A section of the South Sudanese army, backed by politicians angry with the policies of President Silva Kiir, attempted to seize power from the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement government in Juba on Dec 16.
The Republic of South Sudan is the newest nation recognized by the United Nations and the African Union. It gained independence in July 2011 after three decades of civil war between the south and north of the central African state.
Prior to Sudan’s partition, it was the largest geographic nation-state in Africa. Sudan was emerging as a significant oil-producing state, extracting some 500,000 barrels a day for export and domestic use.
The U.S. and Israel pushed strongest for the south to form its own state. Since the 2011 partition, South Sudan has failed to consolidate as a viable nation-state.
In the north the Republic of Sudan has suffered economic difficulties with declining oil production and national revenue. The elimination of fuel subsidies resulted in the sharp rise in petroleum costs and the prices of other essential goods and brought about recent protests. Opposition parties and coalitions, some Western-backed, attempted to utilize the unrest over economic issues to push for regime change in Khartoum.
With its large oil resources, events in the Republic of South Sudan gained the immediate attention of media outlets throughout the world. Juba’s close alliance with the U.S. and Israel makes it an important base for intervention by imperialism and Zionism in the affairs of its northern neighbor. The Republic of Sudan supports the Palestinian national movement and maintains close relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Referring to events in South Sudan, the Dec. 16 Financial Times reports, “President Salva Kiir later appeared on national television in full military uniform to say the army had foiled a coup attempt by a ‘group of soldiers allied’ with the former vice-president, Riek Machar.”
The Financial Times challenged the veracity of President Kiir’s reports: “Observers said Mr. Kiir might have launched a pre-emptive purge against his opponents. Mr. Machar has in the past said he would contest the presidency in 2015, arguing South Sudan was descending into a dictatorship under Mr. Kiir. Although the country’s oilfields are far from Juba, the capital, the fighting threatens to spill over into other areas and could hit oil production just as the energy market is battling with major disruption in Libya. Estimated at about 200,000 barrels a day, oil is South Sudan’s main source of revenue.”
Egypt, Tunisia and Libya: Instability continues
Developments north of Sudan illustrate the relations between political events and a country’s economic role in the world. In Tunisia and Egypt rebellions erupted in late 2010 and early 2011 against Western-backed dictatorial regimes. These rebellions have still not resulted in genuine popular forces taking control of the state and the economy.
In Tunisia, a moderate Islamic government dominated by the Ennahda Party has virtually collapsed amid mass discontent, protests, labor unrest and ongoing rebellions. Two leftist politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi, were assassinated between February and July, resulting in general strikes and fighting.
Although negotiations between Ennahda and opposition parties created the conditions for the appointment of former Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa as a new prime minister, the political stability necessary for economic growth remains doubtful. Negotiations between 21 different parties and coalitions led to Jomaa’s selection.
The left Popular Front — to which both Belaid and Brahmi belonged — expressed its skepticism over whether the new government could stabilize the situation inside Tunisia. A Dec. 14 Associated Press article reported, “The Popular Front — whose two members were killed — quickly cast doubt on the ability of Jomaa to carry out any such tasks, saying Jomaa’s government will lack consensus.” Jomaa’s party “garnered only nine of the 21 potential votes. Seven parties abstained, two voted for the runner-up and three were absent.”
In Egypt a military seizure of power on July 3 has brought hundreds of thousands into the streets repeatedly in demonstrations against the coup and demanding reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who remains in detention. By now, many of the political forces that supported the coup in July have fallen victim to the new regime headed by an appointed president and prime minister.
A 50-member constitutional committee has drafted revisions to the governing document that is slated to be voted on in a national referendum in mid-January. A new law banning unapproved demonstrations, together with repressive actions against student protests at numerous campuses across the country, indicate that a broader alliance in opposition to the military-backed regime may be evolving.
In Libya nearly three years after a counterrevolutionary war of regime change was waged against the former government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the political situation remains volatile, and the national economy is on the verge of collapse. The oil-rich state is torn by factionalism and continued military intervention by the Pentagon and NATO.
The U.S.-backed regime of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has invited the Pentagon and other NATO states to train 7,000 Libyans for an ostensible new national army. Yet various forces inside the country oppose the ongoing prominent role of Washington and other Western imperialist states in the affairs of the nation.
Consequently, the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and the imperialist bombing of Libya have left the region unstable. All three states must build a coalition that can reverse the economic decline by breaking dependence on the West and crafting their own independent domestic and foreign policy.
Somalia and Kenya: Pentagon role highlighted
The Westgate Shopping Mall incident during Sept. 21-24 in Nairobi, Kenya, stemmed directly from the U.S.-NATO role in neighboring Somalia. The African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) is largely funded and supported militarily by Washington and the European Union.
Al-Shabaab, the Islamic resistance movement to the occupation of the Horn of Africa state, continues to fight AMISOM forces as well as the military commandos sent into the country in missions for France and the U.S. In early October Pentagon Special Forces attempted to attack an Al-Shabaab command center in Baraawe on the southern coast of the country but were repelled by guerrilla fighters.
French imperialism had attempted a similar mission in January, resulting in the capture and killing of soldiers who sought to rescue an intelligence officer held by Al-Shabaab. Several French troops were killed in the operation, and the intelligence operative was soon executed.
Paris has also intervened twice with U.S.-backed occupations in Africa during 2013. France invaded Mali in January and just recently the Central African Republic, with both actions supported by Washington.
When the Westgate Mall was seized by Al-Shabaab guerrillas in Nairobi, the Israeli Defense Forces and the U.S. FBI engaged in military operations alongside the Kenyan Defense Forces. Although Kenyans voted against U.S. and British wishes to select Uhuru Kenyatta as president in the national elections in March, the East African state still remains well within the imperialist political and economic orbit.
Struggle continues in Zimbabwe and South Africa
The national harmonized elections in Zimbabwe on July 31 upset the Western states when longtime President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party swept the executive and legislative polls. Despite monitoring of the elections by the African Union, the regional Southern African Development Community and other bodies, the U.S. and Britain have maintained their draconian sanctions against the country.
In South Africa workers and their trade unions have continued labor struggles demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The mines, auto factories and other sectors of the national economy remain a hotbed of class struggle and political debate.
Former President Nelson Mandela’s recent death has illustrated the history of struggle in South Africa. A return to the revolutionary legacy of Mandela and the ANC will be necessary to move the struggle to the next level of achieving genuine economic liberation and solidarity throughout the region and the continent.
These challenges facing Southern Africa and other regions of the continent will intensify as the world economic crisis deepens and the level of consciousness surrounding the role of the U.S. and other imperialist states in the continuing underdevelopment of Africa is heightened.
What is clear is that capitalist relations of production cannot liberate the continent from the legacies of slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism. Only the overthrow of the exploitation of labor and the construction of socialism can provide Africa with the possibilities of a fresh start aimed at building societies based upon equality, self-determination and sovereignty.