruption charges stemming from two unrelated incidents.)

The bitter strike led to a parliamentary inquiry regarding environmental damage caused by the mine, lack of benefits for local communities and treatment of miners. Opposition politicians accused SEMAFO of paying “slave wages”.  “The wages are very low,” explained Mohammed Bazoum, deputy chairman of Niger’s main opposition party in 2009.

SEMAFO was also accused of failing to pay both taxes and dividends to the government. Despite owning a 20% share in the Samira Hill mine, the government received no direct payments from the Montréal-based majority owner between 2004 and 2010. “Since this company started its activities, Niger has not seen a single franc despite its being a shareholder,” noted Abdoulkarim Mossi, head of a government committee set up to tackle economic and financial irregularities in the country.

Next-door, the company was close to President Blaise Compaoré who seized power in 1987 by killing Thomas Sankara, “Africa’s Che Guevara”, who oversaw important social and political gains during four years in office. La Salle worked closely with Compaoré for nearly two decades, traveling the globe singing the Burkina Faso government’s praise. After leaving office the Prime Minister between 2007–2011, Tertius Zongo, was appointed to SEMAFO’s Board of Directors and at a September 2014 Gold Forum in Australia SEMAFO officials lauded the government as “democratic and stable”.  The next month Compaoré was ousted by popular protests after he attempted to amend the constitution to extend term limits.

After ending Compaoré’s 27-year rule community groups and mine workers launched a wave of protests against foreign, mostly Canadian, owned mining companies. In a Bloomberg article titled “Revolt Rocks Burkina Faso’s Mines After President Flees”, SEMAFO’s director of corporate affairs, Laurent Michel Dabire, said the company was looking to fund a new police unit that would focus on protecting mining interests in the country.

SEMAFO is an outgrowth La Salle’s work for Plan Canada, part of a $1 billion-a-year global NGO. La Salle said that SEMAFO “was created in 1995 during my first visit to Burkina Faso as part of a mission with the NGO-Plan. I am the president of the administration council of Plan Canada and a director of Plan International. So, after the Plan organized visit to Burkina Faso provided me an opportunity to get close with national authorities, I decided to create SEMAFO to participate in the development of Burkina Faso’s mining industry.” As Plan Canada’s designated Francophone spokesperson La Salle got to know Compaoré. “The president turned to me,” La Salle told another reporter, “and said that I should come back to his country with Canadian expertise to help his country develop its mining sector.”

La Salle procured mining expertise while Compaoré granted the Canadian a massive stretch of land to prospect. “The land package we have is way beyond what you’d see anywhere else in the world,” La Salle boasted.

Compaoré was good to La Salle. The Canadian ‘humanitarian” made millions of dollars from Burkina Faso’s (and Niger and Guinea’s) minerals. When he resigned after 17 years as president of SEMAFO in 2012, La Salle received a $3 million departure bonus, which was on top of his $1 million salary.

La Salle is just one in a long line of Westerners who’ve asked the world to believe what they say but ignore the actual results of what they do — a “spin-sploiter” — publicly professing humanitarian ideals all the while exploiting Africa.

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Electoral violence in Uganda: A short history


State brutality is integral to the electoral cycle in Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda. There are campaign beatings, ballot beatings and post-election beatings. Ugandans this week witnessed pre-swearing-in beatings. They can expect swearing-in beatings, after which there is every chance there will be post-swearing in beatings. Then, the election cycle over, the country shall revert to ordinary beatings.

It is tear gas season in Uganda again. The reported black-out of news coverage notwithstanding, some videos are in circulation. One shows a shopping arcade in central Kampala being evacuated by mainly young people with their arms raised in surrender. They are clubbed at the exit with batons by men in military fatigues.

It brings to mind a conversation that took place between two former student activists, still active in the 2000s. They bemoaned the political apathy of today’s youth. The older one, a veteran of 1970s Ugandan politics concluded the youth were indifferent because ‘they have not run yet.’ He believed the youth of the new millennium did not know the signs that lead to the kind of state brutality that in the 1970s gave birth to the phrase Duka duka (“Run run!” in Luganda).

“But they will run.” He concluded cynically, “They will run.”

The younger activist who had come to maturity in the 1980s had always argued that the ‘peace ushered in’, constantly cited by apologists for the corrupt excesses, was an illusion.

“The NRM regime is the longest armed robbery in history,” he insisted.

By the early 1990s, pressure put on the NRM by their donor supporters to hold elections had reached critical mass and in 1996 the country held the first presidential elections since 1980. President Museveni has continued to win elections ever since.

This has been achieved, it is now clear, by modifying the election cycle to include political intimidation. There are campaign beatings, ballot beatings and post-election beatings. We are now witnessing (some experiencing) pre-swearing-in beatings. We can expect swearing-in beatings, after which there is every chance there will be post-swearing in beatings. Then, the election cycle over, we shall revert to ordinary beatings. Meanwhile Uganda maintains a high-ranking on Transparency International’s corruption perception index.

Ordinary state brutality peaked in September 2009 when for four days the world was treated to footage on CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC of Ugandans, mainly youths, being pursued through Kampala City and suburbs, tear-gassed, knocked to the ground and mercilessly beaten with batons. Some were shot outright. Hundreds were bundled on to lorries and driven to unknown destinations. This was as a result of demonstrations against government restricting the movements of the Katikkiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda Kingdom.

My brother was arrested outside Wavah Broadcasting Service after 11 PM on September 11, 2009, after commenting on the unrest on live television. The most surreal part of the experience was that regular police personnel at Central Police Station were anxious to communicate to us that they had nothing to do with the arrest and in fact did not agree with it.

It took two days and the intervention of a foreign ambassador to get bond and for the duration, all the desks at Central Police Station were occupied by plump, fashionably dressed people in plain clothes, clearly drafted in for the operation. The usual occupants, lean uniformed officers hung around leaning against walls. Whenever the opportunity arose they would plead innocence:

“For us we don’t agree with this.”

They were quick to assist us in any small way possible and when one was ordered to arrest me for protesting the removal of my brother’s shoes (standard arrest procedure in ex-colonial Africa), he took my wrist and led me out of sight to the side of the crowd before releasing me, all the while wearing a scowl for the benefit of his superiors.

On the second day we were allowed to sit at a desk in a glass cubicle with a plain-clothed security operative. A stream of people, mainly middle-aged women, came in to enquire about their offspring, mainly young men, who had failed to return home after leaving on ordinary errands. They had been on the way to school, the post office or the bank. Because the onset of the demonstrations had been so abrupt, triggered by the 1 O’clock news that the Katikkiro had been turned away from his destination and the state’s response so overwhelming, many people were caught unawares.

“Try all the police stations.” The operative replied to each of them. And when they said that they had,

“Then try the mortuaries.”

Ever the activist, my shoeless and injured brother interrupted each time and informed the parents that their sons were most probably being held at the JATT (Joint Anti-Terrorist Task Force) facility in Kireka where he had been held overnight after his arrest. The prison had been teeming with young men. Earlier in the year, JATT had been investigated by Human Rights Watch and found to illegally detain and torture citizens at their HQ in Kololo. Kireka was a new facility. We chanted Kireka, Kireka, whenever people were directed to mortuaries. Nobody knew where or what JATT was. Eventually casualties of the September 2011 uprising were bonded, the going rate set by the enterprising police was Ushs300,000 (US$130 in those days.)

The Officer in Charge of CID was an obnoxious person called Jonah Kule. On the first day, Kule informed us that he had nothing against us but that he had a job to do. He later handed a journalist a cell phone and asked him to pass it to me. Not understanding what it meant, I said it was not mine. The journalist then took the call, after which he turned to me and said,

“A message for you from Sorowen. He says he does not agree with this and he is just doing his job.” Andrew Sorowen was Kampala Metropolitan Police chief.

Unable to have my brother released on bond, we arranged to see the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Major Kale Kayihura on the third day (Kayihura has since been promoted to the rank of General although he still holds the post of IGP). I had been warned by the go-between that although IGP could arrange for my brother to be admitted to hospital, he had no authority to release him, and the prisoner would remain under guard in hospital. The IGP is not a traditional police officer, being on secondment from the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces. He said he was limited in what he could do. I told him Jonah Kule had mentioned ‘orders from above.’

Yes, he said, glad that I understood.

“So who is that person above, giving orders?” I wanted to know.

“I don’t know,” he said, looking at the ceiling. He seemed amused.

It was a long conversation during which we described the scene at CPS, emphasizing the congestion caused by thekiboko (whip) squad carrying sticks and whips. This new group of security operatives had been photographed emerging from the back of Central Police Station but its existence was still denied by IGP. Immediately he made a telephone call to Andrew Sorowen. He was so angry he was hissing,

“Sorowen, I have told you, I do not want those people hanging around that place…they should be in the field.Sorowen, who is in charge?”

Mr Simon Kuteesa was Head of Media Crimes. We discovered later when he came to CPS and later to International Hospital that it was he who had organized the abduction. On both occasions he preceded his comments with an assurance that he had nothing against his victim but that he was just doing his duty. We nick-named him Pontius Pilate.

On a second visit to the IGP, I showed him a photograph of one of my brother’s abductors that I had taken outside the clinic to which we were transferred prior to getting the hospital admission. It was of a thuggish-looking person in a lilac shirt, flat-cap and dark glasses. He was carrying a whip. The man had been outside CPS for the duration of our ordeal, sitting on a scooter as though he were just another boda boda-taxi. He was next seen outside the clinic watching TV through a window when my brother’s friend recognized him. I took his photograph and showed it to my brother. He recognized the man as the one who had knocked him down in the street, dragged him in to a vehicle and began pushing his thumbs into his eyeballs before the vehicle drove off.

Looking at the photo, IGP at first claimed the man in the boda boda rider’s disguise was a policeman, which I protested. Then he made a confession. “These people attach themselves to CPS. I am not in charge of them.”

Yet in March 2010, the IGP held a press conference at police headquarters at which he announced a plan to transform the police force, including replacing assault rifles with sidearms. The Observer’s Shifa Mwesigye, reported IGP’s statement as follows:

“We should not be carrying assault rifles on the streets of Kampala…. It is crude to arm Police with AK 47. It is by default. If we had enough budget we would acquire modern weapons,” he said [an AK-47 costs between 200 and 534 while sidearms retail for $400-500] ….

“Kayihura added that the Ugandan Police has established close links with the British Police and Ireland’s Police Garda Siochana (Guardians of the peace of Ireland) to equip the force with modern techniques ahead of next year’s elections.

“Senior officers, Patrick Leahy, the Chief Superintendent in charge of Dublin, and Kevin Smith of Britain, were recently in Uganda to assess how to help Uganda Police build professionalism. They are looking at equipping the force with techniques on how to respond to challenging situations during elections.”

In 2015 I had to report computer fraud at CPS, a procedure involving getting a case number. Tired of waiting, I ‘chased the papers’ all over the building until I found myself on the ground floor following a corridor to the back of the building. There, on several benches, were 27 men (I counted them) in military fatigues, clutching machine guns and saying nothing. It was three months before the elections.

State violence is still integral to the electoral cycle. It is small comfort that when the police are breaking the heads of Ugandans with their batons, they do not believe in it.

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Secret deals between US Treasury and Saudis aired


Image result for US-SAUDI CARTOON

Why is the relationship between the highest levels of US Gov (Treasury Department) and Saudi Arabia hidden from us?

A recent Bloomberg News story suggest: “Saudi Arabia’s Secret Holdings of U.S. Debt Are Suddenly a Big Deal”  Bloomberg tells us: Saudi burns through $100 billion of reserves as strains emerge”… “It’s a secret of the vast U.S. Treasury market, a holdover from an age of oil shortages and mighty petrodollars: Just how much of America’s debt does Saudi Arabia own? But now that question — unanswered since the 1970s, under an unusual blackout by the U.S. Treasury Department — has come to the fore as Saudi Arabia is pressured by plunging oil prices and costly wars in the Middle East.” … “In the past year alone, Saudi Arabia burned through about $100 billion of foreign-exchange reserves to plug its biggest budget shortfall in a quarter-century. For the first time, The signs of strain are prompting concern over Saudi Arabia’s outsize position in the world’s largest and most important bond market.”

Editor CEC Asks:  Why does out country owe money to these hand and head choppers, who many think are behind ISIS?  And why is our debts to them not openly published like other debts?  It is no secret that the Saudis are a big ally in weakening the governments of Syria, Iraq, and Iran, to name a few.  Maybe Bloomberg should ask Donald Trump and Hillary, if either of them would ditch this disgusting crony if elected?

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