In 2011, as the entire world watched the Arab Spring in amazement, the US and its allies, predominantly working under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), militarily overran the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
The peaceful civilian protesters they claimed to be intervening to protect were not really what the US and its cohorts presented to the world. Many of these so-called “protesters” were armed, and when this became apparent they eventually began to portray themselves as “rebel forces.” These so-called “rebels” in Libya were not a military force that emerged spontaneously for the most part, but an insurgency movement cultivated and organised before any opposition activities were even reported in Libya.
After Libya’s rapprochement with the US and the European Union, it was unthinkable to many that Washington and any of its allies could even have been preparing to topple the Libyan government. Business and trade ties between Libya and the US, Britain, Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey had bloomed since 2003 after Colonel Muammar Qadhafi opted for cooperation with Washington. No one imagined that Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi’s “New Libya” with its neo-liberalism could be on a collision course with NATO.
Yet, the US and its EU partners for several years made preparations for taking over Libya. They had infiltrated the Jamahiriya’s government, security and intelligence sectors. Longstanding imperialist objectives existing since the Second World War, aimed at dividing Libya into three colonial territories, were taken out of government filing cabinets in Washington, London, Paris and Rome, and circulated at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
In league with these colonial plans, the US and its allies had been cultivating ties with different members of the Libyan opposition and had always reserved the option of using these opposition figures for regime change in Tripoli. Putting together their colonial designs and mobilising their agents, the US and its allies began organising the stage for establishing the Transitional National Council (TNC) – simply called the Transitional Council – and similar bodies to govern Libya as its new puppet leadership. The British and French even held joint invasion exercises months before the Libyan conflict erupted with the Arab Spring in 2011, while various intelligence services and foreign military commandos from NATO and GCC countries were also on the ground in Libya helping to prepare for the destabilisation of the North African country and the toppling of the Jamahiriya’s government and institutions.
Realities have been turned upside down and the victims were grossly portrayed as the aggressors in the conflict. While the Transitional Council’s forces, augmented by mercenaries and foreign fighters, were torturing, raping, and murdering civilians and those that were standing in their way with the aid of NATO and the GCC, Muammar Qadhafi was inflexibly and exclusively blamed for all the violence inside Libya. Nor were the atrocities an exclusively Libyan versus Libyan matter. During the conflict, NATO committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity in its effort to overrun and control the North African country. Not only did foreign journalists help justify and sustain the war, but they played major roles in assisting NATO’s war effort by passing on information about Libyan targets and checkpoint locations to the Jamahiriya’s enemies. The war, however, did not go as planned and Libyan resistance proved far stronger than the Pentagon and NATO initially imagined.
In the course of the confrontation and at the international level, a series of human rights organisations and think-tanks were utilised for preparing the stage for the conflict in Libya and the toppling of its government. These organisations were mostly part of a network that had been working to establish the mechanisms for justifying interventionism and creating the net of individuals and public faces needed for creating a proxy government in Libya in the false name of “democracy.” When the time came, these bodies coordinated with the NATO powers and the mainstream media in the project to isolate, castrate, and subjugate the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. These so-called human rights organisations and the mainstream media networks worked together to propagate lies about African mercenaries, Libyan military jet attacks on civilians, and civilian massacres by Muammar Qadhafi’s regime.
International news networks extensively quoted these human rights organisations in what would amount to a self-fuelled cycle of misinformation, while the same human rights organisations continued to make claims on the basis of the media’s reports. In other words, each side fed the other. It was this web of lies that was presented at the Human Rights Council in the United Nations Office at Geneva and then handed to the United Nations Security Council in New York City as the basis for the war in Libya. These lies were accepted without any investigation being launched by the United Nations or any other international bodies. Any Libyan requests for international investigation teams were ignored. It was from this point onward that NATO used the UN Security Council to launch its war of aggression against Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians and enforcing a no-fly zone over the Arab country. Although not officially accepted by the United Nations Security Council, the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine was being showcased as a new paradigm for military intervention by NATO.
All known advocates of Pentagon militarism and global empire demanded this war take place, including Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Elliott Abrahams, Leon Wieseltier, John Hannah, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the neo-conservative crowd was aligned with the realist foreign policy camp in Washington. The entire US establishment lined up to pick off Tripoli and reduce it to a weak and divided African protectorate.
Libya and the New “Scramble” for Africa
To put NATO’s war in Libya within the framework of historic analysis, one only needs to be reminded that the main thrust of the sudden physical European colonisation of Africa, called the “Scramble for Africa,” started when an economic recession originally called the “Great Depression,” but in retrospect renamed as the “Long Depression,” hit much of Europe and North America from roughly 1873 to 1893. In this period the entire tempo of Western European contact with African nations transformed.
Prior to this economic recession, Western European companies and enterprises were content dealing with African leaders and recognising their authority. Few Western European colonies in Africa had existed aside from a few coastal strips based on strategically-placed trading posts in Sierra Leone and Lagos in the possession of Britain; Mozambique and Angola in the possession of Portugal; and Senegal in the possession of France. At this time the biggest external force in Africa was the Ottoman Empire, which was beginning its long decline as a great power.
Even with Western European colonial incursions into Africa by Britain, France, and Portugal, most of the African continent was still free of external or alien control. Intensified European economic rivalries and the recession in Western Europe, however, would change this. Britain would lose its edge as the world’s most industrialised nation as the industrial sectors of the USA, France and Germany all began to increasingly challenge British manufacturers. As a result of the recession and increased business rivalries, the corporations of Western European countries began to push their respective governments to adopt protectionist practices and to directly intervene in Africa to protect the commercial interests of these corporations. The logic behind this colonial push or “scramble” was that these Western European governments would secure large portions of Africa as export markets and for resource imports for these corporations alone, while these African territories would effectively be closed off to economic rivals. Thus, a whole string of Western European conquest began in Africa to secure ivory, fruits, copal (gum), cloves, beeswax, honey, coffee, peanuts, cotton, precious metals, and rubber.
Although appropriating Libya’s financial and material wealth were objectives of the NATO war in 2011, the broader objectives of the criminal war were part of the struggle to control the African continent and its vast wealth. The “Scramble for Africa” was repeating itself. Just like the first time, recession and economic rivalries were tied to this new round of colonial conquest in the African continent.
The emergence of Asia as the new global centre of gravity, at the expense of the nations of the North Atlantic in North America and Western Europe, has also primed the United States and its allies to start an endeavour to close Africa off from the People’s Republic of China and the emerging centres of power in Russia, India, Brazil, and Iran. This is why the Pentagon’s United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM/AFRICOM) played a major role in the war.
The London Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group was formed on 29 March 2011, was a modern version of the Berlin Conference of 1884, which attempted to solidify the gains made by European colonial powers in their first rush to control African societies and territory. The Istanbul Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group met for the fourth time on 15 July 2011, was virtually a declaration of the intentions of the US and these countries to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth. This is a template for usurping the wealth of other countries in Africa and beyond. In this regard, the Transitional Council has served as nothing more than a proxy that was designed to help embezzle Libya’s vast wealth.
Moreover, Libya had to be neutralised in line with the intentions of this project to reclaim Africa, because of Qadhafi’s pan-African ambitions to unify the African continent under Libyan leadership. Libya and its development and political projects were effectively erecting a barrier to the re-colonisation of the African continent. In this regard, the war was launched by “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” This name is very revealing. It identifies the strategic intent and direction of the campaign in Libya. ‘The Odyssey’ is an ancient Greek epic by the poet Homer that recounts the voyage and trails of the hero Odysseus of Ithaca on his voyage home. The main theme here is the ‘return home.’ In other words, the military assault’s codename meant that countries like the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey were on their own odyssey of ‘return’ into Africa.
The Crown of Africa
Libya is a lucrative prize of massive economic value. It has immense oil and gas resources, vast amounts of underground water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, important trade routes, substantial foreign investments, and large amounts of liquid capital. Up until 2011, Libya was blessed with a rare gift in regard to its national revenue in that it saved a significant amount. In fact Libya possessed more than US$150 billion in overseas financial assets and had one of the largest sovereign investment funds in the world at the start of 2011.
Until the conflict in Libya ignited, there was a very large foreign work force in the Jamahiriya. Thousands of foreign workers from every corner of the globe went to Libya for employment. This included nationals from places like the Philippines, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Latin America, Belarus, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and every corner of the Arab world. For years, these jobs inside Libya were an important source of economic remittances in the cases of some African economies, such as Niger. Moreover, many foreign workers from places like the Philippines and Italy even chose to make their lives in Libya and open their own local businesses.
Before the NATO war, Libyan society had come a long way since 1951 when it became an independent African country. In 1975, the political scientist Henri Habib described Libya on the dawn of its independence as a backward country saying: “When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence.”
According to Habib, the state of poverty in Libya was the result of the yoke of Ottoman domination followed by an era of European imperialism in Libya that started with the Italians. He explained that, “[e]very effort was made to keep the Arab inhabitants [of Libya] in a servile position rendering them unable to make any progress for themselves or their nation.” This colonial yoke, however, began its decline in 1943 after Italy and Germany were defeated in North Africa during the Second World War.
In 1959 Libya’s oil reserves were discovered. Despite political mismanagement and corruption, since 1969 these Libyan oil reserves were used to improve the standard of living for the country’s population. In addition to the revenue from Libyan energy reserves, the Libyan government played an important role in maintaining Libya’s high living standards. Although never fully nationalised, Libya’s oil would only, in progressive steps, fall under the control of Libyans after the 1969 coup against the Libyan monarchy by Qadhafi and a group of young military officers. Before 1969 most of the country’s oil wealth was actually not being used to serve the general public. Under Qadhafi’s leadership this changed and the National Oil Company was founded on 12 November 1970.
To a certain extent the isolation of Libya in the past as a pariah state played a role in insulating Libya economically and maintaining its standards of living. From an economic standpoint, most of the Arab world and Africa have become globalised as components of an integrated network of regional economies tied to the United States and the European Union. Libyan integration into this global economic system was delayed because of the past political isolation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya when Washington, London, and Paris were openly at odds with Tripoli.
Despite having vast sums of money stolen and squandered by Qadhafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as government housing and numerous subsidies, were available to the Libyan population. It has to be cautioned too that the apparatus of a modern welfare state does not mean that neo-liberal restructuring and poverty were not afoot in Libya, because they very much were. What this means is that economics was not the driving force for the internal dimension of the fighting in Libya. For years, up until 2011, Libya had the highest standards of living in Africa and one of the highest in the Arab world. There is an old Libyan proverb, “if your pocket becomes empty, your faults will be many.” In this regard, Libya’s faults were not many in economic terms.
In 2008, Libya had protests that were reportedly caused by unemployment. Most protests in Libya from 2003 to 2011, however, did not have any real economic dimension dominated by breadbasket issues. This set the Jamahiriya apart from Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan where breadbasket issues were important factors behind the protests that erupted during the same period in 2011. This, of course, does not mean the protest movements in the latter Arab countries were strictly the result of breadbasket issues and economics either. Demands for personal freedoms and backlashes against corruption were major motivating factors behind the fuelling of public anger in all these Arab states. In Libya, if anything, the frustration tied to the rampant corruption rooted amongst Jamahiriya authorities and officials had created shifting tides of resentment towards the government.
As briefly mentioned, Libya also has vast amounts of underground water stored in the ancient Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is situated under the territories of Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Libya and Egypt hold the largest shares of this water source. In a joint initiative, called the Nubian Aquifer Project, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the financial organisation Global Environment Facility (GEF), have all worked with the governments of these four African countries to study this vast source of underground water beneath the Sahara Desert. Using isotopes, the IAEA three-dimensionally mapped the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.
In the Jamahiriya, the Great Man-Made River Project was initiated under the orders of Colonel Qadhafi followed by the establishment of the Great Man-Made River Authority in 1983 to exploit the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System for the benefit of Libya and the other regional countries in the Sahara and the Sahel regions. The project was domestically funded mostly by taxes on fuel, tobacco, and international travel, with the remainder of funding provided directly by the Libyan state. Up until 2008 the Libyan government had spent about US$19.6 billion dollars on the water project.
According to the Isotope Hydrology Section of the IAEA, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world’s largest fossil aquifer system and will be “the biggest and in some cases the only future source of water to meet growing demands and development” amongst Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. As fresh water supplies become limited globally, it was forecast Libya’s water supplies will be of greater value domestically and regionally. Huge water multinationals in the US, France and elsewhere were salivating at the idea of privatising Libyan fresh water and controlling the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) had shares and invested in major international corporations such as oil giant British Petroleum (BP), the world’s largest aluminium producer United Company RUSAL in Russia, the US conglomerate General Electric (GE), the Italian bank and financial giant UniCredit, the Italian oil corporation Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), the German engineering and electronic conglomerate Siemens, the German electricity and gas company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), British publishing giant Pearson, and British telecommunications giant Vodafone (UK). Libya had purchased Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary in the Kingdom of Morocco, Mobil Oil Maroc, and bought half of Kenya’s oil refinery. The LIA bought all of Royal Dutch Shell’s service stations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan in 2008. Tripoli announced in the same year that it was buying a major share of Circle Oil, an international hydrocarbon exploration company with operations in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A Libyan agreement was also made with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to build a pipeline in the western part of its territory. Large investments were made by Libya in agricultural, industrial and service projects in Africa from Egypt and Niger to Mali and Tunisia.
In 2008 Goldman Sachs was given US$1.3 billion dollars by the Libyan Investment Authority. In unfathomable terms, Goldman Sachs told the Libyans that 98% of their investment was lost overnight, which means the Libyans lost almost all the money they gave Goldman Sachs. To Tripoli and other observers it was clear Goldman Sachs had merely appropriated the Libyan investment as a cash injection, because it needed the funds due to the global financial crisis. Afterwards, Jamahiriya officials and Goldman Sachs executives tried negotiating a settlement under which Goldman Sachs would give Tripoli huge shares in the Wall Street financial giant. These negotiations between Libya and Goldman Sachs for a settlement finally ended in 2009 with both sides failing to agree on a formula to replace the Libyan money that Goldman Sachs had effectively appropriated from Tripoli.
Goldman Sachs was not alone in filching Libyan investment funds: Société Générale S.A., Carlyle Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and Lehman Brothers Holdings were also all in possession of vast Libyan investments and funds. In one way or another, NATO’s war on Libya and the freeze of Libyan financial assets profited them all. They and their governments were also not happy with Qadhafi’s ideas and proposal to the United Nations that the former colonial powers owed Africa almost US$800 trillion dollars.
The fact that Libya happened to be a rich country was one of its crimes in 2011. Oil, finance, economics, and Libyan natural resources were always tempting prizes for the United States and its allies. These things were the spoils of war in Libya. While Libyan energy reserves and geopolitics played major roles in launching the 2011 war, it was also waged in part to appropriate Tripoli’s vast financial holdings and to supplement and maintain the crumbling financial hegemony of Wall Street and other financial centres. Wall Street could not allow Tripoli to be debt-free, to continue accumulating international financial possessions, and to be a creditor nation giving international loans and investing funds in other countries, particularly in Africa. Thus, major banks in the United States and the European Union, like the giant multinational oil conglomerates, had major roles and interests in the NATO war on Tripoli.
An Overview of the African Geopolitics of the War on Libya
NATO’s operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya have helped erode Libyan political unity, which has had clear implications for the North African country’s spatial unity and all the nations bordering Libya. Libya and its region have been destabilised. The domino effect can clearly be seen at work in Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic where there has been fighting as a result, at least in part, of the NATO war on Libya.
Within a strictly African context, Libya sits at an important geographic point. The country is a geographic gateway into Africa and connects the northeast and northwest sections of the continent. Libya’s national territory falls within the Sahara and Sahel regions and events in Libya directly influence Sudan, Egypt and the regions of the Maghreb, West Africa, and Central Africa. Libya is also one of the states that provide access to the open sea for landlocked Chad and Niger. Aside from Tunisia, all of the countries on Libya’s borders touch and connect the bulk of Africa’s regions with the exception of the southern region of the continent. Casting out the Tunisian Republic, these bordering African states are Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Algeria. Libya’s position is very special in this regard and this territorial embrace with these other large African states bordering multiple countries and regions is very important and would be pivotal if the Libyan project to connect the continent through a north to south and east to west transportation and trade corridor were to be developed fully.
From a socio-cultural standpoint, Libya has tribal and cultural ties to all of the bordering countries. Ethnic differences in Libya exist too, but are minor in degree. Libyans predominately consider themselves to be Arabs. The largest Libyan minority are the Berbers, which can roughly be divided into northern groups and southern groups. There was always awareness that tribalism in Libya, if given antagonistic political connotations, could be a very dangerous thing for Libya and the bordering countries. The tribes that Libyans belong go beyond Libyan borders and form a chain in an overlapping tribal network extending all the way from Niger into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Tribal fighting in Libya could destabilise countries like Senegal and Mali in West Africa, Chad in Central Africa, Algeria in North Africa, and Sudan in East Africa. It is in this context that NATO powers began speaking about an Arab-Berber divide in North Africa in 2011. Regime change in Tripoli has left a political vacuum where politics has fuelled tribalism and regionalism in Libya, which is now warily watched by all of the countries bordering Libya and affecting them.
“A New Beginning” in Cairo: Obama’s attempts to Manipulate Islam
Identity politics and faith have also wound up as factors in the competing exchange of geopolitical currents governing the sea of events surrounding Libya. The questions of what is a Libyan and what is an ethnic Arab have been superimposed as factors in the war on the Jamahiriya as a means of attacking the pan-African movement and separating Libya, and North Africa in broader terms, from the rest of Africa. Faith and religiosity have also been mounted as dynamics that are being sought as geopolitical tools and weapons of influence.
President Barack Hussein Obama was elected by tapping into the hopes of the US public and presenting himself as a “prince of peace” and “messiah of hope.” Amongst his elegant speeches, he claimed to have a desire to reengage with the so-called Muslim World. Since 2009 Obama has consistently tried to utilise what he sees as both his African and Muslim credentials on the basis of having a Kenyan father who was a Muslim, to present himself as a “Son of Africa” and as someone sympathetic to Muslims. As part of his outreach to Muslims, President Obama gave a highly promoted speech at Cairo University on 4 June 2009. Obama’s presidential speech was named “A New Beginning” and was supposedly meant to repair the damages in the relationship between the US and the so-called Muslim World. The speech is described as such by the White House:
“On June 4, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama proposed a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Specifically, the President said that the U.S. would seek a more comprehensive engagement with Muslim-majority countries, countries with significant Muslim populations, and their people by expanding partnerships in areas like education, economic development, science and technology, and health, among others, while continuing to work together to address issues of common concern.”
Many people in predominantly Muslim states were fooled by his pledges of peace and mutual respect. In his actions, Barack Obama proved to be no less of a war hawk than his predecessors in the Oval Office. His Cairo speech was significant because it actually marked the start of a new campaign by the US to geopolitically use Muslims and their hopes and aspirations. In the same timeframe as his speech, the US State Department began to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood and even prior to the speech asked for members to attend Cairo University to hear him.Almost as if foreshadowing the coming of the so-called Arab Spring, the speech in Cairo’s fourth point was about the rise of democracy and the instability of regimes suppressing democratic values. Many of the organisations and figures that became involved in the Arab Spring and supportive of the war in Libya would all hasten to Obama’s calls for a “New Beginning.” Amongst them was Aly (Ali) Abuzaakouk, who helped found the Transitional Council.
From Jakarta, Indonesia, in late-2010, Obama would go on with his themes of engagement with the Muslim World and speak about democracy, faith, and economic development in his second speech addressing Muslims. From that point on Al-Qaeda faded from the spotlight of US foreign policy and, well into the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the US worked to put the ghost of Osama bin Laden to rest by declaring in statements that were altered several times that the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a team of CIA agents and US Navy commandos on 2 May 2010. What this all amounted to was the preparations for the fielding of US agents amongst opposition groups in the predominately Muslim countries of the Arab world and an attempt to subordinate the faith of Islam as a tool of US foreign policy by using fighters and proxy political parties that used the banner of Islam. Thus, Washington’s alliance with deviant militant groups claiming to fight under the banner of Islam was rekindled in 2011. This alliance manifested itself in the fighting in Libya and later further east on the shores of the Mediterranean in Syria and Lebanon.
Libya Now: Destitute, Divided and in Conflict
The historic project to divide Libya dates back to 1943 and 1951. It started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to that established over Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had not accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951.
During the Second World War the Libyans aided and allowed Britain to enter their country to fight the Italians and the Germans. Benghazi fell to British military control on 20 November 1942, and Tripoli on 23 January 1943. Despite its promises to allow Libya to become an independent country, London intended to administer the two Libyan provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica separately as colonies, with Paris to be given control over the region of Fezzan, which is roughly one-third of Libya, the area to the southwest of the country bordering Algeria, Niger, and Chad (see map on page 60). Following the end of the Second World War, the victors and Italy attempted to partition Libya into territories that they would govern as trust territories. The American, British, French, and Soviet governments referred the matter to the UN General Assembly on 15 September 1945. There, the British and the Italians made a last-ditch proposal on 10 May 1949, called the Bevin-Sfora Plan for Libya, to have Libyan territory divided into an Italian-controlled Tripolitania, a British-controlled Cyrenaica, and a French-ruled Fezzan. This failed because of the crucial single vote of Haiti, which opposed the partition of Libya.
The British then turned to King Idris to softly balkanise Libya through the establishment of a federal emirate. A National Assembly controlled by King Idris and an unelected small circle of Libyan chieftains was to be imposed. This type of federalist system was unacceptable to most Libyans as it was intended to be a means of sidestepping the will of the Libyan people. The elected representatives from the heavily populated region of Tripolitania would be outweighed by the unelected chieftains from Cyrenaica and Fezzan.
This did not sit well with many Arab nationalists. Cairo was extremely critical of what the US and its allies were trying to do and called it diplomatic deceit. Nevertheless, even with the opposition of most Libyans, federalism was imposed on Libya in 1951 by Idris. Libyans popularly viewed this as Anglo-French treachery. Idris was forced to abolish the federalist system for a unitary system on 27 April 1963.
The imperialist project to divide Libya was never abandoned; it was just temporarily shelved by different foreign ministries in the Western bloc and NATO capitals. In March 2011, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that at the end of the conflict in Libya, the North African country would revert to its previous monarchical federalist divisions and that it would have two or three different administrations. NATO’s Supreme Commander, Admiral Stravridis, also told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in the same month that Libyan tribal differences would be amplified as the NATO war carried on. There were even multilateral discussions held about dividing the country, but the exact lines were never completely agreed upon and negotiations kept on waxing and waning with the frontlines in the desert and mountains.
US plans to topple the Libyan government that were put together in 1982 by the US National Security Council under the Reagan Administration were also revised or renovated for NATO’s war in 2011. One can clearly see how these plans played out through the dual use of an insurgency and military attack. According to Joseph Stanik, the US plans involved simultaneous war and support for CIA-controlled opposition groups that would entail “a number of visible and covert actions designed to bring significant pressure to bear on Qadhafi.” To execute the US plan, Washington would first have to encourage a conflict using the countries around Libya “to seek a casus belli for military action” while they would take care of the logistical needs of CIA-controlled opposition groups that would launch a sabotage campaign against the economy, infrastructure, and government of Libya. The code name for these secret plans was “Flower.” In the words of Stanik:
“The NSC restricted access to the top-secret plans to about two-dozen officials. Flower contained two subcomponents: “Tulip” and “Rose.” Tulip was the code name for the CIA covert operation designed to overthrow Qadhafi by supporting anti-Qadhafi exile groups and countries, such as Egypt, that wanted Qadhafi removed from power. Rose was the code name for a surprise attack on Libya to be carried out by an allied country, most likely Egypt, and supported by American air power. If Qadhafi was killed as a result of Flower, Reagan said he would take the blame for it.”
It also just so happened that the Obama Administration’s US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who was the deputy director for intelligence at the time, endorsed Rose, the military subcomponent of Flower.
Since NATO toppled the Jamahiriya government, this is exactly what has happened in Libya. A free for all has come about, which has spilled over into neighbouring states such as Niger. There are multiple factions and different administrations including the Transitional Council in the District of Tripoli, the Misrata Military Council in the District of Misrata, several self-styled Emirates in Cyrenaica, and Jamahiriya loyalist and tribal governments in the Western Mountains and Fezzan. There have even been fusions where Jamahiriya loyalists and anti-Jamahiriya militias have joined to fight all others. The end product has been lawlessness and Somali-style civil war. The state has basically been “failed” by the US and its allies. Post-Jamahiriya governmental authority is only exercised by those in power inside of their offices and a few spaces. Violent crime has proliferated. Tripoli and other major cities are being fought for by different factions and Libyan weapons are being smuggled into different countries. Even US officials, which helped midwife the groups running rampant in Libya, have not been safe from the turmoil they helped create; the murder of US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on 12 September 2012 is testimony to this.
Oil and gas production has been stopping. National assets have been sold off to foreign corporations and privatised. Libya is no longer a competitive economic power in Africa anymore. Nor is Libya a growing financial power. Tripoli virtually transformed from a debtless country to an indebted one overnight.
There is also a great irony to all this. The warplanes of the US-supported Libyan regime that has replaced the Jamahiriya began bombing Libyan citizens in 2014 as battles for control of Tripoli raged. The US, European Union, and NATO have said nothing about this whereas in 2011 they started a bombing campaign and war on the basis of false accusations the Jamahiriya government was doing exactly this. The deceit of these players is more than evident.
Reposted by the curtesy of the 4th Media
South Africa: Ruling ANC removes Jacob Zuma from Presidency
South Africa’s ruling party ordered Jacob Zuma on February 13 to step down as head of state but gave him no firm deadline to go, setting the stage for a potential fight to wrest him from power.
Leading members of the African National Congress now want new party leader Cyril Ramaphosa to replace Zuma. Zuma had promised to respond to the order by Wednesday. That appeared to herald the end of the road for a leader whose near decade in power divided Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid ‘Rainbow Nation’.
Since mid-November when Ramaphosa emerged as a real ANC leadership prospect, economic confidence has started to pick up. The rand – a telling barometer of Zuma’s fortunes – has gained more than 15 percent against the dollar over that period.
In explaining its decision to order Zuma to leave power, the ANC did not refer directly to the scandals surrounding his presidency. But it said his continued presence could “erode the renewed hope and confidence among South Africans” since the choice of new party leaders in December.
There was confusion over whether Zuma would address the public. Privately owned eNCA TV said Zuma would hold a media briefing at 10:00 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) on Wednesday, but an anchor on the state broadcaster SABC said the presidency had denied plans for such a briefing. Zuma’s spokesman could not be reached for comment.
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said he had met Zuma personally to pass on the order to resign “The organization expects him to go.” Zuma had asked the party to give him a notice period of three to six months but that had been rejected, Magashule said. The NEC believes that this is an urgent matter so it should be treated with urgency,” he said.
South Africa’s cabinet meeting set for Wednesday has been postponed indefinitely, the government’s communication service said. ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe told a meeting in the Eastern Cape province that the party had given Zuma an ultimatum to resign or face a motion of no-confidence, the Independent online news service reported. “Once you resist we are going to let you be thrown out through the vote of no confidence because you disrespect the organization and you disobey it, therefore we are going to let you be devoured by the vultures,” Mantashe said in a message to Zuma, according to the Independent.
Zuma is already facing a no-confidence motion in parliament set for Feb. 22 and brought by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters. The ANC could throw its weight behind such a vote if it lost patience with Zuma. But that would be a painful option for the ruling party. “Instructing MPs to vote with the opposition and against their own leader would add to splits in the party and provide an embarrassing political coup to the opposition,” a leader Ashbourne said.
Zuma himself engineered the ouster of former President Thabo Mbeki in 2008 shortly after taking the helm of the ANC. Mbeki was also “recalled” by the party, ending a nine-year rule marked by economic growth but marred by accusations of abuse of power that he denied.
In power since 2009, President Jacob Zuma has been dogged by corruption allegations. Zuma’s presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption which he has always vehemently denied. In 2016, South Africa’s highest court ruled that Zuma had violated the constitution when he failed to repay government money spent on his private home.
Last year the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that he must face 18 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a 1999 arms deal. More recently, Zuma’s links to the wealthy India-born Gupta family, who are alleged to have influenced the government, have caused his popularity to plummet. Both Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations.
Zuma has been living on borrowed time since Ramaphosa, a union leader and lawyer once tipped as Mandela’s pick to take over the reins, was elected as head of the 106-year-old ANC in December.
Zuma has resisted increasing pressure to quit since December, when Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ANC. It is unclear how Zuma will respond to the formal request to step down, which is expected to be issued later on Tuesday. Earlier, Ramaphosa left the meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee to travel to Zuma’s residence, where he is said to have told the president he would be recalled if he did not step down. He later returned to the ANC conclave.
Zuma has survived other such votes but he is not expected to pull it off again. A confidence vote would be considered a humiliating process for him and the party. South African media are calling President Zuma’s seemingly inevitable exit “Zexit”. His predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, resigned in 2008, also after a power struggle with his deputy. The deputy in question was Jacob Zuma, who took over the presidency the following year. Zuma cannot legally return to power in any case.
It will be very difficult for him to resist a formal request to resign but he would not be legally obliged to do so and could technically carry on as president despite losing the faith of his party. However, he would then be expected to face a confidence vote in parliament. This has already been scheduled for 22 February.
Jacob Zuma is the most colorful and controversial president South Africa has had since white-minority rule ended in 1994. He has been a politician of nine lives, surviving a series of scandals which would have surely ended anyone else’s career. But Zuma, the man born into poverty who went into exile to fight apartheid before rising to become “the people’s president”, cannot survive forever.
Zuma’s bid for the presidency was written off before he had even really started. In the run-up to the 2009 election, he was simultaneously battling allegations of rape and corruption. He was acquitted of raping an HIV-positive family friend in 2006 – although the fact he told the court he had showered in order to avoid catching HIV would continue to haunt him throughout his presidency. His second – and final – term in office is coming to an end. He is no longer leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). And those charges of corruption – always vehemently denied – appear to be catching up with him. President Zuma, whose poor roots, charisma and strength in adversity partly explain his ability to hold on to power, is set to face his ninth vote of no confidence in parliament – if his own party doesn’t succeed in removing him first.
South African economy is tatters although cricket matches with India are in full swing to make extra money. The rand currency weakened, with traders blaming uncertainty caused by the lack of a clear timetable.
Since becoming president in 2009, Zuma has been dogged by scandal. He is fighting the reinstatement of corruption charges that were dismissed before he became president over a 30 billion-rand (now $2.5 billion) government arms deal arranged in the late 1990s. More recently, the country’s anti-corruption watchdog wrote in a 2016 report that the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Zuma, had used links with the president to win state contracts. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
South Africa’s economy has stagnated during Zuma’s nine-year tenure, with banks and mining companies reluctant to invest because of policy uncertainty and rampant corruption.
The party’s national executive was split on precisely when Zuma should step down. The ANC was badly rattled by its performance at the 2016 local elections when it won its lowest share of the vote since coming to power under the late Nelson Mandela in 1994. It wants to project a fresh image for next year’s general election. Having served two terms in office (South African presidents are elected by parliament), On Monday, opposition parties called for an early election to lead this country, must get their mandate from the people of South Africa
Though he has survived several no-confidence motions in the past, now his time is up. Zuma’s entire cabinet would have to step down if a parliamentary vote went through.
South African presidency is not for life time of Zuma who is no more wanted as president and he knows the signals.
The Role of Sustainable Development in Preventing the Relapse of Conflict in Africa
Authors: Charles Matseke and Bhaso Ndzendze
In this paper we will discuss the interplay between violence and development and lack thereof and then lay down the framework from which we situate the relationship. Secondly, we will articulate the role of sustainable development in preventing the relapse of conflict through two empirical studies (China and Rwanda). Then lastly, we will lay out some suggestions which the case studies point out in terms of future policies by South Africa as a leader in the continent, the AU as a continental multilateral body and the United Nations’ various organs.
The Peace-Development Nexus
Three disturbing patterns exist regarding civil wars and their recurrence. First, civil wars have a surprisingly high recidivism rate. Of the 103 countries that experienced some form of civil war between 1945 and 2009 (from minor to major conflict), only 44 avoided a subsequent return to civil war. That means that 57 percent of all countries that suffered from one civil war during this time period experienced at least one conflict thereafter. This confirms what Collier and Sambanis (2002) have called the “conflict trap;” once a country experiences one civil war, it is significantly more likely to experience additional episodes of violence.
Second, recurring civil wars have become the dominant form of armed conflict in the world today. In fact, since 2003 every civil war that has started has been a continuation of a previous civil war. Third, civil wars are increasingly concentrated in a few regions of the world. Prior to the end of the Cold War, civil wars were spread over almost every continent, in countries as diverse as Bolivia, Greece, Indonesia, Lebanon and Nicaragua. The end of the Cold War, however, brought an end to many of these conflicts, especially those in Central America and Southeast Asia. The result is a greater number of civil wars concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.
The interplay between conflict and poverty is a storied one. With very few exceptions, where there is conflict, there is more often than not grinding poverty which acts to bring about conflict in a variety of ways:
Poverty leads to unemployment which in turn leads to a lack of opportunity cost for those youths especially who are both dis-incentivised away from being good and law-abiding citizens and in turn are drawn to violent groups, be they rebel militia and terrorist groups. Religious terrorist groups throughout the continent, capitalizes on local conditions by offering envisioned solutions to the grievance shared by the surrounding communities. They portray the situation in terms of an impoverished Nigerian Muslim population as being oppressed by non-Muslim rulers, and “apostates” backed by sinister forces that intend to keep the local Muslim communities subservient.
According to James J. Forest, terrorists and criminals thrive in a climate of sustained grievances. It is no coincidence that the worst forms of political violence in Nigeria today originates in the most socio economically disadvantaged part of the country. In the north, where unemployment and poverty are the highest, radical Islamists and the imposition of Shari’ah have challenged the authority of the state (Forest, 2012: 45).In the south, where environmental destruction resulting from oil extraction in the Niger Delta has made local Nigerians traditional groups and armed militant gangs often consisting of unemployed youth have engaged in kidnapping, extortion, car bombings, murder, and other forms of violent attack against the government and the nation’s critical oil infrastructure. This shows that issues like ideology and ethnical grievances are merely benchmarks or contingents and that the real issue at the core of conflict is (1) a lack of resources, (2) a lack of opportunity and (3) therefore a lack of development. And allowing violent groups to provide the first two can lead to a complete shutoff of the third because civil violence in turn has developmental implications in several ways:
Firstly, terrorist attacks enhance uncertainty. This comes to limits investments and diverts FDI to “safer venues” (Gaibulloev and Sandler, 2011).
Secondly, augmented security outlays by a targeted government led to the crowd-out effect on what would otherwise be productive public and private investment.
Thirdly, an anti-terrorism campaign increases “the costs of doing business” through, for example, more expensive insurance premiums, higher wages, and higher security expenditures, which can themselves plummet profits, undermine productivity, and therefore economic growth.
Fourthly, in relation to the first point, terrorist attacks can lead to the undermining of growth through the destruction or degrading of social overhead capital that “facilitates commerce (for example, transportation, communication and electricity) and daily routines.”
Finally, terrorism tends to impact specific industries airlines and tourism and this may directly limit growth; “this may be especially true when terrorists target export-sector assets in an export-led-growth economy”. For example, states that purchase the target country’s export(s) may take their business elsewhere to states that have more reliability. (Gaibulloev and Sandler, 2011: 91-92).
The 2011 World Development Report’s authors argue that violence is not just one cause of poverty among many: it is becoming the primary cause. Countries that are prey to violence are often trapped in it. Those that are not are escaping poverty. This has profound implications both for poor countries trying to pull themselves together and for rich ones trying to help.Conflict in impoverished states thus becomes a self-reproducing loop which needs to be interrupted. Misunderstanding this relationship is what many states and organisations have done best, however.
The NATO aid budget for Afghanistan, for example, is focused almost entirely on military expenditure – about 90% — whereas only 10% is on developmental issues. And the shift in the White House’s rhetoric to further prioritise militant means over social ones and to not understand the factors leading to the need for violence in the first place further undermine multilateral efforts at culling conflict through development.
This section will now detail case studies wherein the logic discussed above has been lent some weight.
Brief Case Studies: In War and Peace, Poverty and Development
China: Performance Legitimacy and Beyond
Pre-1949 China, under the Qing was a political anomaly.Its feudal arrangement was one which the citizens were not entirely citizens and had no productive capacity. This, in addition to a lack of a stable and strong state, and one, moreover under increasingly intrusive Western control, lent itself to massive violence and chaos that resulted in a Warlord era, under which various civil insurgencies vied for control over the corpse of the once great empire.
But even when the People’s Republic was declared, and stability was brought onto the land, there was still the potential for massive citizen dissatisfaction and therefore of major uprising. Indeed, some scholars have argued that the Cultural Revolution only took place because youths were not incentivized away from violence. China is too big, and therefore preventing insurgency can only be done through massive development output and that is just what China has done since the 1970s.
To begin with, the Communist Party, has carried out what is labeled as “performance legitimacy” by political scientists through which it maintains its hold on power and brings about stability due to the wide approval it maintains due to its economic output. To that end, some 90% of Chinese society approve of the CCP; and some 60% of Chinese people believe their country is a democracy.
Additionally. In order to fight the perceived socioeconomic roots of terrorism, China has launched a number of development initiatives. Beijing is trying to stabilize the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by improving the living standards of Uyghurs, creating jobs and integrating Xinjiang with the Chinese economic heartland. These efforts intensified with the proclamation of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative in 2013.The Silk Road initiative has also brought about stability in the Asian continent outside of China’s borders to include the states of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan; Pakistan is a particularly interesting case in point because of the well-documented history is has had with terrorism.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) constitutes one of the largest foreign investments China has made in the framework of the OBOR initiative. The expenditures planned for the coming years in the amount of approximately $46-billion will further intensify relations between China and Pakistan as well as provide Beijing with access to the Arabian Sea, increasing its trade with Europe and the Middle East and Africa. On the other hand, there have been benefits for Pakistan, a country whose median age is 22.7 years, in terms of its fight against terrorism on which the government spends $67.93 billion per year fighting.
Already, this has been described by Pakistani officials as a “fate changer for Pakistan”; Pakistani economist Dr Gulfaraz Ahmed has estimated that some 700,000 jobs will be created along the silk road and through the newly created infrastructure and special economic zones and industrial zones. This is especially so in transportation, energy and some manufacturing.
Thus despite fears that the belt and road would be disrupted by violence, the Pakistani and Central Asian cases show the extent to which the violence can be pre-emptively halted through development.
Rwanda: Optimism, Economic Incentives and Social Responsibility
On 6 April 1994, with the world’s media focused on the election of Nelson Mandela, a plane was shot down in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It had been carrying Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi. The double assassination triggered the state-sponsored genocide of approximately 800,000 of Rwanda’s minority Tutsi population and moderate Hutus. The mass slaughter was carried out in 100 days by government-backed perpetrators in the army, police, militias and by thousands of Hutu civilians across the country.
In 1996 an OECD report stated that the Rwandan government and international financial institutions face a major challenge: “maintaining macroeconomic policy in favour of growth and development.”
One of the first things the new government did was to eliminate the reference to ethnicity in identification documents. From then on, the country’s inhabitants were all “Rwandans.” In fact, children are educated in schools that are strongly encouraged to desist from using potentially divisive labels. Pupils are discouraged from identifying themselves as Hutu or Tutsi and are instead asked to focus on building the future of a common Rwanda. To this end, in 2001, the government unveiled a new flag and national anthem.
The practice of doing regular community work, which was grounded in the Rwandan tradition of “umuganda,” was reintroduced not only as part of the effort to rebuild the country but as a way to foster a community spirit. Once a month, Rwandans are called upon to perform communal tasks such as building a house for the needy, laying a road or sweeping a square. On a national level, traditional community courts called “gacaca” were revived in 2001. Between 2005 and 2012 these courts tried almost two million people across the country.
For several years, the members of the community of Simbi have been organized in an agricultural cooperative called “Duharanire Ubumwe N’Ubwiyunge” – “Working Toward Unity and Reconciliation.” Together, the members of the cooperative want to boost agricultural production – for them, a sign of development.
The government in Kigali is also counting on economic progress to help the country achieve lasting reconciliation. A poverty reduction program, with measures such as the introduction of health insurance for all, the targeted improvement of educational opportunity as well as a promotion of the private sector had already yielded results
Rwanda had reduced its poverty rate by 12 percent within 5 years. It now stood at 45%, adding that in comparison to other African countries that was an extremely good result.
The capital, Kigali, has 1.2 million inhabitants. It is regarded as a symbol of Rwanda’s progress. In the city center, one commercial skyscraper after the next is being built. Mayor Fidele Ndayisiba is convinced that “if the pace of development continues, in 10 years time Kigali will be a modern, flourishing city.” Even if the people beyond the city center still have to wait for modernity to arrive, Rwandans are patient and optimistic about the future. Today D’ Artagnan Habintwali, the traumatized boy from Butare, is 25 years old. He has almost completed his studies and wants to become a writer. “There will come a time when everything will be alright,” he says confidently.
Today, the country can boast that 97% of its children attend primary school – the highest rate in Africa. UNESCO noted this by naming it as one of the top three countries globally for improving access to education. Yet with the youth unemployment rate persisting above 40%, there is clearly much to be done to support the people who will drive the country’s economic growth.
The youths are no longer susceptible to being Interahamwe, and pursuing violent means through which to voice their grievances – there is optimism and therefore there is peace. Which is in turn another more positive feedback loop; and one to be built on.
Multilateral Policy Implications
From the case studies it is clear that there is a role for the international community to play in terms of bringing about sustainable development. In China, the international community has served the capacity of consumers. In Rwanda the international community is playing the role of the consumer but also that of developmental partner in terms of developmental aid
As we look at various conflicted and post-conflict societies in transition, we must acknowledge the role to be played by regional organisations and leaders such as South Africa and African Union in Africa, and international organisations – primarily the UN.
Sustainable peace, development and democracy have three mutually reinforcing dimensions, namely; societal reconciliation, democratization and economic reconstruction. Henceforth, greater coordination during post-conflict reconstruction is of greater need not only within the UN coordination but also within the entire aid community. Prospectively, it requires bringing together economic aid and political assistance, and thus have more comprehensive and integrated methods by the UN organizations and the Bretton Woods institutions. The Carnegie Commission report on Preventing Deadly Conflicts recognizes the symbiotic tensions between economic conditionality and the peace imperative, and look more into the binary distinction between neo-liberal economic reforms advocated by the international financial institutions and the contingencies of post-conflict countries (Patrick and Salomons, 1999). It thus calls on the Bretton Woods financial institutions ‘to establish better cooperation within UN’s political structures for economic inducements to facilitate a more central position in terms of early prevention and in post-conflict reconstruction. For example, the peace agenda of El Salvador has been diminished by the competing neo-liberal economic agenda and the prospect for peace in Guatemala continue to depend largely on the adaptation of the neo-liberal economic prescriptions.
Inside the UN structures, the UNDP facilitated a leading role with the UN in as far as to support recovery from conflict and sustaining democratic peace. The peace settlement of 1972 in El Salvador and the 1996 peace settlement of Guatemala together with the transitional election of 1990 Nicaragua were formidable in the sense that they intertwined peace and development, thus creating a key role for UNDP. In its efforts to secure good governance and reconciliation, programs in post-conflict countries, the UNDP took full appreciation of ‘the peace process of Central America were the first instance of UNDP involvement in overtly political and diplomatic, as well as developmental activities’. These experiences had a profound effect on the developmental philosophy of the UNDP and the stage whereby an organization vests its focus on countries with special circumstances (UNDP, 1999). At the Ibero-American Summit of 1996, a ‘Democratic Governance and Development’ resolution was adopted, UNDP made flagship for a more robust ‘Political Cooperation for Democratic Governance’, which at a later stage subscribed to policies and strategies on UNDP regional bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDP, 1996).But how primed are these actors for such responsibilities, and what policy prescriptions can be given in relation to this particular context we find ourselves in?
The first thing to note about the UN peacekeeping budget is how small it is, at least when compared with the defence budgets of national governments.At $8bn, the entire peacekeeping budget is equivalent to one month of US military spending in Afghanistan at the height of the conflict in 2010, or just 1.4% of the current US defence budget, which stands at $573bn.
At the same time, peacekeeping operations are not considered as purely military interventions. United Nations Peacekeeping and Health noted there was a problem “of peacekeepers providing healthcare to the local population in situations where the quality of medical care provided to the mission’s own personnel is not always in accordance with WHO guidelines”.
While Monusco, the UN Peacekeeping mission in the DRC, is the most expensive operation, Minusca, the mission in Central African Republic, received the biggest increase in funding in 2016; rising 220% to over $800m, amid an intensification of fighting in the country.
Military and police personnel costs have increased by more than 300% to more than $350m, while spending on consultants, has increased by over 1,000% to $462,600. Medical spending increase to $9m, up 712% on the previous year, but this dwarfed by the $20m spent on communications, an increase of 37% on 2015. But despite the increase in funds, the missions faces numerous problems.
Area-Based Development Approach to Conflict
An area-based developmental approach significantly represent a precise instrument for conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and has been extensively implemented in conflict regions. In order to evaluate the applicability of the Area-based developmental approach in addressing conflict situations, the comprehension of conflict and its nature. Conflict is endemic in human society, and conflict of interest is inherent as well, this calls for all societies to introduce a range of norms and institutions to prevent the tension from developing into an open conflict between the groups or various government bodies. In order to systematically arrange various characteristics and conditions of conflict, this section will illustrate literature found in Brown’s categorization and clustering of the main factors of conflict divided into four categories, namely; structural, political and governance, economic and social, and cultural and perceptual (Ross, 1986).
Structural factors as most scholars would suggest, include inter-state security objectives including location in war-prone neighborhoods and undemocratic regions, mountainous country or rough terrain, size of the population, military capability, ethnic demographics including high ethno-linguistic and religious diversity. Collier and Hoeffler discovered through their lengthy econometric analysis that the risk of conflict is proportional to a country’s population, siting both opportunities and grievances increase with the size of the population (Collier and Hoeffer, 2007). The tradition of conflict and time difference since the previous conflict including ethnic dominance, understood as one ethnic group being a major stakeholder of the population also have a significant effect on the risk of conflict. On the other hand, one structural factor that is often omitted is the role of neighboring countries. Refugee problems, economic contestation which often leads to the disruption of trade, communication and production networks and military problems including the use of a neighboring state’s territory for shipment of arms and supplies and as a base for operation, can all substantially contribute to regional instability (Brown, 1996).
Political and governance factors
Political and governance factors are most likely to include issues such as a weak or failed state, exclusionary national ideologies and inter-group, elite and identity politics, and discriminatory political institutions. Weak or failing states both from the perspective of political legitimacy and its capability to exercise authority over the population and the overall territory under its jurisdiction and provide services for its citizens, is an important factor potentially contributing to conflict. Eroded elite and public confidence in the legitimacy and capability of government is one of the factors, which in combination with economic and social factors increases the probability of civil violence (Nafziger and Auvinen, 2005). Reiterating the significance of political factors and the weakness of the conventional economic illustration of inter-ethnic tensions. Horowitz influential work on Ethnic Groups in Conflict maintains that the developing elite of a subordinate group generally aspire not to economic power and business opportunities, but are focused on political power. Violent eruptions of conflict is therefore generally linked to the political system and in a particular degree in which the institutions of government are discriminatory or based on exclusionary ideologies Hegre and Sambanis, 2005).
Economic and social factors
This crucial and comprehensive category of conflict factors is in academic writing portrayed by failed microeconomic policies, limited access to the market, low level and slow growth and structure of income, vertical inequalities such as income inequality, economic and social horizontal inequalities, failure of social contract, role of the Diaspora and male secondary education enrolment. According to Collier and Hoeffler, the key supporters of economic or feasibility theory of conflict, maintains that economic attributes such as the level, growth and structure of income are significant in the analysis of war initiation (Collier and Hoefer, 1998). Moreover, the Diaspora holds the potential to significantly increase the risk of conflict renewal, being a possible source of finance and having more sentimental views than the domestic population. An examination of the ties between humanitarian agencies and their hypothesized source in less-developed countries by Auvinen and Nafziger also confirms that stagnation and decline in real GDP, high income inequalities and a high ratio of military expenditure to national income are associated with the emergencies (Auvinen and Nafziger, 1999).
Environmental factors can be broadly defined into three groups including threats related to scares resources, such as water, energy, sea passage and fishing grounds, to environmental externalities and those relating to social upheaval or environmental refugees. Environmental externalities consist of issues such as upstream river and trans-boundary air pollution and illegal trade in toxic waste. Environmental refugees and social upheaval result from forced migration in response to ecological disaster or chronic shortage of natural resources (Rawabizambuga, 2007).
Cultural and perceptual factors
Finally, these are factors which illustrates patterns of cultural discrimination, inequitable educational opportunities, legal and political constraints on the use and teaching of minority languages, religious freedom as well as problematic group histories and incendiary perception (Brown, 1996). Many if these attributes are linked to the structural, political and social factors and horizontal inequalities mentioned above.
Coordination among international organisations and states so as to not undermine one another’s developmental efforts. A case in point is the IMF and World Bank’s advocating for the rollback of the state via structural adjustments and therefore taking away of the social nets and developmental efforts being done in those countries. Likewise, blindly giving aid by the UN, AU and South Africa is counterproductive when it cannot be guaranteed that it is actually going to the advertised core issues. Policy should therefore be framed around sustainable development; development which yields results. Indeed the most important result of development is its self-reproduction and therefore a positive feedback loop in terms of peace and development; and therefore development and peace
Saudi Arabia, Iran compete in Sahel
Authors: Javad Heiran-Nia & Somayeh Khomarbaghi
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are supporting the Sahel Joint Military Force, the latest indication of a competition for influence with Iran in West Africa.
The force falls under the rubric of G5 Sahel, which brings together Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad for regional cooperation on political and security issues.
To bolster the finances of this organization, France invited UAE, Saudi Arabia, Germany. and Italy to coordinate with this organization. Saudi Arabia committed $118 million and the UAE offered $35 million to fund the joint military force. In addition, the UAE has promised to establish a “school of war” in Mauritania.
Support for this joint force allows Saudi Arabia to claim that it is leading the fight against global terrorism, alongside the creation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition of 40 Islamic states. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, in particular, wants to prove his leadership in this fight. It also allows both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to plan for a long-term presence in the region, with an eye toward countering Iran.
Iranian Presence in Africa
The presence of Iran in Africa dates to the 1980s. During the Cold War, Iran was located in the bloc of US-aligned states. After the Islamic Revolution, Iran became interested in spreading Shiite thought in West Africa through cultural, economic, diplomatic, and media initiatives.
Most African countries are rich in natural resources such as gas, oil, gold, iron, copper, diamond, platinum, and phosphate. Poverty in the Sahel Region and West Africa, however, opened the doors of the region to Iran. Iran implemented hundreds of economic projects in many African states like Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leon, Benin, Nigeria, and Ghana. Iranian leaders—Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sayyed Muhammad Khatami, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travelled to these states and signed many bilateral agreements.
Iran also benefitted from these deals, and not just the expansion of Shiite thought. The deals allowed Iran to break out of the international isolation generated by its nuclear activities. They created new markets for Iranian products, particularly the oil that was under global sanctions, and provided access to raw materials, like uranium. Iran earned billions of dollars from the implementation of joint projects, including facilities that refined Iranian oil.
Saudi Arabia’s concerns about increased Iranian influence have prompted it to push back, particularly after the ascension of King Salman. Saudi Arabia poured investments into the public and private sectors in West Africa and the Sahel. But Saudi penetration also extended into the religious realm, with a focus on the Maliki Muslims who compose the majority of West African population. Since 78% of African Muslims are Sufis, their beliefs generally stand in contrast to a Saudi culture that features elements of Salafism.
To compete for influence, then, Saudi Arabia has gone beyond economic projects and religious programming. That’s why it has created an unofficial coalition with Mauritania and Senegal and is also preparing a new coalition with Libya and Chad. The presidents of Senegal and Mauritania travelled to Riyadh in April 2015, and Senegal has committed to sending hundreds of troops to the Asefah Al-Hazm military operation under Saudi command.
Saudi Arabia has contributed to the joint military force of the Sahel to earn international legitimacy in the fight against terrorism and to further its political and economic interests in West Africa. But countering Iran is the main rationale. Stemming Iranian influence in this region and globally remains one of the cardinal pivots of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy.
First published in Mehr News Agency
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