Category Archives: Cameroon

PCOF: New Military Occupation by French Imperialism

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Even before the United Nations Organisation had given the green light, the first French troops occupied the capital Bangui, where bloody chaos reigned. Prepositioned in neighbouring Cameroon, they joined the French contingent of 250 soldiers charged with guarding the French embassy, about 1,200 foreign residents and the security of the airport. This was the beginning of “Operation Sangaris”. As in Mali, this is officially under the guise of the UNO in support of the African troops of the MISCA (International Support Mission to the Central African Republic). As in Mali, France is claiming humanitarian reasons, the risk of the conflict escalating into a religious and ethnic one, to justify its interference and, as in Mali, the French leaders promise a blitz operation, mobilising about 1,500 soldiers in limited and targeted actions “for a brief period of about 6 months,” according to Le Drian, Minister of Defence.

Francophone Africa at its most grotesque

This country, as large as France, with only about 5 million inhabitants, remains one of the world’s poorest countries despite its immense resources. The primary responsibility lies with French imperialism, which, since independence in 1959, has dismissed the most capable leaders to place puppets at the head of the country, with the sole criterion their fidelity to French interests. Since the death of the father of independence, Boganda, in a very suspicious airplane accident, the country has had eight leaders, only one of whom was elected. All the others came to the presidency by coups, with the active complicity of the French army and of auxiliaries supplied by the neighbouring countries, particularly Chad. Francophone Africa experienced its most grotesque expression in Central Africa with Bokassa, a sergeant in the French colonial army, who fought in Indochina and Algeria, before being propelled to the head of the country by Foccart, Mister Africa of General de Gaulle. From 1965 to 1979, this soldier systematically bled his country, selling off the national companies, ruining the economy by lavish expenses, offering gifts of great value to Western leaders such as the famous “Bokassa diamonds” offered to Giscard d’Estaing.

He was removed from office by the former colonial power, not for having imposed a regime of terror and squandering the country’s wealth, but because he wanted to move closer to Gaddafi’s Libya, thus threatening French interests in Chad. After his ouster, his cousin David Dacko succeeded him, but he too was overthrown by another soldier for having wanted to open the country to Chinese interests. The last military coup was by Bozize, who remained in power for ten years, during which time he provided his family and his clan with all good deals and placed them in all key positions. Over all these years he benefited from France’s unconditional support, which in 2007 sent in paratroopers to quell a rebellion in the northeast of the country. However in 2013, [French President] Hollande decided to no longer support him against the armed bands of the Seleka, which eventually overthrew him.

The negotiations initiated by France and the neighbouring countries led to the temporary appointment of the main leader of the Seleka, Djotodia, as President of the Central African Republic. But he was never able to impose himself. For several months now, the country has been beset by acts of violence by the armed groups of the Seleka, which had nothing to do with a popular rebellion. The confrontations with those faithful to Bozize or with the committees of self-defence have become the daily lot of the population. Today, a third of the population suffers from hunger and hundreds of thousands of people are hiding in the forest or are refugees in neighbouring countries.

The real reasons for the “Operation Sangaris”

Hollande, [French Foreign Minister] Fabius, Le Drian and others claim to have launched “Operation Sangaris” for purely humanitarian reasons, even raising the risk of genocide. These are crocodile tears on their part. The worst dictators were brought to and kept in power by the leaders of French imperialism as long as they defended their interests.

The Central African Republic occupies a geostrategic location of primary importance, at the heart of the continent, surrounded by the countries Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and Chad, weakened by the interference of the imperialist powers that already exploit their raw material resources. Today, the Central African subsoil produces little: diamonds and gold mined by hand. But it is known that there are huge reserves of bauxite (the ore used to produce aluminium) and rare and precious metals. For several years, the Areva monopoly exploited a uranium deposit at Bankouma, but the global overproduction and above all the insecurity created by the bands of looters that the Bozize regime was unable to contain, led to the closure of the mine. Recently, in the north of the country, oilfields were discovered, which are the extension of the Chadian fields already in operation. Bozize dared to sign exploration contracts with the Chinese monopoly CNPC [Chinese National Petroleum Corporation], defying the interests of Total [French energy monopoly]. If one adds the fact that, for some time, the Bozize clan has received many visitors, members of the large diamond companies of South Africa, it is clear that Bozize was dropped by Hollande and French imperialism because he became an obstacle to French interests. The African continent is especially rich in raw materials and, with the emergence of new large consumers such as China, the competition over mineral resources and agricultural lands is leading to a redivision of spheres of exploitation due to the new relationships of power.

Therefore, it is to ensure the ownership of these riches, for now and for the future, that French imperialism unleashed “Operation Sangaris”.

An Operation That Extends the War in Mali and That Will Make It Last

Ten months after the start of “Operation Serval” in Mali, the French army again provided weapons to another former French colony in sub-Saharan Africa. While the withdrawal of occupation troops in Mali is behind schedule because the war is far from over, it had to send more troops to Central Africa. In a large country like France, the sending of 1,500 men to pacify the country appears insufficient. Certainly, the MISCA is expected to mobilize 4,000 men in the first half of 2014 and this figure is expected to reach about 7,000 in a year. But experience shows that the troops of the neighbouring countries, poorly equipped and poorly trained, are not very operational. On the other hand, imperialism is reluctant to arm and train seasoned fighters. And in the state of decomposition in the Central African Republic, the African troops already in the country cannot secure the population. They participate in the general chaos, robbing, raping and holding people for ransom. In short, the French army cannot rely on them to bring order to the country, to secure the cities and the main highways.

On the other hand, the presence of French troops can only increase the risk of escalation in the character of the war. After Mali and the Libyan conflict, thousands of mercenaries using Islam as a banner are ready to join in a war in which, once again, France is fighting to defend the interests of the Western world against the interests of the peoples of Muslim faith. Among the fighters of the Seleka, there are many Central Africans, Congolese and Chadians, but there are also an increasing number of fighters coming from Libya and Mali. The conflict could therefore quickly take on a dimension of a “religious war”.

Finally, there is a difference with the war in Mali where there was an enemy that was easily identifiable but difficult to fight. In Central Africa, who is the enemy and who is the ally? In the chaotic situation of the country, French imperialism will have to choose one camp against another and to find interlocutors, otherwise it will have to openly return to a situation of colonial domination.

Under these conditions, the intervention in the Central African Republic can in no case bring the Central African people peace and security. As in Mali, the presence of French troops is sharpening the contradictions between imperialism and the oppressed peoples. For the Central African people, this will lead to more victims, more misery, more people displaced or forced into exile, a tyrannical military occupation whose length nobody can predict. Already a blitz operation is expected to last at least six months, that is enough!

In Central Africa and Mali we demand:
FRENCH ARMY OUT OF AFRICA!

La Forge, December 2013, # 546.

Translated from the French by Antonio Artuso

‘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.

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