South Africa has joined Burundi in officially announcing its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying its laws are incompatible with obligations under the ICC.
The South African government gave a formal notice of its intention to pull out of the ICC on Friday.
South Africa “found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,” the document, signed by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, read.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told a media conference in the administrative capital, Pretoria, that the ICC’s obligations are inconsistent with laws giving sitting leaders diplomatic immunity.
“The Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, 2002, is in conflict and inconsistent with the provisions of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001,” Masutha said.
South Africa says a bill over the matter, i.e. the withdrawal from ICC, will soon go to the country’s parliament.
The decision comes amid a dispute over last year’s visit by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg. Bashir is wanted by the ICC over alleged war crimes. South Africa, however, said he had immunity as the head of a member state.
Nevertheless, the ICC criticized the South African government for its failure to arrest Bashir.
The announcement of the decision by South Africa to withdraw from the ICC sparked rapid criticism from the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
South Africa’s proposed withdrawal “shows startling disregard for justice from a country long seen as a global leader on accountability for victims of the gravest crimes,” HRW said in a statement. “It’s important both for South Africa and the region that this runaway train be slowed down and South Africa’s hard-won legacy of standing with victims of mass atrocities be restored.”
South Africa is the second African country to declare its withdrawal from the ICC. Earlier this week, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree to quit the court’s jurisdiction.
Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility of withdrawal from the ICC.
Some African governments say the ICC has shown a post-colonial bias against the continent’s leaders.
Senegalese agro-pastoralists are striking wins against Senhuile SA, a foreign-owned agribusiness company established in Ndiaël, Saint-Louis Region of Senegal. In 2012, Senhuile obtained a 50 year lease on 20,000 hectares for a sweet potato plantation in a forest and wetland reserve, which was partially declassified to establish agribusiness activities.1 The deal threatened 9,000 pastoralists, who depend on these lands for their livelihoods. In addition to grazing their 100,000 animals (cows, sheep, goats, and horses), these lands also provide them with firewood, fruits, medicinal plants, and saps and resins.
For over four years, 37 villages impacted by Senhuile’s activities have shown fierce resistance. In the latest action, over 350 local opponents to the project gathered on July 29, 2016, to claim their right to farm the reserve lands. Previously, communities had been denied the authorization to cultivate small plots on the grounds that Ndiaël was classified among the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. Now that large tracts of the reserve have been declassified and cleared by Senhuile, residents of Ndiaël are determined to start their own agricultural activities in the area.
Prior to 2012, Senhuile had planned to settle in Fanaye, some 30 kilometers away, but was forced to relocate after violent local opposition led to the deaths of two protestors and injuries to many others in 2011. Upon arriving in Ndiaël, Senhuile did not seek the consent of the local communities or provide compensation for the loss of grazing lands. Instead, it carried out aggressive land clearing—religious spaces, cemeteries, schools were destroyed in the process—while protecting its concession with barbed wires and security guards.
Senhuile: Lack of Transparency & Scandals
Senhuile’s project has been opaque since its inception. Although located in a semi-arid area with plans for large-scale irrigation using water from the adjacent Lake Guiers—a crucial reservoir already affected by low water levels, algae proliferation, and pollution—Senhuile conducted its first environmental impact assessment only months after starting to clear the land. The company initially announced its intention to grow sweet potatoes for bioethanol production, but its strategy shifted several times, from sunflower plantations to finally opting in 2016 for rice, maize, and peanut production.
In addition, Senhuile has been involved in scandals repetitively. Held by a murky international conglomerate composed of Italy’s Tampieri Financial Group, Senegalese investors, and a shell company registered in New York, Senhuile has changed directors three times since 2012. Benjamin Dummai, its first CEO, was arrested in 2014 on charges of misappropriating CFA 200 million (over $300,000). Dummai’s successor, Massimo Castelluci, fired a large number of employees. Dismissal-related disputes are now opposing Senhuile in the regional Saint-Louis Court. In July 2016, Senhuile’s latest director, Massimo Vittorio Campadese, barely avoided prison after the company was accused of committing customs fraud and negotiated a CFA 1.1 billion ($1.85 million) fine to settle the matter.
Senhuile’s disastrous track record belies the company’s intentions and initial claims around its contribution to the local economy – Senhuile promised to create 2,500 jobs by 2013 but today employs less than 100 people. Unsurprisingly, initial resistance from the 37 villages impacted by the project has garnered strength as former Senhuile workers and neighboring rice growers, who were recently expropriated from lands previously granted to them by the company, have joined the opposition.
Senegalese authorities, consequently, have been forced to recognize the legitimacy of the local resistance. A few months ago, they announced—and recently confirmed—their intention to reduce Senhuile’s concession by half from 20,000 to 10,000 hectares. The recent mobilization was organized by local communities to build on this successful development. They are claiming their right to over 14,000 hectares of lands in the reserve, including all of Senhuile’s former lands and some other declassified areas. This action has served as a successful catalyst to kick-start a negotiation process in August 2016 between the Senegalese administration, the company, and protestors to demarcate and divide the declassified lands for redistribution.
The residents of Ndiaël hope to soon start using the land for cultivating cash crops including watermelons, sweet potatoes, and cassava. Cattle herding, the area’s traditional occupation, will accompany agricultural activities. Small-scale agricultural plots, contrary to large-scale farms, leave space for cattle routes and preserve animals’ access to water points. In addition, after harvesting, farmers will let the cattle graze leftover fodder from the fields and use the manure to fertilize the soil. These methods of small-scale agriculture will respect the zone’s ecology, feed entire families, and invigorate the local economy.2
While the expectations are high, the struggle isn’t over for the community members. They are still waiting for proper land demarcation and fear unexpected developments, including allocations of concessions to firms participating in the World Bank-funded Inclusive and Sustainable Agribusiness Development Project (PDIDAS). However, their tenacious resistance has voiced an honest appeal to the government to prioritize the future and food security of Senegalese families over the interests of foreign investors. If villagers win, the Ndiaël case may set a precedent for other populations affected by land grabbing in the country. If not, they are ready to scale up the resistance. As local opponent Ardo Sow explains, “this is a fight for survival. We cannot remain bystanders and watch the state run roughshod over the population. […] We will not cede for anything in the world.”
-  The declassification of 20,000 hectares of reserve land for a large-scale agriculture project was surprising considering that, in March 2012, the same month former President Wade issued the decree granting land to Senhuile, the Senegalese government submitted an official financing request to the World Bank for a project to restore the Lac de Guiers area and adjacent wetland ecosystems, particularly the Ndiaël reserve, considered an endangered Ramsar site.
-  Surveys conducted in the area have found that small farms obtain excellent profits from their commercial activities (notably potato and rice cultures) and employ a great number of workers.
The US military has dramatically increased the number of its airstrikes in Libya in less than a month, new data shows, further cementing President Barack Obama’s record of taking more military action than any other American president.
American fighter jets and drones stationed aboard the amphibious assault vessel USS Wasp off the Libyan coast, have so far carried out 324 airstrikes in the country, according to data by the Pentagon’s Africa Command, which leads the operation.
This is more than two times the 161 air raids that the US had carried out in Libya until September 21.
According to a report by Reuters, American aircraft had conducted more than 30 strikes across Libya between Saturday and Monday.
Washington began the air campaign on August 1, under the pretext of taking out the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorists, who rose to power in the oil-rich country after the NATO-backed ousting and death of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Initially, the White House had claimed that the bombing campaign would be focused on the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, which fell to Daesh last year, and would end in a few “weeks.”
However, Obama silently extended the prolonged campaign for another month in late September.
The military intervention is likely to continue over the next months, as indicated by a US military official in a Fox News interview on Monday.
“We continue to work with GNA (the Government of National Accord) aligned forces as they clear through Sirte and we now have better intelligence,” the official told Fox on the condition of anonymity.
In addition to the bombing campaign, US troops have also been “in and out” of Libya, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge.
The Obama administration has set a new record in terms of military intervention abroad, carrying out airstrikes and ground operations in at least seven countries, namely Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya.
Earlier this year, Obama regretted meddling in Libya as his “worst mistake,” because it led to a power vacuum that gave rise to terrorist groups in the country.
It was a tough week for Romeo Dallaire, Louise Arbour, Gerald Caplan and other liberal Canadian cheerleaders of Africa’s most bloodstained dictator.
Last Tuesday’s Globe and Mail described two secret reports documenting Paul Kagame’s “direct involvement in the 1994 missile attack that killed former president Juvénal Habyarimana, leading to the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people died.” In other words, the paper is accusing the Rwandan leader widely celebrated for ending the genocidal killings of having unleashed them.
Another front-page story the following day quoted Marie-Rose Habyarimana, who was studying here when her father was assassinated and is now a Canadian citizen, highlighting the absurdity of the official story. “They have been hypocritical”, she told the Globe and Mail. “Two Hutu presidents and a Hutu army chief were killed in a plane attack, and we were supposed to believe that Hutus were behind this, as though they would naturally sabotage themselves. Those who really wanted to see the truth, who could have looked deeply, could have seen through these attempts to lie and deform history.”
(According to the official story, Hutu extremists waited until much of the Hutu-led Rwandan military command was physically eliminated and the Hutu were at their weakest point in three decades, before they began a long planned systematic extermination of Tutsi.)
On a personal level it was gratifying to see Canada’s ‘paper of record’ finally report something I’ve been criticized for writing. A few days before the Globe report, I received an email from a York University professor telling me: “I tried earlier this year to arrange a launch for your book Canada in Africa, but it was met with some serious opposition. You’ve been branded, rightly or wrongly, a Rwandan genocide-denier. I am sorry, but I don’t think speaking at York is going to work out.”
My sin for that university’s “Africanists” was to challenge the Paul Kagame/Romeo Dallaire/Gerald Caplan version of the Rwandan tragedy. Contrary to popular perception, the genocide was not a long planned attempt to exterminate all Tutsi, which even the victors’ justice dispensed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) effectively concluded. Instead, it was the outgrowth of a serious breakdown in social order that saw hundreds of thousands of Tutsi slaughtered by relatively disorganized local command. But, Kagame’s RPF also killed tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of Hutu.
Both directly and indirectly, the RPF was implicated in a significant proportion of the bloodshed during the spring of 1994. Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, US academics initially sponsored by the ICTR, found a strong correlation between RFP “surges” — advances in April 1994 — and local bloodbaths. In 2009 Davenport and Stam reported: “The killings in the zone controlled by the FAR [Armed Forces of Rwanda] seemed to escalate as the RPF moved into the country and acquired more territory. When the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased.”
Somewhere between several hundred thousand and a million Rwandans were killed over 100 days in mid-1994. The US academics concluded that the “majority of victims were likely Hutu and not Tutsi.”
The official story of the Rwandan genocide usually begins April 6, 1994, but any serious investigation must at least go back to the events of October 1, 1990. On that day, thousands of troops from Uganda’s army, mainly exiled Tutsi elite, invaded Rwanda. The Ugandan government accounted for these events with the explanation that 4,000 of its troops “deserted” to invade. These troops included Uganda’s former deputy defence minister, former head of intelligence and other important military officials. This unbelievable explanation has been accepted largely because Washington and London backed Uganda’s aggression, which according to the Nuremberg Principles is the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
The rise of ethnic enmity and breakdown of social order was caused by many factors. The 1990 Uganda/RPF invasion displaced about one million Rwandans, nearly 15% of the population. Six months before the spring 1994 bloodletting, Burundi’s Tutsi-dominated army assassinated its first elected Hutu president. The political killings sparked significant violence and the flight of hundreds of thousands of mostly Hutu Burundians into Rwanda. This further destabilized the small country and elevated animosity towards Tutsis, who were accused of refusing to accept majority rule.
Rwanda’s 1959-61 Hutu revolution saw the majority group gain political control while the Tutsi minority maintained control of Burundi after independence. Historically, the Tutsi, who speak the same language and practice the same religion as the Hutu, were distinguished based upon their proximity to the monarchy. In other words, the Tutsi/Hutu was a class/caste divide, which Belgian colonialism racialized.
The breakdown of social order was also tied to economic hardship brought on by the low price of coffee and foreign-imposed economic adjustments. No longer worried about the prospect of poor coffee producers turning towards the Soviet Union, the US withdrew its support for the International Coffee Agreement in 1989, an accord Ottawa was never enamoured with. The price of coffee tumbled, devastating Rwanda’s main cash crop. Largely because of the reduction in the price of coffee the government’s budget dropped by 40 percent. When Rwanda went in search of international support, the IMF used the country’s weakness to push economic reforms at the same time as donors demanded political reforms. The Path of a Genocide: The Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire notes, “political adjustments were pushed on Rwanda at the same time that Canada required Rwanda to adopt a structural adjustment approach to its economy.” As in so many other places, structural adjustment brought social instability.
In the years leading to the mass killings, Canada began tying its aid to a “democratization” process, despite the country being under assault from a foreign-supported guerrilla group, the RPF. Ostensibly, because of human rights violations, Ottawa cut millions in aid to Rwanda.
The RPF benefited from the role Canada played in weakening the Habyarimana government. Ottawa also played a more direct part in Kagame’s rise to power. Taking direction from Washington, Canadian General (later Senator) Romeo Dallaire was the military commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, which was dispatched to oversee the Arusha Accords peace agreement. As I detail in this article, which the York professor presented as evidence of my “genocide denial”, Dallaire backed the RPF.
A widely celebrated Canadian also played an important part in covering up who downed the plane carrying both Rwandan Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, as well as the chief of staff of the Rwandan Defence Forces, another official responsible for the “maison militaire” of the Rwandan president as well as the chief of the military cabinet of the Rwandan president and two Burundian ministers. Canadian Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, who left the bench to head the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, wasn’t interested in evidence suggesting the RPF was responsible for Habyarimana’s assassination. According to French government investigators and the National Post, she refused to investigate evidence implicating the RPF in shooting down Habyarimana’s airplane. In 1996 former ICTR investigator Michael Hourigan compiled evidence based on the testimony of three RPF informants who claimed “direct involvement in the 1994 fatal rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft” and “specifically implicated the direct involvement of [Kagame]” and other RPF members. But, when Hourigan delivered the evidence to her in early 1997, Arbour was “aggressive” and “hostile,” according to Hourigan. Despite initially supporting the investigation surrounding who shot down the plane, the ICTR’s chief prosecutor now advised Hourigan that the “investigation was at an end because in her view it was not in our [the ICTR’s] mandate.”
When the ICTR prosecutor who took over from Arbour, Carla del Ponte, began to investigate the RPF’s role in shooting down Habyarimana’s plane the British and Americans had her removed from her position. Del Ponte details her ordeal and the repression of the investigation in The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals.
A French magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguière, who spent eight years investigating the death of the three French nationals operating the presidential jet, issued nine arrest warrants for high-ranking RPF officials (French law prohibits issuing an arrest warrant for a head of state, excluding Kagame from the investigation.) Bruguière concluded that Kagame rejected the August 1993 Arusha Accords and that he needed Habyarimana’s “physical elimination” for the RPF to take power. Bruguière’s detailed investigation on behalf of the French family members of the jet’s crew showed that “due to the numerical inferiority of the Tutsi electorate, the political balance of power did not allow [Kagame] to win elections on the basis of the political process set forth by the Arusha Agreements without the support of the opposition parties. … In Paul Kagame’s mind, the physical elimination of President Habyarimana became imperative as early as October 1993 as the sole way of achieving his political aims.”
A number of high-profile liberal Canadians have legitimated Kagame’ s dictatorship and repeated invasions of the Congo. It’s long past time Dallaire, Arbour and Caplan answer for their actions and apologetics.
Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.
Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.
British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.
Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.
Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.
British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.
SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.
But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.
The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.
Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.
The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.
A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.
In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.
In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.
Pakistan and Somalia
Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.
The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.
The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.
Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.
Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.
The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.
Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.
Kenya and Turkey
Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.
The web of deceit
When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.
Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.
There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.
British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.
twitter – @markcurtis30
The desert town of Agadez in Niger is currently best known as a stop on the people-smuggling route between West Africa and Europe, but it is about to take its place in the geopolitical stage as the American military has announced it will build a drone base on its outskirts. Reportedly costing U.S. taxpayers as much of $100 million, the base is just the latest American play for military supremacy in Africa — Niger is the only country in that volatile region of the continent prepared to risk allowing Washington a base for its MQ-9 Reapers, the even more lethal successor to the notorious Predator drone.
While the U.S. is strengthening its military capabilities in the region, it is also forging deeper ties with Niger’s repressive government. President Mahamadou Issoufou was re-elected in March with a laughably high 92% of the vote. Suspicions about the legitimacy of the landslide win are warranted, considering the run-up to the election was marred by the jailing of a pro-opposition pop singer, the barring of nearly a quarter of voters from the race, and the fact that the opposition coalition withdrew its candidate, Hama Amadou, from the contest. The opposition cited unfair treatment between the two candidates, not least because Amadou was put in jail on spurious charges of “baby trafficking” and forced to campaign from behind bars. Issoufou’s American partners, however, promptly issued a laughable press release congratulating Issoufou on his win and reaffirming the US’s commitment to its “partnership with Niger on security, development, and democratic governance.”
The people of Niger have less to be pleased about. While President Issoufou and his military enjoy the lucrative revenue that comes with inviting the American military to pursue the endless War on Terror on Nigerien soil, everyday Nigerians continue to suffer. As the United Nations Human Development Index makes clear, Niger is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Issoufou, for his part, seems to forget who he is meant to be representing, especially as he continues to grant French energy company Areva tax breaks as it mines uranium in the north of the country. No matter that the local population is affected by radiation without benefiting from the extraction taking place in their midst.
Far from being the exception, Niger is simply the latest in a long line of countries happy to take greenbacks in exchange for allowing the U.S. to pursue its hegemonic designs for Africa. Across the continent in Djibouti, to take just one example, Ismail Omar Guelleh has turned his tiny country – barely bigger than the state of New Jersey – into a massive multi-nation military base, with U.S. and Chinese warships nestled alongside each other. It is, according to American ambassador Thomas Kelly, a modern day equivalent of Casablanca in the 1940s. Specifically, he cites “all the different nationalities elbowing each other” and “all the intrigue”.
Like Niger, Djibouti exploits the “island of stability” narrative to make itself indispensable to international partners. Sadly, the money earned from all the military bases in the country does not trickle down to the population. 42% of Djiboutians live in extreme poverty, and another 48% are unemployed. Meanwhile, the U.S. turns a blind eye to “electoral hold-ups” like Guelleh’s re-election earlier this year. Washington said little in 2010, when President Guelleh amended the constitution to permit himself to seek his third and now fourth term in office. In the U.S. foreign policy calculus, it seems allegiance to autocrats will always trump the democratic commitment to human rights and popular sovereignty from the moment fuzzy words like “terrorism” or “security” come into play.
Sadly, this pattern goes back decades in Africa. The Reagan administration helped Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré – dubbed ‘Africa’s Pinochet’ – into power and helped keep him there with millions of dollars in military aid and training for his bloodthirsty secret police. Habré, of course, was put on trial in Senegal in 2015 for crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes, and his historic conviction this year marked one of the rare instances when an African dictator has truly faced justice for their actions. In 2011, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak enjoyed $1.3 billion in aid from American partners and was seen as “an ideal partner for the United States, as long as Washington focused on stability in the present without much thought about long term implications.”
The “long term implications” are where Washington’s one-track mindset ends up burning American policymakers time and time again. Instead of helping to reinforce stability in any part of the world, be it West Africa, Central America, or the Middle East, US-backed dictators eventually fall. Their abuses, combined with the collateral damage wrought by U.S. actions (especially drone strikes), help stoke and perpetuate the grievances that allow the very terrorist groups Washington is targeting to thrive. As American aid and support goes to leaders that crush dissent and subvert the democratic order, as Issoufou is doing in Niger, the invariable result is widespread resentment against the U.S. and the West more generally.
Blaise Compaoré, the former president of Burkina Faso – a “key hub of the U.S. spying network” – is only one of the most recent to fall. Despite the fact that Compaoré’s early years in power were marked by a cozy relationship with Muammar Gaddafi and accusations that he sent mercenaries to fight United Nations peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, the U.S. security community embraced him as a partner. After a popular uprising in the streets of Ouagadougou blocked Compaoré’s attempt to extend his 27 years in power, the onetime army officer fled to Ivory Coast, leaving behind not only a tumultuous political legacy but also an impoverished country not altogether [free] from terrorist attacks like those conducted by al-Qaeda in January.
By getting into bed with African dictators, the U.S. simply sets up future problems for itself while ensuring life gets no better for the continent’s most vulnerable populations.
Clinton is part of the Establishment. It is part of her inheritance to provoke wars and control the world in league with global corporations. Nobody knows what lies behind Trump’s mask. May be he wants to “knock the shit” out of the Establishment. May be he is a “narcissist character” seeking reward in the short run. But no one who seriously cares about Africa’s liberation from Empire would support Clinton.
Sometimes it helps to start an essay with a quote that sums up one’s position. Here is one from the English philosopher Bertrand Russell that defines my position: “A man without a bias cannot write interesting history – if indeed such a man exists.”[i] Indeed, no such person exists in the field of human sciences. So let me declare my bias upfront. I have no love for either Clinton or Trump, but as a “biased” African I’d rather have Trump than Clinton.
The American historian Carroll Quigley wrote a little known but brilliant book in 1949 titled The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden.[ii] Quigley explains how men of the Empire like Cecil Rhodes, Alfred Milner, Lionel Curtis, Robert Brand and Adam Marris strategised to control the world; how they deliberately provoked wars – such as the Jameson Raid and the Boer War in South Africa leading to the British colonisation of South Africa. He also documented how they created the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Institute of Pacific Relations, and the US Council on Foreign Relations.
This is the “Establishment”. Rhodes died in 1902, but the Anglo-American Establishment lives on and has mutated over time. Now it is represented by the global corporations that effectively control the world’s major resources (gold, diamonds, oil, etc.), banks including financial services, and the institutions of global governance (such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation).
Clinton is part of the Establishment. It is part of her inheritance to provoke wars and control the system in league with global corporations. To date Clinton has raised a total of $446.4 million, and Trump of $137.3 million, of which Clinton has spent $349,6m and Trump $96.7m. Clinton’s money comes almost entirely from the Establishment whereas Trump’s largely from his own resources.[iii] Clinton is still refusing to release the transcripts of three paid speeches she gave in 2013 at a Goldman Sachs event. The speeches collectively netted her $675,000.[iv]
Clinton and Henry Kissinger
The Clintons are very close to Kissinger both in personal life and ideologically. They often spend vacations together. [v] But more than that Hillary regards Kissinger as her mentor, her Guru.
The person who defines Kissinger’s realpolitik ideology best is Bernard Lewis, the well-known “expert” on Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. His advice to the West, stripped of scholarly veneer, and in contemporary terms, is quite simple: fight proxy wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and the global South – employ agents instead of our own soldiers; manipulate the media to provide “truths” to the masses; use money to buy people, buy governments, buy entire nations; and keep the wolf (read Putin) out of the door.[vi]
Kissinger walked the talk of Lewis during the “Cold War” (by the way, always put the Cold War in inverted commas; it was “cold” for them; for Africa – Algeria, South Africa, Mozambique – it was hot). In 1975 during a conversation with the US ambassador to Turkey and two Turkish and Cypriot diplomats, Kissinger admitted of illegally supporting the military junta in Spain, Greece, and Brazil. He told his hosts that he “worked around” an official arms embargo then in effect. Also, the US exempted the military government in Brazil from crimes of torture to allow it to receive US aid. These post-facto revelations are now documented and released by whistleblowers Assange, Manning, and Snowden (check the internet). See the video Hillary Clinton does not want you to see.[vii]
It is not surprising therefore that in the US Democratic presidential debates Kissinger’s ghost sprung up like, in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, lurking behind Hillary Clinton (“Prince” Hamlet). During a debate on foreign policy, Bernie Sanders, the candidate contesting Clinton, referred to Clinton’s close relations with Kissinger. “I happen to believe”, he said, “that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.” He cited “the secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War as a Kissinger-orchestrated move that eventually led to genocide in that country.” [viii]
Clinton, following Kissinger, is an imperial jingoist. Under Clinton as Secretary of State the US and NATO went well beyond their UN Security Council mandate in the Libyan war. The end of the war was the gruesome death of Gaddafi cornered in a hell-hole. Clinton on viewing this remarked with characteristic cynicism: “We came, we saw, he died”. Here is another YouTube video Hillary would not want you to see.[ix] I was shocked when I saw this display of total cynicism and psychic lack of compassion. She is the “war candidate” of the Establishment, and has made her intentions amply clear in relation to Iran, Gaza/Palestine, Syria … and if she has her way, Russia and China.
Trump, the Ogre with a big mouth
In Trump, the Americans have a Presidential candidate who has gone out of his way to be distasteful. He is regularly depicted with a dog’s face in the American Establishment media. And for sure, he has said nasty things about the Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, Africans – in fact, anybody who comes in his way. “I knocked the shit out of her on Twitter and she never said a thing about me after that”, he said of one of his detractors. “I really like Nelson Mandela”, he said on another occasion, “but South Africa is a crime ridden mess that is just waiting to explode – not a good situation for the people!” [x] On the Black Lives Matter Movement he said:
“There’s no such thing as racism anymore. We’ve had a black president so it’s not a question anymore. Are they saying black lives should matter more than white lives or Asian lives? If black lives matter, then go back to Africa. We’ll see how much they matter there.”[xi]
Trump is criticised for being neurotic. The American journal, The Atlantic (June, 2016) did an article on him by Dan McAdams titled “The Mind of Donald Trump”. Among other things, McAdams says that Trump is an extrovert, “exuberant, outgoing and socially dominant” narcissist character. The cardinal feature of extroversion is “reward-seeking in the short run”.[xii]
But, nobody can deny that he defeated 16 other Republican contenders. In the end he got nominated as the Republican Party candidate. The Party is now distancing itself from him and trying, instead, to focus on winning seats in the Congress rather than backing Trump. But Trump marches on regardless, with his controversial off-the-cuff and “politically incorrect” innuendos against the Establishment, galvanising the youth who are sick and tired of the yawning divide between the rich and the poor in America.
The British paper the Guardian explains the “great paradox” of American politics that holds the secret of Trump’s success:
Trump is an “emotions candidate”. More than any other presidential candidate in decades, Trump focuses on eliciting and praising emotional responses from his fans rather than on detailed policy prescriptions. His speeches – evoking dominance, bravado, clarity, national pride, and personal uplift – inspire an emotional transformation. Then he points to that transformation. Not only does Trump evoke emotion, he makes an object of it, presenting it back to his fans as a sign of collective success…. His supporters have been in mourning for a lost way of life. Many have become discouraged, others depressed. They yearn to feel pride but instead have felt shame. Their land no longer feels like their own. Joined together with others like themselves, they feel greatly elated at Trump’s promise to deliver them unto a state in which they are no longer strangers in their own land.”[xiii]
I’m waiting to buy “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” (to be published in October, 2016) in which the author, Arlie Hochschild, goes on a reflective expedition from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country – a stronghold of the conservative right – exposing America’s ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor, the right and left.[xiv]
This is what probably explains why Trump is trouncing the Establishment.
The truth is that nobody knows what lies behind Trump’s mask. May be he wants to “knock the shit” out of the Establishment. May be he is a “narcissist character” seeking reward in the short run. Whatever he is, he has put the Establishment – both Republican as well as Democrats – in a quandary.
Trump has raised questions the people of America should have asked a long time ago. Why is the youth in America angry with the Establishment? Why is the American foreign policy such a disaster?
Trump might make peace with Russia and China. For Africa, this is good. The continent does not wish to be dragged into another proxy war like during the “Cold War”.
Trump shocked the Establishment when he said that if he were president, the US might not come to the defence of an attacked NATO ally that hadn’t fulfilled its “obligation to make payments.”[xv] Africa should urge him to go further – NATO should be dismantled like Russia did with the Warsaw Pact. NATO is a danger to world peace.
Trump has come out openly against trade and investment agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). On TPP he said, “The deal is insanity … That deal should not be supported and it should not be allowed to happen.”[xvi] Africa has, ALSO, come out against these mega-trade agreements, driven by American mega corporations.
Trump might scrape AGOA (African Growth and Opportunities Act) which is all about serving America’s, not Africa’s, interests. Trump could also scrape Obama’s “Power Africa” initiative. It is a $7 billion plan to facilitate American corporate investments in Africa. Africa needs to be liberated from these tools of the American empire.
Trump has criticised the notion of “exporting democracy” to the countries of the South saying it is not the business of America to tell Africa how to run their countries. Exactly.
Trump and Jeremy Corbyn – the Labour Party leader in the UK – though poles apart politically, have one very significant thing in common. They are both harangued by the mainstream media and the established order in their respective countries. Like Trump, Corbyn is under attack not only by the Conservatives but also by the Establishment in the Labour Party spearheaded by the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Africa has for centuries (during slave trade and later through colonisation) been victim of the Establishment. Both Corbyn and Trump have an impressive backing from the youth of their countries. Why? Because they too, like the masses in Africa, are bitter against the dominant global order. We may not connect with Trump, but he could open space for us to establish solidarity links with the people in America, especially the youth, who too are suffering from the oppression of the Establishment warlords.
Conventional wisdom holds that a known devil is better than an unknown angel. Of course, Trump is no angel. But in this instance, and from an African (and possibly third world) perspective, Trump as an unknown devil is far better than Hillary Clinton, the known devil.
* Yash Tandon is from Uganda and has worked at many different levels as an academic, teacher, political thinker, a rural development worker, a civil society activist, and an institution builder. His latest book is Trade is War.
[ii] Carroll Quigley (1981). The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden. New York: Books in Focus
[vi] President Obama, who carries the Clinton flag, condemned Trump for admiring Putin and appearing on RT, the Russian television. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-trump-putin_us_57d84156e4b0fbd…
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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A UK House of Commons inquiry into the 2011 attack on Libya and the country’s subsequent collapse has found what many suspected: NATO and its Gulf Arab allies used their ‘Responsibility To Protect’ to launch their attack even though:
“… the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”
Though the MPs’ damning report blames Libya’s political and economic collapse on former Prime Minister David Cameron, the manipulation of public opinion to lay the basis for war is built upon longstanding – but now sharpened – processes and semantic structures that prepare populations to accept punitive action against a targeted ‘other’.
In an earlier example, on October 10 1990, a young Kuwaiti woman known as ‘Nayirah’ testified before the United States’ Congressional Human Rights Caucus that invading Iraqi soldiers had gone into hospitals and thrown babies from their incubators.
Nayirah turned out to be the daughter of the then Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington. Her testimony was false and prepared by a PR company. But it was solid gold for the US campaign to intervene militarily. Amnesty International provided influential support for Nayirah’s story. The ‘depravity’ of Saddam Hussein’s government was proffered by governments and mainstream media as a key reason for military intervention.
In March, 2011, Libyan opposition fighters and a Libyan psychologist, Dr Seham Sergewa told foreign media that pro-Qaddhafi fighters were being ordered to carry out viagra-fuelled mass rapes. The claim – spread by Al-Jazeera – was this time picked up by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Although Amnesty International questioned some of the claims this time, the rape story was one of many myths that contributed to the NATO bombardment of Libya – the beginning of the end of the Libyan state.
The ‘humanitarian’ battle cry of 2011 was another manifestation of neo-Orientalist rhetoric directed towards out-of-favour leaders or groups.
Edward Said’s “Orientalism” referred to Western stereotyping of Arabs and Arab culture through a colonial lens. Currently, Neo-Orientalism is typically based on sensational claims that target ‘others’ (leaders or groups) by depicting them as intrinsically alien, evil and irrational, in order to justify aggression against them.
Qaddhafi’s relationship with the West was full of moments that prepared us to unquestionably accept claims of his barbarity – to the extent that Hillary Clinton could mock his torture and murder by rebels.
Regardless of his positive and negative attributes, the language used to describe Qaddhafi – a son of peasant goat herders – was often insulting and unprofessional. Journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer for example: “
… resplendent in the gold brocade robes that he probably made from his mother’s curtains and wearing his usual bug-eye sunglasses… The world’s oldest teenager…”
The New York Times treated Qaddhafi’s international visits featuring his bedouin tent as a circus fit for New York’s Coney Island rather than an important cultural symbol of Libya’s or Qaddhafi’s heritage. One wonders whether anyone would dare attempt similar treatment of Australia’s Aboriginal Tent Embassy which has been a feature of the capital Canberra since 1972.
There were numerous stories of the ‘chauvinistic’ displays of Qaddhafi’s ‘Amazonian’ republican guard. However ‘Amazonian’ legends of powerful female bodyguards have a long history in North Africa and especially Libya. Greek mythology – the source of Amazonian legends – speaks of Queen Myrina the Amazonian queen who led military victories in Libya. Under Islam there was the wealthy and powerful King Musa I of Mali, who was protected by such an Amazonian troop while undertaking the Hajj in 1332. It seems not a single commentator bothered to note the antecedents of such symbolism before resorting to ridicule.
It is not only the media and politicians who join the neo-Orientalist derision of disagreeable leaders. Descriptions of Qaddhafi in Harvard professor and historian Roger Owen’s recent work The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life, exhibit shades of cultural superiority. After indulging in psychological speculation about Arab leaders, Owen (p.199) criticises Qaddhafi’s relationship with the African Union particularly his “bringing African heads of state to Libya and posturing before them in ‘African’ costumes of his own design with absurd-looking little round caps”.
Aside from Owen’s dismissal of the African Union, he sees no irony in ridiculing Qaddafi for doing exactly what the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries do at APEC and G20 meetings – put on ‘absurd’ cultural uniforms like the imagined Australian stockmen’s outfits worn by APEC leaders in Sydney in 2007:
John Howard and George W. Bush at APEC in Sydney 2007, Source: The Guardian
Owen depicts Arab governments as wholly subject to the whims of a strongman leader. While the West – and sometimes Arab leaders themselves – like to portray authoritarian governments as ruled by maniacal and all-powerful men individually, this is rarely the case – especially in Libya as demonstrated by this Wikileaks cable showing disagreements amongst the Libyan leadership.
Such systems are far too complex to be overseen by one person. As Oxford Professor Richard Bosworth argues, in addition to clouding other factors involved in the operation of such states, judgemental and presumptive treatments such as Owen’s tend to dismiss leaders as mad and evil which prevents comprehensive understanding.
The terminology of ‘regimes’ and ‘governments’ is another rhetorical tool aimed at demonising chosen targets. ‘Regimes’ sound all controlling, mechanical and despotic while ‘governments’ sound rational, responsive and civil. But as academic Lisa Anderson has pointed out the term ‘regime’ is widely misused. A regime is the: “set of rules, or cultural or social norms that regulate the relations between ruled and rulers. Including how laws are made and administered and how the rulers are themselves selected”. As such regimes come in types, Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Democratic etc.
A ‘government’ on the other hand “comprises those incumbents and the policies associated with them”. Referring to the ‘Qaddhafi Regime’ or ‘Mubarak Regime’ is a problematic conflation of regime type, government and the actors involved in it. Applying the same conflation to Western governments would result in labels like ‘Obama regime’.
‘Orientals’ or just the non-compliant?
Neo-Orientalist language cannot be explained away as a reaction to brutality. If a leader’s brutality was the benchmark for engaging in this form of vitriol, it could be just as easily applied to every US President.
Rather the point of this type of language is to de-legitimise and de-humanise or barbarise a targeted ‘other’. Neo-Orientalist language has (mostly) retreated from typecasting entire civilisations – as this has become less acceptable among western audiences – and has retreated to depictions of individual leaders, sub-groups or sub-ideologies.
Those selected, most commonly for their ‘uncooperative’ international behaviour, are not worthy of engagement or understanding, simply of fear and loathing. The use of violence against such ‘irrational’ forces becomes legitimate and ‘just’.
The language of neo-Orientalism takes many guises, from the ‘war on terror’ to ‘humanitarian intervention’ and has been so successful in cloaking itself in ‘liberal’ values that it attracts support from across the political spectrum.
As Robert Irwin pointed out in his 2006 critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, the expression of ‘Orientalist’ language does not need to be limited in time (to the European colonial period) or place (the Arab world). By seeking to solely link Orientalism to the European and American imperial ages Said confused and understated the breadth of his argument. Orientalism was not limited to ‘the Orient’, but was and is directed at other groups – both ethnic and political.
For example, western media treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin also involves ridicule of both cultural symbolism and psychological state.
According to Vox News and Angela Merkel, Putin’s machismo is a cover for “personal insecurity as a weak leader” and is responsible for his “invasion of Ukraine”. We are also told Putin’s ‘machismo’ and ‘aggression’ is the cumulative embodiment of Russian shame and weakness. Merkel was quoted as saying “Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this [machismo].”
Without delving into to the possible objections to this account, why is Putin’s ‘aggressive’ behaviour seen as a unique flaw in individual and national character? What about the destruction that the United States wrought following the ‘injury’ to the American ego that was September 11? What about the UK’s war of indignation in the Falkland Islands? With the same logic and tone one could posit that the entire British colonial age was a result of ego issues within the ‘lonely little island in the North Sea’.
What of Hillary Clinton’s psychological state or the culture she embodies? Sold as the ‘normal’ presidential candidate, this is the woman who mocked Qaddhafi’s death with “We came, we saw, he died…” and seems to carry no baggage from the destruction of a country on almost entirely false pretences.
One persuasive critic of neo-Orientalism, Alastair Crooke, identifies it as a manifestation of a Western mindset of dominance in the present era. “
… this is the new racialism… a hierarchy of civilisations in which the West sees its civilisation as the most appropriate one for the future… superior and the template that should be imposed on others…”
Status quo powers deploy much effort and money to explain their transgressions but most are based on the simple assumption that equal standards do not apply; we are ‘rational’ and ‘just’, they are not.
Alex Ray works on cultural exchange between the West and the Arab world. Based in Jordan, he holds a MA in Middle East and Central Asian Studies from the Australian National University and is a former student of the University of Damascus. He writes at https://betweendeserts.wordpress.com/
The “Doctrine of Discovery” of 1493, also known as the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera”, was issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493. It is arguably the most damaging policy ever enacted in human history. In fact, the 1493 Papal Bull stated that land that was not inhabited by Christians could be claimed and exploited in order to expand and instill the Christian faith. Without doubt this was the justification for European/western expansion that resulted in pain, suffering, exploitation and mass extermination. The effects of this dreadful doctrine are felt to this day.
As a descendent of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, I am one who can affirm the negativity of this Papal Bull being felt even until this present moment. Your Holiness, I am asking you in the name of Jesus Christ, that you repudiate this doctrine immediately to stop the hemorrhaging of people worldwide. In fact, “Peter opened (his) mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 – KJV) and therefore stating that God is not biased of individuals or of one group of people over another.
Your Holiness, over the past year I have visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) three times. In 1921, Jesus Christ visited a deacon by the name of Simon Kimbangu in Nkamba, Congo. Deacon Kimbangu was commissioned by God into His service to renew their strength because they had fallen into apostasy. Consequently, Deacon Kimbangu was accused of inciting riots and convincing the people not to pay taxes. As a result, he was placed in prison and later on given a death sentence, which was commuted to life. After serving 30 years, he died in a Belgian controlled prison.
After the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, the Papal Bull of 1493 helped further to enable King Leopold II to legitimize his claim of ownership of the DRC and unrepentantly to treat those in the Congo with devastating atrocities almost directed toward extermination – except that he wanted some of them as oppressed workers. Over the next 23 years, up to 10 million citizens of the DRC were murdered!
This edict, or doctrine, Your Holiness, declared by the Roman Catholic Church more than 600 years ago, was infiltrated and adopted into European Christian nations solely for the purpose of having a legal basis to confiscate properties that would be in their best interest at any time, and, according to its language, served to devalue and dehumanize peoples and societies of color. Non-compliance to this doctrine would result in various forms of persecution, including slavery and death.
In fact, the 1493 “The Doctrine of Discovery” Papal Bull was part of an on-going justification of this oppression as stated by Thomas Aquinas in 1271: “Unbelievers deserve not only to be separated from the church, but also to be exterminated from the world by death.”
Your Holiness, this position as expressed in the Papal Bull has led to several ills in this world, namely Slavery, Unjust Treatment, Poverty, Discrimination, Apartheid, Separate But Equal Laws, Jim Crow, Financial Ruin, Massacres and much more. To justify the cruelty of slavery and subjugation of Africans, the slaveholders, for one, claimed that Africans were not human and therefore could be used and abused in any way the slaveholders so desired. This cruelty was for, as you know, the financial gain of slaveholders at the expense of others and the slaveholders very own humanity. Many of the slaveholders also claimed to be Christian and obvisouly chose to accept the ongoing concepts of major doctrines, such as the Papal Bull of 1493, as a rationale for their behavior.
As mentioned, people of color throughout the world still suffer from these ills. Historically, and in the 20th and 21rst centuries alone, all of this has been importantly coupled with countless reactions to this oppression such as Sit-ins, Marches, Occupy Movements and many other collective actions in the United States and internationally. Yet, the oppression continues.
In 1776, the “Declaration of Independence” of the United States forthrightly declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Your repudiation of the “The Doctrine of Discovery” would also help us in America to further enforce and enshrine the “Declaration of Independence” and to then help spread this compelling statement and sentiment throughout the world.
Your Holiness, in the name of Jesus Christ, I ask that you consider going to Nkamba in the Congo and address the Kimbanguist Church that numbers some 22 million adherents worldwide. The poverty that exists in that Nation is due directly and solely to this unjust “doctrine”, and, in my opinion, pains the very heart of God!
Upon repudiating the Bull of 1493, therefore, I pray you will also consider going to Belgium and entreat that government, including King Philippe Leopold Louis Marie, to begin the healing process for the people of the DRC.
You have declared 2016 as a year of Jubilee. Luke 4:18-19 states, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted to preach deliverance to the captive, and the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” I cannot think of a better way to honor this declaration of 2016 as a year of Jubilee than by a Papal repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery.”
Your Holiness, the above concerns and issues are worldwide precepts, and we cannot be satisfied until we let “justice roll on like many waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing river” (Amos 5:24).
I also respectively request to meet with you, along with a delegation of like-minded people, to discuss with you this significant matter.
With every good wish to your Holiness, I am,
Deacon Joe Beasley
Antioch Baptist Church North
Atlanta Georgia, USA
404 218 3997
Google: Joe Beasley
Additional contact: Heather Gray
European companies are accused of taking advantage of weak fuel standards in African countries to export highly-polluted fuel to West Africa, a new report says.
The report, from the Swiss watchdog group of Public Eye, said major European oil companies and commodity traders take crude oil from African countries, blend it with highly-polluted additives, and then sell it back to them.
“Many West African countries that export high grade crude oil to Europe receive toxic low quality fuel in return,” it wrote.
Toxic products that the companies add to make the so-called “African Quality” fuels are far higher than those allowed in Europe, according to Public Eye.
“Their business model relies on an illegitimate strategy of deliberately lowering the quality of fuels in order to increase their profits,” the report read.
It said companies, among them the Swiss commodity traders Trafigura and Vito, increased their profits at the expense of Africans’ health.
While the European Union (EU) has allowed ten parts per millions (ppm) of sulfur in diesel in the continent, the legal limit on sulfur petrol in some African countries like Nigeria is 3,000 ppm.
After burning, the sulfur is released into the atmosphere as sulfur dioxide and other particulates that provide a major contributor to respiratory symptoms such as bronchitis and asthma.
According to the report, 20 million people in the Nigerian state of Lagos breathe 13 times more particulate matter than people in London, with dirty fuel being the main reason.
This is while Nigeria and some other West African countries produce petroleum with the world’s lowest sulfur levels. They do not have refining capabilities, however, and have to import fuel from Europe.
“Africa could prevent 25,000 premature deaths in 2030 and almost 100,000 premature deaths in 2050” if the export of low-quality fuel is stopped, Public Eye said.
It called on African governments “to protect the health of their urban population, reduce car maintenance costs, and spend their health budgets on other pressing health issues.”
“If left unchanged, their practices will kill more and more people across the continent,” the report warned.
In response to the allegations, the report said, three of the companies denied any wrongdoing, arguing that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market.
Public Eye, however, said that the companies adjusted their blends with no increased costs when Ghana lowered its sulfur content level in 2014.