Archive | May 31st, 2017

How Zionist Moves in Jerusalem Are Scotching Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’

NOVANEWS
How Israeli Moves in Jerusalem Are Scotching Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’
 

A decision by Donald Trump this Thursday could prove fateful for the immediate future of Jerusalem, the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the region.

He must decide whether to renew a presidential waiver, signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, that expires on June 1. The six-month waiver delays implementing a law passed by Congress in 1995 that requires the US to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

It is a law every president for the past 22 years has baulked at. It would pre-empt the Oslo accords and negate Washington’s assumed role as “honest broker”. Carrying out Congress’s wish would deny the Palestinians East Jerusalem, the only credible capital of a future Palestinian state.

But equally significantly, the law would recognise Israel’s efforts to claim sovereignty over the Old City’s holy places, especially the incendiary site of Al Aqsa mosque. That could provoke a conflagration both locally, among Palestinians, and more generally in the Middle East.

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Al-Aqsa mosque (Source: Wikipedia)

Trump’s key advisers are reported to be bitterly divided. Some, such as secretary of state Rex Tillerson, warn that, if the president fails to approve the deferral, his claims to be crafting the “ultimate deal” to bring peace to the region will be doomed from the outset.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, including in the US Congress, are doing their best to pressure Trump in the opposite direction.

On Sunday, Netanyahu staged a provocative stunt, holding his weekly cabinet meeting in a tunnel under Al Aqsa mosque compound to announce measures to bring millions more Jewish visitors to the occupied Old City, including a new cable car to the edge of the mosque.

It was Netanyahu’s decision to open the Western Wall Tunnel in 1996, when he first became prime minister, that brought the Oslo process into almost terminal crisis at an early stage. Three days of clashes killed more than 100 Palestinians and 17 Israeli soldiers.

Next Tuesday, meanwhile, the US Congress and Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem are due to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Israel’s illegal occupation of the city in a ceremony conducted via video link.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that either Trump or vice-president Mike Pence are due to participate, in what could be interpreted as the first tacit recognition by the White House of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

That would be a continuation of Trump’s break with official US policy towards Jerusalem during his visit to the region last week. He became the first sitting president to visit the Jewish prayer plaza at the Western Wall, below Al Aqsa. It was unclear whether his advisers had explained that where he stood had been a Palestinian neighbourhood 50 years ago, before it was ethnically cleansed.

Trump stuffed a note into the wall, in what observers hoped was a plea for divine help in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the Western Wall visit was more probably an effort to placate his core supporters. Christian evangelicals paid for dozens of billboards across Jerusalem reminding Trump that he won the election only because of their votes – and that they expect the US embassy to be moved to Jerusalem.

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Western Wall in Jerusalem (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The day after Trump’s departure, Netanyahu exploited the president’s attendance at the wall to further damage prospects for peacemaking. He made a provocative speech to mark “Jerusalem Day”, Israel’s annual show of strength in East Jerusalem.

He claimed that Trump had disproved the “lies” promoted by the United Nations cultural body, Unesco, when it voted this month to re-state that Jerusalem is occupied.

In truth, it was Netanyahu who indulged in gross mendacity, claiming that East Jerusalem had been “desolate” and “neglected” before its occupation. Israel had “redeemed” the city, he said, while Al Aqsa mosque would “always remain under Israeli sovereignty”.

His supporters tried to give that claim concrete expression by staging the largest-ever march through the Old City on Jerusalem Day. Palestinians were forced into hiding or fled early as police allowed 60,000 Jewish ultra-nationalists to besiege the heart of East Jerusalem.

In a sign of the power balance in Israel, a small group of 50 left-wing Jews – many from the US – linked arms to try to block the march at the Old City’s entrance. Footage showed police brutally arresting them, grabbing them in chokeholds and breaking one woman’s arm.

Jerusalem is the most intractable of the final-status issues set out in the Oslo process. Those expecting miracles of Trump are going to be disappointed. His commitment to pressuring Netanyahu is weak, while the Israeli prime minister’s commitment to making concessions is non-existent.

Whether Trump signs the waiver or not on Thursday, all indications are that the US president – faced with domestic pressures and an intransigent Israeli government – is going nowhere with his “ultimate deal”.

The only real question to be decided on Thursday is whether Trump prefers to take the fast or protracted route to failure.

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Greece between IMF, German Elections, and the Future of the Euro Area

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

Disappointment flowed from the Eurogroup meeting on Monday of last week (May 22nd), when there was high expectation that an agreement with the International Monetary Fund would finally be reached on the issue of the Greek debt relief. After lengthy and painful negotiations, the meeting ended around midnight without a deal. And if so far there was no pressure to close the talks quickly to secure the next tranche, or Greece would go bankrupt, time is now coming in as a key factor, for the next tranche needs to be paid in July.

What is the problem?

The third rescue programme for Greece was agreed in the summer of 2015 in the hope that the IMF will re-engage with financial and expert involvement, as in the previous two programmes. However, the Fund refused to participate until the euro area made a specific commitment for debt relief. This has been the apple of discord for two years in a row now. Without the participation of the Fund, the € 86 billion program cannot be fully funded because of public opinion resistance in currency club member states. As the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said in the summer of 2015, without the IMF there will be no third rescue programme.

A third bailout programme does however exist, and at this time last year an agreement was reached with the Fund that, after the completion of the second program review, there will be specific talks on what measures are euro area countries willing to offer to alleviate the Greek debt. Only, in the text of the statement, the euro area states insisted on writing “if necessary”. The leaders of the institutions continue to insist on this “if”. The reason the IMF does not want to get involved is that it is not convinced that the Greek government debt is sustainable, nor does it believe the measures set out in the programme will make it sustainable. The programme pledges to achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding credit interest) in its final year (2018) of 3.5% of GDP and maintain this surplus over the medium term, which is a rather broad concept.

In February, the head of the Fund’s European department, Poul Thomsen, wrote a blog post entirely devoted to sovereign debt, detailing the Fund’s position on the subject without mentioning Greece at all. “There are circumstances, however, where the government’s debt level is so high that it is “unsustainable”; that is, where the scheduled debt service exceeds the capacity of the member to service it, even taking into account both a strong adjustment program and significant financial support from the IMF. In these circumstances, it is not feasible – either politically or economically – for the problem to be solved through further belt tightening”, says in the blog, and it is advisable to switch to debt restructuring in such a situation. “Indeed, a program that fails to address unsustainable debt is likely to exacerbate such problems because it will create further uncertainty regarding the member’s future”, Poul Thomsen concluded.

Despite some twists and turns, the implementation of the third Greek program is coming to an end and is already giving its first results. Greece exceeded the targets for the primary budget surplus – instead of the expected 0.5% of GDP, in 2016 Greece scored more – 0.7%. This forced Poul Thomsen to recognise during the IMF and World Bank spring meetings that the IMF was wrong in its forecast for Greece. Nevertheless, the Fund remained adamant in its demand for concrete measures to make debt sustainable. The IMF acknowledges that one of the two conditions for its joining in in the Greek program is met – to undertake reform measures to ensure good economic growth for Greece. The second condition for debt relief, however, is not fulfilled, as it became clear after the end of the Eurogroup on 22 May.

There is, however, a certain convergence of positions. The Eurogroup made a concession and set a period for a primary budget surplus of 3.5% – five years, which includes the final year of the program (2018). An agreement has also been reached on another thorny issue: Greece’s gross financial needs (to finance debt and other fiscal and financial measures) should not exceed 15% of gross domestic product, reaching up to 20% in the medium term. There is no agreement, however, on what the euro area will do for the overall debt. Eurogroup boss Jeroen Dijsselbloem (the Netherlands, Socialists and Democrats) made it clear last Monday that if there is an agreement on the second review, debt talks will be opened.

“Very often it’s about finding the right balance between what people expect and what at this point could be made available”, he said, hinting that the IMF should make a compromise. Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos also called for compromises on both sides. The head of the European Stability Mechanism (the euro area’s permanent rescue fund), Klaus Regling, however, recalled that Greece has already received unprecedented debt relief from private and public creditors. Private lenders, he said, agreed on the largest nominal haircut in history, and public creditors provided prolonged maturities and interest cuts, resulting in further debt reduction of 40%, Mr Regling said. According to the Commission’s spring economic forecast, the Greek public debt will be 178.8% of GDP this year and 174.6% next year.

Long live information leaks!

Against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s struggle with information leaks and recent publications in European media about a lack of transparency in the work of the Eurogroup, on Thursday, the Greek news site Europe2Day published minutes from the euro area ministers meeting on behalf of the European Commission. They clearly show the frustration of the euro area with the IMF’s resilience. They also show how big the stakes are. Poul Thomsen said during the meeting that the IMF could live with the euro area’s reluctance to cut the Greek debt on a nominal basis and with avoiding fiscal transfers, but longer maturities only would not be enough. “I am very far away from being able to tell our board that we are close to a strategy that we can agree to”, says Mr Thomsen.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble reminds the IMF that as early as 2010 the IMF agreed to the creation of a “big bazooka” of € 750 billion, 500 of which would come from the euro area and the other from the IMF. “Participation of IMF has been constitutional part of the programme always and without that I would have to negotiate a new programme and that would fail”, says Mr Schäuble. His Austrian counterpart, Hans Jörg Schelling, goes even further: “We need to decide are you coming on board or not? Cannot be discussing new measures every four weeks”, he said, and proposed to Poul Thomsen a wager: “If the Commission is right, you pay double what was expected? If you are right you pay nothing because you are not on board. We can make this bet but you will lose”, were his words as described in the EC minutes.

Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos is also sharp: “You cannot be 50% pregnant and IMF seems to be that now.” Everyone hopes that an agreement will be reached by the next Eurogroup meeting on 15 June, but to the German finance minister the May meeting was a complete failure. The situation is particularly difficult for Greece, which has undergone really serious cataclysms, some of which being its own fault, but is already performing on its part of the deal. The problem is that its problems are too long-term. No one is inclined to bet that Greece will, in the long run, continue to follow the path of reforms and will not go back as it did with the coming of power of Alexis Tsipras in early 2015.

Lack of confidence in the euro area is one of the main reasons for ministers’ reluctance to offer debt relief. According to some of them, especially Germany and the Netherlands, nominal debt haircut will have a demoralising effect on Greece and will stop reforms, which in turn will have a demoralising effect on other member states of the currency club with large debts. This mistrust is also the reason not to rush to deepen integration in the euro area. Greece is at another crossroads at the moment. On the one  hand, an agreement must be reached with the IMF, and this agreement must be such as to avoid causing trouble before the parliamentary elections in Germany in the autumn.

There were talks around the Eurogroup meeting that there had been suggestions for the debt relief decision to be made after the German elections, but there is no such talk in the leaked minutes. In Greece, however, the topic is being discussed and such proposals are being made. On the other hand, the election of Emmanuel Macron as president of France has again started intensive talks about euro area reform to deepen integration. Mr Macron’s ideas were initially taken with reservation in Berlin, but after his meeting with Angela Merkel moods changed. The finance ministers of both countries – Wolfgang Schäuble and Bruno Le Maire – have already set up a workgroup on this topic.

After his debut in the Eurogroup, Mr Le Maire talked mainly about how efforts are being made to bring Berlin and Paris closer together on key subjects. France still needs to show that it is able to implement reforms, but if that happens, then the process can be accelerated. Until then, it should be clear how will Greece fit in this context. In the short term, however, the most important thing is to reach an agreement on 15 June to secure the payment of the July tranche of EUR 7.3 billion. Otherwise, it may be that all previous efforts will go to the wind.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Obama – the Shadow President of the Free World?

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

American President Donald Trump’s first international tour made a lot of headlines. His visit to Europe was anticipated with special interest and attention. His illiberal domestic approach from his very first day in office bred some serious concerns in the EU. The brightest examples of it were the dismissal of his national security adviser Michael Flynn over unsanctioned connections to Russia, his war against media who criticise him, the dismissal of the alias attorney general, and last but not least, the dismissal of the boss of the FBI because of an investigation of alleged ties between the White House administration and the Kremlin.

One could not help being left with the impression that Mr Trump obviously feels better in the company of dictators than among the democratic and liberal elite. It is therefore a remarkable coincidence that his visit to Europe comes at the exact time of his predecessor, Barack Obama’s return to public life. In the beginning, after leaving the White House, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle disappeared from sight, but not very long after that they announced the establishment of a foundation, whose main task is to promote citizen participation in building of democracy.

They were greeted like rock stars in Italy, where the family went for a vacation at the same time when Donald Trump arrived to Rome for an official visit. Italian and international media brimmed with images of the smiling and charming Obama along with the angry-looking Donald Trump and embarrassing footage showing how his wife, Melania, refused to take his hand several times. While European media were feverishly preparing for the summit of NATO in Brussels on 25 May, the mini EU-US summit the same day, and the G7 summit in Italy on May 26, Barack Obama somehow unnoticed is positioning himself as the alternative president the USA.

He appeared in Berlin as a special guest of the church congress of Protestants (Kirchentag), of which this year’s leading theme is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In front of thousands gathered in the square in front of the symbol of freedom – the Brandenburg Gate – Barack Obama chose to announce his intention to work for a new generation of leaders who oppose those who divide. He reminded that despite the daily tragedies the world has never been richer, healthier, better educated.

“When I think of my role as president, but as a citizen of the United States and part of the international community, I think the most important thing is to unite around those values and ideals that are the best and you have to repel those trends that violate human rights or that suppress democracy, or that restrict individual freedoms of conscience and religion and that this would be a serious battle that we must fight all of us”, said Barack Obama, adding that “we can not hide behind a wall”. Very clear messages to his successor Trump, whom he did not mention even once by name, nor commented on his actions. (You can watch a recording of the dialogue of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel in Berlin here)

Just a few hours later, Angela Merkel flew out to Brussels, which brought together the leaders of the free world, but also of the illiberal one. In the Belgian capital was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who fully abandoned the democratic and EU integration path, and recently scandalised the liberal world during his visit to the United States when his guards attacked peaceful Kurd protesters in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington. A display, which he attended personally. It is curious whether this would have happened if the president was still Barack Obama, not Donald Trump, who also has a problem with protesters against him..

In Brussels, Donald Trump was not warmly welcomed. After a brief and not very specific mini EU-US summit European Council President Donald Tusk addressed media and said that there was no agreement on some key EU issues. “And I am not 100 per cent sure that we can say today – we meaning Mr President Trump and myself – that we have a common opinion about Russia, although when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, it seems that we were on the same line. However, my main message to President Trump was that what gives our cooperation and friendship its deepest meaning are fundamental Western values, like freedom, human rights and respect for human dignity”, were the words of the European Donald.

Later, before the NATO summit, leaders of member states opened two memorials in the new building of the pact – one is a piece of the north tower of the World Trade Centre in New York attacked during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the other one is a piece of the Berlin wall. Donald Trump used this moment to remind member states that they owe money to the pact and that they are responsible for the fact that it is not as strong today as it could have been. Moreover, he stressed that even 2% of GDP that leaders agreed on is already a sanitary minimum, in order to meet the ever-increasing threats.

In this speech he did describe Russia as one of the threats to the pact and said the United States will never forget the fallen victims or friends who stood to them. He did, however, refuse to reaffirm the US commitment to the most important article of the North Atlantic Treaty – Article 5 – which states that an attack against one member country is an attack against all.

While Donald Trump was participating in the summit of leaders of the seven most powerful countries in the world in Taormina, Italy, Barack Obama arrived to Scotland for the first time on a private visit, which included golf. This was a stark contrast to the visit of Donald Trump in Scotland during his election campaign last year, which was accompanied by mass protests and calls that Trump should not be allowed to set foot in the United Kingdom because of his xenophobic statements. The clear support that Barack Obama gave Emmanuel Macron before the elections in France, while Donald Trump supported Marine Le Pen is also a clear sign.

Is it an intended effect or a coincidence, but the concurrent presence of Barack Obama in Europe clearly shows that there is an alternative to the Trump government and also serious intentions are present to marginalise the Trumpiatte.

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Why would anyone vote Conservative in the UK election?

NOVANEWS
British working class

By Graham Peebles

Consistent with 21st century politics the announcement on 18 April of a General Election by Prime Minister Theresa May was a cynical move based purely on self-interest. The “snap election” to be held on 8 June contravenes the The Fixed-term Parliaments Act of 2011, which introduced fixed term elections (every five years) for the first time.

To the total dismay of many of us, opinion polls have for some time given the Conservative government a commanding lead over Labour. May and her cohorts want to capitalise on this and build as large a majority as possible in Parliament, thereby avoiding the annoying limitations and accountability of parliamentary democracy, enabling any policies they like to be pushed through, and thus hastening the demise of the nation that was set in motion in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, and has been increasing year on year since the 2008 economic crash.

… many people – working class, lower middle class people – when polled say they will vote Conservative. This is the party of government responsible for crushing levels of austerity that have resulted in wage cuts and the devastation of public services throughout the country.

Despite being taken by surprise, Labour was quick out of the traps and has run a good campaign. Its manifesto is indeed radical by the pedestrian standards of the day, promising desperately needed investment in public services, renationalising train and utility companies, and using increased taxes for the rich and businesses to fund the programme of change. It is a principled work and makes crystal clear what Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and his chancellor, John McDonnell, stand for and what kind of country they would like to help build. University tuition fees would be scrapped under a Labour government and, despite his peaceful anti-nuclear instincts, Corbyn pledged to authorise armed conflict – as a last resort. The manifesto, which was unanimously adopted, is a well-crafted document that rejects neo-liberal economics – in public services at least – and is full of common-sense initiatives and policies, offering hope to millions of the poorest members of society.

And yet many people – working class, lower middle class people – when polled say they will vote Conservative. This is the party of government responsible for crushing levels of austerity that have resulted in wage cuts and the devastation of public services throughout the country. Libraries closed, bus services terminated, children’s playgroups and youth clubs closed down. The NHS is on its knees due to gross underfunding; wealth and income inequality are at unprecedented levels; food banks now provide emergency food to over one million people – it was 60,000 in 2010. Homelessness is higher than at any time since the 1980s, there is a nationwide housing crisis – buying a home is a pipe dream for the majority and the cost of renting is increasing exponentially – and hovering over this litany of incompetence is the government’s duplicitous, aggressive approach to Brexit which, it is worth noting, 48 per cent of those who bothered to vote, did not vote for and do not want. That includes virtually all under-25-year olds, i.e. those it will affect most. It makes no sense.

… why would anyone, other than the comfortable and complacent, vote for the Conservatives?… The primary reason has to be fear, allied to ignorance and misinformation…

Another Conservative government would mean the attack on the poorest members of society would intensify, while the wealthy and businesses continue to benefit: this is something the Tories do not even try to hide anymore. Labour has proposed a rational set of policies with the aim of creating a fairer society, all of which have been costed, more or less. As its manifesto puts it, “you can choose more of the same: the rich getting richer, more children in poverty, our NHS failing and our schools and social care in crisis. Or you can vote for the party that has a plan to change all of this.” It is an expensive plan, and it may well involve borrowing extra money, and there is nothing wrong with that. The justification for crushing austerity is the need to “balance the books”, to “live within our means”, but crippling cuts have not reduced the national debt or the deficit. UK debt is increasing at an astonishing £5,170 per second, and the deficit (the difference between spending, including capital expenditure, and revenue) is currently £14 billions, an increase of £140 millions on the previous year.

Given Labour’s common-sense proposals, why would anyone, other than the comfortable and complacent, vote for the Conservatives? What are the coercive forces at work that make large numbers of people act in a way detrimental to themselves, their families and their communities? The primary reason has to be fear, allied to ignorance and misinformation; the same trinity of persuasion that led to 52 per cent voting to leave the European Union – despite not knowing what that actually meant.

Only a tiny percentage of the electorate have the time or the inclination to read the manifestos, in depth articles or listen to speeches and interviews in full, preferring to rely on loud headlines and meaningless sound bites to form a judgment, rather than engage properly and vote responsibly.

The majority of mainstream media veer to the right, either blatantly as in the case of The Sun, the Daily Mail and The Express, The Times and The Telegraph, or more obliquely as with the BBC. All, to there utter shame, have consistently vilified Jeremy Corbyn, some more, some less. It is from these sources, as well as from family and friends, that millions garner their information, albeit scantily. Conservative politicians endlessly repeat nauseating slogans – “strong and stable government” being the most irritating; insults are routinely hurled at Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, all of which is carried over the airwaves: many people absorb this negative rhetoric. Only a tiny percentage of the electorate have the time or the inclination to read the manifestos, in depth articles or listen to speeches and interviews in full, preferring to rely on loud headlines and meaningless sound bites to form a judgment, rather than engage properly and vote responsibly. Add to this the fact that a huge number of those eligible to vote don’t bother. Generally speaking, young people are more likely to vote for left-leaning parties than the over 50s are. But disenchanted with politicians and the political process in general 18-30 year olds often don’t even register to vote, let alone trundle along to the polling booth – this is a problem in many Western democracies – and so the conservative, reactionary forces hold on to power, the divisions in society deepen, the environmental catastrophe intensifies and the poor continue to suffer.

To its great credit Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, has reclaimed its socialist roots and is presenting a real alternative to the divisive model of governance that has dominated British politics with increasing ferocity since the Thatcher years. Win or lose, Labour’s decision to stand on a principled platform for change has been the right one and they should be applauded. If, as the polls suggest, the Conservatives are re-elected, and Labour lose heavily it will be seen as a triumph of the right. The hand of the extreme forces within Theresa May’s party will be strengthened, further jeopardising the Brexit negotiations, and it may well lead to the emergence of a new centrist party.

It is time that ideological divisions where consigned to the past, however, and a new inclusive way of thinking about and doing politics inculcated. That is, one that re-defines the purpose and aim of government, which has become dominated by money and the economy – and a perverse approach that sees the country as if it were a business.

Notions of left, centre and right are meaningless when ideology and self-interest are laid aside. Political groups and individual politicians with sympathetic outlooks, need to work together, to cooperate not compete. Cooperation is one of the prevailing themes of the time; it is a unifying principle that helps build trust and will increasingly be seen as the common-sense alternative to competition. In all areas of life cooperation needs to be the method of engagement, because where human beings work collectively much can be achieved.

There is much talk of “progressive alliances” in British politics, between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Scottish National Party, who all share much – disgust at Conservative policies for one – but, publicly at least, Labour has “ruled out” any such alliance(s). This is a mistake; such coalitions are the way forward, and together with an electoral system based on proportional representation would form the basis for a reformed political system no longer dominated by economic statistics, but functioning as the facilitator of social justice, environmental health and community unity.

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Brexit Is No Priority, the Future of EU Is

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

The debate (on May 17) on the occasion of the adoption of the EU’s negotiating position on Britain’s exit was a good time for political group leaders to announce the end of populism. The first one to do that was EPP Group leader Manfred Weber (EPP), followed by others, some of whom were more cautious. The messages of Brussels to London and populists in general were that populism has severe consequences, that the UK does not have much time to negotiate, that the EU is united and well prepared, and that for the Union Brexit is not a priority as the EU has a much more important work – building its own future. Several important things have happened since our last text on the subject, which outlined a very serious issue even before the negotiations with the UK began – lack of trust.

The first important event was the approval by the European Council’s of negotiating guidelines. On April 29, the leaders of the remaining 27 members approved the document for a record-breaking time of less than four minutes. European Council President Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP) in all of their appearances stressed on this in order to demonstrate that the EU is well prepared. “It was the first and the last time that we were able to conclude in 4 minutes”, Juncker said after the brief meeting, during which all, without discussion, put their signature under the document drawn up in the weeks before. “I have the impression sometimes that our British friends, not all of them, do underestimate the technical difficulties we have to face”, he said.

Later, in front of the European Parliament, Donald Tusk warned that the time for finalising the negotiations on the UK withdrawal provided for in the EU Treaties (two years) is very short. “Time is of the essence here, and much is at stake”, he said while reporting on April 29 European Council’s outcome April 29.

Leaders’ guidelines do not differ significantly from what euinside published prior to the summit. They emphasise on the negotiations being divided into two phases. The first is to negotiate the exit framework, with the two most important priorities being to settle the status of EU citizens in the UK and British ones in the EU, as well as settle the financial accounts. Only when satisfactory progress is achieved at this stage can the negotiation of future trade relations with the UK commence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was clear after the summit that the division between the first and the second phase should be very clear. Future trade relations will be determined by geopolitical challenges, she said, adding that, in order to move on to the second phase, it would be nice for the EU to have more clarity about what the Brits really want in order to grant their wishes.

Then, on May 3rd, the European Commission dressed the leaders’ guidelines into an institutional shape. During the presentation of the recommendation for negotiating positions, EU Chief Negotiator with Britain, Michel Barnier (France), sent a message to populists saying that some create the illusion that the Brexit will have no material implications on the lives of everyone, or that negotiations can end quickly and painlessly. “This is not the case […] There are human, social, economic, technical, financial, legal consequences. You are unwinding 43 years or so of a relationship. That’s why you cannot do things in 15-16 months or so”, said Mr Barnier. He recalled that 10 months have passed since the referendum. These are ten months of uncertainty, he said. “I’ll start negotiations as soon as UK is ready. The clock is ticking.

 

We will wait, we will listen very carefully to what the British are putting on the table. Time is short. It’s very short”, was his message.

The minutes of the College meeting, when the recommendation for negotiating positions was approved, reveal the Union’s biggest concerns. The first is that it is possible that the negotiations on the settlement of the financial accounts will lead to a failure of the entire negotiation process and, respectively, to the so-called hard Brexit, that is, without an agreement. The European Council insists that the financial deal should cover all financial relations between the EU and the UK so far. This means not only the general EU budget, but also the financial commitments related to the European Investment Bank, the European Central Bank, the European Development Fund, the Turkey Refugee Fund. The Union wants the financial commitment to cover the current 2014-2020 multi-annual financial framework of the Union to the end.

According to Mr Barnier, however, this will be one of the most difficult points in the negotiations, as it is unclear exactly when Britain will leave. De jure membership ends at midnight on March 29, 2019, but if transitional periods are agreed this period may be extended. Michel Barnier warns members of the College that if no agreement is reached on this point, there is a real risk of failure of the entire negotiation process. This will be bad for the EU, as the 27 have made it clear that neither of them wants to either bring more money into the budget or get less. He recommends that the emphasis in the negotiations on this topic be placed on the methodology for calculating the financial commitments of the UK.

It is also clear from the minutes that the Commission expects several more problems to emerge. One of them is how to explain the process of withdrawal in the simplest possible way so that people can understand what is going on and avoid giving the populists the opportunity to say untrue things. The problem, however, is that the negotiation process is quite technical. Another expected issue is the growing support among British public opinion of the idea of disorderly departure, that is, without an agreement. It is recommended that the EU takes this into account when conducting the negotiations.

The possibility of delays in adopting the mid-term review of the EU’s multi-annual budget, which is currently blocked by the UK, was also discussed. The issue of the rights of nearly 4 million citizens living in the UK and the EU will also be a problem, as the Union urges European citizens to benefit until the very day of departure of the United Kingdom from all the benefits they enjoy today. This affects not only citizens who are currently in the UK, but also those who lived there before, and those who are yet to go (before the Brexit).

Michel Barnier foresees the following negotiation schedule: firstly, agreement is reached on the principles of an orderly exit – negotiating citizens’ rights, resolving financial issues and resolving the border issue between Ireland and Northern Ireland – between October and December of this year. Tentatively, then begins the second phase, namely negotiating the framework for future relations and possibly transitional arrangements. This is expected to happen between December and spring of 2018. Finalisation of the exit agreement is expected to take place around October next year, leaving 6 months for the process of ratification by all members.

The chief negotiator suggests that negotiations be organised in four-week cycles. The first week to define preparatory work on the position of the 27 with the participation of the European Parliament. The second week is to exchange documents with the UK, the third for real negotiations, and the fourth to report the results to the member states and the European Parliament and to prepare for the next round of negotiations. Michel Barnier warns that the EU should insist on the phased approach, otherwise it risks jeopardising the negotiations.

On May 22, the Council of Ministers endorsed the recommendation and is now waiting for the UK parliamentary elections to be held on June 8 in order to begin negotiations. Michel Barnier expressed hope that this could happen on June 19th. “I wish I could give my first report to the European Council on June 22 – exactly one year after the date of the referendum and less than 3 months after Ms May’s notification”, he said.

A deficit of trust

The thing that drew attention in all the important steps of the Brexit was the constant thrust of the need for transparency. The reason can be found in the apparent lack of trust between Brussels and London. “You cannot start negotiations in a climate of mistrust and uncertainty”, Chief Negotiator Barnier said while presenting the EC’s recommendation for negotiating positions. He also spoke extensively about this during the College on May 3, as published minutes show in the context of the fact that the phase approach in negotiations is particularly important for creating a solid foundation of trust between the two sides.

The lack of confidence is also evident in Donald Tusk’s words from April 29 that the EU needs “real guarantees for our people to live, work and study in the UK, and the same goes for the British”. He said that in order for sufficient progress to be made so that the second phase of the negotiations could begin, a “serious British response” is needed. This unambiguously suggests that at this stage what is coming from London is not taken seriously. In general, Brussels is condescending to this and is explaining it with pre-election fever. On the other hand, however, the Union reacted hostile to Britain’s attempts to bring discourse in the Union. That’s why the truly unique unity of the 27 in terms of the Brexit was repeatedly emphasised on.

“That unity is important for the EU of the 27, but it is also important for the UK. The UK will not be able to conclude an agreement with the 27 if the 27 are not united”, said Jean-Claude Juncker. The topic of unity comes in the context of the unexpected surprise coming from the British prime minister of EU unity, which she describes as directed against the UK instead of what it really is – defending the European interest. Of unity also speaks British MEP Nigel Farage, who is at the core of the Brexit, basing his campaign on misinformation about the EU. During the debate on May 17th, he accused the Commission of leaking details of the dinner between President Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May, which led to Angela Merkel’s famous statement that the British government is delusional.

The development of the negotiation process forced Nigel Farage to seek a new narrative and new argumentation. He went to agreeing with former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis that the EU cannot be negotiated with and that negotiations with the Union mean crushing democracy in the victim country.

The Brexit is a marginal subject

Beyond the verbal exchange that British Conservative MEP James Nicholson described as “megaphone diplomacy across the English Channel”, the EU made it quite clear that to it the Brexit is a marginal subject. President Tusk said he agrees with the negotiator on behalf of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium), that the future of the EU must be the top priority, not Brexit. This is also the opinion of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said after the summit in April that the EU should not forget that there are other problems. “The world is going to develop further. The Rome agenda, the agenda of Bratislava is just as important as the negotiations on  Britain leaving the EU, so this shouldn’t keep us from shaping our own future and we have to do this together”, she said.

In the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt pointed out that the EU should not make the mistake of putting all its energy into the Brexit. “At least the same energy, if not more energy, has to be put into the reform and the future of the European Union”, he said, adding that up until now three nationalists and populists have been defeated –  in Austria, the Netherlands and France, and that this is no coincidence, according to him. He interprets this as a demonstration by citizens of their reluctance to leave the EU. “They say: reform the European Union, yes; leave the European Union, no bloody way. That is the message of the people of the European Union today”, he said.

This was also the main topic of the debate, which lasted for an hour and a half on 17 May. Many MEPs discussed the announcement of the end of populism by Manfred Weber. Guy Verhofstadt warned that it would be a mistake to assume that populism and nationalism had been defeated. “People voted for Macron for change and not for the status quo; not for a standstill. They voted for a radical change in France, but also in Europe”, he said. Philip Lamberts (Greens/EFA, Belgium) also called for the right lessons to be drawn from the Brexit. He agreed that truly populism had been defeated in Austria, the Netherlands and France, but the point is not to contain it, but to eliminate the reasons for it.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Stepping back from sensationalist stories on African migration

 NOVANEWS
AFP

Who should be held accountable for the continued violations of rights, and the deprivations of life and dignity, experienced by African refugees and migrants?

Stories of African migrants in desperate conditions, usually on the Mediterranean Sea heading towards Europe, have become commonplace. It wasn’t always like that. As recently as 2013, when the UN held a High-Level Dialogue (HLD) on migration, a boat capsizing off the coast of Italy claiming the lives of over 400 migrants, many of them young children, sent shockwaves across the world. The Pope issued a moral call for response to the migration crisis. World leaders, including the UN General Secretary, vowed this would ‘never again’ happen, taking it as a turning point for new policy measures to save lives.

A week ago, an Okayafrica story told of African migrants sold in ‘slave markets. It described Senegalese migrants in Libya auctioned off or held for ransom. If the article’s intention was to shock, it was successful. For Africans in the diaspora, these words conjured painful images of ancestors, enslaved Africans who suffered inhumane and unspeakable brutality as they crossed the Middle Passage.

To gain a basic understanding of what is behind this story and the reality of African migration globally, one needs to take a step back from the shocking stories to review the patterns over the past decade. In 2006, when the UN held its first HLD on Migration, few countries considered it a priority agenda of concern. Migration policy at global platforms was framed primarily through the lens of ‘development’, lauding the growing power of remittances migrants send to their home countries.

It is a far different scenario today. In 2016, the UN held the first High-Level Summit on “Large Movements of People” where 193 world leaders issued The New York Declaration setting an unprecedented recognition that the migration crisis is urgent and needs to take centre-stage in policy discourse. The figures speak for themselves. According to a 2015 UN study:

  1. The population size of international migrants worldwide was 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000
  2. Of the 244 million, 43% are from Asia, 25%  from Europe, 15% Latin America and the Caribbean, and 14% Africa
  3. Women comprise almost half of all international migrants.
  4. The median age is 39.

Another little-known fact about mobility is that migrants are likely to remain within their region. Whether it is a Korean migrant in Japan, a Somali migrant in Kenya, or a Zimbabwean migrant in South Africa, the vast majority of refugees and migrants remain close to their countries of birth.

Yet the majority of news about African migrants is not about what happens within Africa but about African migrants heading to Europe. European media images perpetuate stories of African refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea inciting racism, xenophobic fear and anti-immigrant sentiments. Europe responds subsequently with policy directives that ultimately serve the perceived need to control its borders and bring an end to the flow. From billions of dollars spent on Frontex, EU’s border control agency, to the “trust fund” launched by the Valletta Agreement in 2015, African migration has become a top agenda item for Europe.

Following inter-regional mobility, Europe is the second continent of destination for migrants from Africa. A recent report showed 24,513 people had arrived in Italy by April 2 of this year alone. Despite the vast majority of these being refugees from Syria, the European press continue to post images of African refugees and migrants along with misleading facts and figures.

The most frequently used terms in global migration platforms focused on Africa are the need to “address root causes” that drive people to leave home. They are the usual list associated with Africa: poverty, perpetual war, weak institutions and corrupt leaders, not necessarily in this order. This has been the Africa narrative for decades with little change. There is no mention that ‘root causes’ are linked with the traumatic history of the forced removal of enslaved Africans, nor the profound impact of decades of colonial control which resulted in the current borders’ demarcations. Not to mention neo-colonial economic measures of unfair trade, extractive industries and land grabs that continue to drive outflow of African migrants.

Europe’s immigration policies are primarily focused on blocking migrant flows and the role of smugglers and traffickers.  The Okayafrica article centres on “smugglers demanded ransoms from their families in exchange for passage.” Indeed smugglers and traffickers are key to facilitating mobility in precarious conditions and profiting highly from the current crisis.

But, as Dr. Khalid Koser, a respected expert on migration, states, we may be misguided in our undue focus on smugglers at the exclusion of all else. In this video Why migrant smuggling pays he makes a convincing argument that smugglers are business operatives responding to growing demand for their services. Focusing on blocking smugglers or over-emphasizing their role in the bigger picture can be simplistic and will not fundamentally alter current global migration dynamics.

If ever there was a heaven for smugglers, it would be Libya, a country which is politically complicated with virtually no centralised government. Two weeks ago, an article appeared in in The Economist (April 15) that Italy has signed agreements with ‘60 tribal leaders’ in Libya to secure the over 3,000 miles of frontier.  There is little information about the details of this secret agreement, how the borders will be ‘secured’ or monitored, or the inevitable violations of migrants’ rights in the hands of tribal militia.

The lawlessness in Libya creates lucrative grounds for smugglers and migrants from other north and sub-Saharan Africa are flowing there more than any other country. Since the war that ousted Gaddafi, Frontex has been unable to control the Mediterranean Sea and boats leaving the Libyan coast. Italy took this radical step to work out a deal directly with the multitudes of tribal groups who are at war with one another and some with neighbouring countries. If this agreement is effective in stemming the flow of African migrants, and there is no way to know this, it will no doubt come at high cost to the thousands of migrants. To Europe, and Italy in particular, this is obviously not a primary concern.

The role of the ‘evil smugglers,’ and the stories like the one from Okayafrica should be viewed within this context. Such stories force us to ask who should be held accountable for the continued violations of rights and the deprivations of lives and dignity of African refugees and migrants.  Who ultimately bears the responsibility to end these acts of crime against humanity? Will we continue to hold smugglers and traffickers as our target, or countries like Italy whose single-mission policies can result in serious violations of rights and human lives?

On the larger global scope, there are currently ongoing negotiations initiated from the September 19 UN Summit called Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. These negotiations and consultations will be adopted by the end of 2018 and set the global standard on migration policy. In the draft document, the compact emphasizes the need to protect and uphold human rights of migrants.

Migration is primarily understood from the national perspective, where border control and management of migration are the mandate of the nation state. When it comes to global policy, many lose interest or misunderstand how processes like the global compact can have any direct impact on our lives.

Will the ongoing consultations change the current global mobility or is this yet another high-level policy dialogue politicians engage in that is inaccessible and unintelligible to many on the ground? Are there ways that we, particularly as African migrant, diaspora, labour, women, academic and other civil society organisations can be involved and even influence its outcome?

These and many other questions raised at multiple levels make this process too critical to leave it in the hands of political operatives and policy wonks. Inclusion of civil society actors and migrants’ voices into this process is imperative. No process can be relevant without input from those who are directly impacted.

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What the Igbo genocide is and what it isn’t

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The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence. The genocide has been studied most expansively. Thus, to understand the politics of the genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 51 years.

Quite appositely, we should begin by stating what the Igbo genocide is not. It is definitely not a “civil war” (Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “Igbo question, Biafra mission”, Pambazuka News, 23 March 2017); neither is it “Nigeria-Biafra ‘civil war’”; nor “first ‘civil war’ in Africa”; nor “forgotten genocide”; nor “ignored genocide”; nor “hidden genocide”; nor indeed any of the other tracks of quaint, sanitising, obfuscating, occultating and misleading words and phraseologies bandied about here and there whose proponents, particularly in some sectors in academia, media, conference circuits/discussion platforms, more often than not aim to pursue a hardly disguised project of denialism of this crime against humanity.

Premeditated

On the contrary. The Igbo genocide is a premeditated mass slaughtering of Igbo people, as Igbo people, planned and executed by Britain, Nigeria’s suzerain state headed then by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and Nigeria, Britain’s client state in southwestcentral Africa, a Hausa-Fulani/Islamist-led state.

At the apogee of phase-III of the genocide in 1968-1969, Wilson reminded the world, on record, of what was the end game of this dreadful mission he chiefly directed from the comfort of his residence and office at 10 Downing Street, London, 3000 miles from Biafra. Harold Wilson informed Clyde Ferguson, the US State Department special coordinator for relief to Biafra, that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide (Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, 1977: 122).

Very much in tune with this Wilsonian logic of Igbo mass slaughter, Benjamin Adekunle, a fiendish Nigeria genocidist commander in south Biafra, told a news conference in August 1968, attended mostly by foreign journalists: “I want to prevent even one I[g]bo having even one piece to eat before their capitulation. We shoot at everything that moves, and when our forces march into the centre of I[g]bo territory, we shoot at everything, even at things that don’t move” (The Economist, London, 24 August 1968).

Olusegun Obasanjo, an equally fiendish genocidist commander in south Biafra, specifically ordered his air force in June 1969 to shoot down any international relief-bearing aircraft flying urgently needed supplies to the encircled, besieged and bombarded Igbo. On 5 June, a week after Obasanjo’s infamous orders, Gbadamosi King of the Nigeria genocidist air force shot down a clearly marked, incoming relief-carrying International Committee of the Red Cross DC-7 plane near Eket, south Biafra, with the loss of its 3-person crew. Obasanjo’s perverse satisfaction over the aftermath of this horrendous crime is chillingly revolting as he notes clearly in his memoirs, appropriately entitled My Command:

“The effect of [this] singular achievement of the Air Force especially on 3 Marine Commando Division [the notorious unit Obasanjo, who later becomes Nigeria’s head of regime for 11 years, commanded] was profound. It raised morale of all service personnel, especially of the Air Force detachment concerned and the troops they supported in [my] 3 Marine Commando Division” (Olusegun Obasanjo, My Command, 1981: 79).

The principal language used in the prosecution of the genocide is Hausa. Appropriately, the words of the ghoulish anthem of the genocide, published and broadcast on Kaduna radio and television throughout the duration of phases I-III (May 1966-January 1970) of the crime, are in Hausa:

Mu je mu kashe nyamiri

Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su

Mu chi mata su da yan mata su

Mu kwashe kaya su

English translation

Let’s go kill the damned Igbo

Kill off their men and boys

Rape their wives and daughters

Cart off their property

Elsewhere, Nigerian genocidist documentation on this crime is equally malevolent and brazenly vulgar. A study of the genocide-time/“post”-genocide era interviews, comments, broadcasts and writings on the campaign by key genocidist commanders, commandants and “theorists” and propagandists such as Yakubu Danjuma, Yakubu Gowon, Hassan Katsina, Ibrahim Haruna, Oluwole Rotimi, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enaharo and Allison Ayida underscores the trend. 

Quite auspiciously, the record of those who ordered/executed the Igbo genocide makes no pretences, offers no excuses, whatsoever, about the goal of their annihilative mission – such was the maniacal insouciance and rabid Igbophobia that propelled the project. The génocidaires were not into obfuscating over any spheres associated with their studiously orchestrated goal. The génocidaires stood firmly by the dictates of their assignment. Consequently, students and scholars of this genocide must always be on the alert to challenge anyone, subsequently, who wishes to deny, in any way, this crime of genocide against Igbo people in which its very lead génocidaires, as we have shown, have been openly and distinctly expressive about their mission.

Duo-states genocidists

As the evidence overwhelmingly shows, Britain is the principal agency in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide. Nowhere else in Africa nor indeed the Southern World, during the 1950s-1970s, does any of the seemingly departing European occupying-power in a conquered country effectuate the crime of genocide of a constituent people as a means of safeguarding its strategic interests subsequently as Britain’s sordid record in Nigeria shows. This genocide continues unabated since January 1970 (phase-IV of genocide) with tens of thousands of Igbo murdered across Nigeria but especially in the north region including those massacred by the Boko Haram terrorists and their Fulani militia cousin in the past seven years. No other peoples in Africa have suffered such an extensive and gruesome genocide and incalculable impoverishment in a century as the Igbo. Britain and its client genocide-prosecuting state Nigeria will surely account for this crime against humanity as both states are fully aware, being signatories to the relevant international treaties, that there are no statutes of limitation in international law in the pursuit, apprehension, prosecution and sentencing of individuals and institutions involved in committing genocide. Genocide is a crime against humanity.

The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence. The genocide has been studied most expansively subsequently. World Igbo scholars have since pushed the parameters of their studies of the genocide unto the very frontiers of the underlying crucibles on which the European-constructed anti-African peoples “Berlin-State” of contemporary Africa are grounded. Thus, to understand the politics of the Igbo genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 51 years. The “Berlin-State” is a bane to African peoples’ existence and progress; it’s a neo-enslavement plantation emplacement formulated by Europe, particularly Britain and France (with their fatuous names – Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Guinea-B, Guinea-C, Guinea-E, whatever!) to perpetuate European World expropriation of legendary African resources in perpetuity. African peoples must exit this state at once to survive and transform their battered inheritances. They have no choice.

Tragically, Africans elsewhere remained largely silent on the gruesome events in Nigeria and so did not foresee the grave consequences of such indifference as subsequent genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan (latter three in the Sudan) and Zaïre/Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in other wars and conflicts in every geographical region of Africa during the period have demonstrated catastrophically: Liberia, Mali, Libya, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, southern Guinea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic, Nigeria (Boko Haram insurgency in north, northcentral regions). The haunting killing fields have indeed stretched, almost inexorably, from Igboland to the rest of Africa…

Treasure trove

Thankfully, for the interest of posterity, the Igbo genocide, perpetrated by the duo Anglo-Nigeria states, is one of the most documented crimes against humanity. Nothing is “hidden”/“ignored” here! Leading university and public libraries across Europe (particularly in Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden) and North America have invaluable repositories of books, state papers (including, crucially, hitherto classified material now declassified as part of mandatory timeframe provisions and freedom-of-information legislations), church papers, human rights/anti-genocide/anti-war groups’ campaign papers, reports, photographs and interviews, Red Cross/other third sector papers, reports and photographs, newspaper/newsmagazine/radio/ television/video archives and sole individual depositories, some of which are classified as “anonymous contributors”.

These data variously include extensive coverage of news and analyses of varying features of the genocide between May 1966 and January 1970 (phases I-III of genocide) as well as still photographs and reels of film footage of the devastating impact of the genocidist’s “starvation weapon” attack on Igbo children and older people, the genocidist air force’s carpet bombings of Igbo population centres (especially refugee establishments, churches, shrines, schools, hospitals, markets, homes, farmlands and playgrounds) and the haunting photographs and associated material that capture the sheer savagery of the slaughter of 100,000 Igbo in north Nigeria towns and villages and elsewhere in parts of west Nigeria (especially Lagos and suburbs, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Oyo, Benin) during phase-I of the genocide in May to October 1966. A stream of these archival references has flowed steadily onto Youtube as well as other internet outlets and much more material on the genocide will be available online in the months and years ahead.

On the whole, these documentations are a treasure trove for the conscientious scholar and researcher on the genocide. For the would-be prosecutor of the perpetrators of this crime, they couldn’t have wished anything more for that crucial resource base to embark on their historic enterprise. A total of 3.1 million Igbo, or 25 per cent the nation’s population at the time, were murdered in the genocide, the worst in Africa since the 19th century. On the morrow of 44 months of unrelenting slaughtering, Nigeria, the direct perpetrator-on-the-ground, emerges as the undisputed obligatory haematophagous monster in this southwestcentral region of Africa. Its death-march on the Igbo and Igboland was soon relayed, across Africa, as earlier indicated, resulting in the murder of additional 12 million Africans in the subsequent 40 years.

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Europe should be humble in its relations with Africa

Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

The third generation of African freedom fighters is growing impatient with the contradictions of ongoing coloniality in the Motherland. Europe and its allies continue their imperialist subjugation and plunder with the support of puppet leaders as Africans suffer. A new anti-imperialist wave is gathering momentum across Africa to complete the continent’s unfinished liberation.

In November 2017, African and European leaders will converge in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for the Africa-EU Summit. From the 9th-10th May 2017 I joined researchers, policy makers, heads of civil society organizations, activists, government officials, and AU and EU officials in Addis Ababa for a precursor conference aimed at addressing issues of common concern and interest in the Africa-EU partnership. It was jointly organised by the Nairobi-based Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCPAU) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Addis Ababa office. We covered peace and security, migration, economic relations, the youth; and also assessed the progress made thus far. At the end of those dialogues, and in retrospect, it is clear that Europe needs humility in its relations with Africa.

For Dr. Admore Kambudzi, the acting Director for Peace and Security at the AU, Africa-EU partnership has assisted the AU in attaining the milestone of functional coherence in the African Peace and Security Architecture particularly the work in Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. But the Head of Peace and Security section of the EU Delegation to the AU, Dr. Thorsten Clausing, sees it differently, arguing that the EU is not getting a return on investment. At the beginning of 2016, the EU cut its funding to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 20 percent.

A deeper conversation is needed beyond the ‘value-for-money’ capitalist interpretation. Europe is being disingenuous, thus needing a reminder that Africa’s problems are a direct result of incompatibilities of European state systems they imposed on Africa in the 1880s. See it this way: the fight is about who must cook and eat when, how, why and where in a European kitchen located in Africa, the state. Before this forceful unification in the European kitchen, Africans presided over their own, separate kitchens. Europe cannot, therefore, abscond its responsibilities resulting from its recreation and reconfiguring of Africa.

And it is not just 1880s-related coloniality. Europe and its diaspora (the US) moved into Libya in 2011, ignoring the AU, to kill President Muammar Gaddafi and install puppets. Libya is yet to recover. Francophone Africa is in a mess with wounded knowledge and confidence of self and perpetual conflicts. France continues to manipulate currencies, support dictators and remove (arrest and imprison) leaders (Laurent Gbagbo). Just imagine how our ancestors from Francophone Africa – Senghor Leopold, Frantz Fanon and Thomas Sankara – feel from Ancestry.

Most major conflicts in Africa hitherto have had a direct or indirect European hand. For Europe to assume its current stance is extraordinary arrogance.  Europe needs humility!

Following its refugee crisis, Europe has introduced migration as a new condition for development cooperation. Certain African countries will now be forced to agree to those migration conditionalities. Strangely, of all migrants that come to Europe, Africa only accounts for less than 20 percent. Take France, for illustrative purposes, with its 36,000+ municipalities. For the 25,000 migrants it was asked to take, there will still be 12,000+ municipalities starved of migrants – taking one migrant per municipality. What is the hullabaloo, really? Europe, which purports to be a key promoter of human rights, fails to capture the human rights dimension of migration.  Migrants do not risk their lives travelling to Europe in search of cigarettes. Sometimes it is really a matter of life and death.

But Europe needs to be reminded: Africa has experiencing a serious influx of brutal and violent European migrants since the 1880s. Those migrants are still in Africa today – 100 years later – controlling African economies and occupying millions of hectares of African land, particularly in Southern African countries.  Europe’s introduction of migration conditionality on Africa is therefore pure arrogance. The imperial continent needs humility.

Europe still controls most African economies 50 years after political independence. The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) serve to consolidate Europe’s grip on these economies. The EPAs have effectively undermined Africa’s common economic strategy. Interestingly, Britain – a big trading partner of most African countries – has exited the EPAs. It is not clear what will be Africa’s response in the context of the EPAs.

Africa’s sellout liberation generation has been effectively seduced and romanced to maintain the neoliberal economic order profiting Europe. But there is a new wave – a wave of decoloniality demanding the completion of the struggle against Europe colonialism.  There is an awake generation of fearless and radical young men and women of Africa rejecting the  lengthy ‘visions’ and promises of European-made bouncers/bodyguards masquerading as African leaders. Those who disagree must go ask Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Blaise Compaore and other western stooges. It is a struggle that will complete and deal with coloniality of being, power and knowledge. Indeed, it is a struggle to resolve the remaining contradictions of economic power.

It is a struggle that is led by fearless young men and women of Africa, ready to surrender their lives. It does not exist in the boardrooms of European-funded civil society but on African streets and shacks. This generation of radical activists promises Europe nothing but a reversal of most, if not all, deals that have been concluded with their bodyguards. Everything will be renegotiated.

All is not lost, African leaders can still go to Abidjan in November 2017 and tell Europeans that there is an impatient generation that is tired of old formulas, a generation ready to tear up deals recolonizing Africa. If the European bodyguards masquerading as African leaders fail to do so, this third generation of freedom fighters, after the heavy celebratory drinks from celebrating European economic defeat, will search for their graves of current leaders and urinate on them.

Europe must quickly be told to review its stance of peace and security, on migration and economic cooperation. Indeed, Europe must urgently search and learn about this thing: humility!

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