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Proletarian issue 45 (December 2011)
Imperialism steps up its moves to recolonise Africa
All power to the resistance.
The deeper imperialism spirals into crisis, the more impetuously does it resort to warfare to maintain and extend its stranglehold on the world’s resources. At some moments this has the consequence of setting rival imperialists at each other’s throat; at other moments we can see an alliance of robbers temporarily banding together in mutual defence of the right to rob.

In Africa right now it seems that, for the moment at least, French and US imperialists are suppressing some of their mutual animosity, the better to combat China’s growing influence in the continent. Cut-throat though the competition is between the rival imperialist powers, no less worrying for all the imperialist players is the threat of socialist China moving in on a region fondly believed to be the sole preserve of international exploitation, narrowing yet further the potential for capital expansion in markets already glutted by overproduction.

This bad news for imperialism is very good news for African countries in search of trading partners prepared to assist their independent development rather than perpetuate their neo-colonial subservience.

Africom and Libya

It is in this context that we must view the criminal assault upon Libya. The forcible recolonisation of Africa has clearly long been planned, and the barbaric destruction of Libya is undoubtedly intended to establish a bridgehead for further colonial interference on the African continent. While the ‘neo-con’ George W Bush invented US Africa Command as the new vehicle for projecting US interests onto Africa from the barrel of a gun, it has fallen to the ‘progressive’ son of a Kenyan, Obama, to show to the world just what purpose Africom is intended to serve.

In an interview with Chinese magazine Life Week in April, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya explained that “It will be through this Libyan military intervention and the future military operations that will bud out of this war against Libya that Africom will manage to further secure its independence from Eucom [the Europe-based US military command].

“But I want to be clear. This does not mean that Africom has no role in North Africa, because it has a role on the ground and I believe that it was actively involved in supporting the fighters now opposed to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. Africom’s role is currently latent or concealed … As the fighting in Libya proceeds, the role of Africom will become clearer, more important, and more visible.

“Africom has been involved in the intelligence work in regards to Libya. When Admiral Stravridis was asked by the US Senate Armed Services Committee about the role of Al-Qaeda in the Benghazi-based Transitional Council, he automatically answered that the commander of Africom ... could answer this question. This indicates that in the intelligence front and possibly rebel training it is Africom that has been responsible and much more involved on the ground in Libya …

“It will be via the military campaign against Libya and the years of instability that will haunt Africa after this war that Africom will solidify itself as a separate operational military command … Africom’s main objective is to secure the African continent for the US and its allies. Its mission is to help secure a new colonial order in Africa that the US and its allies are working to establish. In many ways this is what the military intervention in Libya is all about.”

Demonisation of the resistance

US and European interference in African affairs assuredly did not begin with the assassination of Libya, but that crime marks the onset of a renewed and most desperate effort to turn the clock back to the days of the most brazen colonialist meddling.

For months now the US has been using famine as a weapon against the anti-imperialist forces in Somalia, refusing to allow international assistance to reach any communities where the al-Shabaab resistance movement has influence. In practice this includes most of the country.

Since the temporary stability associated with the rule of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was destroyed by imperialist meddling and the impotent ‘transitional federal government’ (TFG) was parachuted in, the only effective local administration in many areas is al-Shabaab (a fundamentalist strand of the former ICU). In short, the Somali people, pauperised by IMF ‘assistance’ in the 1980s, are now condemned to starve as punishment for their lack of enthusiasm for the joke ‘transitional government’ imposed by the ‘international community’ of exploiters.

After Libya, however, it appears that death by starvation alone is no longer seen as adequate punishment for African countries daring to shake off the imperialist yoke, with or without the assistance of the Quran. Anyone doubting the applicability of the Libya template to what is now happening in Somalia should hearken to the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is calling for a ‘no-fly zone’ and naval blockade against that long-suffering land.

Indeed, Workers World of 31 October 2011 reported that an “all-out offensive against the al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement based in Somalia is currently underway in the southern region of this Horn of Africa nation. A combined force of US Predator drones and French naval vessels is targeting four towns in the southern region so that Kenyan military forces on the ground can seize Kismayo, a port city under the control of al-Shabaab.

The city is a major source of trade and serves as the economic lifeline for the resistance movement, which has been labelled by the US as a terrorist organisation allied with al-Qaeda. Kenyan press reports on 23 October indicated that French warships bombarded areas near Kismayo in efforts to support the land invasion and the ongoing Pentagon drone attacks.

The report goes on to say that at least 4,000 Kenyan troops are on the ground, collaborating with forces under the command of the puppet TFG alongside 9,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi.

This outrage against the Somali people is ‘justified’ on the basis of a number of murky episodes involving the kidnap of tourists variously ascribed to Somali pirates and al-Shabaab. Whether these incidents are genuinely connected to al-Shabaab or are simply a provocation engineered by imperialism, it is clear that the scale and ferocity of the attacks are nothing to do with helping kidnap victims and everything to do with a joint Washington/Paris attempt to recolonise Somalia, assisted by African proxies in the region.

Mobilising black against black

As is the custom in colonial wars, it is African boots that are to hit the ground and African lives that are to be sacrificed on the altar of imperialist greed, whilst French sailors bombard from the sea and CIA computer geeks send in the drones from Foggy Bottom.

The Workers World report continues: “Kenyan military leaders are anticipating heavy fighting in their efforts to take the town of Afmadow. Heavy rains have stalled the Kenyan military advances as hundreds of residents have fled in order to avoid the impending assault. Kenyan military spokesperson Major Emmanuel Chirchir said: ‘Most likely man-to-man battles will occur in Afmadow.’

Obama’s pretended surprise at the Kenyan invasion was not convincing, given that US officials had earlier told the press that Washington was putting pressure on the Kenyan government to take action inside Somalia. This pressure upon West-backed stooge regimes to sacrifice their own people in pursuit of imperialist interests can only intensify as the crisis deepens, in turn exposing those regimes to popular overthrow, bringing to the fore new anti-imperialist giants like Gaddafi and bringing into the fight ever wider forces.

Indeed, the New York Times of 13 October reported that Museveni’s regime was coming under severe pressure from widespread Arab spring-style protests caused by the escalating cost of living. (‘Discontent simmers in a market as Uganda’s economy staggers’ by Josh Kron)

Curiously, the same report claimed that the regime had stamped out the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Yet the very next day the same paper reported the LRA’s miraculous resurrection, just in time to serve as a pretext not only for the imposition of US ‘military advisers’ upon Uganda (hard on the heels of the recent oil discoveries in that country) but also for their intrusion into all the other places the LRA had supposedly sprung up, namely South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo – “subject to the approval of each respective host nation”, of course! (‘Armed US advisers help fight African renegade group’ by Thom Shanker and Rick Gladstone, New York Times, 14 October 2011)

Imperialism cannot but drive deeper into war, the deeper its crisis becomes. With every fresh step it takes in its desperate struggle to turn back the clock and recolonise Africa, it will doubtless find or make up new scapegoats to justify its fascist aggression, whether it is al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, the LRA or some new bugbear not yet invented.

But all these efforts to undo the long years of anti-colonial struggle that shaped the history of Africa, to transform neo-colonial tutelage back into outright colonial slavery at the point of a gun, will fail as dismally as the occupations of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya surely will. With this latest futile attempt to escape the consequences of its own crisis by forcibly reversing the tide of history, imperialism can only accelerate its own journey to the knackers’ yard.
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