Africa

Peacekeeping: Fiction vs. Reality

(Image: Protest in Haiti against UN sexual crimes against women. Source)

The word peacekeeping is like the word terrorism: it is meaningless on its own and able to be molded to serve the interests of a political clique. Like Alex P. Schmidt’s description of terrorism in The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research, peacekeeping “is usually an instrument for the attempted realization of a political…project that perpetrators lacking mass support are seeking”[1].

Peacekeepers have never kept the peace in any conflict. On the contrary, peacekeepers themselves have been linked to an increase in violence and human rights abuses, particularly of a sexual nature. In Bosnia, Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, peacekeepers have been “associated with criminal misconduct, including sexual violence. Crimes against women and children have followed UN peacekeeping operations in several locations, and the UN reported that the entrance of peacekeeping troops into a conflict situation has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution”[2]. Allegations of sexual violence against peacekeepers dates back to the 1990s. During the 1995-2002 UN mission in Bosnia, Kathryn Bolkovac, a human rights investigator, found that young “girls from Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and other Eastern European countries [were] being brought in to service the UN and military bases as sex-slaves. The cases involved the officers from many foreign countries, including the USA, Pakistan, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, government contractors, and local organized criminals”[3]. Bolkovac was subsequently fired for her investigation. As of 2015 more than 200 women and girls have been sexually exploited by UN peacekeepers in Haiti in exchange for food, clothing, medicine, and other basic necessities [4]. In the Central African Republic, French peacekeepers have forced young girls to have sex with dogs [5], starving and homeless boys as young as nine have been sodomized by peacekeepers [6], and an entire UN contingent was expelled from the country due to sex crimes [7].

Extrajudicial murder, torture, and mass murder – all war crimes under international law – have also been committed by peacekeepers. A 14-year-old Somali boy was beaten, tortured, and murdered by Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia; the peacekeepers having posed in photos with the boy’s bloody corpse. Not to be outdone, Belgian peacekeepers were photographed roasting a Somali over a fire. (more…)

War is Peace: The Foreign Policy of Justin Trudeau

Since July of this year, rumours have been circulating of a major Canadian Forces deployment in Africa. Those rumours have now been confirmed. As of late August, the Trudeau Liberals have pledged up to 600 troops in support of United Nations missions on the continent. This comes on the heels of an earlier commitment, made in late-June, to deploy 450 troops to Latvia in support of NATO missions in eastern Europe, as well as the addition in February of over 100 special forces to Canada’s mission in Iraq. In total, the Liberals have pledged to deploy more than 1000 soldiers across the globe in the short span of just seven months. This is a far cry from what was supposed to be a departure from the Harper era. In many ways, it is far worse.

In no other department have the Liberals veered farther from their expectations than in foreign policy. Trudeau went to great lengths to distance himself from his predecessor during the campaign. Among other things, he promised he would end the combat mission in Iraq. Upon being elected, he said he would restore Canada’s “compassionate and constructive voice in the world.” Many were led to believe that Harper’s divisive foreign policy had come to an end. But it is unlikely that this was ever Trudeau’s intention.

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Eritrea, Human Rights, and Neocolonial Propaganda

From Global Research 

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.

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Tragedy in the Mediterranean: Immigration and the Crimes of Capitalism

From In Defense of Marxism

The death of more than 800 people who drowned when a small fishing boat capsized 60 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa late on Saturday brings the death toll to of people among people attempting to reach Europe by boat in 2015 alone to 1,600. This tragic event highlights the dramatic situation that has developed in Africa and the Middle East after years of imperialist meddling.

lampedusaThis latest “accident” is a direct result of the cut to the funding of the EU search and rescue missions last year. In a clear sign of the “democratic” nature of the often celebrated “British values”, the British government was the first to withdraw from the mission causing it to be abandoned altogether.

Baroness Anelay, Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the Cameron government, has openly stated that ,”We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean [and] believe that they create an unintended ‘pull factor,’ encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.” (Washington Post, April 21, 2015)

What the Baroness is saying is in fact that the EU must not provide a rescue service and leave thousands of people who could easily be rescued, to die in order to scare away immigrants from coming to the EU. The message is clear: “If you try to cross the sea you will die”.

The official Italian sea and rescue operation, known as “Mare Nostrum”, was brought to an end in October of last year and was replaced by the much more limited joint EU Triton “border protection” operation, run by Frontex, the EU’s border agency. The new Triton operation was provided with only a third of the resources available to “Mare Nostrum”.

As a consequence of the closing of the previous rescue service there have been about 17 times as many refugee deaths in the Mediterranean Sea from January to April of this year compared to the same period last year, according to initial estimates from the International Organization for Migration.

If the statements of Baroness Anelay were bad, those in the gutter press, mouthpieces of the ruling class, have been even more blunt about where they stand. Journalist Katie Hopkins, openly stating what the establishment tries to dress in fine language, has said that boats with immigrants should be met by gunships not rescue ships. She then went on to say: “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors”.

After the deaths on Saturday she defended her previous statements saying “Why do we take on everyone else’s problems? We can’t afford to take on these problems. We need to push these boats back.”

Here you have the true voice of the Capitalist class. Behind all the talk about democracy and human rights is the most ruthless calculative cynicism. Being completely discredited by their severe attacks on working people and the ongoing scandals about their lavish and disgusting lifestyles – which includes widespread child abuse and murder – the establishment is trying to whip up a racist mood in order to distract attention from the real issues and find a base to lean on. Never mind a few thousand people dying in the meantime.

Why is there mass immigration today?

Last year, around 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to get to Italy and as many as 3,500 died. The International Organisation for Migration in Italy estimates that since 2000 over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives in an attempt to reach Europe in search of a better life.

The question is: why are immigrants willing to go through such a dangerous journey, risking everything, as well as leaving their whole life, family, friends and culture behind in order to come to Europe? The real source of immigration is poverty, misery and the barbarism produced by imperialism and its wars in the Middle East and Africa, and the extreme desperation that flows from all this.

According to a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the the Huffington Post, projects funded by the World Bank over the past decade “have physically or economically displaced an estimated 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.”

The report also finds that “The World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., have financed governments and companies accused of human rights violations such as rape, murder and torture. In some cases the lenders have continued to bankroll these borrowers after evidence of abuses emerged.

“Ethiopian authorities diverted millions of dollars from a World Bank-supported project to fund a violent campaign of mass evictions, according to former officials who carried out the forced resettlement program.

“From 2009 to 2013, World Bank Group lenders pumped $50 billion into projects graded the highest risk for ‘irreversible or unprecedented’ social or environmental impacts — more than twice as much as the previous five-year span.”

At the same time millions of people have been killed and displaced by the wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya Afghanistan and others. A recent report by Physicians for Social Responsibility recently revealed that at least 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the so called war on terror. The report states:

“This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”

In Iraq alone this has led to 3 million refugees who live in the most desperate conditions. The report says the frequent deaths from the refugee camps are not accounted for and do not occur in the study.

Not only is this situation continuing, but new fronts are being opened at a steady rate. The barbaric bombing of Yemen has already caused thousands to die and more than 150,000 people to flee from their homes. In African countries where the west has been involved in countless civil wars, the situation is not different. This festering wound will continue to exist for many years to come and leave a permanent mark on the lives of all the working people of these countries. These are the conditions which lead to a layer of desperate people fleeing to Europe in the hope of finding some kind of stability and a future for their children.

The hypocrisy of the bourgeois is clearly revealed by these figures. It is a sign of the complete impasse of capitalism which is a threat to humanity in the west as well as in the rest of the world. By whipping up a mood of racism and hatred they are trying divide the workers and poor and play them off against each other while conveniently covering up their own criminal role.

It is not the immigrants who are dismantling the welfare states in the west, it is not immigrants who are laying off workers, it is not immigrants who are avoiding taxes or receiving billions of dollars, pounds and Euros worth of direct or indirect subsidies and bailouts. None of the people involved in the countless corruption scandals, involving billions of pounds, which we witness everyday are in prison. In the meantime, a worker or an unemployed person who bends the rules to get a few pounds or Euros more a month to make ends meet, is treated like the worst scum.

The enemy of the western working class is not immigration, but the ruling classes at home. It is their desperate drive to defend their privileges and increase their profits which is the greatest fetter to humanity. In a society where all the productive capacity exists to eradicate poverty, want, hunger and unemployment, these people are worsening the situation and pulling society backwards – in many places towards barbarism. The only way out of the increasingly desperate situation for all working people, to end austerity, wars and mass displacement, is to end the capitalist system which spawns it. End the rule of the rich.

No to the Murderous Migration Policies of the EU

Joint Statement of the Communist Party of Greece, Communist Party of Italy, Communist Party of Malta, Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain

At the initiative of the KKE, the Communist Parties of 4 European countries of the Mediterranean, which are receiving the largest waves of refugees and immigrants, denounce the political line of the EU and point to the causes of the problem, as well as the direction of the communists’ struggle on this issue. The joint statement is as follows:

The KKE, CPI, PC Malta, PCPE wish to stress the following regarding the unspeakable tragedy unfolding in our countries’ seas in relation to the refugees and immigrants:

The ongoing tragedy has a “name”: it is the political line of the EU and other countries, like the USA, that is responsible for the wars in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. This tragedy is rooted in the capitalist system itself, on this terrain we have the manifestation of poverty, the class exploitation and oppression of the working class and peoples by reactionary regimes, the sharpening of the imperialist contradictions, which cause the imperialist wars and interventions.

The imperialist interventions and wars developed in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Mali and other countries of the Middle East and Africa have a deep impact in the people of those countries who are forced to risk their lives by displacing themselves to other areas.

The problem of the waves of immigration cannot be solved without dealing with the causes that create them. The “fences”, Frontex, and the other repressive measures merely increase the number of the dead and the slave traders’ prices.

The governments of the so-called European “South”, “right” and “left”, bear enormous responsibilities because they participate in this crime, they participate in the imperialist plans of NATO and the EU.

We are struggling for relief measures, so that the governments immediately ensure humane temporary reception centres for the refugees as well as the provision of travel documents so that these people can reach the countries that are their real destinations. We must defy the Dublin Regulations and the Schengen Treaty.

In addition, we stress that this issue cannot be dealt with in separation from its causes. Our peoples’ struggle against the imperialist interventions of the EU and NATO, against the rotten capitalist system itself must be strengthened

Australian Uranium Mining Company Accused of Contaminating Lake Malawi

From CorpWatch

Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 million people in three countries – Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The company began uranium mining operations in Malawi in 2009 although it suspended operations last year after ore prices fell.

“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November,” wrote Rafiq Hajat of Malawi’s Institute for Policy Interaction on Facebook. “[At] a radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish].”

Malawi is the world’s thirteenth poorest country in the world with a life expectancy of 55 years and the government has been keen to figure out ways to increase the national income. When Paladin submitted a proposal to explore for uranium in Kayelekera, northern Malawi, in 2007, Henry Chimunthu-Banda, then Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources, told parliament that the mine could potentially boost the country’s gross domestic product by 10 percent.

Controversy has dogged the Kayelekera mine ever since. “Uranium is radioactive and that with open-pit mining, like the one to be conducted at Kayelekera, the soil drains into rivers and contaminates the water,” Titus Mvalo, a lawyer representing several civil society organizations in Malawi, told Inter Press Service in 2007. “When humans drink the water, it damages kidneys and causes cancer.

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The Global Scale of U.S. Militarism

From WSWS

Last month President Obama dispatched a formal letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, listing a series of countries where US troops were or have been engaged in military operations during 2014. The preamble explains that the document is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.”

The War Powers Resolution was enacted by Congress in 1973, in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and over the veto of President Richard Nixon, to require the president to keep the legislative branch regularly appraised of military operations that were being conducted without a congressional declaration of war.

Obama’s letter outlines a series of military operations in 2014, some completed, some ongoing, that go far beyond what is generally reported in the American media, which is generally limited to news of Afghanistan, the Iraq-Syria conflict (albeit very little) and occasional reports of drone missile strikes.

Not a single major US newspaper reported the issuance of the letter, titled, “Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report,” although it was released by the White House Press Office December 11 and is available on the White House web site.

USmil-Map-legend.png

If one combines the operations reported in this letter with published reports about the deployment of US troops in supposed noncombat situations, as well as joint military exercises with NATO countries and other US allies, it is possible to present a picture of the vast worldwide scope of US military activities in the course of last year.

The map presented here shows the countries where US forces are deployed in four of the six regional theaters of operations for the US military (all but the Northern and Southern Commands, which cover the Western hemisphere).

The White House letter to Congress declares that as part of operations against Al Qaeda and associated forces, “the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation.”

The Obama administration thus maintains in full the pretext for global deployment of US military power, the “war on terror” first declared by George W. Bush in 2001. There is, of course, no acknowledgement that in several countries, notably Libya and Syria, Al Qaeda is not the enemy but a key ally in US efforts to overthrow the regimes of Muammar Gaddafi (murdered in 2011) and Bashar al-Assad (who would face a similar fate in the event of victory of the US-backed “rebels”).

The Obama letter continues: “It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of US Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.” In other words, the Obama administration, like its predecessor, has declared war on the world, reserving the right to send US military forces anywhere, anytime, regardless of any decision by Congress, let alone the wishes of the American people.

The letter devotes its main focus to the areas of responsibility of the US Central Command and US Africa Command, the first comprising the Middle East and Central Asia from Israel to Pakistan, the second comprising the entire African continent.

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Saudi Star To Restart Rice Project on Disputed Anuak Lands in Ethiopia

From CorpWatch

Saudi Star Agricultural Development plans to pump $100 million into a rice export project in Gambella region of Ethiopia despite allegations of human rights violations surrounding the “villagization” program under which the land has been taken from indigenous Anuak pastoralists to lease to foreign investors.

The company is owned by Mohamed al-Amoudi, who was born in Ethiopia to a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother. Al-Amoudi made a fortune from construction contracts to build Saudi Arabia’s national underground oil storage complex. Now a billionaire many times over, al-Amoudi has invested heavily in Ethiopia where he owns a gold mine and a majority stake in the national oil company.

Resettled Ethiopian villagers.

Resettled Ethiopian villagers.

Al-Amoudi was one of the first to invest in a new scheme under which president Meles Zenawi offered to lease four million hectares of agricultural land to foreign investors and his company was also one of the first to become the subject of controversy. After Saudi Star was awarded a 10,000 hectare (24,700 acres) lease in 2008, a dozen aggrieved Anuak villagers attacked Saudi Star’s compound in Gambella in 2010 and killed several employees.

Saudi Star abandoned work at the time but this past November the company announced that it would return to invest millions to grow rice using new large-scale flood irrigation techniques. Saudi Star hopes to sell its produce to Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah’s Food Security Program.

“We know we’re creating job opportunities, transforming skills, training local indigenous Anuak,” Jemal Ahmed, Saudi Star CEO told Bloomberg. “The government wants the project to be a success and see more Gambella people able to work and produce more, that’s the big hope.”

But activists say that Saudi Star’s newly invigorated project in Gambella is likely to have a detrimental impact on the local population, notably pastoralist groups like the Anuak as well as the Nuer.

“Sadly, right now, the Anuak, nearly all small subsistence farmers, are becoming refugees in their own land as they are internally displaced from indigenous land their ancestors have possessed for centuries,” Obang Metho, Executive Director of Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, told the Africa Congress on Effective Cooperation for a Green Africa.

“They have become ‘discardable’ by a regime that wants their land, but not for them, in order to lease it to foreigners and regime-cronies for commercial farms,” he added.

All told as many as 1.5 million subsistence farmers are expected to be offered voluntary relocation to new settlements where the government has told them that they will be given housing, social services and support infrastructure under the villagization program.

However, activists like Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute say that the relocation process has been plagued by violence and broken promises.

Saudi Star caterpillars, tractors, bulldozers, trucks and other heavy equipment parked near a 10,000 hectare plot of Indigenous land.

Saudi Star caterpillars, tractors, bulldozers, trucks and other heavy equipment parked near a 10,000 hectare plot of Indigenous land.

Instead of getting housing, villagers are forced to build their own tukols – traditional huts – and risk beatings if they speak out, says Human Rights Watch, which conducted interviews of 100 residents during the first round of villagization that occurred in 2010.

The majority of resettlements did not have a school, health clinic or even water wells, says the Oakland Institute. Lack of agricultural assistance such as seeds, fertilizers, tools and trainings, have further exacerbated the risk of hunger and starvation among families.

The traditional pastoralist communities also say that they are having a hard time adapting to sedentary farming practices in the new settlements. “We want you to be clear the government brought us here…to die…right here,” an Anuak elder in Abobo district told Human Rights Watch. “They brought us no food, they gave away our land to foreigners so we can’t even move back. On all sides the land is given away, so we will die here in one place.”

IMF Austerity Helped Fuel Ebola Crisis

From Common Dreams

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has through its strict lending policies contributed to the Ebola crisis, professors from three British universities have charged.

In a report published online last week in The Lancet Global Health the four researchers lay out how conditions the organization imposed on Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia–the three countries hardest hit by the virus–in order to accept loans put further burdens on local healthcare systems.

“A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region, and it would be unfortunate if underlying causes were overlooked,” said lead author Alexander Kentikelenis.

“Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed, and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks,” the Cambridge sociologist said.

Kentikelenis and co-authors explain that IMF’s economic reform programs forced reduced government spending, IMF may put caps on funds for government wages, including healthcare professionals, and it pushes for decentralization of healthcare systems, which “can make it difficult to mobilize coordinated, central responses to disease outbreaks.”

“All these effects are cumulative, contributing to the lack of preparedness of health systems to cope with infectious disease outbreaks and other emergencies,” they write.

Other observers have also made a connection between such economic policies and the deadly outbreak. As Common Dreams reported in October:

“The neoliberal economic model assassinated public infrastructure,” said Emira Woods, a Liberia native and social impact director at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, in an interview with Common Dreams. “A crisis of the proportion we’ve seen since the beginning of the Ebola catastrophe shows this model has failed.”

[…]

While years of war played a role in weakening public systems, it is the “war against people, driven by international financial institutions” that is largely responsible for decimating the public health care system, eroding wages and conditions for health care workers, and fueling the crisis sweeping West Africa today, says Woods. […]

Even the World Health Organization, which is tasked by the United Nations with directing international responses to epidemics, acknowledges the detrimental impact these policies have had on public health systems. “In health, [structural adjustment programs] affect both the supply of health services (by insisting on cuts in health spending) and the demand for health services (by reducing household income, thus leaving people with less money for health),” states the organization. “Studies have shown that SAPs policies have slowed down improvements in, or worsened, the health status of people in countries implementing them. The results reported include worse nutritional status of children, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and higher infant and maternal mortality rates.”

The current outbreak has killed nearly 8,000 people and affected almost 20,000 so far, according to the World Health Organization.

The Conflict Continues in the Central African Republic

With the West’s latest war in the Middle East against the Islamic State and the vilification of Russian President Vladimir Putin dominating the news it is easy to forget that the West is involved in numerous brutal military interventions around the world – in Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Niger, Haiti, Yemen, and elsewhere.

The Central African Republic, an impoverished former French colony with abundant mineral resources, has been marred in sectarian violence since the start of hostilities between Seléka, a coalition of insurgents led by Michel Djotodja, a former guerrilla leader in the Bush War, and the regime of Francois Bozize. The Seléka rebels accused the regime of failing to abide by the peace agreements made in 2007 and 2011 that ended the Bush War.

Seléka rebels in Bangui. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Seléka rebels in Bangui. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Bozize, who had come to power through a military coup in 2003, had run afoul of Western imperialism when he signed mining and oil contracts with China; the U.S. and France indirectly supported the Seléka rebels by withholding support for the Bozize regime. In the words of Bozize: “Before giving oil to the Chinese, I met Total in Paris and told them to take the oil, nothing happened, I gave oil to the Chinese and it became a problem.” French President François Hollande cynically declared that the hundreds of French troops in the country were “in no way to intervene in internal affairs,” a clear indication of support for the rebels considering France has been intimately involved with the internal affairs of the country since its independence in 1960, including launching air strikes against anti-Bozize rebels in 2006 and 2007. The U.S. has dozens of Special Forces stationed in the CAR, ostensibly to assist in the search for Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, although likely being another deceptive cover for a regional imperialist intervention. When Bozize was overthrown in 2013 and Seléka’s leader Michel Djotodja declared himself president, then U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, infamous for her leaked “Fuck the EU” tape, symbolically condemned the coup, but stopped short of calling for Bozize’s return to power.

The country quickly deteriorated into a state of warfare following the coup; the predominately Muslim Seléka rebels that brought Djotodia to power, many of whom came from Chad and the Sudan, refused to disarm and committed mass atrocities against civilians, especially Christians from the country’s south. Christian peasants and Bozize supporters formed anti-Seléka groups known as anti-Balakas, and armed with machetes, committed retaliatory massacres against Muslims. Close to a million have since become internally displaced or fled to neighboring countries and there have been reports of widespread rape, torture, beheadings, recruitment of child soldiers, and even cannibalism.

The African Union and the United Nations formed the International Mission to Support CAR (MISCA), launched in the summer and expanded in December 2013 with a force of 6, 000 and support from the nearly 2, 000 French troops, to replace the regional African peacekeeping force. However these “peacekeepers” inflamed tensions in the country; the ‘neutral’ French soldiers have been accused of siding with the Christian anti-Balakas, and the African peacekeepers sent to restore peace have different agendas, with soldiers from Chad supporting the Seléka militias and soldiers from the Republic of Congo and Burundi supporting the anti-Balakas. Indeed, soldiers from Chad and Burundi attacked each other, causing Chad to withdraw its forces from the CAR.

Two protesters fatally shot by foreign peacekeepers in Bangui. (CNN)

Two protesters fatally shot by foreign peacekeepers in Bangui. (CNN)

France forced the resignation of Djotodia to be replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, the former mayor of Bangui, in January 2014. Violence nevertheless continued, and the European Union deployed a thousand soldiers to the CAR, its first mission in six years. Several controversial incidents occurred where foreign soldiers killed unarmed protestors demonstrating against the transitional government and the presence of foreign troops in the country.

Despite the arrival of a larger United Nations peacekeeping force and a peace agreement between the belligerents, the sectarian violence continues, and in July the leader of Seléka called for the country to be partitioned into Christian and Muslim states.

The exploitation of the CAR’s extensive natural resources – oil, timber, gold, diamonds, copper, iron, and uranium – by Western corporations and competition with Chinese investments are the true reason for the Western-backed intervention.

It is well known that both Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo and former president François Bozize of CAR got into trouble with the master – meaning France – because they turned to China for win-win cooperation. They were swiftly removed from power. In the case of CAR, France opted for Michel Djotodia who headed the Seleka…which overthrew Bozize in a matter of weeks.

Former French President Jacques Chirac famously acknowledged in 2008 that “without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.”

Several Western corporations have invested heavily to exploit the country’s mineral resources. Areva, the French-state owned nuclear corporation notorious for its exploitation of African uranium, was forced to suspend its Bakouma uranium mine, which is “France’s biggest commercial interest in its former colony,” following an attack on the mine by rebels. The first French troops to arrive in the country were sent to “protect its [France’s] nationals, many of whom work in Areva’s large uranium mine at Bakouma in the south-east of the country,” as reported by the BBC. Nuclear power is France’s main source of electricity, therefore a continuous supply of cheap uranium from Africa is vital for French economic interests, a fact that was not lost on the French ruling class when Bozize’s regime contested Areva’s acquisition of the mine.