April 2011


… the US does not have any positive or credible tradition of genuine assistance to freedom fighters and liberation movements in Africa.

Just as the US military carried out psychological warfare against US senators, one of the tasks of Africom is to rain down psychological warfare on Africans. Built in this subtle psychological warfare is the concept of the hierarchy of human beings and the superiority of the capitalist mode of production and ideas of Christian fundamentalism. It is on this front that we find a section of the US military known as the “Crusaders.” (Horace Campbell)

Ivory Coast and Libya in red, Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe in orange, these five countries are the only countries left in Africa that do not have partnerships, with AFRICOM. Ivory Coast and Libya already have active rebellions sponsored by the West, US, UK, France, and NATO.

Two [Ivory Coast and Libya] of only five [Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe] African nations that have not entered into individual and regional partnerships with the Pentagon through AFRICOM are the targets of violent uprisings aimed at toppling their governments and installing client regimes subservient to the U.S. and its NATO allies. Eritrea, Zimbabwe and a truncated Sudan will be left. And will be next. (Rick Rozoff)

Both Libya and Ivory Coast are already subject to western invasion, bombs and black ops in Libya, and attack helicopters, troops, mercenaries, and massacres in Ivory Coast. The United States forced the timing and the execution of the elections in Sudan that called for partition. The US has been demonizing Eritrea for some time, and accusing it of arming Somalia, although most of the arms in Somalia come in courtesy of the US. Zimbabwe’s Mugabe has been demonized for years.

On April 5 the chairman of the African Union, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, condemned French military operations in fellow West African nation Ivory Coast and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s war against Libya, stating: “Africa does not need any external influence. Africa must manage its own affairs.”

Though hardly a model of a democratic ruler, having come to power in a coup d’etat in 1979 and governed his nation uninterruptedly since, Obiang Nguema is the current head of the 53-nation African Union and his comments stand on their own regardless of their source.

In fact Obieng retains his position in large part because he is propped up by AFRICOM and US military contractors such as MPRI. He is one of the most cruel despots in the world, stealing the wealth of his country and his people, and leaving them with little or nothing. His words are still true, and should apply to himself as well.

Obieng “Each foreigner is susceptible to proposing erroneous solutions. African problems cannot be resolved with a European, American or Asian view.”

Only 30 months after becoming an independent command, AFRICOM has consolidated military-to-military relations with 50 African nations, including non-African Union member Morocco and the world’s newest state, South Sudan. Changes in government in Ivory Coast and Libya would add two more countries to that column.

Just as the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference divided the African continent into spheres of influence between the major European powers and the U.S., with Ivory Coast belonging to France and Libya later taken by Italy, so now the U.S. and all the major former European colonial masters, who are now fellow NATO member states – France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Turkey – are again planning to establish dominance over what has become the world’s second most populous continent. (Rick Rozoff

_________

Just as the US military carried out psychological warfare against US senators, one of the tasks of Africom is to rain down psychological warfare on Africans. Built in this subtle psychological warfare is the concept of the hierarchy of human beings and the superiority of the capitalist mode of production and ideas of Christian fundamentalism. It is on this front that we find a section of the US military known as the “Crusaders.”

Horace Campbell puts together information from speeches and articles, and tells us about the Crusaders:

… these Crusaders are bent on intensifying a war against Islam, and see themselves as protectors of Christianity. … these neoconservative elements dominate the top echelons of the US military, including figures such as former commander of US forces in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Vice Admiral William McRaven. These crusaders have held American foreign policy hostage. Hersh said, “What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over.”
… a lengthy report that placed General David Petraeus at the heart of the Crusaders.

Not only do these Crusaders have control over the US military, they are also linked with a faction of the Catholic Church called “Opus Dei,” an arch conservative order that has links with international banking, finance, militarism, and intelligence formations. Besides Opus Dei, one finds the fundamentalist evangelicals in the US, who are linked to the forces of Islamophobia and corporate elements. One crucial figure in this world of neoconservative militarist was Dick Cheney, former US vice president and chairperson of Halliburton. It is worth noting that it was from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush) that the idea for United States Africa Command originated.

Many of these Crusaders are overt white supremacists.
The careers of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and their corporate allies in the Carlyle Group, General Electric and Cerebrus spawn a world-wide web of conservative militarists, politicians, intellectuals and capitalists. These crusaders do not only disdain other cultures and religions, they have little or no regards for people of color.

For some time, there have been open disagreements within the military between these Crusaders and another section of the military called the “Rocks.”
Originally, the “Rocks” were formed by senior officers in the military who are non-whites. Colin Powell first wrote of the existence of the Rocks in the US military in his book, My American Journey. Although the narrative on equal opportunity in the US military has been part of the public discourse in the US, these officers faced discrimination and felt left out of the “white old boy networks” in the military. … these black army officers chafed as they saw their counterparts rising to the highest ranks and going through the revolving door of the military industrial complex and private military contractors.

Although the Rocks started out among the ranks of officers of color, by the time Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld intensified the politicization of the military, decent officers who were not crusaders identified with one philosophy of the Rocks: that the military should not be used for the interest of private capital. Many of the rank and file who learnt of the treatment of former servicemen after their tour of duty became Rocks, so that today the Army at its core e is dominated by the Rocks.

… the billionaire Koch Brothers stand out as a formidable financial backbone of crusade activism.

… In the New Yorker magazine we were treated to a very detailed analysis of the neoconservative war by Jane Mayer, Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are At War with Obama.

In the Bush years, the Crusaders conceptualized the US as being in a permanent global war, using the phrase, “global war on terror” (GWOT), to justify their link to particular factions of Wall Street and the manipulation of national security for political and capital ends. …

For a short while when the book, Dark Sahara, by Jeremy Keenan exposed the fabrication of terrorism in North Africa, the Crusaders temporarily retreated. When the Free Officers Movement from Algeria (MAOL) corroborated some of the information that had been outlined in the book by Keenan, the Crusaders toned down the language on Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and instead focused on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. However, with the sweep of revolution across Yemen and the downgrading of the importance of the bogy of terrorism in Yemen, the forward planners inside the Pentagon decided to go all out to rehabilitate Africom in the service of the Crusaders.

In the face of the public opposition from African thinkers and opinion makers, the forward planners for the Crusaders moved to spend money among struggling academics to promote an ideological onslaught to legitimize the United States Africa Command. Beside this intense work among social scientists, the forward planners among the Crusaders decided to employ the services of propaganda firms to fan the flames of Islamophobia in Africa. Africom has embarked on a massive public relations campaign to sell itself as a force for humanitarianism and development in Africa. Hence, for the past two years, almost all aspects of the United States foreign policy in Africa have been subordinated to the Pentagon. Essentially, with the force of only 1,500, Africom serves to hand out contract to private military contractors. … These licenses are granted through the State Department so that the US Africa Command gets the contract for training African armies and then there is subcontracting to firms such as Dyncorp, one of the most energetic of the military contractors in Africa. DynCorp, essentially private army is now owned by Cerberus, one of the largest private equity investment firms in the United States.

… The posture statement of the United States Africa Command declares that, Africom “contributes to increasing security and stability in Africa—allowing African states and regional organizations to promote democracy, to expand development, to provide for their common defense, and to better serve their people. “ However, as the relationship with the dictator Obiang exposes, Africom is more concerned with the stability and security of US petroleum interests in Equatorial Guinea than with the democratic rights of the people.

The use of private capitalist armies by the US military crusaders in the Middle East has peaked in Iraq and Afghanistan, hence the consolidation of their market frontier in Africa.

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt shocked the Crusaders and they calculated on how to make a move to gain the support from the US society and consolidate Africom. The debate over saving civilians in Libya provided the best opportunity, and Barack Obama opened the door to strengthening the crusaders – the very forces who do not believe that Obama was born in the USA.

… The Crusaders waited for the moment to bring back their public push for Africom. And they seized it.

AFRICOM is the tool of acquisitive neocolonial crusaders, the most racist and reactionary elements in the US military. Their PR campaigns feature lots of photo-op good deeds, builidng roads, digging wells, painting schools. The soldiers who do these jobs are generally good hearted decent people. As Campbell points out, few are acquainted with the history of US military involvement in Africa. We need to remember that history and avoid continuing it.

The US was complicit in the planning of the murder of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, after which they propped up the monstrous dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who raped and pillaged the country and established a recursive process of war, rape, plunder, corruption, and brutality which the Congo still suffers from till today. Jonas Savimbi was sponsored by the US to cause destabilization and terror in Angola. The US gave military, material and moral support to the apartheid regime in South Africa while anti-apartheid freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela, were designated as terrorists. … The US has yet to tell the truth about how Charles Taylor escaped from its prison custody in Massachusetts to go destabilize Liberia.

Read Campbell’s entire article: US Military and Africom: Between the rocks and the crusaders

After reading that read his more recent article: Libya must not be partitioned. Partitioning Libya is exactly what the big oil companies are seeking. The neocolonialists are seeking to repartition Africa according to their current competition for resources. And as in the previous scramble for Africa they are trying to portray their rapacious acquisition as humanitarian.

The raging debates at the highest levels of the US National Security establishment and various interests within NATO over the current military ‘stalemate’ in Libya conceals an even more competitive effort on the ground in Libya by petroleum interests who are keen on dividing up the territory to ensure access to the vast oil resources of Libya. At the forefront of this aggressive partitioning effort is the French military, political and oil establishment that has not only recognised the transitional government in Benghazi but has also been the most pushy on advancing military options even in the face of opposition from other NATO members such as Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey.

I also recommend Mamdani’s article: Libya: behind the politics of humanitarian intervention.

Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that humanitarian intervention does not end with the removal of the danger it purports to target. It only begins with it.

Having removed the target, the intervention grows and turns into the real problem. This is why to limit the discussion of the Libyan intervention to its stated rationale – saving civilian lives – is barely scratching the political surface.

The UN process is notable for two reasons. First, the resolution was passed with a vote of 10 in favour and five abstaining. The abstaining governments – Russia, China, India, Brazil, Germany – represent the vast majority of humanity.

The second thing notable about the UN process is that though the Security Council is central to the process of justification, it is peripheral to the process of execution.

These days, to be a leader of a nation, a presidential candidate does not have to achieve a majority of votes in a free, fair and transparent election. All that one needs, is to be “internationally recognised” by the “international community” as the winner of the election.

However, in the case of a “not-favoured” ruler, the predatory countries would quickly jump in, calling the ruler barbaric, delusional, etc. They would declare that the ruler had lost his “mandate” and needed to go. Yes, these days, it is the “international community” that decides which national leader has a mandate of his people. Incredible! If the leader does not, the Security Council immediately makes a decision that allows the predatory country to start bombing.

Battle for Abidjan French-armoured-vehicles join fight

On Being Internationally Recognised
By Kwesi Adu
Saturday, 9 April 2011

“These days, to be a leader of a nation, a presidential candidate does not have to achieve a majority of votes in a free, fair and transparent election. All that one needs, is to be “internationally recognised” by the “international community” as the winner of the election.

An important initial requirement is to be the favoured candidate of the “international community”. Even if there are chances that one may lose the vote, all that the “international community’s favoured candidate needs to do is to create doubt in people’s minds. This is done by creating confusion and chaos during the elections. Actions such as ballot box snatching, fomenting fighting at polling stations or kidnapping of the representatives of the other party will do fine. If the other side should dare to respond by attempting to restore sanity, their attempt would be misrepresented and portrayed as a deliberate attempt to rig the election. The “international community” would then make a declaration that the favoured candidate won the elections and would order the other side to respect the “wishes of their people”.

It is even sweeter if the other side is the incumbent candidate. The obvious line would be “This is an incumbent who does not want to leave power”. As soon as the “international community” make their pronouncement, it would be a trigger for the supporters of the favoured candidate to occupy the streets and call on the other to concede.

If the other side does not “concede”, the western press, particularly, the BBC, CNN, VOA, Agence Presse Internationale, etc would be on the heels of the “not-favoured” candidate. They would taunt him/her, with suggestions that he/she should go into exile. If he/she refuses, the supporters of the favoured candidate would go on the rampage; and if, in the event, they kill or maim opponents of the “not-favoured” candidate, it would be blamed on the “not-favoured” candidate who would then be threatened with a trial at the International Criminal Court.

In such a scenario, the “international community” would table a motion at the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the “not-favoured” candidate, his close associates, his/her spouse, the children, as well as their pets. They would be a travel ban. His/her assets, whether or not they have any abroad, would be frozen. In some cases, individual members of the “international community” may even go ahead and “nationalise” state assets of the country, and call them the personal assets of the “not-favoured” candidate.

The UN and the ICC prosecutor would be on the prowl on village cemeteries, looking for anybody who might have been buried in the past 6 months, and threaten to use the corpses as evidence of “atrocities” committed on the instructions of the “not-favoured” candidate.

If all these do not work, the military and security agencies would be encouraged to act to install the favoured candidate. If they do not comply, sanctions would be expanded to include restrictions on the national central bank to make it difficult for the military to be paid. Woe betides the “not-favoured” if he/she is the incumbent. If the country belongs to a regional grouping, such as an ECOWAS or an Arab League, they would be relied upon to lead the campaign against the not-favoured candidate.

Lest I forget! In the 21st century, if a third world country joins a regional grouping, the regional grouping becomes the owner of that country. As a result, the regional grouping would have sovereignty over the country, and have the right to invade the country or call on the UN Security Council and the ”International Community” to invade.

These days, the abuse of the UN Security Council as a tool in the hands of the predatory countries has become more blatant. As soon as the predatory countries decide that a third world country should be invaded, they obtain an automatic endorsement from the UN Security Council. As soon as the decision is made, they do not wait for the Security Council to draw up the modalities for the invasion. Within three hours of the decision, the predatory powers start bombing the victim countries.

The New World Political Order (NEWPO) is becoming more interesting by the day. If the leadership of a country is a client state of the predatory countries, that leadership can do whatever it wants. They can steal and loot the national coffers: it will not matter as long as the multinational companies of the predatory countries squeeze more profit from the client state. Such a client state does not need to hold periodic elections; they do not need to respect human rights; indeed, they can slaughter people every Friday at the square. No one would hear a genuine criticism from the “international community”. On the contrary they would describe that government as “stable” and that it needs some more time. Even when the citizens occupy the streets to protest against their suffering at the hands of the “favoured” ruler, the predatory powers would ask the citizens to “shut-up”. It is only when the citizens refuse to “shut-up” that the favoured rulers are asked to make changes.

However, in the case of a “not-favoured” ruler, the predatory countries would quickly jump in, calling the ruler barbaric, delusional, etc. They would declare that the ruler had lost his “mandate” and needed to go. Yes, these days, it is the “international community” that decides which national leader has a mandate of his people. Incredible! If the leader does not, the Security Council immediately makes a decision that allows the predatory country to start bombing.

There would happen even if the neighbourhood, other “favoured” rulers would be busily killing hordes of people.

By the way, there is this nice statement. “We oppose him because he is killing his own people”. Does it mean that it is all right to kill other people’s people?

However, this is the New World Political Order for you. These days, if one is a favoured politician, the person does not need to wait for an election. If he can summon about 1% of the population unto the streets, it is enough to attract calls for a regime-change if the incumbent is considered “not-favoured”. Within ten days, the “international community” would start bombing to install the favoured politician.

It is even more sad when politicians who can easily fall victim to this New World Political Order take unprincipled decisions in support of the policy. One fervently hopes that it does not happen to them one day. But if one day, the scales are turned on them, one may not be surprised to hear oneself singing “EHz ye de too, era ye de too Beebe ewe”

That is what it means to be “internationally recognised”. If the predatory powers decide not to recognise you, you are finished, especially if you belong not just to a “banana republic” but a “cocoa republic” as well.”

Soldiers loyal to Alassane Ouattara at a checkpoint at one of the principal entrances to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Tuesday.

Battle for Abidjan -Gbagbo Militants escape fierce fighting

photo credit

What France and the United States have done for Haiti, they can do for Ivory Coast.

“The French and UN are laying the foundation to create another “Haiti-like” political and social situation for their advantage in Cote d’Ivoire. They will install their oligarchy, flood the country with NGO’s, have a permanent UN “peacekeeping” force (in reality AFRICOM forces), oppress the people while they plunder their resources. Nothing changes but the faces! ” (Jazzuloo)

Motto: Protecting civilians by bombing the side we ‘don’t like’ when they are attacked by the side we ‘like’.

While this is going on:

… the United States is constructing, not in Lagos or in Accra, but in Abidjan, a surveillance centre covering all of sub-Saharan Africa, along with the most significant diplomatic representation in Africa south of the Sahara after South Africa. (Maurice Fahe)

French soldiers are shown patrolling as part of the French Force Licorne in Port Bouet district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Saturday.

There is no honest argument that justifies military support to either side in Côte d’Ivoire. Despite the story spread by the French and the Americans that Ouattara won, they call him the “internationally recognized” winner, the only truth in that comes from the constant repetition.

Here is the sequence of events regarding the Ivoirian election as I understand it.

It is not possible to determine who really won the election.

The AU observer mission said the Ivory Coast elections were not credible, and documented why.

European and American observers starting spreading stories that the African observers were not credible.

Youssouf Bakayoko, the President of the Electoral Commission, failed to announce the preliminary results within the constitutionally stipulated 72-hour period.

The French and US ambassadors escorted Youssouf Bakayoko, without the other members of the Electoral Commission, to the hotel that was Ouattara’s headquarters to announce Ouattara had won the election.

This announcement was made to the French media only, no Ivoirian media were present.

According to the Ivoirian constitution the Electoral Commission announces the preliminary results only, the official results are declared by the Constitutional Council.

The Constitutional Council declared Gbagbo the winner.

Mr. Choi, the UN Representative, publicly disowned the results of the Constitutional Council by “certifying” that the winner of the election was Mr. Ouattara.

Then 5 out of 15 ECOWAS heads of state voted for military intervention.

General Hogg from AFRICOM visited Ghana and other countries of West Africa early this year trying to get Ghana involved in a military action in Ivory Coast.

Where Mr. Choi got the authority for that certification remains a mystery. He took it upon himself to override the constitution of a sovereign country. It looks like he was acting on instructions of the French and the US. The supposed win of Ouattara is a creation of the French and US ambassadors. The media have faithfully parroted that message. The AU observer mission said the elections were not credible. The Ivoirian Constitutional Council, the only body, according to the Ivoirian constitution, with authority to declare election results, announced Gbagbo as the winner.

Both leaders enjoy significant support and their supporters genuinely believe that others seek to cheat them out of deserved victory. The imposition of either leader on Ivoirians will escalate the conflict. And we are seeing that happen. Even assuming Gbagbo is ousted in the next day or two, the reprisals will continue.

You can see expanded information on this sequence of events, with sources and links, in my earlier post Côte d’Ivoire – Military Intervention Vs Constitutional Legitimacy

As ThePaper commented at MoA:

And meanwhile the French are still promising a fast outcome out of the Ivory Coast mess. Another UN/French successful peacemaking effort. No neocolonial games being played here either. We are a neutral force, it’s not like both sides and have a proved record of ‘respecting’ human rights and law. We are there to protect civilians … by bombing the side we ‘don’t like’ while they are being attacked by the side we ‘like’. You see if we kill enough people fast enough it will end sooner and less civilians will end dying … at least until the civil war reignites in a couple weeks or months.

That effort is well underway:

France intervenes in Ivory Coast’s civil war
By Ann Talbot
7 April 2011
In the last 24 hours, France has directly intervened in the fighting in Ivory Coast as it seeks to reassert its control over its former colony.

French helicopters bombarded forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday afternoon, ground forces loyal to rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara were unleashed in an assault on the presidential residence. Nonetheless, as of late last night, Ouattara’s troops had retreated after a failed assault on the bunkers where Gbagbo is thought to be hiding.

Ivory Coast’s long-standing military standoff between Ouattara’s northern forces and Gbagbo loyalists has flared since the disputed November 28 presidential election. France and the NATO powers recognized Ouattara as the winner of the election.

French representatives negotiated with Gbagbo through Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The talks finally broke down in the afternoon and pro-Ouattara forces launched what they described as the “final assault” on the presidential residence. Their intention, they said, was to “fetch him out” of his bunker. The intensity of the fighting was shown by reports that windows had been blown out of the embassies in the diplomatic district.

A terrified resident speaking over the phone told Reuters, “The fighting is terrible here. The explosions are so heavy my building is shaking. We can hear automatic gunfire and also heavy weapons. There’s shooting all over the place. Cars are speeding in all directions and so are the fighters”.

A military spokesman denied that French armed forces were involved in the fighting. But residents reported seeing French tanks on the streets. UN helicopters were seen flying over the presidential residence as the fighting raged.

Video from several miles away shows huge explosions rocking the city of Abidjan, home to four million people. Missiles can be seeing flying past the camera suggesting that a munitions dump was hit. What the scale of damage was closer to the barracks is still unknown, but one resident reported that a rocket had gone through the roof of a house, killing three people.

The leader of the United Nations team in Ivory Coast (UNOCI), Hamadoun Toure, was already briefed to expect a rapid denouement when he spoke to the BBC’s Today programme on Wednesday morning.

“We hope to find a solution very, very soon, so that it will be the end of the game,” he said.

Edouard Guillaud of the French armed forces expressed a similar view later in the day. He told Europe 1 Radio that Gbagbo would go soon: “I believe it is a matter of hours, possibly during the day”.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé told Reuters, “The negotiations which were carried out for hours yesterday between the entourage of Laurent Gbagbo and Ivorian authorities have failed because of Gbagbo’s intransigence”.

Gbagbo had reportedly insisted that he should be allowed to remain in Ivory Coast and that he be given UN protection. Though Gbagbo won almost half the vote in November’s election, according to international observers, these demands were apparently unacceptable to France.

France’s intervention shatters all the French government’s claims that its role in Ivory Coast was that of a bystander seeking to protect the population from harm. Instead, it is acting with the support of the US government to violently assert Western imperialist interests—in Ivory Coast and internationally.

France’s role in Ivory Coast has been praised by Washington. President Barack Obama welcomed the role of the French and UN forces and called on Gbagbo to step down.

“To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbagbo must stand down immediately, and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms”, Obama said. “I strongly support the role that United Nations peacekeepers are playing as they enforce their mandate to protect civilians, and I welcome the efforts of French forces who are supporting that mission”.

Since the start of the conflict in Ivory Coast, Paris and Washington have turned a blind eye to more substantial massacres of civilians by supporters of Ouattara—including one of up to 1,000 people in a single village. (See, “Civilians massacred by Western-backed forces in Ivory Coast”)

This is part of a broader explosion of French militarism in Africa. President Nicolas Sarkozy also led the way in calling for a no-fly zone in Libya. France was the first to recognize the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi as the rightful government of Libya. This has set a pattern for France in relation to Ivory Coast. France and Nigeria drafted UN resolution 1975, which gives UNOCI a mandate to protect civilians. It was drawn up on the same lines as the resolution that allowed NATO jets to attack military Libyan military positions.

Within days of the Ivory Coast resolution being agreed, France and UNOCI went into action in Abidjan. They bombarded the palace and presidential residence as well as Akueodo and Agban barracks on Tuesday. They justified their action by claiming that pro-Gbagbo forces had used heavy artillery against civilians.

The UN resolution did not authorize the French to attack, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote to Sarkozy to request French help. “It is urgent to launch necessary military operations to put out of action the heavy arms which have been used against the civilian population and the peacekeepers”, Ban Ki-moon said.

Gbagbo has in the past worked closely with Paris. He has whipped up ethnic and communal hostilities in an attempt to remain in power, targeting immigrant labourers who came to Ivory Coast from neighbouring Burkina Faso in the 1960s and 1970s as scapegoats as the economy has declined. This lay the basis for a protracted conflict with Ouattara, a northerner whom he excluded from the 2000 presidential elections, claiming that Ouattara’s parents were not born in Ivory Coast.

Paris recognised Gbagbo’s election at the time, even though he had excluded Ouattara, because he had close connections with then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and France’s Socialist Party.

Gbagbo’s relations with France deteriorated, however, when he blocked French attempts to impose a power-sharing regime that would include northerners to end the civil war. Gbagbo broke a cease-fire in 2004 and launched a military assault on the north, during which a French base was hit. Paris responded by destroying the entire Ivorian air force.

When crowds came out onto the streets of Abidjan to protest this action, French helicopters dropped tear gas and concussion grenades on them, armoured cars took up positions on the bridges and gunboats patrolled the river underneath them.

The arrogant way in which France has asserted its authority in this situation underscores its continuing imperialist oppression of its former colony. Ivory Coast was granted formal independence along with the rest of French West Africa in 1960. However, France has always retained a troop presence in Ivory Coast under the terms of a military agreement signed in 1961.

Neither Gbagbo nor Ouattara appears likely to bring any good to Ivory Coast. But that is not for people outside the Ivory Coast to judge or determine.

Kwesi Pratt maintains that Gbagbo is president according to the Ivoirian constitution. When you look at the sequence of events above, that makes sense. Pratt has recommended negotiation and new elections.

Speaking on Radio Gold, an Accra based radio station, Kwasi Pratt Jnr expressed fears that the attack may be aimed at something more apocalyptic than the surrender of Gbagbo. “The attacks were aimed at killing the legitimate president of Ivory Coast,” he said. “This is an act of barbarism which must be condemned by all citizens of the world. The French have no mandate to assassinate any president anywhere in the world.”

There is no justification for military interference except to further colonial control and imperial ambitions. For those, military invasion works very well.

________

Added April 15:
From Inner City Press:

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 — French government memos obtained by Inner City Press reflect, as far back as 2005, France and the UN wanted to “put in place a plan of action to destablize Laurent Gbagbo.” See document here, under the rubric “From New York: Departure of Gbagbo.”

The French were monitoring, to say the least, plans for a coup d’etat against Gbagbo, that would result in Gbagbo’s “displacement” outside of Cote d’Ivoire. See document here.

France’s internal reporting on military forces and leaders in Cote d’Ivoire is here.

Also obtained by Inner City Press is the French analysis of the “failure” of African leaders Tandja, Mbeki of South Africa and Obasanjo of Nigeria — later given UN mandates and pay elsewhere. Click here and here for French analyses of the three heres, and here again for a French memo on the intentions of Guillaume Soro, referring to another childhood friend of Gbagbo and his “ethnie Bete” — Bete ethnicity.

After Inner City Press’ publication on April 8 of the first installment in this series, which endeavors to use primary documents as background to recent action in Cote d’Ivoire — as well as to question why a French diplomat, Romain Serman, arrested in New York for attempt purchase of cocaine and resisting arrest, has resurfaced as France’s general consul in San Francisco

Human rights advocate and former ambassador Craig Murray has this to say about Ouattara:
Truth and Ivory Coast

This is the fundamental flaw in liberal interventionism. It inevitably leads to the imposition of governments like the ultra-corrupt coastal elite of Sierra Leone, like Bosnian and Albanian gangster mafias or like Alassane Ouattara. … The essential advice is simple. Follow the money.

Now we must not make the reverse error of glorifying the Gbagbo side. Gbagbo clung to office and postponed elections too long. He played the ethnic card. He indulged in nepotism. His forces killed the innocent. He was one of those noble and longstanding opposition figures who becomes something of a nightmare in power. His side cheated, beat and intimidated just as much as Ouattara’s side in elections which it is farcical to claim were free, fair and properly administered, or were any kind of realistic guide to the will of the people of a deeply riven state. I hope that Gbagbo is decently treated, but do not regret his loss of power.

The massacre of 800 people at Duekoue a fortnight ago is thankfully extremely rare, and was without doubt committed by Ouattara mobilised militias. …

Consider this about Ouattara. He was Prime Minister to a truly dreadful African despot, Houphouet-Boigny, who was dictator of Ivory Coast for 33 years. Houphouet-Boigny moved the capital to his home village and spent US$300 million on building the world’s largest church there. He looted US$9 billion from the people of Ivory Coast. Ouattara was his ally, his finance minister then prime minister, and has never disavowed him. …

But also Houphouet-Boigny and Ouattara’s Ivory Coast was the base for both French military and CIA operations throughout the continent and for promoting the very worst kind of western interests – which is why Africans view with huge suspicion Ouattara’s instalment by Western forces.

Ivory Coast was allied to apartheid South Africa and was the sanctions busting capital of Africa. Vast amounts of goods, including but not limited to oil, were consigned to Ivory Coast on their papers and trans-shipped to the apartheid regime to bust sanctions. Ivory Coast also provided all the logistic back-up to Jonas Savimbi and UNITA and it was in Abidjan that the CIA and apartheid regime worked together to promote the terrible Angolan civil war.

It was also in Abidjan that the CIA organised the coup that overthrew Kwame Nkrumah and planned the death of Patrice Lumumba. …

Ouattara became head of the african department and deputy managing director of the IMF in the 1980s when that organisation was forcing disastrous structural adjustment programmes all over the continent. African nations were forced to liberalise, reduce tariffs and open up their economies when no such constraints were placed on the developing nations with which they were trading. To give just one example of how this worked, which I personally tried but failed to counter: Nigeria was forced by the IMF to reduce tariffs on imported sugar. The EU then flooded Nigeria with millions of tons of sugar, at one third of the cost of its production, with the remaining two thirds paid to European farmers as export subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy. Nigeria’s sugar plantations – which were actually very efficient – collapsed under the unfair subsidised competition from which Nigeria was not allowed to protect them. That was Ouattara. France was very happy with him.

So not only does Ouattara need to heal the deep divisions in his own population, he has to prove to the rest of Africa he is not just a western tool.

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. (Pepe Escobar 4/2/11)

Why would the ouster of Qaddafi be such a high priority for the United States? One reason could be that Qaddafi has been leading a Pan-African movement under the auspices of the African Union, similar to the unification effort spearheaded by Hugo Chavez in South America. Libya’s oil revenues have played a large role in supporting Qaddafi’s African initiative, which aims for Africa’s economic empowerment by breaking the vestiges of European economic control of Africa. This is a key reason why Qaddafi enjoys varying degrees of popularity in what is sometimes called “Black Africa.” (Imam Zaid Shakir)

Some of the countries in Africa given an assist by Libya (click to enlarge enough to read)

original graphic here

Nov 24, 2010 (Reuters) – Libya is using money from oil exports to pour aid and investment into its African neighbours, a policy which diplomats and analysts say gives it increasing political clout on the continent.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said earlier this year he was offering to invest $97 billion in the continent to free it from Western influence, on condition that African states rid themselves of corruption and nepotism.

Libya is one of the biggest contributors to the budget of the African Union, the 53-country body which is supposed to function along the lines of the European Union. A senior Libyan diplomat told Reuters Libya is one of five countries — the others are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa — which cover 75 percent of the union’s budget.

BCA March 15, 2011. By 2002, subsidiaries of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), had accumulated or extended investments in at least 31 countries throughout Africa. The largest investments were in Zambian telecommunications firm Zamtel ($394 million) and in oil storage and pipeline infrastructure linking Moanda to Matadi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (around $300 million). (h/t MoA)

So what exactly is going on? Here’s the deal:

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a “yes” vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya – the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online.

… only nine out of 22 members of the Arab League voted for the no-fly zone. The vote was essentially a House of Saud-led operation, with Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa keen to polish his CV with Washington with an eye to become the next Egyptian President.

Thus, in the beginning, there was the great 2011 Arab revolt. Then, inexorably, came the US-Saudi counter-revolution.

Exposed, above all, is the astonishing hypocrisy of the Obama administration, selling a crass geopolitical coup involving northern Africa and the Persian Gulf as a humanitarian operation. As for the fact of another US war on a Muslim nation, that’s just a “kinetic military action”. (Pepe Escobar 4/2/11)

This all fits into the big picture:

In the big picture, the combined role of the Pentagon global tentacles falls under the Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which aims to prevent any developing nation, or group of nations, from establishing alliances or preferential relationships with both China and Russia. (Pepe Escobar 3/24/11)

I would add that it is not just ties with Russia and China that are the target of full spectrum dominance, it is any south south ties that would strengthen the power of the developing world and its ability to control its own development and destiny. The Pentagon wishes to prevent ties among the countries of Africa, unless they function through its Africa Command. And they also wish to prevent African ties with Brazil and India, who along with Russia and China comprise the BRIC countries.

In the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski:

… the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.

And as Mahmood Mamdani points out:

War furthers many interests. Each war is a laboratory for testing the next generation of weapons. It is well known that the Iraq war led to more civilian than military victims.

The debate then was over whether or not these casualties were intended. In Libya, the debate is over facts. It points to the fact that the US and NATO are perfecting a new generation of weapons, weapons meant for urban warfare, weapons designed to minimise collateral damage.

The objective is to destroy physical assets with minimum cost in human lives. The cost to the people of Libya will be of another type. The more physical assets are destroyed, the less sovereign will be the next government in Libya.

The more a country’s physical assets are destroyed, the less sovereign that country will be, anywhere, any country. This is a great convenience for those who wish to exploit the natural resources of that country.

The West has tried to marginalize the African Union before, in Darfur:

For a time the African Union was able to stabilize the situation, … The European Union, who paid the troop salaries, began to withhold funds on grounds of accountability, and it gradually killed off the peacekeeping operations. … “There is a concerted attempt being made to shift the political control of any intervention force … from inside Africa to outside Africa.” In other words, the U.S. and Europe are eager to control the dynamic of what happens in Africa and not allow an indigenous, inter-state agency to gain either the experience this would provide or the respect it would gain if it succeeds. The African Union has been undermined so that only the U.S. can appear as the savior.

Prof. Sam Hamod believes that undermining the African Union is the main goal of the US/NATO assault on Libya. He writes:

… one of the major reasons the US and EU want to get rid of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. It’s not about “human rights.” That is a cover — they want to stop Qaddafi’s money that is going to form and support the African Union.

Without Qaddafi’s money, there will be no money for African Union peace-keeping forces, no major unity in Africa and no power to stop the continued colonialism of America and the EU from advancing further into Africa.

This is about not only the EU’s desire to control Libyan “sweet crude,” but also about the West’s attempt at stopping the full development of the African Union.

The reports are now public that the US had CIA boots on the ground in LIbya before the military action, that Obama authorized this secretly several weeks ago, and that the rebel leader has longstanding ties to the CIA. He has been living near Langley in Virginia for years. And he doesn’t just live near Langley, he has CIA ties going back to 1987.

A CIA commander for the Libyan rebels
The agency was very familiar with Hifter’s military and political work. A Washington Post report of March 26, 1996 describes an armed rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya and uses a variant spelling of his name. The article cites witnesses to the rebellion who report that “its leader is Col. Khalifa Haftar, of a contra-style group based in the United States called the Libyan National Army.”

A 2001 book, Manipulations africaines, published by Le Monde diplomatique , traces the CIA connection even further back, to 1987, reporting that Hifter, then a colonel in Gaddafi’s army, was captured fighting in Chad in a Libyan-backed rebellion against the US-backed government of Hissène Habré. He defected to the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF), the principal anti-Gaddafi group, which had the backing of the American CIA. He organized his own militia, which operated in Chad until Habré was overthrown by a French-supported rival, Idriss Déby, in 1990.

According to this book, “the Haftar force, created and financed by the CIA in Chad, vanished into thin air with the help of the CIA shortly after the government was overthrown by Idriss Déby.” The book also cites a Congressional Research Service report of December 19, 1996 that the US government was providing financial and military aid to the LNSF and that a number of LNSF members were relocated to the United States.

For more on who is sponsoring the rebels, with information on the British and French involvement as well see:
Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?

So far the rebel forces don’t amount to much. If there is to be a war of rebellion, it will have to be entirely created by the United states, recruiting, arming, and training. The rebels are measured in the hundreds, not thousands:

The rebels are comprised of drivers, teachers, businessmen and other inexperienced fighters striving to shift from being protesters to infantry riflemen.

There is a small group of so-called Special Forces who appear to lead the rebels’ efforts at building a military operation, but they’re only slightly better equipped and trained than the great mass of anti-Gadhafi fighters.

The inexperience is evident: Many, if not most, rebels flee when actual fighting begins. Without allied airstrikes — there were none here on Tuesday — there is no moving forward.

The closer the sounds, the more panicked they became. The flank on the ridge collapsed in minutes as the rebels drove back. Most it turned out had no intention of fighting when it mattered.

Qaddafi is always problematic, even while saying and doing things that are of great benefit, his other words and actions make one cringe. But one can dislike Qaddafi and still understand Libya is a sovereign country.

Certainly, Qaddafi is no angel – likewise Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein were guilty of despotism, crimes against humanity and more. But those who make such charges miss the irony of their rhetoric, given that they support the unbridled use of violence by far more powerful military forces against largely civilian populations, leading to death tolls that far exceed those committed by the puppet dictators they seek to overthrow. That these dictators and despots committed their own atrocities with weapons supplied by Western nations is never mentioned, for doing so would lay bare their hypocrisy. “We must kill to avoid killing,” is the ideology they promote, oblivious to the inherent contradiction that lies within.

And of course, there’s little mention of the genuinely brutal oppression in places like Bahrain, where the Saudi military were called in to massacre protesters there, or the recent outbreak of airstrikes and incursions into Gaza by the IDF over the weekend. Because they’re our “allies” and their crimes – like our own – are completely permissible.
(Andy Dilks)

Libya has the largest estimated oil reserves of any African country. It is also the former home of a US military base, and the US would really like to start basing its Africa Command in Africa.

Qaddafi’s Pan-African effort coincides with the rising economic role of China in Africa. Since 2001, trade between Africa and China has increased from $10 billion to more than $110 billion. The United States has noticed the growing influence of Libya and China in Africa and has responded, in part, by establishing a new American military command for Africa (AFRICOM) in 2006. A critical objective of AFRICOM is to unite the continent’s 53 countries into a unified, pro-American strategic and economic zone, which would involve both regime changes and “humanitarian” interventions to stabilize the continent. Some critics of U.S. policy in Africa say the ultimate objective of AFRICOM is to ensure that America—and not China—becomes the principal foreign beneficiary of Africa’s tremendous wealth.

To date, no African nation has agreed to serve as the hosting country for AFRICOM’s primary base. All of that could change with the emergence of a post-Qaddafi regime in Libya that owes its existence to the US-led intervention. It should be noted that Libya was the home of Wheelus Air Base, the largest American military installation in Africa, before the coup orchestrated by Qaddafi against King Idris in 1969.

While nationalization significantly curtailed the development of Libya’s petroleum and gas resources, Qaddafi has sought to expand exploration and production in partnership with major western oil companies in recent years. The Libyan national oil company, however, still controls the terms of trade, which most western companies view as prohibitive. Western energy companies consider Libya a risky investment climate and are seeking better terms from the Libyan regime. Optimal terms [for the west] could only be obtained by something similar to an “Iraq oil law,” which remains unlikely in Libya while the Qaddafi-led regime is in power. A regime change is likely viewed by many foreign firms as a means to completely opening up access to Libya’s petrochemical resources.

For France, the conflict in Libya offers an opportunity to reassert its control over Niger’s uranium deposits, a critical goal for a country that relies on nuclear power as its primary source of electricity. For decades, France had a monopoly over Niger’s uranium production. Today, France still imports 40% of its uranium from Niger, where it is currently completing the world’s largest uranium mine. (Imam Zaid Shakir)

Humanitarian intervention, particularly the military version, is seldom humanitarian.

Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that humanitarian intervention does not end with the removal of the danger it purports to target.

It only begins with it. Having removed the target, the intervention grows and turns into the real problem. This is why to limit the discussion of the Libyan intervention to its stated rationale – saving civilian lives – is barely scratching the political surface. (Mahmood Mamdani)

Charles Onyango-Obbo in No-fly zone strikes terror in African leaders’ hearts, courtesy of Roger Pociask, discusses the reaction to the assault on Libya from African leaders. Some of them are experiencing a bit of buyers remorse, particularly Nigeria and South Africa who helped approve UN Resolution 1973. He says the public reaction of African leaders can be guaged by how much money they receive from the US. Even so, pro-US leaders feel that the US and NATO have overstepped their authority and are seeking regime change. In West Africa particularly, there is fear of the spillover of violence from Libya into nearby countries.

Some thinkers I have read recently think that the fall of Qaddafi and the end of his financial support will mean the end of Pan-Africanism. Others think that this deliberate assault on Libya will create a resurgence of Pan-African activism. I see signs in a number of places that a resurgence is already underway. The assault on Libya may well strengthen resolve and expand Pan-African efforts.