George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.
Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.
“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.
Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?
Well, no, not really.
It turns out Clooney opposes, not war profiteering in general, but war profiteering while African. In fact, Clooney’s concern is limited, at least thus far, to five African nations: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though these are not the only nations in Africa or the world with serious wars underway.
Of the top 100 weapons makers in the world, not a single one is based in Africa. Only 1 is in South or Central America. Fifteen are in Western allies and protectorates in Asia (and China is not included in the list). Three are in Israel, one in Ukraine, and 13 in Russia. Sixty-six are in the United States, Western Europe, and Canada. Forty are in the U.S. alone. Seventeen of the top 30 are in the U.S. Six of the top 10 mega-profiteers are in the U.S. The other four in the top 10 are in Western Europe.
Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.
According to the Congressional Research Service, in the most recent edition of an annual report that it has now discontinued, 79% of all weapons transfers to poor nations are from the United States. That doesn’t include U.S. weapons in the hands of the U.S. military, which has now moved into nearly every nation in Africa. When drugs flow north the United States focuses on the supply end of the exchange as an excuse for wars. When weapons flow south, George Clooney announces that we’ll stop backward violence at the demand side by exposing African corruption.
The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994. As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”
What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.
On Sudan as well, there’s no blame for U.S. interference; instead Clooney’s crew has produced a brief for regime change.
The Central African Republic gets the same diagnosis as the others: local ahistorical spontaneous corruption and backwardness leading to war.
Clooney’s co-founder of the Sentry (dictionary definition of “Sentry” is “A guard, especially a soldier posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons”) is John Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council. Watch Prendergast find himself awkwardly in a debate with an informed person here.
Clooney’s wife, incidentally, works for U.S.-friendly dictators and brutal killers in places like Bahrain and Libya.
More nations could soon be spotted by The Sentry. The President of Nigeria was at the U.S. Institute of “Peace” this week pleading for weapons. U.S. troops are in Cameroon this week training fighters.
Another is to let The Sentry know what it’s missing. It asks for anonymous tips when you spot war profiteering. Have you ever turned on C-Span? If you see something, say something. Let The Sentry know about the Pentagon.
On Tuesday, July 14, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared on a television program called “Good Life in Germany” in which she spoke to local teenagers. Among the audience was 13-year old Reem, a Palestinian refugee who fled their camp in Lebanon four years ago.
In a shaky voice of fluent German, young Reem said, “I have goals like everyone else…I want to go to university.” But, she explained, she and her family are facing deportation. “It’s very unpleasant to see how others can enjoy life, and I can’t myself,” she said, “I want to study like them.”
Chancellor Merkel responded with the standard western fear of immigrants. She said if Germany allows her to stay, there would be thousands of Palestinian refugees, then thousands from “Africa” [that singular large country] who will flood into Germany. “We can’t cope with that,” she said. Young Reem crumbled into sobs and the footage of her interaction with Chancellor Merkel went viral.
Headlines and political analyses across Europe and the US spoke of Merkel’s dry response to a brave young girl, desperate for an education, for a stable life, for something other than lingering fear and uncertainty to frame her life. I read at least 15 opinion pieces on the subject and most of them couched this incident in the much discussed “immigration crisis” across Western Europe. Leftist pundits decried the chancellor as heartless, insisting on Europe’s humanitarian responsibility toward the wretched of the earth. Right leaning pundits reflected Merkel’s sentiments that Europe has enough to worry about and should not be expected to shoulder the world’s problems. Others were simply pragmatic, echoing the words of Eva Lohse, president of the German association of Cities, who cautioned, “we’re reaching the limits of our capacity.”
All these analyses missed the most important point.
Not one of them touched on the fact that Reem is a refugee directly and indirectly because of German actions. Reem, and “thousands upon thousands of Palestinian refugees,” as Merkel put it, are stateless precisely because Germany, along with other western nations, continue to support zionist colonialism that expelled, and continues to expel, native Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.
Reem would not need German “charity” were Germany to insist that the massive military and financial aid it gives to Israel were contingent upon Israel’s adherence to basic tenets of morality and international law that explicitly provide for Reem’s right to live in her native homeland. Reem might not be lost in the world were Germany to make the many lucrative European economic and trade incentives with Israel subject to the dismantling of zionist Apartheid that deems Reem a lesser human, unworthy of her own heritage, home and history.
More than the enormous material support is the favor that Germany provides for Israel to continue its entrenchment of the structural and institutional racism that offers state privilege and entitlement to citizens in accordance with their religion. It because of the political cover that Germany offers Israel to destroy Palestinian life, society and culture with impunity that Reem remains a refugee. Last summer, for example, after Israel slaughtered Palestinians in Gaza from land, air, and sea, the UN Human Rights Council urged the UN to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations [of international law] in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.” Despite the horrors that Palestinians endured in the course of 51 days, Germany could not muster the most minimal affirmation of Palestinian humanity to vote in favor of such an inquiry.
Watching the footage, those of us with a sense of history seethe at such a spectacle of western paternalism. Merkel’s response to Reem was a perfect display of the breathtaking willful denial of western governments, which are, indeed, creators of refugees. The truth is that our part of the world lay in ruin, fear, and devastation largely because of imperialist western “operations” in pursuit of a hegemony that holds our lives in contempt, utter disregard and disrespect. From Iraq to Palestine to Libya, Germany has played a terrible and pivotal role in the evisceration of us. Together with her western allies, they have made beggars of our mothers, doctors and teachers, and produced generations of traumatized, illiterates into what were once high functioning populations. They destroyed our societies down to their foundations, vanquishing the social mechanisms that marginalize extreme elements, such that into the chaos and gaping misery of our lives now runs amuck a powerful organization of ghoulish fanatics.
So, to the leftist, the right wing, and the pragmatic pundits, I say spare us, please, the self-serving blather about whether you should or should not “help” others. It would be enough to cease the harm caused and perpetuated by the west. At a minimum, try to inject a kernel of honest self-reproach into your discourse on immigration. Examine your role in creating the crises around the world that bring desperate human beings to your shores. Ask why is Reem a refugee, perhaps third or fourth generation, and what is Germany’s role in the boundless tragedy that continues to befall Palestine.
For two decades, Western elites have spun a tale of how Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame heroically ended the 1994 genocide in that country. That narrative has persisted despite the fact that a great deal of evidence shows that Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) did much of the killing and has committed extraordinary levels of violence in neighboring Congo since invading that country not long after seizing power.
The recent BBC telecast of Rwanda: The Untold Story indicates that the truth about Kagame may finally be penetrating the mainstream. “Rwanda: The Untold Story” presents much information that contradicts the official narrative, specifically that the dramatic escalation in violence began not in April 1994 but in October 1990 when the RPF invaded from its outposts in Uganda; that RPF forces killed tens of thousands of people in the 42-month period from the invasion to April 1994; and that the RPF is responsible for the deaths of several hundred thousand more Rwandans during the three month period of bloodshed in 1994.
In contrast, the spinners of the “Kagame the Hero” tale have put the entire responsibility on the Hutu-controlled government and armed Hutu mobs. The RPF’s 1990 invasion, meanwhile, has been completely written out of history in the official narrative, as has RPF responsibility for the shooting down of a plane carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. It was immediately after the murder of Habyarimana that what has been known since as the Rwandan Genocide began.
Another part of the official narrative that was exposed long ago by Edward Herman, Robin Philpot, and others is that the U.S. didn’t do enough to stop the killing. In fact, Kagame was an imperial operative as early as the 1980s who trained at Fort Leavenworth and the U.S. was closely allied with the RPF even before the 1990 invasion. Throughout the spring of 1994, the Clinton administration was proactive in blocking the UN from taking measures that might have prevented much of the killing. Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for one, has put the entire blame for what happened in Rwanda in the 1990s on the United States.
In addition, while the Rwandan government and France, its primary ally, supported international action to stop the killing, Kagame was so determined to take complete control of the country that he eschewed a ceasefire and negotiations. The inescapable conclusion is that the mounting deaths on both sides were acceptable to Kagame and, by extension, the U.S., so long as the end result was complete victory and the ascension of the RPF to power.
From the outset, both Hutu and Tutsi survivors, U.N. officials, and numerous investigators have presented an entirely different version of events. Those stories, which have been fortified by population studies and other means, reveal that both sides are each responsible for hundreds of thousands of killings. These dissident voices have been ignored and, in the case of several studies by human rights groups and the U.N., suppressed – at least until the airing of “Rwanda: The Untold Story.”
Perpetrators and supporters of empire, who have never seen a U.S. war crime they didn’t like, have attacked critics of the official narrative and obfuscated who really benefits from the ongoing warfare. It’s a neat trick practiced regularly: falsely accuse dissidents of denying atrocities and deny imperial atrocities, all the while obscuring the billions in U.S. business profits made possible by Kagame’s invasions of the Congo.
Western plunder of the region dates to the murderous rule of Belgian King Leopold II. No sooner did the Congolese independence movement succeed in 1960 than Congolese reactionaries and their Belgian and CIA helpers overthrew and eventually murdered Patrice Lumumba, the nation’s first elected prime minister. Eventually installed in Lumumba’s place was U.S. puppet Mobutu Sese Seko, who for 30 years served U.S. business interests as zealously as Kagame has. A succession of U.S. administrations have hailed Mobutu as a great man. The Clintons, Madeline Albright, George W. Bush, Samantha Power and Susan Rice all hail Kagame as “the man who ended the Rwandan Genocide.” Never mind the millions of Congolese who have been killed or died from starvation, disease and other causes traced directly to Kagame’s invasions.
The unraveling of the official Rwanda story has global implications, as the U.S. has invoked “preventing another Rwanda” to justify invasions of the former Yugoslavia, Libya and large swaths of the Middle East. With a population increasingly alarmed by endless wars of aggression, the fact that the foundation for those acts is one big lie brings us closer to the day when we can end forever imperial ambitions and war.
Andy Piascik is an award-winning author and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.
Speech of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on the occasion of International Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem), July 10, 2015.
[…] Israel announces its satisfaction with the civil wars ravaging the entire region, and works through its secret services and in different ways to extend these wars. And unfortunately, many countries have been affected by this disaster, and we see what is now being prepared against Algeria, with unfortunately, once again, a sectarian appearance.
At present, I have no detailed information, I do not claim to be a specialist in this matter, but every time that there were problems in some regions, the media spoke of ethnic differences, or ethnic considerations, namely between Arabs and Amazigh (Berber). But I have seen, in recent days, some foreign (Western) channels broadcast in Arabic [BBC Arabic, France 24, etc.] speak of fights between Malikis and Ibadits. That is to say that the West wants to present this as a denominational and sectarian conflict.
This is what (the West) is implementing in the whole of the region.
During this conference (of the Israeli High Command), the impudence of Israelis went as far as calling for an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront terrorism. Conceive of it: Israel calling for an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront terrorism! And what is terrorism for them? Iran and the Resistance movements. Now, so that the imposture not be too blatant, they put Daech (the Islamic State) with us. But of course they did not include the Al-Nusra Front, or Al-Qaeda or other movements like Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, or Boko Haram or… or… or…
So this hypocrite Israel claims it shows solidarity with Egypt in the Sinai, and it incites the conflict between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, especially with the Hamas movement. In Syria, Israel presents itself as the protector of the Druze, while it fully supports the Al-Nusra Front and armed takfiri groups that threaten all Syrians, not just the Druze. This is pure hypocrisy. This is hypocrisy and deception.
But regardless of the details, Israel that is the mother of terrorism, the source of terrorism, the terrorist country, the entity that was founded by a terrorist organisation, and, to use philosophical concepts, the only state whose very essence is terrorism, whose nature is terrorism, that Israel presents itself as fighting against terrorism? Do you see what times we are in? The Israel that just a year ago, led the most merciless war and perpetrated the most heinous crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, so that the reports of international institutions that, at all times, exonerated Israel, have failed, this time, to conceal the truth: the number of women and children killed by Israel, the number of houses destroyed, all the blood of Gaza civilians that was spilt. And after that, it dares to present itself as a civilised country, and claims to be part of a project or an Axis fighting against terrorism. Of course, this is the pinnacle of impudence.
And we must be careful not to mislead ourselves, because unfortunately there are people who may sometimes, because of the impact of terrorism on them, say “What do I care, about Israel? My priority, is this terrorism that is attacking me!” For the existing takfiri terrorism today is among the major adversities faced by our (Muslim) Community. Because (these terrorists) do not fight on a political basis, or for a political project, but on the basis of religious affiliation, or current of thought, or sectarian affiliation. And all the killings that are currently taking place throughout the region are committed on this basis, and not on a political basis or for a political struggle.
Well, the last point that shows that Israel is our enemy, who does it consider to be a threat? Who according to him is a threat? There is only one direction, only one country which represents a threat for Israel: after what happened in Syria, this country (Syria) was removed from the list of threats. All that remains is Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran. That is why we have seen, during the (Israeli) conference of Herzliya, before, and after, that the spirit of Israel is completely obsessed and captured by Iran, by the Islamic Republic: by its nuclear program, the development of its ballistic capacity, its economy, its democracy, the support of its people for its leaders, the health of its leaders and the health of the country… For everything related to Iran, one can see Israel secure its full attention and work on it, both inside and outside of Iran, and at all international forums. The only target for Israel is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with it, the Resistance movements.
As for Israel, despite all our consideration and our respect for the Resistance movements and for ourselves (there is no harm if we manifest our respect for ourselves!), the Resistance movements have not reached the stage where they are, from Israel’s point of view, an existential danger. It is not shameful to say the truth, and that is the truth. Yes, the Resistance movements now represent a strategic danger, but they have not reached the point of representing an existential threat (to Israel). Today, on the whole of the face of the Earth, the only state, the only entity, the only thing that is considered by Israel as an existential danger to them is the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are undeniable truths. If someone claims things are different, may he come (and expose his analysis to us).
And this is why Israel incites the entire world against Iran: the United States, Congress… Netanyahu is ready to ruin his relations with the White House by urging Congress against Iran… Israel incites the Arabs (against Iran)… And many of these Arab regimes already have, by nature, such calculations, such a mentality, such a vision (hostile to Iran). This is the reality.
Question: does this not represent, today (I raise this point), if we calm somewhat, as Arabs, as Muslims, as Palestinians, as peoples of the region, if someone relaxes a bit and calmly reflects, away from the bullets, the suffering, the screaming, the problems and the Arab channels, and wonders seriously: Why? Why Israel… In all the Arab and Islamic world, worldwide, with its billion and a half Muslims, its states, its armies, its peoples… Israel fears no one, cares about no one, does not pay attention to anyone except Iran. Why Iran? Should we not pose this question on the occasion of the International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem)? Why this total hostility against Iran on the part of the Zionists? Why do we see nothing of this sensitivity, this preoccupation, this anxiety, this fear, this precaution, for example on the part of Israel with regard to Saudi Arabia? Or in respect to any other Arab regime? So that no one say that today, Sayed (Nasrallah) was bitter against Saudi Arabia. No, it is a logical and natural question: why?
Today, at this very moment, the Arab countries and the Arab armies buy billions of dollars of aircraft, missiles, artillery, anti-tank weapons, long-range missiles… Israel does not care in the least because there is a certainty, a confidence, a guarantee, not just a written commitment: they have absolute confidence and certainty in this official Arab mentality, and these official Arab regimes, to the point of having no need for guarantees or written commitments. And experience is the best proof: for 67 years, what for example have the Arabs done, most of them? In short, because Israel knows with certainty that the official Arab regimes have sold them Palestine, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Palestinian people. And the proof is what has happened for 67 years and to this day.
Well, this year, they paid a visit to Gaza: have Gazan homes been rebuilt? What is the situation of the wounded of Gaza? Where is the blockade of Gaza? How are the people of Gaza? If a small portion of the billions of dollars being spent on the war against Yemen, the war against Syria, the war against Iraq and the repression of the populations, was spent on Gaza, would we not today have Gaza in a more acceptable situation? Are they not part of Palestine? Are they not part of the (Islamic) Community? And forgive me for expressing myself again like this, but today we are forced to speak in these terms, are they not a part of the Sunni community? Are they not Muslims, who fast and pray? Why are they abandoned? Because there is an official Arab decision to sell Palestine (to Israel). Palestine has no existence (for them). And the Palestinians are subjected to torture and live in ruins because of it.
And because Israel also knows that the takfiri project, which is sponsored by some Arab countries, does not care about Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and that its battle is on other fields, and that this takfiri project completely serves Israeli interests and destroyed for them, without them making any effort, Syria and Iraq, it participated in the destruction of Yemen and spreads sectarian and ethnic conflicts among all Muslims and Christians, tearing apart our (Islamic) Community, and tearing through the national and social fabric in each of our countries, and freely (for Israel).
Who then still carries the flag (of the Palestinian cause)? I do not say this to praise Iran, but to come to a stance. I request a stance to be taken. The one who continues to carry the flag, to face the enemy and refuse to recognise the very existence of this entity, even though the negotiations and the agreement on the nuclear issue should be stopped because of this, whether the current discussions in Vienna that last longer than expected or the ones to come. You will remember that Netanyahu asked that the agreement include the recognition of the existence of Israel by Iran. And I tell you: if the entire nuclear dossier should be closed and Iran be given everything it wanted on the nuclear issue, including what she did not even dare to dream, if the condition was (only) the acknowledgment by Iran of Israel’s existence, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Imam Khomeini, under the leadership of His Eminence Imam Khamenei, through his government, the Chamber of Deputies and his people, would never accept such a clause, as Iran would leave its religion by doing so. They know that this is Iran.
And because Iran continues to face the enemy, it is Iran who support the Axis of Resistance, its states, its peoples and its countries, politically, morally, materially, financially, in terms of arms, on the roof and in full sunlight (in plain sight). And this is something that nobody dares to do, or, so as not to exaggerate, that many are afraid to do. Despite the severe sanctions that Iran suffered for over 30 years, and the threat of permanent war and bombing of its facilities. Because Iran is such a threat to Israel, and for the project of American domination over the region, military wars have been fought against it in the past, and media wars, political, psychological and economic wars are conducted against it, wars involving the instruments and allies of the United States in the region, who constituted by their acts the best support for Israel for decades.
On this International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), allow me to speak frankly with Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Palestinians, with the Resistance movements, and whoever supports and sustains the Palestinian cause: you cannot be with Palestine but by being alongside the Islamic Republic of Iran. And if you’re the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, then you are the enemies of Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Why is this? These are not empty slogans. Because the only hope remaining after God the Exalted and Most High, to recover Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), is this Islamic Republic, its help and support to the people and the Resistance movements in the region, and primarily to the Palestinian people. As long as the world is divided into poles, military camps and positions, we must be clear and straightforward: if we want to be serious and sincere, if we leave aside the partisanship, if we want to be logical, this is the logical vision: this enemy (Israel) unanimously recognises what I say, there is no one in Israel that says anything else about the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As for attempts to escape this historic and decisive stance on the pretext of the “Persian project”… There is no “Persian project”! It is deception to keep people away from a genuine and sincere ally of the Arabs and Muslims and all peoples of the region, namely Iran. Everything concerning a Safavid project is nothing but empty words, exhumed from ancient history. Everything about evoking an ostensible Shiite crescent (is futile)… And besides, Iran is now accused in Yemen, but the (alleged) crescent would be distorted by such a movement. The crescent was to be Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon: how would the crescent reach Yemen? Who are they trying to fool? These are just lies concocted by the corrupt official Arab mentality which has abandoned Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and if anyone approaches to lend a helping hand to Palestine and Al-Quds, they will present them as an enemy, as evidenced by the fact that the Shah (of Iran) was not their enemy when he was an ally of Israel [although he was also Shiite]. But now they want to present Iran as an enemy. How to achieve this? Pretend that there is a Shiite crescent, they want to spread Shiism, it is a Persian project, it is a Safavi project, etc. These are absurd and empty statements.
Translated from Arabic by Sayed Hasan
Translated from French by Jenny Bright
Later this month the outcome is expected of the completely unjust and incompetent show trials held in Libya over the last year or so of around 200 former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya. If that outcome is reported at all in North American and European media, its real meaning will be completely hidden in self-serving apologetics for NATO’s destruction of Libya in 2011.
The same psy-warfare framework that justified NATO’s campaign of terrorist aggression will falsely present the show trials’ outcome as rough justice dealt out to individuals who deserve no better.
That outcome should put on high alert anyone defending the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas against very similar psychological warfare and terrorist subversion supported by NATO governments of the US and its allies. Not for nothing did Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega speak out in defense of Muammar al Gaddhafi and Libya against NATO’s terrorist war. They had already learned long ago the very same lessons to have emerged more recently from the utterly depressing human, moral and political catastrophe of Libya’s destruction.
In 2013, a study by a distinguished Harvard University academic acknowledged that the failure in Libya of the US government’s ostensible avowed policy in Libya and in North and West Africa was based on serial falsehoods. That fact-based, acerbic policy criticism from a source generally supportive of US government foreign policy should give much pause for thought. Along with support for Libya from outstanding revolutionary leaders like Ortega, Chavez and Nelson Mandela it amounts to a categorical indictment of received Western opinion about Libya which, across virtually the entire Western political spectrum, sided either openly or indirectly with NATO’s 2011 war.
No one genuinely concerned to defend progress towards an equitable, peaceful multi-polar world based on mutual respect between sovereign, autonomous nations and peoples should underestimate or forget the horror of what NATO did to Libya. Tens of thousands were killed and wounded in attacks by the bombers and helicopters of many NATO countries. Millions were displaced or forced into exile. Cities like Sirte and Bani Walid were devastated. Schools, universities, hospitals, factories producing food products and other essential civilian infrastructure were targeted and severely damaged or destroyed.
The destruction of Libya marked the categorical abandonment of whatever vestigial moral authority may still have remained to the European Union and its member governments.
It demonstrated in the most humiliating way the impotence and irrelevance of the African Union.
It put hard questions about the anti-imperialism of the Iranian and Syrian governments as well as highlighting the race supremacism of the governments of the Arab League and the already damaged integrity of the Palestinian authorities.
Almost all of them quickly recognized the overtly racist renegade Libyan CNT junta. For their part, the then governments of Russia and China weakly accepted NATO country assurances about the defensive nature of the air exclusion zone.
The only governments to emerge with any real credit from the destruction of Libya were the governments of the ALBA countries and a few African governments like Zimbabwe.
Countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have all been victims of comprehensive disinformation campaigns of demonization and caricature, although perhaps not so extreme as the final campaign against Libya’s Jamahiriya and Muammar al Gaddhafi.
It is worth considering the basic component of that disinformation war against Libya. What is sometimes called 4th generation warfare is as old as warfare itself. Like Athens versus Sparta, or Rome versus Carthage the fundamental objective of NATO governments and their allies is to make their chosen target seem Other, creating a despised, outcast doppelganger anti-image of the West’s own phony self-image.
So Libya’s Jamahiriya was tagged as undemocratic by hypocritical Western governments, most of whom came to power with around just 20% to 25% of the vote of their electorates, thanks overwhelmingly to elite corporate funding. Libya’s democratic process was one that recognized its society’s contradictions and attempted continual self-renewal.
By contrast, the Western corporate oligarchies offer virtually meaningless periodic elections obfuscated by public relations and organized on a yes-or-yes basis to favor politicians groomed and bankrolled by their countries’ anti-democratic elites. Muammar al Ghaddafi was labeled a dictator even though his policy initiatives were not infrequently rejected within Libya’s system of popular congresses.
In 2009, during a policy conflict between Muammar al Gaddhafi and pro-Western so-called reformers, these could not get their way in Libya’s popular assemblies so they chose staging a violent putsch to achieve the regime change their Western government backers wanted. Venezuela’s experience has been almost identical, although, to date, the country has avoided the kind of coup d’état and subsequent NATO driven war that destroyed Libya Libya was portrayed as a systematic human rights violator.
But Libya’s response to the constant terrorist attacks and subversion it suffered from the very start of its Revolution in 1969 was no different to that of any Western government faced with a similar threat. The British government tortured and murdered alleged subversives all through the Irish war, colluding with sectarian paramilitary death squads. The same pattern of torture and extrajudicial murder also consistently marked the Spanish authorities’ campaign against Basque separatists. Guantanamo’s torture camp symbolizes the brutality and illegality of the US government’s response to terrorist threats.
Libya’s Jamahiriya probably conformed as closely to international human rights norms in relation to fighting terrorism as the three Western governments that led NATO’s war of destruction. Human rights protection in Libya was certainly superior to Western allies like Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the other quasi-feudal Gulf State tyrannies.
All the pretexts for the Western assault on Libya’s legitimate government were completely bogus. In any case, as Gerald Perreira points out, the fundamental objective achieved by the destruction of Libya was to shut down the decisive impetus towards African integration led by Muammar al Gaddhafi.
CNT leaders like Mustafa Abdul Jalil were Arab supremacists who fiercely resisted the Pan-African policies advocated by Muammar al Gaddhafi. Arab supremacism, phony neoliberal reformism and the treachery of repressive human rights abusers like Mahmoud Jibril made a lethal reactionary cocktail perfectly suited to ruthless NATO government manipulation. On cue, Western corporate and alternative media presented the corrupt political project of these viciously reactionary elements as a “revolution”, part of the absurdly hyped “Arab Spring”. As if NATO country governments, dedicated to the service of their countries’ corporate elites, have ever promoted genuine democracy or comprehensive human rights around the world.
From Ukraine and Greece, to Yemen and Syria, to Haiti and Honduras, what the Western powers and their allies want is access to natural resources, control of strategically important territories and decisive advantages for their trade and finance. Destroying Libya effectively removed a real threat to Western control and domination in Africa.
Currently, the NATO country elites’ political sales staff, for the moment President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, are battering Greece into submission. But those leaders and their allies are using economic and psychological warfare to attack many other targets, not just Greece. They do so against Venezuela and other stubbornly independent countries around the world.
That is why the leaders of Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela very publicly welcomed the No vote in the Greek referendum. Unlike Libya, in their different regions Syria and Venezuela are part of regional alliances backed at long last by firm leaders in Russia and China, strong enough to face down any likely economic or military threat from the United States and its allies.
But it would be a mistake to forget Libya. Defending the people of Libya represents an important self-defense measure against Western predators in their global psychological warfare assault on the free, anti-imperialist world.
As a leading force in that free world, ALBA country governments should urgently consider challenging the governments of North America and Europe to protect the thousands of political prisoners in Libya who have been tortured and denied due process.
The ALBA country governments and their allies have infinitely more moral and political authority than Western leaders to speak out in defense of fundamental human rights. They should make outspoken use of that authority now to expose the sadism and hypocrisy of Western governments in Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
In Libya, they may perhaps yet help to save the lives of as many as 200 former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya at risk from quasi-judicial murder by the West’s corrupt terrorist proxies in a country they have devastated with merciless cynicism.
It has taken Africa just over a decade to conclude that the International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2002 by the Rome Statute, is simply unfit for purpose. That certainly is the conclusion of the South African government following the recent African Union summit in Johannesburg. The institution African countries signed up for post 1998, a court that promised to pursue injustice without fear or favor, is not the one they see before them today. They were sold a false bill of goods. The ICC’s claims to international jurisdiction and judicial independence are institutionally flawed and the Court’s reputation has been irretrievably damaged by its racism, blatant double-standards, hypocrisy, corruption and serious judicial irregularities.
While the ICC presents itself as the world’s court this is simply not the case. Its members represent just over one quarter of the world’s population: China, Russia, the United States, India, Pakistan and Indonesia are just some of the many countries that have remained outside of the Court’s jurisdiction.
A court is also only as credible as its independence. Far from being an independent and impartial court, the ICC’s own statute grants special “prosecutorial” rights of referral and deferral to the Security Council – by default its five permanent members (three of which are not even ICC members). Political interference in the legal process was thus made part of the Court’s founding terms of reference. The Court is also inextricably tied to the European Union which provides over 60 percent of its funding. The expression “He who pays the piper calls the tune” could not be more appropriate. The fact that the big five ICC funders are Africa’s former colonial masters also sits uneasily with a continent suspicious of recolonization by questionable legal diktat. The EU is additionally guilty of blatant political and economic blackmail in tying aid for developing countries to ICC membership.
Africa is also correct when it points out that the ICC is self-evidently a racist court, in that it treats one race of people differently to all others. Instead of impartially enforcing the Rome Statute, the Europeans have chosen to focus the Court exclusively on Africa. African heads of state have spoken of “race hunting.” Despite having received almost 9,000 formal complaints about alleged war crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has chosen to indict 36 black Africans in eight African countries. In so doing the ICC has ignored all European or Western human rights abuses in conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq or human rights abuses by Western client states. While the ICC’s key first two cases were African “self-referrals” it is now clear that the African governments were made “an offer they could not refuse”: refer yourself and we will only indict your rebels – if not we will indict both government and rebels.
The ICC has emerged very much as a European-funded and directed instrument of European foreign policy. Broader western hypocrisy is all too evident. The United States has forcefully pointed out that the ICC is a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice open to political influence and that no American citizen will ever come before it. Washington is nonetheless very happy, for its own political reasons, to demand that black Africans appear before it.
Double standards and politics aside, the ICC has shown itself to be irretrievably dysfunctional. The court’s proceedings thus far have often been questionable where not simply farcical. Its judges – some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges – are the result of grubbily corrupt vote-trading amongst member states. Far from securing the best legal minds in the world this produces mediocrity. At least one elected “judge” had neither law degree nor legal experience but her country had contributed handsomely to the ICC budget. The Court has produced witnesses who recanted their testimony the moment they got into the witness box, admitting that they were coached by non-governmental organizations as to what false statements to make. Dozens of other “witnesses” have similarly disavowed their “evidence.” Most recently the ICC prosecutor had to admit that one of its own star witnesses in its case against Kenyan Vice-President Ruto was “a thoroughly unreliable and incredible” witness.
And then there has also been the ICC prosecutor who was not only seemingly unaware of the legal concept of presumption of innocence but also threatened to criminalize third-parties who might argue a presumption of innocence on the part of those indicted – and as yet unconvicted – by the Court. A clearer case of Alice in Wonderland justice, along the lines of “sentence first, verdict afterwards,” is difficult to find. There has been prosecutorial misconduct, not least of which hiding exculpatory evidence, which should have ended any fair trial because they would have compromised the integrity of any legal process. The ICC’s first trial proceeded erratically because of crass prosecutorial misbehavior and judicial decisions to add new charges half-way through proceedings, a move that was subsequently overturned. Simply put, the Court and the prosecutor have been making things up as they go along.
The ICC claims to be “economical” and to bring “swift justice,” yet it has consumed more than a billion Euros in its 13-year existence and has only secured two questionable convictions. The ICC claims to be victim-centered yet Human Rights Watch has publicly criticized the ICC’s ambivalence towards victim communities. The ICC claims to be fighting impunity, yet it has granted de jure immunity to the United States and afforded de facto immunity and impunity to NATO member states and several serial abusers of human rights who happen to be friends of the European Union and United States.
Far from bringing peace to Africa, the ICC’s double-standards and autistic legal blundering has derailed delicate peace processes across the continent – thereby prolonging devastating civil wars. The court is responsible for the death, injury and displacement of many thousands of Africans. The ICC’s involvement in Uganda, for example, destroyed peace talks in that country, intensifying the conflict which then spread into three neighboring countries.”
The reality is that the ICC is an inept, corrupt, political court that does not have Africa’s welfare at heart, only the furtherance of Western, and especially European, foreign policy and its own bureaucratic imperative – to exist, to employ more Europeans and North Americans and where possible to continue to increase its budget – all at the expense of African lives. Three cheers for South Africa pointing out that the Emperor is naked.
Dr. David Hoile is the author of Justice Denied: The Reality of the International Criminal Court, a 610-page study of the International Criminal Court published by the Africa Research Centre. The book is available to read or download at www.africaresearchcentre.org. The author can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just ten years ago, Ghana had the most reliable electricity supply in all of Africa and the highest percentage of households connected to the grid in all of Africa – including South Africa. The Volta River Authority, the power producer and distributor was, in my very considerable experience, the best run and most efficient public utility in all of Africa. Indeed it was truly world class, and Ghana was proud of it.
Obviously the sight of truly successful public owned and run enterprise was too much of a threat to the neo-liberal ideologues of the IMF and World Bank. When Ghana needed some temporary financial assistance (against a generally healthy background) the IMF insisted that VRA be broken up. Right wing neoliberal dogma was applied to the Ghanaian electricity market. Electricity was separated between production and distribution, and private sector Independent Power Producers introduced.
The result is disaster. There are more power cuts in Ghana than ever in its entire history as an independent state. Today Ghana is actually, at this moment, producing just 900 MW of electricity – half what it could produce ten years ago. This is not the fault of the NDC or the NPP. It is the fault of the IMF.
Those private sector Independent Power Producers actually provide less than 20% of electricity generation into the grid – yet scoop up over 60% of the revenues! The electricity bills of Ghana’s people go to provide profits to fat cat foreign corporations and of course the western banks who finance them.
Indeed in thirty years close experience the net result of all IMF activity in Africa is to channel economic resources to westerners – and not to ordinary western people, but to the wealthiest corporations and especially to western bankers.
Not content with the devastation they have already caused, the IMF and the USA are now insisting on the privatisation of ECG, the state utility body which provides electricity to the consumer and bills them. The rationale is that a privatised ECG will be more efficient and ruthless in collecting revenue from the poor and from hospitals, clinics, schools and other state institutions.
Doubtless it will be. It will of course be more efficient in channelling still more profits to very rich businessmen and bankers. I suspect that is the real point. That privatised utilities bring better service and cheaper prices to the consumer has been conclusively and forever disproven in the UK. What it does bring is huge profits to the rich and misery to the poor. To unleash this on Ghana is acutely morally reprehensible.
Ghana has a political culture in which the two main parties, NDC and NPP, heatedly blame each other for their country’s problems. But if they only can see it, in truth the electricity sector has been ruined by their common enemy – the IMF and World Bank. I pray that one day the country will escape the grip of these bloodsucking institutions.
Reprieve | June 24, 2015
The Guardian and the New York Times have today revealed the existence of documents showing the contribution made by UK intelligence agency GCHQ to US drone strikes in Yemen.
The British Government has to date refused to comment on its role in such strikes, describing them consistently as “a matter for the Yemeni and US Governments.”
However, legal charity Reprieve has previously raised concerns over European complicity in covert drone strikes – considered by many experts to be in violation of international law – through the sharing of intelligence and the provision of infrastructure.
In Germany, Reprieve has helped civilian drone strike victim Faisal bin ali Jaber to bring a case against the Government over the role played in Yemen strikes by the military base at Ramstein.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Reprieve unearthed a contract showing that a high-tech data link had been provided between RAF Croughton – a base leased by the US in Lincolnshire – and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, from where US strikes against Yemen have reportedly been launched.
Commenting, Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “This is yet more damning evidence of the key role played by the UK in the illegal US drone war. This campaign has taken place in the shadows, killing hundreds of civilians while leaving their families with no access to justice. President Obama won’t even confirm it is taking place; while the UK and Germany follow his lead by stonewalling questions on the part they play. It is time Europe came clean on the support it provides to this misguided campaign, which the evidence suggests is making the world a more dangerous place for all of us.”
Tuareg rebels and the Malian government have vowed to honor a peace deal devolving more power to northern communities
A coalition of Tuareg-led rebels signed a historic peace deal with the Malian government Saturday, after securing more autonomy from Bamako.
“Hand in hand, let us make Mali better, more brotherly, more united than ever,” said President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in an official ceremony in the Malian capital. Cheers erupted in the ceremony when the peace deal was signed by Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, a representative of the predominantly Tuareg militia alliance, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA).
Under the peace deal, the Malian government agreed to allow the formation of democratically elected regional councils in the country’s war-torn north, and dropped arrest warrants for a number of militant leaders. The deal is a far cry from long-standing Tuareg demands for an independent state in the northern desert, but has already been hailed as a major step forward in resolving long standing tensions between the ethnic group and the central government.
A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the deal, but urged both sides to ensure its implementation.
“The ultimate responsibility for peace lies with Mali and the Malians,” they stated.
For decades Mali’s Tuareg minority has complained of marginalization, and accused the government of neglecting them and the country’s far north. The Malian ethnic group has repeatedly revolted against the government, with the latest insurrection taking place amid a 2012 coup in Bamako. For nearly 10 months vast swathes of the north were wrestled from government control.
A French-led military intervention was launched in 2013 amid allegations the uprising had been hijacked by al-Qaida linked militants, leading to the return of government rule in the fractured north. Since then, the region has been mired in instability, with many Tuareg remaining frustrated with the central government.
A version of the peace deal was rejected by Tauregs earlier this year.
One CMA spokesperson, Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, told AFP the peace deal was just the start of a long road towards ensuring the agreement with the government is honored. “We are for peace, but what we want is that the agreement is actually implemented on the ground,” he said.
The cost of global war in the year 2014 reached $14.3 trillion, or 13.4 percent of the global gross domestic product, a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace says.
Last year, the cost of global conflict equaled the combined economies of Britain, Germany, France, Brazil, Canada, and Spain, according to a recent report by the Australia-based group.
The statistics mark a 15.3-percent spike in the cost of conflicts since 2008 when the financial impact was recorded as $12.4 trillion, the report notes.
“Large increases in costs are due to the increases in deaths from internal conflict, increases for IDP (internally displaced person) and refugee support, and GDP losses from conflict, with the latter accounting for 38 percent of the increase since 2008,” the report stated.
Since 2008, the cost of supporting IDPs and refugees has increased by 267 percent and the number of people forced to relocate by war has reached its highest since the Second World War, the report noted.
It also described the Middle East and North Africa as the most violent regions in the world and Europe as the most peaceful, adding that Saudi Arabia’s ongoing aggression against Yemen has dragged down the overall outlook for the Middle East.
According to the report, Syria, which has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011, was world’s least peaceful country, followed by Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
The East African country of Eritrea is once again being demonized internationally as a systematic violator of human rights. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issued an allegedly damning report detailing what it claims are “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” taking place in Eritrea. Media coverage has similarly echoed those claims, presenting Eritrea to a western audience as a backward and “brutal dictatorship,” playing on the traditional stereotypes of totalitarianism from East Germany to Stalin’s Soviet Union.
However, a closer and more critical analysis of both the report, and the true agendas of the western institutions promoting its narrative, reveals a vastly different motivation to this report and the continued anti-Eritrean narrative. It could be called politically motivated propaganda, and that would be correct. It could be called a distorted and biased perspective rooted in fundamental misunderstandings of both politics and history, and that would also be correct. It could, quite simply, be called abject neo-colonialism of the worst sort, and that too would also be correct.
For while the UN and western media portray Eritrea – a country most westerners know nothing about, if they’ve ever even heard of the country at all – as little more than a “Third World dictatorship” because of its alleged violations of human rights, they conveniently ignore the actual human rights issues that Eritrea champions, making it a leader on the African continent, and a country that in many ways should be held up as a model of human development and adherence to true human rights.
Eritrea leads the way in Africa on issues ranging from the prevention and treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases, to access to clean drinking water, literacy promotion, and countless other issues. But none of this is deemed worthy by the UN for inclusion in a report about “human rights.”
This is of course not to suggest that Eritrea, like every other country in the so called “developing” and “developed” worlds, is without problems, as that would be simply false. Rather, it is to note that a truly objective report that actually sought a substantive analysis of human rights in Eritrea, rather than a politically motivated propaganda campaign, would have revealed a country busy transforming itself and its people, leaving behind the decades of colonial oppression and subjugation, beating an independent path for itself.
But of course, this is the gravest sin of all in the eyes of the western ruling class and the institutions it controls. Abject poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, death from preventable diseases, and many other hallmarks of African underdevelopment – these are all fine in the eyes of the West, so long as you follow their IMF, World Bank, UN rules of the game; so long as you “respect opposition,” “respect democracy,” and act “inclusively.” But, when a country chooses to create its own system, and pursue its own national development (white neocolonial opinions be damned), it is immediately cast as the great villain. So too with Eritrea.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the facts.
The UN Report: A Critical Look
The UN OHCHR report presents a vision of Eritrea that is, in many ways, at odds with reality. While forms of political repression and non-conformity to western conceptions of democracy are highlighted and repeated ad nauseam, other critical aspects of human rights are entirely ignored. Moreover, the UN report was limited in its scope because of lack of access to the country, thereby forcing the report to rely exclusively on the testimony of expatriate Eritreans and those with an obvious political bias and grudge against the government of Isaias Afewerki. So, far from being objective, the report is, by its very nature, a one-sided portrayal of the situation in the country. The report notes:
The commission finds that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea and that there is no accountability for them…The enjoyment of rights and freedoms are severely curtailed in an overall context of a total lack of rule of law. The commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour may constitute crimes against humanity. The commission emphasizes that its present findings should not be interpreted as a conclusion that international crimes have not been committed in other areas.
While of course there is a shock value associated with phrases like “extrajudicial killings,” “torture,” and “crimes against humanity,” these claims need to be interrogated carefully. It is impossible to say the extent to which these claims are either wholly true, complete fabrications, or partially true embellishments concocted by expatriates with an anti-government personal and political agenda; it is not unreasonable to assume that it is a combination of all three.
However, it is useful here to ask whether countries like the United States, for instance, would also be guilty of “extrajudicial killings” and “torture” were a similar investigation conducted into the seemingly endless, dare I say systematic, police murders of American citizens, especially people of color? Or what about the now universally accepted fact – publicly acknowledged even by President Obama who blithely declared “We tortured some folks” – that the United States systematically tortured prisoners throughout the so called “War on Terror”? Or that the US continues to hold countless inmates, again disproportionately people of color, in long term solitary confinement, a common US practice decried as torture by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E Méndez of the very same OHCHR?
But of course none of these uncomfortable truths are good for the narrative of “backwards African dictatorship,” and therefore, they are not part of the story. Nor does the report define exactly what it means by “national service.” However, those with knowledge of Eritrea’s domestic policies, which is almost no one in the West, understand that “national service” especially includes national military service, a practice used by many countries, including the US darling Israel, among many others.
Of course, it would be wise to here make the distinction that, unlike the apartheid state of Israel which uses its military for the purposes of oppression and occupation, Eritrea fought a protracted and bloody war against the former colonial masters in Ethiopia, having had ongoing military conflicts with their neighbor for nearly the entire, short existence of Eritrea as an independent nation. With a relatively small population and, proportionately speaking, a long and porous border with a hostile nation with a history of subjugation of Eritreans, it is not at all unreasonable to have a robust military apparatus fueled by mandatory military service.
One should also recall the way in which such reports, and brazen distortions, have been used by the UN and the OHCHR in the recent past. In perhaps its most shameful moment in recent history, the former High Commissioner Navi Pillay was instrumental in building the justification for the disastrous, illegal, and blatantly neocolonial, imperialist war against Libya. Pillay actually took the lead in disseminating anti-Gaddafi propaganda in the first weeks of the destabilization campaign, making her the leading edge of the propaganda assault, lending her reputation and position with the UN in order to bolster the anti-Gaddafi narrative. In late February 2011, Pillay stated:
More needs to be done. I encourage all international actors to take necessary measures to stop the bloodshed… thousands may have been killed or injured over the past week… Although reports are still patchy and hard to verify, one thing is painfully clear: in brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors… Tanks, helicopters and military aircraft have reportedly been used indiscriminately to attack the protestors… The Libyan leader must stop the violence now… Libyan forces are firing at protestors and bystanders, sealing off neighbourhoods and shooting from rooftops. They also block ambulances so that the injured and dead are left on the streets.
The facts that have been gathered since the illegal aggression against Libya have all contradicted every assertion that Pillay and the OHCHR made in early 2011. As Dr. Alan Kuperman wrote in his report Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene, published by the prestigious Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University:
Contrary to Western media reports, Qaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011—Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata—violence was actually initiated by the protesters. The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed. Early press accounts exaggerated the death toll by a factor of ten, citing “more than 2,000 deaths” in Benghazi during the initial days of the uprising, whereas Human Rights Watch (HRW) later documented only 233 deaths across all of Libya in that period.
Needless to say, the credibility of the OHCHR took a major hit in 2011 with that ghastly episode of outright lying, propaganda, and service to the foreign policy agenda of the West. So too should one be skeptical of their similar distortions on issues such as Eritrea, which in many ways are similar to Libya.
In fact, it is no coincidence that Eritrea’s closest ally in the world was Libya and Gaddafi. As the US Government-funded Center for Naval Analyses wrote in a 2010 report,
“In the 1990s, Qadhafi made numerous attempts to mediate the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, but Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi was uninterested in separate negotiations… Qadhafi even went so far as to propose a Sahelian-Saharan peacekeeping force, to which Eritrea agreed and Ethiopia did not. Qaddafi subsequently helped finance Eritrea’s military campaign against Ethiopia.”
It seems then that, far from being a coincidence, Eritrea is, in effect, getting the Libya treatment in terms of the propaganda and distortions.
But the real question is why? Why is Eritrea so reviled by the vaunted so called “international community”?
Eritrea’s Real Sins: Independence and Human Rights
All countries demonized by the West, attacked economically and politically, have done something to earn them the ire of the so called “liberal democracies” of the developed world. Of course, it is never the seemingly innocuous pretexts that institutions such as the UN OHCHR invoke.
First and foremost among Eritrea’s grave sins is its stubborn insistence on maintaining full independence and sovereignty in both political and economic spheres. This fact is perhaps best illustrated by Eritrean President Afewerki’s bold rejection of foreign aid of various sorts, stating repeatedly that Eritrea needs to “stand on its own two feet.” Afewerki’s pronouncements are in line with what pan-Africanist radicals, Marxists such as Walter Rodney, and many others have argued for decades, namely that, as Afewerkie put it in 2007 after rejecting a $200 million dollar “aid” package from the World Bank,
“Fifty years and billions of dollars in post-colonial international aid have done little to lift Africa from chronic poverty… [African societies] are crippled societies… You can’t keep these people living on handouts because that doesn’t change their lives.”
Naturally, such a radical departure from the tried and true cycle of financial aid and debt servitude, corruption and endemic poverty, is seen as a threat by the neocolonial establishment as manifested in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other financial institutions. But the real danger is not simply the ideology, but its success. As the LA Times noted in its profile of Eritrea in 2007:
The self-reliance program began a decade ago but accelerated sharply in 2005. Relying on its meager budget and the conscription of about 800,000 of the country’s citizens, the program so far has shown promising results. Measured on a variety of U.N. health indicators, including life expectancy, immunizations and malaria prevention, Eritrea scores as high, and often higher, than its neighbors, including Ethiopia and Kenya… It might be one of the most ambitious social and economic experiments underway in Africa.
In the eight years since 2007, Eritrea has made even greater strides, becoming the only African nation to reach its Millennium Development Goals in 2015. Eritrea now boasts a roughly 98% immunization rate, incredible reductions in malaria, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, and other preventable diseases. Eritrea has reduced infant mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by nearly 80% since independence. Literacy rates have increased dramatically, access to basic health care, clean drinking water, and many other essential human rights have all been greatly expanded, all while accepting no foreign aid.
Christine Umutoni, the UN Resident Coordinator in Eritrea, explained that “What we see as development partners, what is responsible for this success is community participation, the enabling environment, leadership, strong mechanisms for prevention, value for money and coordinated inter-sectoral approaches.” Umutomi also added that Eritrea has put a tremendous amount of energy into developing innovative alternatives to tackling difficult health and human issues including temporary maternal clinics and mobile medical units, as well as knowledge of migration patterns and remote areas.
In other words, Eritrea has managed to rapidly, and in earnest, embark on a process of economic and social transformation that the West is constantly advocating for African nations. However, Eritrea has done it on its own terms, without being enslaved by the financial institutions of global capitalism, and that is what makes it a target for demonization rather than praise. Why, one might ask, are the human rights of the rural poor, the unborn and infants, those living in grinding poverty, not taken into consideration in the so called OHCHR report? Are human rights only restricted to a small minority of political discontents whose grievances, even if justified, are relegated to the realm of politics and speech? This is not to diminish the importance of such issues, but rather to illustrate the sheer hypocrisy of the selective use of the term.
Of course, there are also other critical political and economic reasons for Eritrea’s pariah status in the eyes of the so called “developed world,” and especially the US. Perhaps the most obvious, and most unforgivable from the perspective of Washington, is Eritrea’s stubborn refusal to have any cooperation, formal or informal, with AFRICOM or any other US military. While every other country in Africa with the exception of the equally demonized, and equally victimized, Zimbabwe has some military connections to US imperialism, Eritrea remains stubbornly defiant. I suppose Eritrea takes the notion of post-colonial independence seriously.
Eritrea also rejects the neocolonial notion that it, and Africa broadly speaking, should be little more than a cash cow of natural resources, especially mineral resources, for the developed world to exploit. Eritrea’s President Afewerki said in a recent interview:
Your location could be a comparative advantage. If you have a long coastline, then you develop fisheries, develop your services industry – shipping, transportation – air, land. Provide industry and manufacturing… Africa can produce its own food and grow more. Why aren’t we able to do that? You have to produce something. Emphasize sustainable sectors. Agriculture is a sustainable sector. You need to put in place agriculture infrastructure. It’s a strategy commodity for communities… You need to think least on mineral resources (for economic development)… Gold glitters but it blinds people… If you forgo agriculture because you have gold, you go into a trap. If you forgo comparative advantage that you have because you have gold, then you make a big mistake… Food sovereignty and local production, local manufacturing and development are more critical than depending on resource exploitation. You must have a balance, comprehensive program that takes stock of your comparative advantages in different sectors and local needs first… Local markets are everything.
Is it any wonder that Afewerki and his government are demonized by the West? What is the history of US and European behavior towards independent African leaders who advocated self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist ideology? The answer is self-evident. Such ideas as Afewerki expressed in the interview are seen by Washington, London, and Brussels as not only defiant, but dangerous; dangerous not only because of what they say, but dangerous because they’re actually working.
You do not see Eritrea depending on US and European NGOs, nor do you see the major western financial institutions enslaving the country with the unsustainable feedback loop of debt and aid. Instead, you see a country steadily emerging from decades of war and oppression, building a society from the ground up. Certainly there are problems, and changes of various kinds will need to be made as with all systems as they mature and evolve. But this is not what the US and its allies want: they need Eritrea to be brought to heel. And this simply cannot and will not be accepted by Eritrea, no matter the sanctions, no matter the demonization, no matter the demagogy.
Neocolonialism comes in many forms: political, economic, social, cultural, philosophical, psychological, etc. It is undeniably true that Africa, and indeed most of the Global South, continues to be enslaved by the neocolonialism of the former colonial masters. It is also true that the neocolonial status quo is not to be challenged. Eritrea is one of the few countries doing precisely that. And it is for this reason, that it is demonized and vilified.
And it is for precisely this reason, that it must be defended.
A Sudanese diplomat revealed on Friday that Russia and China are supporting the demand for the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to be withdrawn from the area, Quds Press has reported.
According to Sudanese Radio, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour met with the Russian and Chinese ambassadors in Khartoum separately. After discussing the latest developments in the issue he told the ambassadors that the Sudanese, US and African committee had reached “positive understandings” regarding the UNAMID exit from Darfur.
Ghandour criticised the statement about Sudan presented by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council on Thursday. He said that Ban’s report sought to confuse the issue by mentioning irrelevant incidents and conflicts that have little bearing on international peace and security.
Ban, added Ghandour, also referred to the battle with the Justice and Equality movement, without referring to the fact that these rebel forces entered from a neighbouring country which has provided all types of assistance to them, in violation of international law. Positive developments like the general amnesty declared by the president of Sudan, who welcomes anyone to join the peace process and negotiations, were omitted by the UN chief, he added.