Sunday, April 17, 2011

Attacks Escalate on Libya, Ivory Coast

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Apr 14, 2011 11:22 PM

U.S., U.N. and NATO military forces have intensified the implementation of policies aimed at total economic domination and regime change for states that resist interference in their internal affairs. As Africa becomes more of a major source for exploiting oil, strategic minerals and agricultural commodities, the continent will be under increasing pressure from Western capitalist countries.

Military attacks against African states are accelerating at a time when the capitalist governments in Western Europe and North America continue to assert that the recovery from the global recession is well underway. Nonetheless, a recent International Monetary Fund forecast indicates that the imperialist states are still very concerned about the future stability of the world markets.

An IMF World Economic Outlook reports, “Among the challenges are rising oil prices, unrest in the Middle East, continued inflation in China and debt problems in Europe. The recovery has solidified, but the unemployment remains high.” (BBC News, April 11)

The IMF cites fears related to the cutoff of oil supplies, unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, and the gloomy economic picture facing Portugal, Greece, Spain and the Irish Republic. The African countries that have been targeted for destabilization and regime change are large-scale producers of oil and other valuable resources and commodities.

Libya & African Union peace plan

Since March 19, the U.S. and other imperialist states under the ostensible control of NATO have carried out a bombing campaign against the North African state of Libya. These airstrikes and cruise missile attacks have pounded the capital of Tripoli and other Libyan cities.

On April 10, the African Union sent several heads of state, a foreign minister and the commission chair to begin a mediation process to end the conflict in Libya. The AU delegation consisted of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Denis Sassou- Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, Jean Ping of the AU, the foreign minister of Uganda and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

In meetings with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the government accepted the AU’s peace proposal. It called for “the immediate cessation of all hostilities, the cooperation of the concerned Libyan authorities to facilitate the diligent delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations, the protection of foreign nationals, including African migrant workers living in Libya, and dialogue between the Libyan parties and the establishment of an inclusive transition period.” (AU Press Release, April 10)

The AU delegation then traveled on April 11 to Benghazi to meet with the Transitional National Council, which represents the opposition rebel forces. The TNC leadership rejected outright the AU’s peace proposal and ruled out any solution short of regime change in Libya.

This is not the first time that peace proposals have been rejected by the rebels and their supporters in the U.S. and Western Europe. Latin American states led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made overtures prior to the U.S./NATO bombings to work towards a ceasefire, but the efforts were rejected by the imperialists and the rebels.

On March 11, the AU Peace and Security Council issued a communiqué calling for a ceasefire. The statement also opposed foreign military intervention. This proposal was also dismissed by the Western states, which are now bombing Libya and the rebel forces.

The Obama administration has demanded that the Libyan government be toppled. Progressive forces within the U.S. peace movement and the oppressed communities here have condemned U.S. military attacks and the Pentagon’s ongoing naval blockade of Libya. International opposition to the U.S./NATO bombing has increased daily. There have been demonstrations against the war in Egypt, Mali, Greece, Serbia, Canada and other countries.

On April 11, the Associated Press reported, “The military intervention in Libya cost the U.S. an extra $608 million in the first few weeks of the operation. Officials call it extra costs because it doesn’t include complete spending such as paychecks for U.S. sailors, airmen and other forces, who would have been deployed somewhere in the world anyway.”

Ivory Coast president seized by French military forces

Another source of instability in Africa is the world’s largest cocoa-producing West African state of Ivory Coast, where France, the former colonial power, in conjunction with the U.N., has toppled the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo. He was arrested and his rival, the Western-backed Alassane Ouattara, was installed. This conflict stemmed from a dispute over a runoff November election. The imperialist states backed Ouattara’s candidacy.

Gbagbo insisted that he won the elections and that the Ivorian Supreme Court’s decision upholding his position nullified the claims made by U.N. observers and the national electoral commission. On March 31, French and U.N. military forces accompanied by gendarmes (police) under Ouattara’s control launched an offensive against military units that were loyal to Gbagbo.

France and the U.N. used heavy artillery, helicopters and airstrikes to attack the Gbagbo forces. During the siege on the presidential palace in the administrative capital of Abidjan, two massacres were carried out inside the country. Reports are that up to 1,000 people may have been killed in Duekoue. Although Ouattara’s supporters have been accused of the massacre, the U.N. has attempted to also apportion some blame on the Gbagbo forces. Nonetheless, all of the victims were said to have been Gbagbo supporters.

On April 7, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that 40 bodies were found in Blolequin. Independent journalists will undoubtedly investigate the culpability for these massacres in the weeks to come.

The French and U.N. involvement in the attempts to topple the Libyan government as well as the overthrow and arrest of Ivorian incumbent Gbagbo represents the increasingly aggressive military posture of Paris on the African continent. Although the French said Ouattara forces arrested Gbagbo, initial reports indicated that French Special Forces led the assault on his residence and seized him.

Israeli airstrike near Port Sudan

The Sudanese government has blamed the Israeli Defense Forces for bombing a vehicle and killing two people on April 5. The Sudan Tribune reports, “A foreign plane launched the attack in an area known as Kalaneeb, which was described as 14 kilometers away from the coastal city of Port Sudan and on the main road leading to the regional airport.” According to people nearby, “We heard three loud explosions. We went outside to see what was happening and eyewitnesses told us they saw two helicopters which looked like Apaches flying past.” (April 5)

The Jerusalem Post says that Time magazine reported that a “senior IDF official confirmed that Israel was responsible for the deadly air strike on a car in Port Sudan.” (April 7) A similar attack occurred in early 2009 when IDF fighter jets struck a convoy of vehicles in eastern Sudan, killing 119 people.

Israel has accused Sudan of transporting weapons from Iran to Gaza’s Hamas government. Sudan has denied these allegations.

Zimbabwe launches anti-sanctions campaign

In the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-PF party and the government in Harare have embarked upon a petition campaign calling for the removal of Western economic sanctions against the country. The sanctions were leveled after a radical land redistribution program was adopted in 2000. The program took control of large tracts of territory that British settler-colonialists had seized during the late 19th century.

Although the government under President Robert Mugabe’s leadership has established a coalition with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change factions, the U.S., Britain, Australia and the European Union have maintained economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s government is now preparing for national elections after drafting a new constitution.

The U.S. and other Western imperialist states are continuing to support the Western-oriented MDC-T faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai. They plan to translate their support for the MDC-T into an electoral victory for the party, which has refused to take an anti-sanctions position.

The state-controlled Zimbabwe Herald published an editorial on April 6 in which Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF said, “The Western hysterical expression about saving civilians in Libya must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. The civilians of Libya do not matter as their oil does.”

The editorial notes, “What Barack Obama has done in fact is to sign an assassination order for Muammar Gaddafi, and his desire may as well come to materialize as did that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who pursued Saddam Hussein to the gallows. But Obama only sings humanitarian songs for civilians belonging to countries ruled by leaders that prevent the U.S. from imperially dominating their natural resources, such as the civilians in Libya, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.”

Role of U.S. anti-war movement

The April 9 and 10 anti-war demonstrations in New York and San Francisco represent the strengthening of the movement for peace and social justice in the U.S. With the increasing attacks on labor, the poor and the oppressed by the bankers and their government backers, it will become increasingly important for people in this country to draw links between the worsening conditions of the workers and the relationship to the ever rising Pentagon budget.

In North Africa and the Middle East, the masses have engaged in mass demonstrations, strikes and rebellions against the ravages of world capitalism and its economic crisis. The struggles of workers in Wisconsin and other states in the U.S. have gained inspiration from the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain.

This year’s May Day will also take on added significance by providing an opportunity to raise to thousands of workers across the U.S. the links of the worldwide struggles against capitalism and imperialism. It will be the unity of program and action of the workers and oppressed across the globe that will end the exploitative systems and create the conditions for world peace and social justice for the majority of humanity.

The writer was a speaker at the April 9 anti-war rally in New York City.

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