Published Mar 14, 2012 9:53 PM
As the United States and the European Union escalate their military and economic roles on the African continent, mounting political crises have resulted in much social unrest. From Libya and Kenya to Nigeria and Somalia, internal turmoil, labor unrest and mass resistance illustrate the interconnectedness of events throughout the international scene.
In the North African state of Libya, the U.S.- and NATO-backed National Transitional Council is still unraveling given the autonomy declaration by elements based in the eastern regions. In Benghazi where the rebellion began a year ago against Moammar Gadhafi’s government, elite elements aligned with the former monarchy have declared that Barqa (Cyrenaica) has established its own self-rule within a broader Libya.
The Tripoli-based TNC leadership immediately renounced this declaration of autonomy by Western-backed forces and pledged to maintain the “unity” of Libya even by force of arms.
Most keen observers of the rebellion and subsequent imperialist war against Libya characterized the anti-Gadhafi campaign as a war for oil and an attempt to partition Africa’s most prosperous state. Such a division can only benefit the imperialist governments and their domestic and regional allies who are now in total control of Libya’s petroleum and natural gas resources.
The internal rebellion and massive seven-month bombing of Libya last year have displaced and relocated hundreds of thousands of people inside and outside the country. In Mali, Niger and other countries in the Sahel, conflict has escalated and food deficits have worsened the humanitarian crisis stemming from the drought.
Inside northern Mali, the Tuareg rebellion has spread due to the flight of Gadhafi government allies who had lived in Libya. Better armed and experienced in combat, the Tuareg fighters have intensified their struggle against the central government in Bamako.
The escalating conflict in Mali has also pushed tens of thousands across the border into neighboring Niger and worsened the food deficit crisis there.
Massahudu Ankiilu Kunateh wrote in the Ghanaian Chronicle, “Several countries in the Sahel region of western Africa need urgent support to prevent a full-blown food and nutrition security crisis, and to protect and restore livelihoods of communities dependent on livestock and crops, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.” (March 12)
This article notes, “15 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in the Sahel, in part due to … declines in agro-pastoral production. This includes 5.4 million people in Niger (35 percent of the population), 3 million in Mali (20 percent), around 1.7 million in Burkina Faso (10 percent), around 3.6 million in Chad (28 percent), 850,000 in Senegal (6 percent), 713,000 in Gambia (37 percent) and 700,000 in Mauritania (22 percent).”
Invisible Children & ‘Kony2012’: cover for further intervention
During the week of March 5, the Invisible Children project launched a massive Internet public relations campaign aimed at building support for further U.S. and European military intervention in Central and Eastern Africa. The project purportedly targets Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, a paramilitary organization that has operated in northern Uganda for more than two decades.
Reports from northern Uganda indicate that the LRA has been largely defeated in recent years and that the remnants of the organization have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. In October, the Obama administration announced that it was dispatching 100 Special Forces and military advisers to these countries to assist governments in defeating the LRA.
Uganda, the DRC and South Sudan are rich in oil and other strategic minerals that are vital to ruling-class profits in North America and Western Europe. The U.S. and NATO have escalated their presence in various regions of Africa. These military forces in the last year were involved in the naval blockade and bombing of Libya, the war against Al-Shabaab in Somalia and other so-called “anti-piracy” efforts in the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea.
B. E. Wilson wrote at AlterNet, “What does Invisible Children share in common with the Discovery Institute, the leading organization promoting ‘intelligent design,’ … [in] public schools — or with The Call, whose leader Lou Engle claims homosexuals are possessed with demons? All of these ministries — the Discovery Institute, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, The Fellowship Foundation, The Call, Ed Silvoso’s Harvest Evangelism, and Invisible Children — received at least $100,000 in 2008 from what has emerged in the last decade as the biggest funder of the hard, antigay, creationist Christian right: the National Christian Foundation.” (March 11)
Invisible Children has issued a video about Joseph Kony, “Kony2012” that aims to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo says that he supports “Kony2012.” Ocampo has issued arrest warrants for African leaders including Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Moammar Gadhafi and Joseph Kony.
Filmmaker Jason Russell, who crafted the 30-minute video that allegedly has been viewed 58 million times, has been criticized because most of the money raised for the project does not go to victims of LRA violence but back into the coffers of this right-wing group. Russell replied, “They hear the word charity and they don’t understand why all of our money isn’t going to Central Africa. We have found that putting money towards our media and our movie changes lives.” (Christian Science Monitor, March 12)
Kenya Fires 25,000 Health Care Workers
The pro-Western government in Kenya of Prime Minister Raila Odinga has fired 25,000 nurses who have been striking for better pay and working conditions.
Union representatives told them to return to work amid ongoing efforts aimed at negotiations, but when many of them did that, they were rebuffed with letters questioning their absences since the strike began on March 1. A Medical Services Permanent Secretary letter read, “Absence from the place of work without permission is viewed as a gross breach of discipline and a contravention of the Employment Act.” (The Standard, March 12)
The nurses sought a meeting with Odinga at a rally at Uhuru Park on March 12, but to no avail. Capital FM in Kenya reported, “One team led by National Nurses Association of Kenya Treasurer Jeremiah Maina camped at the PM’s office for four hours before joining their striking colleagues at Uhuru Park where they chanted slogans expressing their solidarity.” (March 12)
In that report, Tom Odege, secretary-general of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants, said, “[P]eople are receiving ‘show-cause’ letters. … [W]e … ask the government not to go in that direction because forcing over 25,000 people to write response letters to them would amount to intimidation which I do not think is good for our relationship.”
The Kenya Health Professional’s Society, the Kenya Union of Civil Servants and several civil society organizations condemned the government’s actions.
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