Category Archives: Algeria

Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV): The West African sub-region and Mali: zone of imperialist rivalries and military interventions against the peoples

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From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Burkina Faso

Since the beginning of the 2000s with the political-military crisis in the Ivory Coast, and particularly in 2010, the West African sub-region has undergone major political events with great interests at play. Consider:

The evolution of the political and military situation in the Sahel (sub-Saharan) region because of the activities of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and the intervention of U.S. and French troops, under the “pious” pretext of fighting terrorism .

The post-election conflict in the Ivory Coast, as a result of the presidential elections in December 2010, marking a new phase in the reactionary civil war in which the country has been plunged since September 2002, and which led to the capture of Laurent Gbagbo and the coming to Power of Alasane Dramane Ouattara, thanks to the military intervention by French troops supported by mercenaries, in particular from Burkina Faso.

One must take account of developments in the West African sub-region if we want to correctly understand the situation in Mali: its profound significance, the importance of what is at stake, the fundamental interests of the many national and foreign participants.

The development in the West African region, and particularly in Mali, is very disturbing; it affects all social classes and strata as well as the political forces that represent them. The PCRV (Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta), the real representative of the proletariat of Burkina Faso, loyal to proletarian internationalism, in these difficult times for the proletariat and peoples of the West African sub-region has the duty to:

• Address the proletariat and people of our country to make them understand the important political change in the situation in the West African sub-region and in Mali; present the revolutionary alternative and help fight to bring it about; show solidarity with the proletariat and peoples of the African sub-region on the basis of proletarian internationalism.

I. The situation in the West African sub-region: characteristic features, the biggest change since 2010

For some time this region has had the following characteristic features:

• Great political instability: the various States have been hard hit by the crisis of the imperialist capitalist system, they have been weakened and are unable to meet the demands of the people living in poverty and misery.

• Great lack of democracy: most of the powers in place are undemocratic and repressive, they have been established by military coups or rigged elections, or else by atrocious reactionary civil wars.

• Many countries in the sub-region have experienced violent conflicts (Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Guinea Bissau) or have been affected by lesser conflict (Sierra Leone and Liberia).

• The struggle among different imperialist powers (U.S., France, Britain, etc.) and between these imperialist powers and new players such as China, India and Brazil, for control of the area in the context of the struggle for the redivision of the world, specifically the African continent that is in dispute.

This struggle is increasing and becoming ever more ferocious due to the crisis that is striking the French zone in West Africa and due to the desperate struggle of French imperialism to maintain its influence against the rapacity of its imperialist rivals, particularly U.S. imperialism, which is very aggressive in this sub-region.

These problems are particularly acute in the Saharan area, a sensitive area:

• In this area, which extends from the boundaries of Algeria to Sudan and Somalia, there is all kinds of trafficking (in drugs, tobacco, weapons, human beings, etc.), cross-border banditry, Tuareg rebellions, AQIM activities, etc.

• The neighboring States and powers of this sensitive area have no effective control over it, they are in crisis (Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania) and they are the object of sporadic attacks by armed political groups that are fighting for various socio-political reasons.

These political States and powers openly admit their inability to control the area and ask the imperialist powers (U.S. and France) to intervene militarily under the pretext of combating terrorism. This has enabled U.S. imperialism to penetrate militarily in the area with its special forces and military instructors charged with training the neocolonial armies, particularly in Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. French imperialism, for its part, is strengthening its influence over the armies of its former colonies (Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Mali) and is deploying its own troops and material, such as combat helicopters. Concerning Burkina Faso one must emphasize the following important facts:

• The French special forces stationed in Burkina Faso are using the country as a center of operations against AQMI in Mali and other countries. General Beth, a veteran of the “Licorne” special forces in the Ivory Coast, has been appointed French ambassador to Burkina Faso in order to organize the French intervention in the sub-region and in our country.

• U.S. imperialism has installed a detection, listening and spying center for West Africa in Burkina Faso. It has financed, trained and equipped three battalions composed of mercenary soldiers from the country to intervene in Darfur under his (U.S.) command.

The interference of the imperialist powers in the West African sub-region and the sub-Saharan area are very important:

• Political, geostrategic and military interests related to the struggle for the redivision of the world and the African continent.

• Economic interests: access to the oil in the Gulf of Guinea and the Ivory Coast, to uranium in Niger and to the precious minerals that abound in the region, solar energy, cocoa, coffee, etc.

• The struggle of the Anglo-Saxon (U.S., Great Britain) and French imperialists to curb the penetration into the area of new players such as China, India and Brazil.

• The attempts by different imperialist powers to stifle any protest of the masses, who are reduced to poverty and who lack political liberty, and are suffering repression exerted by the corrupt puppets trying to crush any revolutionary movement and insurrection.

The “fight against terrorism” and the “struggle for democracy” are only excuses for the imperialist powers (the same ones that are destroying and looting Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya) and their lackeys (despised by the peoples) of the West African sub-region. The evolution of the political situation in this area must be well understood and integrated into the analysis of the current situation in Mali, and the interests pursued by the different players (national and international), as well as their consequences.

II. The evolution of the political situation in Mali since the military coup of the CNRDRE, and the military occupation of northern Mali by the MLNA and the “Jihadists” (AQMI, Ansar-dine, Mujao, Boko haram, etc.

The military coup of March 22, 2012, took place in a context of a political, economic, social and military crisis under the puppet and corrupt power of Ahmadou Toumani Toure.

The military coup of the CNRDRE (National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State) deepened the political-military crisis in Mali. It accelerated the disintegration of the defense and security forces that were already demoralized by the defeat suffered against the fighters of the MNLA, AQIM and Ansar-Dine. This favored the stunning conquest of northern Mali (2/3 of the national territory) by the coalition of Islamist forces that met no resistance whatsoever, given the prevailing political chaos in Bamako and the degeneration of the State of Mali.

Besides the internal factors, the political-military crisis in Mali had serious consequences for the neighboring countries, particularly Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and the rest of the countries of the West African sub-region.

AQIM is a real threat to the countries of the area in that they recruit young fighters and maintain “sleeper cells.” It has colossal means (financial and material) and benefits from favorable circumstances (the bankruptcy of the neocolonial States with corrupt leadership, the poverty and lack of prospects for the disoriented youth, etc.).

The “jihadists” of the Boko Haram zone of Nigeria have established contacts with AQIM and are active in the north of Mali, which has become a real sanctuary for the Islamic terrorists of the world. They favor the proliferation of all types of arms (heavy and light weapons, missiles, anti-personnel mines, etc..). They cause massive displacement of the population to the south of Mali, and also to neighboring countries that receive hundreds of thousands of Malian refugees. The country that receives these refugees, who are struck by the food crisis, has trouble dealing with the situation. There is the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe in Mali and the neighboring countries. It threatens to revive the Tuareg rebellion in Mali and to create one in Burkina Faso.

The political-military crisis is also a serious threat to the interests of imperialism, particularly French imperialism in Mali and in the area. For all these reasons it has an important sub-regional and international dimension. The countries of the sub-region, encouraged by French imperialism, decided to intervene in Mali using ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) in order to: expel the coup leaders of March 22 who were in power, install the representatives of the different fractions of the reactionary bourgeoisie beholden to French imperialism, preserve and defend the interests of imperialism in Mali and the sub-Saharan area; and evict the AQIM from the north of Mali. A plan of political, diplomatic, economic, financial and military dimensions has been developed to achieve these objectives. To carry out this reactionary plan they have chosen Blaise Compaore, pawn of French imperialism, as mediator for ECOWAS.

The political-military crisis that Mali is experiencing is very complex, important interests are at play, it has a sub-regional and international dimension, and its multiple actors have different objectives. The solution must be a long-term one. There are three possible outcomes to the present situation in Mali:

• The first is the consolidation of the de facto division of the country. The Northern region would remain under the control of AQIM, Ansaqr, Dine, the MNLA, various warlords and major traffickers. The southern area would remain under the control of the CNRDRE, with a president and a government of “consensus.” This is the most dangerous outcome for the Malian people and the people of the region, since it may lead Mali into a reactionary civil war (both in the North and in the South), to a deep economic and social chaos, a major humanitarian crisis and serious repercussions on the entire West African sub-region and particularly in the sub-Saharan area.

• The second outcome would be the military intervention by ECOWAS to impose the plan prepared by French imperialism. For these imperialists, the achievement of that plan must lead to the establishment of a federal Mali, with great political and administrative autonomy in the Northern region under the leadership of the MNLA and its potential allies. This outcome would be violent. Therefore French imperialism and ECOWAS are insisting on sending ECOWAS troops to Mali to strengthen French and U.S. imperialism that are already on the ground in that country and in Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

• The third outcome is the revolutionary one; to achieve this the working class and people of Mali must organize, provide themselves with a genuine communist party to carry out a National Democratic and Popular Revolution (a transition to socialism), through the General Armed Insurrection (GAI) which will allow it: to free the country from French imperialist domination; to expel the reactionary classes allied with imperialism from the country; to liberate, unify and bring about equality among the different nationalities of the country, and thus correctly solve the national problem in Mali; to begin revolutionary political, economic and social reforms to place Mali on the road to progress.

This outcome is the most favorable for the working class and people of Mali and the peoples of the West African sub-region.

III. The position of principles and the revolutionary alternative of the PCRV towards political change in the political evolution of the West African sub-region and in Mali.

The PCRV, internationalist revolutionary party of the proletariat of our country, faced with the major political shift that is taking place in the West African sub-region and in Mali:

1. Denounces the intervention of imperialist troops of foreign aggression in West Africa, particularly in the sub-Saharan area, and demands their withdrawal. It denounces and condemns the pro-imperialist puppet powers that have opened their territories (particularly in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) to the imperialist aggressor troops.

2. Reaffirms its opposition to terrorism and coups, which are not ways appropriate to the revolution and the establishment of socialism. It condemns the coup carried out by the Malian Junta, commanded by Captain Amadou Sanogo.

3. Denounces and condemns the proclamation of independence of the State of AZAWD by the MNLA, tool of French imperialism. It denounces and condemns the crimes perpetrated by terrorist group AQIM, the Islamist groups Ansar-Dine, MUJAO and the MNLA. It supports the brave resistance of the peoples, particularly the youth, against the oppression and medieval practices of these reactionary, obscurantist groups.

4. Denounces and condemns the reactionary plan of ECOWAS and the imperialists, particularly the French imperialists and opposes sending ECOWAS troops to Mali.

5. Denounces and condemns the adventurous foreign policy of the mafia clan of Blaise Compaore, which is a danger to the peoples of the area and of Burkina Faso.

6. Is committed to working with all their might, on the basis of proletarian internationalism, to:

• ensure the realization of the revolutionary alternative in Burkina Faso, which involves the overthrow of the mafia power of the Fourth Republic.

• support the proletariat and peoples of the sub-region against the rule of the imperialists and their African lackeys.

• support the proletariat and people of Mali to achieve a revolutionary outcome to the crisis striking the country. The PCRV will always be at their side and assures its support in everything, faced with the many difficulties and serious and complex situation that they face.

7. Calls on the proletariat and people of Burkina Faso to mobilize and organize with the PCRV to carry out powerful actions and to confront:

• the presence of imperialist troops in the sub-region, particularly in our country, and to demand their withdrawal.

• the military intervention of the imperialists and their lackeys of ECOWAS in Mali; to expel the mafia clan of Blaise Compoare, the troops of Burkina Faso from Mali in the framework of ECOWAS.

It also calls for solidarity with the struggle of the proletariat and peoples of the sub-region and of Mali.

Source

Enver Hoxha on Africa

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Africa is a mosaic of peoples with an ancient culture. Each African people has its own culture, customs, way of life, which, with some variations, are at a very backward stage, for well-known reasons. The awakening of the bulk of these peoples has only recently begun. De jure, the African peoples, in general, have won their freedom and independence. But there can be no talk of genuine freedom and independence, since most of them are still in a colonial or neo-colonial state.

Many of these countries are governed by the chieftains of the old tribes who have seized power and rely on the old colonialists, or the US imperialists and the Soviet social-imperialists. The methods of government in these states at this stage are not and cannot be other than a marked survival of colonialism. The imperialists are ruling most of the African countries again through their concerns, their capital invested in industry, banks, etc. The overwhelming bulk of the wealth of these countries continues to flow to the metropolises.

Some of the African countries have fought for that freedom and independence they enjoy today, while the others have had it granted without fighting. During their colonial rule in Africa, the British, French and other colonizers oppressed the peoples but they also created a local bourgeoisie, more or less educated in the Occidental manner. The leading figures today, have also emerged from this bourgeoisie. Among them there are many anti-imperialist elements, fighters for the independence of their own countries, but the majority either remain loyal to the old colonizers, in order to preserve the close relations with them even after the f ormal abolition of colonialism, or have entered into economic and political dependence on the US imperialists or the Soviet social-imperialists.

The colonizers did not make large investments in the past. This was the case, for instance, with Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. However, the colonizers drained the wealth of all these countries, seized large tracts of land, and developed a proletariat, by no means small in number, in some special branches of the industry, such as in the extraction and processing of raw materials. They also drew large numbers of workers to the metropolises, such as to France, for instance, but also to Britain, as a cheap labour force which worked in the colonizers mines and the factories.

In the other parts of Africa, especially in Black Africa, industrial development remained more backward. All the countries of this region were divided up, especially between France, Britain, Belgium and Portugal. Great underground riches, like diamonds, iron, copper, gold, tin, etc., were discovered there long ago, and industry to mine and process minerals has been set up there.

In many African countries, large, typically colonial cities, were built, where the colonizers lived a fabulous life. Now, on the one hand, the local great bourgeoisie and its wealth is growing and developing there, while on the other hand, the impoverishment of the broad masses of working people is increasing still more. In these countries a certain degree of cultural development has been achieved, but it has more of a European character. The local culture has not developed. It has generally remained at the stage reached by the tribes and is not represented outside them, in the centres with towering sky-scrapers. This has come about because, outside the large centres, were the colonizers lived, stark misery and extreme poverty existed, hunger, disease, ignorance and ruthless exploitation of the people, in the full meaning of the term, reigned supreme.

The African population remained culturally and economically undeveloped and continuously diminished in numbers, declining because of colonial wars, the savage racial persecution, and the traffic in African negroes, who were sent to the metropolises, the United States of America, and other countries to work like animals in the plantations of cotton and other crops, as well as in the heaviest jobs in industry and construction.

For these reasons, the African peoples still have a great struggle ahead of them. This is and will be a very complicated struggle, differing from one country to another, because of the state of their economic, cultural and educational development, the degree of their political awakening, the great influence which the different religions, such as the Christian and Moslem religions, the old pagan beliefs, etc., exert on the masses of these peoples. This struggle becomes still more difficult since many of these countries are actually under the domination of neo-colonialism combined with that of local bourgeois-capitalist cliques. The law there is made by those powerful capitalist and imperialist states which subsidize or control the ruling cliques, which they set up and remove whenever the interests of the neo-colonialists require or when the balance of these interests is upset.

The policy pursued by the big landowners, the reactionary bourgeoisie, the imperialists and the neo-colonialists is intended to keep the African peoples in permanent bondage, in ignorance, to hinder their social, political and ideological development, and to obstruct their struggle to gain these rights. At present we see that those same imperialists who used to lord it over these peoples in the past, as well as other new imperialists, are trying to penetrate into the African continent, by meddling in every way in the internal affairs of the peoples. As a result of this, the contradictions among imperialists, between the peoples and the bourgeois-capitalist leaderships of most of these countries, and between the peoples and the new colonizers, are becoming more and rnore severe every day.

These contradictions must be utilized by the peoples, both to deepen them and to benefit from them. But this can be achieved only through resolute struggle by the proletariat, the poor peasantry, by all the oppressed and the slaves, against imperialism and neo-colonialism, against the local big bourgeoisie, the big landowners and their whole establishment. A special role in this struggle devolves upon progressives and democrats, the revolutionary youth and patriotic intellectuals, who aspire to see their own countries advancing free and independent, on the path of development and progress. Only through continuous and organized struggle by them will life be made difficult for the local and foreign oppressors and exploiters and government impossible. This situation will be prepared in the specific circumstances of each African state.

British and US imperialism have not given to the peoples of Africa any freedom. Everybody can see what is happening in South Africa, for instance. The white racists, the British capitalists, the exploiters, are ruling there, savagely oppressing the coloured peoples of that state, where the law of jungle prevails. Many other countries of Africa are dominated by the concerns and capital of the United States of America, Britain, France, Belgium, and other old colonialists and imperialists, who have become somewhat weaker, but who still hold the keys to the economies of these countries.

In irreconcilable struggle against the revisionists and other opportunists, against all the lackeys of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Castroite, Khrushchevite, Trotskyite, <<three worlds>>, and other such views and practices, they have worked out a correct political line and accumulated sufficient experience in the struggle to put this line into practice, becoming the bearers of all the revolutionary tradition of the past, in order to use it and develop it further to the advantage of the workers’ and liberation movement, the preparation and raising of the masses in revolution.

The revolutionary situations existing today make it essential for these parties to maintain the closest possible contacts and consult with one another as frequently as possible, to be able to gain the maximum benefits from one another’s experience and co-ordinate their stands and actions on the common problems of the struggle against the reactionary bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Soviet, Chinese and other brands of modern revisionism, and on all the problems of the revolution.

Now that the peoples have awakened and refuse to live any longer under the imperialist and colonial yoke, now that they are demanding freedom, independence, development and progress, and are seething with anger against foreign and internal oppressors, now that Africa, Latin America and Asia have become a boiling cauldron the old and new colonialists are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to dominate and exploit the peoples of these countries by means of the previous methods and forms. They are quite unable to do without their plunder and exploitation of the wealth, the toil and the blood of these peoples. That is why all these efforts are being made to find new methods and forms of deception, plunder and exploitation, to dispense some alms, which, again, do not benefit the masses, but the bourgeois-land owner ruling classes.

Meanwhile the question has been made even more complicated, because Soviet social-imperialism long ago began to penetrate and entrench itself more and more deeply in the former colonies and semi-colonies, and because social-imperialist China has begun to make feverish efforts to get in there, too.

The revisionist Soviet Union carries out its expansionist interference under the guise of its allegedly Leninist policy of aid for the peoples’ liberation struggle, posing as the natural ally of these countries and peoples. As a means to penetrate into Africa and elsewhere, the Soviet revisionists employ and spread slogans of a socialist colour in order to deceive the peoples who aspire to liberate themselves, to liquidate oppression and exploitation, and who know that the only road to complete national and social liberation is socialism.

The Soviet Union also involves its allies, or better, its satellites in its interference. We are seeing this concretely in Africa, where the Soviet social-imperialist and their Cuban mercenaries are intervening on the pretext that they are assisting the revolution. This is a lie. Their intervention is nothing but a colonialist action aimed at capturing markets and subjugating peoples.

The intervention of the Soviet Union and its Cuban mercenaries in Angola is of this nature. They have never had the slightest intention of assisting the Angolan revolution, but their aim was and is to get their claws into that African country which had won a certain independence after the expulsion of the Portuguese colonialists. The Cuban mercenaries are the colonial army dispatched by the Soviet Union to capture markets and strategic positions in the countries of Black Africa, and to go on from Angola to other states, to enable the Soviet social-imperialists, too, to create a modern colonial empire.

Under the cloak of aid for peoples’ liberation the Soviet Union and its mercenary, Cuba, are intervening in other countries with armies equipped with artillery and machine-guns, allegedly to build socialism, which does not exist in either the Soviet Union or Cuba. These two bourgeois-revisionist states intervened in Angola in order to help a capitalist clique seize power, contrary to the aims of the Angolan people who had fought to win their freedom from the Portuguese colonialists. Agostinho Neto is playing the game of the Soviets. In the struggle against the other faction, in order to seize power for himself, he called in the Soviets to help him. The struggle between the two opposing Angolan clans did not have anything of a people’s revolutionary character.

The fight between them was a struggle of cliques for power. Each of them was supported by different imperialist states. Agostinho Neto emerged the winner from this contest, while socialism did not triumph in Angola. On the contrary, following the intervention from abroad, Soviet neo-colonialism has been established there.

Social-imperialist China, too, is making great efforts to penetrate into the former colonial and semi-colonial countries.

An example of how China intervenes is provided by Zaire, a country ruled by the clique around Mobutu, the wealthiest and most bloodthirsty clique on the African continent. In the fighting which flared up in Zaire recently, the Moroccans of the Sherifian Kingdom of Morocco, the French air force, and China, too, all rushed to the aid of Mobutu, the murderer of Patrice Lumumba. The assistance given by the French is understandable, because with their intervention they were defending their concessions and concerns in Katanga, and at the same time, protecting their men, as well as Mobutu and his clique. But what do the Chinese revisionists want in Katanga? Whom are they assisting there? Are they helping the people of Zaire who are being suppressed by Mobutu and his clique and by the French, Belgian, US and other concession holders? Or are not they, too, assisting the blood-thirsty Mobutu clique? The fact is that the Chinese revisionist leadership is assisting this clique not indirectly, but quite openly. To make this assistance more concrete and more demonstrative, it sent its foreign minister, Huang Hua there, as well as military experts and military and economic aid. Thus, it acted in an anti-Marxist, anti-revolutionary way. China’s interference has exactly the same features as that of King Hassan of Morocco and that of France.

The Chinese social-imperialists are interfering not only in the affairs of that country, but also in other affairs of the peoples and countries of Africa and other continents, especially in those countries into which they are striving to penetrate in every way, in order to establish economic, political and strategic bases there.

Enver Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution, Excerpts from “The Peoples’ Liberation Struggle – a Component Part of the World Revolution”

‘New race for colonies begins in Africa’

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Western ‘neo-colonial’ powers – particularly France – have started to reach back to West Africa, masking their colonial ambitions as ‘humanitarian intervention to protect human rights,’ Ken Stone from Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War stated to RT.

Earlier this week, France sent its special forces to Cameroon in search of seven French tourists who were kidnapped in the north of the country on Tuesday. Paris accused the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram of being behind the abduction. On Thursday, the kidnapped tourists were reportedly found alive in an abandoned house in Nigeria.

France – whose presence in Africa used to be rather strong – still has several military bases and hundreds of troops on the continent. In the past several years, Paris’ has intensified its activity in former colonies.

First, there was its mission in the Ivory Coast. And in January this year, France launched a military operation in Mali to help the local government fight Islamist rebels. Finally, this week its troops entered northern Cameroon. 

RT asked Ken Stone from Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War if French involvement in West Africa has become a trend.

Ken Stone: Yes, I’m afraid so. And the trend is called ‘neo-colonialism.’ It’s a part of the old colonial powers reaching back to Africa for its resources where they used to operate a century ago.

France was the colonial power in West Africa and during its many decades there it literally enslaved the people of West Africa to work in their mines, in their factories and on their plantations.  In fact, slavery wasn’t even abolished in Mali until 1905.

After WWII, the colonial powers of Africa were kicked out by national liberation movements which were somehow supported by the former Soviet Union.

However, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the US war on terror began, the former neo-colonial powers were once again flexing their muscles. And they were starting to reach back to Yugoslavia, and to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now into West Africa.

If the main product of Mali, for example, were mushrooms, there would be no French troops there or in Niger. But the main export is uranium. And that’s very important to the French. And that’s why the French are there, that’s why NATO is there, that’s why – unfortunately – Canada is there as well.

I think the main point is this is unfortunately a trend. Like the 19th century race for colonies, we have we have the 21st century race for colonies beginning. That’s a tragic fact.

RT: With militants being active in Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, and Cameroon – what is really happening in West Africa?

KS: It’s a complicated situation. Many of the national boundaries that were drawn by the colonial powers have no parrying at all on the location of the indigenous nations of Africa. So, people are divided on different sides of boundaries. Most people don’t even recognize many of the boundaries in the Saharan region and the sub-Saharan region.

There’s a further problem. The West has introduced Al-Qaeda-type terrorists into Africa where they want them, where they didn’t exist in any significance before. So that has created a can of worms.

The main point though is that the Western powers – the European neo-colonial powers, the US and NATO – have no right to act as the police of the world.

In the 19th century race for colonies, they said that they had the white man’s burden to carry on their shoulders to civilize the people of Africa. In the 21st century they call it the “humanitarian intervention to protect the human’s rights.” Those are both frauds and the Western countries really have absolutely no say in what goes on in West Africa. They should have no say.

RT:  What are the chances the special-forces deployment in Cameroon could escalate into a full-scale operation, like in Mali?

KS: It could. But it’s not likely. Ever since their colonial rule ended, the French’s had a policy of ‘force de frappe’ – which is striking force, an expeditionary force, a special force – where they go in and they deal with a certain immediate problem and they leave. They do not have the stomach to maintain an occupation for a long period of time.

The problem for neo-colonial powers like France is that the so-called ‘rebels’ or Jihadists or whoever it may be, merely have to melt into the bush wait and out the expeditionary force. And when the expeditionary force leaves they come right back in. And the problem is that there is no permanent fix to this.

Source

France in Mali: The longue durée of imperial blowback

The present intervention in Mali, however necessary and well-intentioned it is, may produce its own blowback [Reuters]

The present intervention in Mali, however necessary and well-intentioned it is, may produce its own blowback [Reuters]

The current crisis in Mali is a product of French colonialism, and their intervention will sadly create more blowback.

The dispatching of French soldiers to beat back rapidly advancing Salafi militants in northern Mali represents the convergence of multiple circles of blowback from two centuries of French policies in Africa. Some date back to the beginning of the 19th century, others to policies put in place during the last few years. Together, they spell potential disaster for France and the United States (the two primary external Western actors in Mali today), and even more so for Mali and the surrounding countries.

Only two outcomes, together, can prevent the nightmare scenario of a huge failed state in the heart of Africa spreading violence across the continent. First, the French-led assault on the north must manage to force most of the Salafi fighters out of the populated areas presently under their control and install a viable African-led security force that can hold the population centres for several years. If that weren’t difficult enough, French and international diplomats must create space for the establishment of a much more representative and less corrupt Malian government, one which can and will negotiate an equitable resolution to the decades long conflict with the Touareg peoples of the North, whose latest attempt violently to carve out a quasi-independent zone in the north early last year helped create the political and security vacuum so expertly, if ruthlessly, exploited by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM) and its allied radical groups.

The first and largest circle of blowback returns to French colonial policy in North and West Africa, which was responsible for the creation of most of the states that are involved in the present conflict. France began deliberately to colonise large swaths of West Africa at the start of the 19th century, gaining control of what today is Mauritania and Senegal by 1815, followed by the invasion of Algeria in 1830, Tunisia in 1881, French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and the French Sudan (which would become Mali) – in the 1890s, Niger in 1903-4 and Morocco in 1912.

Carved from colonialism

It is impossible to know how the map of Africa would have evolved without European colonialism to shape it. What is sure, however, is that the European “scramble for Africa” that dominated the 19th century – and in which local rulers played a willing part whenever it served their interests – ensured that European powers would create the territorial foundation for modern nation-states whose borders bore little correspondence to the ethnic and religious geography of the continent. Mali in particular was composed of several distinct ethnic, linguistic and what today are considered “racial” groups. Its brief and ill-fated union with Senegal at the time of independence in 1960 highlights the artificial foundation of the region’s states and their borders.

The lack of consideration for local ethnic, religious and cultural dynamics and the colonial imperative to arrogate as much territory under one rule as possible created a situation in which states with areas over twice the size of France and population groups which had little historical or cultural reason to live under one sovereignty and had few natural resources of comparative advantages to support themselves, were nevertheless forced to do just that; first, under foreign rule, whose main goal – whatever the “civilising mission” proclaimed by Paris – was to extract as much wealth and resources as possible and enforce control by whatever means necessary, then under postcolonial indigenous governments whose policies towards their people often differed little on the ground from their colonial predecessors.

Indeed, even those countries which secured independence peacefully were structurally deformed by foreign rule and the establishment of states with borders that did not naturally correspond to the political and cultural ecologies of the regions in which they were created. As epitomised by the plight of the Mali’s Touareg communities (who are spread across the Sahel much like Kurds are spread across the countries of the Fertile Crescent), most states in West, North and Central Africa wound up including significant populations who were different from, and thus disadvantaged by, the group who assumed power. At the same time, post-independence governments were riven by corruption and narrow loyalties, with leaders who were most often unwilling to pursue or incapable of pursuing a truly national, democratic vision of development.

In such a situation, religion, which might have played a positive role in shaping morally grounded public spheres and economies, became marginalised from governance, while slowly taking hold in a toxic form among many of the region’s most marginalised peoples.

Supporting the wrong team

If France’s colonial history created the structures in which the present crisis inevitably has unfolded, a more recent set of policies constitutes the second circle of blowback; namely, France’s unreserved support for the Algerian government in its repression of the democratic transition that began in 1988 and was crushed in 1992. As is well known, rather than allow the Islamic Salvation Front – a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired group not that different in its roots and outlook than its Egyptian or Tunisian mainstream Islamist counterparts – to take power after its clear electoral victory in the first round of the 1991-92 parliamentary elections, the Algerian military cancelled the next round and began a crackdown that quickly exploded into a civil war between the military government and radical Islamist groups.

Faced with the choice of allowing a new, Islamist political actor take the reigns of power, France, joined by the US, chose to support the Algerian military, with whom it had retained close relations. In allying with an authoritarian, brutal and corrupt government the French, and the West more broadly, became party to a vicious conflict that saw the emergence of a dangerous terrorist group, the GIA (Armed Islamic Group), quite possibly controlled at least in part by the military itself, and the subsequent bloody decade-long civil war that cost the lives of well over 100,000 civilians.

The GIA in turn was the kernel out of which another group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, and then al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghbrib, emerged. These groups focused their attention on North Africa for much of the last decade, but gradually moved more deeply into the Sahelian regions linking Algeria to Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Morocco.

Had France and the West not given unreserved support to the Algerian military, it is highly unlikely that these groups would have been created, never mind grown to their present position (a similar argument could of course be made about the main branch of al-Qaeda, which is so many ways was a direct product of unceasing US support for some of the most corrupt and brutal regimes in the world, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan).

As in so many other cases, France and its Western allies chose stability over democracy. In so doing it inevitably, if ironically, set the stage for the present chaos in which its troops are being forced to fight.

Supporting the wrong team… again

The third and most recent circle of blowback stems from France’s longstanding support for Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Specifically, French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered strong support for Ben Ali at the start of the crisis, specifically including, as foreign affairs minister Michèle Alliot-Marie described it, “the savoir-faire, recognised throughout the world of [French] security forces in order to settle security situations of this type”. The French president’s words embarrassed his government once the protests picked up steam to the point of creating a “crisis of credibility” that necessitated Sarkozy’s “admission of mistakes” in supporting Ben Ali against the revolutionaries.

So strong was Sarkozy’s embarrassment that when the Libyan crisis erupted, France took the lead in pressing for Western military intervention to force Gaddafi from power in order to absolve itself of its Tunisian sins. Yet it was precisely the launching of NATO’s air war and military support for the Libyan rebels that led to the exodus of well-trained fighters and significant weapons stocks from Libya into Niger, Mali and other parts of the Sahel in the wake of the crumbling of Gaddafi’s state. The chaos and spread of weapons generated by the Libya war put crucial numbers of men and arms into play in northern Mali at a particularly dangerous moment in the country’s history, when long oppressed Touaregs, who’d been recipients of Gaddafi’s largesse in the past (and some of whom in fact fought for Gaddafi), were once again primed to rebel against the central government.

This situation became even more ripe for chaos with the unexpected and apparently unintended military coup against the country’s soon to be retired president, Amadou Toumani Touré, in March, 2012, which created an even bigger power vacuum throughout the country.

The blowback’s blowback

Here we see decades, and indeed centuries, of French and broader European and American policies coming together to produce maximum chaos. This in turn was strengthened by the blowback from longstanding local conflicts, from the hostility of Mali’s military leadership to the extremely poor rank and file conscripts (which prompted the protests that sent the President to flight in March, 2012) to the inability of the broader Touareg rebel movement to set aside its tradition of violent resistance and embrace a younger generation of activists, who were advocating a revolutionary movement that was much closer to the soon to erupt Arab Spring than to the violent insurrection for which Touaregs had long been known. Almost a year later, the army has lost control over the majority of the country, while Touaregs have been largely sidelined from the revolt they started by Salafi groups aligned with al-Qaeda.

What is most interesting in this regard is that the present blowback had significant advance warning and should in fact have been anticipated by French and Western policymakers in the planning of the Libyan war. North Africa experts, such as Sciences Po political scientist Jean-Pierre Filiu, were pointing out already in 2010 that al-Qaeda in the Maghrib and other salafi fighting groups were moving away from their focus on Algeria and towards developing a strategic presence, and even “new theatre” in the Sahel, with the ultimate aim of destabilising those countries.

These jihadis “now represent a serious security threat in northern parts of Mali and Niger”, Filiu explained, because of numerous kidnappings, smuggling and other illicit activities the recruitment of a “new generation” of fighters from the many poor communities of the region. This reality of clearly increased operations by radical Islamist groups in northern Mali, coupled with the increase in Touareg agitation and Gaddafi’s well-known use of various nomadic groups as mercenaries, should have raised loud alarms among French and Western policymakers in the lead up to the decision to enter for Libyan civil war.

Indeed, on the US side, the American Ambassador to Mali warned already in 2004 that Mali is a “remote, tribal and barely governed swath of Africa… a potential new staging ground for religious extremism and terrorism similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban… If Mali goes, the rest goes”. This warning was made just as the US military was deepening its military presence across the continent, culminating in the creation of AFRICOM in 2008.

Given the clear attention being paid to the Sahel in the last decade by French and US policymakers, we can only assume that either they were utterly incompetent in failing to understand the inevitable results of Western military intervention in Libya, or saw that as a win-win situation, providing a new theatre in a strategically rising area of the world in which US, French and Western militaries could become increasingly engaged (and in so doing, keep rivals such as China further at bay).

Either way, just as previous African interventions generated the blowback that helped create the present Malian crisis, the present intervention in Mali, however necessary, well-intentioned and even wished for by the majority of Malians (to the extent the wishes of Malians can even be determined that clearly), will no doubt produce its own blowback, which will claim the lives of many more Africans, French, American and other Western citizens.

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