Category Archives: Niger

Joint Communiqué of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast and the Communist Party of Benin

logo2588171-3651775

On 23 February 2014, a meeting was held in Cotonou between the PCRCI [Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast] and the PCB [Communist Party of Benin] related to the events organised by the INIREF [International Institute of Research and Training]-Benin for the celebration of the International Day of the Mother Tongue and the peoples of Benin.

The two parties exchanged views on the international situation and the respective national situations and identified the tasks they imply.

I. On the international situation

1) The global capitalist crisis began in 2008 and its effects continue to worsen the living conditions of the proletariat and the peoples of the world. This leads them around the world to wage different forms of struggle for their liberation.

2) The arrival on the world stage of new so-called emerging powers, whose known core is made up of the BRICS group: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, increasing the inter-imperialist rivalries with the multiplication of local clashes concerning domination; this constitutes the elements of a world war by proxy.

The first counter-offensive by the classical imperialist powers to stop the rise of the “emerging” countries was launched against Libya. They succeeded in regaining control with this counter-offensive, directed against China and Russia, as well as against the African peoples. At the end of the war France would have won 35% of Libyan oil. The second counter-offensive was against Syria; they have bitten the dust faced with the determination of the Syrian people but also with the policy of Russia and China. It is the same with the evolution of the situation in Iran.

II. On the African continent

1) Africa is the focus of all world contradictions: an abundance of untapped wealth, crying misery of the majority of the population, greed of the imperialists, cultural domination, military aggression against the peoples, installation of military bases in some countries to serve as Advanced Operational Bases such as Ivory Coast and Djibouti. The fight is fierce between the old powers and the new so-called emerging powers. This rivalry is the basis of all the conflicts of which the African peoples are the victims.

2) To protect its neo-colonial “backyard,” French imperialism resorts to the policy of direct military occupation of its former colonies. The military infrastructure of imperialism (French and U.S. – Africom – etc.) aim at criss-crossing Africa with assault troops through their military bases in Djibouti, Chad, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Sahel, Gulf of Guinea, etc. So from now on, Abidjan will officially serve as a rear base to attack the peoples of the sub-region.

The latest military intervention to date is the one taking place in the Central African Republic. Any excuse is good to intervene in the African countries: “Hunting a despot who refused to recognise the election results” for the Ivory Coast; “To help the Libyan people in revolt against the dictator Gaddafi” for Libya; “To fight the jihadists and restore the territorial integrity” of Mali; “To restore security and order and stop the massacres” for the Central African Republic. The tactics of imperialism are the same: To set a fire to give a pretext to intervene to put it out. However, we now know that it is the French intervention in Central Africa that is exacerbating the ethno-religious relations in the country disarming the Seleka and covering up the crimes of so-called Christian militias.

The PCRCI and PCB declare that French imperialism and its military forces are the only ones responsible for the current massacres of Central African citizens, particularly those of the Muslim faith and therefore for the ongoing genocide in that country.

The PCRCI and PCB denounce and condemn the military aggressions of international imperialism and particularly French imperialism, which is hiding behind the UN forces and behaves like a pyromaniac fireman to maintain its African backyard.

They pay tribute to all Africans who fell victim to the bullets of the French interventionist aggressors, whether in Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali, Central Africa, etc. And they declare them heroes and martyrs of African patriotism.

3) The PCRCI and PCB welcome the victories of the fraternal people of Tunisia under the leadership of the Workers’ Party and the Popular Front of Tunisia for Democracy against Islamist obscurantism, and for a democratic constitution.

They also greet the fraternal people of Niger who fought bravely against the plundering of the mineral resources, particularly uranium, which is the object of the AREVA group and for the sovereignty over its natural resources.

III. The situation in Benin and the Ivory Coast is characterised by the unchallenged domination of French imperialism whose monopolies control large parts of the national economies (ports, banks, energy, etc.).

1) In Benin, Yayi Boni, having ransacked the economy and finances of the country, aims to restore a fascist dictatorship of another age. It is against this that all the people are rising up to oppose him and establish the power of the workers and peoples. The PCRCI firmly supports the ongoing struggles of the Benin workers and youths in the struggles for their total emancipation and wish them a successful result.

2) In the Ivory Coast, under the false pretext of development after the disaster of the war period, the Ouattara authorities are confiscating the state media, stifling freedom, trying to ban student organisations and put in their place puppet structures. The Communist Party of Benin supports the struggles of the Ivorian people and the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast in their struggle against French imperialism and against the anti-democratic regime of Ouattara to liberate the Ivory Coast from neo-colonial dependency.

3) The Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI) thanks the Communist Party of Benin (PCB) and the INIREF-Benin for inviting it to the events for the commemoration of the International Day of the Mother Tongue and the celebration of the peoples of Benin.

The PCRCI and PCB send the proletariat, the peoples, the democrats and the youth the following call:

* NO TO MILITARY INTERVENTION AGAINST THE PEOPLES!
* NO TO FOREIGN MILITARY BASES OF AGGRESSION ON AFRICAN SOIL!
* IMPERIALISM OUT!

Cotonou, February 23, 2014

For the PCRCI: Yokore Gnagnon.
For the PCB: Philippe Noudjenoume

Source

Advertisements

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

pcrv

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

‘New race for colonies begins in Africa’

000_par7477992_copy.si

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.

Source

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations: Resolution on the West African Region and Mali

logo_mundo-copia

Since 2010, the West African region and particularly the sub-Saharan zone has been marked by the armed interference and intervention of the imperialist powers. The objectives of those actions are:

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

* Economic (access to the petroleum of the Gulf of Guinea and the Ivory Coast; to the uranium of Niger and the precious metals that abound in the region; to solar energy; cacao, coffee, etc.

* The struggle of the Anglo-Saxon (U.S. and Great Britain) and French imperialists to prevent the penetration into the region by new actors such as China, India, Brazil, etc.

* The will of the imperialist powers to crush any type of protest by the popular masses, who are condemned to misery and lacking in political freedom, as well as the repression that they suffer carried out by the corrupt puppet powers, and their desire to crush any revolutionary insurrectionary movement.

The military-political crisis after the military coup d’état of the National Committee for the Defense and Restoration of the State (CNRDE) of March 22, 2012, as well as the military occupation of the North of Mali, begun January 22, 2012, which covers two thirds of the national territory, an occupation carried out by the National Movement for the Liberation of AZAWAD (MNLA) and the “jihadists” (AQMI, ANSAR, DINE, MUJAO, BOKO, HARAM…) must be put in this context

The military-political crisis in Mali has grave consequences for the neighboring countries, particularly Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, etc. and the group of the countries of the west African region (destabilization of States, proliferation of arms, massive displacement of populations towards the South of Mali, and thousands of refugees in other neighboring countries).

The military-political crisis in Mali is also a threat to the interests of imperialism, particularly French imperialism, in that country and the whole region. That is why there are preparatory maneuvers for an open military intervention that the troops provided by the members countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can carry out, with the consent and logistical support of the great imperialist powers (France and U.S.A.) and of the UN under the pretext of “making a secure transition,” of “restoring constitutional life” and of “restoring Mali’s territorial integrity.” This is a reactionary plan by the imperialist powers and their allies in the region to maintain and reinforce their domination.

Faced with this serious situation, the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO):

* Denounces and condemns the puppet powers that have opened their territories (particularly in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) to the troops of imperialist aggression.

* Denounces and condemns the proclamation of independence of the State of AZAWAD by the MNLA, instrument of French imperialism.

* Denounces and condemns the crimes perpetrated against the peoples of the North of Mali by terrorist group AQMI and the Islamist groups ANSAR-DINE, MUJAO and the MNLA.

* Supports the brave resistance of the peoples, particularly of the youth, against oppression and medieval and obscurantist practices.

* Denounces and condemns the reactionary plan of the ECOWAS in Mali.

* Calls on the proletariat and peoples of the imperialist countries, particularly France, to support the Malian people in their struggle for a revolutionary solution of the military-political crisis.

* Calls for solidarity and support for the struggle of the peoples of the West African region against imperialist domination and their African lackeys.

Tunisia, November of 2012.

Source