The sun is setting on European neo-colonialism
On Tuesday 22 March 2011 the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, took time off from fulminating about the ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya to warn President Mugabe that he should beware the tide of revolution sweeping down from North Africa. The clear implication was that since the European ex-colonial powers were able to get the UN Security Council to back their policies that Mugabe and, presumably, Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast would become fair game for the exercise of their military might and that the ‘international community’ could impose a new government in any country it chose by virtue of how the ‘international community’ viewed the benevolence of that government’s rule.
In short, the ex-colonial powers assert they have the right to determine who governs whom in Africa, irrespective of the African constitutions, elections and sovereignty. This has always been the position of France and Chirac and Sarkozy but it is a rare statement by the British who couched their language more carefully. It didn’t stop them from sending troops to post-colonial Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, among others, to ‘restore order’, but they withheld from making such a baldly outrageous assertion before.
This series of crises in North Africa and parts of the Middle East have broken the restraints on their megalomaniacal grasping for power and influence and allowed them to pretend that they know what is best for everyone and that they have a deep-seated commitment to democracy, fair play and human rights; except in those countries which have oil or are good customers for their weapons industries. This is part of a long tradition which followed directly from the colonial ethos.
Despite the seizure of power by Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front from British colonialism and its Unilateral Declaration of Independence the British did nothing to impede the Rhodies in their creation of a breakaway state. They didn’t act because they were the “kith and kin” of the Rhodies. That is, they were white. This didn’t impede the British from brutalising the Kikuyu in Kenya who weren’t white. There are few who argued then or can argue now that the Rhodesian Front was acting to support the human rights and dignity of the inhabitants of Southern Rhodesia. They were acting for the white population in Southern Rhodesia and imposed a form of junior apartheid on the African population. The British Government refused to act. Now that Southern Rhodesia is Zimbabwe and run by elected African leaders operating under a Constitution they feel they do have the right to intervene and change the government. The Zims aren’t kith and kin; they are Black. What sheer hypocrisy and self-delusion.
This has always been the posture of the French. Its actions over the years in Ivory Coast are a good example of the lure of neo-colonialism. The long period of political dominance of Felix Houphouet-Boigny was a period of accommodation to the will of France. It was a colony in all but a name. It had a flag, a national anthem and a seat in the UN, but otherwise was operated as if colonialism had never ended. At the death of Houphouet-Boigny the French did all they could to hold the system together but Bedie wasn’t strong enough to do so. Moreover, Bedie attacked the immigrants from the neighbouring countries as intruders and established the notion of ‘Ivoirite”, a local form of xenophobia. As they were primarily Muslims from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali this added the dimension of an ‘oppressed minority’ to the equation. The brief military takeover of Guei led to the first election in which the candidate of the Ivoirian masses was elected to office; the university lecturer and trades unionist Laurent Gbagbo and his politically-active wife Simone Ehivet. They began to question the strict controls that the French had maintained over the country and the monopoly positions granted to French corporations. The French found this odious and, having warned Gbagbo and offered him large rewards to change his policies, they vowed to oust him from power. They enlisted the help of a Burkinabe immigrant, Alassane Ouattara, who had been brought in to assist with the economic planning by Houphouet-Boigny. Ouattara rested his claim to power on his affiliation with the Muslim migrants and the Muslim northerners. They lost at the ballot box and staged an attempted coup when Gbagbo left for a meeting with the Pope.
This rebellion quickly faltered and was in danger of being wiped out in Bouake and Korhogo by loyalist forces when the French landed paratroopers to protect them. This effectively split the country between North and South. Despite periodic attempts at coups by the North against Gbagbo, the Gbagbo government remained in power. The ‘international community’ (that is France and its friends) insisted on power sharing and a range of other demands on the Government of the Ivory Coast. In a range of treaties between the rebels and the government (Linas-Marcoussis, Accra, Pretoria, Ouagadougou) the key demand on the rebels which they signed up to was that they disarm so that elections could take place. They never disarmed. When the recent election took place, despite the lack of disarmament, the rebel soldiers surrounded the voting places in the North and rigged the ballot boxes. The representative of Ouattara announced unofficially that Ouattara had won the election. The Constitutional Court which was charge under the Constitution said that Gbagbo had won.
This same ‘international community’ took the French lead and recognised Ouattara as the President of the country despite the constitution. The people had elected Gbagbo and he refused to leave office. That has meant that the United Nations forces which worked with the French soldiers in Ivory Coast have armed the rebels and conducted warfare against Gbagbo and his troops. They imposed sanctions against the Ivory Coast and have allowed violence to take place against the populations in areas they and the rebels control.
Gbagbo and his government are not leaving. President Sarkozy ordered Gbagbo to leave the country within forty-eight hours. The Ivory Coast demanded that the French leave and to take their UN thugs with them. This has not yet been resolved. The UN force, the UNOCI have armed the rebels, given them N uniforms and supported them in their rampage against the civil population. They are trying to create a situation in which Gbagbo’s troops rise to the bait and retaliate. Then they can weep their crocodile tears about the attacks on human rights and demand military intervention. The UNOCI just sacked its commander, the Bangladeshi General Hafiz who said it was not the job of the UNOCI to kill Ivoirian citizens. He has been replaced by the genocidal Général Gankoudé Berena of Togo who is famous for his role in the Rwanda genocide where he commanded a brigade; in Guinea-Bissau where he supervised a bloodbath; and at home in Togo where he killed scores of students in the Bay of Lome. This is the kind of peacekeeping the UN has set up in the Ivory Coast.
The UN threatens to attack Gbagbo and to oust him but has no mandate to do it on their own. They are relying on using military forces from other African countries. Until now the other African countries have shown more sense and refused to do so.
The French have ben he main force behind this attack on Gbagbo since 2000. It has backfired badly on them. French business leaders are complaining to Sarkozy that their businesses in the country are being ruined. Their banks have been taken over and they will lose their cocoa by the end of March. Sarkozy promised them that he would oust Gbagbo within a week. This is clearly unlikely to happen. Moreover the French don’t dare attack Gbagbo themselves as there are over fourteen thousand French nationals in the country who are, effectively hostages to French behaviour.
This self-destructive behaviour was equally true in Libya. France's biggest corporations are concerned about President Nicolas Sarkozy’s gung-ho approach concerning Libya: he was the first to recognize the Libyan insurgent leadership and to call for a no-fly zone over the country. Some groups like Total and Alstom are worried about their assets in the country and their local employees while others fear the Libyan regime could publish documents concerning on-going negotiations. A few months ago Dassault Aviation was still deep in talks to sell Rafale fighters to Tripoli, aircraft that Libya wanted to be equipped with Scalp cruise missile and Exocet AM 39 missiles. Suez was keen on landing a water supply contract for Tripoli and Benghazi. Its adviser in Libya was Tunisia’s Slah Knifen who is close to Saif El Islam Gaddhafi and also acts as EADS’ adviser in Libya. Sarkozy has screwed up French business in both countries.
Why are the French, and to a large degree the British, so caught up in this benighted endeavour? The answer is that they are desperate. France’s economy is smaller than that of California; Britain’s is smaller than Texas. They are in desperate financial straits and growing poorer and deeper in debt every year. As they grow poorer and weaker Africa is growing and expanding at a marvellous rate.. Over the last six years the French have been losing their power in Africa, They are not in the same economic league as the Chinese, Russian and US corporations. They can’t afford to support the economic basket cases of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic. The Ivory Coast has oil, gas, cocoa, coffee, cotton and timber. It is a rich country and the French are being frozen out. It is too late to get their dominant position back. France has already lost and only the hope of installing Ouattara may allow them to get back in, even a little bit. That is what the battle in the Ivory Coast is about.
Africa is going through boom time. Its economies are among the fastest growing in the world. The rates of growth of many African economies are multiples of European growth rates. African stock markets are expanding. In 1989 there were five African stock exchanges. Now there are twenty, including two regional exchanges. African banks are spreading across the world. The insatiable markets for commodities in China and India have opened new doors for African business. There is a rapid and spreading prosperity in Africa and very little of any of this has to do with France or Europe in general. The Ivory Coast doesn’t have to sell its cocoa to Europe; Asia is happy to take it along with the oil. The sun has already started its descent on Europe and there is no way for them to change this. Africa has a wonderful future and is on the cusp of great prosperity. Fortunately, their former colonial masters can only stare and grimace in envy as Africa becomes integrated into the global economy and moves on to become an economic powerhouse as they fade and wither. Their threats of violence and intervention are primitive and demeaning.Gary K. Bush in ocnus.net le 23 mars 2011
Par Mahalia Nteby - Publié dans : Politique africaine
France arms the rebels and puts them in UN uniforms in Côte d'IvoireSamedi 18 décembre 2010 6 18 /12 /2010 19:08
What you see above are Ouattara's rebels leaving his campaign headquarters, Hotel du Golf, in their failed attempt to overtake the National Television RTI on Thursday for Ouattara. They were faced with heavy fire and decimated. They lost one of their leaders, presumably Idrissa Wattao.
All their weapons were supplied at the hotel by France and the UN who are acting like they know nothing about nothing. Some of the rebels were dressed in UN uniform. On Television today, the army detailed all its findings. Some Civil Rights groups are asking Gbagbo to close the French Embassy and ask all French soldiers to leave Ivory Coast. Will Gbagbo act? That is, as always, the question.
Those rebel FN (Forces Nouvelles) "soldiers" are what AP, Reuters and others call “civilians”. 10 Ivory Coast army soldiers were killed on Thursdays on various fronts. At the Golf Hotel alone, 38 of the Ouattara's rebels were sent to hell. Reuters, AFP and AP stopped talking about them. But when you hear FN, it's those rebels they are talking about.
Soro Guillaume promised to do it again this Friday. None of his "soldiers" showed up. Maybe the UN and France are re-arming them after the heavy casualties they suffered. Those are the same rebels who occupy the North of Ivory Coast since 2002.
40 km North of Yamoussokro, another group of Ouattara's rebels coming from Bouake tried to take Tiebissou. But the Ivory Coast army was waiting for them. Again, they suffered heavy casualties. France and Ouattara' rebels have never disarmed. They are still raping and killing in the North. You don't hear about it. Today, the US representative at the UN, Susan Rice, in a press conference, talked about the event in Abidjan. When she was asked about the rebels attacking Tiebissou, she tries to avoid the question, before replying that it was not a big fight. Yup, not a big fight when heavily armed rebels are attacking a town. Thank you Susan!
Ouattara has no more military options to take Abidjan, unless France, like in 2004, attacks Abidjan. And I don't think France will try that again.
The only real option left for Sarkozy is to make noise with his European allies who know nothing about the crisis. Sarkozy lies to the whole world. And everybody listens, because he has a huge microphone. But we are out in drove to inform all Africans. Even if it's true our voices are submerged, in the whole French propaganda.
Gbagbo must win for Democracy to prevail.
A politician who invades a country with heartless killers should never be allowed to become president, even with the help of the whole United Nations and 95% of rigged elections.
Good night my friends. Independence from France is not for free. We will not let Sarkozy install another French puppet in Africa. At least, not in Côte d’Ivoire.Gary Bush, December 17, 2010
The end game in the Ivory Coast
The long political impasse of the Ivory Coast is coming to an end. The forces of the rebel leader, Alassane Ouattara have failed to get others to remove the elected President of the country, Gbagbo by force, sanction or military provocation. Now, electricity, water and most communications networks are shut off in the Northern rebel areas. Since 28 February the switch has been turned off.
The ONUCI (the United Nations occupying force) in Abidjan have found that they are being denied fuel supplies so have taken to theft and murder to keep their supplies available. The rebel cause is unable to deliver any services to its captive populations on its own. During the nine years of occupation of the North they have built no institutions for public service or administration nor for the supply of water, electricity and fuel but have relied on the good will of the Gbagbo Government to supply these to them. Moreover they have not paid any taxes to the legitimate government during this period. They have not paid income taxes, customs duties, excise taxes or rents for the properties these tin pot warlords occupy or the services provided for them. There have been no contributions for social services (schools, hospitals, roads, etc.) during these nine years. All the costs of running the country and maintaining its position in the world through diplomacy, economic treaties, participation in international organizations, bank transfers to the French Treasury through the BCEAO and support for the CFA franc have been done by Gbagbo’s government.
The imposition of rebel warlords as members of the Cabinet of a joint government imposed by the French and the UN added nothing to their contributions to the State but cost the Ivoirian taxpayers a small fortune as each rebel minister demanded cabinet rank wages, fancy cars, and jobs for their families. It was a major cost to the government and the people of the Ivory Coast to keep these rebels in the styles in which they chose to live. This was tolerated and accepted by the people as it was part of an agreed process of disarmament and disengagement by the rebels. It was agreed that no elections should take place before the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of all the armed forces was completed and the unification of the country achieved. Indeed, the UN specifically extended the term of Gbagbo as President through United Nations Resolution 1633 (2005) which extended Gbagbo’s term of office until this was achieved. This resolution demanded that all the parties signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis, Accra III and Pretoria Agreements, as well as all the Ivorian parties concerned, implement it fully and without delay...” [emphasis added] That is, the rebels must disarm before new elections could be held. That was part of every agreement. This was largely the agreement created by Thabo Mbeki who was the UN-appointed mediator. Nothing has changed in the legal requirements since.
What has changed is that the French were able to persuade the UN and President Gbagbo (but not his party, the FPI) that it was possible to hold elections in a divided country with armed rebels in charge of the North of the country and on the basis of a rigged electoral role provided by the French military company SAGEM. The presidential election in Ivory Coast was held on October 31st, 2010, with a second round on November 28th, 2010. The results of the election are disputed and the position of the Electoral Commission wholly discredited, even by members of that commission. The French and American ambassadors showed up at the campaign headquarters of Ouattara with one of his key electoral advisors. Without any authority the ambassadors and the Ouattara campaign manager announced that Ouattara had won the election. The next day the Constitutional Court said that Gbagbo had won the election. Since then the ‘international community’ has said that Ouattara was the legitimate president but the constitutional authorities of the country have said Gbagbo was the President.
None of this really matters any more. The ‘international community’ has introduced sanctions on the Ivory Coast and a ban on the country’s ability to deploy its assets retained by the French Treasury, It brags that it will starve Gbagbo out by stopping his financial ability to pay the army and the state employees. This has failed abysmally. Yesterday, 4 March 2011 Laurent Gbagbo paid over 60 per cent of civil servant salaries, suggesting Western sanctions meant to starve him of funds and force him to leave have not had full effect. The balance will be paid in three days.
Gbagbo has had great support from other African countries (except for the colonial satrapies of France). The UN and the French have been demanding that the ECOWAS and other African states invade the Ivory Coast to oust Gbagbo. They have refused, or offered such a feeble response, that any deployment of their forces in a hostile climate would quickly end with their soldiers being sent home in body bags. Two of the countries with the strongest armed forces on the continent, Angola and South Africa have been openly opposed to any military initiative to oust Gbagbo. These are two armies which have spent years in real battles and have plenty of equipment and battle-hardened soldiers who have experience in African wars. The supporters of Ouattara are raggedy irregulars who call themselves the New Forces and incompetent and inexperienced conscripts from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger who have only ever fought over cattle, water and civil disputes. The Nigerian Army is sitting this out as they have their own battles to fight against a Muslim fundamentalist uprising in the North and an election to supervise. The presence offshore of the South African frigate Drakensberg has had a laxative effect on UN planners.
Being unable to starve Gbagbo out and without the military resources need to take on the regular Army (FANCI) and the FDS and CECOS units the irregular rebel force which has been concentrated on the Golf Hotel where Ouattara and his colleagues have hunkered down have relied on surreptitious acts of brutality against the civil population and the gendarmerie to try to provoke a response from Gbagbo’s forces. They have formed “the invisible commando” force which shoots at soldiers and policemen whenever a protest march is formed. They shoot, and often kill, policemen and then melt away into the arms of the UN emplacements and wait for a response from those who have been shot. They then call this response ‘genocide’ or an illegal use of force against civilians. The government forces have shown great restraint in their retaliation and the Ouattara people are growing ever more desperate. Two days ago they killed seven women and blamed this on Gbagbo’s forces, despite the fact that the presence of the ‘invisible commando’ force was filmed. Their crocodile tears have been reported as real by the UN and the US and have been echoed around the world as if they were true.
The UN knows it is a lie and only compounds this with additional lies. The UN Secretary-General just announced that Gbagbo had acquired three Mi-24 helicopters from Belarus in defiance of the UN sanctions. This was not only a deliberate lie but served to mask the fact that the UN had indeed brought in three Mi-24 helicopters for its own use. This was not admitted until three days later.
There is a mysterious aura which surrounds the UN and NGO personnel when it comes to facing reality. It is a special mind set which allows their personal prejudices and egos to be seen by them as facts even when confronted by the opposite. During the First Afghan war we were contacted by the UN, the NGOS and the journalists to see if we would fly them into the northern territories (then controlled in part by Massoud). We agreed and arranged for them to be picked up from Dushanbe where we had two helicopters. The UN, NGOs and journos arrived in Dushanbe and said, in great horror, “But these helicopters are armed.” I said “Of course they are armed”. We had two MI-24 gunships, fully armed with six Spetsnaz troops on board with long Afghan experience. They said “It is inappropriate for us to fly in armed helicopters. We are neutrals. We do not judge. We only want to help and report. Why are the helicopters armed?” I said they were armed because we wanted to be able to return. One helicopter would hover to provide ground cover and the other would deliver passengers. I explained that the people on the ground could not distinguish the fact that the plane was full of unarmed humanitarians until we landed and they introduced themselves. Therefore we would take all precautions. They flew but we started to get all sorts of calls from editors and assorted NGO luminaries asking us to use unarmed helicopters. After a week I told them to walk. I sent them a map of the Khyber Pass and told them where to go. It was a good lesson about these humanitarians. If they couldn’t see about their own safety what kind of judgements could they be making about other people’s problems. They are a special breed with a special kind of arrogance. As a rule they should not be believed or trusted.
So, despite the fact that the UN is continually lying to the rest of the world about the situation in the Ivory Coast and relying on their coterie of morally challenged NGOs and journalists to back up their specious claims, the UN presence is deteriorating badly. Gbagbo has ordered them out of the country but they refuse to go. Instead of supervising the disarmament of the rebels, which is their primary role in the mandate they were given for the Ivory Coast, they continue to rearm and supply the rebels with newer and more lethal equipment. Now they have helicopter gunships. Unfortunately for them Gbagbo’s troops do not rise to the bait. They have refused to engage in open warfare with the UN. The UN is opposed by unarmed civilians and they cannot deal with this.
There is a lot of rubbish being spoken about the civil war breaking out. There never was a civil war. The French stopped the Ivory Coast Army from wiping out the last holdouts of the rebellion in Bouake in 2002. Without the French and the UN forces there would be a civil war which would last for about three days. The 8,000 well-trained and armed forces of the legitimate government would wipe out the Forces Nouvelles even if the rebels actually decided to fight. It is only the French and the UN which are credible enemies. The problem for the UN and the French is that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of French and other foreign nationals in the Ivory Coast who will be targets the moment the ‘international community’ attacks. It takes only a glance at Libya to see what happens when ‘African mercenaries’ are caught, lynched and burned by Libyan democrats to envision what might happen if the French or others start killing Ivoirians.
So, the UN can push it but not too far. They can’t risk a full-fledged conflict without serious risk to themselves and to the civilian hostages. As long as Gbagbo’s forces refuse to retaliate the UN is powerless. It is the rebels who are growing weaker every day. They have no legitimacy in the lands they have occupied over nine years and now, with no water, electricity, hospitals; schools and transport the local population are likely to rise against them. They have nothing to offer. Ouattara demanded an end to cocoa sales. This affected only his own people. The rebels are finished. It is only a matter of time before the people of the North throw them out. Gbagbo needs to do nothing. The men trapped in the Golf Hotel realize this and they are growing desperate.
Soon the ‘international’ community will see that their hypocrisy and deceit in the Ivory Coast will be exposed for the whole world to see. They are talking about a military response to the crisis of North Africa but doing nothing. They want ’democracy’ but apparently only for Muslims. What a shambles.Gary K. Busch in ocnus.net le 5 mars 2011
Western oil companies are using the Ivory Coast as the first battle against the Chinese for oil and gas business.Dr. Gary K. Busch is an international trades unionist, an academic, a businessman and a political affairs and business consultant for 40 years.
Dr. Gary K. Busch
by Dr. Gary K. Busch
Director and Senior Associate
Scribe Strategies & Advisors (UK)
Aside from the fact that the French have a vested interest in keeping the Ivory Coast as a colony and not allowing the Ivoirian defiance to spread to its other neo-colonial enterprises, there is still a question why the US, Britain and the EU go along with France in this policy. The UN is easy to understand. One should not expect any more from the current Secretary-General and his political fixer who doubles as his personal envoy to the Ivory Coast. They are reacting to an affront to their dignity. They found they cannot order member states about, and reacted when opposed. They are no threat except for the media. This doesn’t explain why the Western countries can be so openly hypocritical in their singling out of the Ivory Coast as an example.
There are seventeen more elections to go this year in Africa and most will be as rigged and divisive as the Ivory Coast election. Most of the African Presidents on whom they are relying on to kill Ivoirians for them are illegitimate, corrupt and often murdered their predecessors before taking office or were elected by rigged ballots. This cannot be any kind of a principled defence of democracy; especially as they overlook other recent ballots (Burma, Belarus, etc.) which were egregiously rigged. The answer is more likely to be economic.
One of the most significant events in West Africa last year was the purchase of the Swiss oil trading company Addax by the Chinese firm Sinopec. Addax was a frequent deliverer of oil to the Ivory Coast and was a major player in the West African oil mafia. The loss of a key player to the Chinese was seen as a real threat. Since then the French oil companies have been buying up oil assets in the region using obscure shell companies. The Western oil companies seem to be using the Ivory Coast as the first battle against the Chinese moving into the oil and gas business in the region.
The Gulf of Guinea is rapidly becoming a major international oil play. Abidjan has a good refinery and will soon have another. Looking through the list of vessels delivering crude to the SIR refinery in Abidjan more than half were Addax vessels. Now they are Addax/Sinopec vessels. This has frightened the oil companies, especially Total. They do not have the money to compete with the Chinese and now Russian companies like Lukoil are entering the Gulf of Guinea market in a big way as well. The only way the French can compete is to try and maintain control of the strings of power in the Ivory Coast to find ways to delay or deter the Chinese and Russian invasion in what they thought of a their patch. The US and European countries share this ambition. Perhaps that is their reason for their blind and self-destructive policy in the country.