Archive | December 25th, 2016

ALEPPO RAT FREE AT LAST!

NOVANEWS
ALEPPO RAT FREE AT LAST!; SYRIAN ARMY NOW SEARCHING FOR FOREIGN GOVERNMENT TERRORISTS AS CITIZENS RETURN TO A SAFE AND SECURE ALEPPO; RUSSIAN DEFENSE: 35,000 RODENTS KILLED SO FAR IN THIS WAR

image: http://albaathmedia.sy/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/1922.jpg

The Syrian Defense Minister and the High Command of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces have announced the complete liberation of all Aleppo from East to West.  The people in the streets expressing jubilation are numbered in the tens of thousands, all cheering the advance of the Syrian Army to the inevitable triumph which has restored to the city its security and economic health.  The last terrorists left in a degrading manner aboard 4 buses and are headed to Idlib for the final showdown when they will all be killed.  The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that since the intervention of the Russian Air Force, over 71,000 sorties were flown by both the SAAF and RuAF and that 35,000 terrorists have been confirmed killed.  Whether the Turks have opened electric service to the savages in Idlib remains to be seen.  But, one thing is certain:  Erdoghan is on his way into the dustbin of history as his country continues to expand its colonial aspirations while hypocritically supporting the same cannibals who have infested Syria for five years.  Erdoghan is a dead man walking.  May it be so.

 

Posted in SyriaComments Off on ALEPPO RAT FREE AT LAST!

By Making Palestinian Villages Invisible, Google and Apple Maps Facilitate Their Demolition

NOVANEWS

By David Palumbo-Liu

 Truthout

A Palestinian looks out toward Israel from his home in the West Bank, June 7, 2016. (Photo: Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times)

A Palestinian looks out toward Israel from his home in the West Bank, June 7, 2016. (Photo: Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times)

With President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he is nominating David Friedman to fill the post of US ambassador to Israel — a person who has declared a two-state solution to be a “suicidal peace” with “radical Islamists” and who has accused American Jews who support such a measure of being no better than Nazis — concern that further demolitions will follow under the Trump regime has added more urgency to ongoing efforts to save Palestinian villages from being demolished.

The current struggle to demand that the Israeli government, Google and Apple Maps acknowledge and mark the existence of Palestinian villages, such as Susya, is a rare instance in which US politicians have stood up to Israel in a meaningful way.

For many years, Israel has been intent on demolishing the Palestinian village of Susya and displacing its 300 some residents. This act of dispossession has attracted some unlikely opponents.

Through a series of letters, since 2015, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, well known for her ardent support of Israel, has opposed the demolitions in a debate with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California) also recently drew attention to this issue. She wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him “to take immediate action to prevent the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya,” and — according to Rabbi Arik Ascherman, co-founder of the Israeli interfaith human rights NGO Haqel (The Field) — also conveyed GPS data files to Google so that it could place hundreds of missing Palestinian villages on its maps. Similarly, Rep. Mike Honda (D-California) asked Apple to make those villages visible on its maps.

Why are these mainstream liberal politicians suddenly so interested in this tiny village, and why do they see these hi-tech maps as so crucial?

As Feinstein notes in her July 28, 2015, letter to Netanyahu:

The village has existed in the South Hebron Hills at least since the 1830s … the residents have made good-faith efforts to inhabit their homes legally. For instance, in October 2013, the ICA [Israeli Civil Administration] rejected a proposed master plan drafted with the support of an Israeli NGO, Rabbis for Human Rights, which would have allowed [Susya’s] residents to build homes legally and connect to the available water and power grids…. Demolishing civilian structures and displacing innocent families … undermines Israel’s security and isolates it from the community of nations.

However, this argument does not seem to bear much force in relation to the decision-making of Israeli politicians.

It’s clear that so long as Israel denies these permits, making the structures permanently illegal, it can claim to “lawfully” demolish these villages and in many cases continue its expansion of Jewish settlements. The US State Department — and indeed, the world community — recognizes these settlements as illegal and as an obstacle to peace. Israel’s recent response has been to unilaterally declare them “legal.” We can see this battle, then, as part of a diplomatic war over what is actually legal and what is deemed to be so by one of the protagonists for their self-interest alone.

One of the linchpins in Israel’s argument is that the land in question was never really inhabited by Palestinians, and here is where maps play a critical role. In his August 11, 2015, letter to Feinstein, Netanyahu claims, “Contrary to Palestinian claims that the area has been inhabited for decades, only a handful of structures continued to expand their illegal construction by exploiting a cease and desist order that temporarily prohibited Israel from demolishing these structures.” In contrast to this claim, Mitchell Plitnick, vice president of the Foundation for Middle East Peacenotes,

According to the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, “The Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya has existed for at least a century. It appears on maps as far back as 1917 — decades before Israel began occupying the West Bank. Aerial photographs from 1980 show cultivated farmland and livestock pens, indicating the presence of an active community there.”

So who is right, and what evidence is there to support either claim?

Maps can be essential testaments to human presence, history and culture.  They are also highly politicized — shaped by the mapmaker’s own political vision, which informs the contours, dimensions, spaces and status of any item, or even its existence. In our hi-tech world, where we are so reliant on digital media to locate ourselves in our surroundings, images appear and disappear with a keystroke. And this is dangerous. Only recently the West Bank and Gaza suddenly “disappeared” from Google maps. Google insisted this was simply the result of a “bug.”

But what is going on in the case of the destruction of these villages is quite different, because it is calculated.

In October 2016 a group of Palestinians working with the Rebuilding Alliance of Burlingame, California, delivered letters to the Silicon Valley headquarters of Google and Apple, requesting that they both update their maps with data that had been missing. Donna Baranski-Walker, founder and executive director of the Alliance explained to Truthout that “on Apple Maps, at least 550 villages were invisible to the world. Google Maps miss about 220 villages (the ones in Area C).” Currently, Google Maps and Apple Maps show Israeli settlements and outposts, which are illegal under international law and violate official US policy, while erroneously depicting an empty countryside that in reality contains hundreds of Palestinian villages.

2016 1221palestine2

A map of the Palestinian village of Susya (also known as Susiya) in the West Bank. (Image: Rebuilding Alliance)

The top map featured here is the current Google map of South Hebron Hills near the Israeli Settlement of Susiya. The map below it shows what the area actually looks like, including the Palestinian village of Susiya and the neighboring villages. (Images: Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights)

A November press release from Rebuilding Alliance quotes Nava Sheer, a GIS mapping expert at Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights. According to Sheer:

Thousands of children and families in Area C of the West Bank can’t locate their homes on Apple or Google maps, or on Waze (Google’s subsidiary) … They are real locations — however, in the virtual mapped world of the Web, they simply can’t be found. In today’s online society, that’s as good as saying you don’t exist.

Rabbi Ascherman insists that this is a human rights issue, not an issue of Israel’s security. He told Truthout, “This is a human rights issue because the entire might of Israel is focused on removing Susya from the face of the Earth.” And Susya is just one of hundreds of such villages. According to Ascherman, this situation is a longstanding one, with some villages being destroyed again and again, and this is part of a larger political project that has been going on for years, with terrible effects. Ascherman says:

These people have been moved and displaced time after time after time. The psychological toll on people is devastating. People end up in therapy and children … are traumatized for life. People need to understand that a) it is not a benign or neutral process. It’s a very intensively political process and b) that it’s not about security…. This is part of an intentional, political effort to displace Palestinians to allow for the expansion of settlements.

In a recent op-ed, Rabbi Ascherman stressed that grassroots efforts are a key element in the struggle to make the human face of the Palestinians visible:

This is where average citizens come in. The great interest shown by the U.S. and other governments is a direct result of constituents pressing their representatives to express concern on their behalf. This is our best hope to maintain U.S. engagement in keeping Palestinian villages standing. Citizens are also working to make these villages visible and give them back their identity.

The question of whether or not Democrats will stand up to fight the most egregious acts of violence is an open one, but the main point is this: Politicians rarely do anything that might endanger their re-election unless they are pushed by grassroots efforts, persistently and vociferously.

What we are talking about in this specific case is the erasure of a people and a culture, all premised on the assertion that they simply do not exist anyway. This is being done to install in their place illegal settlements, and to populate the land as part of a longstanding settler colonial project. In a “post-truth” world, where facts and reality itself are too often simply the products of the powerful who want even more of the world under their control, these actions undertaken by the Rebuilding Alliance and Haqel are strong examples of how people can fight back and resist falsification and erasure, both on maps and in the world itself.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on By Making Palestinian Villages Invisible, Google and Apple Maps Facilitate Their Demolition

UN Security Council Seats Taken by Arms Exporters

NOVANEWS

By Lyndal Rowlands

Image result for UN Security Council CARTOON

Nine of the world’s top ten arms exporters will sit on the UN Security Council between mid-2016 and mid-2018.

The nine include four rotating members — Spain, Ukraine, Italy and the Netherlands — from Europe, as well as the council’s five permanent members — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to 2015 data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), these nine countries make up the world’s top ten exporters of arms. Germany ranked at number 5, is the only top 10 exporter which is not a recent, current or prospective member of the 15-member council.

However, Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher in the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme at SIPRI told IPS that he was not “surprised at all” to see so many arms exporters on the council.

“In reality it is business as usual: the five permanent members of the Security Council are of course in many ways the strongest military powers,” said Wezeman.

Just two permanent members, the United States with 33 percent and Russia with 25 percent, accounted for 58 percent of total global arms exports in 2015, according to SIPRI data. China and France take up third and fourth place with much smaller shares of 5.9 percent and 5.6 percent respectively.

The status of several rotating Security Council members as arms exporters while “interesting”, may be mostly “coincidence,” added Wezeman.

Current conflicts in Yemen and Syria pose contrasting examples of the relative influence that Security Council members have as arms exporters.

“Some of the major crises that the Security Council is now grappling with, particularly Yemen for example, have in large part been brought about the actions of its own members in selling arms to conflict parties,” Anna Macdonald, Director of Control Arms told IPS.

“We’ve been calling persistently for a year now for arms transfers to Saudi Arabia to be suspended in the context of the Yemen crisis, because of the severe level of the humanitarian suffering that exists there and because of the specific role that arms transfers are playing in that.”

Macdonald says that the transfer of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen violates both humanitarian law and the Arms Trade Treaty.

“Some of the major crises that the Security Council is now grappling with, particularly Yemen for example, have in large part been brought about the actions of its own members in selling arms to conflict parties,” Anna Macdonald.

Domestic pressure from civil society organisations, however, have caused some European countries, including Sweden which will join the Security Council in January 2017, to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia, said Wezeman. Sweden, which will hold a seat on the council from January 2017 to December 2018, comes in as the world’s number 12 arms exporter.

However arms exports from Security Council members are not necessarily a significant source of weapons in conflicts under consideration by the council.

For example, council members have been hinting at the prospect of an arms embargo against South Sudan for much of 2016, however the weapons used in South Sudan are not closely related to exports from Security Council members.

“South Sudan is a country which acquires primarily cheap, simple weapons. It doesn’t need the latest model tank, it can do with a tank which is 30 or 40 years old,” said Wezeman.

According to Wezeman, it is more likely that political rather than economic considerations impact Security Council members’ decisions regarding arms embargoes, since profits from arms sales are “limited compared to their total economy.”

“Most of the states that are under a UN arms embargo are generally poor countries where the markets for anything, including arms, are not particularly big,” he added.

Overall, however Macdonald says that Security Council members have special responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security, and this extends also to their particular responsibilities as arms exporters.

“We would obviously cite the UN Article 5: promote maintenance of peace with the least diversion for armament,” she said.

“We would argue that the 1.3 trillion that’s currently allocated to military expenditure is not in keeping with the spirit or letter of the UN charter,” she added, noting that this is significantly more than it would cost to eradicate extreme poverty.

Posted in UNComments Off on UN Security Council Seats Taken by Arms Exporters

The East Aleppo Syndrome

NOVANEWS
JPEG - 52.3 kb
Some inhabitants of East Aleppo refuse the help of the Syrian government.

After four and a half years of war, the population of East Aleppo was liberated by the Syrian Arab Army, with help from Hezbollah, Russia and Iran. This victory was greeted with joy by the majority of the 120,000 inhabitants freed and documented by the State. But only the majority.

Strangely, although Syria is offering them food, health care and temporary housing, certain inhabitants of East Aleppo declare that they «do not trust the State». What are they afraid of? They have not been arrested, and are, on the contrary, being welcomed as children of the homeland who have long been prisoners of the enemy.

It’s as if they had forgotten the freedom they enjoyed before the «Arab Spring». And as if nothing had happened over the last four years, they recite the discourse of Al-Jazeera in 2011. They claim that the Republic is a dictatorship, that it tortures children, that it massacres Sunnis, etc.

For the first time, we are observing, at the level of a city, a psychological phenomenon that is already well-known at the individual scale. Just as a beaten child or wife will sometimes defend the cruel father or husband and justify his behaviour, so certain inhabitants of East Aleppo are now using the language of the jihadists who were oppressing them.

In 1973, a Swedish psychiatrist, Nils Bejerot, analysed the shock imposed on the clients of a bank who were held hostage by criminals during an armed attack. The affair became a nightmare. Two policemen were wounded, one of them seriously. Prime Minister Olof Palme attempted to reason with the criminals who were threatening to kill their prisoners. Under terrible pressure, the hostages chose not to revolt, but to try to accommodate their captors in order to escape probable death. As the situation wore on, they ended up by speaking the same language as the criminals.

They attempted to dissuade the police from making an assault, and one of the women actually fell in love with one of the criminals. This is what came to be known as the «Stockholm Syndrome», from the name of the city where the events took place.

Finally, the police used anaesthetic gas, and managed to arrest the bandits and save the hostages. Although their emprisonment had lasted only six days, the hostages suffered from this syndrome to the point where they refused to give testimony during the trial which followed, and the young woman continued her relationship with the bandit during his incarceration.

Last year, clinical psychologist Saverio Tomasella demonstrated that the «Stockholm Syndrome» is «the mark of an extremely serious invasion of the inner life of the human being who has directly, and powerlessly, experienced the theft of his or her subjective identity».

We should therefore not believe that the few inhabitants of East Aleppo who are suffering from this syndrome will quickly reconnect with the real world. We should on the contrary offer them total security and once again show great patience. Even though we must first offer help to our soldiers and all those who resisted, these civilians are, above all, our compatriots.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on The East Aleppo Syndrome

Saudi Arabia supports Qatar against the Copts

NOVANEWS
 

On Sunday 11 December 2016, Cairo’s Saint-Peter and Saint Paul Church was bombed leaving 23 people dead and [another] fifty seriously injured.

Egypt has decreed three days of national mourning.

Under the presidency of the Muslim Brother Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood was at complete liberty to ransack a number of churches and the palaces of bishops. They even went as far as to [participate] in several lynchings. But after they were toppled, President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi undertook to defend Christians as [he would] any Egyptian.

The Egyptian Minister for Home Affairs considers that this bombing was probably committed by members of the Brotherhood and that they probably prepared for this attack in Qatar. Daesh immediately responded by claiming responsibility for it

Isis’s key leaders are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, while most leaders of the Brotherhood live in Turkey, Qatar and the United Kingdom.

On 15 December, the Gulf Cooperation Council (an organization dominated by Saudi Arabia) has deplored the accusations directed at one of their members (Qatar).

In 2014, President al-Sissi has transmitted to Saudi Arabia documents found in the archives of his predecessor. These documents were evidence that, with the help of a faction of the Brotherhood, Qatar was preparing a coup d’Etat against the Saudi family. Thus Riyadh had financially supported Egypt and threatened to invade Qatar.

Posted in EgyptComments Off on Saudi Arabia supports Qatar against the Copts

A tale of two giants: Sobukwe and Mandela

Robert Sobukwe

Extremely feared in life and in death, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary leader Sobukwe remains largely silenced as all attention has been lavished on Mandela. Subukwe articulated an uncompromising internationalist vision with Afrika at the centre. He eschewed multi-racialism and a narrow nationalism. Restoring land to Black people was at the heart of his praxis of liberation.

It is an odd fluke that these two men arrived and departed from this earth on the same day: Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was born on 5 December 1924 while Mandela died on the same date three years ago.  Initially counterparts in the ANC Youth League, their profound tactical differences and deep ideological and intellectual crevices were apparent right from early on. The irony of their proximity is all the more bizarre given the consistent and deliberate erasure of Sobukwe’s contribution to the Azanian and indeed global African lexicon in contrast to the effusive celebration that Nelson Mandela enjoyed in life and in death.

Sobukwe’s ideas on Africanist and African thought are canons throughout the ages and the schisms between the two men emerged as early as 1940s when the ANC Youth League was formed to respond to what South African youth believed to be the inertia of the struggle. Sobukwe, Lembede and AP Mda were among the leading lights that galvanised the Defiance Campaign and strongly opposed the policy of multi-racialism that they deemed to be a dangerous mechanism to privilege minority rights.

Sobukwe et al were extremely dissatisfied with the growing influence that the White-led Communist Party of South Africa had and by 1956 he was part of the Africanist group. Sobukwe diagnosed the South African colonial question by saying:

“The Europeans are a foreign group which has exclusive control of political, economic, social and military power. It is the dominant group. It is the exploiting group, responsible for the pernicious doctrine of white supremacy, which has resulted in the political humiliation and degradation of the indigenous African people.’

In 1959, the pressure was too much and the Africanists led by Sobukwe with AP MDA, AB Ngcobo and others left to form the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC).

Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other leading members of the ANC Youth League remained in what Sobukwe considered to be a captured ANC. Capture clearly did not begin at Saxonwolde. In his memoirs, Mandela described the actions of the Africanist camp as immature, without a prospect of success. He also conceded that he felt intimidated by the intellectual vigour of his erstwhile friends and comrades Sobukwe and Lembede.

The men differed not only in tactics but also in allies. For Sobukwe and the PAC, the basis of any reconstituted society had to be African since Africans are indigenous to this country, are the majority and are the labour base.

The ANC preferred and stressed the importance of a multi–racial South Africa. Much of the leadership was at that time centred on urban mobilisation and concentrated on building an educated urban cadreship. The usurpation and distraction of a colonial liberation struggle into a Black/White issue was and remains one of the greatest fissures in the South African liberation narrative.

It is this that removed Afrikan liberation, decolonisation and land restitution from the centre of what Sobukwe articulated as the overriding reason to enter armed struggle through POQO. It translated the complexity of land occupation into race relations, anti-apartheid movement, more in keeping with the civil rights movement of the United States. POQO considered itself to have more in common with the Mau Mau in Kenya than freedom riders in Mississippi.

When Mr Mandela announced that he had fought White domination and would then fight Black domination, it was clear that the decades of ideological disagreement between himself and Sobukwe, by extension the ANC and the PAC, remained intact.

The outflow of the positive action campaign was of course the historical Sharpeville Uprising of 21 March 1960 about which Sobukwe said that greatest benefit was the loss of ‘fear of consequences of disobeying the colonial laws’. He heroically refused to plead for clemency from the settler colonial regime, arguing that it was illegitimate.  A year later, Nelson Mandela repeated these sentiments and because officialdom continues to fear Sobukwe’s voice, even in his death, the mythology of these courageous words have been wrongly attributed to Tata Mandela.

Having been imprisoned for the Sharpeville Uprising, Sobukwe and other PAC cadres began to mobilise and politicise the hardened criminals that they did hard labour with. Indeed the Institute of Race Relations conducted a survey that indicated that the Africanist camp had ignited the national and even international imagination. Their 1963 survey indicated 57% support for the PAC, 39% for the ANC and 31% for the Liberal Party.

All this within just a year of PAC’s formation. Perhaps most potent contribution that Mangaliso Sobukwe made was in his ability to describe an internationalist vision with Afrika at the centre. Similar to Cabral he eschewed narrow nationalism and spoke against what he characterised as fashionable doctrine of ‘exceptionalism.’  He opined that South Africa was deeply embedded in the broader African continent and the global African experience and strongly maintained that isolationism – which the Pretoria colonial regime was trying to instil in the African majority – could not be part of the Africanist narrative.

‘Prof’, as he was affectionately known, spoke clearly on economic restitution and articulated the process required to achieve equitable distribution of wealth through industrial development. He recognised that rural poverty was causing immense pressure on the inevitable urban population, and in anticipation of governing, begun to co-create ideas to bring the Afrikan majority to the centre of economic vibrancy. At the centre of Sobukwe’s praxis of liberation was land.

The official story of Nelson Mandela is of a moderate nationalist who perhaps hoped for peaceful transition until this hope went up in the flames of the Sharpeville Uprising. Although he has been quoted as saying ‘I was bitter and felt ever more strongly that SA whites need another Isandlwana,’ most of these sentiments were laid aside in favour of the negotiated settlement.

Perhaps Sobukwe would have noted that the settlement has displaced more people particularly the Afrikan majority.  The Government of National Unity was characterised by some critics as a deeply compromised response to a revolutionary threat posed by African workers. The GNU attempts to bind the workers’ organizations to the bourgeoisie.  Naomi Klein noted that “Mandela, in his first postelection interview as president, carefully distanced himself from his previous statements favouring nationalization. ‘In our economic policies, there is not a single reference to things like nationalization, and this is not accidental: There is not a single slogan that will connect us with any Marxist ideology.’” Klein continuess, “they remained firmly in the hands of the same four white-owned mega conglomerates that also control 80% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. In 2005, only 4% of the companies listed on the exchange were owned by Blacks.”

This stands in some contrast to Sobukwe’s ideology that rejected ‘economic exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few‘.

In remembering the two men, the irreconcilable schisms in their politics and economic policy require examination. While Mandela had the opportunity to grow and extend his influence globally, the tragedy of Sobukwe is that in life his voice was silenced and feared. The celebration of his birth gives us the ongoing possibility of at last hearing his voice loudly pronouncing on the conditions and politics of the current era with profound prescience.

Giants, indeed, never die.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on A tale of two giants: Sobukwe and Mandela

Can local refining address Nigeria’s oil challenges?

SCR

Despite strong-arm efforts to stamp out unlicensed local refining in Africa’s largest oil producer, the practice continues and is a major source of livelihood for those involved. Maybe it is time the government recognized and regulated local oil refining instead of relying on imports of petroleum products.

Since the discovery of oil in 1958, Nigeria is yet to find solutions to her crude refining and exploration and has over the years relied on importation of refined petroleum products.

Successive governments had made promises on building functional local refineries and addressing the rot in the oil sector. Unfortunately, none of them has repositioned the sector.

In one of the efforts Mr. Olusegun Aganga, the former Minister of Trade and Investment, signed a memorandum of understanding between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and some foreign investors under an American-Nigerian joint venture to put up six modular refineries at the cost of $4.5 billion (about N700 billion). To this moment nothing has been done.

The federal government audit report shows that over $1.6 billion has been spent on the turnaround and maintenance of Nigeria’s refineries, without a functional refinery on the ground.

In the face of this challenge, communities in the Niger Delta region have come to adopt unconventional technologies in refining crude oil, which they sell to make a living.

Both the federal and state governments have branded these actions as illegal, thereby shutting down the refining plants. The argument of the government is hinged on the fact that the exercise is criminal and leads to pollution and environmental degradation, loss of revenue, as the products are not well refined, which also leads to health disasters, explosions and vehicle breakdown.

In an effort by the government to checkmate this act, about 4,349 illegal refineries were reportedly destroyed in diverse operations executed by the Joint Taskforce (JTF) in the Niger Delta between January and December 2012 alone and the destruction continues to this time.

In a complementary action, about 36,584 drums of illegal refined products, 638 pumping machines and 326 outboard engines were reportedly confiscated and destroyed by the JTF and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Niger Delta communities, while 2.24 million liters of illegal diesel in Delta State were reported to have been destroyed.

In Edo, Rivers and Delta states soldiers under the auspices of ‘Operation Pulo Shield’ were reported to have destroyed numerous local refineries.

As the government destroys local refineries, branding them illegal as a justification for its actions, groups such as the Ijaw People Development Initiatives (IPEDI) have argued that rather than destroy such ‘illegal’ refineries the government should allow them to operate to create job opportunities for the youth in the region.

They advised the government to provide operational guidelines for local refineries, rather than destroying them. They observed that in spite of the destruction of local refineries and branding them illegal, they still exist.

As such the best idea is for such refineries to be licensed by the federal government and to demand the payment of appropriate taxes.

Mr. Peter Biakpara, a former commissioner in Delta State government, does not see any illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region. Rather, he calls the exercise “local expertise”.

To him, “government has to encourage local refineries, and if the government refuses to support and regulate them, they will continue to exist, because those who operate them cannot easily give up as they are making a living out of them.”

He also observed that “the giant oil refining companies we have today may have started in crude and traditional forms as those operating in the Niger Delta at the moment.”

He was of the opinion that government should play a major regulatory role as it does in other sectors, as against its choice of using the firepower of the state to send people out of business.

Even as government destroys the local refineries in the Niger Delta, the hope of Nigerians in having efficient and functional refineries is still dim.

A report by the Special Task Force on national refineries revealed that the number of licenses issued to investors to build refineries in Nigeria has increased to over 28, and in all none of the licensees has the capacity to operate a refinery.

The report also revealed that of the 42 oil refineries operating in Africa, the three in Nigeria are the worst, in terms of efficiency and capacity utilization.

Foreign investors are unwilling to invest in Nigerian refineries as a result of these challenges.

Some key questions that are left unanswered are: going by the need for the Nigerian state to have local refineries that are driven by the local people, should initiatives of crude refining in Niger Delta communities be killed by the government? Is there a way the government can establish a framework that will enhance local crude oil refining in the Niger Delta? Are there ways government can encourage local refining of crude oil by setting regulations that will guide the activities of local refiners?

Communities within the region have also argued that if the reason for destroying their local refineries is because their activities lead to environmental pollution, Shell Petroleum Development Company and other multi-national companies operating in the region should also be shut down because they also cause environmental pollution.

If the Nigerian government sees a reason to encourage and support initiatives on local refineries by communities in the Niger Delta, investment in this direction will be one of the best options, they argue.

There is a sense in which communities in the Niger Delta are not likely to give up local refinery operations. The trend is likely to continue as those who engage in the act see it as a huge source of livelihood.

For instance, investors in this business make between N2 million (about $12,800) and N10 million ($64,000) every week, depending on the scope of their business.

Those who engage in the distribution of the products make more gains, particularly at the time of fuel scarcity, since they control the retail using boats and canoes to transport the products from one location to another.

Some law enforcement agents like the army and police whose assignment is to checkmate such operations are alleged to have joined communities in the business mainly because of the high profit.

In a sense too, despite several efforts towards cracking down on the operators of these ‘illegal refineries’ by the JTF, the number of lorries loading oil from the local refineries continues to increase.

The president of the Oil and Gas Service Providers Association of Nigeria (OGSPAN) Colman Obasi observed that: “From all indications and what is obtainable, the war against illegal refineries cannot be won now. In fact, it is far from being won. It has not even started and this is due to the fact that those who engage in the business are still in charge.”

Putting up a local refinery no doubt is capital intensive. If Nigeria will have a local refinery with good capacity in place, hopes that the challenges and corruption found in the country’s oil sector will disappear are high.

As the Nigerian state takes cognizance of the important role indigenous technology and local initiatives can play in both technological advancement and economic transformation, the government is likely to listen to the growing voices of advocates for supporting the local refineries.

The government may start to think in terms of plans to encourage and design policies for initiatives like those in Niger Delta communities rather than branding them illegal and shutting them, using the firepower of the state. This can be a dramatic turning point for the restive Niger Delta and the Nigerian state socially, economically and politically.

From the failed attempts by the government to establish functional refineries, and government unwillingness to give up its monopoly on oil business in Nigeria, the business of local refineries in Nigeria will face challenges in the years ahead. Despite the envisaged challenges, communities in Niger Delta are likely to embrace illegal refineries in full force in years to come. This is likely to be the case as communities in the region are resilient when it comes to oil.

Militants in the region are also finding the business lucrative and they are likely to opt for it in place of kidnapping and waging war against the government. The business is also likely to thrive more when communities and militants in the region know how lucrative it is, thus this is likely to be another area government has to confront Niger Delta region just as it did in the days of militancy.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Can local refining address Nigeria’s oil challenges?

New report on the Igbo genocide shatters this orchestrated silence

Premium Times

Nigeria and its backers must now know that no force can stop the determined will of a people. No other African peoples have suffered such an extensive and gruesome genocide and incalculable impoverishment as the Igbo. Yet the Igbo have written a stunning essay in the past 50 years on human survival and resilience, overcoming the most desperate, unutterably brutish forces in Nigeria.

“Denial is the final stage that lasts throughout and always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide … try to cover up the evidence … They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern … with impunity … unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them. The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts…” (Gregory Stanton, president, Genocide Watch; Professor of genocide studies and prevention, George Mason University, Virginia)

One of the cruelest tragedies of the aftermath of 400 years of pan-Europe’s enslavement, conquest, unparalleled expropriation and occupation of the African World is that concocted pedestal of “moral authority” that successive West/Euro-American leaders have erected and from which they lecture African presumed leaderships in “post”-(European)conquest states and estates on how the latter treat their populations.

The West’s leaders are expressly contemptuous of these African “leaderships”, understandably, because most have been created or implanted invariably on the African scene by the extant imperium. The West is therefore untiring as it ritualistically lectures its stretch of puppets across Africa: “Respect the human rights of your people”; “Stop murdering your people…”; “You are corrupt, very corrupt! You steal your peoples’ money – Stop it! You must be transparent and Accountable!”; “Institute a bill of rights;” “Respect the rule of law”; “Run free and fair elections!” “Don’t turn your presidency into a life-long estate as we really don’t want you to deal with our own next generation of leaders, our children’s”…

Hotchpotch

Even then, no truly focused democrat should be disoriented by this astonishing irony emanating from the West. African “leaderships”, quite often in league with some of their West’s hypocritical traducers, have murdered 15 million Africans across the continent in the past 50 years in appalling spates of genocide, beginning with the Igbo genocide on 29 May 1966, and in other wars in virtually every region of Africa. Even if the devil itself were to lecture African “leaderships” to stop murdering their own peoples and, in the process, help prevent just one more African from being annihilated by their depraved overlords, that would be readily welcome. African populations are under siege by brutal regimes replete across Africa especially the genocidist hotchpotch in Nigeria and the Sudan. The peoples here and elsewhere require unremitting support for their right to safeguard their lives and progress from wherever in the world. Not less.

There is, of course, nothing in these apparent pro-African freedom/liberatory sentiments by Western leaders, referred to above, to suggest that the latter really care about the African humanity they and forebears have spent nearly half of a millennium obliterating/dehumanizing; nor do they indeed look forward to the day when they will deal with a democratic Africa where its leaderships are accountable to their own, their home publics. To the contrary, if that were to occur, the West would cease to exercise the stranglehold it currently has on Africa. No responsive leadership ever plays the overseer role which these African regimes engage in.

Crucially, to the score, the West’s singular mission in castigating its African “leaderships” is to continue desperately to cover the tracks of its heinous historical crimes across Africa, to expunge these, if possible, from any form of reckoning and eventual systemised censure. But even in the pursuit of this venture, the West is often highly selective on who or what “leaderships” they wish to focus on – such decisions ultimately rest on the individual West’s state-interest(s) at the time, thus enabling it, for instance, to ignore some “misdeeds” from a client-leadership who is considered “our son of a b****” as Franklin D Roosevelt, a former US president, would colourfully describe it.

Vile genocidist operative

Very recently in London, England, in May 2016, the world witnessed in full public display a classic of this selective choice tinkering of some “misdemeanour” from one of its African “leaderships” which a West leader had wished to focus on for the occasion of a state banquet for the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron who, in March 2015, in collaboration with US President Obama, had imposed Muhammadu Buhari, the vile genocidist operative during the Igbo genocide, as new head of regime in Nigeria, dramatically addressed the Queen in the company of some other influential guests: “[Your Majesty], We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain … Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world…”

Noticeably, during this entire apparent puppet show, Cameron didn’t mention the gravest attribute in the grim Buhari portfolio spectrum which was key in the former’s joint decision with Obama to install the genocidist operative in power in Nigeria – namely, to continue to wage the genocide against Igbo people, begun 50 years ago. Buhari was pleased with his puppet “massa” for his deft choice from the available range of CV data and the “boy” obliged, accordingly, by acknowledging, also publicly whilst walking next to Patricia Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, to a reception that his “country is [indeed] corrupt”.

Buhari has been known to the British for 50 years – since the outbreak of the May 1966 Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa, launched by its client state Nigeria with firm British military, diplomatic and political support. Harold Wilson, the British prime minister then, personally supervised and coordinated the prosecution of the genocide from his London No 10 Downing Street residence. During phase-III of the genocide, the invasion of Biafra, July 1967-January 1970, Buhari was commander of a genocidist corps in north and northcentral Biafra, slaughtering Igbo children, women and men to the hilt. 3.1 million Igbo or 25 per cent of their population were murdered during the 44 months of phases I-III which ended in January 1970. Since his March 2015 Cameron-Obama imposition, Buhari has duly resumed his Igbo slaughtering mission. In response, predictably, both the Cameron administration and its successor Theresa May’s, and the Obama government have all remained deafeningly silent over this catastrophe.

The Amnesty International’s courage in publishing two major reports on this ongoing genocide, one in June 2016 
 (accessed 10 June 2016) and the second just recently, 24 November 2016
 (accessed 23 November 2016), cannot be commended enough. These reports, particularly the latest, shatter an orchestrated silence initiated at the highest levels of government in both Britain and the US to attempt to shield these states’ active involvement in the crime of genocide against Igbo people, this crime against humanity.

Breakthrough

Nigeria and its backers must now know that no force can stop the determined will of a people. No other African peoples have suffered such an extensive and gruesome genocide and incalculable impoverishment in a century as the Igbo. Yet the Igbo have written a stunning essay in the past 50 years on human survival and resilience, a beacon of the resilient spirit of human overcoming of the most desperate, unutterably brutish forces in Nigeria. Genocide, it should be reiterated, is a crime against humanity. There is therefore no statute of limitations in international law for the apprehension and punishment of those responsible for this crime. Igbo seek and will achieve justice for the perpetration of this crime.

The Igbo are primed to restore their sovereignty in their Biafran homeland. This will be one of the most outstanding breakthroughs of the freedom movement of the age.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on New report on the Igbo genocide shatters this orchestrated silence

Tie your shoe laces Haitians, the battle to free Haiti from US imperialism continues

Hougan Sydney

Outgoing President Michel Martelly’s handpicked successor, Jovenel Moïse, won disputed elections setting off protests. If Haitians had a real leader, like Moise Jean Charles, democratically elected, that leader would want to change the economic plundering and looting. This is why the oligarchs pulled out all the stops to put in another Martelly replica. It is going to be another five years of US colonization of Haiti.

After lots of insider objections, the criminals won the day. For now.

Essentially, the Bigio-Boulos-Brandt-Berlanger-Apaid-Clinton crew announced to the Haitian people that their votes were switched by the old 2015 UNOPS-Core Group crew and allocated as follows:

Jovenel Moise – 55.67 percent
Jude Celestin –  19.52 percent
Sen. Jean-Charles Moïse – 11.04 percent
Maryse Narcisse – 8.99 percent
Martelly’s replica, Jovenel Moise, the reason why there was a rigged election in 2015 and the candidate Haitians rejected then, is again being put into the Haiti presidency by the Barack Obama-Clinton international criminals in Haiti.

Indeed, the International Community (UNOPS/USAID/Clinton Foundation) simply switched the people’s real votes for prefabricated ones for Jovenel Moise.

The international mafia went into the tabulation center and had UNOPS and their technicians (a Spanish guy) push a few buttons, give them the results the humiliated Clinton-Kenneth Merten crew wanted and insisted on in Haiti. This was reported yesterday by Haiti attorney Elton Harold Desinor on Radyo Kiskeya.

It’s such an absolute fraud, perhaps I’ll write further details out for you later. For now, this electoral fraud only proves how desperate the imperialists are in Haiti, in the US, all over the globe. The plutocrats are losing traction and their media can’t fool the people any longer. But, before I give you the heads-up on what to expect from the new US-Euro House Kneegrow, Jovenel Moise, put in charge of Haiti, let me share a little story about our Haiti reality.

Recently a friend told me one of the Haiti mulattoes recommended she read Written in Blood to understand Haiti history. Now, you must understand this book provides the quintessential colonial narrative on Haiti and reads like a municipal police blotter of Haitians committing violence on Haitians. You know, like Gerald Latortue did after the removal of Aristide during the bicentennial coup d’etat from 2004 to 2006; like during the second term of Rene Preval when the UN massacred thousands of Haitians along with the newly trained Haiti police; like under the Clinton surrogate, Michel Martelly, and now as it will be under Jovenel Moise. That sort of “Haiti history” focuses on the “choices” the people of Haiti didn’t make.
It’s the white man’s “Haitian history”, filled with the “corrupt, violent, lawless and incompetent Haitians.”

When I was young and reading their colonial narratives, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t recognize the Haiti they were talking about; why I didn’t see the hard working, honest Haiti parents and relatives I knew. The ones who fought against US imperialism, generation after Haitian generations but still lived – stayed innocent, dignified, vibrant, heroic?

But now that I’ve lived through decades upon decades of US imperialism, its human subjugation, exploitation, economic colonialism, regime changes, rigged elections, massacres of unarmed Haitians, occupation and experienced how the US-Euros select the most amoral people from Haiti to put into office; people like the disgraceful former Tonton Makout, Michel Martelly, and now his replica, Jovenel Moise, I understand completely why they must have their lopsided narratives; their fake moral covers.

Unfortunately for them, so many Haitians can detail for the world that’s watching just how vicious that US swamp is and how, for their own sick kicks and bloodsucking pleasure, they install criminals as dictators in Haiti and once deported the one democratically elected Haiti president back to Africa. Corruption, genocide, subjugation, greed, it’s their nature. Fòk li ranni.

You may read the particulars on the CEP November 20th vote results, from the shamestream media’s Jacqueline Charles here.

For those who wish to pay attention to the real deal here, not the theater surrounding the US-Euro auctioning off of Haiti through this fake Jovenel Moise elections, here’s some of the lowdown:

1. Haiti’s Gilbert Bigio is the wealthiest of billionaires in the Caribbean. He owns the multi-billion dollar Haitian metal company, Acierie d’haiti and more recently, Port Lafito, the new Panamax Port for oil transshipment, fanning out all across Haiti. The Bigio Group works hand in hand with the Dominican Republic oligarchy, particularly the Vicini family sugar barons, to use the Ayiti landmass for the business of the globalist one percent;

2. Bigio is Israel’s agent in Haiti. He’s now got his own Tonton Makouts crew, flown in from South Africa and also made up of former Israeli military soldiers. This private military security contractors are known as HLSI and they are active in the resource wars in Angola/South Africa and are big Clinton Foundation donors. Before he left office, Michel Martelly gave HLSI/Bigio the border surveillance contract, land, air and sea.

3. The Mevs group of oligarchs in Haiti formerly controlled the largest Haiti private port (located, of course, in embattled Site Solèy which controls 21 per cent of the Haiti voting public.) This Mevs faction are livid about Bigio’s new power, port monopoly, influence as partner in Digicel and the Bigio border maneuvers. This group of oligarchs do not want Jovenel Moise in power to solidify the Clinton plunders and Bigio’s port Lafito power and influence. Nor do certain factions within the Dominican Republican oligarchy, who are losing billions upon billions now that they have to go through Bigio’s “border surveillance” crew and through Port au Prince to sell their foul sausages, eggs, fuel, sugar, et al, to Haiti.
The Dominican Republic is a US client-state, essentially the Israel of the Caribbean. Our sources indicate that a faction in the Pentagon doesn’t want to see a destabilization of the anemic DR economy if they can’t collect their normal $2 to $3 billion yearly in “trade” from poor, captive Haitians. They make their goods from exploiting Haiti slave-wage labor in the DR and sell it back to Haitians in Haiti! The oligarchs make money on both sides of the island off Haiti labor and the Diaspora remittances that pay for the goods the Haiti oligarchs buy from the DR to resell to Haitians in Haiti. If Haitians had a real leader, like Moise Jean Charles, democratically elected, that leader would want to change the economic plundering and looting. This is why the oligarchs pulled out all the stops to put in another Martelly replica.

4. In my new book, Nou Pap Obeyi, I outline how in 2004, while everyone was reading the shamestream media’s State Department missives and demonization bulletins of President Aristide and the Lavalas “chimeres,” the real fight was for control of the Haiti coastline in Site Soley, St Marc, Gonaives, Fort Liberte, to name a few. That oligarchy madness was between Bigio-Boulos-Brandt-Apaid who were paying Site Solèy’s mercenary, Labanye and others, to fight with Mevs soldiers led by Drèd Wilmè, who truly wanted to liberate Haiti, but was caught up in the geopolitical fight for the Site Solèy coastline filled with Haiti oil. You all know how that story went. The UN foreign soldiers massacred Drèd Wilmè and the Site Soley militants against the US occupation for the Gilbert Bigio crew, who now rule as overseers in Haiti, first through Martelly and now presumably through Jovenel Moise- if this electoral fraud sticks.

5. And behind all the Haiti overseers and repugnant white-Haitian oligarchy, there’s the Western overlords: the US military industrial complex, career foreign service folks, and USAID functionaries, which is a CIA front. Haitians uniformly call them: the “Laboratory”.

6. The Laboratory benefits from the Haiti chaos and I’d guess they are simply salivating right now at their ability to get the Haiti restaveks to put in Jovenel Moise under the thin veil of “elections.” The Laboratory doesn’t see the Haiti population as human beings, just pawns in their geopolitical game of dominance and resource warmongering. This fresh Haiti chaos of rigged 2016 elections, which will be resisted by the majority of peoples in Haiti, simply gives them a cover to keep everyone busy while no one is looking at the US soldiers in UN uniform and their US military bases not just floating in Haiti waters taking Haiti oil but the US military bases long established at Mole St. Nicolas and the newer one being eyed at Fort Liberte’s former Daulphin Plantation. The Northern Haiti gold belt “earthquake relief;” new “University;” Caracol “jobs;” and Paul Farmer’s newest “hospital” are all covers for their false philanthropic/NGO capitalist narrative.

7. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated General Flynn as his National Security advisor and as far as I can tell, the only thing the Laboratory wants to change in Haiti is the resource distribution. Certain oligarchs shut out by the Clinton Foundation monopoly in Haiti are hyperventilating over getting in opportunity for a redistribution of the loot taken by the Clinton-Obama crew. This means a re-distribution amongst the Duopoly colonists in the 1) Digicel cell phone and mobile banking monopoly; 2) a swapping of chairs between the oil, uranium, iridium plunderers for new ones, and 3) a bigger Republican share to be renegotiated on Haiti’s massive oil gold (already being funneled out as DR gold) no matter if open pit mining on the Northern faultlines kills another 310,000 Haitians.

8. The Laboratory also shall probably finally reveal their Northern military bases in Haiti and try to sell it to Haitians as a new source of, yep, that old Caracol trick again, “jobs for Haitians.”

9. The US-Canada-France occupiers in Haiti are at war with the Brazilians ever since Bill and Hillary landed to take their place as “spokespersons” for Haiti “democracy and responsibility to protect.” Lol. You have to laugh truly at these diabolical vampires. So, Bill Clinton was installed at the UN to also control media attention and get his Sean Penn/Wyclef Jean useful idiots out front so no one would see how Caracol Industrial Park was initially supposed to go the Brazilians not the South Koreans. Yep, by 2008 when Brazil found a lot of oil in its subsoil and had refused to kill innocent Haitians at the level of massacres the US and Bigio-Boulos-Brandt-Apaid group wanted them to, that’s when the angry US decided to deny Lula’s brother in-law his reward: Caracol Industrial Park and Haiti slave wage laborers. So they imported over 100,000 Haitians to Brazil and now those workers are kicked out of Brazil and miraculously finding no border guards as the Haitian immigrants virtually WALK unimpeded from Brazil to the US border! Yep, the Westerners are now openly at war with Brazil. Our Black bodies are simply cannon fodder in the white colonists geopolitical game. The US definitely wants Brazil out of Haiti because of its BRIC alliance, but more critically, the globalist/corporatocracy want to put their own greedy hands on that new oil found in Brazil.

10. In addition, to destroy the Haiti resistance to this US occupation behind UN mercenary guns, fake aid and fake elections, the US-Canada-France imperialists have plans to create a new 16,000 local Haiti army. In other words, the Western despots and terrorists expect to pacify 16,000 young Haiti men and some women by giving them the local jobs to bash in the heads of the resisting public wanting democracy. Such foreign-trained Haiti militarized forces shall continue to spray unarmed Haiti with rubber bullets, toxic chemicals, and whatever newer “riot” control US-Israeli weapons the colonists wish to try out for size.

11. There are rumors that some of the more conscientious ones in the Laboratory are pissed at having their hands tied, watching the fugitive Accra executive go free after his drug boat from Columbia was caught in Haiti and a warrant issued for his arrest. Some of these US authorities are very angry at not being able to do anything to grab DEA wanted fugitive Guy Philippe, and other alleged drug kingpins in the Martelly crew – such as his father in-law Charles “Bébé” St. Rémy, Youri Latorture, alleged former hit man for Michel Martelly and  now hiding in the Haiti Senate, Senator Herve Fourcand, many other K-Plume and PHTK unelected criminals pushed into the Haiti Parliament by the Kenneth Merten-Privert agreement of February 2016. Our sources indicate that even former presidential candidate, Jean-Henry Céant is said to be under investigation, like Jovenel Moise, for money laundering and other financial irregularities. So, expect indictments under Trump of PHTK bandits and hundreds of others not named herein but who are well-know lawless Duvalierist thugs, which Haiti lawyers like us have spent years trying to bring to justice, only to have the US-Laboratory and NGOs re-image them as “civil society” and then push for them to enter Parliament and get Parliamentary immunity.

12. The Paul Farmer poverty pimps and so-called Leftist progressives will continue to provide the imperialist with the “white savior,” “philanthropist cover,” while the human trafficking of Haiti children and organs at their various medical centers, along with more cholera vaccines, rake in the Haiti blood monies for big-pharma.

So, tie your shoe laces Haitians. It’s gonna be a heinous five years of US colonization of Haiti with more innocent Haitian bloodshed if this rigged election travesty is not annulled. As usual it is the poor Haiti warrior for liberty who will pay the price for liberty for all of Haiti.

At the Èzili Network, we commit to do our part, jiskobou, by transmitting the information to you ahead of time. Like the information you’ve just read, which the sell-out local Haiti and international media will never tell you.

Know folks, that the shamestream media news you’re getting from Miami Herald’s fraudster, Jacqueline Charles, or Reuters’ Guy Delva, no matter how neutral it seems, they are simply the PHTK-Hillary Clinton communication officers.

Posted in HaitiComments Off on Tie your shoe laces Haitians, the battle to free Haiti from US imperialism continues

Africa and environmental disasters: Can environmental insurance help?

NOVANEWS
The Rezponder

African countries should consider making insurance a mandatory requirement for certain categories of environmentally sensitive projects. This requirement should be applied pragmatically, in order not to drive away investors. At the same time investors, especially from developed countries, should not apply double standards when they are outside their countries of origin environmental pollution insurance is required.

Introduction

Globally, many developed countries are now confronted with environmental disasters that are destructive and sometimes life-threatening. Recent such disasters include the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana in the United States of America, the oil spills of the Niger Delta of Nigeria, the red mud disaster in Hungary, and the environmental damage resulting from Hurricane Katrina. To address the effects of these disasters the victims look to their governments for compensation and subsidies, especially in the developed countries. In addition, many countries have adopted the so-called “polluter pays principle”. Thus, in the case of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the US government forced the company to pay billions of dollars for the clean-up. In addition to applying the polluter pays principle, a number of countries (both developed and developing) have also adopted environmental insurance schemes to cover environmental disasters. In fact, all these schemes and methods have been faced with some implementation challenges in developing countries. This brief article therefore looks at the polluter pays principle and other forms of environmental pollution liability insurance schemes to see how they can be strengthened to complement one another, particularly in Africa.

Polluter pays principle

The polluter pays principle (PPP) originated in developed countries.  Luppi et al. (2012) define the principle, quite simply, as “the person who damages the environment must bear the cost of such damage”. Other scholars, such as Beder (2006), see the principle as an environmental policy that allocates the costs of the prevention of pollution and controlling measures that encourage sustainable use of scarce environmental resources. In other words, application of the PPP is necessary for ensuring that social, economic and environmental goals are properly integrated throughout the process, starting with the decision-making stage. This is of critical importance when environmental impact assessments are carried out for major projects with potentially negative impacts on the environment.

Implementation of the PPP has been far from effective, however. For example, according to Beder (2006), governments offer incentives to reduce pollution, but the potential victims continue to be exposed to serious risks. Moreover, many European countries have adopted liability laws to deal with damage to property and human health (Beder, 2006).  In addition, to ensure that the polluter pays, the European Union member states have to monitor exactly what the polluter discharges into the environment and, to do so, they have to install their own pollution control equipment, and charge the polluter taxes and levies to cover government environmental protection costs (Beder, 2006). Luppi et al. (2012) acknowledge that, while it is true that many EU member states embrace the polluter pays principle, they have not shifted the entire costs of environmental degradation to polluting firms. In view of this somewhat flexible approach, therefore, they argue that the EU practice falls well short of what full implementation of the PPP requires.

On the other hand, the case of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is unusual, because the United States is such a powerful country and, as Khor (2010) notes, BP – as a polluter – had no choice but to yield to its demands, because of political pressure and public anger. President Obama forced BP to set up a 20 billion-dollar fund to cover environmental costs and economic losses in affected areas and this amount may yet be further increased. This, regrettably, was not the case with the Niger Delta in Nigeria, where oil spills by Shell Company have had devastating effects on farmland areas and fisheries on which the people of the region depend for food and livelihoods.

Both these examples, especially that of the Niger Delta, raise questions about the value and credibility of the original EIAs that were carried out: had the reports been credible they would have indicated in their follow-up mitigation management plans the action that should be taken. This would have reduced the effects of the disasters and the polluter costs would have been much less, especially in the case of the BP oil spill. With regards to the Niger Delta, there have been several reports questioning whether Royal Dutch Shell did in fact carry out an EIA to begin with, including a mitigation plan. If they did, the studies done by other organizations, including that by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2011, seem to suggest that Shell has not been transparent about the oil spill clean-up activities they have carried out in the Niger Delta.

Looking beyond the PPP, and realizing how long the polluter takes to pay for damages, the government of India has adopted a transformative approach known as the “government pays approach”. Simply put, the government steps in for the polluter and pays for the damage and thereafter requests the polluter to refund the incurred costs (Luppi et al, 2012). This approach is being lauded by many developing countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, Kenya, Malaysia, and South Africa. Although the government pays principle has its own limitations, for now it is a preferred mechanism, in particular in Africa and other developing countries suffering from widespread poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, inequality, corruption and political instabilities.

Mandatory environmental insurance

Other countries, such as China, have introduced a different approach to environmental insurance. According to Combeau (2013), the government of China has mandated the compulsory purchase of pollution liability insurance for companies that have high environmental risks. This measure was prompted by the country’s recent national pollution crisis, which includes the widely publicized hazardous smog levels in Beijing, along with the doubtful safety of the drinking water in Shanghai, the degradation of the quality of groundwater resources across the country and the levels of soil pollution, which remain a state secret  (Combeau, 2013). Other countries that have joined China in introducing such a scheme include the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Slovakia, Turkey and Spain (Combeau, 2013).

Mandatory environmental insurance has some positive aspects. For example, according to Combeau (2013), the governments concerned expect that underwriters will assess the risks and apply pressure on operators to improve pollution risk prevention and protection of manufacturing sites. In addition, it is much easier and cheaper to ensure control of the operation of the environmental insurance system by the enforcement authorities than to carry out full compliance gap analyses against operating permits. Reviews can be conducted regularly and this will improve the scale of the supervision. Moreover, following a pollution accident the responsible party will remain solvent and the taxpayers’ money will not have to be used to cover pollution liability.

There are limitations to this approach, however, including the need for the participating insurers to be in a position to provide the required coverage at a sustainable price. In addition, they must have sufficient human resources to carry out risk assessments and to enforce the follow-up recommendations. Furthermore, the fact that environmental insurance is required only for a business’s most hazardous activities renders it a less attractive proposition for the insurance market.

Whatever the problems, Combeau (2013) states that the government of China feels that it will generate sufficient funding for clean-up, repair and immunity without companies filing for bankruptcy. She warns that, to achieve this, however, committed governments should provide incentives to enhance pollution prevention and control, accompanied by enforcement of laws and sanctions. Otherwise there is a likelihood that insurers may be discouraged and decide to pull out of providing coverage in selected geographical areas or walk away from potential markets. Consequently, environmental insurance might be a counterproductive means of addressing pollution problems.

Status quo and recommended future steps

First, it is clear that, by and large, if a project is required by law to be subjected to an environmental impact assessment (EIA), its developers and sponsors should also be required to take out environmental insurance in the event that their activities damage the environment and they are deemed to be liable for and have to bear the total cost of the pollution. Ironically, the implementation of projects that are subject to an EIA, especially in Africa, faces serious challenges such as mismanagement and corruption, and in some cases the EIA reports have been substandard and not useful. In many cases the developers or investors have not built insurance policies into their projects and, if an accident happens, such as the collapse of a building, the blame is put on the government.

Accordingly, African countries should consider making insurance a mandatory requirement for certain categories of environmentally sensitive projects. This requirement should be applied pragmatically, in order not to drive away the few investors who might be interested in the region. That said, willing investors, especially from developed countries, should not apply double standards when they are outside their countries of origin where PPP or environmental pollution insurance is required. The example of BP and the response by the US government on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is instructive.

Second, it is clear that the concept of environmental insurance is not fully understood in many sectors. African governments, environmental insurance companies and organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme should therefore organize tailor-made workshops or seminars to demystify the subject. In this connection, Hawryluk (2014) urges the environmental impact assessment community to work closely with environmental insurance providers to understand and address the mitigation measures associated with decommissioning and rehabilitation after the completion of a project. According to available literature, the decommissioning activities present the biggest financial risk to the insurance industry in developed countries. Besides, as observed by Hawryluk (2014), including environmental insurers in the EIA process would not only improve understanding of the EIA process but also enhance its quality, by providing insight relating to potential impacts. In addition, given that environmental liability involves a large number of people and organizations, the effectiveness of environmental insurance calls for not only a solid working partnership with key stakeholders but also a very strong degree of knowledge and understanding of the industry.

Third, all things considered, the effectiveness of environmental insurance schemes continues to be impeded by problems of enforcement, in particular of the polluter pays principle. Enforcement cuts across many sectors or areas, essentially because of corruption and lack of capacity. Moreover, in Africa, this problem is compounded by the lack of strong political will: African leaders have been reactive and defensive, especially when it comes to disasters.

No matter what, unless enforcement of the requirement for environmental insurance of projects that have a potential negative impact on the environment is taken seriously we will continue to regularly see disasters with unmanageable liabilities. Consequently, projects or programmes with high environmental risks, whether insured or not, call for effective and proper pollution preventive measures.

Fourth, one of the lessons learned from the BP experience in the Gulf of Mexico is that if the PPP has to be implemented to the letter in Africa, it will force many medium-sized companies, firms and manufacturing plants to file for bankruptcy after an accident. Clearly, given the huge sums of money involved in some cases, the polluter should have been obliged to take out pollution liability insurance to offset any possible damage costs. In addition, large and powerful companies such as those in the oil and gas sector may use certain stratagems to circumvent paying the actual costs of the accident.

This arises because, in practice, environmental issues are often not taken seriously by African governments, which cite pretexts such as the danger that they will hinder development, especially job creation and poverty alleviation. As a cautionary aside, we might note here that a comparable view is also held by US president-elect Trump. His campaign promise that he will cancel the Paris Agreement and get the coal mines up and working again is evidence enough of his total lack of regard for environmental issues. In some African countries, such as in Kenya (the housing sector), Nigeria (the Niger Delta), Lesotho (the Highlands Water Project), and others, government officials are known to have accepted bribes and overlooked environmental damage. Whatever the case, the application of PPP should be pragmatic, like the approach taken by some EU countries, and accompanied by an environmental liability insurance to cover any eventualities.

Conclusion

In tackling pollution or environmental risks, African countries should ensure that companies or individual developers subscribe to either PPP or environmental pollution liability insurance. This should be done in every instance where an environmental impact assessment is prepared for large-scale environmentally sensitive projects. As noted by Susavidge and Barry (2002), in the past, environmental pollution liability insurance coverage was prohibitively expensive, but the perceptions and uses of environmental insurance have changed substantially. With this in mind, the various approaches currently available, namely, the polluter pays principle, the government pays principle and mandatory environmental insurance, would appear to offer dynamic mechanisms that are mutually complementary.

According to Susavidge and Barry, by embracing environmental insurance, many businesses find themselves sitting comfortably in lucrative business deals, as opposed to the skepticism that dominated the industry in the past. No matter what, Africa should take advantage of the changing circumstances in today’s environmental insurance industry and ensure that certain activities which have serious negative impacts on the environment include the obligation to take out insurance. This is the policy followed, for instance, by the auto industry: in most African countries, as elsewhere in the world, given the heavy traffic and poor roads one cannot drive a vehicle without insurance – whether comprehensive or third party.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Africa and environmental disasters: Can environmental insurance help?

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

December 2016
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031