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A moment of significance and opportunity for Ethiopia

NOVANEWS

Ethiopian prisoners

By Graham Peebles

Since November 2015 unprecedented protests have been taking place in Ethiopia. Angry and frustrated at the widespread abuse of human rights and the centralisation of power in the hands of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), tens of thousands have taken to the streets. The ruling party’s response to this democratic outpouring has been consistently violent. Hundreds have been killed and beaten by security forces, tens of thousands arrested and imprisoned.

In an attempt to gag the people, a highly repressive state of emergency was imposed in August 2016. It failed, the protests continued, the movement strengthened. The regime then tried to inflame ancient ethnic differences among various groups by staging attacks using plain clothed security personnel. In the border region of Oromo and the Ogaden, Tesfaye Robela of the Ethiopian parliament claims that over 10,000 people have been killed. ESAT News (the sole independent Ethiopian broadcaster, based in Europe and the US) quotes the findings of a parliamentary report into the ethnic clashes, which concluded that “based on interviews with victims of the violence, squarely puts the blame on Somali Region Special Police, local police and militia for perpetrating the killings”. The Liyu police is controlled by the Ethiopian military.

Seizing the moment

Despite these attempts to extinguish the movement for change, the people of Ethiopia are continuing to demand freedom, justice and democracy; this time they will not be silenced. The minority powers within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition – the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) – have been empowered by the popular uprising and there are signs that they are at last standing up to the majority TPLF members. Under pressure from the OPDO and ASDM, and in a further attempt to distract attention from the protests and undermine the protesters’ claims, on 3 January the government put out a convoluted statement relating to political prisoners.

The prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said the regime would release “some political prisoners”, prisoners that for the last 27 years they have denied even existed. ESAT News reports he went on to announce that “members of political parties and other individuals would be released to widen the political and democratic space”, and that “the government would review the cases of certain individuals affiliated with political parties, including party leaders, [and] in some cases, charges would be dropped or people would be released or pardoned, depending on investigation results”.

While the release of any political prisoners at all would be a move in the right direction, in its present form the policy… is an insult to the thousands languishing in prison for no other reason than they disagree with the ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.

His words, which have been widely reported in mainstream media, were not only disingenuous, they were ambiguous and inconclusive. He failed to acknowledge that those imprisoned for expressing political dissent had been falsely incarcerated; repeatedly stating they were behind bars because they were guilty of breaking the law.

While the release of any political prisoners at all would be a move in the right direction, in its present form the policy, if indeed it is a policy and not simply a public relations exercise aimed at international benefactors, is an insult to the thousands languishing in prison for no other reason than they disagree with the ruling TPLF. The statement is inadequate and needs clarification: who will be considered for release and when? Does it include opposition politicians charged with fictitious terrorist offences under the universally condemned Anti-Terrorist Proclamation of 2009? Will this long-overdue gesture mean that politicians who have been forced to live in exile for fear of arrest and imprisonment can safely return home?

These and other pressing questions need to be raised by opposition groups and human rights organisations, and indeed Ethiopia’s major donors — America, Britain and the European Parliament, all of which have allowed the TPLF to trample on human rights and the people for decades. Intense pressure must be applied on the government to articulate its intentions and, for once in their tyrannical reign, do the right thing and release all political prisoners, including journalists, bloggers, protesters and activists of all kinds.

It was also announced by the prime minister that Maekelewi prison in Addis Ababa, which has been used as a torture chamber by the TPLF for years, will be closed down, and rather bizarrely, turned into a modern museum, unless common sense prevails and it is demolished. This is a positive development but is again short on detail; there has been no mention of what will happen to the inmates. All political prisoners held there should be released unconditionally, and an independent international monitoring group established to oversee the release and or transfer of all other detainees.

The current of change

Despite being enshrined as rights within Ethiopia’s liberally-worded constitution, for over two decades all forms of freedom of speech and political dissent have been virtually outlawed. Anyone who openly disagrees with or questions the ruling party is seen as a threat, and persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and, commonly, tortured. The Anti-Terrorism Act, together with The Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP), both passed in 2009, are the primary tools of suppression within the regime’s arsenal of control.

The days of tyrannical regimes are all but over, those that persist are sustained by the polluted energies of the past and are on their death bed. The people of Ethiopia sense that this is their time, that change is not only possible, but is coming.

Both laws have been widely criticised by human rights groups; responding to the CSP in 2012 Amnesty International said that the law “has had a devastating impact on human rights work, both in terms of the practical obstacles it creates for human rights defenders, and in exacerbating the climate of fear in which they operate”. This is of course precisely what it was intended to do. Commenting on the Anti-Terrorist Proclamation when it was drafted, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that it provided

the Ethiopian government with a potent instrument to crack down on political dissent, including peaceful political demonstrations… It would permit [indeed has facilitated] long-term imprisonment and even the death penalty for “crimes” that bear no resemblance, under any credible definition, to terrorism.

For 27 years the TPLF group within the coalition has dominated all life in the country and like all such tyrannical regimes it has ruled through violence and fear. But we are living in new times. The days of tyrannical regimes are all but over, those that persist are sustained by the polluted energies of the past and are on their death bed. The people of Ethiopia sense that this is their time, that change is not only possible, but is coming.

The government’s half-baked move to release a few political leaders will not appease anyone, but should embolden many. It reveals a crack in the democratic facade presented by the regime, which must be split open under the force of sustained political activism, civil disobedience and public protest.

The minority members of the coalition — the OPDO and ANDM — now have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to act boldly, to stand up and take a lead. As representatives of the two largest ethnic groups in the country they are in a position to do a number of things: demand the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Charities and Societies Proclamation be immediately repealed, compile a comprehensive list of all political prisoners (working in cooperation with Amnesty International or the Ethiopia Human Rights Project), and vigorously press for their immediate release. Then, provided opposition politicians are released and political groups outside the country — including Ginbot 7 — are allowed to operate freely, work vigorously to campaign for fair and open elections (such a thing has never taken place in Ethiopia) to be held sometime in late 2019. This is a moment of significance in the country. There is an unstoppable force for justice and freedom sweeping across the world and Ethiopia is firmly within that current of change.

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Congo: A Neocolonial Project Managed by the UN Security Council

NOVANEWS
An Interview with Economist Jean-Claude Maswana

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the heart of Black Africa. Millions of Congolese have been murdered, massacred, enslaved, robbed of their resources, and driven from their homes since the Berlin Conference gave the “Congo Free State” to Belgium’s King Leopold II as his personal property in 1885.

Patrice Lumumba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s independence hero and first Prime Minister, famously wrote to his wife Pauline from captivity in 1960, shortly before his assassination:

“We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and the free and liberated peoples in every corner of the globe will ever remain at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there will be no more colonizers and no more of their mercenaries in our country.”

I spoke to Jean-Claude Maswana about the latest waves of aggression under current Congolese President Joseph Kabila. Maswana is a Congolese native and economics professor at Tsukuba University, Japan.

Kabila in 2002, with Thabo MbekiGeorge W. Bush, and Paul Kagame. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Ann Garrison: Professor Maswana, the Congolese never seem to get a break. On the 7th of December, Tanzanian peacekeepers who were actually trying to keep the peace in Congo’s Béni Territory were attacked. Fifteen were killed, more than 50 wounded. Then, on Christmas Eve, the Ugandan Army started shelling Béni Territory from across the border and Ugandan attack aircraft crossed into Congolese air space and started dropping bombs. On New Year’s Eve, the Congolese army attacked a peaceful protest march led by the Catholic Church. Is anyone on the side of the Congolese now?

Jean-Claude Maswana: The answer is no. The Congolese people have never had anyone on their side. Time to time, there have been some international organizations or NGOs pretending to be on the Congolese people’s side but their support never lasts long. In the last 20 years, since Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo, there have been no international institutions consistently on the Congolese people’s side. Again, my answer is a clear “no.”

AG: Not even the Catholic Church? Isn’t it the second most powerful institution in Congo, where more than half the population are Catholic?

JCM: Not even the Catholic Church even though it is Congo’s second most powerful institution and its most powerful non-state institution. In December 2016 when the Catholic Church played a key role in the so-called December 31st agreement between Kabila and the opposition, I didn’t feel the Catholic Church was on the side of the people. If they were, they wouldn’t have facilitated an agreement that was clearly against the country’s constitution and the people’s interests.

AG: OK, let’s step back and explain that. Kabila’s term was to have expired in December 2016, but he didn’t organize an election and he didn’t step down. Civil unrest broke out, and eventually this agreement mediated by the church was signed. What did the agreement say?

JCM: The agreement said that Kabila could stay in power so long as he organized the elections in December 2017. But back in December 2016 it was obvious that allowing Kabila to stay beyond his constitutional term limits was a huge mistake. There was abundant evidence that he would never hold those elections in December 2017. Those of us who opposed the agreement thought that was obvious, but the Catholic Church didn’t agree.

AG: But then the Catholic Church did lead this peaceful protest march on New Year’s Eve, in Kinshasa and other cities right?

JCM: That could be seen as siding with the Congolese people. Nevertheless, to be honest, I don’t personally think the Church was really siding with the people as it should have then. I don’t want to be seen as too critical of the Church as they have made some efforts, and some of them were beaten by soldiers on the front lines of the New Year’s Eve march, but the objective of that march was unclear. The Church should have taken a clear stance and refused to accept anything but Kabila’s departure from power. No more compromise should have been made after he once again failed to organize elections. The objective of the march was to pressure Kabila to implement the December 31, 2016 agreement, but he had already failed to do that.

AG: The Congolese army, the president’s republican guard, and the military police are heavily armed against the unarmed population, so what could the Catholic Church have done but organize a nonviolent march?

JCM: A peaceful march doesn’t change the situation on the ground. It doesn’t change the balance of political or military power. The Catholic Church could bring about such a change if it stopped recognizing Kabila’s illegal and unconstitutional presidency as legitimate. This would change the political balance of power and hopefully lead the way to the negotiated creation of a transitional government until free and fair elections could be organized in a reasonable time frame.

Unfortunately, the Church isn’t even close to refusing to recognize Kabila’s legitimacy. So it’s leaving the political balance of power untouched and Kabila is happy with this outcome.

AG: That’s very interesting because you’re saying that another kind of nonviolent protest is possible.

JCM: Yes, there are other forms of nonviolent protests that are not being implemented by the opposition or the Church.

AG: OK, at this point, it looks like the European Union, the US, all the NATO powers, and China are happy with the chaos and the mayhem. They’re not disturbed enough to do anything about it. Russia doesn’t seem to be very involved. And the UN Security Council has never been willing to acknowledge Rwanda or Uganda’s presence in the Congo, which is a violation of national sovereignty that the UN Charter would oblige them to stop if they did. So it’s really up to the Congolese people, right? There are no other significant players on the global chessboard who are willing to intervene on their behalf.

JCM: Yes, that’s an accurate description of the situation as I see it. The Congolese people are alone in their struggle against Kabila. Russia, China, and all the other powerful international players support Kabila because they have ongoing deals. There is an unspoken consensus of the powerful players for leaving the situation on the ground as it is. That’s the sad fact.

AG: So everyone’s getting the resources that they want, and the Congolese people continue to be murdered and massacred without any real intervention on their behalf. MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping operation, just seems to manage the conflict at a cost of more than $1 billion annually, most of which is paid by the West. On December 7, well-armed troops wearing Congolese uniforms actually attacked Tanzanian peacekeepers who were taking their mission seriously—trying to protect the population and stop the aggressors in Béni Territory—in a clear warning that real peacekeepers would not be tolerated.

JCM: Exactly. My reading is that the very same interests behind the murder of two UN experts earlier this year were behind the attacks on the Tanzanian peacekeepers. These attacks on UN experts and peacekeepers and Kabila’s unconstitutional grip on power are both part of the same movie by the same “producer.” The UN Security Council issues toothless, knee-jerk calls for justice and democracy in response to these crimes but nothing is done. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley went to see Kabila and told him he’s obliged to organize elections in December 2018—same time next year.

AG: Since you’ve told me several times now that there are no great powers willing to intervene on behalf of the Congolese, I looked back at the moment in Congo’s history when King Leopold’s enforcers were committing unspeakable atrocities to extract rubber and whatever other resources from the “Congo Free State,” which the Berlin Conference had given to him as his personal property in 1885. There was so much international outrage that Belgium finally took over, creating the Belgian Congo. That was no triumph over colonialism, but there was so much outrage about King Leopold’s brutality that the international community of the time finally reacted. Is anything like that conceivable now?

JCM: I don’t think so because the context is very different. Leopold II was more powerful than those who gave him the ownership of the “Congo Free State.”Unlike King Leopold the owner, Kabila has been given an assignment.International interests have decided to outsource Congolese resource extraction to him, and he is in turn allowed to grab his own share of the nation’s wealth. Kabila acts as the head of the local affiliate in a much larger multinational enterprise. So far as its executives are concerned, he and MONUSCO are both doing a great job, fulfilling their de facto mandate. Never mind what they say out loud in the UN Security Council, on UN Web TV, or through UN News. This multinational enterprise has been at Kabila’s side ever since he took power ten days after the assassination of his less compliant, adoptive father, Congolese President Laurent Désiré Kabila, in January 2017.

AG: So, basically, Leopold II really did own and control the Congo Free State as an individual, as a king, but Kabila’s just an apparatchik.

JCM: Yes, exactly.

AG: OK, so any real outrage would have to go beyond the apparatchik to the multinational enterprise, and that’s unlikely.

JCM: Yes, exactly.

AG: Early on you explained that the only real agency on behalf of the Congolese people is in the hands of the Congolese people, who would themselves have to stop recognizing Kabila as the rightful president. Is there anything that those of us in other parts of the world who are horrified by what continues to go on there can do to support them, even if we’re far from the centers of power?

JCM: Yes. First, just continue to do what you’ve been doing: spreading information and raising awareness among US citizens. The end goal could be to make the DRC tragedy an issue at some electoral level. Next, join and support the networks of those fighting the killing machine in DRC. Also, bring some international and different perspectives to the conflict to help us, the DRC people, expand our understanding of the tragedy. Most of the time, the most vulnerable and victimized in the DRC tragedy have a limited or incorrect understanding of who is really behind it, especially of who is behind it from outside the DRC.

AG: The information question reminded me of something. Just before the peaceful march on New Year’s Eve, Kabila had the Internet and SMS messaging switched off. Has that been restored?

JCM: Yes, the SMS and Internet are back, but even so, the control is in place. The monitoring system is in place; they have the technology, provided by some companies that I’m not going to name here. They have the technology in place and they’re monitoring everything and, from time to time, randomly checking people’s smart phones or other devices, or forcing people to open up their Facebook or Whatsapp accounts, for example.

AG: High tech surveillance in a nation where less than 10% of the population have electricity at home but as many as 23% may own cell phones.

JCM: Yes.

AG: To be continued?

JCM: Indeed.

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Disgruntled Soldiers Stage Another Mutiny in Ivory Coast

NOVANEWS

Angry troops burn down military base in Bouake amid recriminations over command structures

 

In the second largest Ivorian city of Bouake, soldiers have defied orders and torched a military base in response to unresolved grievances.

This is yet an additional explosion of discontent among soldiers who have staged several rebellions since the French-backed government of President Alassane Ouattara was installed in power nearly six years ago.

The center of the unrest has been in Bouake where soldiers have complained over their treatment by superior units. Bouake has been a flashpoint for unrest within the military which is responsible for the national security of the West African state.

During 2017 there were various outbreaks in the army over the failure of the Ouattara government to pay bonuses owed from the merger of various conventional and rebel units which were empowered after the crises of 2010-11. The disturbances were settled on more than one occasion by promising to make good on the money supposedly owed to the soldiers.

In the aftermath of these mutinies, the government has rolled out a plan to downsize the military. Nonetheless, is not clear whether there is any viable plan for the reintegration of the soldiers into civilian life.

During December of 2017 the Ivorian government released 1000 soldiers and granted them $25,782 each as severance pay. There could be up to 4,000 troops retired in phases over the next four years.

The number of military personnel is said to be somewhere around 25,000 troops. Ouattara views this as being unwieldy and is seeking what they perceived to be more manageable force levels.

Eyewitness reports of the events in Bouake indicate that the fierce clashes originated over the presence of an elite unit known as the Coordination Center for Operational Decisions (CCDO). This elite division of the security forces encompasses soldiers, para-military gendarmes and regular police officers. The mutinous soldiers were demanding that the CCDO personnel leave the city.

Bouake resident Georges Kouame said of the situation on January 10 that he was:

“hearing intense shooting from machine guns. There are also explosions from heavy weapons.” (defenceweb.co.za)

The mutineers told Reuters press agency they believed the CCDO divisions were sent to the city to conduct surveillance on their activities. Tensions over these differences had been building up for several days. The shooting and arson attacks have resulted in one known death.

One soldier involved in the rebellion, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on January 10, emphasized:

“At the moment we are surrounding the CCDO camp and there is an exchange of gunfire. They must leave the city or we will force them to leave.”

Later one soldier involved in the mutiny said:

“We entered the CCDO camp around midnight and took all of their arms and amunitions.”

Another soldier stressed that:

“We burned the CCDO camp and destroyed everything inside. Even their service vehicles were burned. Their troops fled the camp but we are looking for them.” (Premium Times of Nigeria, Jan. 10)

Other sources reported that high level military officers had deployed 200 loyalist troops to Bouake in order to stabilize the situation. Nonetheless, it will remain to be seen whether there will be an amicable resolution to the conflict in the short term.

A Model for Neo-Colonial Governance in Alliance with Imperialism

Cocoa beans in a cacao pod showing the outer rind, the seeds, and inner pulp. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa. The country is also an emerging oil state where a workers’ strike took place during early 2016 in response to lay-offs within the petroleum industry.

Although the country has been the recipient of loans and other forms of assistance from international finance capital, obviously this reported prosperity has not been equitably dispersed among the majority of the people. The rank and file soldiers are a stark representation of the character of the social system inside the country.

There was an announcement recently by the Ministry of Tourism indicating that the government would invest some $5.5 billion in the industry. These funds will supposedly be used to carry out infrastructural improvements such as building and rehabilitating tourist sites, roads and hotels.

Nonetheless, for workers in these sectors of the economy where the rate of exploitation is typically high and the beneficiaries are generally a small group of “investors” who are either foreign business people or those who represent their interests on a local level. The neo-colonial dominated regime of Ouattara claims that such expenditures are aimed at some form of “diversification” of the economy.

However, the masses of workers, farmers and youth in most cases remain subservient to the multi-national corporate interests that reigns supreme in the service of European travelers and their economies. Land sales in exchange for foreign currencies is said to be a key component of this upgrade of infrastructure.

Inflation rates in Ivory Coast are reported to be in excess of 1 percent. Nevertheless, the means by which the rise in prices is calculated may not be representative of the actual impact of foreign direct investment on the majority of people who reside within a particular African state.

The Outstanding Issues on the Persecution of Former Leaders

French military intervention with the backing of the United States in April 2011 was critical in the ascendancy of the current regime. President Laurent Gbagbo, youth leader Charles Ble Goude and First Lady Simone were arrested by soldiers from Paris who were wholeheartedly supported by imperialist interests.

Ivorian supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and the PFI (Source: author)

At present Gbagbo is being held in The Netherlands by the controversial and ominous International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes although there is no potential for the previous head-of-state to receive a fair trial. His wife Simone, is imprisoned inside Ivory Coast for supposed violations against the people of the country. However, it is impossible for the First Lady to receive actual due process based upon the bias of the existing regime which is being propped-up by France.

It is incontrovertible that the U.S. and France favored the forces allied with Ouattara and strongly worked against the Ivorian Popular Front (PFI). The Gbagbo political leadership defied both Paris and Washington seeking to establish a neo-colonial framework for the future of not only Ivory Coast notwithstanding the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).

Ivorian leaders on trial in the Netherlands (Source: author)

The ICC has been challenged ideologically and politically in Africa over the last several years. Nevertheless, the ongoing character of African relations with the western industrialized states places the AU member-states in a disadvantageous situation internationally mandated through custom, practice and pseudo legal rationales such as the Rome Statute. These nations are still dependent upon imperialism for global trade, loans from western-based financial institutions and coercive joint military operations along with Pentagon-NATO basing within the region.

Only one African state has been capable of breaking ties with the ICC, that government being that of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi. Both South Africa and Gambia have been thwarted in their attempts to exit from under the putative authority of the hegemonic imperialist notions of “legal jurisdiction.”

In Gambia the government of President Yahya Jammeh was overthrown one year ago by neighboring Senegal, a key partner with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The Gambian head-of-state was forced to leave the country of his birth.

The South African High Court required that a parliamentary process was required in order for President Jacob Zuma to exit the Rome Statute. The African National Congress (ANC) administration is still being pursued by so-called non-governmental organizations (NGO) whose legal premise is that an AU Summit being held in South Africa somehow must be subservient to the whims and caprices of the ICC.

Africa must withdraw from any and all “international” imperialist-coordinated entities which violate its sovereignty, national independence, foreign policy and political interests. Until Ivory Coast is placed under the direction of the people themselves, these periodic rebellions and false notion of economic vibrancy will continue to stifle the actual liberation of the majority of workers, youth and farmers in the country.

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Africa: 2018 Outlook

Africa’s known for its internal divisions and predisposition to conflicts, especially those which are encouraged from abroad, and it’s with this in mind that there are plenty of reasons to worry about its stability in 2018. Proceeding from North Africa to Southern Africa, Egypt is regularly attacked by terrorists in the Sinai and elsewhere, posing a real threat to President Sisi’s government. In addition, Egypt believes that its water security is endangered by Ethiopia’s plans to build the Grand Renaissance Dam, and the continued development of this megaproject is expected to see tensions soar between the two states as it eventually nears its completion. This could possibly even see Egypt extend covert support to Ethiopia’s Oromo people, the country’s largest minority that’s been engaged in large-scale anti-government protests over the past year and recently started clashing with the Somalian minority over land rights, a conflict which might grow to take international dimensions if Somalia’s Al Shabaab terrorist group decides to intervene in support of its ethnic compatriots.

Egypt’s next door neighbor of Libya is still caught up in a multisided civil war, albeit one which has since crystallized mostly into an east-west rivalry and could be partially resolved by next year’s presidential elections, dependent upon Saif Gaddafi and General Haftar entering into an agreement to politically cooperate with one another. As for Algeria, the inevitable passing of aging and reportedly incapacitated President Bouteflika might spark speculation about the country’s possible return to its 1990s civil war, but its “deep state” will probably ensure a smooth leadership transition just like the one that took place in Uzbekistan in 2016. Moving southwards into the Sahara, Mali is still a terrorist-infested nest that France and its fellow G5 Sahel allies are unable to resolve. Moreover, its problems have begun to spill across the border into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, the latter of which is an exceptionally fragile and failing state with the world’s highest birthrates.

Niger abuts Nigeria and is allied with it in a War on Terror against Boko Haram and alongside Chad and Cameroon, but the West African giant on whose territory most of this conflict is being fought is beginning to unravel along regional lines. There have always been divisions between the Muslim north and the Christian south which were only united into a single colony in 1914, spilling over most dramatically in the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War over the southeastern self-declared secessionist region of “Biafra”. Nowadays there are signs that the chronic impoverishment of this oil-rich region is once again giving rise to anti-state violence, whether in the form of “rebels”, bandits, or terrorists. Worse still, “Biafra” borders the Northwest and Southwestern regions of Cameroon that are at the heart of that country’s own separatist conflict over what its supporters call “Ambazonia” and which has recently turned very violent over the past couple of months.

Continuing along, not only is Cameroon afflicted by Boko Haram and “Ambazonian” separatism, but it’s also caring for many refugees from the Central African Republic, which has been in a genocidal state of civil war between Christians and Muslims since 2013, ignobly competing with neighboring South Sudan for being the most dysfunctional state in the world and together with it forming what can be described as a “Failed State Belt” in the continental heartland. While these two conflicts might worsen in the coming year, their humanitarian consequences might pale in comparison to if the Democratic Republic of the Congo descends into civil war, which it’s basically on the brink of doing already. The last Congo War killed an estimated 5 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, and the present low-level one is being “justified” on the basis of President Kabila delaying national elections but is mostly driven by mineral interests.

The killing of 15 UN peacekeepers in northeastern Congo by the anti-Ugandan and Salafist terrorist organization called the “Allied Democratic Forces” shows that this corner of the country isn’t immune from the violence either, and Uganda might be in for a rough ride if President Musaveni passes away without any clearly designated successor, though the scenario could unfold according to the prospective Algerian one where the “deep state” takes matters into its own hands in the interests of national stability. Nearby Burundi was once thought to be a crisis in the making, but President Nkurunziza has succeeded in wiping out the anti-government fighters who were opposed to his controversial third term in office. That being said, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi were all involved to one extent or another in the last Congo War, so the collapse of the Democratic Republic might have unexpected consequences for them as well.

Nearing the southern tip of the continent, the ruling FRELIMO party of gas-rich Mozambique will probably continue peace talks with the Cold War-era armed RENAMO opposition, and Zimbabwe will likely proceed with its leadership transition in peace. As for regional hegemon South Africa, newly elected ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa will continue to reform the party from within by making it more business-friendly and less multipolar ahead of the 2019 national elections, though apart from the ever-present potential for labor and xenophobic violence, no large-scale political destabilization is expected. Altogether, to summarize Africa’s most important 2018 fault lines, the War on Terror in Mali might spread throughout other parts of West Africa, and Nigeria and Cameroon’s separatist conflicts might begin to morph into a single transnational battlespace. Ethiopia will continue to be challenged by some Oromo groups, while the Congo could slide into a civil war that once again draws in many international participants. Finally, North Africa might stabilize, while East and South Africa will remain mostly the same.

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Putin in Egypt: Who’s the big player in the Middle East?

This could be just a coincidence, but the next day after Russia announced victory over terrorists in Syria, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Both of these events dramatically strengthen the role of the Russian Federation in the Middle East. The Arab world is looking up to Russia, and President Putin has arrived in Egypt to strengthen the strategic alliance with Egypt.

During the Cold War, Egypt was a difficult partner for the USSR. In the middle of the 20th century, the Kremlin was supporting the young republic in its opposition to Israel and the West, and Egypt was reciprocating. In late September 1970, when Anwar Sadat came to power there, he distanced himself from Moscow and went on rapprochement with Washington.

Even though the Soviet-Egyptian Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation was signed in Cairo on May 27, 1971, the relations between the two countries had been chilly since the mid-1970s. Since 1975, Soviet and Russian leaders have never paid a visit to Egypt. Vladimir Putin broke the sad tradition only in 2005.

After the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the election of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Russia started establishing constructive relations with the new government. These days, President Putin is in Egypt again, where he received a very warm welcome. Egyptian president welcomed Putin personally at the airport and took him to the presidential palace. Cairo residents carried placards saying: “We are glad to welcome President of the Russian Federation and true friend of Egypt in the country of peace.”

Egyptian newspapers also took efforts to give Putin a hearty welcome. All major Egyptian publications predictably wondered when Russian tourists were going to return to Egypt. This issue has become one of the most difficult one on the agenda of the talks.

Since 2015, after the crash of the Russian passenger jetliner over the Sinai Peninsula, the air communication between the two countries has been suspended at the initiative of Moscow, and the tourist flow to Egypt has plummeted. Since then, the Egyptians have done a lot to meet various requirements of the Russian side to improve the security level of Egyptian airports. Russian security commissions have visited Egypt several times already, but they would always find various drawbacks.

Following the talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Vladimir Putin stated that the authorities of Egypt had succeeded in raising the level of security at their airports. The head of the Ministry for Transport of the Russian Federation, Maxim Sokolov, who arrived in Egypt as part of the Russian delegation too, said that one only needs to settle certain formalities before Egypt may expect Russian tourists to return in 2018.

In the long run, tourism was not the most important purpose for Putin to arrive in Cairo. The main topic of the talks was set by Donald Trump, who caused a wave of indignation in the entire Arab world having recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Putin’s goal is to secure the role of an arbitrator in the looming historical dispute.

Cairo has taken the side of Palestine. Egypt recognizes the right of Palestine to establish its own independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem. The decision of the US president has ruined those plans, and both Palestine and Egypt expect that Putin will be able to use his influence and give the Palestinians another chance.

Russia’s victory in Syria showed the Arab world that the United States will have to take Russia’s position into consideration in the Middle East. Egypt will not dare to confront Washington, no matter how hard they may try. Egypt will never stand up to confront Washington, no matter how the Egyptians may criticise Trump. In June 2017, Cairo was one of the seven closest allies of Washington in the Arab world that broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar.

As for Russia, Moscow has been gradually increasing its influence on Egypt to the detriment of the United States. For example, Russia helps Egypt build its first national nuclear power plant with a capacity of 4.8 thousand MW, and Moscow is expected to give an export credit for this seven-year project.

Last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a visit to Cairo, where he discussed issues of struggle against terrorism and military-technical cooperation. This year, Russia won a tender for the supplies of Ka-52A Katran deck-based helicopter for Egypt’s Mistral helicopter carriers Mistral and discusses a possibility to purchase a land version of the Ka-52.

On November 30, the Russian government approved a draft bilateral agreement, according to which Russian military aircraft can use Egyptian airfields when carrying out military missions. During the visit to Egypt, President Putin may reach an agreement to establish a Russian military base there that would strengthen Russia’s position in the Mediterranean even further.

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Why We Can’t Ignore Libya, Enslavement and the Damages of US Intervention

NOVANEWS

By William C. AndersonTruthout 

Members of the Africa Diaspora Forum (ADF), civil society organisations, churches, trade unions and other coalitions wear chains and shout slogans during a demonstration against the slave trade and human trafficking in Libya on December 12, 2017 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. (Photo: Gulshan Khan / AFP / Getty Images)

Members of the Africa Diaspora Forum (ADF), civil society organisations, churches, trade unions and other coalitions wear chains and shout slogans during a demonstration against the slave trade and human trafficking in Libya on December 12, 2017, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. (Photo: Gulshan Khan / AFP / Getty Images)

In November, CNN released footage of Africans being sold into slavery at an auction in Libya, shocking and angering many around the world. The outlet reported witnessing “a dozen men being sold like commodities — some auctioned off for as little as $400.” However, though the auction has been portrayed as part of a recent phenomenon, the disaster that is enslavement is not new at all, even in the modern world. Though the conditions that enable such markets have grown increasingly bad in Libya amid instability after a US-backed NATO intervention, the enslavement of Africans — particularly in the Middle East and North Africa — has gone on for much longer than some care to remember.

In 2011, at the height of the Arab Spring, many people were ecstatic about the prospects of new governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The revolutionary rebellions throughout the affected countries happened quickly, one after another, following the initial uprising in Tunisia. Many — not only in the countries undergoing change, but throughout the world — were happy about what they felt was an opportunity within the grasp of many self-determined people calling for new governments. Still, there was also hesitancy among critical onlookers abroad and protesters alike regarding how much of the Arab Spring uprisings were playing out organically, wholly separate from the machinations of meddling Western nations. No matter where anyone stood, much of the world was watching intently.

Per usual, the United States and many other Western actors had chimed in on these happenings and deemed that they were largely positive developments for the prospects of new democracy. Despite the fact that the US and the Western world sponsored and directly inflicted much of the repression people were rising up against, these imperialist governments and former colonizers positioned themselves, in general, as supportive of the uprisings. They framed the movement as something in line with the supposed Western values of equality and the freedom to protest. Parts of the movements in support of revolution in some countries were strategically co-opted by the US and Western forces, and the devastating lessons of what happened are present with us today. We can see these insights very clearly when we begin to examine the state of Libya.

Understanding how Libya went from rule under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to a country marked by clashing brigades and markets trafficking enslaved Africans requires us to examine Western influence in recent years. We must acknowledge, first of all, that the human trafficking we’re now seeing was also happening throughout the Middle East and North Africa (including Libya) during or prior to Gaddafi’s reign. However, its intensification in the years since is no accident. It should be an uncontroversial statement to say that the international politics of the West rely heavily on the manipulation of political events. Situations that are both favorable and unfavorable to the West (and specifically the US) are hidden behind the sealed lips and political speeches of state theatrics. When the Arab Spring became a threat to the government of US-backed Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the US waited and temporarily backed away without engaging in an all-out war intervention. However, the situation in Libya did not seem to warrant any restraint for US officials. Preexisting tensions with Gaddafi revolving around regional differences and conflicts between different groups in the country were ultimately exacerbated by the Western intervention. “We hope he can be captured or killed soon,” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2011, referring to Col. Gaddafi, although he had been regularly cooperating with the West, notably Britain’s MI6, as well as agreeing to give up his nuclear arms in 2003. However, he was ultimately murdered during a NATO-backed intervention, despite his disarmament cooperation.

We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton stated infamously, laughing and clapping her hands together in celebration afterward. Prior to her chilling glee at Gaddafi’s murder, she had welcomed his son in 2009 on a visit to Washington, saying, “We deeply value the relationship between the United States and Libya,” and then stating she was looking forward to “building on the relationship” with Libya. It was only two years later that she would persuade President Obama to join other nations in bombing Libya to prevent Gaddafi from suppressing the Arab Spring protests. The war effort was bipartisan. A crucial observation we can gain here is the fickleness of politicians and how deadly and misleading appearances can be. Regardless of what one thinks about the brutal killing of Gaddafi — who was assassinated while begging for his life — we can observe that this extrajudicial action is a contradiction to the values the West claims to invest in abroad.

Gaddafi’s murder plunged Libya in a fight between warring factions. Power, as well as cultural and economic differences, fueled new conflict amid the confusion. While the transitional government attempted to maintain order, the problems extended beyond that government’s reach. Brigades controlling former military weapons and tools began clashing and running rampant. Those who many of us would describe as “Black people” in Libya (both living there and passing through as migrants) became targets by default, accused of supposedly being Gaddafi “mercenaries” and “loyalists,” often solely based on their appearance. This much wasn’t an accident or a mistake, but an opportunity to seize upon those who were already discriminated against and vulnerable in the midst of turmoil. Though reports of “Black Africans” being targeted by anti-Gaddafi forces were widespread in 2011, the US and NATO coalition went through with its intervention. The targeting and displacement of Tawerghans and the detaining of sub-Saharan migrants were opportunities that were seized upon by anti-Gaddafi forces during the conflict, and which still have repercussions today.

The migrant crisis worsened as much of the Arab Spring came to an unfortunate end, and many residents of the involved countries began to flee their homes. Empowered brigades and vigilantes took advantage of the vacuum created by Western intervention in Libya. What some thought would be new progress turned into new despots, instability and more repression. While countless people fled Syria, Iraq and other countries where other Western interventions had made life dangerous, Libya — which was a hub for many passing through on the way to Europe — was destabilized. Even now, many migrants who make it onto boats fleeing Western-engineered crises in the Middle East and North Africa are regularly at risk of robbery, abuse, drowning (forced or accidental), kidnapping, murder and rape by human traffickers. People on the boats are often given preferential treatment based on lighter skin tone. Even now, the West is more concerned with the desire to police migration (which it also negotiated with Gaddafi) and militarize the tragic situation it’s worsened. Ideas like reception centersmigrant patrols and even private police have been floated while Western accountability has been neglected.

None of this is new. The enslavement of Africans throughout the Middle East and North Africa is an age-old practice that has unfortunately carried on into this century. There is no mistake about why Black people are being targeted in the Middle East and North Africa; this is a standard rooted in the history of Arab enslavement of Africans. Enslavement and human trafficking of Africans is happening in Sudan and EgyptMauritania (a country with an active movement to end slavery); KuwaitQatar; Saudi Arabia; the United Arab Emirates; and many more. Even in Western countries like the UK and the United States, people are trafficked to be slaves. The Arabic word “abd” (plural: “abeed”) meaning “slave,” maintains its presence in all of the aforementioned places and elsewhere as a slur hurled at African and African-descended people.

It’s not surprising that the enslavement happening in Libya has drawn international attention throughout the African diaspora around the world. Black people abroad (and many celebrities in the US) have been enraged at a recent reminder that slavery, upon which the US was built, is not just in the past, but is actively happening today. The failure of the UN and African Union to alleviate the migrant crisis and halt the continuation of slave markets exposes the fact that when it comes to protecting and defending the most marginalized people, these organizations are often symbolic.

Tragedies like the current enslavement crisis have been worsened by the intervention, exploitation and the ruthless excess of the West. While some people living in Western nations like the US may show concern, the politicians we elect and the very foundation of the lives we live are based on the plunder and destruction of other countries. President Obama naively recalls Libya as the “worst mistake” of his presidency — as if US interventions ever have sincere motivations — and Hillary Clinton has made it clear she doesn’t share Obama’s sentiments. These “mistakes” that happen at the expense of millions of people’s lives and wellbeing become merely talking points and debate topics for the privileged few inside of empire. After all, crisis abroad helps build and maintain empires like the United States. No matter how concerned some of us may be in the West, we can help prevent these problems from growing worse by working to end imperial interventionism itself. Our lives are not more important than those who reside in the places that empire regularly uproots and destabilizes to exploit for surplus.

What is perhaps most unfortunate is that the US and other Western nations could possibly attempt to co-opt the current outrage to intervene on their own behalf anywhere in the Middle East or North Africa all over again. We must not let that happen. The only Western intervention needed is the one that should take place inside of the West: a movement of people demanding an end to the violence of empire itself. That intervention would benefit the whole world.

Posted in Libya0 Comments

South Africa Downgrades Nazi Embassy in Protest of Trump Jerusalem Decision

NOVANEWS
  • A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Israeli forces during protest against U.S. President Trump
    A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Nazi forces during protest against U.S. President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, Dec. 20, 2017 | Photo: Reuters.
South Africa’s ruling party said it is downsizing its embassy in Israel to a “Liaison Office” in solidarity with Palestinians in the face of U.S. bias toward Israel.

South Africa will downside its diplomatic representation in Israel in response to the U.S. government’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the ruling African National Congress said Wednesday.

RELATED: Palestine Slams US ‘Blackmail’ Says Jerusalem Not ‘for Sale’

“In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine, the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office,” Palestinian state news agency Wafa quoted the ANC statement as saying.

The ANC said their move would “send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, called the move “an important decision,” and added that he hoped other governments around the world would follow suit.

The South African decision comes one day ahead of an emergency session at the United Nations General Assembly where its 193 members will vote on a draft resolution calling on Washington to reverse its declaration on Jerusalem.

Meanwhile 10 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the decision last month, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Wednesday, while hunderds have been injured in clashes with Israeli police and occupation forces.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society also said that at least 490 people have been arrested since the Trump decision earlier this month, including 148 minors and 11 women.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, South AfricaComments Off on South Africa Downgrades Nazi Embassy in Protest of Trump Jerusalem Decision

Imperialism, Intervention, “War On Terror” Detonate In Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — In the Somali capital of Mogadishu, nearly 400 were killed, hundreds more were injured, and dozens are still missing after a car bomb was detonated at a busy intersection. According to a Somali official, the original target was a newly erected Turkish military base, the largest of its kind, and the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency believes that the perpetrators were members of the terrorist group al-Shabab.

Somalia is now struggling to deal with the aftermath of an attack that is not the first of its kind, on top of living with the impact of an ongoing famine. But the start of this nightmare in Somalia begins and continues with imperialism.

In 1992, with Operation Restore Hope, the U.S. intervened militarily in Somalia under the guise of “humanitarian relief” — and this came after gaining access to the country’s oil fields, thanks to the Carter administration. In 1993 The New York Times reported that there were some 10,000 Somali casualties in the span of four months, two-thirds of them women and children.


More by Roqayah Chamseddine


As interventionism in Somalia surged, stories of torture and other forms of abuse began to appear involving foreign soldiers in the country. In 1994 Canadian troops were involved in graphic violence against Somali civilians, and pictures were released showing the abuse of a teenager who was tortured until he died. In 1997 Italy confirmed that its soldiers brutally tortured Somali men, women and children, but senior officials were absolved.

In recent years the U.S. has expanded its war on Somalia, thanks to a drone program that was revitalized under Obama. All of this has resulted in the deaths of hundreds. These attacks, which the U.S. argues are a necessary part of the wider “War on Terror,” have further destabilized Somalia, and have resulted in nothing beyond utter devastation. There has been a great expenditure on weaponry and troop deployments, all devoted to the containment of a group that’s estimated to have fewer than 10,000 members.

The Trump administration has sent more U.S. troops to Somalia to “advise and assist,” though they are very much armed and able to engage in combat. The violence that is forced upon the people of Somalia will continue, not only because of the actions of al-Shabab but owing also to the role of the U.S. and allies in weakening the country, and bringing about even more bloodshed.

Posted in SomaliaComments Off on Imperialism, Intervention, “War On Terror” Detonate In Mogadishu

Renowned South African university cuts ties with ‘Israel’

NOVANEWS

PRETORIA – “The Council of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has resolved that TUT will not forge any ties with the State of Israel or any of its organizations and institutions,” TUT spokesman on the issue Professor Rasigan Maharajh told the African News Agency (ANA) during an interview on Wednesday.

A December 7 press release from TUT stated: “As a progressive university in a democratic South Africa, we want to affirm that TUT will not sign any agreements or enter into scientific partnerships until such time that Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

“The university will not stand back and accept the violations of the Israeli government when it confines the movement of Palestinian children and youth on their own land and restricts their ability to access education through destroying their schools,” added the statement.

South African criticism of Israel is growing, the ANA pointed out.

One of the controversial issues to be discussed at the ANC’s forthcoming 54th National Conference in Gauteng, from December 16 to 20, is the possible downgrading, or even closure, of the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv.

“As a constitutional democracy premised on the recognition of human rights, the Republic of South Africa must urgently discuss downgrading the status of its relationship with Israel,” said Maharajh.

TUT’s decision to cut all ties with the Jewish state also comes in the wake of strong condemnation from the South African government, and various political and human rights organizations across the country, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem while stating that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

Under international law East Jerusalem is occupied territory and all international embassies have based themselves in Tel Aviv until the final status of Jerusalem is negotiated through talks.

“The announcement by the Trump regime of its intentions to establish its embassy in Jerusalem further escalates tensions,” said Maharajh.

“As guided by the founding President of the post-apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who declared that: ‘We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’, the Republic of South Africa must also condemn the actions of the Trump regime and work harder at fostering solidarity and cooperation with the people of Palestine.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, AfricaComments Off on Renowned South African university cuts ties with ‘Israel’

Zambia Must Clarify Whether it Will Host an Israel-Africa Summit

NOVANEWS

Gathering amid unprecedented Palestine solidarity demonstrations would go against historical continental support for nationally oppressed peoples

Several news articles were published in early December indicating that Zambian President Edgar Lungu has agreed to host a summit meeting between African Union (AU) member-states and the State of Israel. (See Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2017)

These reports first surfaced during the inauguration ceremony for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. President Lungu attended the second induction into office by Kenyatta who is the leader of East Africa’s largest economy.

Lungu met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the Kenyatta inauguration events. The Zambian leader was photographed shaking hands with Netanyahu during the meeting.

Image: Zambian President Edgar Lungu meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu

A similar summit was scheduled earlier in 2017 in the West African state of Togo. However, mass demonstrations by Togolese opposition parties and coalitions demanding the resignation of the government of President Faure Gnassingbe for undemocratic practices, forced Lome to postpone the announced summit.

Zambia’s largest newspaper the Lusaka Times reported on December 5 that:

“President Edgar Lungu, who met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week at the re-inauguration ceremonies for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, told ZNBC that ‘For whatever reason, we have been given the mandate to host this summit which will bring its own benefits to Zambia.’ President Lungu said Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked Zambia to host an Africa-Israel summit that was originally scheduled for Togo in September.”

Despite this claim of mystification by President Lungu, it is quite obvious that there were definite reasons why Zambia was targeted to host the meeting. The Southern African state is one of the few countries within the AU which has a military attache stationed in Israel where it opened an embassy in 2015. Israel does not have an embassy in Zambia.

Lungu paid a state visit to Israel in February 2017. The president was accompanied by a large delegation of ministers from his administration.

After his return to Zambia, Lungu was quoted in the Lusaka Times as saying:

“Israel is a pacesetter in survival instinct because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture and information and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them. A lot of benefits are expected out of this trip.”

Unfortunately, no statement was recorded in the same publication which cites the plight of the Palestinian people who share a similar history with Africans as it relates to colonialism and imperialism. Israel under successive leaders since 1948 has collaborated with the same white supremacist forces which conquered, exploited and oppressed African people and their descendants throughout the world.

The Lusaka Times then quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he was in Kenya for the inauguration of Kenyatta as emphasizing in regard to Zambia that Tel Aviv’s aim was to:

“deepen its cooperation with the country, which I think is important for both our countries and both our peoples. I know that you’re opening a Jewish history museum in Zambia and soon a synagogue in the capital city. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit those institutions and to visit Zambia.”

Africa and Israel: A Comparative History

Although Jewish people have been subjected to national discrimination in Europe and the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, today since the recognition of the State of Israel by the United Nations in May 1948 most people do not consider them to be an oppressed people.  However, it is important to make a distinction between Judaism as a religion and Zionism as an ideology and political movement.

Image: Nelson Mandela with PFLP leaders

In fact when the founders of the World Zionist movement began in the later years of the 19th century, its leaders specifically sought to align themselves with the rising tide of colonialism throughout Asia and Africa. During the early phase of the Zionist movement Palestine was not the only location examined for the establishment of a Jewish state. (See Weizmann and Smuts: A Study in Zionist-South African Cooperation. (Institute for Palestine Studies Monograph No. 43, 1975)

Other areas considered by the Zionists included territories in Africa such as modern-day Madagascar, Uganda and Libya. By 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour issued his famous declaration which mandated the creation of a state for the Jewish and Arab peoples in the-then colony of Palestine. Most historical literature on this territory prior to 1948 referred to the area as Palestine. (https://www.globalresearch.ca/palestine-israeli-foreign-policy-and-the-pan-african-movement/5333199)

Nevertheless, when the State of Israel was recognized by the UN it was done so as exclusively a Jewish state where millions of Palestinians had been forcibly removed and disenfranchised. In 1948, the UN was dominated by the European colonial powers and the U.S. The Soviet Union, whose military had made the greatest contribution to breaking the expansionist program of the Third Reich under Adolph Hitler, also voted in the UN to recognize the Jewish state in Palestine.

The overwhelming number of colonies in Africa did not gain their independence from European imperialism until after World War II with the upsurge of national liberation movements in Sudan, the Gold Coast (Ghana), Algeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Angola, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southwest Africa (Namibia), etc. After the century-long existence of the Atlantic Slave Trade which uprooted millions of Africans from the continent to Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, the advent of classic colonialism was imposed on the continent.

During 1884-85, the Berlin West Africa Conference was held in Germany. This gathering carved up Africa among the imperialist powers. It would take over a century to bring about the independence of the continent with the Republic of South Africa overthrowing the racist apartheid system in 1994. At present only the Western Sahara, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), remains under the colonial control of the North African monarchy of Morocco.

Africa and Palestine Solidarity Has Grown Since the Post-Colonial Period

After the 1956 Suez Canal war when Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in order to retake control of this strategic asset, the political sympathy of most African states has shifted solidly in the direction of the Palestinian and other Arab people.

Later, as a result of the Egypt-Jordan-Syria wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973, a majority of independent African governments and national liberation movements broke relations with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is viewed by progressive forces throughout Africa has the de facto representatives of the people. After the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993 which gave rise to the Palestinian Authority, there has been a period thawing in relations related to Tel Aviv and some African states.

Image: Abayomi Azikiwe Speaks at Palestine-African American Solidarity Forum in 2009

However, African solidarity with Palestine remains strong. The Republic of South Africa under the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to be a bulwark of sentiment in favor of the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. This mood has existed in the Republic of Zimbabwe as well during the 37-year presidency of Robert Mugabe, the former leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF).

When on December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump issued his executive order to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem mass demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people have been held throughout the world. The three leading alliance partners in South Africa, the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have all issued statements decrying the policy decisions of Trump.

The U.S. government is the staunchest supporter of the State of Israel providing billions of dollars in assistance and military hardware on an annual basis. Egypt, due to military and political considerations ranks as the second largest recipient of direct aid from Washington. However, Africa as a whole can in no way compare to the economic, military and diplomatic support which is received by Israel irrespective of the fact that people of African descent in the U.S. are numbered in excess of 40 million inhabitants.

Consequently, the holding of an Israel-Africa Summit in Zambia would represent a tremendous setback in the progressive legacy of independent states on the continent. At this critical stage in international relations AU member countries should be intensifying their cooperation with other fraternal governments and peoples on the continent and indeed throughout the world.

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