Archive | Africa

A new beacon of hope for The Gambia

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For over two decades under President Jammeh, independent views were considered seditious. Secret police were everywhere listening for hints of subversion. Jammeh’s name was spoken only in whispers, unless you were praising him, in which case you genuflected and shouted yourself hoarse at rallies, thanking Allah for loving The Gambia so much as to bless it with a leader of such peerless morality, wisdom and compassion. That is why the people elected Adama Barrow on 1 December 2016.

Democracy is up to the people: A successful democracy does not rely on a single personality or an elected leader. All people need to partake in political processes. Space for citizen participation and the emergence of a civil society, diaspora activism and new media have helped ease Gambia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy.

The turnout in the December 1 elections is a good sign as it reflects the people want to take a more active role in the country’s democracy, suggesting democracy in The Gambia has longevity. It takes time to build a democracy after decades of dictatorship; The Gambia under Jammeh had a rule of law deficit, chronic corruption, complete control of the armed and combined security forces and tribalism.

The Gambian people finally decided to dislodge dictatorship and restore democracy; they want not only procedural democracy but substantive democracy: a functioning democratic system that will reflect in a contest of ideas between candidates, not a contest of financial strength or the ability to smear.

President Yahya Jammeh is the latest victim of coalition opposition politics in Africa. His defeat should send a clear message to other sit-tight, royalist leaders across the continent. The long- term solution to the Yahya Jammeh problem should be the introduction of a constitutional term limit for the Gambian Presidency to prevent another Jammehism from ruling as he wished to rule for “one billion years”.

When Yahya Jammeh conceded defeat after the December 1 presidential elections [he later turned around and rejected the results, throwing the country into a political crisis that still persists –Editors], the gesture was widely hailed and described as an indication of great hope for democracy in Africa particularly for the Gambian people, who Yahya Jammeh ruled with an iron-fist for twenty-two years. This 2016 presidential elections were perhaps the most significant political development in the political history of The Gambia in fifty-two years. The first transfer of power through the ballot box.

President-elect Adam Barrow is a product of a coalition of opposition parties which provided the platform for the people’s yearning for change. Barrow became the symbol of the people’s hopes, and of freedom from Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorship that was the benchmark of brutality, love of witchcraft and egregious human rights violations.

For over two decades under President Yahya Jammeh and his AFPRC regime, independent views were considered seditious. Secret police were everywhere, listening for hints of subversion. Yahya Jammeh’s name was spoken only in whispers, unless you were praising him, in which case you genuflected and shouted yourself hoarse at rallies and in Gamo gatherings, thanking Allah for loving Yahya Jammeh so much as to bless him and his family with a leader of such peerless morality, wisdom and compassion.

Those who demurred at such scurrilous sycophancy found themselves at the old GPMB buildings along Mariana Parade where Bambina is located, torture chambers built by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). The state became a law unto itself, seizing land and property meant for hospitals, schools and other infrastructure to award its sycophants. If you sang praises like a parrot — as we were encouraged to do — you were rewarded. Many became overnight millionaires. The country’s economic growth rate went negative.

Under Yahya Jammeh’s rule, The Gambia plunged into a crisis of morality. It left a culture in which wealth, no matter how one got it, is a redeeming value. It bequeathed mind-boggling selfishness, as exemplified in our driving immoral habits; it inculcated a culture of mediocrity and short-cuts; it taught us to see the world through tribalism, and to shirk personal responsibility in the execution of public duty.

In a phrase, Yahya Jammeh and his APRC party left a Gambia whose value system must be re-engineered to support a prosperous Third Republic.

The foregoing dictates the kind of president The Gambia needs in Adama Barrow. First, a leader who will stake his personal prestige and sense of accomplishment on achieving the goals set in his campaign. This will mean assembling a team of high achievers irrespective of tribe or party loyalty, and demanding by personal example, total commitment to the task at hand, personal integrity and innovation.

Second, the country will need a leader who is keenly aware of our despotic past and is, therefore, totally committed to fully implementing the Constitution. This will mean acting, appointing, deciding only based on enhancing the aims of the Constitution.

Nelson Mandela understood keenly the human cost of apartheid, and on assumption of the presidency, he went about with a single-mindedness of purpose to banish completely its cultural institutional and legal underpinnings.

A third republic of The Gambia will need a leader who can visualize the society anticipated by the Constitution, and inspire us all to see that vision and work towards it. This will mean re-educating us not to analyze our society through the prism of tribe, thereby creating a new basis for social interaction and political mobilization.

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Après Zuma: Can the African Union save itself?

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The upcoming AU Summit will be “closed”, allowing only the accredited delegations and staff to participate in and witness its deliberations. What is clear is that it will give the current class of Africa’s Heads of State a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape the organization.

The African Union (AU) has until its summit in Addis Ababa at the end of January 2017 to rescue itself from institutional sclerosis. A coincidence of fiscal, succession, diplomatic and governance crises jostling for the attention of its forthcoming summit will afford the bi-annual conclave of Africa’s rulers a rare opportunity to re-invent the organization or risk irrelevance before respectable company. Without a reputation, however, for bold, imaginative decision making, the odds remain slim that the outcome of the summit will be anything more than business as usual. That will be a debacle for the organization and the continent.

A fiscal crisis long in the making

As with many things, the origins of the AU’s crises begin with money. For too long, it has been quite poorly funded. Many sub-regional organisations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and, for a long time, Colonel Khaddafi’s Community of Sahelo-Saharan African States (CEN-SAD), were much better funded. Despite their fondness for the empty pomp and circumstance of their ritual annual summits, many of the continent’s rulers were always reluctant to pick the tabs for running the organization. As the role of the AU in regional peace and security has grown in the last two decades, much of its appropriations have come from non-African countries in Europe and North America, all too happy to outsource potential African military and diplomatic landmines. The AU has been equally happy to grab the money.

The AU began to look for solutions to this untenable position in in 2001. Ten years later, in 2011, they invited Nigeria’s former ruler, Olusegun Obasanjo, to lead a review of the AU’s funding. After receiving the report of the Obasanjo review, a retreat of Africa’s Presidents and Foreign Ministers in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, on 16 July 2016 agreed “to conduct a study on the institutional reform of the African Union (AU).” Two days later, the AU Summit meeting in Kigali requested Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, to lead the study and “report on the proposed reforms and thus put in place a system of governance capable of addressing the challenges facing the Union.” President Kagame’s report will be on the agenda at the Addis Ababa summit.

A crisis of institutional succession

Also in Kigali, the AU was supposed to have elected a successor to the spectacularly inept tenure of the Chairperson of its Commission – as the AU Secretariat is now called – South Africa’s Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Much of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s tenure, sadly, was spent in pursuit of her undisguised ambitions to succeed to South Africa’s presidency. Not content with being inept, she was also distracted. Under her watch, the continent’s priorities marinated interminably, acknowledged episodically in a half-hearted press release or with a shout out on her Twitter handle. The credentials of the candidates on parade to replace her in Kigali were indifferent. Faced with this line up of choice without change, the Kigali Summit decided to kick the can of elections down the road by six months.

Four months later, however, well into his stride on the brief to reform the AU, President Kagame reportedly requested the AU to defer the elections pending the completion and consideration of his report. If his recommendations are adopted, it is argued, they may re-define the structures, processes and person specifications for the job. Many of his peers, however, are already fully invested in the campaign to replace Dr. Dlamini-Zuma. Botswana, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya and Senegal have candidates. Their presidents and their envoys are criss-crossing the continent, negotiating bargains and grubbing for votes. Few of them seem prepared to suspend their ambitions for continental conquest until President Kagame’s yet undisclosed reform proposals.

The outcome of the Addis-Ababa Summit will hinge on the somewhat procedural issue of what takes precedence: consideration of Kagame’s reform proposals or the elections to the AU Commission. If the Heads settle for the former, the likelihood will be a hold-over Commission, possibly with Kenya’s Erastus Mwencha, the current Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, at the helm in acting capacity. This may not be entirely unacceptable to Kenya which has run an energetic campaign on behalf of its candidate. If not, then the Summit will be consumed by election fever. Either way, few will mourn the exit of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma.

A crisis for regional diplomacy and governance

Whether the elections take place or not may hinge on and determine the outcome of Morocco’s application to re-join the continental body that it left in 1984, following the recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). As an implicit condition for its re-admission, the King of Morocco has personally waged a full-court press garnished with ostentatious royal generosity, asking African countries to throw the SADR out of the continental body. The historical claims of the SADR are well founded in the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as judicial opinions of the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, among others.

To achieve its goals, Morocco needs the votes of two-thirds or 36 member states of the AU, the same number needed to install a new Chair of the Commission. At the Kigali Summit in July 2016, up to 28 countries (out of 54) appeared prepared to vote to exclude SADR from the body.

The leaders who meet in Addis-Ababa may need to be reminded that the first objective of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), predecessor to the AU, was de-colonisation. Morocco’s mission of perpetually annexing the Saharawi subverts this. As a pre-condition for granting its application, the AU could easily require Morocco to renounce all claims to the territory of the Saharawi. As a stop-gap measure, they could also refer the question of the legal status of the SADR to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights for a judicial opinion to govern the diplomatic and political decisions thereafter.

The other issue is The Gambia. At the end of 2016, Gambia’s mirthless president, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhajie Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh, Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa, (Colonel Retired), Commander-in-Chief of The Armed Forces and Chief Custodian of the Sacred Constitution of the Gambia – to afford him his full entitlement to gibberish – conceded after clearly losing a general election whose outcome he could not pre-determine (despite his best efforts). More than a week after his concession, however, Jammeh claimed non-existent powers to annul the election, requisition a fresh one, and sit tight in the interim. Thereafter, he sent soldiers to ransack the premises of the electoral commission, exile its leadership and has generally given regional leaders mediating this manufactured impasse the run-around.

A “closed Summit”

Each of these issues on its own would be very weighty. Together, they add up to a very formidable menu that begs the summiteers in Addis-Ababa not to create a mess. If the Summit accedes to the plan put forward by President Kagame, it could defer the ballot to fill the vacancies in the AU Commission. If not, then a vote will proceed. It’s too early to handicap the process but the early indications are that Kenya’s Amina Mohammed and Senegal’s Abdoulaye Bathily could be ahead. A dark-horse cannot, however, be ruled out. Morocco, still not a member of the AU, is reportedly weighing in with diplomatic savvy in favour of a candidate whom it considers more favourably disposed to its divisive designs. The outcome could hinge on the inclinations of Algeria and Nigeria, both strong supporters of the SADR. If both remain implacable, a hung Summit could ensue.

Many are praying for the Gambian issue to be resolved before the Summit. Effectively, Mr. Jammeh has foisted a classic unconstitutional regime on the country, contrary to the norms and standards of the AU. The Gambia is due to inaugurate a new president next week on 19 January but it is unclear whether this will happen. If it doesn’t, Mr. Jammeh will become an issue for the AU Summit. Should this come to pass, many of his AU peers could be far from well placed to tell Mr. Jammeh what to do because they too have run carts and horses over the will of their people and the rules in their own constitutions.

In the language of the AU, the Summit will be “closed”, allowing only the accredited delegations and staff to participate in and witness its deliberations. What is clear is that it will give the current class of Africa’s Heads of State a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape the organization. It could mark a break with business-as-usual in the AU. But if they prove unwilling or unable to see the opportunities or to take them, few will be persuaded to take the AU seriously thereafter.

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African Union faces turbulent headwinds

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The current efforts to elect a new Chair of the AU Commission have been caught in the crosswinds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of reseating Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The AU will survive this turbulence. But the rise of the Pan African Movement will likely sweep away the present crop of leaders.

Introduction: Three crossing points

In all countries of Africa, from Egypt to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and beyond there are stirrings of the people who want to assert themselves politically in the context of realizing the pan African project of building a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa. These stirrings have created massive political tensions and are nowhere more evident than at the seat of the African Union where the poor and oppressed of Ethiopia have demanded a new democratic dispensation that provides real resources to the majority of the people.  Despite the glowing figures of economic growth, averaging 10.8% per year in 2003/04 – 2014/15, exploited Ethiopians have taken to the streets and internationalized their protests at the recent Olympics in Rio.  At state of emergency in Ethiopia confronts the AU about its future in a society of contested politics.

 

The peoples of Africa are responding every day to the global capitalist crisis by stating that the goals of Agenda 2063 cannot be achieved with the crop of current leaders. Genocidal economic relations in the South Sudan, dictators for life, idle threats to withdraw en masse from the International Criminal Court (ICC), war as a business in the so called War against Terror and the illicit capital flight from Africa preserved the interests of a class in Africa that opposed real African Unity. This is one of the top contradictions facing Africa at the crossroad between self-financing and illicit financial flows out of Africa.

In response to critical opposition to the stagnation at the AU Commission, the current leaders promised to ‘reform’ the African Union and to work harder to realize the aspirations of Agenda 2063. The goal of the ‘reform process’ is to transform the AU into a more effective and self-reliant institution. It will be the argument of this short intervention that the African Union is now facing turbulent headwinds.  The current efforts to appoint a new AU Commissioner has been caught in the cross winds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of the reseating of Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The conclusion will suggest that the Pan African movement will rise to the challenges posed by the current moment and the real push for reconstruction and transformation in Africa will accelerate in this period.

African Union and capital flight

Most of the countries of Africa are now deeply integrated into the international illicit economy that is embedded in looted minerals, bunkering of hydrocarbons, money laundering, illicit funds from fraudulent activities and nonpayment of taxes. In my most recent contribution to Pambazuka, I had outlined in great detail the way in which Kenya is one of the principal beach heads for this global illicit economy. http://www.pambazuka.org/pan-africanism/can-kenya-lead-african-union

Of any major country, Nigeria has probably had the highest percentage of its gross domestic product stolen— largely by corrupt officials—and deposited externally. Since the 1960s, up to $400 billion has been lost because of primitive accumulation, with $100 billion shifted out of the country. In October 2016, the government filed 15 separate suits against 15 oil companies at the Federal High Court in Lagos to recover billions of dollars that have been illegally siphoned from the country. As reported by Sahara News, “the Nigerian government used the consortium of experts for the intelligence-based tracking of the global movements of the country’s hydrocarbons, including crude oil and gas, with the main purpose of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that had led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.”  http://saharareporters.com/2016/10/04/nigeria-sues-shell-companies-407m-…

Future researchers on the state visit of President Buhari to Washington in July 2015 will be able to analyze the call from Buhari for assistance in identifying the more than US$150 billion that has been illegally taken from Nigeria and what Obama informed Buhari of where to look for the money. Such researchers will then be able to connect the travels of President Buhari to Kenya, London and Dubai in search of these funds and how these centers of money laundering rebuffed the Nigerian effort to recover stolen assets. The legal action that has now been taken in Nigeria followed the earlier fine against that of telecommunication firm MTN for nonpayment of taxes is one indication that at the highest political levels in Nigeria there is a commitment to curtail money laundering.  A study by UNCTAD found out that between 1996 and 2014, “under invoicing of oil exports from Nigeria to the United States was worth $69.8 billion, or 24.9% of all oil exports to the US.”

With the release of the Panama Papers in 2016 there is now more evidence of the volume of ‘illicit financial flows’ and the amount of wealth funneled out of Africa every year by capitalists. Reports in the media that the world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy – were circulated in early 2016. In these reports, Nigeria, Cote D Ivorie and Angola were at the top of the list of African states with high net worth individuals holding hundreds of billions outside their country.

One major area of future research by progressive pan African intellectuals at home and abroad will be to assess the linkages between political leaders and the opaque world of finance capital to unearth the infrastructures that have been put in place to ensure illicit financial flows from Africa. Discussions on the nonpayment of dues to the AU by member states have been another example of the failure of intellectual and political leadership at the top Commissions of the AU.

The fact that over 70% of the AU Commission is funded by imperialist states (called donors ) is itself one indication of the infrastructure of capital flight. These ‘donors’ actually have the intelligence on how much money is being shipped abroad by African leaders, hence they seek to keep up the fiction of providing ‘aid’ to Africa. One good example of this duplicity was the case of the stolen funds from Zimbabwe. A few weeks after stepping down as Chair of the AU in January 2016, in an interview on March 3, 2016, President Mugabe made the announcement that US$15 billion had been stolen from Zimbabwe over the past 7 years under his watch. Yet, there has been very little exposure of how the Mugabe regime destroyed the economy while his cronies robbed the diamond mines and exported billions. In order to facilitate their export of capital they resorted to using the US dollar as the currency of the society while printing worthless bonds for the people to use as a medium of exchange in Zimbabwe.

Why didn’t Madame Zuma act on the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial flows out of Africa?

British corporations are the most experienced in the business of stealing and looting minerals from Africa. A recent report by the non-governmental organization, War on Want, documents how 101 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) — most of them British — have mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries. They collectively control over $1 trillion worth of Africa’s most valuable resources. http://media.waronwant.org/sites/default/files/TheNewColonialism.pdf?_ga=1.3253744.1389028767.1479741089

The details that are presented in this report are the kind of facts that should be studied in every major university and policy think tank in Africa. While this author takes issue with their designation of Sub Saharan Africa, we have witnessed the downgrading of African universities so that NGO’s can produce facts on ‘conflict gold’  but there is no serious research being carried out because the same ‘donors’ starve African researchers of real resources.

The most recent information by UNCTAD on the misinvoicing of minerals in Africa has exposed the fact that the question of gold exports from South Africa involved the pure smuggling of gold,

“The most striking feature of the gold sector in South Africa is the huge discrepancy between the amounts recorded in that country’s official trade statistics and those reported in its trading partners’ records. According to South Africa’s data, the country’s cumulative gold exports were $34.5 billion from 2000 to 2014, whereas according to trading partner data for that period they were more than three times higher, at $116.2 billion. This is indicative of massive export underinvoicing.” In fact, the study reports, the physical volume of exports (using the data from SA’s partners) and export underinvoicing are in “perfect correlation”. “This suggests that export underinvoicing is not due to underreporting of the true value of gold exports, but rather to pure smuggling of gold out of the country. Total misinvoicing of gold exports to South Africa’s leading trading partners was $113.6 billion over the 15-year period. At an average exchange rate of R9 per dollar, this corresponds to over R1 trillion.”

What is true of misinvoicining in South Africa is true for every conceivable commodity exported from Africa. One of the failures of Madame Zuma in her role as Chairperson was to fail to aggressively place the resources of the AU in the area of combatting illicit financial flows and following the recommendations of the Thabo Mbeki high level panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.  http://hdl.handle.net/10855/22695

Was it an accident that the press conference announcing the findings of this high level panel took place in Abuja where former President Mbeki announced that said African countries lose between $50 billion and $60 billion annually through illicit financial flow, IFF? . “Monies for infrastructure and social amenities for the poor African population are being transferred to other countries via illicit financial flows,” said Mbeki at his report on the findings of the panel.This report by the High Level Panel reinforced the research that has been done over the years and reproduced by the UNECA to bring home the reality that Africa lose between $50 billion and $60 billion annually through illicit financial flows. [1]

Capital flight and insecurity in Africa

There is competition between Britain, France, and the United States to decide on which country can produce the most corrupt officials in suborning African bureaucrats into the world of primitive accumulation of capital. The US uses the institutions of the Washington Consensus and the US Africa Command for their corruption, the British seek to be sophisticated and hide behind  the mineral houses and London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) while the French are the most obscene in their corrupt and manipulative politics in Africa. Eva Joly has exposed the role of the French intelligence services and oil companies in those countries that are still dominated by France.

The scandalous relations between France and the puppets in many former colonies are well known and it is these puppets who compete to protect France in the corridors of the African Union. Before its name was changed, the French Elf state oil company, France’s largest enterprise with a turnover of 232.6 billion francs in 1996, had been robbed of over 2 billion francs—305 million euros—by its top executives, largely during the second seven-year term of ‘socialist’ president François Mitterrand (1988-1995).  Serious law schools in Africa need to get a hold of the judgement relating to the criminal activities of Elf. In their 1,045-page indictment and a further 44,000 pages of documents, the investigating magistrates described in detail “a large number of operations carried out on the margins of normal functioning of the group’s structures, and destined… to collect assets off the books”.

The company’s “Mr Africa”, André Tarallo, was jailed for four years and fined €2 informed the court in Paris more than ten years ago that, “

“annual cash transfers totalling about £10m were made to Omar Bongo, Gabon’s president, while other huge sums were paid to leaders in Angola, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville. The multi-million dollar payments were partly aimed at guaranteeing that it was Elf and not US or British firms that pumped the oil, but also to ensure the African leaders’ continued allegiance to France. In Gabon, Elf was a veritable state within a state. France accounts for three-quarters of foreign investment in Gabon, and Gabon sometimes provided 75% of Elf’s profits. In return for protection and sweeteners from Elf’s coffers, France used the state as a base for military and espionage activities in west Africa.”[2]

As reported at the time of the trial, ELF had been set up as a  state enterprise by General de Gaulle in 1963 “to ensure France’s independence in oil and which lived, grew and prospered in a special and incestuous relationship with Africa” (Le Monde, November 12, 2003). As Loïk Le Floch-Prigent put it: “In 1962, [Pierre Guillaumat] convinced [General de Gaulle] to set up a parallel structure of real oil technicians. [By creating Elf alongside Total] the Gaullists wanted a real secular arm of the state in Africa…a sort of permanent ministry of oil…a sort of intelligence office in the oil-producing countries.”

Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, CEO of Elf from 1989 to 1993, received a jail sentence of five years and a fine of 375,000 euros. Alfred Sirven, former general affairs executive, also got five years and a 1 million euro fine. André Tarallo, 76, former number-two in the hierarchy and known as “Mr. Africa,” was given four years and a 2 million euro fine. Alain Gillon, former refinery executive, received a three-year jail sentence and a 2 million pound fine. However, their counterparts and underlings have intensified their work in Africa and France has been the most active within the ranks of her colonies and within the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

The name of the company Elf Aquitaine International may have changed (now Total) but the continuity in practices of theft and bribery are so clear that these elements from France and the EU cannot afford real democratic change in African societies such as Gabon. The corruption of the French capitalists has been well documented by Eva Joly and more needs to be done in relation to the role of France in financing and supporting insurgents in places such as Mali and Central African Republic and then turning around to the Security Council of the UN to lead the fight against terror in Mali and Central African Republic. The Peace and Security Council of the AU has permitted the European Union to set the agenda of what defines terror and terrorism in Africa. Both China and Russia as members of the Security Council of the United Nations have been complicit in giving a pass to France for her activities in Africa. In the case of former President Sarkozy, he particularly worked hard to get the Chinese to be allies in their corrupt practices.

When the funds and minerals are fraudulently taken from African economies, then the foreign banks establish special desks to ensure that the illicit funds flow to offshore bank accounts. None of the reports on illicit flows out of Africa made the connections to the questions of militarism, insecurity, the so called war on terror and the role of international military operators, especially private military contractors. Cameroonian intellectuals who are researching on the expansion of Boko Haram beyond Nigeria are slowly documenting the duplicitous role of France in the enlargement of terror in Central and West Africa

There has been talk of the reform of the African Union and the leadership of this reform process has been placed in the hands of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. A visit to the largest gold refinery in the Gulf of Arabia will widen the discussion of reform in the AU to implicate the looting of resources from the DRC and to place the mandate of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union in the elaboration of identifying the looters and their chief beneficiaries. How can Kagame lead a ‘reform process’ in the AU when his regime violates the basic human rights of members of the opposition to the point of killings on foreign soil?

At the Kigali summit of the African Union in 2016,  the President of Rwanda announced an impressive team to spearhead the reforms at the African Union so that this Pan African body can be more self-reliant. It was proclaimed that member states will be expected to contribute 0.2 per cent of proceeds from levy on eligible imports to fund operations of the organisation. What remains striking in the proclamation  is the fact that these schemes seem to deflect attention from the ways in which African economies are integrated into the present global economy and that there can be no self reliance until there are serious efforts to control the wealth of Africa. Any study of the looting of the DRC by Uganda and Rwanda will expose their complicity in ensuring that Africa simply digs out minerals and all of the added value is accrued to other countries.

During the Kigali summit, a new funding model was adopted to make AU operations exclusively funded by subventions from member states A few years earlier, a previous high-level panel chaired by former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had been appointed to look at alternative sources of financing for the AU. Then, there was the recommendation that member states raise revenue by imposing a $10 airfare levy on each international flight leaving or entering Africa and a $2 levy per hotel stay in Africa. This levy remained just another proposal with no real effort towards implementation.

Now, Paul Kagame as the lead person for the ‘reform process’ has designated nine prominent to oversee the reform efforts of the African Union. Of these nine, many are aware of the drain of resources because of the absence of processing facilities in Africa. Others have participated in the detailed studies of illicit financial flows out of Africa. It will remain to be seen whether the Chairperson of the Reform process, (Dr Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Finance minister of Rwanda) will raise the question of African resources in the global value chain as part of the agenda of how to increase revenues for African peoples, and ultimately for the African Union.

Europe is afraid of the full unification of Africa

The question of the AU budget as discussed in the deliberations about ‘reform’ had steered clear of the questions of capital flight and definitive benchmarks of the African Monetary Co-operation Programme (AMCP) of the Association of African Central Banks. [2] Patriotic Pan African bankers who understood the full impact of external currency domination of Africa had been keen to develop the African Currency Unit as far back as 2002. At the 1963 meeting of the OAU, Kwame Nkrumah had admonished the African leaders that ‘Africa must unite or perish.’  For fifty years the Pan African project was pushed forward by the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty of 1991 establishing the African Economic Community. The former President of Libya had gone ahead with precise plans for the gold reserves of Libya to be used to anchor the African currency. After the NATO intervention in Libya it emerged that the primary motivation for the launch of the war was to halt the process of realizing the Pan African project of a common currency in Africa. Revelations from the correspondence between the Secretary of State of the United States, Hilary Clinton and Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France in March 2011 revealed that the plans for the NATO intervention were dictated by the following issues:

  • A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
  • Increase French influence in North Africa,
  • Improve his internal political situation in France,
  • Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
  • Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.https://consortiumnews.com/2016/01/12/what-hillary-knew-about-libya/

Many of the leaders who had retreated from supporting the African Monetary Cooperation Programme are being made aware of the real role of international finance as the more literate follow the rulings of the British court in relation to the resources of the Libyan Investment Authority that had been purloined by Goldman Sachs. The ruling of the High Court in London in favor of Goldman Sachs against the Libyan Investment Authority is only serving to increase the literacy of Africans on the workings of the international financial oligarchy. https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/lia-v-goldman.pdf

Recently President Museveni gave notice that the African Union will be working more aggressively to end foreign domination in Libya. Museveni stated that,

“We recently had a meeting in Addis Ababa and told all and sundry that AU intends to rescue Libya and we also made it clear that future attacks on African soil without coordinating with AU are not acceptable, to put it mildly. Can Africa defend African soil?  Very much so.”

This kind of bravado statement of Yoweri Museveni after the AU High Level committee meeting on 8 November 2016 belied the reality that at least three members of the AU committee, Chad, Egypt and the Sudan are partners of NATO in the current destruction of Libya. http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/auhlp-meeting-on-libya-8-nov-2016-en-.doc…

In the book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, this author brought out the graphic historical lessons from the destruction of Libya and what lessons that will be learnt when comparing the invasion of Libya to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. The PanAfrican movement of that period accelerated the end of colonial domination in Africa.
Lessons from the Italian invasion of Abyssinia

Between 1935 and 1946 the global mobilization against fascism built new alliances internationally and quickened the pace of decolonization in all parts of the world. That anti-fascist internationalism deepened with mass resistance inside of Africa and linked the pan African movement to the Bandung process to cement the South Project. From that moment until now, the Pan African movement has been a central anchor of the South Project, that is the project of creating a new international economic order. Africans are being called upon to rebuild and strengthen this project with calls from the belly of empire to defend black lives. The present generation of youths is being mobilized through new means of communication to realize the goals of real Pan African solidarity from Burkina Faso in West Africa to Bahia in Brazil.

European project shatters in the face of solidarity in the South

The question of the rejoining of the AU by the present Moroccan leadership forms the next major challenge for the future of the African Union.  Since 1984, the political leadership of Morocco had placed its aspirations on the future of the European project, but with the implosion of the European ideal as manifest with Brexit, the Moroccan leadership has decided to rejoin the African Union. In the process, the Moroccan leadership seeks to strengthen the neo-liberal pressures of global capital inside the AU to challenge the anti-colonial stance of the African Union on Western Sahara and all outstanding colonial territories (Puerto Rico, Cayenne, Martinique, Guadeloupe Mayotte, etc).

Progressive Africans have been tracking the economic diplomacy of Morocco in the rest of Africa. As one commentator outlined,

“Morocco is currently courting a number of African countries relentlessly, including Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda, and others. Morocco has signed 19 economic agreements with Rwanda and 22 with Tanzania—two countries that traditionally backed the Western Sahara’s quest for decolonization. Nigeria Morocco have signed a total of 21 bilateral agreements, a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe. It is easily transparent that the economic agreements with these countries imply ulterior motives for increasing Morocco’s leverage in its campaign to return to the AU and deal a blow to Western Sahara’s aspirations for self-determination. Morocco is waging a similar campaign internationally and in the halls of the U.S. congress by hiring expensive lobbyists and sleazy public relations firms.” [3]

It is in the push by Morocco to play a leading role in the AU that is helping to define the future of the AU in world politics. The political leadership of Morocco has been working through states such as Cote d Ivorie, Gabon and Senegal to promote the interests of the Moroccan leadership but the limits of this alliance with Senegal and Cote D Ivorie were exposed at the heads of state meeting of the 4th African-Arab summit in Equatorial Guinea

The Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), declared by the Polisario Front in 1976,  is a member of the African Union At the Malabo Summit of African and Arab leaders in  November 2016, Morocco found out the limits of its influence when it tried to force the question of removing the representatives of the SADR from the meeting. When Morocco walked out of the meeting, only the most conservative monarchies of the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman – pulled out of the summit over the participation of the Polisario Front delegation. Many governments such as Egypt and Kuwait who in the past would have been supportive of Morocco decided to stay in the meeting, exposing the diplomatic isolation of Morocco.

This push by the Moroccans is also caught up in the struggles for a new chairperson of the AU Commission. My most recent article on whether Kenya can lead the African Union offered some reasons why the interpenetration of western financial and security interests in East Africa disqualifies Kenya from taking a leadership role.

It is the contention of this intervention that at this historical moment the ideas of the Moroccan leadership confront the aspirations of the Moroccan peoples and thus the question to be posed is not whether Morocco will be part of the AU, but what kind of politics will emerge in Morocco out of the present stirrings of the oppressed citizens of Morocco. The death of a fishmonger in the northern town of Al-Hoceima who was crushed to death (inside a garbage truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police) exposed another reality of thousands of outraged Moroccans.  The present leadership of Morocco has a shortsighted understanding of world politics and have not yet grasped the seismic shift that has taken place since the imperial interventions in Libya and the war in Syria. Hence, they could not understand why Egypt is not under the thumb of Saudi Arabia as in the past. The turbulence in the revolutionary politics that had been initiated in the streets of Cairo and Tunis may seem to have subsided, but the youths of Africa are assessing the new forms of organizing for the next round so that the decisive blow against neo-liberalism in the next round of revolutionary struggles will sweep away leaders who seek to reverse the gains of popular rebellions.

Reparations and African Descendants.

The third major contradiction for the AU will be how it confronts the growing threat of fascism. The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the rise of the ideas of Marie Le Pen in Europe have brought back the questions of racism and xenophobia to the center of world politics. Repairing humanity from the scourge of racist and genocidal violence has been at the center of Pan African political activity since the days of enslavement. In the last years of the OAU the Reparations question had been high of the agenda with positive interactions between the Global African family in all parts of the planet. The present leaders of the AU who have been silent on the question of the black lives at home and abroad are now faced with a vibrant #Black lives matter social movement that is spreading in all parts of the globe. When Haiti attempted to join the AU in 2016, this African society was rebuffed by a leadership that does not understand the history of Pan Africanism and the centrality of Haiti in the History of Pan African Revolts. Leaders who understand the so called ‘diaspora’ only in terms of remittances are being exposed for their silence on what is happening to Africans on a day to day basis in the face of police killings. The demands for reparations and for respecting Black Lives in the era of Donald Trump will sharpen the contradictions between the EU brand of Pan African partnership and that which comes from ordinary Africans.

There is little reference at the official level of how Agenda 2063 would affect the more than two hundred and fifty million Africans of the Global African Family living outside the geographical boundaries of Africa. At the bidding of their ‘global partners’ that seek to set the tone for research and the agenda in Africa there is emphasis on the SDG goals instead of deepening the understanding of reparations and reparative justice. Slowly, the EU-Pan African partnership is downplaying the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and in its place organizing meetings all over Africa on ‘good governance’ and ‘security sector reform ‘instead on the role of financial houses in money laundering.

On the whole, the present leaders had a different project from the producing classes who believed that the idea of Africa for the Africans at home and abroad should not be a slogan. African intellectuals are torn between these two visions of social and economic change, with a small minority carrying forward the Nkrumahist vision that had inspired the call for full unity. The political upheavals of the current currency wars and the wars on terror will have impacts on the entire process of African unity and one of the challenges for the progressive forces will be how to engage with the popular producing forces to seize on moments to push harder for a common currency and to make legal the idea of the free movement of the people of Africa.

When the AU Constitutive Act was being drafted, it was the conscious effort of the progressive Pan Africanists that the AU would be qualitatively different from the OAU. The Secretary General of the OAU had worked from a Secretariat. The AU has a Commissioner whose powers to intervene are clearly stated in the Constitutive Act. Current leaders such as Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame may grandstand on reforms and the capabilities of the African Union but the seriousness with which they will be taken will be determined by the levels of transparency and democratic participation in their societies.  Nonpayment of dues by member states of the AU is itself a statement about where their loyalties are. They have kept foreign banks alive while their people go without basic necessities. It is in Nigeria where there is the largest section of the African working class where one will have to grasp the joint struggles against capital flight and Boko Haram. Two Nigerian leaders were killed when they took assertive action against empire. The psychological warfare against Nigeria is most intense in order to detract from the calls to bring to justice the fraudulent leaders. Both Murtala Mohammed and Chief M.K.O Abiola were eliminated when they decided to stand up for Africa. The late Tajudeen Abdul Raheem had worked hard for the building of Pan African Unity and he had admonished the youth to organize.

Conclusion

This call for organizing is now clearer as the liberal ideas of the West has been shattered with the coming to power of the alt right in Europe and North America. These neo fascist forces have made it clear that there will be no grey areas on the question of racism. It is this same racism that entreats the leadership of Europe and North America to seek the recovery of capitalism on the backs and bodies of the African at home and abroad. The current rebellions in Ethiopia and South Africa demand new engagement with new ideas about transcending neo-liberal capitalism. The same foundations that have supported the leaders in the DRC, Ethiopia, South Africa and the Sudan are busy  organizing meetings to ensure that the rebellions now underway does not really disrupt the looting of African resources.

Kenya remains the model for western foundations of spending peanuts on studies on ‘democratic reforms’ while international capital support a Kenyan ruling class that divides the working peoples on the basis of religion and “tribe”. The corruption of the Kenyan military led to their catastrophic defeat in Somalia in January at the el Ade (comfort base). Somali insurgents fighting against external military presence in Somalia killed 180 Kenyans in January at a camp in el Ade. Eleven months after the killings, the Kenyan military refuse to provide figures as to the numbers killed. Instead, the Kenyan military is promoting their book, Operation Linda Nchi: Kenya’s military experience in Somalia. [4]

Faced with the fact that Kenyans want real information on the deaths in Somalia, the government of Kenya has refused to provide information as to how many were killed. Given the revolutionary potential of the Ethiopian workers and small farmers, the President of the USA has used his authority to enlarge the operations of the US Africa Command in Somalia. On November 27, President  Obama acted to give the legal authority for the expanding war in Somalia using the U.S. Special Ops, AFRICOM, private contractors, and the CIA with the 9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq.  US military personnel in Somalia can easily be redeployed to Ethiopia when the current revolutionary upheaval matures.

Member states of the African Union have been silent on this expansion of the war when for two decades it was stated in the corridors of power in Washington that it was the presence of US military personnel in Africa that acts as a magnet for misguided youths who are financed by the Wahabists.

At the time of submitting this article, the peoples of Africa were confronted with the clowning refusal of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to accept the results of the elections of December 1, 2016 when he lost  to the leader of the combined opposition led by Adama Barrow. While the diplomatic dance of the AU and ECOWAS is underway, serious Africans need to engage with the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative that had been launched in 2007 by the United Nations Office on Drugs. Such engagement will shift the discussions on the question of where to get the resources to fund the work of the African Union.

The renewed confidence of Africans is emerging in the midst of an economic depression in Europe and at a moment when Africans are stating clearly that there must be new values for African unity, for healing ourselves and the world (Maathai 2010). Wangaari Maathai as a feminist and environmentalist in the Pan African Movement had brought the questions of environmental repair to the forefront of the discussions on Pan Africanism. This new brand of Pan Africanism that respects life, health, peace and environmental reconstruction is slowly asserting itself in all parts of the Pan African world. The AU will survive the turbulent headwinds. It is not clear whether most of the current leadership will survive. The three crosscurrents promise to blow many away.

* Horace G Campbell is the Kwame Nkrumah Chair at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana at Legon.

End notes

[1] Ajayi and L. Ndikumana (eds.), Capital Flight from Africa: Causes, Effects and Policy Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015

[2] Jon Henley, “Gigantic sleaze scandal winds up as former Elf oil chiefs are jailed,”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/nov/13/france.oilandpetrol

[3] Yohannes Woldemariam, Behind Morocco’s New Tango with the African Union, https://www.ghanastar.com/africa-news/behind-moroccos-new-tango-with-the…

[4] Official KDF Account, Operation Linda Nchi: Kenya’s Military Experience in Somalia,  Ministry of Defence, Kenya 2014

 

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Canadian Aid to Africa under Justin Trudeau

Trudeau drapeaux

The Canadian government under Justin Trudeau is attempting to alter the narratives about our country’s relationship with the African continent.

Be aware the initiative is largely ideological chimera void of concrete action, but even worse, it is blatant hypocrisy.

Canadian Imperial Aid to Africa

The purported “new agenda” for Africa began with a trip to Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia by Foreign Affairs minister, Stéphane Dion in November of 2016.

The following month, in conjunction with a visit by Prime Minister Trudeau to Liberia and Madagascar, the government officially declared that “Canada is Back,” supposedly reviving global relationships that had been ignored or soured under the previous government.

Thus, some have suggested the time is ripe for a renewal of Canada’s foreign policy with the African continent in a manner that could allow us to reset the agenda of Canadian aid to the continent.

It is, however, ridiculous to suggest Canada was somehow absent throughout the Harper years. Canadian public institutions have facilitated and guaranteed foreign investments through a variety of channels, including the recent signing of 10 new Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements across the continent.

As far as foreign investment is concerned, Canada has never been more involved in Africa, with Canadian mining investments increasing more than 100 fold in a 20 year period. Even when we look at ‘official’ Canadian involvement on the continent we can see that Canada played a central role in the Libyan intervention-turned-invasion. It also supported French operations in Mali, and had military roles in the Congo, Darfur, South Sudan and Nigeria.

Yet, as Dalhousie University Professor, David Black notes, our developmental impact on the continent is marginal, with assistance amounting to a mere 0.28 per cent of GDP (far short of the average among donor countries and way below the UN set benchmark of 0.7 per cent).

Black also suggests there has been little coherence to Canadian policy in Africa in the Harper years. I disagree. The formula was that Canada would provide just enough ‘aid’ to get social license for its corporate engagement, while doing everything it could to protect Canadian investments. Ottawa University Professor, Stephen Brown has described this as the “instrumentalization” of Canadian aid, which was re-directed to serve Canadian business interests, rather than the supposed recipients.

I do not accept the claim that Canada is somehow ‘back’, supporting the idea that Trudeau is supposedly the last “progressive” liberal internationalist standing. Yet I agree it is an important moment to reconsider our relationships with the African continent. Evidence suggests three key ways the Liberal government could significantly help Africa in the coming decade, and two do not even relate to the issue of aid funding.

Honour the Paris Agreement

The greatest contribution we could make to Africa is to meet our Paris Agreement commitments. A 2015 Report by the Africa Progress Panel (APP), led by Former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, makes it clear Africa will suffer the most from climate change and singled out Canada as one of the countries (along with Australia and Japan) most obstructing progress on carbon reduction. Not surprisingly, African countries are disproportionately among those most at risk of loan defaults as a result (convenient that Canada has given “$50-million to the G7 Initiative on Climate Risk Insurance”). In fact, the consequences of climate change are already seeing the rapid escalation of internal displacement on the continent.

A recent report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center claims that 1.1 million were forced from their homes as a result of environmental calamity in 2015, while environmental displacement impacted 14 million between 2009 and 2015. People are also being displaced as a result of wars and development and business projects. As I’ve noted before, these trends follow on 30 years of neoliberal economic policies that have devastated agricultural systems and increased pressures around water sources as commercialization leads to an increasing enclosure of “common pool” resources.

The APP report cited above suggests that for Africa

“To avoid catastrophic climate change, two-thirds of existing [oil] reserves have to be left in the ground, begging the question of why taxpayers’ money is being used to discover new reserves of ‘unburnable’ hydrocarbons.”

Yet, with the Liberal Government approvals of Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines, Canada is set to unleash ‘a Carbon Tsunami’, making the chances of meeting our Paris commitments substantially less than zero. At the same time, the country still subsidizes fossil fuel companies to the tune of $3.3-billion this year – far more than the $2.3-billion budgeted to African foreign aid in 2015.

A spousal abuser does not get exonerated of their crime because they bring roses in the morning. When our government allows those pipelines to go through they are not only reneging on their treaty obligations and permanently altering ecosystems First Nations peoples depend upon, they are doing the same thing to millions of Africans. No amount of ‘Aid’ is going to correct this.

Regulate Canadian Mining Companies

Canada could also aid Africans by reigning in the mineral extraction companies that are displacing and fleecing local populations while leaving irreparable ecological damage. It is no secret Canadian mining companies are the worst, for environmental impacts and human rights violations. We also know they list on Canadian stock exchanges to take advantage of our low taxes and lax regulations, to shield themselves from legal accountability and to gain access to diplomatic services. We also know the “corporate social responsibility” strategy established by the previous government fails to improve the conduct of our mining companies. Two of the most disturbing aspects of our mining activity in Africa is that the bulk of it is within countries with the least institutional capacity to take advantage of investments, and it is specialized in gold extraction. The latter not only has enormous environmental consequences; it is largely going to end up in bank vaults of investors trying to protect themselves from the broader crisis of global surplus liquidity. In other words, the rich just have too much money and our government revenues are supporting their hoarding.

For these reasons, the Liberals should stop dillydallying and put in place a mining ombudsperson to investigate claims against Canadian companies abroad and ensure they have mechanisms at their disposal to punish offenders and make them accountable to Canadian courts.

Thirdly, Canada could stop supporting the failed neoliberal model of promoting Public Private Partnerships (P3s) in Africa. This is especially so when one considers its application in “building value chains” in the agricultural sector as a means of purportedly supporting climate change mitigation. A recent study by the Institute for Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape examined the impact of such policy orientation in Southern Africa. What they found is that these policies end up subsidizing the wealthiest farmers and agri-business companies. The intention of such programs is to support the development of hybridized seeds specifically bred for local conditions and to increase yields. Yet the results of such programs have seen the grabbing of genetic resources by international seed companies, while local populations are increasingly deprived of common pool resources, see a reduction in the diversity of their diets and see greater class differentiation, with the wealthiest farmers excelling while the smaller are sent into greater poverty. This is largely consistent with the findings of a new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The evidence strongly suggests that such programs speed up processes of displacement and urbanization and do not promote food security, but contribute to the maintenance of the most unequalsocieties in the world. These are the conditions that lead to militarization and war.

Rather than more Public Private Partnerships, what Africans need more than anything else is serious public investment in social infrastructure; water treatment plants and sewer systems, electrification, public transportation, schools, and hospitals. Canadian companies could theoretically play a role in supporting such infrastructure development, but it should not be designed to channel public funds toward the service of Bay Street investors. The P3 Model has been a failure in every Canadian context and should stop being pushed on African countries (John Loxley of the University of Manitoba describes them as “Ideology Trumping Economic Reality”). Instead, African countries are going to have to rely a lot more on taxing their own populations and the mineral extraction companies that in some instances are getting away with ridiculously low tax rates, especially given the enormous consequences of their activities.

They will of course not accept any of these recommendations without significant social pressure being placed on them. So let’s get too it.

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Pan-Africanism and the Global Economic Crisis: African Union Faces Turbulent Headwinds

NOVANEWS
flag-of-the African-Union

The current efforts to elect a new Chair of the AU Commission have been caught in the crosswinds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of reseating Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The AU will survive this turbulence. But the rise of the Pan African Movement will likely sweep away the present crop of leaders.

Introduction: Three crossing points

In all countries of Africa, from Egypt to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and beyond there are stirrings of the people who want to assert themselves politically in the context of realizing the pan African project of building a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa. These stirrings have created massive political tensions and are nowhere more evident than at the seat of the African Union where the poor and oppressed of Ethiopia have demanded a new democratic dispensation that provides real resources to the majority of the people.  Despite the glowing figures of economic growth, averaging 10.8% per year in 2003/04 – 2014/15, exploited Ethiopians have taken to the streets and internationalized their protests at the recent Olympics in Rio.  At state of emergency in Ethiopia confronts the AU about its future in a society of contested politics.

The peoples of Africa are responding every day to the global capitalist crisis by stating that the goals of Agenda 2063 cannot be achieved with the crop of current leaders. Genocidal economic relations in the South Sudan, dictators for life, idle threats to withdraw en masse from the International Criminal Court (ICC), war as a business in the so called War against Terror and the illicit capital flight from Africa preserved the interests of a class in Africa that opposed real African Unity. This is one of the top contradictions facing Africa at the crossroad between self-financing and illicit financial flows out of Africa.

In response to critical opposition to the stagnation at the AU Commission, the current leaders promised to ‘reform’ the African Union and to work harder to realize the aspirations of Agenda 2063. The goal of the ‘reform process’ is to transform the AU into a more effective and self-reliant institution. It will be the argument of this short intervention that the African Union is now facing turbulent headwinds.  The current efforts to appoint a new AU Commissioner has been caught in the cross winds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of the reseating of Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The conclusion will suggest that the Pan African movement will rise to the challenges posed by the current moment and the real push for reconstruction and transformation in Africa will accelerate in this period.

African Union and capital flight

Most of the countries of Africa are now deeply integrated into the international illicit economy that is embedded in looted minerals, bunkering of hydrocarbons, money laundering, illicit funds from fraudulent activities and nonpayment of taxes. In my most recent contribution to Pambazuka, I had outlined in great detail the way in which Kenya is one of the principal beach heads for this global illicit economy. http://www.pambazuka.org/pan-africanism/can-kenya-lead-african-union

Of any major country, Nigeria has probably had the highest percentage of its gross domestic product stolen— largely by corrupt officials—and deposited externally. Since the 1960s, up to $400 billion has been lost because of primitive accumulation, with $100 billion shifted out of the country. In October 2016, the government filed 15 separate suits against 15 oil companies at the Federal High Court in Lagos to recover billions of dollars that have been illegally siphoned from the country. As reported by Sahara News, “the Nigerian government used the consortium of experts for the intelligence-based tracking of the global movements of the country’s hydrocarbons, including crude oil and gas, with the main purpose of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that had led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.”  http://saharareporters.com/2016/10/04/nigeria-sues-shell-companies-407m-

Future researchers on the state visit of President Buhari to Washington in July 2015 will be able to analyze the call from Buhari for assistance in identifying the more than US$150 billion that has been illegally taken from Nigeria and what Obama informed Buhari of where to look for the money. Such researchers will then be able to connect the travels of President Buhari to Kenya, London and Dubai in search of these funds and how these centers of money laundering rebuffed the Nigerian effort to recover stolen assets. The legal action that has now been taken in Nigeria followed the earlier fine against that of telecommunication firm MTN for nonpayment of taxes is one indication that at the highest political levels in Nigeria there is a commitment to curtail money laundering.  A study by UNCTAD found out that between 1996 and 2014, “under invoicing of oil exports from Nigeria to the United States was worth $69.8 billion, or 24.9% of all oil exports to the US.”

With the release of the Panama Papers in 2016 there is now more evidence of the volume of ‘illicit financial flows’ and the amount of wealth funneled out of Africa every year by capitalists. Reports in the media that the world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy – were circulated in early 2016. In these reports, Nigeria, Cote D Ivorie and Angola were at the top of the list of African states with high net worth individuals holding hundreds of billions outside their country.

One major area of future research by progressive pan African intellectuals at home and abroad will be to assess the linkages between political leaders and the opaque world of finance capital to unearth the infrastructures that have been put in place to ensure illicit financial flows from Africa. Discussions on the nonpayment of dues to the AU by member states have been another example of the failure of intellectual and political leadership at the top Commissions of the AU.

The fact that over 70% of the AU Commission is funded by imperialist states (called donors ) is itself one indication of the infrastructure of capital flight. These ‘donors’ actually have the intelligence on how much money is being shipped abroad by African leaders, hence they seek to keep up the fiction of providing ‘aid’ to Africa. One good example of this duplicity was the case of the stolen funds from Zimbabwe. A few weeks after stepping down as Chair of the AU in January 2016, in an interview on March 3, 2016, President Mugabe made the announcement that US$15 billion had been stolen from Zimbabwe over the past 7 years under his watch. Yet, there has been very little exposure of how the Mugabe regime destroyed the economy while his cronies robbed the diamond mines and exported billions. In order to facilitate their export of capital they resorted to using the US dollar as the currency of the society while printing worthless bonds for the people to use as a medium of exchange in Zimbabwe.

Why didn’t Madame Zuma act on the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial flows out of Africa?

British corporations are the most experienced in the business of stealing and looting minerals from Africa. A recent report by the non-governmental organization, War on Want, documents how 101 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) — most of them British — have mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries. They collectively control over $1 trillion worth of Africa’s most valuable resources.

http://media.waronwant.org/sites/default/files/TheNewColonialism.pdf?_ga=1.3253744.1389028767.1479741089

The details that are presented in this report are the kind of facts that should be studied in every major university and policy think tank in Africa. While this author takes issue with their designation of Sub Saharan Africa, we have witnessed the downgrading of African universities so that NGO’s can produce facts on ‘conflict gold’  but there is no serious research being carried out because the same ‘donors’ starve African researchers of real resources.

The most recent information by UNCTAD on the misinvoicing of minerals in Africa has exposed the fact that the question of gold exports from South Africa involved the pure smuggling of gold, “The most striking feature of the gold sector in South Africa is the huge discrepancy between the amounts recorded in that country’s official trade statistics and those reported in its trading partners’ records. According to South Africa’s data, the country’s cumulative gold exports were $34.5 billion from 2000 to 2014, whereas according to trading partner data for that period they were more than three times higher, at $116.2 billion. This is indicative of massive export underinvoicing.” In fact, the study reports, the physical volume of exports (using the data from SA’s partners) and export underinvoicing are in “perfect correlation”. “This suggests that export underinvoicing is not due to underreporting of the true value of gold exports, but rather to pure smuggling of gold out of the country. Total misinvoicing of gold exports to South Africa’s leading trading partners was $113.6 billion over the 15-year period. At an average exchange rate of R9 per dollar, this corresponds to over R1 trillion.”

What is true of misinvoicining in South Africa is true for every conceivable commodity exported from Africa. One of the failures of Madame Zuma in her role as Chairperson was to fail to aggressively place the resources of the AU in the area of combatting illicit financial flows and following the recommendations of the Thabo Mbeki high level panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.  http://hdl.handle.net/10855/22695

Was it an accident that the press conference announcing the findings of this high level panel took place in Abuja where former President Mbeki announced that said African countries lose between $50 billion and $60 billion annually through illicit financial flow, IFF? . “Monies for infrastructure and social amenities for the poor African population are being transferred to other countries via illicit financial flows,” said Mbeki at his report on the findings of the panel.This report by the High Level Panel reinforced the research that has been done over the years and reproduced by the UNECA to bring home the reality that Africa lose between $50 billion and $60 billion annually through illicit financial flows. [1]

Capital flight and insecurity in Africa

There is competition between Britain, France, and the United States to decide on which country can produce the most corrupt officials in suborning African bureaucrats into the world of primitive accumulation of capital. The US uses the institutions of the Washington Consensus and the US Africa Command for their corruption, the British seek to be sophisticated and hide behind  the mineral houses and London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) while the French are the most obscene in their corrupt and manipulative politics in Africa. Eva Joly has exposed the role of the French intelligence services and oil companies in those countries that are still dominated by France.

The scandalous relations between France and the puppets in many former colonies are well known and it is these puppets who compete to protect France in the corridors of the African Union. Before its name was changed, the French Elf state oil company, France’s largest enterprise with a turnover of 232.6 billion francs in 1996, had been robbed of over 2 billion francs—305 million euros—by its top executives, largely during the second seven-year term of ‘socialist’ president François Mitterrand (1988-1995).  Serious law schools in Africa need to get a hold of the judgement relating to the criminal activities of Elf. In their 1,045-page indictment and a further 44,000 pages of documents, the investigating magistrates described in detail “a large number of operations carried out on the margins of normal functioning of the group’s structures, and destined… to collect assets off the books”.“

Annual cash transfers totalling about £10m were made to Omar Bongo, Gabon’s president, while other huge sums were paid to leaders in Angola, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville. The multi-million dollar payments were partly aimed at guaranteeing that it was Elf and not US or British firms that pumped the oil, but also to ensure the African leaders’ continued allegiance to France. In Gabon, Elf was a veritable state within a state. France accounts for three-quarters of foreign investment in Gabon, and Gabon sometimes provided 75% of Elf’s profits. In return for protection and sweeteners from Elf’s coffers, France used the state as a base for military and espionage activities in west Africa.”[2]

As reported at the time of the trial, ELF had been set up as a  state enterprise by General de Gaulle in 1963 “to ensure France’s independence in oil and which lived, grew and prospered in a special and incestuous relationship with Africa” (Le Monde, November 12, 2003). As Loïk Le Floch-Prigent put it: “In 1962, [Pierre Guillaumat] convinced [General de Gaulle] to set up a parallel structure of real oil technicians. [By creating Elf alongside Total] the Gaullists wanted a real secular arm of the state in Africa…a sort of permanent ministry of oil…a sort of intelligence office in the oil-producing countries.”

Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, CEO of Elf from 1989 to 1993, received a jail sentence of five years and a fine of 375,000 euros. Alfred Sirven, former general affairs executive, also got five years and a 1 million euro fine. André Tarallo, 76, former number-two in the hierarchy and known as “Mr. Africa,” was given four years and a 2 million euro fine. Alain Gillon, former refinery executive, received a three-year jail sentence and a 2 million pound fine. However, their counterparts and underlings have intensified their work in Africa and France has been the most active within the ranks of her colonies and within the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

The name of the company Elf Aquitaine International may have changed (now Total) but the continuity in practices of theft and bribery are so clear that these elements from France and the EU cannot afford real democratic change in African societies such as Gabon. The corruption of the French capitalists has been well documented by Eva Joly and more needs to be done in relation to the role of France in financing and supporting insurgents in places such as Mali and Central African Republic and then turning around to the Security Council of the UN to lead the fight against terror in Mali and Central African Republic. The Peace and Security Council of the AU has permitted the European Union to set the agenda of what defines terror and terrorism in Africa. Both China and Russia as members of the Security Council of the United Nations have been complicit in giving a pass to France for her activities in Africa. In the case of former President Sarkozy, he particularly worked hard to get the Chinese to be allies in their corrupt practices.

When the funds and minerals are fraudulently taken from African economies, then the foreign banks establish special desks to ensure that the illicit funds flow to offshore bank accounts. None of the reports on illicit flows out of Africa made the connections to the questions of militarism, insecurity, the so called war on terror and the role of international military operators, especially private military contractors. Cameroonian intellectuals who are researching on the expansion of Boko Haram beyond Nigeria are slowly documenting the duplicitous role of France in the enlargement of terror in Central and West Africa.

There has been talk of the reform of the African Union and the leadership of this reform process has been placed in the hands of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. A visit to the largest gold refinery in the Gulf of Arabia will widen the discussion of reform in the AU to implicate the looting of resources from the DRC and to place the mandate of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union in the elaboration of identifying the looters and their chief beneficiaries. How can Kagame lead a ‘reform process’ in the AU when his regime violates the basic human rights of members of the opposition to the point of killings on foreign soil?

At the Kigali summit of the African Union in 2016,  the President of Rwanda announced an impressive team to spearhead the reforms at the African Union so that this Pan African body can be more self-reliant. It was proclaimed that member states will be expected to contribute 0.2 per cent of proceeds from levy on eligible imports to fund operations of the organisation. What remains striking in the proclamation  is the fact that these schemes seem to deflect attention from the ways in which African economies are integrated into the present global economy and that there can be no self reliance until there are serious efforts to control the wealth of Africa. Any study of the looting of the DRC by Uganda and Rwanda will expose their complicity in ensuring that Africa simply digs out minerals and all of the added value is accrued to other countries.

During the Kigali summit, a new funding model was adopted to make AU operations exclusively funded by subventions from member states. A few years earlier, a previous high-level panel chaired by former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had been appointed to look at alternative sources of financing for the AU. Then, there was the recommendation that member states raise revenue by imposing a $10 airfare levy on each international flight leaving or entering Africa and a $2 levy per hotel stay in Africa. This levy remained just another proposal with no real effort towards implementation.

Now, Paul Kagame as the lead person for the ‘reform process’ has designated nine prominent to oversee the reform efforts of the African Union. Of these nine, many are aware of the drain of resources because of the absence of processing facilities in Africa. Others have participated in the detailed studies of illicit financial flows out of Africa. It will remain to be seen whether the Chairperson of the Reform process, (Dr Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Finance minister of Rwanda) will raise the question of African resources in the global value chain as part of the agenda of how to increase revenues for African peoples, and ultimately for the African Union.

Europe is afraid of the full unification of Africa

The question of the AU budget as discussed in the deliberations about ‘reform’ had steered clear of the questions of capital flight and definitive benchmarks of the African Monetary Co-operation Programme (AMCP) of the Association of African Central Banks. [2] Patriotic Pan African bankers who understood the full impact of external currency domination of Africa had been keen to develop the African Currency Unit as far back as 2002. At the 1963 meeting of the OAU, Kwame Nkrumah had admonished the African leaders that ‘Africa must unite or perish.’  For fifty years the Pan African project was pushed forward by the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty of 1991 establishing the African Economic Community. The former President of Libya had gone ahead with precise plans for the gold reserves of Libya to be used to anchor the African currency. After the NATO intervention in Libya it emerged that the primary motivation for the launch of the war was to halt the process of realizing the Pan African project of a common currency in Africa. Revelations from the correspondence between the Secretary of State of the United States, Hilary Clinton and Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France in March 2011 revealed that the plans for the NATO intervention were dictated by the following issues:

A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

Increase French influence in North Africa,

Improve his internal political situation in France,

Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,

Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa. https://consortiumnews.com/2016/01/12/what-hillary-knew-about-libya/

Many of the leaders who had retreated from supporting the African Monetary Cooperation Programme are being made aware of the real role of international finance as the more literate follow the rulings of the British court in relation to the resources of the Libyan Investment Authority that had been purloined by Goldman Sachs. The ruling of the High Court in London in favor of Goldman Sachs against the Libyan Investment Authority is only serving to increase the literacy of Africans on the workings of the international financial oligarchy. https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/lia-v-goldman.pdf

Recently President Museveni gave notice that the African Union will be working more aggressively to end foreign domination in Libya. Museveni stated that,

We recently had a meeting in Addis Ababa and told all and sundry that AU intends to rescue Libya and we also made it clear that future attacks on African soil without coordinating with AU are not acceptable, to put it mildly. Can Africa defend African soil?  Very much so.

This kind of bravado statement of Yoweri Museveni after the AU High Level committee meeting on 8 November 2016 belied the reality that at least three members of the AU committee, Chad, Egypt and the Sudan are partners of NATO in the current destruction of Libya. http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/auhlp-meeting-on-libya-8-nov-2016-en-.doc

In the book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, this author brought out the graphic historical lessons from the destruction of Libya and what lessons that will be learnt when comparing the invasion of Libya to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. The PanAfrican movement of that period accelerated the end of colonial domination in Africa.

Lessons from the Italian invasion of Abyssinia

Between 1935 and 1946 the global mobilization against fascism built new alliances internationally and quickened the pace of decolonization in all parts of the world. That anti-fascist internationalism deepened with mass resistance inside of Africa and linked the pan African movement to the Bandung process to cement the South Project. From that moment until now, the Pan African movement has been a central anchor of the South Project, that is the project of creating a new international economic order. Africans are being called upon to rebuild and strengthen this project with calls from the belly of empire to defend black lives. The present generation of youths is being mobilized through new means of communication to realize the goals of real Pan African solidarity from Burkina Faso in West Africa to Bahia in Brazil.

European project shatters in the face of solidarity in the South

The question of the rejoining of the AU by the present Moroccan leadership forms the next major challenge for the future of the African Union.  Since 1984, the political leadership of Morocco had placed its aspirations on the future of the European project, but with the implosion of the European ideal as manifest with Brexit, the Moroccan leadership has decided to rejoin the African Union. In the process, the Moroccan leadership seeks to strengthen the neo-liberal pressures of global capital inside the AU to challenge the anti-colonial stance of the African Union on Western Sahara and all outstanding colonial territories (Puerto Rico, Cayenne, Martinique, Guadeloupe Mayotte, etc).

Progressive Africans have been tracking the economic diplomacy of Morocco in the rest of Africa. As one commentator outlined,

Morocco is currently courting a number of African countries relentlessly, including Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda, and others. Morocco has signed 19 economic agreements with Rwanda and 22 with Tanzania—two countries that traditionally backed the Western Sahara’s quest for decolonization. Nigeria Morocco have signed a total of 21 bilateral agreements, a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe. It is easily transparent that the economic agreements with these countries imply ulterior motives for increasing Morocco’s leverage in its campaign to return to the AU and deal a blow to Western Sahara’s aspirations for self-determination. Morocco is waging a similar campaign internationally and in the halls of the U.S. congress by hiring expensive lobbyists and sleazy public relations firms. [3]

It is in the push by Morocco to play a leading role in the AU that is helping to define the future of the AU in world politics. The political leadership of Morocco has been working through states such as Cote d Ivorie, Gabon and Senegal to promote the interests of the Moroccan leadership but the limits of this alliance with Senegal and Cote D Ivorie were exposed at the heads of state meeting of the 4th African-Arab summit in Equatorial Guinea

The Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), declared by the Polisario Front in 1976,  is a member of the African Union At the Malabo Summit of African and Arab leaders in  November 2016, Morocco found out the limits of its influence when it tried to force the question of removing the representatives of the SADR from the meeting. When Morocco walked out of the meeting, only the most conservative monarchies of the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman – pulled out of the summit over the participation of the Polisario Front delegation. Many governments such as Egypt and Kuwait who in the past would have been supportive of Morocco decided to stay in the meeting, exposing the diplomatic isolation of Morocco.

This push by the Moroccans is also caught up in the struggles for a new chairperson of the AU Commission. My most recent article on whether Kenya can lead the African Union offered some reasons why the interpenetration of western financial and security interests in East Africa disqualifies Kenya from taking a leadership role.

It is the contention of this intervention that at this historical moment the ideas of the Moroccan leadership confront the aspirations of the Moroccan peoples and thus the question to be posed is not whether Morocco will be part of the AU, but what kind of politics will emerge in Morocco out of the present stirrings of the oppressed citizens of Morocco. The death of a fishmonger in the northern town of Al-Hoceima who was crushed to death (inside a garbage truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police) exposed another reality of thousands of outraged Moroccans.  The present leadership of Morocco has a shortsighted understanding of world politics and have not yet grasped the seismic shift that has taken place since the imperial interventions in Libya and the war in Syria. Hence, they could not understand why Egypt is not under the thumb of Saudi Arabia as in the past. The turbulence in the revolutionary politics that had been initiated in the streets of Cairo and Tunis may seem to have subsided, but the youths of Africa are assessing the new forms of organizing for the next round so that the decisive blow against neo-liberalism in the next round of revolutionary struggles will sweep away leaders who seek to reverse the gains of popular rebellions.

Reparations and African Descendants.

The third major contradiction for the AU will be how it confronts the growing threat of fascism. The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the rise of the ideas of Marie Le Pen in Europe have brought back the questions of racism and xenophobia to the center of world politics. Repairing humanity from the scourge of racist and genocidal violence has been at the center of Pan African political activity since the days of enslavement. In the last years of the OAU the Reparations question had been high of the agenda with positive interactions between the Global African family in all parts of the planet. The present leaders of the AU who have been silent on the question of the black lives at home and abroad are now faced with a vibrant #Black lives matter social movement that is spreading in all parts of the globe. When Haiti attempted to join the AU in 2016, this African society was rebuffed by a leadership that does not understand the history of Pan Africanism and the centrality of Haiti in the History of Pan African Revolts. Leaders who understand the so called ‘diaspora’ only in terms of remittances are being exposed for their silence on what is happening to Africans on a day to day basis in the face of police killings. The demands for reparations and for respecting Black Lives in the era of Donald Trump will sharpen the contradictions between the EU brand of Pan African partnership and that which comes from ordinary Africans.

There is little reference at the official level of how Agenda 2063 would affect the more than two hundred and fifty million Africans of the Global African Family living outside the geographical boundaries of Africa. At the bidding of their ‘global partners’ that seek to set the tone for research and the agenda in Africa there is emphasis on the SDG goals instead of deepening the understanding of reparations and reparative justice. Slowly, the EU-Pan African partnership is downplaying the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and in its place organizing meetings all over Africa on ‘good governance’ and ‘security sector reform ‘instead on the role of financial houses in money laundering.

On the whole, the present leaders had a different project from the producing classes who believed that the idea of Africa for the Africans at home and abroad should not be a slogan. African intellectuals are torn between these two visions of social and economic change, with a small minority carrying forward the Nkrumahist vision that had inspired the call for full unity. The political upheavals of the current currency wars and the wars on terror will have impacts on the entire process of African unity and one of the challenges for the progressive forces will be how to engage with the popular producing forces to seize on moments to push harder for a common currency and to make legal the idea of the free movement of the people of Africa.

When the AU Constitutive Act was being drafted, it was the conscious effort of the progressive Pan Africanists that the AU would be qualitatively different from the OAU. The Secretary General of the OAU had worked from a Secretariat. The AU has a Commissioner whose powers to intervene are clearly stated in the Constitutive Act. Current leaders such as Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame may grandstand on reforms and the capabilities of the African Union but the seriousness with which they will be taken will be determined by the levels of transparency and democratic participation in their societies.  Nonpayment of dues by member states of the AU is itself a statement about where their loyalties are. They have kept foreign banks alive while their people go without basic necessities. It is in Nigeria where there is the largest section of the African working class where one will have to grasp the joint struggles against capital flight and Boko Haram. Two Nigerian leaders were killed when they took assertive action against empire. The psychological warfare against Nigeria is most intense in order to detract from the calls to bring to justice the fraudulent leaders. Both Murtala Mohammed and Chief M.K.O Abiola were eliminated when they decided to stand up for Africa. The late Tajudeen Abdul Raheem had worked hard for the building of Pan African Unity and he had admonished the youth to organize.

Conclusion

This call for organizing is now clearer as the liberal ideas of the West has been shattered with the coming to power of the alt right in Europe and North America. These neo fascist forces have made it clear that there will be no grey areas on the question of racism. It is this same racism that entreats the leadership of Europe and North America to seek the recovery of capitalism on the backs and bodies of the African at home and abroad. The current rebellions in Ethiopia and South Africa demand new engagement with new ideas about transcending neo-liberal capitalism. The same foundations that have supported the leaders in the DRC, Ethiopia, South Africa and the Sudan are busy  organizing meetings to ensure that the rebellions now underway does not really disrupt the looting of African resources.

Kenya remains the model for western foundations of spending peanuts on studies on ‘democratic reforms’ while international capital support a Kenyan ruling class that divides the working peoples on the basis of religion and “tribe”. The corruption of the Kenyan military led to their catastrophic defeat in Somalia in January at the el Ade (comfort base). Somali insurgents fighting against external military presence in Somalia killed 180 Kenyans in January at a camp in el Ade. Eleven months after the killings, the Kenyan military refuse to provide figures as to the numbers killed. Instead, the Kenyan military is promoting their book, Operation Linda Nchi: Kenya’s military experience in Somalia. [4]

Faced with the fact that Kenyans want real information on the deaths in Somalia, the government of Kenya has refused to provide information as to how many were killed. Given the revolutionary potential of the Ethiopian workers and small farmers, the President of the USA has used his authority to enlarge the operations of the US Africa Command in Somalia. On November 27, President  Obama acted to give the legal authority for the expanding war in Somalia using the U.S. Special Ops, AFRICOM, private contractors, and the CIA with the 9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq.  US military personnel in Somalia can easily be redeployed to Ethiopia when the current revolutionary upheaval matures.

Member states of the African Union have been silent on this expansion of the war when for two decades it was stated in the corridors of power in Washington that it was the presence of US military personnel in Africa that acts as a magnet for misguided youths who are financed by the Wahabists.

At the time of submitting this article, the peoples of Africa were confronted with the clowning refusal of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to accept the results of the elections of December 1, 2016 when he lost  to the leader of the combined opposition led by Adama Barrow. While the diplomatic dance of the AU and ECOWAS is underway, serious Africans need to engage with the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative that had been launched in 2007 by the United Nations Office on Drugs. Such engagement will shift the discussions on the question of where to get the resources to fund the work of the African Union.

The renewed confidence of Africans is emerging in the midst of an economic depression in Europe and at a moment when Africans are stating clearly that there must be new values for African unity, for healing ourselves and the world (Maathai 2010). Wangaari Maathai as a feminist and environmentalist in the Pan African Movement had brought the questions of environmental repair to the forefront of the discussions on Pan Africanism. This new brand of Pan Africanism that respects life, health, peace and environmental reconstruction is slowly asserting itself in all parts of the Pan African world. The AU will survive the turbulent headwinds. It is not clear whether most of the current leadership will survive. The three crosscurrents promise to blow many away.

 

Notes

[1] Ajayi and L. Ndikumana (eds.), Capital Flight from Africa: Causes, Effects and Policy Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015

[2] Jon Henley, “Gigantic sleaze scandal winds up as former Elf oil chiefs are jailed,”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/nov/13/france.oilandpetrol

[3] Yohannes Woldemariam, Behind Morocco’s New Tango with the African Union, https://www.ghanastar.com/africa-news/behind-moroccos-new-tango-with-the…

[4] Official KDF Account, Operation Linda Nchi: Kenya’s Military Experience in Somalia,  Ministry of Defence, Kenya 2014

Posted in Africa0 Comments

The United States Is Doing Little to Help Stop the Carnage in South Sudan

NOVANEWS

By Nick Turse, Haymarket Books 

A camp for internally displaced people that started after a civil war broke out more than two years ago in Juba, South Sudan, on March 3, 2016. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

A camp for internally displaced people that started after a civil war broke out more than two years ago in Juba, South Sudan, on March 3, 2016. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

Beginning in the 1980s, the efforts of an eclectic, bipartisan coalition of American supporters — Washington activists, evangelical Christians, influential congressional representatives, celebrities, a presidential administration focused on regime change and nation-building, and another that picked up the mantle — helped “midwife” South Sudan into existence.

Perhaps no country in Africa received as much congressional attention. And on July 9, 2011, its Independence Day, President Barack Obama released a stirring statement. “I am confident that the bonds of friendship between South Sudan and the United States will only deepen in the years to come. As Southern Sudanese undertake the hard work of building their new country, the United States pledges our partnership as they seek the security, development, and responsive governance that can fulfill their aspirations and respect their human rights.” In August 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Juba, was emphatic that the US “commitment to this new nation is enduring and absolute in terms of assistance and aid and support going forward.”

What are the ongoing obligations of a midwife? How solid are the bonds of friendship between the United States and South Sudan? How solemn was Obama’s pledge of partnership and Clinton’s of enduring support?

For years, the United States has dumped untold billions of dollars into regime-change operations, nation-building schemes, military interventions, and interminable wars in the Greater Middle East. Iraqis and Afghans, Syrians, Libyans, and Yemenis have grappled with the consequences. South Sudan was a different type of American intervention, but the results turned out to be sadly similar for its people.

The United States provided some roads and electricity, built up the army, and poured a great deal of money into the new nation. Now, it’s reduced to providing humanitarian aid as part of an international effort to fend off the famine that’s forever knocking on the young country’s door. For all I know, the red beans [a boy I encountered] was picking out of the dirt [around a makeshift airport in South Sudan] were “from the American people” — as big bags of US Agency for International Development sorghum, rice, lentils, and other emergency staples are branded the world over.

But is that enough?

Is it enough for a man to feel ashamed and leave a rail-thin child to pluck spilled beans from the dirt? Is it enough for a country to pledge enduring commitment and instead provide just enough food aid to keep the nation it fostered on life support? This is not to say that the United States has offered a trivial sum.The approximately $1.3 billion spent on relief efforts since the country plunged in civil war in 2013 is significant.At least until you realize that a year of ineffective efforts bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria cost about three times that amount.

“The United States will support the people of South Sudan as they begin the implementation process, but it is imperative that the parties remain committed to peace,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced on August 26, 2015, after a peace deal was signed between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. “Together, we must help South Sudan implement the agreement, to stave off famine, to stand steadfast and united against those who block the path to peace, and to hold accountable those who have committed atrocities.”

Since the civil war began, American officials have made a series of similar statements to little effect. Whether this peace deal holds or crumbles like the many cease fires before it, the United States faces a choice: Will it lavish the sort of taxpayer dollars it normally devotes to war-making on its foster child or will it leave this fledgling, fractured country with beans, platitudes, and little else?

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TITLENick Turse talks to the people who have managed to survive the grim reality of modern warfare in South Sudan.

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“The United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese,” declared President Obama at the close of his statement on South Sudan’s Independence Day in 2011. “Together, we can ensure that today marks another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward opportunity, democracy, and justice.”In nation-building projects from Afghanistan to Iraq, military interventions from Libya to Yemen, military aid efforts from Mali to Burkina Faso, the United States has turned out to be remarkably inept when it comes to providing opportunities, the basics for democratic polities, or justice of any imaginable kind. Invariably, such normally military-oriented or -led American endeavors have ended in failure, disappointment, and in a number of cases outright fiasco.

As South Sudan was midwifed into nationhood “by any means necessary,” atrocities from the 1990s and earlier were swept under the rug, only to have them resurface in recent years. Will history repeat itself? Will the United States and its international partners make every conceivable effort “to hold accountable those who have committed atrocities” in order to help achieve a permanent peace? Or will they take an easier road — one that silences the guns of today only to have them ring out anew with even greater fury at the dawn of some distant tomorrow — or perhaps even sooner? It remains to be seen whether the United States will “stand steadfast,” step back, or walk away from the nation it spent so much time and effort ushering into existence — and whether it matters at all what course South Sudan’s foster parent charts.

Posted in USA, Sudan0 Comments

Africa in Review 2016: Neo-colonialism, Economic Sovereignty and the Imperatives of Socialist Development

NOVANEWS
 
oil

Over the last several years along the Indian Ocean coast in East Africa substantial finds of oil and natural gas resources have been under development.

A British exploration corporation, Tullow Oil and its Canadian partner, Africa Oil, acknowledges that it has discovered in excess of 600 million barrels of oil in Kenya.  At least eight exploitable and viable oil sources have been recorded beginning in 2012.

Neighboring Uganda as well has approximately 6.5 billion barrels of oil deposits which have been found since 2008. Another East African Community (EAC) member Tanzania is estimated to harbor natural gas resources in the amount of 50.5 trillion cubic feet.

With respect to the Southern African state of Mozambique, which is not an EAC member but is further south of this aforementioned region, has also discovered natural gas. It has been suggested that Mozambican reserves are within the range of 200 billion cubic feet. The combined natural gas resources in Tanzania and Mozambique are said to be among the most lucrative in the world.

Yet in the contemporary period there is an overproduction of oil and natural gas resources which have driven down prices on the international market. As a result of this phenomenon various states which are reliant on these strategic energy sources have fallen into economic decline. Although some countries in Africa and other geo-political regions are described as being in recession, the fact is with the precipitous drop in currency values and debt accumulation, a depression may be a more accurate description.

In Mozambique, financial speculation centered upon these recent natural resource projects which are slated to come online in 2019, has drawn the attention of the United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Allegations of impropriety involving financial institutions is providing an opening for the further interference in the internal affairs of the country which won its independence through a popular revolutionary armed struggle against NATO member Portugal in 1975 led by the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO).

According to a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal,

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the sale of $850 million in bonds issued by Mozambique, the latest development in a scandal that is exposing the links between the country, three international banks and a defense contractor. The move inserts the U.S. into a widening global investigation of Mozambique’s debt deals, which involved undisclosed loans and military purchases facilitated by the banks.” (Dec. 28)

This same report continues noting that

“In 2013, Credit Suisse Group AG, Russian bank VTB Group and France’s BNP Paribas sold the bonds to investors for a Mozambican state-owned company that said it needed money for tuna fishing. But months later, Mozambique’s government announced that the funds had also been used to buy military equipment. Bondholders were also unaware that Credit Suisse and VTB made $1.2 billion in undisclosed bank loans to other state-owned companies for additional military purchases until The Wall Street Journal reported on the deals in April.”

These developments are taking place amid a recrudescence in the counter-revolutionary war waged by the so-called Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO). This organization grew out of the counter-insurgency operations of the Portuguese intelligence agency (PIDE) in efforts aimed at undermining the revolutionary national liberation struggle which was committed to socialist development in Mozambique. Later when RENAMO was formed it was funded and trained by the-then settler-colonial regime of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After the fall of Ian Smith’s Rhodesia in 1980, the racist-apartheid regime took over operations for RENAMO where the group sought to destroy the newly-liberated Mozambique state under the leadership of the late President Samora Machel. The FRELIMO leader was killed in a plane crash in October 1986 when reports suggested that the plane was brought down due to South African military operations against the ever-encroaching liberation movement the African National Congress (ANC).

RENAMO claims that it is fighting for a greater say in the Mozambique political structures yet the organization has operated openly as a political party since a ceasefire was signed with the FRELIMO government in the early 1990s. This renewal of hostilities portends much for the viability of the future economic and social well-being of the country which is a leading member of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Angola and the Oil Glut: Which Way Out of the Crisis?

Another former Portuguese colony, the Republic of Angola, won its independence as well through armed struggle during 1961-1975. Its genuine independence was threatened by the interventions of the U.S. and the South African Defense Forces (SADF) under apartheid during 1975-1988, and the support of hundreds of thousands of Cuban internationalists volunteers secured the total liberation of the country by 1989 leading to freedom for Namibia, a former colony of Germany and later the settler-colonial regime in Pretoria.

Angola has been impacted by the petroleum crisis since its national revenue is largely dependent on oil exports. The country has moved from being the first and second largest producer of oil in the last few years. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) remains the dominant political force inside the country where longtime President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced recently that he was stepping aside to allow a new leadership to emerge.

In another article published by the Wall Street Journal it emphasizes the impact of the drop in oil prices on Angola. During the early years of this decade, economic growth was so vibrant that the government was able to loan money to its former colonial master of Portugal staving off a potential collapse in Lisbon.

The WSJ stressed that:

“Dozens of gated communities sit mostly empty, gathering dust. They were built during the first half of this decade for a middle class that never materialized and the foreign elite that largely packed up and left when a dizzying oil-price boom went bust in 2014.

In glitzy shopping malls, stores that haven’t already closed struggle to stock their shelves, as a free-falling local currency and dollar shortages batter imports.” (Jan. 2)

This report also discusses the travails of the Angolan government in seeking a way out of the current crisis:

“The International Monetary Fund expects that Angola’s economy will have zero growth in 2016, marking its worst peacetime performance on record—a disaster for a country whose population of 26 million is growing by 3.2% annually. Meanwhile, government debt has jumped to 78% of gross domestic product, according to IMF estimates, from just 41 % when oil prices plummeted in 2014. Little is known about where or from whom the government is borrowing—let alone at what rate—so analysts warn about the difficulty of predicting its ability to pay back what it owes. In April, the government entered bailout negotiations with the IMF and then abandoned them three months later. Since then, the central bank has used 18% of its foreign-currency reserves to keep some imports flowing into the country. If spending continues at this pace, ‘in about a year’s time you’d probably run out of reserves,’ says Stuart Culverhouse, head of fixed-income research at Exotix Partners, an investment firm that focuses on frontier markets.”

Pan-Africanism, Socialism and the Global Crisis

Although there appeared to be a renaissance in African political economy in the period of a supposed recovery from the Great Recessions which struck the imperialist states of Western Europe and North America between the years of 2007-2010, this growth in regional business activity is proving to be unsustainable. From Egypt and Nigeria to South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the post-colonial nation-state is at the crossroads.

The prospects for foreign direct investment into the natural resource development markets have reached a breaking point due to the overproduction of oil and gas. Inside the U.S. there has been a concerted strategy to curtail exports of oil and natural gas utilizing domestic production through hydraulic fracking, shale technology and offshore drilling. Within the U.S. itself the ostensible “recovery” has been highly untenable since it is largely based on stock market speculation, tax cuts for the superrich and the normalization of low-wage employment.

In Africa there is the dire need for continental integration based on socialist planning. The merging of economic projects and political unity provides the only real solution for the perpetual ebbs and flows of global capitalist economic viability.

With the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump pressure is mounting from the Pentagon and the intelligence apparatus to continue the renewed Cold War against both Russia Federation and the People’s Republic of China. Such a policy orientation on an international level will have profoundly negative consequences for the African continent.

To foster socialist development in Africa would require the mass mobilization and organization of the workers, youth and farmers. It necessitates the disruption of dependence upon foreign direct investment as the primary mode of economic growth. The emphasis must be placed upon political education with the objective of creating a unified continent under socialist relations of production.

Moreover, the collaboration between the imperialist states and the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) should be halted. These military joint ventures has further destabilized the continent as in Mali, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and other states.

A continental military force should be independent of the imperialist states. As Dr. Kwame Nkrumah said over five decades ago, the creation of an All-African High Command will serve as a defense against neo-colonialist intervention and not a gateway for its proliferation.

2017 will be an important year for the African continent. It is up to the governmental leaders, workers, youth and popular movements to decide on the correct path to the realization of revolutionary liberation and unification.

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Optimism in DR Congo as Deal Reached to End Political Crisis

NOVANEWS
  • Congolese women protest during talks between the opposition and the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    Congolese women protest during talks between the opposition and the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, Dec. 31, 2016. | Photo: Reuters.
The president has agreed to step down in order to avert political unrest in the country over him staying in power despite his mandate ending.

Congo’s opposition leaders signed a deal with the party of President Joseph Kabila on Saturday that will require him to step down after elections that must take place before the end of 2017.

Mediators from the Congo’s Catholic church had been heaping pressure on both sides for weeks to sign an agreement aimed at averting a slide into anarchy and possibly another civil war over Kabila’s decision not to step down despite his mandate expiring more than a week ago.

If they stick to it, the agreement will deliver Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

“Today, we are happy to head up a political compromise,” said Marcel Utembi, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, before representatives of Kabila’s party, including Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu and Interior Minister Emmanuel Shadary, and its main opposition alliance, signed the deal.

Huge hurdles remain, however. The electoral commission has said elections may not be possible before 2018, and many doubt Kabila really intends to stand down.

Diplomats fear growing unrest could trigger a repeat of the wars between 1996 and 2003 that killed millions.

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GADDAFI: A Psychological Profile of Man, Myth & Reality

NOVANEWS

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He walked up to the podium to address the UN General Assembly.
All eyes in the chamber were on the strange, eccentric figure, whose invitation to New York had been the subject of great controversy and coverage. Staring out at all the delegations of world government, he acted out ripping up the UN Charter, calling it “worthless”.

He proceeded to condemn the UN for its failure to prevent “65 wars since 1945”, and to rally against the dictatorial control of the Security’s Council’s five permanent members and the domination of “the Super-powers”. “How can we be happy about global peace and security if the whole world is controlled only by five countries?” he complained. Some delegations walked out. Others looked embarrassed or uncomfortable.

The year was 2009 and the speaker was Muammar Gaddafi; then acting not just as the symbolic ‘head of state’ for Libya but as Chairman of the African Union. It was the first and last time he would ever be invited to address the UN. He would be dead less than two years later, murdered brutally by a terrorist mob being armed and supported by the very same “super-powers” and UN Security Council he had condemned in 2009. The bitter, ugly irony wouldn’t have been lost on him in those final weeks and days.

Hours later, he was in the CNN  studio being interviewed by veteran presenter Larry King; it was a very odd, stilted interview, partly undermined by a language barrier and partly by Gaddafi’s strange, off-kilter manner at the time. In that one moment in time, we saw two sides of the Libyan leader: in the General Assembly we saw the incisive protester and world figure, while in the TV studio we saw the slightly strange, disheveled man who Western audiences had such a hard time relating to.

That juxtaposition in fact probably characterised Western perception of Muammar Gaddafi for most of his life.

So what is there still to be said about Gaddafi? Loved. Hated. Demonised, vilified. Lionised. Mocked. Condemned. Celebrated. Revolutionary. Dictator. Visionary. Tyrant. Terrorist. Socialist. And finally murdered.

The list of words used to define or describe one of the most notorious world figures of the late 20th century goes on and on. Those words, those semantics, change depending of course on who is doing the talking. They changed also depending on what year it was or what the weather was like that day. But, as a few weeks ago marked the fifth anniversary since his brutal murder in Sirte, this seemed an appropriate time – as promised – to reflect on the life and character of one of the twentieth century’s most interesting and debated figures.

I already wrote here at length on the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya in 2011 and also about the Gaddafi era itself in Libya from 1969 to 2011; now, finally, was the appropriate time to reflect more squarely on Gaddafi himself, as a person. To try to understand his psychology, his motivations, his possible failings, and to try to deal with some of the enigma and contradiction. He was, to my mind, one of the three or four most fascinating world figures of the 20th century, and also the most important socio/geo-political martyr of the 21st century so far; and there is a great deal to process when trying to understand who he was.

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The one thing you could never do was define him in a simple sentence.

In life, and beyond death, Gaddafi remains difficult to make any blanket statements about. I don’t generally lionise people when it comes to politics or world affairs, and I would never claim Gaddafi was a ‘hero’ in any absolute sense; he was certainly a hero in 2011 and he died a hero. But life is too complicated and international affairs too nebulous and mired in corruption and agendas to make general statements about political figures.

Gaddafi was certainly a visionary and a revolutionary. In some ways he was an echo of the kind of world-changing, groundbreaking figures that existed in long gone times; a modern, Libyan or Arab equivalent of an Augustus or of an ancient Greek styled ‘Statesman-Philosopher’ type. In some ways he was also just another Arab dictator; but of course that wouldn’t contradict the Augustus analogy at all, as the founder of the Roman Republic had been a dictator for life, however much he had tried to dress it up in different terms. For that matter, you would have to go back to Roman times to find the last even vaguely famous Libyan before Gaddafi: since the days in which Romans were sailing the Mediterranean and warring with Carthage over 2,000 years ago, no ‘Libyan’ had ever made an impact on history or become known across the world until Muammar Gaddafi.

Tingba Muhammad, in an article in ‘The Final Call’, described Gaddafi as ‘a man whose progressive record of accomplishments very well may be unmatched by anyone who has ever led a nation in modern times.’

And he was also therefore a kind of leader most of us in the West can’t really relate to understand, given our highly institutionalized and regulated political systems and classes in which the power or will of individual figures to bring about vast change is extremely minimal, the individual subject by the vast, self-perpetuating systems and instruments of government and economics. That system, it is argued, protects us from madmen, protects us from overly ambitious or powerful individuals like Hitler or from cults of personality; which is probably true for the most part. It also hinders any possibility of revolution or of great change, it could be argued.

Gaddafi could be a riddle of contradictions. Who else could be named a frontrunner for Amnesty International’s poll for ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ and then just weeks later be labelled a ‘war criminal’ by Western government officials and accused of massacring civilian demonstrators?

Odd and eccentric are certainly other things you could describe Gaddafi as. And highly entertaining at times too. He unfortunately lent himself to ridicule, even when the ridicule wasn’t justified; though often the ridicule was probably justified. Here is a genuinely funny, but not mean-spirited, satire of Gaddafi from shortly before his death.

His eccentricities probably made it much easier for him to be caricatured as a ‘mad dictator’ much of the time; though most of those eccentricities probably didn’t emerge until later in his life, creating a sometimes jarring contrast between the serious, revolutionary nation-builder of the 1970s and the sometimes weird, outlandish figure of later years.

Here was a man whose downfall and death was celebrated by Western government officials and media, and yet was mourned by many across Sub-Saharan Africa, who celebrated him as a hero. For instance, a vigil was held in Sierra Leone. The Daily Times of Nigeria stated that Gaddafi, whether he had or hadn’t been a dictator, was the most benevolent in a region that only knew dictatorship and that he was “a great man that looked out for his people and made them the envy of all of Africa.”

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AllAfrica.com reported that while many Libyans and Africans would mourn Gaddafi, this would be ignored by Western media and that as such it “would take 50 years” before historians decided whether he was “martyr or villain.”

I think that is a very astute point actually; it may take 50 years for most people to really understand who Gaddafi was, what he accomplished, what he tried to do and what he was about. We can debate back and forth for hours over what Gaddafi was about; but the one thing he absolutely wasn’t is the two-dimensional Bond villain the Western governments and media made him out to be for so many years, even if some of his behavior did lend itself to that caricature.

He was a flawed person and a flawed leader, certainly; he was an egotist, yes. And some of his ideas, policies and actions were highly questionable. And like most Arab or African leaders, he can be said to have at various times presided over a repressive, sometimes violent, regime, even if he wasn’t the one guiding or endorsing the more oppressive behavior; this too, for that matter, is a subject of contention – the question of whether Gaddafi himself was directly to blame for the more oppressive behaviour of some of the Revolutionary Committees and other elements of the regime over the years. The jury is verymuch still out on that. The ‘jury’, for that matter, is still out in general, as the Western coalition chose to murder him instead of bringing him to a trial.

One of the reasons Gaddafi is so difficult to judge is because he changed so much. Across the four decades of his Libya, he seemed to reinvent himself and alter some of his views numerous times. If you study his history, there are periods in which you could legitimately call him a ‘dictator’ of course (but not necessarily any worse or different to various other Arab or African leaders – including the ones our governments support). But at other points you could also legitimately call him a true revolutionary, a champion of the people, a genuine Socialist. This practically impossible task of ‘defining’ Gaddafi is so complicated that people even now can’t state for certain whether he was a ‘dictator’ or merely a symbolic figurehead during the last few decades of his life.

But he was always an easy figure for the Western media and governments to make fun of. This wasn’t aided by his increasingly ostentatious dress sense as he got older, nor by some of the things he said and the way he said them. But then Gaddafi was a singular force, a self-made individual, who didn’t play the game by the international rule-book and who didn’t fit in to the prevailing world order.

And he didn’t mince words or ideas; didn’t do ‘politics’ in the sense that we understand it. Therefore he could say things like “There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet!” and do so in all seriousness; whether he meant that in a partly sarcastic way or not. He wasn’t, in truth, a great orator and often said things that didn’t translate very well (though he had a definite poetic flourish in his writings). That being said, there really aren’t many great ‘orators’ in the modern Arab world, where rhetoric and great oratory aren’t generally considered necessary qualities: by that standard, Gaddafi was different and can be said to have made at least a handful of very potent speeches in his time, in addition to written texts.

It helped that he always had the ability to shock or to provoke, of course; but also to be unintentionally funny when he was actually trying to be profound.

Who but Gaddafi would begin a speech at an Arab Summit with the sentence, “Firstly I would like to explain to you all why the Israelis and the Palestinians are both stupid…” But it was Gaddafi, and everyone knew who he was, knew what to expect, and some even came to enjoy it. When he made that statement about the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Palestinian Prime Minister was in the front row, laughing his head off and gesturing at the podium as if to illustrate that Mad Uncle Gaddafi was making his drunken X-Mas toast.

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Whether it was his support for various liberation movements in the 70s and 80s or whether it was the admittedly very odd custom he had of travelling everywhere with an elite unit of female bodyguards (the famous Amazonian Guard – many of whom were brutally hunted down and murdered after Gaddafi’s downfall). Or whether it was in his blunt statements, such as in that famous 2009 UN address in which he called the UN Security Council “the world terrorism council” and ripped up the UN Charter in front of the whole General Assembly, calling it ‘worthless’.

Sometimes this could be hilarious. When he visited Italy and met with Silvio Berlusconi, Gaddafi wore pictures of Libyan martyrs who’d died at the hands of Italian/Fascist Colonial occupation forces during World War II (over a million Libyans died in Italian concentration camps at that time; something that without doubt influenced a lot of Gaddafi’s attitude towards Colonialism and the West). It was a remarkably brazen thing to do, but he was making a statement on behalf of all Libyans (and the look on Berlosconi’s face, as he tries to pretend he hasn’t noticed, is priceless).

And among all of his visions, he also had some questionable ideas. And yes, Gaddafi proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATO and would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation. For one thing, if he had built a ‘SATO’, then the NATO criminal enterprise of 2011 that resulted in his murder and the destruction of Libya might have encountered some serious opposition from the outset. Libya would’ve had allies. Instead, Libya was left to fend for itself against what Fidel Castro called “the Nazi-Fascist role played by America and its NATO allies”.

And yes, like Augustus, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans). These were all ‘quirky’, perhaps downright odd, aspects to his character and his life. He was also full of contradictions.

He was bitterly opposed to extremist ‘terrorists’, yet in his mission statement to support ‘freedom movements’ across the world he probably can be said to have at times supported ‘terrorist’ organisations; although there we do get into semantics and into questions of how you define a terrorist in one instance and a ‘freedom fighter’ in the other (case in point: he was substantially supporting Nelson Mandela and the ANC at a time when they were still being considered ‘terrorists’ by most Western governments).

He was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Yet at the same time he increasingly started to attire himself in fine, ostentatious clothes. There were always such contradictions with Gaddafi, such was the complexity of his character. Unlike an archetypal ‘dictator’, he was subject to change, was in fact looking to change at various times and was looking to implement change as time moved on. His Libya was in an ongoing ‘state of revolution’; a continuous evolution going on over a long period of time, not a dictatorship set in stone.

Inside that tent of his, the quilted walls were printed with motifs like palm trees and camels. But however ostentatious and attention-seeking it may have been, there is also something charming and even endearing in seeing images of people like Vladimir Putin or Tony Blair having to meet Gaddafi in his tent. Modern, Western politicians always seemed so out-of-place, out of their comfort zone when having to do this. But likewise, Gaddafi himself always looked so out of place in the modern structures of global, Corporatist government on those few occasions he was invited; he looked like some exotic figure who’d been transported via a time-machine into the modern political world.

Libyan leader Moummar Gaddafi talks with Pan African Parliament President Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania during the family photo of the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon

When he came to the UN General Assembly in New York in 2009, some treated him like a rock star; even some of the usually composed, hum-drum officials and delegates seemed to be fascinated by his presence, as if their world had suddenly turned upside down.

Among two of the things most emblematically associated with Gaddafi’s work are the ‘Green Book’ and the Great Man-Made River project.

Gaddafi’s ‘Green Book’, which provided much of the basis for his ‘remaking of Libya’, has at times been ridiculed by Western commentators or dismissed as the quaint ramblings of a ‘madman’ or an eccentric. But numerous progressive academics worldwide have acclaimed The Green Book as a serious body of political thought, offering an incisive critique of Western parliamentary democracy, capitalism and Marxist socialism, and offering a viable, workable alternative.

The other ‘official’ books are a mixed thing. My Vision, published in the late 90s, is widely regarded as little more than a propaganda exercise by the Libyan state.

However, Gaddafi’s Escape to Hell & Other Stories is a fascinating insight into his mind; some of it has poetic flourish, while some of it is badly written to the point of being almost unreadable. But there are rich explanations of his passion for nature and the profundities of the living world, very sweet passages in relation to his parents, interesting insights into his own failings, frustrations and sense of limitation. There is also an insightful sense of Gaddafi’s sense of brotherhood with oppressed peoples and belittled cultures across the world, which explains the psychology behind his decades-long support for liberation movements from Nicaragua to Ireland to the Aborigines. And humour can be found in his vitriolic attacks on religious extremists and Islamist terrorism, which are full of sarcasm and put-downs.

Escape to Hell  is actually probably a much better insight into Gaddafi’s personality and mind (and a better read too) than The Green Book; the latter being a manifesto, the former being more of a free-flowing dialogue.

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The Great Manmade River has been written about at length elsewhere (and somewhat here): but is worth mentioning again here, as it was undertakings like this that gave Gaddafi the aura of those old-world visionaries and ‘nation builders’ and society-makers like in the legends of the classical Greek city states or of Roman builders like Augustus and Caesar, or Herod the Great.

He wasn’t just inspiring and forging the society on a political or ideological level, but was literally involved hands-on in building and transforming the landscape and infrastructure. Like a Herod the Great or an Augustus, he wanted to leave his mark for posterity, not just in the political and social landscape but in the physical landscape itself.

It is a little sad to think that he might’ve failed in that: the Great Manmade River – regarded a marvel in modern engineering, and rather boastfully called by Gaddafi himself ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ – has, in fact, been severely damaged by both the marauding Islamist rebels and the NATO bombers in 2011. And though some things will probably survive, monuments or projects relating to Gaddafi have been destroyed or town down all over Libya, and even swathes of some of the great cities and urban developments he oversaw the development of have been laid to waste or left in ruin by the NATO onslaught or the subsequent terrorist militias and warlords.

Even Tripoli, once a marvel of Gaddafi’s Libya, has been left in ruin and has been listed now as the ‘fifth most unlivable city’ in the world.

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The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough for someone who went to such lengths to mythologise himself, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth.

The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

These were the most humble of beginnings imaginable for a figure who end up a nation-builder, a one-time dictator and a cultural and national figurehead. Gaddafi was never embarassed of these roots, never tried to deny them or disavow his parents and upbringing. In fact, quite the opposite: he wore this Bedouin desert birth and upbringing almost as a badge of honour, as evidenced by – among other things – the fact that he would meet foreign dignitaries in his special tent and would even set up a tent to stay in when abroad, as he did in New York in 2009.

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The contradiction in Gaddafi, as I mentioned earlier, is that while he was proud of this ‘humble’ roots and of the tribal and desert traditions of the country, he was also a city-builder who wanted to modernise and industrialise Libya, and he therefore often appeared to be oscillating back and forth between these two natures. His reverence of nature and the wilderness was undeniable and came through strongly in his writings, along with a disdain for modern, urban lifestyles – and yet he sought to build thriving, modern cities at the same time.

In 1945 at the conclusion of World War II, Libya was still occupied by British and French Colonialist forces.

Although Britain and France intended on dividing the nation between their empires (which they would again try to do in 2011, albeit in different terms and under different, more modern guises), the General Assembly of the newly-established United Nations granted the country independence. In 1951, the United Kingdom of Libya was created; a federal state under the leadership of the pro-western monarch, Idris, who banned all political parties and established an absolute monarchy. The monarchy was essentially a Colonialist vassal, serving foreign interests and keeping the population in poverty. This was essentially not a system at all interested in common society or in building up a nation, but mostly of simply holding the North-African nation as a vassal land of foreign interests.

The idea – wrongly perpetuated by critics – that Gaddafi’s regime had banned political parties was, technically, incorrect: there had never *been* any political parties.

Education in Libya was not free at that time, but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedly bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

This same disposition of the child of humble origins being bullied for his ‘inferior’ background and responding with renewed pride in his roots would in fact play out all through Gaddafi’s life.

I believe – through reading and studying on Gaddafi at length – that he believed he was later looked down on and bullied by other Arab leaders and elite ruling families, particularly the Saudis, as being somehow a figure of ridicule simply because he was mere Bedouin from a poor African nation; moreover and more importantly, he perceived the same attitude towards him and his country from the broader international forces, particularly the Western and European governments who for so long refused to recognise his leadership or his country. Gaddafi (pictured below in the early 70s with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, with Egypt’s Nasser and the Saudi Royals on the right), may therefore have carried with him something of a persecution complex.

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This was, of course, entirely valid come 2011, when all of his longstanding views of the ‘Western, Colonialist aggression’ (and his mistrust of the Saudi and Gulf State monarchies) were proven absolutely true.

As a young man and student, he had a keen interest in Arab nationalist activism, but he nevertheless refused to join any of the banned political parties active at the time, including the Arab Nationalist Movement, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood, this being because he rejected ‘factionalism’. He later claimed at this time he read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and curiously the biography of Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

People could roll their eyes or make jokes about any comparison between Muammar Gaddafi and Abraham Lincoln, but the fact is that Gaddafi was entirely self-made. All that he accomplished in his own life he accomplished entirely without assistance from outside forces and without inherited privilege. Unlike the Royal Dictators of the Saudi and Gulf States, for example, who inherit immense and wealth and privilege, or like leaders of American or British governments, who come up through highly wealthy elite networks and major patronage from wealthy backers or from corporations, someone like Gaddafi literally came from nothing and *had* nothing except what he built himself.

And indeed the Libya that he built – the poorest nation in Africa at the time he inherited the helm and wealthiest and most successful within just the first decade of his rule – was also a self-made success story, built entirely independently, without any foreign loans, without any involvement from Western companies or governments or the IMF or World Bank. Given all of that, Gaddafi could literally compare himself to Lincoln and be making a serious point. His Libya had also come into being as an entirely Libyan affair and wasn’t a foreign-backed or foreign funded coup.

Graduating in August 1965, the young Gaddafi had become an army communications officer. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for further training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots. Almost certainly, whatever racism he encountered would’ve left a bitter taste in his mouth.

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There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966, dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

There was very little time between Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966 and he and his ‘Revolutionary Committee’ conducting the coup in Libya that ousted the monarchy and established a Socialist Republic.

Gaddafi and his Revolutionary Committees believed the monarchy and the ruling elite were opposed to the will of the people and the development of the nation, so they purged monarchists and members of Idris’ Senussi clan from Libya’s political world and armed forces.

Inspired by the Arab Nationalism that was going on across the Middle East, particularly the example set by President Nasser in Egypt, the Libyan Revolution led by Gaddafi successfully ousted King Idris in 1969. It was an entirely bloodless coup with no deaths and no violence; conducted with popular consent and broad support and carried out entirely by Libyan nationals serving a Libyan agenda. It had been entirely secular in character, with no sectarian interests. Contrast this to the foreign-funded 2011 uprising, which involved scores and scores of foreign terrorists and mercenaries and was backed and directly aided by foreign interference and foreign military bombing; it was an absolute bloodbath, mired in Islamist terrorism, Al-Qaeda atrocities, ethnic cleansings, and unbridled barbarity in many instances.

The difference between Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution and the Al-Qaeda/NATO-led 2011 ‘revolution’ is absolute.

Read more: The Libya Conspiracy: A Definitive Guide to the Libya Intervention & the Crime of the Century…’

Following the military coup in 1969, the new Libyan government insisted that America and Britain immediately remove their military bases from Libya, with the 27-year-old Gaddafi saying Libya would “tolerate living in shacks while the bases of imperialism exist in Libyan territory.” The British left in March and the Americans in June 1970, despite both having tried to negotiate an agreement with the Libyans at this early stage. But with this clear statement and attitude, the tone and nature of the relationship between the new Libya and the Western superpowers was set for the decades that would follow.

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Gaddafi was recognised as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977, and then later as the “Brotherly Leader” of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, the latter being supposedly a less executive and more symbolic role.

While many critics portrayed the Gaddafi family and the Libyan ‘regime’ as an immovable, dictatorial ‘establishment’ that would permanently rule over the people, it is clear that Gaddafi was considering other possibilities. Other critics would point to the ‘lavish lifestyles’ of the Gaddafi family, though in reality this was more to do with some of his sons and relatives and not so much Gaddafi himself. And more to the point, even if the Gaddafi family did live in ‘luxury’, it clearly wasn’t at the expense of the people.

And of course the whole critique becomes even less meaningful when we consider the luxury that other dictatorships, such as the Saudi and Gulf-State Royal Families live in (and the extraordinary wealth disparity with their populations), and who are nevertheless supported and well-regarded by Western governments. Even more pertinently, the political classes in America, France, Britain and most other developed nations aren’t exactly known for slumming it with the lower classes either, are they?

Gaddafi, let’s remember, was a peasant, born in the desert to impoverished Bedouin parents: he worked for and attained everything he had in life, having had the most humble beginnings imaginable. Our own Establishment simply has that luxury as a ‘birthright’.

Some of Gaddafi’s relatives, as well as some Libyan officials, did later adopt lavish lifestyles, including luxurious homes, Hollywood film investments and private parties with American pop stars; this was particularly the case with the younger generation, such as Gaddafi’s son Mot’assim.

How much this was true of Gaddafi himself (pictured below with wife Safia and son Saadi in the 70s: photo credit, Tyler Hicks, New York Times) is difficult to tell, but the evidence suggests he wasn’t particularly excessive in the context of other leaders or ‘dictators’. In democratic societies like ours, someone like Tony Blair, for example, earns millions in his post-office enterprises as well as receiving substantial amounts of tax-payer money for his personal security, etc. The same is true of former American Presidents like Clinton and Bush.

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The Gaddafi family compound had facilities for banquets and other public events, but was actually described by US intelligence reports published via Wikileaks as “not lavish in any way compared with the ostentation of the Gulf-oil-state families.”

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And what of Gaddafi, the ‘Brutal Dictator’?

It is, rather remarkably, still an unresolved question as to whether Gaddafi himself was personally responsible for any of the more brutal actions at various points by elements of the regime or whether these elements, particularly the Revolutionary Committees, were much more autonomous than that and essentially acted on their own authority and initiatives. It could be that when Gaddafi attacked those elements of the regime publicly or condemned their actions, he was simply performing an act to absolve himself in the people’s eyes. Or it’s possible he really wasn’t directly culpable in their activities.

The truth of the matter may lay somewhere in the hazy middle of those two possibilities.

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There were also strong indications that his personal involvement with those aspects of the regime abated more and more in the later years as he adopted his more and more symbolic position in the society, and that by the last few years of his life he was hardly involved at all; but that the existential crisis of 2011 simply forced all the revolutionary forces to rally around the founder of the state once more and forced Gaddafi himself to return to a more aggressive stance in order to fight off the invading terrorists, mercenaries and foreign agents.

As Hugh Roberts notes in his article ‘Who Said Gaddafi Had to Go?’, days after Gaddafi’s death (and which I’ve referenced in previous articles, because it really is a worthwhile read): ‘Words such as ‘authoritarianism’, ‘tyranny’ (a favourite bugbear of the British) and ‘dictatorship’ have never really captured the particular character of this set-up but have instead relentlessly caricatured it. Gaddafi, unlike any other head of state, stood at the apex not of the pyramid of governing institutions but of the informal sector of the polity, which enjoyed a degree of hegemony over the formal sector that has no modern counterpart.’

Perversely, it also worth considering that much of Gaddafi’s alleged paranoia and the paranoia displayed by the Revolutionary Committees (which led to much of the oppressive treatment of political opponents) was a direct result of all the CIA/MI6/foreign assassination attempts and plots to subvert, infiltrate or overthrow the regime.

If Gaddafi was paranoid, it was for good reason. From the moment he’d ousted the monarchy 1969, Gaddafi had numerous and constant threats to both his position and his life – from the monarchists, from the Israeli Mossad, from Saudi and Gulf-State agents, from the CIA and MI6, from homegrown and foreign-backed groups like the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), and finally from Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. He and his supporters had every cause for extreme defensiveness; all of which of course was proven entirely valid in 2011.

In regard to the widely circulated caricature of Gaddafi as a ‘mad, weird’ dictator, it could be legitimately suggested that Gaddafi did get stranger and stranger in his behaviour as the years went on.

Something happened with him that tends to happen to most men who experience great power for a long period of time; just as with Augustus and other emperors, and just as with various dictators over the centuries, being in power for so many years – and becoming the national figurehead and living symbol – undoubtedly did odd things to his mind and his self-perception. His ego clearly spiraled, to the extent that he openly thought of himself as the “king of kings” of Africa, having already considered himself a prophet. The thing is, had he walked away or stepped aside after the first decade or so of his rule, no one would question his accomplishments and what he did for Libya – that first decade was an extraordinary period of development, vision and success.

Read more:The Life & Death of Gaddafi’s Libya: A Study of the Libya That No Longer Exists

But most men, were they to rule for almost four decades, would probably develop significant psychological complexes. What is particularly fascinating in Gaddafi’s case is that, come the Arab Spring and violent uprising in 2011 – combined with the NATO-led assault – something seemed to snap back in him and the increasingly odd egotist and eccentric of the preceding decade-plus seemed to quickly be shaken off like moss.

Suddenly, something more like the Gaddafi of 1969 was back – the proud, defiant Libyan patriot and guardian of the society. If you observe Gaddafi in 2011, it was as if the sudden, bloody and urgent, existential threat to the nation he had built up was like a splash of cold water to wake him from what had been – at times – a long, increasingly self-obsessed daze.

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It was too late, in a sense. In another sense, however, it gave him one last chance to become something potent and vital again and to become in reality the kind of national symbol and hero that he had always tried to present himself as. But whereas, for many years he had artificially built up this mythology around himself, as many ‘great men’ do, in 2011 it was purely in his actions. In other words, where he had spent many years trying to, with no small amount of ego, portray himself as the great hero and defender of the society, he now, at the end, actually was the great hero and defender of the society -right to the bitter, bloody end.

Which is not to say that the various acts of egotism and self-aggrandizement over the years were ‘justified’ by the Gaddafi of 2011 – they weren’t. But, in the end, he entirely lived up to his image, however self-serving that image might’ve been at some stages of his life. Where most leaders, especially powerful ‘dictators’ with vast wealth or assets to protect, would’ve fled to safety, gone into exile or cut a deal, Gaddafi stood his ground and fought and prioritised saving the nation, the society and the people’s dignity.

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So, who was the ‘real’ or definitive Muammar Gaddafi?

The Gaddafi who, in a mad act of self-worship, allowed a delegation of minor African dignitaries to place a golden crown on his head and literally proclaim him “King of Africa”? Or the Gaddafi who, just weeks before his death – and at a time when the war was clearly lost and he knew his time in Libya was up – went out and rallied his people, telling them to go out into the streets with their flags and be unafraid of their enemies and to continue on as proud Libyans in their land?

It’s actually impossible to say.

The answer is probably that both were the ‘real’ Gaddafi; one was the Gaddafi that began to emerge when he grew psychologically fat and lazy from continuous prestige and power, while the other was the Gaddafi who quickly re-emerged when the life or death of the nation was suddenly at stake. One was the Gaddafi who it was difficult to have much sympathy for; the other was the Gaddafi who got to end his life as a hero and as the most potent symbol Libya had ever – and will ever have – produced, almost as if to make up for all those years of inflated self-aggrandizement and vanity projects.

Why was Gaddafi a hero in much of Africa and why was he so influential in the continent?

It’s important to remember that his original interests had been in the Arab world and not so much Africa. He had been a major proponent of Arab Nationalism and Pan-Arabism in the 1970s – that Arab nations should build mostly secular, progressive states and come together in common cause and brotherhood, instead of following their own petty interests or sectarian concerns. He had been the main proponent of the plan to unify Libya with Syria and Egypt in a common, secular Arab alliance.

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These endeavors ultimately failed, however, and, by the eighties, that Pan-Arab ideal had evaporated from most of the region.He still maintained a good relationship with Syria, which had remained an Arab Nationalist state and which like Libya was one of the few remaining nations on earth that was truly independent. But in general, Gaddafi was no longer on very good terms with most of the Arab world.

Instead, he turned towards Africa.

Gaddafi had opposed Apartheid in South Africa and forged a good relationship with Nelson Mandela, who named his own grandson after Gaddafi and called Gaddafi one of the 20th century’s “greatest freedom fighters”, and insisted the eventual collapse of the Apartheid system owed a great deal to Gaddafi and Libyan support. In turn, Mandela later played a key role in helping Gaddafi gain (brief) mainstream acceptance in the Western world later in the 1990s. Over the years, Gaddafi came to be seen as a hero in much of Africa due both to his epic revolutionary image and to what he had accomplished in Libya. This view was only amplified by the manner of his horrific death at the hands of Western, Imperialist-backed terrorists.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “In the darkest moments of our struggle, when our backs were to the wall,” Mandela had said, “it was Muammar Gaddafi who stood with us.” In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against white Apartheid.

This view of Gaddafi was shared by many others across Africa. “For most Africans, Gaddafi is a generous man, a humanist, known for his unselfish support for the struggle against the racist regime in South Africa. If he had been an egotist, he wouldn’t have risked the wrath of the West to help the ANC both militarily and financially in the fight against Apartheid,” said Jean-Paul Pougala, writing in the London Evening Post after Gaddafi’s death.

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Gaddafi was also one of the founders of the African Union (AU), created in July 2002, with its birthplace in his own place of birth (and death) – Sirte.

There are debates as to whether Gaddafi’s influence on Africa was positive or negative. There are highly critical views of Libyan involvement in other African states and in bloody skirmishes and Civil Wars in Africa; but, of course, these are the same sorts of geopolitical controversies that numerous other nations – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, to name a few – have been, and still are, involved in too.

What is clear is that – particularly in the final years of his life – Gaddafi was, in essence, moving to free the entire African continent from the clutches of Western imperialism.

As is well attested, Gaddafi was establishing himself as the pioneer of African development and currency; establishing himself as the alternative to the IMF in Africa. In effect, he was setting himself up for conflict with the international central banks and monetary system. Just how significant Gaddafi’s presence was to Africa is something that Western media has always tried to downplay. But Gaddafi alone had allocated two-thirds of the $42 billion that was required to launch a public African Central Bank (based in Nigeria), an African Monetary Fund (based in Cameroon) and an African Investment Bank based in Libya.

The African Monetary Fund (AMF) would’ve meant no more borrowing from Rothschild Central Banks for African countries, but production of its own currency for Africa, interest-free and backed by Gold standard.

This was the reason Gaddafi was always portrayed and treated as such a threat to Western interests. Had he been a simple dictator, content to live out his reign in luxury as an all-powerful ruler in his own domain, the West would’ve left him alone – just like various other dictators are left alone. It was his continuous interest in pursuing anti-Imperialist agendas that made him unpalatable: whether it was ensuring Libyan independence and self-sufficiency in the early 70s, trying to establish a strong Arab federation in the mid-to-late 70s, financially supporting worldwide ‘liberation movements’ throughout the 70s and 80s, or trying to establish African currency and independence in the 21st century, the Western powers realised that he wasn’t inclined to just sit there, playing the fiddle like Nero.

While Gaddafi certainly took steps to reconcile with the West and to try to improve relations (led in part by his son, Saif al-Islam), he never entirely gave up his anti-Colonial, anti-Imperialist views and ideas. He always retained that same attitude that had driven the 1969 ousting of the King. As late as the Second Africa/South America Summit in Venezuela in September 2009, he joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in calling for an “anti-imperialist front” across Africa and Latin America; this, in the same year he had made his controversial address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

By this point in time, it would’ve been clear to Western agencies that, for all his ‘reconciliation’ with the West in recent years, Gaddafi was still ultimately a problem and a nuisance.

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Where does all this bring us to in our search for the ‘real’ Gaddafi?

Nowhere definitive, probably. Just confirmation that he was a complex figure who can be viewed in many different lights depending on where you’re standing at any given time. probably lionised him a little too much when I compiled a book detailing the 2011 ‘Civil War’ and Western intervention; but I was really writing in the context of that year’s events and Gaddafi’s actions at that time.

It would be childish to call portray him as a faultless saint, as political affairs, particularly in such a troubled, unstable region, don’t create such figures. It is, by the same token, equally childish to portray Gaddafi as a cartoon Villain, which is what Western officials did for so long; a caricature that had very little basis in reality. Gaddafi was… simply Gaddafi; complex, enigmatic, flawed, but an extraordinary political, social and now historical figure, whose life, actions and legacy will inspire debate for generations to come.

In the end, in the final analysis, Muammar Gaddafi ends up a figure so difficult to pin down, so difficult to truly assess, that it may, as AllAfrica.com said, take “50 years” to truly come to a conclusion.

What the Western, NATO-led governments and their Islamist/Salafist terrorist friends did do in 2011, however, was inadvertently to make sure that whatever Gaddafi may or may not have been in his lifetime, he was an absolute hero in the final chapter. In 2011, Gaddafi was the great lion set upon and defeated by the corrupt alliance of wolves, jackals and vultures. He died a hero’s death, fighting a long, hero’s battle. Whatever else he may have been at any other time, he ended up the ultimate hero, the ultimate defender of his people and his country, waging one last, dying battle against corrupt, criminal forces of a morally-bankrupt global/financial Imperialism.

In essence, as I said earlier, the events of 2011 allowed Gaddafi to achieve an apotheosis as a natural end-point to the ‘revolutionary’ figure he had been in ’69 and the early 70s, almost erasing – to some extent -some of the less noble acts and periods in-between those times.

Fidel Castro summed up the 2011 crisis, saying, “If he (Gaddafi) resists and does not yield to their demands, he will enter history as one of the great figures.” Perhaps in some ways it was the only fitting end for the man who, in the first instance, had been the ultimate revolutionary.

 

Posted in Libya0 Comments

Sudan detains human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, again

It seems that this soft-spoken man of the deepest integrity is a threat to those who seek to maintain their brutal power in Sudan. His ability to work with people from all backgrounds, his unswerving commitment to truth and justice, and his international connections and credibility are seen by the ruling elite as dangerous qualities.

Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is in detention again in Khartoum. He was taken by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) from the University of Khartoum on 7th December and is being held without access to his lawyer or his family. He has previously been detained on several occasions, for over a month in 2010 and earlier for a total of 18 months in several spells during 2003-2005.

Dr Mudawi is an award winning human rights defender and someone who has dedicated his life to peacefully working for social development and the rights of all people in Sudan.

He was the founder and Chairperson of SUDO, the Sudan Social Development Organization, which was the largest Sudanese organization providing support to internally displaced people and other vulnerable communities until it was closed down by the authorities in 2009. That closure was subsequently ruled to be illegal by the Sudanese courts but SUDO has still not been allowed to restart operations within the country.

Ironically, Dr Mudawi was criticised by some people this year for agreeing to take part in the Sudanese Government sponsored National Dialogue. His arrest puts in question the sincerity of the Government’s efforts to find a peaceful resolution of the country’s many problems. His detention coincides with an ongoing clampdown on human rights defenders and peaceful protest.

Dr Mudawi is a Professor of Engineering at the University of Khartoum and runs his own successful engineering company. A significant part of his professional work has been focused on bringing clean water and sanitation to communities across Sudan.

In 2005 Dr Mudawi was the inaugural winner of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. In the same year he also received the prestigious Human Rights First Prize.

In 2010 the Sudanese authorities fabricated charges of financial mismanagement against Dr Mudawi, but were unable to bring any credible evidence to court. It seems they are again seeking to manufacture evidence against him. His driver Adam El-Sheikh was also detained on 7th December. Nora Abaid, the accountant at Dr Mudawi’s engineering company, was detained by the NISS on 12th December. Both are being held without access to lawyers or family and are considered to be at risk of torture.

It seems that this soft-spoken man of the deepest integrity is a threat to those who seek to maintain their brutal power in Sudan.

Posted in Sudan0 Comments

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