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Join UNAC for an educational conference call on the situation in Mali and Africa. There will be short presentation by three UNAC leaders followed by questions and discussion. The conference call will be at 9 PM (EST) on Sunday, February 24. Speakers will include, Glen ford, Ana Edwards and Abayomi Azikiwe. To access the call, please dial (218)339-3600 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (218)339-3600 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. The access code is 342310#.
The United National Antiwar Coalition says:
The recent French military intervention and the US military and intelligence operations in the region must be opposed by all those who stand in favor of self-determination for African peoples. Contrary to the self-serving claims of both France and the US that they are out to defend democracy, both nations' military operations in the Sahara-Sahel are in defense of their access to Africa's minerals, oil, gas, and arable land at bargain basement prices.
The invitation for a French military attack by a Malian coup regime armed by Washington is but a fig leaf for an escalation of already existing efforts to protect the 1%'s plunder of Nigerién uranium, Malian gold, Nigerian oil, Algerian natural gas, Western Saharan phosphates, Cote d'Ivoire’s plantations, and more. Africanists liken the current situation to the period in the late 19th and early twentieth century when the European countries carved up Africa between them. In the new "Scramble for Africa," Europe and the United States, are competing for petroleum, minerals, and land to the detriment of the economic well-being of the African peoples.
The claim that the French intervention, an intervention supported by the U.S., is an emergency humanitarian response to help the people of Mali is belied by the context in which it is occurring:
≈Colonialism Redux and Ecological Disaster. France, who held many colonies in Africa, really never left after granting independence in the 1960's. France intervened militarily in Africa 19 times between 1962 and 1995 and more recently intervened in Cote d' Ivorie, Chad, and the Central African Republic in order to defend the 1%’s interests. On January 23, news sources reported that French special forces were sent to protect the French privately owned Areva uranium mining operation in the border country of Niger. Uranium from Niger supplies reactors supplying 75% of France’s electrical needs.
≈ National Oppression. The Tuareg and other Northern peoples were first denied control over their homeland when the colonial map-makers divided their territory between Mali, Niger, Chad, Algeria, and other countries that border the Sahara. Tuareg rebellions, like the one that prompted this French intervention, have challenged France’s right to extract uranium in a manner that poisons the local populations and decimates their livelihood. At the same time, the Tuareg claims are disputed by other Northern peoples, such as the Songhai, and by Southern groups that feel Mali proper would be weakened by Tuareg independence. Colonialism’s legacy of divide and conquer cannot be solved with the colonizer’s guns.
≈Austerity Mandated by the 1%. The last two decades of IMF and World Bank-imposed economic restructuring in Mali made gold mining so profitable that Mali is now the number three gold producer on the African continent. At the same time, this development has left the majority of Malians living on less than US$1 a day and the peoples of that nation some of the poorest on the planet. US military aid to Mali reinforces this state of affairs.
≈Competition for Oil and Natural Gas. Nigerian oil, a high quality sweet crude, is a crucial part of the U.S. energy plan and is cited as part of the reason that the U.S. has created the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI). A 2009 agreement for a $10 billion natural gas pipeline from Algeria to a Nigerian port further demonstrates the hydrocarbon basis of the TSCTI and related US military plans for the region. The 2010 budget request for Trans- Saharan Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) was $80.3 million.
≈”War on Terror” Funding Used Against the 99%. Washington recently asked France and Algeria to be sure to include US favored partner Morocco in the unfolding so-called “War on Terror “in the Sahara-Sahel. Morocco has been using the US’s “War on Terror” rhetoric to justify its occupation of Western Sahara and contain the national aspirations of the Sahrawi people organized in the Polisario Front. Africanist Franklin Charles Graham IV, in an article in the Review of African Political Economy, says that it is fair to say that most US aid for counter-terrorism activities in the Sahara-Sahel goes to suppress indigenous rebellions against corrupt and undemocratic regimes.
≈Elite Rivalries. The 2008 authorization of AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command under whose aegis Washington is sending troops and special forces to 35 African nations is, according to Concerned Africa Scholar’s Daniel Volman, a direct response to the growing competition from China and other players for Africa’s energy resources.
≈Looting of Africa. According to the South African political economist Patrick Bond, development aid and investment in Africa from the imperialist countries since the colonies were granted formal independence has resulted in a growing impoverishment of the people of the continent, leaving more Sub-Saharan people living on less than a $1 a day than in the 1950’s. Including the loss to the peoples of their raw material wealth, and the ecological damage wrought by its extraction, raises the dollar amount of the plunder to unimaginable levels.
≈War at Home. Each cent spent for the extraction of profits from Africa for the 1% could be spent at home for the victims of the current economic crisis. Each effort to paint the main threat to the well-being of the African people as terrorism will be accompanied by new threats to civil liberties here in the United States.
Whatever the exact reality of a new influx of non-Malian Islamic radicals into the Sahara-Sahel, based on the experience of US propaganda and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, those who support self-determination must take any claim by Washington that it is intervening to fight an Al Qaeda threat with a grain of salt. The evidence that resources are the main reason for war in the Sahara-Sahel is too strong. If the recent occupations of the Middle East by the US have taught us anything, it should be that no problem will be solved by US and European military intervention.
Join the United National Antiwar Coalition is its efforts to educate about European and US resource wars in Africa and build a movement to end them. UNAC speakers are available for forums and interviews. See the United National Antiwar Coalition at www.unacpeace.org
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