Category Archives: Mali

Constitutional referendum, presidential elections to be held in Zimbabwe

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The following analysis below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. To understand more of the history of the ZANU-PF and its ongoing revolutionary shaping of Zimbabwe, then I’d highly recommend everyone in reading “New Democracy & ZANU-PF: Zimbabwe’s Revolutionary Path,” which was published by Return to the Source

Constitutional referendum, presidential elections to be held in Zimbabwe

January 27, 2013

Zimbabwe’s two major political parties agreed to a new draft constitution Jan. 17. After nearly two years of deliberation, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), reached an agreement that may replace the country’s current constitution and pave the way for a presidential election later this year. This draft proposal will go before the Zimbabwean people for approval in a nationwide referendum later this year.

Following the agreement, President Robert Mugabe, of ZANU-PF, called for peaceful presidential elections as early as March 2013. Fearing defeat, the unpopular MDC immediately came out against holding elections.

Most analysts believe that Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, will handily defeat Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC at the polls. An August 2012 survey by Freedom House, a pro-imperialist Western think-tank, found that more than 31% of people support ZANU-PF compared to the 20% who support MDC in the upcoming elections. The study found that the MDC had lost 18% support since 2010 while ZANU-PF had gained 17% support in the same period. Even Zimbabwe Vigil, a pro-MDC firm based in Britain, predicted in September 2012 that ZANU-PF would win the upcoming elections because of corruption in the MDC.

The draft constitution comes amid the profound revolutionary changes taking place in Zimbabwe. White colonists, never more than 4.3% of the population, ruled Zimbabwe for many decades. Then Zimbabweans waged a 15-year liberation war against white minority rule that led to negotiations and ended Ian Smith’s racist regime in 1980. This victory established African majority rule and most whites left the country. Still, wealthy whites continued controlling most of Zimbabwe’s good farmland and resources. Former colonial power Britain claimed to support land reform and resettlement, but failed to fund it. Britain ignored their agreements with Zimbabwe’s government and stirred up trouble.

After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000. President Mugabe and ZANU-PF supported these farm occupations through the Fast Track Land Reform Program. The reform redistributed 7 million hectares of Zimbabwe’s land to more than a million small farmers. Many large landowners were dispossessed and their land given to the rightful owners.

The land reform drastically changed ownership and power relations in Zimbabwe. The U.S. and Britain responded with economic sanctions, sending Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. In the 2008 presidential election, Britain and the U.S. tried to use Zimbabwe’s economic crisis to violently destabilize the country and oust Mugabe, trying to replace him with the puppets of the MDC.

Although the MDC won a plurality of the votes in the first round of the 2008 presidential election, they withdrew from the runoff in an attempt to delegitimize the democratic process. In the runoff, Mugabe defeated the MDC candidate Tsvangirai in a landslide. Mugabe nearly doubled his absolute vote total from the first round of elections – 1.1 million in the first round to 2.2 million in the runoff. Shortly after the election, Mugabe and ZANU-PF formed a power-sharing government with the MDC that included Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Land reform is not the only area of Zimbabwe’s economy experiencing serious progressive change. In 2012, the Zimbabwean government began enforcing the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill, which requires at least 50% black local ownership of all businesses and companies. This policy is extremely popular among the Zimbabwean people, who see it as means of exercising their right to control over their own resources. By November 2012, Zimbabwe had indigenized 120 major mining companies and created 400 Employee Share Ownership Trusts to better redistribute the nation’s wealth to the people.

In spite of the continued sanctions and economic warfare from the U.S. and Britain, Zimbabwe’s economy continues to recover and has grown at a remarkable rate since 2009. According to Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, the country saw 8.1% growth in 2010 and 9.3% growth in 2011. Agricultural production experienced growth from the land reform as well, with tobacco production expanding from 2008’s record low of 105 million pounds to 330 million pounds in 2012. As Zimbabwe recovers, more black Zimbabweans will share in their nation’s wealth than in the 33 years since the end of white minority rule, leading to a more balanced, collective economy.

As Zimbabwe approaches its 2013 elections, the danger of imperialist meddling in southern Africa runs high. Wikileaks revealed in August last year that Tsvangirai, of the MDC, had used his 2009 visit to U.S. President Barack Obama to lobby for greater sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to bring down Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Banks and corporations in the U.S. and Britain have a vested commercial interest in seeing an end to ZANU-PF’s progressive, national democratic policies and anti-imperialism. True to form, the MDC showed their loyalty to their foreign masters by unveiling the Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Environment Plan on Nov. 29 of 2012. This scheme proposes to reverse ZANU-PF’s indigenization policy, facilitating U.S. and British corporate domination.

It’s no surprise that the people of Zimbabwe have turned against the MDC, given the party’s allegiance to Britain and the U.S., at the expense of the people. However, the US, Britain, France and other Western European powers are waging a campaign to re-colonize Africa, most recently seen in the U.S.-backed French military intervention in Mali.

Military interventions by imperialist powers in Somalia, Ivory Coast, Libya, Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now Mali demonstrate the willingness of the U.S. and Western Europe to use military force against governments or people that resist their dominance.

Progressive activists, organizers and revolutionaries in the U.S. must resolutely oppose any attempt by Western powers to intervene in Zimbabwe, especially with elections on the horizon. People in the U.S. should support the right of the Zimbabwean people to determine their own destiny, as expressed through the policies of ZANU-PF, and they should fight moves for the re-colonization of Africa.

Once derided, Gaddafi’s warnings about jihadists now used to justify Mali intervention

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By Stephen Gowans
December 20, 2013

In today’s New York Times, Steven Erlanger justifies the French intervention in Mali on these grounds:

• It responds to “a direct request from a legitimate government.”
• It combats “the spread of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”

Erlanger uses the word “legitimate” to describe Mali’s government. “Democratic” carries more weight, but the description doesn’t fit. Mali is governed by a military dictatorship, a truth one suspects Erlanger would prefer not to draw attention to. Being every bit a salesman, Erlanger presses “legitimate” into use as an inferior, though still high-sounding, surrogate for “democratic”. A military operation to help a legitimate government must be legitimate, right?

Wrong. How can a French military operation in a North African country be legitimate, when not too long ago France undertook what was then called a legitimate intervention in another North African country, Libya, with the opposite aims:

• Not to support, but to topple a legitimate government;
• Not to stop the spread of radical Islam, but to help radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, overthrow a legitimate government?

In other words, the Mali operation is the very antithesis of the Libyan one. Yet, according to state officials in France, the United States and Britain and their jingoist Western mass media cheerleaders, both interventions are legitimate. Where the Mali intervention protects a legitimate government, the Libyan intervention toppled one. Where the Mali operation opposes radical Islamists, the Libyan operation aided them.

It can’t possibly be true that Western governments are against radical Islamists as a matter of principle, when the principal financial and ideological backer of militant Sunni Islamism, Saudi Arabia, is a treasured ally. Nor can it be true when Western powers backed radical Islamists against:

• The leftist Afghan government in the 1980s,
• Yugoslavia’s social democracy in the 1990s,
• Gaddafi’s economic nationalism in Libya,
• Assad’s secular nationalist government in Syria.

It can’t be true that Western powers are against despots, dictators, and absolutist monarchs, when they’ve backed so many of them in the past, and continue to back them in the present, from the potentates of the Gulf Cooperation Council to the military regime in Mali.

Neither are Western powers committed to backing struggles against tyrannies as struggles against tyrannies. On countless occasions, they’ve either stood idly by as tyrannies repressed democratic rebellions, or energetically aided their autocratic allies’ efforts to crush opposition. For a recent example, we need only turn to the crackdown on the rebellion in absolutist Bahrain, assisted by the same countries which supplied arms to misnamed “democrats” in Libya and equip the Muslim Brothers and foreign jihadists in Syria. Washington has done nothing to stop the crackdown in Bahrain, let alone vigorously protested it. The British, for their part, invited the offending tyrant to the royal wedding of Kate and William.

Erlanger notes that the Mali intervention “has been popular” and that it commands the support of three quarters of the French, according to one poll. This is a nod to the prowess of Erlanger’s cohorts in the trade of shaping public opinion, and the superficial attention most people pay to foreign affairs. It’s also an attempt to prop up his argument that the intervention is legitimate. After all, a military operation supported by a solid majority can hardly be a base affair, corrupted by hypocrisy and crass commercial interests, can it? And if you should happen to be against the French helping an ally defend itself against jihadists, Erlanger’s letting you know you’re on the wrong side of public opinion.

“The French people are ready to support a military operation as long as the objectives are clear and seem legitimate,” a French analyst told the Times’ reporter. Well, no, the French people are willing to support a military operation so long as no one calls upon them to risk their lives and pay higher taxes, what “support for war” used to mean. No longer. Today, support means feeling good about France and nothing more.

The French will continue to feel good about themselves so long as there are few French fatalities in Mali and so long as the connection between covering the costs of the war and higher taxes, is obscured. Payment must be deferred, and then concealed, preferably in tax hikes on the poor and middle class to cover (wink-wink) skyrocketing social welfare expenditures.

So here we are. Gaddafi was sneered at when he said that the rebellion that erupted against him in Benghazi was the work of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He was just as contemptuously dismissed when he warned, “if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa.” Now that chaos and holy war threaten to overtake a Western client, Gaddafi’s words are being treated with new respect. In death, the man once ridiculed as a buffoon has become a sage.

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By Design: French Mali Invasion Spills into Algeria

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By Tony Cartalucci
January 17, 2013

Exactly as predicted, the ongoing French “intervention” in the North African nation of Mali has spilled into Algeria – the next most likely objective of Western geopolitical interests in the region since the successful destabilization of Libya in 2011.

In last week’s “France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali” report, it was stated specifically that:

“As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.”

Now, it is reported that “Al Qaeda-linked” terrorists have seized American hostages in Algeria in what is being described by the Western press as “spill over” from France’s Mali operations.

The Washington Post, in their article, “Al-Qaida-linked militants seize BP complex in Algeria, take hostages in revenge for Mali,” claims:

“As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its article, “Militants Grab U.S. Hostages in Algeria,” reports that:

“Militants with possible links to al Qaeda seized about 40 foreign hostages, including several Americans, at a natural-gas field in Algeria, posing a new level of threat to nations trying to blunt the growing influence of Islamist extremists in Africa.As security officials in the U.S. and Europe assessed options to reach the captives from distant bases, Algerian security forces failed in an attempt late Wednesday to storm the facility.”

The WSJ also added:

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would take “necessary and proper steps” in the hostage situation, and didn’t rule out military action. He said the Algeria attack could represent a spillover from Mali.”

And it is military action, both covert and incrementally more overt, that will see the West’s extremist proxies and the West’s faux efforts to stem them, increasingly creep over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn right before our eyes.

Image: The French Empire at its height right before the World Wars. The regions that are now Libya, Algeria, Mali, and the Ivory Coast all face reconquest by the French and Anglo-Americans, with French troops literally occupying the region and playing a pivotal role in installing Western-friendly client regimes. Also notice Syria too, was a French holding – now under attack by US-British-French funded, armed, and backed terrorists – the same terrorists allegedly being fought in Mali and now Algeria.

Meanwhile, these very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France who are both claiming to fight the “Free Syrian Army’s” ideological and very literal allies in North Africa.

In reality, Al Qaeda is allowing the US and France to intervene and interfere in Algeria, after attempts in 2011 to trigger political subversion was soundly defeated by the Algerian government. Al Qaeda is essentially both a casus belli and mercenary force, deployed by the West against targeted nations. It is clear that French operations seek to trigger armed conflict in Algeria as well as a possible Western military intervention there as well, with the Mali conflict serving only as a pretense.

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The Tragedy-Cum-Farce in Algeria

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What If David Cameron was Lying? How Would We Know?

By Afshin Rattansi
January 19, 2013

The end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya was celebrated with breath-taking idiocy by European leaders and a genuflecting corporate media. Fifteen months later, the media is reporting on neighbouring Algeria, the largest country in Africa – and one where a hostage-rescue mission has ended in carnage.

Either the UK Prime Minister David Cameron is telling the truth and wasn’t even notified by French-proxy President Bouteflika of Algeria or he is lying when it comes to what happened at the heavily fortified BP-Statoil plant near Tigantourine, deep in the Sahara desert. If Cameron is telling the truth, then why should it seem so insolent for a sovereign leader to react to mission-critical information on the ground and initiate an attack? Would Obama, Hollande or Cameron inform Algiers if they had received a call from their special forces on the ground on an imminent attack on the hostages? Algeria isn’t really a sovereign country and there might as well never have been the Battle of Algiers, what with the appalling redistribution of wealth accruing from the energy sector and all the foreign private and state actors on the ground.

But what if Cameron was lying – how would we know? And why are journalists so unquestioning when they receive information from their political leaders? How many years has it been since Iraq when UK journalists were supposed to get the hang of the idea that those in power don’t always tell the truth? Today, Libya is a catastrophe with no corporate journalists to cover it. Meanwhile, NATO’s attempts at destroying Assad’s secular government by funding Al Qaeda has led only to strengthening Wahabism. No wonder it’s difficult to work out what is going on if individual journalists take power at face value.

More pertinently, the whole tragedy-cum-farce at the Ain Amenas energy facility is a grim reminder of how pointless and misguided is NATO in their trans-global attempts at securing energy resources and playing off different sides. This isn’t the nineteenth century any more.

NATO weapons were poured in before French and British premiers could proudly declare victory in Libya – that energy rich land on the Mediterranean with some of the sweetest oil in the world. Britain, in particular, chose to back exactly the kind of people that cheered the September 11th 2001 attacks on Washington and New York. Why did they do this? To a large part, because government drew on an entire echelon of academic and intelligence analysts who have completely misunderstood the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

While U.S. President Bill Clinton sowed the seeds of the economic destruction of the United States with the abolition of Glass–Steagall, a concurrent suicidal foreign policy was well underway. In its own hemisphere, the U.S. made useless attempts at supressing Latin and Central American rage against U.S. power as the tide turned against American death squads, assassinations and terrorism.

There was continuing massive American support for that terrorist entity in the heart of the Middle East – Israel. The Zionists rewarded the U.S. in return by backing Salafists who despised everything the United States ever stood for.

And, all the way, Europe with its absurd EU institutions and crazy European currency, followed U.S. policy because of assumptions about the future of capitalism, markets and a neoliberal version of what Enlightenment thinking was actually about. Like levers, each intricately pulled to reach this outcome, we have a conjunction of Europe on its knees trying to clamber out of economic catastrophe and a new guerrilla warfare that even Che Guevara might never have imagined.

The faintly ridiculous anti-Marxist trend of identity politics without attendant superstructural contexts of class has reached a stage long predicted by its detractors. We have the sighs of the oppressed amplified around the world and only those powers who negotiate with it can progress – take a look at BRICS GDP figures. China’s come out today so expect earnest downplaying from Western media.

NATO as an organisation might as well be a Wahabi Loya Jurga in the Hindu Kush for all it has done to spread the toxic views of Osama bin Laden and his “evil-doers”. Meanwhile, the world’s next superpowers negotiate with multivariate parties, gaining an economic foothold here, a strategic partnership there.

As France’s Francois Hollande tries desperately to cling on to Uranium resources in pan-national, Tuareg West Africa to manufacture ever more nuclear weapons, it should be obvious that his mission will end in failure. As late as 11 December 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was saying that the UN Security Council should not approve any UN financial support for war in Mali. The Chapter VII UN resolution 2085 talks about an “Africa-led” force to foster peace – though EU corporate media say French airstrikes are covered by that resolution. But, in any case, weren’t the UK SAS, France’s GIGN and U.S. Deltas already on the ground in Mali? There are now European ground troops. And there will be asymmetric warfare in civilian areas of European cities in the years to come.

A quarter of a millennium before the creation of the United States, Sunni Ali, made Gao (today in Mali) the capital of the Songhay Empire. It is currently enduring airstrikes from French Rafale planes using ordnance that costs unimaginable multiples of the average wage in Uranium-rich Mali. Ali was succeeded by Askia Muhammad the Great and the 16th-century Moroccan explorer Leo Africanus said of Africa’s Songhay Empire that “more profit [was] made from the book trade than from any other line of business.” NATO leaders could do worse than read a few books before they sacrifice everything for access to Uranium to proliferate nuclear weapons of mass destruction. And while they’re about it, they can stop funding “Al Qaeda”.

AFSHIN RATTANSI is the author of “The London Novels: The Dream of the Decade” and runs Alternate Reality Productions Ltd. One of its commissions is Double Standards, a political satire show for Press TV, broadcast every Saturday at 2230 GMT. Shows can be accessed via www.doublestandardstv.com. He can be reached via afshinrattansi@hotmail.com

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Workers’ Party of Belgium opposes imperialist intervention in Mali

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The following statement below was circulated by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Against the Belgian participation in the military intervention of France in Mali

The Belgian government has decided to participate in the military intervention of France in Mali, contributing two C-130 transport planes, two helicopters and 75 soldiers. The Western military force is avowedly aimed at stopping the advance of Islamist rebel groups in the North of the country, at the demand of Mali’s government and with the support, provided only after the start of the intervention, of the UN Security Council.

With the military intervention of France, French President François Hollande plays ‘cavalier seul’. By his act of war, he undermines a peace initiative the UN elaborated with several African countries. The fact that Mali has recently become a hornets’ nest is largely due to the consequences of the NATO war in Lybia and of decades of Western political meddling in the country’s affairs. In Mali’s complex situation, the only chance for peace, stability and development to succeed is by extremely cautious initiatives that have a large base of support and are principally African.

France’s intervention is of course not devoid of self-interest. As the former colonial power, France continues to have huge economic interests in the region. Mali possesses gold mines and petroleum, while also uranium is extracted in the region, which is used for part of the French nuclear industry.

Just like with the deadly NATO bombing on Lybia two years ago, Belgium has been very quick to offer its participation to the French military intervention. And this without any democratic debate about its objectives, consequences or cost. In a period of painful austerity measures and cuts in the social budgets, any increase in the Defense budget is simply cynical.

The Belgian government is not clear about the duration of its military intervention in Mali. Defense Minister Pieter De Crem only informed the Belgian taxpayers that it could be of a « very short, short, or medium » duration. As a first evaluation will be made only at the end of February, the mission will take at least six weeks. That is, as a starter, because this period may be prolonged several times yet, as was the case with the Belgian military mission in Afghanistan. In the meantime, for how many deads, wounded and refugees in Mali the Belgian government of Di Rupo (PS) will be responsible ?

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) is opposed to any imperialist intervention in Mali, as elsewhere.