Archive | July 1st, 2018

War against civilians: The US in Libya and Yemen

AFP

During the Vietnam War, American historian Howard Zin wrote: “all wars are wars against civilians, and are therefore inherently immoral” and “political leaders all over the world should not be trusted when they urge their people to war claiming superior knowledge and expertise.”

This holds true just as true today as in the Vietnam War era. While the Western media remains focused on the cult of personality even whether it covers domestic or foreign policy issues and always with all the pre-conceived notions of American Exceptionalism, the US under President Donald Trump has continued the Obama administration’s war in Yemen where 10,000 people have been killed in the last four years and 80 percent of the population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Regardless of repeated warnings by international organisations and the United Nations about these humanitarian crises, neither the Europeans, nor the US have changed their militarist policies that exacerbate the crises. As far as the US and Europeans are concerned, Yemen is a war where crimes against humanity have been defaulted to the parties directly involved, pro-Iranian Houthis and pro-Saudi Yemenis. However, the weapons and resources used come largely from the United Kingdom and US whose foreign policy is inexorably linked to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Since 2011, the US has carried out 550 drone strikes in Libya, far more than in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan where it is also active.

More than 10,000 people have died in the war in Yemen, which has entered its fourth year, and about 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid, which Saudi Arabia and the US insist on using, as a political weapon in the civil war. The United Arab Emirates-Saudi-led coalition strikes carried out in post city of Al Hudaydah in June 2018 are the latest assaults on civilians, forcing not just the estimated 30,000 residents to find a safe place to hide, but placing in jeopardy the entire country that depends on the entry port for its imports, according to the United Nations. Without the multi-billion dollar weapons sales by both the US and the UK, insisting on the pretext that Iran is the aggressor trying to secure a balance of power advantage in Yemen and the Middle East, the humanitarian catastrophe would not have occurred, and if so, not nearly at a such high cost to civilian lives.

In both cases, the interests of the US as well as the UK rest primarily in maintaining the political-military advantage in the Middle East, while their defence manufacturing companies amass huge profits in weapons sales. Although in May 2017, the Trump administration signed a US $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis, a deal that has policy strings attached, the US war on civilians in both Yemen and Libya transcends US political party line. Its origins rest with the Democrat President Barak Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The long-standing bipartisan nature of US foreign policy may have been distracted by the theatrics of a “do-no-harm while preserving the status quo” US-North Korea summit, but both political parties remain steadfastly committed to military solutions, even if they disagree on the degree and burden-sharing costs of multilateralism.

Narrowly focused on Trump personally, rather than the dynamics of public policy, and mostly preoccupied with the politics of the Russia interference Mueller investigation, rather than on the fact that it exposes the decadence of capitalist corruption intertwined with political corruption, the US media rarely covers the US military involvement in Yemen; even less in Libya. With the exception of local Arabic news outlets, especially Al-Jazeera, Yemen and Libya are countries immersed in civil wars as part of tribal and terrorist power struggles with regional players involvement.

In a recent article entitled “The Escalating War No One is Watching”, David Axe of the Daily Beast, writes the following:

“The strikes killed as many as 387 bystanders and wounded up to 524, according to the report. That amounts to one civilian death every 5.5 air raids, on average, and as the report points out,  ‘No nation or local group has stated responsibility for any of these civilian deaths.’ Compared to, say, Yemen, the rate of civilian casualties might seem low. In Yemen, the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism counted 217 air strikes since the Saudi-led intervention in that country beginning in early 2015, resulting in as many as 52 civilian deaths. That is an average of one death every 4.2 strikes. The seemingly lighter bloodshed in Libya raised researchers’ suspicions. ‘Reported civilian harm from air strikes in Libya is relatively low when compared to higher-intensity conflicts in, for example, Iraq, Syria or Yemen,’ the Airwars.org and New America Foundation report notes [[i]].”

It is ironic that Trump administration officials and the president readily acknowledge that the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) partners destroyed Libya and left it to rot under Obama, a model US National Security Advisor John Bolton actually considered for North Korea amid talks about US demands for denuclearisation of North Korea. Putting delusional US assumptions about the extent of its ability to have its way in North Korea where China remains the largest player, the issue here is the complete absence of candour that the US remains an active player in continuing to destroy Libya, just as it candidly admits that this is no way to treat a sovereign nation.

The destruction, of course, comes at the expense of civilians, thereby raising the ugly reality of complicity in war crimes as much in Libya as in Yemen. While the UN Human Rights Council had no choice but to strongly condemn the US for violating the human rights of migrant children separated from their parents and placed in makeshift prisons, there has been no similar condemnation, despite countless reports about the humanitarian catastrophe in both Yemen and Libya [[ii];[iii]].

This is not to say that Western European governments are less guilty in these wars against civilians, or in the consequences of the wars that result in mass migration. Perpetual US-NATO warfare and no prospect of peace in Libya forces some civilians to find safety across the Mediterranean where a hostile Europe has taken measures to prevent refugee influx. According to Amnesty International: “By actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they [European governments] are complicit in these abuses. Since late 2016, European Union Member States – particularly Italy – have implemented a series of measures aimed at closing off the migratory route through Libya and across the central Mediterranean, with little care for the consequences for those trapped within Libya’s lawless borders. Their cooperation with Libyan actors has taken a three-pronged approach. Firstly, they have committed to providing technical support and assistance to the Libyan Department for Combatting Illegal Migration, which runs the detention centres where refugees and migrants are arbitrarily and indefinitely held and routinely exposed to serious human rights violations including torture. Secondly, they have enabled the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea, by providing them with training, equipment, including boats, and technical and other assistance [[iv]].”

Because of the rising tide of right wing populism in Europe, the concern is not with the humanitarian dimension of a Western-created crisis, but containing the refugee problem so that the mythological Judeo-Christian Caucasian purity remains as free of dark-skinned Muslim contamination as possible. Right wing populist thinking is hardly different in the US where the US Supreme Court agreed with Trump’s “Muslim Ban” policy on 26 June 2018. Focused on the largely symbolic June 2018 Trump-Kim summit that will not alter the balance of power in Asia where China, not the US, holds all the cards, the US media preoccupation is on trade and its impact on corporate profits.

Civilian deaths and millions displaced, is hardly a concern of the US corporate-owned media, whether it supports the authoritarian populist neoliberal Trump-led Republican Party or the pluralist-diversity neoliberal Democrat Party whose main focus is to win back power. The remarkable continuity in militarist policies from Obama to Trump is buried under cult-of-personality politics. Meanwhile, public policy impacting the lives of the vast majority is obfuscated as is foreign policy where the only thing that matters is Russia remains America’s eternal enemy, while militarism creating exacerbating humanitarian crises in Muslim countries goes unnoticed.

Although the US will have a turnover in Congress in the elections of 2018, the wars against Muslim civilians in their own countries will continue. Even if the Democrats are lucky enough to unseat the neoliberal authoritarian populist Trump in 2020, the idea that the US will abandon military solutions to political problems abroad is as likely as income redistribution from the top down rather than from the bottom up.

 

*  Doctor Jon V. Kofas is a retired professor of history and author of ten academic books and two dozens scholarly articles. He specialises in international political economy and has taught courses and written on US diplomatic history, and the roles of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the world.

 

Endnotes

Posted in Middle East, USA, Libya, YemenComments Off on War against civilians: The US in Libya and Yemen

Russia to host high level Russia-African Union summit

The New Times

Faced with persistent criticisms, Russia has finally announced it will most likely host the first high-level Russia-African Union forum next year, a replica or a carbon copy of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation or European Union–African Union summit, signalling its readiness to work towards deepening and strengthening multifaceted engagement with Africa.

Working on a new paradigm collaboratively with the African Union, Russia hopes to fill up pitfalls and cracks in the existing relationship, reinforce diplomatic ties and raise its staggering economic profile on the continent similar to the levels of China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, the US and Europe.

On his official visit to Rwanda early June, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov hinted that the forum rolls out a comprehensive strategic roadmap for more economic cooperation and wide-range of investment possibilities, find effective ways of addressing regional security issues and that of improving public diplomacy in Africa.

“We discussed Russia’s idea of holding a large African Union business forum with AU member states and Russia to be attended by entrepreneurs and politicians, possibly next year,” Lavrov said at a media conference after meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali, Rwanda.

“We have agreed to prepare a framework political document that will set out a concept for cooperation in the next few years and also several practical projects for implementation in the near future. We are now preparing for a meeting of Russian and AU experts,” he assertively added.

Just before his African tour early March, Lavrov also told Hommes d’Afrique magazine “we carefully study the practice of summits between African countries and their major partners abroad. At present, Russia’s relations with African countries are progressing both on a bilateral basis and along the line of African regional organisations, primarily the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.”

In the interview posted to Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, he said “our African friends note the need for Russia’s active presence in the region, and more frequently express interest in holding a Russia-African summit. Such a meeting would undoubtedly help deepen our cooperation on the full range of issues. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that arranging an event of such a scale with the participation of over 50 Heads of State and Government requires most careful preparation, including in terms of its substantive content.”

Lavrov acknowledged in the interview: “The economic component of the summit has a special significance in this relation as it would be of practical interest for all the parties. As such, specific Russian participants in bilateral or multilateral cooperation should be identified, which are not only committed to long-term cooperation but are also ready for large-scale investments in the African markets with account of possible risks and high competition. Equally important are African businesspeople who are looking to work on the Russian market.”

On 19 May, Lavrov chaired the Foreign Ministry Collegium meeting on the subject “Cooperation with sub-Saharan African countries as part of implementing important tasks of Russian foreign policy.” The meeting noted that the consolidation of versatile ties with the sub-Saharan African countries remains a major part of Russia’s foreign policy strategy, which is acquiring special significance in the context of deep changes in the global arena.

Some experts and researchers have, of course, identified low enthusiasm and lack of coordinated mechanism as key factors affecting cooperation between Russia and African countries, and suggested that this trend could be reversed if both Russian authorities and African governments get down regularly to serious dialogue with concrete business agenda.

Nearly a decade ago, Themba Mhlongo, Head of Programmes at the Southern Africa Trust, said in an emailed interview that, “there is no effective Russia-African dialogue or mechanism for dialoguing with Africa. On the other hand, Russia has not been as aggressive as China in pursuing opportunities in Africa because Russia has natural resources and markets in Eastern Europe, South West Asia. Russia’s key exports to Africa might only be dominated by machinery and military equipment which serves their interest well.”

He suggested that Africa must also engage all BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] members equally including Brazil and Russia in order to build alliances and open trade opportunities including finance and investment opportunities, African countries must not seem to show preferences in their foreign policy in favour of western Europe if they want to benefit from trade relations with Russia.

Tellingly, Vadim Trofimovich Kirsanov, an African Affairs Advisor at the Regional Projects Department of Russkiy Mir Foundation, (a non-profit non-governmental Russian organisation that promotes Russian language, literature and culture abroad), in an interview with Buziness Africa Media, discusses the significance of developing bilateral ties not only in economic sphere but also in culture, exchange of people and ideas in the social sphere.

“We must use the full potential interest in Russian culture, Russian language, mutual sympathy and interest between the peoples of Africa and Russia, a great desire of Russians and Africans to visit each other to make friends, establish new connections. That’s where public diplomacy becomes an effective instrument for supporting business dialogue,” he said.

Kirsanov noted that the use of new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation opened the accession of South Africa to BRICS group, taking into account the economic impact of South Africa on the African continent and the world at large. Besides the intensification of dialogue with the AU, the Russian authorities have the development of multilateral cooperation among African countries with the Russian Federation.

Professor Gerrit Olivier from the Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria in South Africa, noted that Russian influence in Africa, despite efforts towards resuscitation, remains marginal. While, given its global status, it ought to be active in Africa as Western Europe, the European Union, the United States and China are, it is all but absent, playing a negligible role.

“Russia, of course, is not satisfied with this state of affairs. At present diplomacy dominates its approach: plethora of agreements have been signed with South Africa and various other states in Africa, official visits from Moscow proliferate apace, but the outcomes remain hardly discernible,” Professor Olivier, previously served as South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation, wrote in an email comment from Pretoria, South Africa.

Be as it may, he indicated further that “the Kremlin has revived its interest in the African continent and it will be realistic to expect that the spade work it is putting in now will at some stage show more tangible results.”

In his assessment, Rex Essenowo, a Moscow-based Economic Policy Analyst, pointed out to a known and well-established fact, which Russians have always shrugged off, that there have been many summits and conferences between the United States, European Union and Asian states with Africa, but there has yet to be a single high-level Russia-African summit.

However, he believes that all was not yet lost, there is still an unexplored chance to strengthen Russia’s relationship with Africa if, for example, African countries work collectively together as AU to focus on improving all aspects of Russia-African relationship.

Large investments and comprehensive approach, similar to the Chinese, would help to bridge the economic and political gap between Russia and the African continent, Essenowo said, and reminded that Russia is very much involved in educating and/or training professionals who are playing key roles and could serve as excellent useful links between Russia and Africa. Russia has ignored this valuable product in its diplomacy with Africa.

Interesting, BRICS countries are vigorously moving into Africa and now three BRICS members: Russia is planning, India and China are also preparing for summits next year with Africa. As already publicly known, all previous summits held by many foreign countries with Africa, there were concrete financial packages earmarked towards infrastructure development in Africa.

From Russia’s perspective, there are undeniable important geopolitical implications working with Africa. Nevertheless, Russia’s efforts in the region have been limited thus far which some experts attributed to lack of a system of financing policy projects. While the Russian government is very cautious about making financial commitments, Russia’s financial institutions are not closely involved in foreign policy initiatives in Africa.

Experts and researchers have recommended one new initiative that will largely interest African leaders, that is for Russia to create a Russian Development Fund for Africa, as an agency to manage and run projects as businesses for Russia in Africa while the Russian International Affairs Council could become the key organiser and coordinator of future Russia-African Union summits.

 

 

Posted in Africa, RussiaComments Off on Russia to host high level Russia-African Union summit

An open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed

NOVANEWS
DW

We are Ethiopian Americans and Ethiopians living in the United States. Our open letter is a follow up to a letter that 32 leaders of conservative organisations sent to President Trump that was copied to you in your capacities as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the head of the host nation to the African Union.

Our open letter is also triggered by two open letters America’s iconic civil rights leaders, Revered Jesse Jackson, wrote to President Obama and the Pope.

Further, we write to you outraged by a 37-page report that United States Senator Chris Van Hollen submitted to the United States Department of Treasury in 2016. Above all, we are writing to urge you to respond to an open letter that one of the 32 American conservative leaders wrote to you that was published on this newspaper.

What is it that has triggered several open letters to two America presidents (Obama and Trump) to an African Prime Minister (You) and to the Pope?

It is an apartheid system in the World Bank that retroactively degraded the performance record of an Ethiopian Deputy Global Manager (Dr. Yonas Biru). As Reverend Jesse Jackson reported in this newspaper, the World Bank’s justification to degrade Dr. Biru’s performance record was that his managerial performance record is beyond the natural capability of a black man.”

A conservative American newspaper independently reported “he has been disenfranchised of his hard-earned professional credentials because the World Bank deems his record too good to be true for a black man.” The above referenced Senator Van Hollen’s letter to the United States Department of Treasury provides indisputable hard evidence, showing copies of Dr. Biru’s record before and after his management record was retroactively redacted.

The breath-taking racist injustice was reported and condemned even by Breitbart News. We say “even by Breitbart News” because the newspaper is considered the voice of white supremacists. Dr. Biru’s case is the only racial discrimination case that Breitbart has ever covered and condemned since it was established.

Endemic racism is the DNA of the World Bank since it was established. Here is the history to understand the World Bank’s long history of racism: we invite you to watch a six-minute video that was prepared by Emory University. The video exposes a confidential World Bank report that made a strong case to finance apartheid South Africa. Emory University managed to force the World Bank to declassify a confidential report to bring the matter to light.

Forty years later, in 1992, an official World Bank survey of managers revealed “cultural prejudices among some managers, who rated sub-Saharan Africans as inferior.”

Over a decade later, in 2005, the Staff Association’s Executive Committee sent a letter to the World Bank Board, urging it to “to address seriously the issue of ghettoisation,” [euphemism for segregation] of Black people in the Africa region. The Staff Association stressed ending the segregation practice was important “to ensure that diversity cuts across the institution as a whole.”

A decade letter, in 2015, the World Bank’s official diversity report found: (1) “Discrimination/racism affects every segment of staff to a certain degree but it is most acutely felt by the Bank’s sub-Saharan-African and Caribbean Staff”; and (2) “Some staff referred to their assignment, as kind of apartheid, it was perceived that outside of the Africa region, there was limited mobility for Black staff.” The report found Dr. Biru’s case, as a “blatant and virulent case of racism.”

The World Bank’s racist stance that Dr. Biru’s management record is “beyond the natural capability of a Black man” has sparked outrage across the world.

Twenty-six US Senators and Congressmen and Women, Cabinet members, world-renowned civil rights advocates, and leaders of over 500 religious groups as well as prominent conservative organisations have raised their voice in condemnation.

Dr. Biru has lived in the US for 40 years, but he has kept his Ethiopian citizenship. His case would have been long resolved had he taken a US nationality. When he faced the cruel injustice, he was advised to take US citizenship. Though he was qualified to become a US citizen, he chose to maintain his Ethiopian citizenship.

The US government has done far more than the call of duty to seek justice for Dr. Biru, considering that he is not an American. The only way his case will get the attention it deserves is if his government files an official complaint to the Trump administration.

As one of the conservative American leaders noted in her open letter addressed to you. “The Bank’s inexplicable stance that Dr. Biru’s record is ‘beyond the natural capability of a Black man’ is an insult to the human race and represents an affront to [more than] one billion sub-Saharan Africans both in continental Africa and around the globe.”

In your capacities as the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the head of the state that is hosting the African Union, we urge you to write to President Trump on behalf of all Ethiopians and Africans to express our collective outrage and request his intervention to restore Dr. Biru’s dignity and rights.

Thanking you for your consideration in advance, we look forward for your favourable action.

 

Sincerely,

Yosef Assefa

Coordinator

Ethiopian Americans and Ethiopians in the United States

For Justice for Dr. Yonas Biru

yosefassefa@yahoo.com

Posted in AfricaComments Off on An open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Zionist Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the rest of you too

NOVANEWS

Israel National News

On Tuesday, 19 June 2018, our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley announced United States’ withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) now meeting in Geneva. The UNHRC is stacked with human rights abusers including Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and, till now, the US itself, but this is still an ugly gesture, like refusing to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, ditching the Paris Climate Accords, and shredding the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Who gives a damn what the world thinks of us? We are good! As Hillary Clinton said at the last Democratic National Convention, “America is great because it is good.” What could better evidence that than our 1000 or so military bases, our unparalleled arsenal, and however many wars we are fighting, depending on how you count? Most readers would probably have to stop and decide how to count before they could settle on a number. How dare anyone deny that America is good?

George W. Bush boycotted the UNHRC for three years, but Obama returned to the fold, and Hillary announced that we were back “to set a new agenda, based on three principles,” the second of which was: “The Council must apply a single standard to all countries…It cannot continue to single out and devote disproportionate attention to any one country,” meaning Israel.

At the close of its first session, on 30 June 2006, the UNHRC voted to establish a standing “Agenda Item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” to be debated every time it convenes—three times a year. It has since passed over 70 resolutions censuring Israel, including five passed at its March meeting earlier this year. Nikki Haley then scolded the Council for being “foolish and unworthy of its name.”

“Agenda Item 7” hasn’t been debated in the current session yet, but more censure of Israel is no doubt in the works, given Israel’s latest massacres in Gaza. In 2016, the US and other Western states walked out during the “Agenda Item 7” debate, and the delirious Jerusalem Post then screeched that, “35 countries attacked Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Imagine that! Attacking Israeli human rights abuses. Israel is great because it’s good! It even has nuclear weapons and everybody knows it, especially Iran.

This week Israeli Defence Minister Avidor Lieberman called for Israel to withdraw from the UNHRC even though it is not a member. He seems to think that the US and Israeli states are one. America and Israel are good!

Most folks have never even heard of the UNHRC, so, just for context:

The UNHRC is composed of 47 members elected to three year terms within five geographic groups: Africa, Central America and Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, and Western European and Other States including the US and Australia. The seats are rarely contested; nations from the various groups just swap votes and take turns. Only the Asia Pacific seat was contested this year.

UNHRC resolutions are neither legally binding nor enforceable, so it is just a forum, but occasionally it makes news. This year the UNHRC story in the headlines has been that the US might quit the Council over its “anti-Israel bias”—as it now has— before its three-year term expires in 2019. The United Kingdom has made a few headlines too by threatening to leave if the Council doesn’t overcome its “anti-Israel bias” within the next six months. The United Kingdom’s term expires in 2019 too.

The UN General Assembly’s favourite sport

Last week, before threatening US withdrawal, Nikki Haley raged about the UN General Assembly’s latest overwhelming vote condemning Israel’s “excessive use of force” and calling for protection of Palestinians in Gaza: “What makes Gaza different for some is that attacking Israel is their favourite political sport. That is why we are here today. The nature of this resolution clearly demonstrates that politics is driving the day.”

Politics! Imagine that. Politics are just a sordid process staining the purity of human rights respected and protected by the US in its global war on the planet and the people. Why not withdraw from the General Assembly? The US seat is secure on the Security Council, the only UN body whose resolutions are legally binding and enforceable. Our Ambassador vetoes any Security Council resolutions criticising Israel or calling for peacekeepers to protect Gazans, but the US keeps getting beaten up, along with Israel, in all these toothless UN expressions of public opinion.

Donald Trump has suggested bombing the UN for violating our national sovereignty, but it is right next to his property, so he may just have it collapsed like Building 7.

Sneaky secret ballots

At the end of June, the US suffered another blow to its moral authority when Pierre Prosper, its candidate for the UN Human Rights Committee, was defeated on a secret ballot. The Human Rights Committee is composed of18 internationally recognised human rights experts tasked solely with monitoring and commenting on compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Prosecutor and US War Crimes Ambassador, Pierre Prosper was tasked with canonising Rwandan military dictator Paul Kagame by making sure that only Hutus, not Tutsis, were prosecuted for the Rwandan massacres of 1990-1994. Israel and Rwanda then formed a deep bond based on victim’s license to invade the neighbours and otherwise do as they pleased.

There is some speculation that the US may be using its outrage about the UNHRC’s tri-annual censure of Israel as an excuse to withdraw and thereby dodge censure of itself for tearing migrant parents and children apart at the US/Mexican border. Or to avoid debate about the staggering report on extreme poverty in the US that the UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights will soon present. Who knows? I can’t read Donald Trump, John Bolton, or Nikki Haley’s mind, but who cares? America is great because it is good! So good that we might as well take the rest of the world down with us.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on Zionist Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the rest of you too

“Soft as wool”: Crocodile Mnangagwa’s political conversion?

NOVANEWS
The Zimbabwe Mail

The recent grenade attack in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe has been described by close allies of the president, as an assassination attempt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.  What is a fact is that the president might have politically benefited from that unfortunate event.

Introduction

Wonders never cease! It is just a few days (23 June 2018 to be exact) that, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe escaped an assassination attempt during a rally in Bulawayo. Then during the famous British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s Focus on Africa programme on 27 June 2018, an interviewer puts a question to President Mnangagwa (nicknamed crocodile) challenging him in his past record of brutality as a key figure in Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).  And Mnangagwa uses a killer metaphor: “I am soft as wool”. Really? This was followed by a triumphalistic smile on his face that must have earned him a few more political supporters and admirers.

I guess just like Mnangagwa, many are wondering whether he actually meant what he said: “I am soft as wool.”  If President Mnangagwa really meant what he said, and only time will tell, then this is a phenomenal political conversion akin to the one of Saint Paul from Saul.  The theoretical framework to guide this brief assessment of Mnangagwa and his impending victory come end of July elections is political psychology and Machiavellianism.

Mnangagwa’s politrics

Since we are in the middle of the world cup season (as Mnangagwa was being interviewed, Brazil and Serbia were warming up for a show down), the best label is to call Mnangagwa a “political Maradona.” He can sail through all manner of political turmoil and emerge unscathed.  Did he not survive his hitherto political ally, Robert Mugabe? He also hinted that he has survived numerous assassination attempts on his life—he was a guerrilla fighter during the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence.  He clearly knows a thing or two about military and political survival tactics.

Given this background of accumulated survival strategies, conspiracy theorists may even hazard a hypothesis that his recent assassination attempt may have been stage-managed.  That conspiratorial path is a tricky one: at least two people died and more than 47 people were injured, some with very serious injuries in the grenade attack and Mnangagwa himself escaped by a whisker.  This seems real.  The crocodile, just like the cat, has nine lives.

An assassination attempt on a popular politician just like the one tried on Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia (coincidentally on the same day), only triples one’s popularity.  Human emotions being what they are, easily shift to a victim of unjustified violence or attack. Trying to assassinate a political celebrity only increases their political capital. First, there is news coverage that goes viral. Second, sympathy.  Elections are just close at the corner, so Mnangagwa will maximally use this unfortunate attempt on his life. Did he not earn a BBC interview in which he rebranded himself: “Soft as Wool”?  It will be hard for his political rivals like Nelson Chamisa [presidential candidate of the opposition Movement for Democratic—MDC Change] to defeat him.

“Soft as wool”: Political conversion or not?

The fundamental question in every one’s mind, including Mnangagwa, is whether we are witnessing a Pauline conversion of sorts, in Zimbabwe’s most feared political strategist.  Machiavelli, the famous Florentine diplomat and political thinker (he would not pass for a theorist since he focused on practice of statecraft), whom I guess President Mnangagwa knows too well, advised those who wish to hold onto power to learn the delicate skill of pretence or feigning.  If you are weak, pretend to be strong, if you are strong pretend to be weak. If you are afraid pretend to be courageous, if courageous pretend to be timid, and so forth and so on. That way, you deceive the enemy.

“Soft as wool” juicy simile from Mnangagwa clearly confounded listeners.  Two possibilities. First, President Mnangagwa who is judged by many as a cool and calculating political survival of phenomenal survival instincts has the ultimate prize just ahead.  He might have done all the political mischief under his chief mentor Robert Mugabe, and now he says, “I have fought a good fight, I am about to win the race, I have kept the political faith” to paraphrase the words of Saint Paul.  No one about the crown his political journey with an electoral victory will in their right minds ruin such a career with past Machiavellian methods of man eat man society, that ended the political career of “Uncle Bob” with a near tragedy.  Mnangagwa, an astute student of politics (he is also an educated lawyer), cannot at this time risk repeating the same mistakes that brought Zimbabwe to the brink of collapse.  So the “Soft as wool” simile is apt and real, and heralds a new twist in Zimbabwe’s politics.  But this paradigm shift will be put to the test during and after the July elections.

Will “Soft as wool” deliver the political prize to Mnangagwa?

To be blunt, I do not see how the dozens of political parties that just emerged to contest the July elections will give Emmerson a run for his money. They are just too many to pose a serious threat.  Had they all formed a formidable united opposition front they would have a chance. ZANU-PF, hate it or love it, still enjoys some popularity in the rural areas of Zimbabwe like Mfakose, Murazabani, Chitungwiza, Gokwe.  True, some sections of ZANU-PF have broken away to follow Amai Joice Mujuru (another powerful politician and former ZANU-PF insider).

Grace Mugabe and Uncle Bob will also snatch some votes but their fall from grace will not go anywhere politically speaking.  Chamisa the young, charismatic MDC leader will no doubt take a big chunk of the votes mainly from the elite urbanites, but the split opposition will not allow sizeable gain.  So clearly, assuming other factors constant (rarely do we find constants in politics), Mnangagwa the “soft wool” will most likely win the forthcoming elections. One piece of advice for him: “turn as soft wool” into “soft power” and you will win over the hearts of the Zimbabweans and end the sad legacy that ZANU-PF ushered in.  Drop Machiavelli’s The Prince and pick Joseph Nye’s Soft Power.

And hopefully, this will also be the time for ZANU-PF to say: “we have done our part, delivered Zimbabwe from the colonial clutches, and now it is time for another party such as MDC to take the country to the next level.”  Only this will be the true test of whether Mnangagwa is indeed “as soft as wool.”  But first let Zimbabwe also have elections that are “as soft as wool.”  And for those who are still resorting to violence in their political ambitions, both in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, let them learn that the politics of assassination are over, and they should learn the path of reconciliation, peace and negotiation.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on “Soft as wool”: Crocodile Mnangagwa’s political conversion?

Zionist Arabs regimes warn I$raHell over Turkish ‘meddling in occupied Jerusalem’

NOVANEWS

Zionist puppet Arab leaders have separately warned the Nazi regime about growing Turkish influence and activity in East Jerusalem.

Erdoğan’s expanding initiative is designed to “claim ownership over the Jerusalem issue”, senior Zionist Arab officials say, the Zionist newspaper reported.

Over the past year, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ have all warned Naziyahu’s about the campaign by Turkey to strengthen its influence in Arab neighbourhoods of the city. The issue is now receiving more attention.

Israel is ‘sleeping at the wheel,’ they say.

Turkey under Erdoğan enjoys close relations with Islamic group Hamas, which is recognised. Erdoğan has also accused the Nazi regime on numerous occassions of state-sponsored terrorism and led a Middle East initiative slamming a U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Nazi Gestapo services have been monitoring Turkish activity for more than a year. Zionist sources said Turkey is increasing its presence in East Jerusalem in a number of ways, including donations to Islamic organisations, placing Turkish activists prominently in protests around the Al-Aqsa and organising tours by Islamist groups closely affiliated with Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) – which have brought thousands of Turkish citizens to Jerusalem over the past year.

Some U.S. senators have called on the Trump administration to act in the face of Erdoğan’s sponsorship of Hamas and his meddling in Palestinian-Israeli affairs. Several senior Hamas officials reside in Istanbul and operate freely there, including in raising funding for their activities inside Palestinian territories.

Erdoğan’s initiative is part of a wider attempt to position himself as the leader of Muslims around the world and to extend Turkish influence across the Middle East and Balkans, where there is a large Muslim presence.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, TurkeyComments Off on Zionist Arabs regimes warn I$raHell over Turkish ‘meddling in occupied Jerusalem’

Duterte, Who Compared Himself to Hitler to Visit the Nazi regime

NOVANEWS

Philippines President Duterte, Who Compared Himself to Hitler, in Talks for Israel Visit in September

Duterte has been accused of murdering civilians. The Philippines is among countries who could potentially move their embassy to Jerusalem

Image result for President Duterte CARTOON
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds an Israeli-made Galil rifle in Quezon, Philippines, April 19, 2018Bullit Marquez/AP

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is planning a visit to Israel in September, with talks to coordinate the meeting taking place between the two countries.

Duterte is considered one of the world’s most controversial leaders, his presidency marred by accusations of slaughtering citizens, comparing himself to Adolf Hitler and calling former U.S. President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch.”

Plans for the visit began forming a year ago. A senior official told Haaretz at the time Duterte had expressed will to visit Jerusalem and received a generally positive response. The Philippines is also considered a leading candidate among countries to potentially move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Israel is hoping the visit will help establish direct flights between the two countries, as well as promote mutual financial investments.

In October 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Duterte as part of his efforts to recruit countries to vote against a UNESCO resolution regarding Jerusalem. A Foreign Ministry official said at the time the two had a good talk.

Relations between Israel and the Philippines have tightened during Duterte’s term. His administration stood beside Israel on several issues and abstained from voting in international institutes. Israel has also sold a substantial amount of arms to the Southeast Asian Republic, and the two maintain strong security relations as well.

In 2016, Duterte compared his campaign against drug dealers to the Holocaust, and said he would kill dealers like Hitler killed Jews. “Critics compare me to Hitler’s cousin,” he said. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews … there’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.

Duterte later apologized for his words, and followed up with a visit to a synagogue in the Filipino city of Makati during a cleberation of the Jewish New Year.

Duterte also met with U.S. President Donald Trump last November, in a conversation dubbed “short, but warm and friendly” by Duterte’s spokesperson.

The Filipino President recently courted controversy when during a speech he doubted the validity of the Bible and the story of creation.

 “Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid,” Mr. Duterte said. “How can you rationalize a God? Do you believe?”

In early June, while speaking to Filipino foreign workers in South Korea, Duterte drew sharp criticsm from his opposition and rights’ activists when he called two women to the stage and prompted one to kiss him on the lips.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is also slated to visit Israel on July 19. The visit was coordinated at a meeting of national security advisers of the Visegrad group, which was also attended by Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. The Visegrad group, also known as V4, includes Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Far EastComments Off on Duterte, Who Compared Himself to Hitler to Visit the Nazi regime

How is Mozambique doing, 43 years after its political independence?

NOVANEWS
File

The author examines the current socio-economic and political situation of Mozambique after 43 years of the country’s independence from Portugal.

This Monday (25 June 2018), Mozambique celebrated 43 years of independence. It was at the dawn of 25 June 1975, that Samora Machel (1933-1986) announced to all Mozambicans, the proclamation of the “total and complete” independence of the country.

While the Portuguese regime lowered the colonial flag, the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) vigorously hoisted the flag of the then People’s Republic of Mozambique.

The birth of a “State of People’s Democracy” was announced, in which, “under the leadership of the alliance of workers and peasants, all the patriotic strata of society would engage in the struggle for the destruction of the colonialism aftermath and imperialism dependency; the annihilation of the exploitation of man by man; the building of the material, ideological, politico-cultural, social and administrative base of the new society”, as Machel announced in his Independence Speech.

Today, 43 years on, how is Mozambique doing?

One of the most significant changes that occurred in Mozambican politics was the “abandonment” of the socialist project. The civil war that erupted after the independence and later on, the introduction of the Economic Adjustment Programme imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, prompted (to a large extent) such abandonment.

The establishment of neoliberalism, as the dominant political and economic framework, interrupted the industrialisation of the country. The natural resources boom, namely mineral coal, gas, agricultural land and various minerals, has attracted the lust of foreign investors for the extraction of raw material. An “indigenous” oligarchic elite emerged, allying itself with international capital, thus allowing a new configuration in the balance of forces between the state, society and capital.

It is in this context that several transnational corporations arrived in the country. Some refer to this as the new silent colonisation of Africa.

In the last two decades, the country has experienced rapid changes in the political, social and economic spheres. Although its now stagnant economy seemed to be growing at a pleasant pace for a couple of years, the basic functioning of state institutions and the maintenance of essential services never ceased to depend on the “goodwill” of the international donor community, through foreign aid.

Since 2016, this aid has become conditional when the IMF and other donors discovered a hidden debt of more than US $2 billion, contracted in the last months of the leadership of former President Armando Guebuza, who is known for his business mindedness. It is believed that these debts were contracted for military purposes, to protect the government from a militarised political opposition, which pressed for deep institutional changes.

Although much contested, the Mozambican government succeeded in making this debt sovereign, even if its contracting was not endorsed by Parliament. There is consensus among analysts that the hidden debts have been a bad deal for the country, but the judiciary is not able to prosecute the agents involved.

Today, Mozambique is undergoing a severe economic crisis. This has put the country in a state of vulnerability, allowing the IMF and the international donor community to take advantage of the situation by imposing measures on the Mozambican state. Some call it “interference and disrespect for national sovereignty”.

Political participation

Political parties and other small-scaled formations struggle to register or maintain themselves. The political arena is largely dominated by Frelimo – the governing party; the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) – the largest opposition party, still militarised; and to a lesser extent, the Mozambican Democratic Movement (MDM), made up mostly of dissidents and discontents of both Renamo and Frelimo. At the moment, the MDM is going through a dangerous crisis, which can put a huge political cost on it, in the upcoming elections – 2018 and 2019.

A debate for the amendment of the constitution is on-going, in the Mozambican Parliament. The scenario points to the “bipartisanism” of politics, giving Frelimo and Renamo greater advantage, especially at the municipal and provincial levels.

The peasantry continues to be the largest social structure and the largest labour force in the country. Although not organised in its totality, it is the only social category that has insisted on a functional articulation at national level for more than three decades, carrying out direct actions of protest, developing an organic nature and influencing public policies and with important leftist elements within it. An example of this is the National Union of Peasants.

Violence

The levels of access to information and freedom of expression have fallen significantly in recent years. The country fell 26 places in the World’s Freedom of Press Index. Human Rights Watch describes “an environment of fear” among activists critical of the government, while Reporters Without Borders describes that there is widespread self-censorship among the media.

People critical of the government are exposed to threats and intimidation and, sometimes, to murder. Through its spokespersons and propagandists, the government has mobilised public opinion about the existence of supposed outsiders behind the protagonism and work of civil society organisations, thus leading it (government) to controlling and shrinking the public space of the civil society.

The north of the country is being plagued by a series of violent attacks of disturbing proportions, attributed to a so-called “Al shabaab of Mozambique”. Although the government insists on minimising the impact of these incursions, the events denounce the inability of the national security authorities to control the situation. It is not out of the equation, that this may be a resource conflict, a curse of abundance.

Challenges

There is no doubt that since becoming independent, the country has made progress in almost all areas. There are more universities, improved infrastructure, more opportunities, but huge challenges still exist. One of them is the absence of a political alternative that mobilises leftist elements, which exist in several sectors, although scattered. A social and political movement that unifies these elements – popular movements, academia, unions, and non-organisational activism – may be necessary for the development of a popular project that would consider alternatives to save the country from neoliberalism and defend it from the on-going plundering.

Until then, Frelimo keeps using its contextual prerogative to perpetuate itself in power, taking advantage of the weaknesses of the opposition and a civil society that increasingly “does not want to debate politics”.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on How is Mozambique doing, 43 years after its political independence?

Third triumphant visit by DPRK Leader to China

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Getty Images

Kim Jong-un’s third trip to China took place just one week after his historic summit in Singapore with United States President Donald Trump.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and his wife Ri Sol Ju paid yet another visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping on 19 June 2018.

This is the third time in as many months that the head of the Worker’s Party of Korea has held face-to-face talks with his counterpart Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan of the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

The two Asian socialist heads of state held discussions on the recent developments involving the on-going dialogue between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the DPRK over issues of normalising relations and potential unification.  These important questions along with the summit meeting held with United States President Donald Trump on 12 June in Singapore have created tremendous interests throughout the international community.

Just in a matter of months there have been momentous events, which are reshaping the character of inter-Asian relations as well as exposing the fallacy of Washington’s decades-long foreign policy towards both the DPRK and the PRC. Trump’s statement in the aftermath of the Singapore Summit that the Pentagon would suspend the annual war games in South Korea during August, sent shock waves throughout the military-industrial-complex in the US.

In a statement issued by Noh Kyu-duk of the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the official said: “The governments of South Korea and China share the same strategic goal of completely denuclearising the Korean peninsula. Also, our government hopes China will play a constructive role in resolving this problem. We hope Chairman Kim Jong-un’s visit will contribute to that [[i]].”

Whether or not the dominant imperialist state extends this suspension beyond 2018, it illustrates the futility of Washington’s posture toward the Korean Peninsula. Both China and the DPRK have been the principal focus of successive US administrations as it relates to their attempts to maintain imperialist interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

A united approach from Beijing and Pyongyang will signal to Washington that their manoeuvres in the region will not divide the major players as far as regional security and anti-imperialism is concerned. Nevertheless, the overall objectives of the US and its allies remain the same: to further contain China and marginalise those interests, which are steadfast in maintaining the national and regional independence of the various states.

Both leaders pledged in the 19 June meeting to strengthen and deepen relations in the coming period to ensure the continuing forward progress towards peace and development in the region. Beijing has been acting as a mediator between Pyongyang and Washington after the escalation of tensions during 2017 brought the two states to the brink of a full-blown military conflict.

There has never been a comprehensive peace agreement since the armistice of June 1953 after three years of war, which resulted in the deaths of millions of Korean and tens of thousands of imperialist troops led by the US and Britain under the banner of the United Nations. Annual military exercises held jointly by Seoul and Washington in April and August involve 17,000 ROK troops along with over 50,000 Pentagon soldiers.

In exchange the DPRK has agreed to suspend testing and upgrades in its nuclear weapons programme. The socialist state has developed long-range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles weaponised with nuclear technology.

These military options created by the DPRK are for exclusively defensive purposes in light of the persistent decades-long threats from Washington and Tokyo. Japan had occupied the Korean Peninsula after a 1905 treaty, which led to an occupation extending from 1910-1945.

After the defeat of Japan in World War II, an alliance of patriotic forces led by the communist party founded the DPRK in 1948. The three-year war and on-going occupation of the south has hampered the unification of the Peninsula.

Significance of the Singapore Summit

The 12 June meeting, which brought together Trump and Kim, came on the heels of a contentious Group of Seven meeting in Quebec, Canada. Relations among the imperialist states have been strained due to the trade war initiated by the Trump administration, which has imposed tariffs on Canada along with European Union nations.

These events have prompted a high degree of volatility in the US and world financial markets where a precipitous decline occurred on 19 June. Most economic analysts attribute the drop in values to the trade policies of Washington.

China is also a major target of Trump’s efforts to mislead the public in the US suggesting that the imposition of tariffs will result in job creation and salary increases for working families who are still suffering from the fallout of the Great Recession of 2007-2011. A large portion of employment growth in the US is through low-wage labour in the service sectors. Income has remained stagnate while real wages have been on the decline for several decades.

There were four points of agreement, which emerged from the Singapore Summit. A joint statement issued by the two leaders said: “1) The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity; 2) The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula; 3) Reaffirming the 27 April 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula; and 4) The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering Prisoners of War/Missing in Action remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

The suspension of war games and nuclear testing was not written down as a point of agreement although Trump’s post-summit press conference affirmed these decisions. Trump asserted that the joint Pentagon-ROK exercises are far too expensive and should be curtailed.

Underlying crises in Beijing-Washington relations

Nonetheless, these discussions cannot conceal the continuing provocations by Washington against the PRC. In addition to the trade war, which is destabilising markets around the world, the Pentagon is still seeking to militarily intimidate Beijing in the Asia-Pacific region.

China has responded to repeated military incursions by the Pentagon surrounding the South Seas, which Washington contends are not the sovereign territory of Beijing. The US is accusing China of militarising the South China Sea, which has prompted the Defence Department to withdraw an invitation for China to join an international naval exercise the US is sponsoring over the next few weeks.

The Pentagon claims that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to areas in the Spratly Islands. Washington has demanded that China withdraw these defence systems.

An article published during late May by the India Times emphasised that: “China says it dispatched warships to identify and warn off a pair of US Navy vessels sailing near one of its island claims in the South China Sea. A statement on the Chinese Defence Ministry’s website said the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam entered waters China claims in the Paracel island group ‘without the permission of the Chinese government.’ It said the Chinese military ‘immediately dispatched warships to identify and inspect the American ships according to law, and warned them to depart [[ii]].’”

These military efforts by the US have continued through successive administrations. China’s growing economy and military capability are viewed as a major threat to the imperialist hegemony of Washington and Wall Street.

Tensions could rise to the level of a direct military conflict whose outcome would be long term in its political and economic impact. The burgeoning trade war and military posturing will undoubtedly result in global uncertainty and instability throughout various continents.

Posted in China, North KoreaComments Off on Third triumphant visit by DPRK Leader to China

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk