Australian Uranium Mining Company Accused of Contaminating Lake Malawi


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By Mayu Chang Global Research, January 29, 2015 CorpWatch 28 January 2015 Lake Malawi. Photo: bathyporeia. Used under Creative Commons license. Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 … Continue reading

“Humanitarian Intervention” in Nigeria: Is the Boko Haram Insurgency Another CIA Covert Operation? Wikileaks


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By Atheling P Reginald Mavengira Global Research, January 25, 2015 African Renaissance News We have already been regaled with reports provided by Wikileaks which identified the US embassy in Nigeria as a forward operating base for wide and far reaching acts of subversion against Nigeria which include … Continue reading

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR): An Anglo-American Creation in Support of the Kagame Dictatorship


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The ICTR exists to impose “victor’s justice” upon the Hutu remnants of the vanquished former regime By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson Global Research, January 20, 2015 It is widely recognized by independent analysts and observers of the International … Continue reading

Former Ben Ali official wins the first round of Tunisian presidential elections

By Antoine Lerougetel and Alex Lantier

19 December 2014

Béji Caïd Essebsi took first place in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election on November 23, with 40 percent of the vote. With this vote, based on the disillusionment of Tunisia’s workers and oppressed masses with the Islamist interim government of the Ennahda party, the entourage of toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is bidding to return to power and attempt to fully restore the old regime.

Moncef Marzouki—supported by Ennahda, which did not field a candidate of its own—came second with 33 percent, advancing to the run-off on December 21.

The 88-year-old Essebsi, who served under Ben Ali and the previous dictator Habib Bourguiba, is the favourite to win the run-off on December 28. His Nidaa Tounes party is a coalition of bourgeois counterrevolutionaries, ex-Stalinists and officials of Ben Ali’s disbanded RCD (Democratic Constitutional Rally). These include Mohamed Ghariani, the RCD’s last general secretary, and Raouf Khamassi, a close associate of Sakhr el-Materi, Ben Ali’s son-in-law.

The Popular Front, a coalition of pseudo-left and nationalist parties, ran as all but official supporters of the old Ben Ali establishment, having formed a National Salvation Front together with Nidaa Tounes earlier this year. Its presidential candidate, the Maoist Hamma Hammami, came third with 7.8 percent of the vote.

The first-round result confirms those of the legislative elections on October 26, where, on a 69 percent voter participation, Nida Tounes with 38 percent of the poll won 86 of the legislature’s 217 seats, while Ennahda with 28 percent won 69 seats. Lacking a majority in parliament, Essebsi has not ruled out forming a coalition government with Ennahda or the Popular Front.

The moves to restore the old Ben Ali regime foreshadow explosive confrontations with the main force in the revolutionary overthrow of Ben Ali four years ago, the working class.

Nidaa Tounes’ reactionary programme gives priority to repaying Tunisia’s external debt through cuts in social services and subsidies for staple products, and privatising businesses confiscated from Ben Ali’s business empire. Aware that such an austerity programme will provoke deep opposition in the working class, particularly in mining areas where the 2011 revolution against Bin Ali began, Nidaa Tounes also calls for stepped-up law-and-order measures. Its ultimate goal is to fully rebuild the authority of the Ben Ali regime’s internal intelligence services and police state apparatus.

The coming to power of Nidaa Tounes testifies to the bankruptcy of Tunisian capitalism. It has proven unable to address the aspirations for jobs, democracy, and equality that drove masses of workers and youth into revolutionary struggle against Ben Ali—and triggered the toppling of Hosni Mubarak by the Egyptian working class, a few weeks later.

As the Tunisian uprising began, the WSWS analyzed it as a world-historic turning point in the class struggle, putting the construction of Trotskyist parties and the struggle for socialism and workers power, in Tunisia and internationally, directly on the agenda. In “The mass uprising in Tunisia and the perspective of permanent revolution,” it warned: “The crucial question of revolutionary program and leadership remains unresolved. Without the development of revolutionary leadership, another authoritarian regime will inevitably be installed to replace that of Ben Ali.”

Responsibility for the rising influence of the old Ben Ali establishment lies with the forces that blocked the struggle for socialism and the building of a revolutionary party in the working class. These include the pseudo-left parties in the PF coalition, such as Hammami’s Workers Party (PT) and the Pabloite Left Workers League (LGO), and their collaboration with the General Tunisian Labour Union (UGTT) bureaucracy. A bulwark of the Ben Ali dictatorship and its free-market policies, the UGTT looked on in horror during the 2011 uprising and only issued a symbolic, two-hour strike call as Ben Ali fled Tunisia, in a desperate attempt to cover its tracks.

These counterrevolutionary organisations have tied the working class to a perspective of supporting a series of reactionary bourgeois regimes that emerged after Ben Ali’s ouster. The result is that, four years later, the conditions of the Tunisian masses have worsened, the country is even more deeply in the grip of finance capital and the International Monetary Fund, and the old establishment, suitably refurbished, is poised to return to power.

Initially, the pseudo-left and the UGTT collaborated with the UTICA employers’ organisation and other trade groups in setting up the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) to devise a new bourgeois constitution for Tunisia. Elections to the ANC in October 2011 gave Ennahda the largest group but not an absolute majority. It therefore ruled Tunisia as part of the “Troika,” joining with the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol, which was internationally affiliated to France’s social-democratic Socialist Party.

With Moncef Marzouki of the CPR as president, the Ennahda government imposed reactionary policies and crushed workers’ protests. With the support of the pseudo-left, it aligned Tunisia on the reactionary wars that Washington and its European allies waged in Libya and Syria, relying on Islamist proxy forces. Ennahda was widely suspected to be the instigator of the murders in February and July 2013 of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, two officials in the Popular Front.

As the political crisis of the Ennahda government sharpened, Hammami and UGTT leader Hacine Abassi held multiple meetings with US, French and European officials. The UGTT formed the Quartet with UTICA, the lawyers’ association, and the Tunisian League of Human Rights, while Nida Tounes and the Popular Front formed the National Salvation Front and engaged in “National Dialogue” with Ennahda. This led to the resignation of the Islamist government and the formation of an interim technocratic government last January.

The red thread running through the various factional manoeuvres and realignments of the pseudo-left was the opposition of the affluent middle class layers they represent to a social revolution against capitalism. These counterrevolutionary manoeuvres have now aligned them directly with the chosen political vehicle of the old Ben Ali establishment.

In his October 14 interview in the French Stalinist daily L’Humanité, Hamma Hammami insisted that the central issue in Tunisia was “doing everything to block the rise of religious fascism” and “the return of the men of the old regime.”

The struggle against all the representatives of the Tunisian bourgeoisie, including both Ennahda and the old Ben Ali regime, is the central issue, and it must be carried out against the PF itself. Hammami’s attempts to distance his party from the other main parties of the Tunisian bourgeoisie reek of bad faith.

Hammami worked with the Islamists and now is allied to the old regime through his joint participation with Nidaa Tounes in the National Salvation Front. He himself recognised that “we were at the origins of the constitution of a front of national salvation, gathering forces from the left all the way to liberal democrats”—that is, Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes.

The rising influence of the old, hated Ben Ali establishment is a devastating verdict on the bankruptcy of such unprincipled pseudo-left manoeuvring. The critical task facing the working class and youth in Tunisia remains the construction of a Trotskyist vanguard party, a section of the ICFI, to rally the deep opposition in the working class to a struggle for political power.

Ebola epidemic continues to ravage West Africa

By Niles Williamson

4 December 2014

According to the latest report from the World Health Organization released on Wednesday, the death toll from the ongoing Ebola epidemic has officially surpassed 6,000, with more than 17,145 reported cases of infection. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Spain and the United States have had person-to-person transmissions of the disease. Now entering its second year, the ongoing epidemic is the deadliest and most widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus on record.

Accounting for more than 99 percent of infections and deaths, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia continue to be the epicenter of the epidemic. While the number of newly reported cases has fallen significantly in Liberia and Guinea, with fewer than 600 new cases reported in the two countries combined in the last three weeks, the situation continues to be quite acute in Sierra Leone, where more than 1,400 new cases were reported in the same time period.

The economies of the three already deeply impoverished sub-Saharan countries have been seriously crippled by the effects of the Ebola crisis. Prior to the Ebola outbreak, the three countries had been experiencing relatively high GDP growth rates and the trend was expected to continue.

On Tuesday, the World Bank significantly revised downward projected GDP growth rates for 2014. The World Bank projects that the 2014 growth rate in Liberia will be 2.2 percent, down from a pre-epidemic projection of 5.9 percent; in Sierra Leone the growth rate is expected to be 4 percent compared to a pre-epidemic projection of 11.3 percent; while in Guinea the growth rate is expected to be 0.5 percent, down from a pre-epidemic projection of 4.5 percent.

As a result of the epidemic and ensuing crisis, it is projected that the economies of Sierra Leone and Guinea will shrink significantly next year (-2 percent and -.2 percent), while Liberia’s economy will only grow by two percent, half the rate projected prior to the Ebola crisis.

The World Bank estimates that declining revenues and increased spending resulting from the Ebola crisis have cost the three governments combined more than half a billion dollars in 2014. If the epidemic continues for another year, the World Bank projects a total fiscal impact on the West African region of anywhere between $3.8 billion and $32.6 billion, depending on the severity.

The response of the great powers to the outbreak has been wholly inadequate and driven entirely by geopolitical considerations. In the guise of building emergency testing and treatment facilities, the Obama administration dispatched several thousand soldiers to Liberia, exploiting the crisis as a means of gaining a military foothold on the African continent.

While foreign troops have been deployed to construct Ebola treatment centers, the responsibility for staffing these facilities has been left to an ad hoc grouping of NGOs, missionaries and local workers. The underfunded and corrupt national governments in West Africa are relying on NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF—Doctors Without Borders), which has provided volunteer doctors and nurses and employs thousands of local workers to undertake much of the most hazardous work, such as handling and burying the dead.

MSF released a statement on Tuesday in which it condemned the limited response to the crisis in West Africa by Western governments as “slow and uneven.” Dr. Joanne Liu, international director of MSF, criticized the decision to leave much of the direct response up to volunteers and untrained local workers. “It is extremely disappointing that states with biological-disaster response capacities have chosen not to utilize them,” she said. “How is it that the international community has left the response to Ebola—now a transnational threat—to doctors, nurses and charity workers?”

Working conditions for doctors, nurses, as well as other workers, are physically and mentally taxing and the risk of transmission of Ebola from patients to health care workers is high. Through the end of November a total of 622 health care workers have been infected with Ebola, and of these, 346 have died.

On November 25, burial workers in the city of Kenema in southeastern Sierra Leone went on strike and dumped 15 bodies around the local hospital in protest against the nonpayment of two months’ extra risk payments promised by the government. Earlier in the month, 400 health care workers at an Ebola treatment center in Bandajuma in eastern Sierra Leone went on strike over the same issue.

While the Ebola crisis continues to rage in West Africa still largely out of control, the issue has been all but been dropped by the American political establishment and US media coverage has largely disappeared in the wake of November’s midterm elections.

No new cases of Ebola either contracted overseas or transmitted in the United States have been reported since the end of October. The media frenzy over the transmission of Ebola to several nurses in Texas and an attempt to enforce a quarantine on an asymptomatic nurse, who had returned from treating Ebola victims in Africa, were driven by political calculations by both the Democrats and Republicans prior to the elections. Meanwhile, the approval by Congress of a proposed $6.3 billion in emergency funding for combating the Ebola virus remains in doubt.

In US-Supported Egypt, 188 Protesters Are Sentenced to Die Days After Mubarak is Effectively Freed

By Glenn Greenwald

 Featured photo - In US-Supported Egypt, 188 Protesters Are Sentenced to Die Days After Mubarak is Effectively Freed

December 03, 2014 “ICH” – “The Intercept” – Ever since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led a coup against the country’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the coup regime has become increasingly repressive, brutal and lawless. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the Obama administration has become increasingly supportive of the despot in Cairo, plying his regime with massive amounts of money and weapons and praising him (in the words of John Kerry) for “restoring democracy.” Following recent meetings with Sisi by Bill and Hillary Clinton (pictured above), and then Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, Obama himself met with the dictator in late September and “touted the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt as a cornerstone of American security policy in the Middle East.”

All of this occurs even as, in the words of a June report from Human Rights Watch, the Sisi era has included the “worst incident of mass unlawful killings in Egypt’s recent history” and “judicial authorities have handed down unprecedented large-scale death sentences and security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.” The New York Times editorialized last month that “Egypt today is in many ways more repressive than it was during the darkest periods of the reign of deposed strongman Hosni Mubarak.”

As heinous as it has been, the Sisi record has worsened considerably in the last week. On Friday, an Egyptian court dismissed all charges against the previous U.S.-supported Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak stemming from the murder of 239 democracy protesters in 2011. The ruling also cleared his interior minister and six other aides. It also cleared him and his two sons of corruption charges, while upholding a corruption charge that will almost certainly entail no further prison time. The ruling wasbased on a mix of conspiracy theories and hyper-technical and highly dubious legal findings.

But while Mubarak and his cronies are immunized for their savage crimes, 188 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who participated in anti-Sisi protests that led to the deaths of 11 police officers, were handed death sentences today en masse. As the New York Times notes, it was “the third such mass sentencing in less than a year,” and was handed down despite “no effort to prove that any individual defendant personally killed any of the officers; that more than 100 of the defendants were not allowed to have lawyers; and that scores of defense witnesses were excluded from the courtroom.” The judge ordering these mass executions was the same cretinous judicial officer who, over the summer, sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to seven to ten years in prison.

The implications are obvious. Reuters today reports that the Mubarak acquittal is widely seen as the final proof of the full return of the Mubarak era, as the crushing of the 2011 revolution. Political Science Professor As’ad AbuKhalil argues, convincingly, that re-imposing dictatorial rule in Egypt to mercilessly crush the Muslim Brotherhood is what the U.S., Israel and the Saudi-led Gulf monarchs have craved since the unrest in 2011. With the Gulf monarch’s rift with Brotherhood-supporting Qatar now resolved, all relevant powers are united behind full restoration of the tyranny that controlled Egypt for decades.

Beyond the political meaning, the two starkly different judicial rulings demonstrate that judicial independence in Egypt is a farce, that courts are blatantly used for political ends to serve the interests of the regime, harshly punishing its political opponents and protecting its allies:

Rights advocates argued that the juxtaposition — hyper-scrupulousness in the case of the former president, a rush to the gallows for the Islamist defendants — captured the systematic bias of the Egyptian courts.

“It is just one more piece of evidence that the judiciary is just a political tool the government uses to prosecute its enemies and free the people it wants to be freed,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch.

In one sense, it would be nice for the U.S. Government to condemn all of this, and even better if they cut off support for the regime as punishment. But in another, more meaningful sense, such denunciation would be ludicrous, given what enthusiastic practitioners U.S. officials are of similar methods.

Fully protecting high-level lawbreakers – even including torturers and war criminals – is an Obama specialty, a vital aspect of his legacy. A two-tiered justice system – where the most powerful financial and political criminals are fully shielded while ordinary crimes are punished with repugnant harshness – is the very definition of the American judicial process, which imprisons more of its ordinary citizens than any other country in the world, even as it fully immunizes its most powerful actors for far more egregious crimes.

Indeed, in justifying his refusal to condemn the dropping of charges against Mubarak, Sisi seemed to take a page from Obama’s own rhetorical playbook. Egypt must “look to the future” and “cannot ever go back,” he said when cynically invoking judicial independence as his reason for not condemning the pro-Mubarak ruling. The parallels to Obama’s own justifications for not prosecuting U.S. torturers and other war criminals – “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” – are self-evident.

It may be true that U.S. courts don’t simultaneously sentence hundreds of political protesters to die en masse, but the U.S. government is in no position to lecture anyone on the indiscriminate and criminal use of violence for political ends. As of today, Obama officials can officially celebrate the War on Terror’s 500th targeted killing far from any battlefield (450 of which occurred under Obama), strikes which have killed an estimated 3,674 people. As CFR’s Micah Zenko put it, “it is easy to forget that this tactic, envisioned to be rare and used exclusively for senior al-Qaeda leaders thirteen years ago, has become a completely accepted and routine foreign policy activity.”

Condemnation of Egyptian tyranny has always been an uncomfortable matter for U.S. officials given how they long used Mubarak’s favorite torturers to extract information from detainees in their custody. Indeed, once Mubarak’s downfall became inevitable, the Obama administration worked to ensure that his replacement would be the CIA’s long-time torturing and rendition partner, close Mubarak ally Omar Suleiman. And, just by the way, the U.S. also imprisoned an Al Jazeera journalist – in Guantanamo – for seven years until casually letting him go as though nothing had happened.

It seemed like just yesterday that American media outlets were pretending to be on the side of the Tahrir Square demonstrates, all while suppressing the unpleasant fact that the dictator against which they were marching was one of the U.S. government’s longest and closest allies, a murderous tyrant about whom Hillary Clinton said: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” It’s an extraordinary feat of propaganda that all of that has been washed away – again – and the U.S. is right back to acting as stalwart ally to a repressive and incredibly violent dictator sitting in Cairo doing its bidding.

Photos: Clintons with Sisi: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Egyptian dictator al-Sisi signs military, economic deals in Paris

By Kumaran Ira

3 December 2014

In his first trip to Europe, beginning last week in Rome, Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stopped in Paris on November 26-27, holding talks with Socialist Party (PS) President François Hollande, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, top officials including the speakers of both houses of parliament, and French business leaders.

The French and Italian governments hailed Sisi, who slaughtered thousands of protesters on the streets of Cairo during his July 2013 coup against Muslim Brotherhood (MB) President Mohamed Mursi, as a strategic partner. It was an explicit green light from European imperialist powers for Sisi to continue using mass killings to terrorize political opposition in Egypt and delay a renewed revolutionary upsurge in the working class.

Sisi’s trip to Paris came as tens of thousands of political prisoners and their families mounted a hunger strike against the Egyptian junta, and steel workers struck for back pay. The Sisi junta has killed over 1,400 people and jailed over 15,000. Sisi has banned the MB and sentenced over 500 of its members to death in mass show trials, while imposing austerity measures on the working class including massive fuel price increases.

The Hollande administration made clear that it supported the policies of Egypt’s Pinochet. Before Sisi’s visit, an anonymous source close to Hollande told the press: “Yes, we consider Sisi to be legitimate. But there’s a lot to talk about.”

Initial reports claimed that Hollande would address issues of democratic rights while meeting Sisi on November 26. The Reporters Without Borders NGO sent a letter to Hollande, asking him to raise the “crackdown in a shocking manner on journalists in the name of combating terrorism.”

None of these issues were discussed, however, when Hollande warmly received Sisi at the Elysée Presidential palace, focusing on economic and military cooperation. After talks with Sisi, Hollande praised Egypt as a “great country and a big partner for France.”

“We hope that this process, this process of democratic transition will continue, respecting the road map that will fully allow for the success of Egypt,” Hollande said at a joint news conference.

Hollande’s cynical remarks came as Alexandria courts handed jail sentences of two to five years to a group of juveniles, aged 13 to 17, for belonging to “an outlawed group,” after they participated in protests called by the Muslim Brotherhood calling for the fall of the Sisi junta.

The talks also dealt with economy, military and security cooperation. Al-Sisi said his talks with Hollande were “fruitful” and reflected a common consensus between Paris and Cairo on bilateral, regional and international relations.

Hollande revealed that he had signed economic agreements worth hundreds of millions in Egypt, including a €700 million Suez Canal deal and the refurbishing of Cairo’s subway system. On the second day of his trip, the Egyptian delegation met top French business officials.

Despite its cynical efforts to somewhat distance itself from the crimes of the Sisi junta, Paris is continuing to arm the bloodstained Egyptian military to the teeth. French shipbuilder DCNS has signed a €1 billion contract to furnish four corvettes to the Egyptian Navy. The two countries are also discussing the renewal of Egypt’s stock of French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets.

“This deal opens doors because it is prompting enormous interest in the Gulf countries,” a French government source added.

Sisi and Hollande also discussed cooperating in the “war on terror,” with Hollande insisting, “We have to act together to fight terrorism.”

“Egypt is a country affected by terrorism, both in the past and in the present, and particularly in the Sinai Peninsula,” Hollande said. “In southern Libya terrorists are taking root, which would threaten and already threatens the entire region. We have all the proof.”

Hollande’s bogus claims to be waging a “war on terror” are a fraudulent pretext for aggressively advancing French imperialist interests in the Middle East and Africa, where it is fighting a war in Mali and threatening to mount a renewed invasion of Libya.

The bloody chaos and the growth of Islamist terrorism in Libya is a direct product of NATO’s bloody military intervention in 2011, after mass working class uprisings toppled pro-imperialist regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The NATO powers, prominently including France, bombed Libya and recklessly armed Islamist opposition militias in order to oust Gaddafi and pillage Libya’s oil and financial wealth.

The goal of these wars, like that of Sisi’s coup itself, is to terrorize and intimidate the working class, in a region where workers have already toppled two bloody dictators. Hollande’s reference to the terrorist threat in the poverty-stricken Sinai Peninsula—which has seen a reign of terror unleashed by the Sisi regime junta, imposing martial law, arbitrary arrests, forced eviction of thousands of people after demolishing their homes

Hollande and al-Sisi claimed that they agreed on the need to establish a peace process between Palestine and Israel, after both governments backed the Israeli assault on Gaza that took the lives of thousands of Palestinians during the summer. The PS took the unusual move of banning outright protests against the Gaza war.

Hollande cynically declared, “We must set out again to demonstrate the necessity of negotiations to seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” In fact, this fraudulent “peace plan” aims to maintain the subjugation of Palestinian territory to the dictates of Israel and its imperialist allies, while dividing the Arab and Jewish working class along ethnic lines.

On November 27, al-Sisi visited the French National Assembly, surrounded by an honor guard, where he met with PS legislators including its majority leader Claude Bartolone, who hailed Sisi’s pro-business reforms against the Egyptian working class.

The National Assembly voted 339 to 151 to approve a resolution recognising the Palestinian state yesterday. The Senate is due to vote on the resolution on December 11.

The acquittal of Hosni Mubarak

1 December 2014

The acquittal Saturday of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on charges of corruption and state murder is a statement by the regime of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that it intends to carry through the counterrevolution and make the restoration of military dictatorship permanent.

The whitewashing of Mubarak’s role in the killing of 846 people and wounding of 6,000 by police snipers and thugs during the revolutionary upsurge that toppled him in 2011 is part of the drive by the bourgeoisie and its supporters in the upper-middle class to crush the resistance of the Egyptian working class. “It is very common to find [news] anchors openly saying that 25 January was a ‘conspiracy that the West plotted,’” one foreign diplomat in Cairo told Al Ahram. Another said that officials of Egypt’s political parties now believe “Mubarak was a good man who made a few mistakes.”

Outside Tahrir Square, which security forces sealed before the verdict was announced, police attacked a protest of several thousand people with water cannon and live ammunition, killing two and wounding nine.

Like all great revolutionary upheavals, the Egyptian revolution has passed through definite stages. The revolution began with a massive upsurge of the working class against the Mubarak dictatorship, a key instrument of US imperialism and Israeli policy in the Middle East. In Egypt as in previous revolutions, the bourgeoisie responded in the initial stages by seeking to adapt itself to the mass movement, buying time and reorganizing its forces while it prepared the counter-offensive.

At this stage, democratic slogans generally prevail, and so it was in the initial days after the upsurge that began in Egypt on January 25, 2011. The Egyptian ruling class and its sponsors in Washington sought to keep Mubarak in power, vaguely promising democratic reforms. When bloody repression failed to crush the mass upsurge, in which the working class began to emerge as the major social force, US imperialism and the Egyptian bourgeoisie reluctantly removed Mubarak and installed a new, supposedly more “democratic,” military regime in the form of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The liberal bourgeoisie, represented by figures such as Mohamed El-Baradei, backed the new regime. It was joined by petty-bourgeois organizations such as the Revolutionary Socialists, who rallied behind the new military rulers and even vouched for their “democratic” intentions.

But this initial tactical shift failed to put an end to the revolutionary upsurge. The ruling class and Washington turned to the Muslim Brotherhood and engineered the coming to power as president of its candidate Mohamed Mursi. The Revolutionary Socialists and similar organizations of the privileged middle classes now came behind the Muslim Brotherhood, promoting its accession to power as a “victory” for the revolution.

The right-wing policies of the bourgeois Islamist regime only fueled the anger of the working class. In 2013, the Egyptian proletariat waged a stormy offensive against Mursi. While 2011 had seen over 1,000 strikes and protests, five times more than in the years before the revolution, the first half of 2013 alone saw 5,500.

The ruling class reacted by exploiting the political confusion of the masses, in the absence of a revolutionary Marxist leadership, to prepare a counterrevolutionary strike in the guise of a popular uprising against Mursi. Groups such as the Revolutionary Socialists, petrified by the mounting wave of working class struggles, played a critical role in promoting the military-backed Tamarod (“Rebel”) movement, which called for the military to remove Mursi from power.

The Revolutionary Socialists and other supposedly “left” groups that initially opposed Mubarak joined the liberals in supporting the July 3, 2013 coup led by al-Sisi, who proceeded to massacre thousands of anti-coup protesters in the streets, arrest tens of thousands more, and impose sweeping energy price hikes on the working class.

The acquittal of Mubarak is the outcome of this counterrevolutionary offensive, the aim of which is to restore military rule, utilizing if anything even more brutal methods than under Mubarak.

Once again, the counterrevolutionary role of the bourgeoisie, in the former colonial countries no less than in the imperialist centers, has been demonstrated. So has the impossibility of realizing the democratic aspirations of the masses outside of a revolutionary struggle under the leadership of the working class against all factions of the bourgeoisie on the basis of a program for workers’ power and socialism, and an international strategy linking the revolution in any one country to the world socialist revolution.

Inevitably in the course of a revolution, whatever the initial democratic pretensions of the bourgeoisie, the problems that drove the masses into struggle come to the fore. They seek to gain something from the struggles they have waged, while the opposition of the ruling elites to all such demands acquires an ever more vicious form. To the extent that the masses have not worked through the political challenges facing the revolution, social reaction gains strength and reconquers the positions it had lost.

The bitter experience to date of the Egyptian revolution has brought to the fore the most critical problem facing the working class not only in Egypt, but internationally—the crisis of revolutionary leadership.

Even the most enormous upsurge of the oppressed masses cannot by itself secure the basic demands and interests of the working class. The ruling classes and their agents—such as the pseudo-left organizations of the privileged middle class—are able to take advantage of the political confusion in the working class that is the result of the historic betrayals carried out by its old bureaucratic leaderships—Stalinist, social democratic, trade union.

A revolutionary party with deep roots in the working class must be built to direct the mass struggles to the conquest of power and the expropriation of the bourgeoise.

The International Committee of the Fourth International understood this very well and warned from the earliest days of the Egyptian revolution of the necessity for an independent perspective and organization of the working class. In a Perspective column published February 10, 2011 on the World Socialist Web Site, we wrote:

“The revolutionary Marxists must counsel workers against all illusions that their democratic aspirations can be achieved under the aegis of bourgeois parties. They must expose ruthlessly the false promises of the political representatives of the capitalist class. They must encourage the creation of independent organs of workers’ power which can become, as the political struggle intensifies, the basis for the transfer of power to the working class. They must explain that the realization of the workers’ essential democratic demands is inseparable from the implementation of socialist policies.

“Above all, revolutionary Marxists must raise the political horizons of Egyptian workers beyond the borders of their own country. They must explain that the struggles that are now unfolding in Egypt are inextricably linked to an emerging global process of world socialist revolution, and that the victory of the revolution in Egypt requires not a national, but an international strategy… In this global struggle, the greatest and indispensable ally of the Egyptian masses is the international working class.”

These lines have been absolutely vindicated. The bitter experience of the Egyptian revolution must become the impetus to undertake the struggle to build the necessary revolutionary leadership in the working class. The decisive question facing the working class in Egypt and in every country is the construction of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Alex Lantier

Egypt: Police Kill 3 Protesters, Injure Dozens

Global Research, November 28, 2014

egyptmapAt least three Egyptian protesters have been killed and scores of others injured after security forces clashed with anti-government demonstrators in the capital city of Cairo.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Cairo on Friday calling for ouster of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The rally turned violent after security forces opened fire on the protesters in the district of Matrya in eastern Cairo, witnesses say.

Ahead of the protests, Egyptian police arrested more than 100 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members on suspicion of planning violent rallies after Friday Prayers.

Meanwhile, government officials say two senior Egyptian army officers were killed and two others wounded during an attack by unidentified assailants in Cairo on Friday.

Egyptian security forces have already been deployed to key spots around the country.

Earlier, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim warned that security forces will use all means to counter what he called incitements.

Ibrahim added that soldiers have been authorized to use lethal force to counter any assault against public property.

The Egyptian government has so far jailed more than 15,000 supporters of the former president, Mohamed Morsi, ever since the army toppled him in July 2013.

Morsi still awaits several trials which, if found guilty, may carry the death penalty.

Human rights groups say about 1,400 people have been killed, 22,000 arrested, and some 200 people handed death sentences in the turmoil since Morsi’s ouster, which was led by the current president and former head of the armed forces, el-Sisi.

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French-backed army junta sets up figurehead regime in Burkina Faso

By Antoine Lerougetel and Alex Lantier

20 November 2014

On November 15, Burkina Faso’s army, in consultation with the pro-imperialist bourgeois “opposition,” chose Michel Kafando, 72, as transitional president of the former French colony, pending elections in 12 months.

Then, yesterday, Kafando named junta leader Colonel Isaac Zida prime minister. Zida threatened that opposition to “the transitional process will be repressed with vigour and firmness.”

“The prime minister is the country’s new strongman, especially as he is the one who will name the incoming government,” a diplomat told Le Figaro yesterday. The paper also cited Guy Hervé Kam, a leader of the Citizens’ Broom opposition movement that helped call protests against President Blaise Compaoré at the end of last month.

Kam said, “We knew that Michel Kafando was the army’s candidate. Then the army obtained the prime minister’s post. One can suppose this was all planned in advance. It’s a disappointment.”

Zida is now setting about consolidating his position inside the ruling elite, while simultaneously trying to make populist appeals to anger over the deposed president. He has cancelled the diplomatic passports of 20 Compaoré supporters and fired a number of Compaoré supporters who occupied top positions in national oil and electricity firms.

The naming of Zida testifies to the political bankruptcy of the petty-bourgeois forces that called protests against Compaoré last month. They hoped to block his bid to modify the constitution to allow him to have a fifth presidential term, and thus ensure that they themselves would soon boost their influence in the state. However, they were stunned and dismayed by the eruption of mass protests on October 28, threatening the entire regime in which they wanted to find a place. Now, they are lining up behind the installation of a new military regime in Ouagadougou.

The Burkinabé army has long been a proxy force helping French imperialism dominate the region, at present operating alongside French troops in Mali. It deposed Compaoré to head off the protests, and Compaoré was airlifted by the French army to Ivory Coast; he is now a guest of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, a staunch ally of Paris.

Paris itself applauded the installation of the new junta in Ouagadougou. French Ambassador Gilles Thibault congratulated Zida on behalf of President François Hollande of the Socialist Party (PS), declaring: “France will remain at Burkina Faso’s side, as it has long done.”

Given France’s bloody history in Burkina Faso, this is a chilling threat. According to a 2011 profile in the D é p ê che Diplomatique, Kafando supported the right-wing coup on May 17, 1983, backed by then-French President François Mitterrand, also of the PS, based on his anti-Communist and free-market views. He also backed Compaoré’s 1987 coup to murder Castroite President Thomas Sankara and adopt policies demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He then served as Compaoré’s ambassador to the UN from 1998 to 2011.

The bourgeois “opposition” is complicit in Zida’s re-establishing of a military regime in Ouagadougou. They all took seats on the Designating College that selected Kafando, which was made up of 23 representatives of the army, the official “opposition” parties, religious and tribal bodies, and of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

This event exposes the reactionary character not only of France’s PS government, but of pseudo-left parties like the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), who hailed Compaoré’s ouster as a “popular victory” of the bourgeois “opposition” in the October 28 uprising. Covering their position with cynical praise of the uprising, they themselves helped the opposition stabilize the Ouagadougou junta. (See: France’s pseudo-left NPA backs restoration of law and order in Burkina Faso)

All these forces have signaled their role as tools of French imperialism and bitter enemies of the working class.

Zéphirin Diabré—a former executive of French nuclear energy firm Areva and head of the Leadership of the Opposition grouping—acted in concert with Hollande’s call for Compaoré not to seek to extend his presidency. When the mass uprising broke out on October 28, he praised the army as an “ally of the people,” giving it political cover as it carried out a coup and established a dictatorship.

The forces which claimed the mantle of Thomas Sankara proved to be no alternative for the workers and oppressed masses of Burkina Faso. “Sankarist” General Kwamé Lougué, who enjoyed some support among the protesters, stressed that he remained fully in the camp of the army. After briefly appearing to be vying for the army’s choice of interim president and being warned off by Zida, he has been sent to France by the army in a wheelchair with a broken leg “for treatment.”

The Observateur Paalga asks: “Under what circumstances did this general, so hailed by crowds during the revolution, break his leg? Observateur Paalga is not in a position to explain this to his reader, as the officers who accompanied the press to General Lougué’s residence did not allow it to do its job.”

The petty bourgeois Citizens’ Broom, ostensibly run by two singers Smockey and Sams’ K Le Jah, who billed themselves as an independent, democratic opposition to Compaoré, collaborated closely with Zida and the coup. In an interview with, Smockey covered up for the army’s role and its killing of several protesters: “The army succeeded in its role of protecting the citizens. … A large part of the army went over wholeheartedly to the side of the people.”

He defended Citizens’ Broom’s collaboration with the army. “We were negotiating with all the officers, and not just with Zida,” he said, adding that the situation called for “negotiating and passing power to the army temporarily in order to stabilize the security situation.”

Smockey bluntly admitted that when news came of Compaoré’s resignation, “We said that it was the army’s role to inform the people of that, since it said it was for the people. … We stayed on its side, and it was this position that led people to accuse us of selling out the struggle.”

South African banking in crisis as furniture unit threatened with closure

By Thabo Seseane Jr.

17 November 2014

Ellerines, the furniture retail unit of collapsed African Bank Investments Limited (ABIL), may close before the end of January, threatening 8,000 jobs. This follows the failure of a rescue process to sell all the Ellerines store brands and raise capital to pay creditors.

Of its six store brands, Ellerines has thus far sold Dial-A-Bed to competitor Coricraft for R200 million. On October 31, Lewis Group agreed to take over the Beares brand for R40 million with only unviable offers received for the other four.

All told, the retailers under the Ellerines umbrella represented 940 outlets and thousands of employees. The future of these workers and their dependents has now been thrown into uncertainty by the restructuring of ABIL and Ellerines.

ABIL, through its subsidiary, African Bank, South Africa’s largest provider of unsecured credit to low-income clients, bought Ellerines in 2008 for a hefty R9.2 billion (US$830 million). The purchase came at a time when elsewhere, stock valuations were being revised downward amid the unfolding global credit crisis. Sales suffered and at one point ABIL had to fund Ellerines at the rate of R70 million a month to stave off its collapse.

ABIL was not licensed by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to accept deposits. Its funding model relied on bonds issued to foreign and local creditors who financed its high-risk, high-margin lending to South Africa’s poorest consumers.

Ellerines embraced the buyout as an opportunity to expand sales by relying on credit purchases backed by ABIL. The bank and its chief executive, Leon Kirkinis, posed as enlightened capitalists. In the eyes of functionaries of the African National Congress (ANC) government, they were bringing credit to and enhancing the joys of home ownership for a segment of society traditionally ignored by the larger, deposit-taking institutions.

The operations of the Lewis Group are typical of the sector. Business Timesreported that the “practices … were truly scary. [A] forklift driver who earned R2,100 a month was sold goods for R3,109 (which worked out to R8,976 over 24 [payments] at R374 a month). The Lewis clerk who did the ‘affordability assessment’ reckoned the forklift driver needed only R99 a month in ‘minimum living expenses’ to survive.”

The prolonged recent strike by 70,000 platinum miners—a core market of the Lewis Group—had a negative impact on the group’s financial results. Amid stagnant wage increases and rising unemployment, interest rates and food prices, Lewis had to write off R570 million in bad debts in the year to March. This compares to bad debts of R418 million the year before.

Lewis is nevertheless in a far healthier state than ABIL, whose CEO Leon Kirkinis repeatedly offered to resign as a turnaround plan (including the sale of Ellerines) failed to gain traction. Kirkinis’s departure became final on August 6. In morning trade that day on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE), ABIL’s market capitalisation declined from R12 billion to R4.6 billion amid panic selling of the stock by investors.

In an update for the quarter to end-June, ABIL had announced an anticipated annual loss of R7.6 billion compared to a loss of R4.2 billion the previous full year. Business Day reported, “The group said it needed to raise more capital—at least R8.5 billion—to remain solvent after coming to the market for R5.5 billion at the end of last year.”

JSE trading of the stock was suspended. The SARB announced that ABIL would receive a R10 billion capital injection to help protect creditors, and put the bank under curatorship. It has been split into a “good” bank with performing loans, and a “bad” bank comprising nonperforming loans.

All four of South Africa’s big banks—ABSA, FirstRand, Nedbank and Standard Bank—underwrote the SARB infusion together with smaller lender Capitec and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages investments for the Government Employees Pension Fund.

African Bank had bad loans of R17 billion when it failed. The SARB bought the book for R7 billion. The PIC, a 12 percent shareholder in ABIL, has lost a potential R4 billion, but is set to invest a further R5 billion when the “good” bank floats on the JSE early in 2015. This brings total government exposure to ABIL to R16 billion.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded not only African Bank but also competitor Capitec, prompting a 5 percent decline in the price of Capitec shares. The ratings agency cited the 10 percent “haircut” that the SARB was imposing on bondholders in ABIL’s rescue. Another reason, Moody’s said, was the likelihood that the central bank would lack the wherewithal to rescue Capitec, should the lender (which shares 40 percent of ABIL’s low-income market) face headwinds in future.

Rather impotently, the leaders of South African banks and their regulators closed ranks against Moody’s. “Capitec follows a very conservative approach to risk and prudent provisioning practices,” the SARB argued in a statement on its web site. It invited Moody’s to compare the 10 percent loss to be imposed on bondholders to the 40 percent discount that applied to ABIL debt at the height of the crisis.

Unmoved, Moody’s cut the local-currency deposit ratings of the big four South African banks and is keeping them on review. FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana accused Moody’s of incorrectly using ABIL as a proxy for all other South African banks. “This seems to be behind the curve. It’s completely overplayed,” Nxasana complained. “[Unsecured lending] is the least of [FirstRand’s] issues.”

Yet the SARB itself warned that unsecured lending among six of the country’s largest banks increased 2.3 percent to R490 billion in the six months to June from the year-earlier period. The central bank stated in October, “A sudden and sharp correction in equity markets could expose vulnerabilities that could have certain significant … effects on the financial system.”

The effects of the last sudden and sharp correction in equity markets are still playing themselves out at Ellerines. Nearly half of Ellerines’ outstanding R1.3 billion debt is owed to major lenders like FirstRand, which has submitted a claim for some R200 million. Business Day notes, “The debt reflects the extent to which African Bank’s failure … has rippled across corporate South Africa.”

Whatever the final outcome of the business rescue process to which Ellerines has submitted, global financial capital will seek to make workers, not bondholders, carry the cost. For this, the imperialists in New York, Frankfurt and London have had to focus the minds of their junior partners in Johannesburg by collectively punishing them with higher interest rates on financial markets since the failure of ABIL. As a conscious agent of the global financial elite, Moody’s has warned that having downgraded African Bank’s global senior debt and deposit ratings from Caa2 to Ba1, it would have no trouble downgrading it further into “junk” territory if bondholders’ losses exceed the SARB’s promised amount of 10 percent.

Former South African police boss exploits footballer’s murder in comeback bid

By Thabo Seseane Jr.

13 November 2014

Disgraced former South African Police Commissioner Bheki Cele has mounted publicity stunts calculated to boost his popularity with a public grieving over the shooting death of national soccer team captain Senzo Meyiwa on October 26.

Meyiwa died shortly after being shot by robbers in the home of his girlfriend’s mother, in Vosloorus township in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.

Police have questioned 13 people. One, Zanokuhle Mbatha, was remanded in custody and was to appear in court on November 11 on murder and robbery charges despite his corroborated alibi. He was released for lack of evidence.

At Meyiwa’s memorial service, Cele entered Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium to loud cheers. “South Africa has lost a son and lost a captain,” he intoned. “I think South Africans as a whole, not only the state agencies, but everybody, must rise against this criminality and say ‘enough is enough’.”

On November 4, Cele was again met by cheering supporters on arrival at the Vosloorus Civic Centre for a meeting “to discuss crime”, according to City Press. In the company of Ekurhuleni Mayor Mondli Gungubele, African National Congress (ANC) Ekurhuleni Chairperson Mzwandile Masina and Gauteng ANC Youth League Chairperson Matome Chiloane, Cele said criminals should have no peace. “Criminals should fear communities,” he stressed. “We cannot have cats fearing mice. Criminals are mice and the communities are the cats.”

In President Jacob Zuma’s first administration, Cele served as police commissioner from 2009 to 2011. The appointment was his reward for having joined forces with the anti-Thabo Mbeki, bloc which saw Zuma capture the ANC presidency in 2007.

Under Cele, the ranks of the South African Police Service (SAPS) were again militarised, as they had been during the white supremacist Apartheid regime. Superintendents again became warrant officers, while the commissioner styled himself a general.

Cele called for greater use of force by police members at a time of escalating crime. He said that Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act should be changed, allowing police to “shoot to kill.”

The act already allowed police officers and citizens to use deadly force if there were reasonable grounds for it. However, Cele claimed that police members spent more time weighing up whether a situation called for deadly force or not, when they should rather “shoot first” and “aim for the head.”

He subsequently denied having said this, claiming to have advocated use of deadly force by police only under specific circumstances. Still, he had by then won the adulation of some of the most reactionary elements of society.

Cele originally disseminated his philosophy of policing while serving as KwaZulu-Natal provincial cabinet member for community safety. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, KwaZulu-Natal had 258 deaths in police custody. This was more than any other province and an increase of 83 over the previous 12-month period. “In response to these figures,” the Weekend Argus reported, “Cele … wanted to know whether this included suicides, natural deaths and people collected by police after being assaulted.”

Among the more harrowing tales is that of Mido Macia. Taxi driver Macia got into an altercation with members of the SAPS in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni for having stopped in a no-parking zone. Police handcuffed him to the back of their van, dragged him along the road to the police station and threw him into the holding cells where he died.

During an April 13, 2011 march on the Setsoto municipal offices in Ficksburg, Orange Free State, teacher and journalist Andries Tatane tried to block a police water cannon. A policeman grabbed him around the arm. Tatane pulled his arm away and then approached the officer, at which point the policeman assaulted him with a baton. Four or five other officers joined in the attack, kicking and beating Tatane with batons. He was shot twice in the chest and died on the scene 20 minutes later.

The Marikana massacre of August 16, 2012, came only months after Cele was fired for corruption from the leadership of the police. This was the most lethal use of force by police against civilians since the Sharpeville killings of 1960.

Many victims—striking miners from Lonmin’s Karee mine—were shot in the back. Of the 34 deaths in total, some fatalities occurred far from police lines. This indicates that the security forces had conducted a “search and destroy” operation after they fired on the main body of strikers. Police sought out and executed civilians who had fled the initial attack, concealed themselves and posed no threat whatsoever.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry set up by Zuma is at the end of its evidence-gathering and must submit a report by March. George Bizos, SC, for the Legal Resources Centre, has warned that it must not be used to exonerate police, like so many other commissions of inquiry during Afrikaner minority rule. “It would be completely unacceptable to the people of South Africa … if the police are said [to be] not to blame for anything,” Bizos said.

Yet there are already signs the commission is a whitewash. The two commissioners besides retired judge Ian Farlam, Pingla Devi Hemraj, SC, and Bantubonke Tokota, SC, according to the Daily Maverick, have asked questions of witnesses that seek to deflect blame from the SAPS.

The growing militarisation of the police starkly exposes the class nature of the ANC government. If it once again looks like the police have become a legally-protected tool for the repression of citizens, this is because, though apartheid has ended, capitalist rule is alive and well, courtesy of the ANC government.

The ANC’s bourgeois and petty bourgeois leadership never had any intention of challenging the economic system underpinning apartheid, above all the concentration of enormous ill-gotten wealth in the hands of white capitalists. They merely wanted to share in the fruits of the exploitation of the working class. Such brutality as the police perpetrate today is a way of terrorising the poor, the usual victims of bourgeois state-sanctioned violence.

For the ANC and its partners, the masses must be coerced into accepting their exploitation. The economic immiseration of workers has in fact been worsened under the ANC government. Indeed, having left white wealth untouched, the ANC elite that joined the ranks of the previously all-white exploiters needed its own source of funds secured from the rest of the black majority.

Cele plays his own small role in all this historical drama of contending social forces. He is complicit in all the innocent blood shed by police since the ANC took power.

Cele is no friend of the ordinary South Africans squeezed by high crime rates on one hand and police brutality on the other. He is a self-promoter and a misanthrope. For him, the only significance of the tragic loss of Senzo Meyiwa is an opportunity to boost his career in the realignment of ANC factions now underway.

VIDEO: Rwanda’s Untold Story, The BBC’s Documentary

Global Research, November 12, 2014

Twenty years on from the Rwandan genocide, This World reveals evidence that challenges the accepted story of one of the most horrifying events of the late 20th century.

The current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has long been portrayed as the man who brought an end to the killing and rescued his country from oblivion.

Now there are increasing questions about the role of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front forces in the dark days of 1994 and in the 20 years since.

The film investigates evidence of Kagame’s role in the shooting down of the presidential plane that sparked the killings in 1994 and questions his claims to have ended the genocide. It also examines claims of war crimes committed by Kagame’s forces and their allies in the wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo and allegations of human rights abuses in today’s Rwanda.

Former close associates from within Kagame’s inner circle and government speak out from hiding abroad. They present a very different portrait of a man who is often hailed as presiding over a model African state. Rwanda’s economic miracle and apparent ethnic harmony has led to the country being one of the biggest recipients of aid from the UK. Former prime minister Tony Blair is an unpaid adviser to Kagame, but some now question the closeness of Mr Blair and other western leaders to Rwanda’s president.

Rwanda’s Untold Story Documentary from RDI-Rwanda Rwiza on Vimeo.

Imperialist powers, bourgeois “opposition” reach out to military junta in Burkina Faso

By Antoine Lerougetel

8 November 2014

Burkina Faso’s pro-imperialist “opposition,” local African regimes, and the major imperialist powers are stepping in to provide a civilian, democratic façade to last week’s coup, following mass protests that led to the ouster of French-backed dictator President Blaise Compaoré.

The US, Canada and the African Union have all threatened sanctions if the military does not hand over power to a civilian government in two weeks. They fear, as the French daily Le Monde wrote on November 4, that “Popular insurrection could re-start at any time,” and are anxious to prop up discredited pro-imperialist regimes throughout West Africa. The army intervened to head off mass protests that erupted on October 28 against Compaoré’s attempt to prolong his 27 years in office, deposing Compaoré on October 31.

On November 5, a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—consisting of the presidents of Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria—rushed to the capital, Ouagadougou.

They issued a statement the next day affirming that they had “secured an agreement with stakeholders in Burkina Faso for the immediate lifting of the suspension of the constitution and the holding of presidential and legislative elections within 12 months to resolve the crisis created by last week’s resignation of former president Blaise Compaoré and the dissolution of his government.”

Issued after talks with the “opposition” and the junta led by Lt. Colonel Isaac Zida, who took power on November 1, the ECOWAS statement called for the “urgent designation by consensus of a suitably eminent civilian to lead the transition.”

Making clear its support for Compaoré’s services to imperialism during his 27 years in power, it added: “The leaders recalled the important contributions by Burkina Faso to the promotion of global peace and security as well as political stability within the region and the continent at large, particularly its active participation in peacekeeping and mediation processes.”

Burkina Faso’s army is a key element of France’s military intervention in the Sahel, above all the war in Mali. Forty French firms are present in most sectors of Burkina Faso’s economy, and Paris is the main provider of finance for its former colony. The French ambassador Gilles Thibault has been playing “a great role”, according to French President François Hollande’s entourage.

The protests against Compaoré were called by the “Leadership of the Opposition” coalition of bourgeois parties on October 21, when Compaore’s proposed constitutional changes became known. By Tuesday, October 28, to the consternation of the “opposition,” protests drew in hundreds of thousands of mainly young people in the capital and other major cities across the country.

French imperialism, backed by its international allies, moved quickly to install a new and pliant regime. Compaoré fled Ougadougou last Friday, escaping angry protesters only thanks to a French army helicopter and then a plane taking him to Ivory Coast—where Compaoré had helped Paris install the current Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara in a French military intervention in 2011.

On October 30, the army, backed by the “opposition’s” appeals to it to prevent chaos, moved to strangle the revolt and solidify the control of Zida, an officer of Compaoré’s presidential guard. In a November 2 communiqué, Zida warned rival General Kwamé Lougué that any attempt to oppose him was “an attack on the ongoing transitional process … Any act that might challenge the transitional process will be repressed with vigour and firmness.”

The “opposition” is publicly led by spokesman Zéphirin Diabré, who under Compaoré combined a mining finance consultancy with the post of minister of trade and mines. He heads a UN development agency and until 2011 was CEO of the Africa branch of French mining and nuclear energy conglomerate Areva.

His organization called a demonstration on Sunday afternoon at Nation Square to demand a civilian government. However, according to Jeune Afrique, “The protest on Nation Square … nevertheless was a failure, with only 1,000 people present. Opposition leader Zéphirin Diabré did not come as he was meeting with representatives of the army at the time, according to his aides.”

Diabré has stated that the opposition would not be opposed the participation of the army in the transition to a civilian government. He and the “opposition” have been in talks with the UN, ECOWAS and the African Union.

In a Le Monde interview on Tuesday, he declared: “The army itself recognized that what took place was a popular insurrection … Because there was a power vacuum, the army stepped up to its responsibilities and held on to the machinery of state. We met on Sunday with Lt. Col. Zida, who was designated by the army to lead the transition.”

The comments of demonstrators who did turn up on Nation Square highlight the class gulf between the workers and oppressed masses of Burkina Faso and the pro-imperialist opposition.

Protester Amadou Yamiro told BBC, “This morning we came out, because up until now the situation is not clear. We still don’t have a leader for our country. We don’t want the army to be in power, especially the special presidential regiment…We went to the national TV to try to understand what is going to happen, and while a colonel was reassuring us, some troops arrived and started to shoot. We are told it was the presidential regiment again, the same ones that shot people [during unrest] on the 30th [October], the ones that killed many people …The presidential guard with Zida will put this country into chaos.”

General Kuame Lougué, who at times poses as a radical descendant of the petty-bourgeois nationalist Burkinabé president Thomas Sankara but was Compaoré’s defence minister, has played a dubious role during the protests and the military coup. Médiapart, a French news site linked to the pseudo-left New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), has promoted him, declaring he was “propelled to the head of the protests,” and there were reports of protesters chanting his name in the streets.

He recently made a statement to RFI radio, pledging his support for the army. RFI noted that Lougué “is still on active duty, as general of the second section, and that while he is no longer in the army command, he remains at the disposal of the general staff. He stresses that he supports his comrades in arms … he will support decisions of the general staff.”

Burkina-Faso: a coup d’état within a revolution


After 27 years in power in Burkina Faso, President Blaise Compaoré was suddenly ousted by a popular uprising on 30 October 2014. Having kept himself in power since the riots of 2011 through brutal repression, he swiftly resigned and fled to Côte d’Ivoire.

Compaoré had announced his intention to amend Article 37 of the Basic Law, so that he could run again in 2015 and continue his presidential mandate. As a matter of principle, the African Union condemns the leaders who alter their Constitution in order to renew their eligibility indefinitely and cling to power.

Blaise Compaoré rose to power on 15 October 1987, by overthrowing and assassinating his predecessor, the anti-imperialist Thomas Sankara. The latter was a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement, known for his frugal lifestyle and his defense of the oppressed. The coup was instigated by France, then ruled by a cohabitation government under François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.

During his 27 years in power, Blaise Compaoré endorsed the neo-colonial operations conducted by France, and sometimes the United States, in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.

With help from France, he was exfiltration and took refuge in fled to Côte d’Ivoire, of which he is a national through marriage. However, he played a key role in the destabilization of Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo (who had turned against the United States) and the legitimizing of his successor, Alessane Ouattara, when he was imposed by the French Forces.

At the time, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, had commented: “Mr. Compaoré, a former soldier, coup leader and political godfather of Charles Taylor, is not the most reliable man to preach democracy and civilian rule.”

After President Compaoré’s resignation, the Army Chief of Staff, General Honore Traoré, announced on 31 October that he would steer the political transition over the next twelve months. However, the next day, November 1st, he stepped aside in favor of Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, under pressure from the United States.

In 2012, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida Yacouba was trained in counterterrorism at the MacDill Air Force Base (Florida) and underwent military intelligence training provided by the Pentagon in Botswana.

It was also in 2012 that the United States organized a coup in Mali, five weeks before the presidential election despite the fact that the sitting president was not do to run. Captain Amadou Sanogo, who, as Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida, had received US military training, soon ceded his position to a candidate in the presidential election which was finally never held. The new president Dioncounda Traoré was legitimized by his Ivorian counterpart Alessane Ouattara, … then he called for a French military intervention in his country.

While US law requires that sanctions be imposed on any government arising from a military coup, the US State Department welcomed the coming to power of Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida and asked to set up a civilian government at the earliest.

Posted November 6, 2014

People of Burkina Faso Drive Blaise Campaoré from Power

Global Research, November 02, 2014

africaKPFA Evening News Anchor: In 1987, African revolutionary Thomas Sankara, the president of Burkina Faso, called on his fellow African heads of state to join him in refusing to pay debt they could not rationally owe to their former colonizers, calling it a form of neo-colonialism. He predicted that he would be dead before the next African Union conference if he alone refused to pay. Sankara was dead, with France’s help, within the year.

Yesterday, 27 years and 16 days after his death, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Ouagadougou to demand the resignation of Sankara’s assassin, President Blaise Campaoré. Protestors even lit the country’s Parliament Building on fire to keep its members from amending the Constitution to allow Campaoré to remain in power. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.

Hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe - people of Burkina Faso - gathered in the Place de la Nation in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, to demand the resignation of President Blaise Campoare, on Oct. 31, 2014. – Photo: Joe Penney, Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe – people of Burkina Faso – gathered in the Place de la Nation in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, to demand the resignation of President Blaise Campaoré, on Oct. 31, 2014. – Photo: Joe Penney, Reuters

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Today the BBC is reporting that Burkina Faso’s ousted President Blaise Campaoré has fled to safety in the Ivory Coast, after hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, to demand he step down. Campaoré is most infamous for organizing the assassination of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, with the help of France and the French puppet government of the Ivory Coast.

Protestors in Ougadougou lit the Parliament Building on fire to keep its members from amending Burkina Faso’s Constitution to allow Blaise Campoare to cling to power.

Protestors in Ougadougou lit the Parliament Building on fire to keep its members from amending Burkina Faso’s Constitution to allow Blaise Campaore to cling to power.

Sankara led a coup that overthrew the French puppet government of the Upper Volta in 1983. Sankara renamed the country Burkina Faso, which is most often translated as “Land of Upright Men” but also as “Land of Honest Men,” “Land of Incorruptible Men” or “Land of Men of Integrity.” This passage of the 2006 film, “Thomas Sankara, the Upright Man,” includes Sankara’s famous speech urging his fellow African heads of state to join him in refusing to pay neocolonial foreign debt:

Narrator: The summit of the OAU, the Organization of African Unity. Thomas Sankara challenges the other heads of state. He talks about the famous foreign debt and the drastic increase of interest rates and concern for all Third World countries. He points an accusing finger at all the leaders who are degrading their people while growing personally richer in the name of the old North South domination system.

Sankara: I would like the conference to clearly declare that we cannot pay the debt. Not in a rebellious spirit, but just to avoid being assassinated individually. If Burkina Faso is the only one to refuse to pay the debt, I won’t be at the next conference. On the other hand, with everybody’s support, we will not have to pay it.

Map of Burkina Faso, the Land of Upright Men, in Africa

Map of Burkina Faso, the Land of Upright Men, in Africa

And when we are saying that we should not pay that debt, we’re not refusing responsibilities or not keeping our words. It’s just that we don’t have the same moral standards as others. Between the rich and the poor, moral standards cannot be the same.

The Bible and the Koran cannot serve those who exploit people and the exploited ones in the same way. We should have two editions of the Bible and two editions of the Koran. Brothers, with everybody’s support, we’ll be able to make peace at home. We’ll also be able to use Africa’s full potential to develop because our land is rich.

Brothers, with everybody’s support, we’ll be able to make peace at home. We’ll also be able to use Africa’s full potential to develop because our land is rich.

KPFA/Ann: Sankara was dead three months later, shot by soldiers loyal to Blaise Campaoré, who then seized power, announced that he would “reconstitute the revolution,” then reversed its advances and became a pliant French puppet and regional power broker.

African people fighting European sponsored dictatorship all over the African continent are now cheering the courage of the hundreds of thousands of people of Burkina Faso who filled the streets of Ougadougou this week, forcing Blaise Campaoré to flee the country. Top army officers have announced their unanimous support for Lt. Col. Isaac Zida as leader of a transition to democratic elections.

The BBC quoted one of the protestors outside Parliament, who said: “It is we, the people, who overthrew Blaise Compoaré, not the army. We are going to watch what they are doing, and if we don’t agree with the new leader, we will be back out on the street.”

For PacificaKPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison contributes to the San Francisco Bay ViewCounterpunchGlobal Research,Colored OpinionsBlack Agenda Report and Black Star News and produces radio news and features for Pacifica’s WBAI-NYCKPFA-Berkeley and her own YouTube Channel. She can be reached If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website,

Egyptian military regime steps up repression

By Jean Shaoul

1 November 2014

The military regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has issued a raft of decrees aimed at stamping out dissent and consolidating the military’s power.

Al-Sisi, who holds absolute executive power pending parliamentary elections that may be held in December or January, issued a decree authorising the military to guard vital public facilities. Anyone attacking such facilities, including but not limited to power stations, the electricity distribution network, pipelines, oil and gas installations and the transport network, will be subject to a military trial.

The abolition of military trials for civilians was one of the key demands of the mass uprising that toppled the dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Al-Sisi cited the ongoing violence in the poverty stricken north Sinai, and bombings and kidnappings in Cairo and elsewhere, as the justification for what amounts to martial law. He also declared a three-month state of emergency in north Sinai along with a 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, following an attack by militants that killed more than 30 security officials and injured another 30. While hundreds of security personnel have been killed in the past year since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) President Mohammed Mursi, this was the deadliest single incident.

The government has deployed 7,000 military personnel and army helicopters in north Sinai, targeting the militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and killing and arresting hundreds of people whom it claims are “terrorists”.

It has worked closely with both the US and Israel. Last month, Washington supplied Egypt with 10 Apache helicopters “to help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten US, Egyptian and Israeli security”, while Tel Aviv has allowed Egypt to deploy a larger number of troops in Sinai than permitted under the 1978-79 Camp David Accords. Cairo has in turn allowed Israel to carry out a series of drone attacks and surveillance sorties on Sinai, despite having earlier insisted that it would not allow other countries to use Egyptian territory to launch attacks.

In an act of supreme cynicism and vindictiveness, the military regime closed Gaza’s sole crossing point into Egypt at Rafah until “further notice”—claiming that the militants were operating out of Gaza—thereby intensifying Israel’s seven-year blockade of Gaza. Cairo said it would expand the “buffer zone” between Sinai and Gaza, clear all the tunnels into Gaza and demolish 680 homes along the border in an operation named “temporary demographic redistribution.”

This comes just days after a donors’ conference in Cairo that pledged $5.4 billion to Gaza, half of which is to be spent on reconstruction, much less than the $4 billion that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had asked for.

The ostensible target of these and other new laws are the Islamists and MB, as there are new powers to control the mosques and at least 12,000 clerics have been banned from delivering sermons.

Former President Mursi has been served with another charge that carries the death sentence—passing on security information to Qatar. He already faces the death penalty in three separate trials.

Last July, a court sentenced MB leader Mohammed Badie to life imprisonment and confirmed 10 death sentences on MB members, nine of them in absentia. Hundreds of Islamists and their supporters have been sentenced to death in drumhead trials.

This follows a crackdown on the Brotherhood that resulted in the deaths of at least 3,000 people, 1,000 of whom were killed in a single day, and the imprisonment of more than 16,000, according to official figures. Activists claim that the real number of those detained is 40,000.

The real target of this repression is the working class and young people. The military junta fears another mass eruption by Egypt’s restive youth and workers over increasing unemployment, poverty, power and water outages, removal of subsidies, violence, kidnappings, corruption and injustice, as well as the return to government of former Mubarak-era figures.

Such have been the tensions in the universities that the authorities delayed the start of the new semester by one month, until October 11, to enable security and surveillance measures to be put in place. Since then, police have stormed at least five universities, killing one student at Alexandria University, and detaining hundreds on charges including destroying public property and violating a protest law even stricter than those laws in place during the Mubarak era.

On Monday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced that the new law applied to schools and universities, and even to school children and students, saying that they could be tried by military courts if they “sabotaged” educational facilities.

The next day, the government sent the military into Mansoura University where students were protesting, demanding the release of fellow students detained by the authorities and denouncing the deployment of troops in Sinai. Armed forces were sent in to back up police who used tear gas to disperse the students.

The government has given university presidents new powers to expel students or sack staff suspected of “crimes that disturb the academic process.” Cairo University has banned all political activity.

The police are to be expanded under new arrangements called “Community Police” to include civilians who will be allowed to make arrests, creating a vast system of neighbourhood informers and intimidation.

Restrictive laws require NGOs to register before November 10. In a vaguely worded law, any organisation or person charged with receiving money from an overseas organisation or country could end up in jail for life.

There has been a massive crackdown on the media, exemplified by the kangaroo trial of the three Al-Jazeera journalists, that has stifled any criticism of the military regime. Now the government is examining mechanisms for policing online and social media.

While the military junta has established a ruthless dictatorship, declaring it is putting an end to “terrorism” and restoring “stability”, its real aim is to impose reign of terror against the working class.

The military acceded to Mubarak’s ouster in 2011 to prevent the working class joining up with the student-led protest movement. It then worked closely with the Muslim Brotherhood after it came to power in June 2012 to contain the revolution, with al-Sisi himself heading the Ministry of Defence in Mursi’s government. In July 2013, the military launched an illegal coup to pre-empt a mass uprising by the working class and youth against Mursi and the Brotherhood.

Since then the military has used the pretext of fighting terrorism to legitimise the return of a bloody dictatorship in Egypt and carry out new attacks on the working class. It has worked closely with the most reactionary forces on the planet, including the US, the feudal House of Saud and the Gulf sheikdoms of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These are the same forces that funded, armed and trained Islamist terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to carry out wars of regime change in Libya and Syria on behalf of the imperialist powers.

More recently, al-Sisi deployed Egypt’s military forces in Libya, along with those of the UAE, on behalf of Khalifa Hifter, the renegade general close to the CIA, further destabilising the war-torn country. This is the first time in decades that Egypt has deployed the military outside its own borders.

None of this could have been carried out without the pseudo-left and liberal organisations, which consciously channelled the mass protests against Mursi and the MB behind the army.

The military coup did not constitute a “second revolution” against the MB as forces like Tamarod, the liberal and Nasserite parties of the National Salvation Front, or pseudo-left groups like the Revolutionary Socialists claimed. Instead, it paved the way for the return of a military-police state whose aim is to intensify the crackdown not only on its Islamist rivals in the Egyptian bourgeoisie, but on the working class—the main force behind the revolution.

Libya, A Nation in Despair

Global Research, October 31, 2014

libyAThe spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within -Mahatma Gandhi

The US-NATO invasion of Libya in 2011 to remove Muammar Gaddafi for a government that would be subservient to Western interests has proven to be a disaster for North Africa and Europe. They have managed to destroy one of Africa’s wealthiest nations with the highest GDP per capita and less people living below the poverty line. Libya also had the highest life expectancy than any other nation in the African continent before the US-NATO invasion which leads to my next point. There were more than 30,000 deaths, 50,000 injured and 4,000 missing in Libya during the 2011 civil war that lasted several months. The West conveniently called it a “humanitarian intervention” for public relations, but the invasion was a “humanitarian disaster”. Manlio Dinucci’s article ‘The “Humanitarian War” against Libya: How the West Destroys Countries and Creates “Failed States’which can be found at Global Research explains the role played by Italy (a member state of NATO) in Libya. He wrote:

This state, in addition to being a factor of stability and development in North Africa, had used its investments to facilitate the emergence of organizations that one day might have made the financial autonomy of Africa possible: the African Investment Bank, based in Tripoli; the African Central Bank, with headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria; the African Monetary Fund, based in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

After having funded and armed hostile tribal areas in Tripoli, which caused the “Arab Spring” in Libya to assume from the outset the form of armed insurrection, and thus provoking the government’s response, they waged a war that destroyed the Libyan state in 2011: in seven months the U.S./NATO Air Force carried out 10,000 attack missions, unleashing more than 40,000 bombs and missiles.

Since then, scores of people have been killed due to the ongoing civil war between government forces, militias and terrorists organizations that is based on sectarian hatred and for the control of the oil industry. Amnesty International UK (AI) published a report that explains Libya’s situation titled ‘Rule of the gun: Abductions, torture and other abuses by militias in western Libya’. Libya’s situation is now even worst according to Amnesty International’s recent press release:

Militias and armed groups in western Libya are carrying out rampant human rights abuses, including war crimes, according to a new briefing today (30 October) from Amnesty International. The 30-page briefing – Rule of the gun: Abductions, torture and other abuses by militias in western Libya – shows that armed groups have tortured – and probably summarily killed – detainees in their custody, and have committed a wave of abductions targeting civilians based on their origins or perceived political allegiance.

Likewise, satellite images released today by Amnesty show that fighters on all sides in the conflict have displayed an utter disregard for civilian lives, launching indiscriminate rocket and artillery fire into crowded civilian neighbourhoods which has damaged homes, civilian infrastructure and medical facilities. Those responsible include members of the Libya Dawn coalition (groups from Misratah, Tripoli and other towns in western Libya), and the Zintan-Warshafana coalition (groups from Zintan and the Warshafana area). Satellite images obtained by Amnesty show significant damage to civilian property in the Warshafana region, including at Al-Zahra Hospital which has come under heavy rocket fire. The intensive care unit at Zawiya Hospital has also been struck by a rocket which injured ten people, including doctors, nurses, patients and visitors.

Since July at least 287,000 people have been internally displaced as a result of indiscriminate attacks and a fear of being targeted by militias, and a further 100,000 have been forced to flee the country in fear for their lives.

There are constant rocket and artillery shells being fired by various militias and terrorist organizations which have resulted in mass civilian casualties. Libyan infrastructure and hospitals have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Libyans have been either displaced from their homes or forced to migrate to neighboring countries in Northern Africa and Europe to its north. ‘The Spectator’ a conservative magazine based in London explained Italy’s immigration crisis concerning what they call “Libya’s boat people” after a tragic accident that resulted in the deaths of more than 366 people who were desperate to reach Europe’s shores:

The decision to open the floodgates came in a moment of national moral panic after 366 people drowned in a single boat which caught fire and sank a stone’s throw from an idyllic beach on the island of Lampedusa, an exclusive resort favoured by the right-on rich. The dead included a mother who had given birth during the voyage and was still attached to her newborn child when divers found their bodies trapped inside the sunken vessel.

The policy change, driven by a perverted mix of human decency and political correctness, was pure folly: it has acted as a green light to wannabe boat people everywhere, whose numbers soar as the chaos in Africa and the Middle East escalates. The result is an exodus of biblical proportions out of Africa into Italy. So far this year, more than 100,000 boat people have arrived in Italy — two thirds of them brought ashore by the Italian navy. That is more than double the number who arrived in 2011, the previous record year. It is estimated that the total by the end of 2014 will surpass 200,000. So far this year Italy has deported only 10,000.

The Spectator states that “numbers soar as the chaos in Africa and the Middle East escalates.” Yes, that is true. It is also true that Libya and other African and Middle Eastern nations that suffer from the chaos imposed by the same Western nations that preach Democracy. The US and European style of Democracy by force is not a Democracy. Democracy has to be a grassroots effort, a natural process that is not imposed by a foreign government or entity. The American and European notion of “Bringing Democracy” to the world is an Imperial agenda. Let’s look at a number of examples since the September 11th attacks when President George W. Bush was President, starting with Afghanistan and Iraq, now both countries are in total chaos with numerous militias and terrorists organization battling each other along sectarian lines and for political power. New and old terrorist organizations now have expanded throughout Africa and the Middle East such as Boko-Haram (Nigeria), Al-Shabaab (Somalia and Ethiopia) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda) and the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda and the so-called Khorasan (supposedly made up of former Al-Qaeda members) in the Middle East plus any new organization that arises out of the ashes of war. Let’s not forget that the Military-Industrial Complex has made enormous profits from both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and on the “War on Terror.” Africa is the future for the US-NATO war industry starting with Libya. However, the Amnesty International report paints a very disturbing picture concerning innocent civilians caught in the crossfire:

Scores of civilians have been abducted by armed groups in Tripoli, Zawiya, Warshafana and towns in the Nafusa Mountains, with numerous people held hostage for up to two months in a spate of tit-for-tat attacks based on their town of origin or perceived political affiliation. In some cases civilians have been abducted as bargaining chips in order to secure prisoner exchanges. While several such exchanges have taken place since the start of the conflict on 13 July, abductions and other reprisals have continued.

Tripoli residents originally from Zintan told Amnesty that Libya Dawn militias have carried out door-to-door “manhunts” to seize people based on their tribal affiliation or presumed political allegiance. Militias have also carried out extensive raids against civilian homes, looting and destroying property, and setting homes and farms ablaze in the area of Warshafana.

Libya’s invasion by the West was not for democratic purposes, it was for its oil reserves. They also wanted to remove Gaddafi from power because he was in the early stages of creating a gold dinar for trade, not only for Libya but all of Africa. It was a threat to the petrodollar. King World News interviewed multi-billionaire Hugo Salinas Price of Mexico in 2011 and said:

The central bank is definitely afraid of doing anything that is not being done by all of the other central banks. They feel they are part of a brotherhood and they can’t betray the rest. They don’t want to present a currency that would be viewed as out of line, that’s the way they think. It’s a sad thing but this is the mentality.

Thinking about it a little bit more, what happened to Mr. Gaddafi, many speculate the real reason he was ousted was that he was planning an all-African currency for conducting trade. The same thing happened to him that happened to Saddam because the US doesn’t want any solid competing currency out there vs the dollar. You know Gaddafi was talking about a gold dinar.

Libya is a nation in chaos because of the Western powers and their “humanitarian intervention” policies which was designed to expand their footprint on African territory. The US, UK and France were the main powers that instigated Gaddafi’s removal. Libya was not perfect, but it sure was a lot better than most African nations who are under a financial dictatorship imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.  Since then, Libya has become a haven for terrorists who commit human rights abuses on a grand scale. When President Barack Obama announced that the US and its NATO Allies will launch military strikes against Libya to protect its civilians was a lie. Obama began his speech by acknowledging that he had already authorized U.S. and NATO forces to invade Libya to protect civilians:

Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.

In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.

U.S. and NATO’s intervention in Libya has made life for ordinary citizens a living hell. If this is Western-style Democracy then who in their right state of mind would welcome it? I believe that most nations in Africa and the Middle East would pass on Western-imposed Democracy because it would only lead to a political crisis with the possibility of war following in its footsteps. The aftermath of Iraq and Syria is a perfect example of what happened after Washington and its NATO allies decided to intervene, whether by military force or by simply financing opposition groups to overthrow their government for the sake of Democracy, but that resulted in unintended consequences. However, the unintended consequences of invading Libya have benefited big oil corporations, the petrodollar and the US-NATO militaries by expanding their bases into Africa to fight terrorism.

Then again, it is appropriate to ask ourselves, Cui Bono?

South Africa metalworkers union announces formation of new party

By Thabo Seseane Jr.

30 October 2014

The crisis in South Africa’s ruling tripartite alliance intensified on October 27, when National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) General Secretary Irvin Jim announced that the union would be forming its own political party, the United Front, to “explore the possibility of socialism in South Africa.” This claim is simply left-sounding doubletalk to cover the jockeying for position of rival factions that are all committed to the defence of capitalism in South Africa.

The ruling alliance is composed of the governing African National Congress (ANC), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Stalinist South African Communist Party. COSATU’s biggest affiliate, NUMSA, withdrew its support for the ANC in the May elections, declaring the party no longer represented workers’ interests. Jim was quick to point out that NUMSA is not abandoning COSATU. This is despite the fact that COSATU’s top executives are debating whether to expel NUMSA for signing up workers outside its industry in violation of federation policy. “[F]or the sake of unity,” a decision has been put off until November 7, when NUMSA will once again be expected to give reasons why it should not be expelled or suspended.

COSATU leaders also postponed making a call on the fate of the organization’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. A favourite of NUMSA, Vavi is accused of various improprieties, including directing COSATU business to companies in which his relatives have stakes. He was suspended from his post by a COSATU Central Executive Committee faction led by President S’dumo Dlamini. Vavi returned to work in April after eight months off, following a South Gauteng High Court verdict that overturned the suspension as in violation of procedure.

The ANC took fright at developments in COSATU in the run-up to the May elections. An ANC-led task team was established to try to prevent a split in the federation, which claims a membership of 2.2 million workers and forms an influential component of the ANC electoral support base.

Led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a millionaire businessman, the task team delivered its final report on COSATU factionalism on October 21. It called for any disciplinary action to be taken against Vavi to be “fair.” Business Day reported, “The report also concluded that defending the ANC should never be done at the expense of defending and protecting workers belonging to COSATU.”

Defending the ANC is invariably done at the expense of workers.

By fostering illusions in the person of Vavi, the NUMSA press statement announcing the United Front continues the fraud that any member of the tripartite alliance is capable of being a defender of working-class interests. “Vavi is seen as a threat to the ambitions of the right-wing capitalist forces within and outside the former liberation movement,” the statement reads, “which see a COSATU under his leadership as obstructing their capitalist ambitions.”

Vavi’s United Front is no threat to anyone’s capitalist ambitions. He is as much a beneficiary of the framework of capitalist property relations as are people like Ramaphosa.

The NUMSA statement continues, “NUMSA will not hand over COSATU to individuals and groups…who have no interest in defending the principles, values, resolutions, policies and constitution of COSATU.”

There is nothing in COSATU worth defending from the point of view of workers. At stake for the wealthy union bureaucrats, however, are their fat salaries, privileges and a degree of control over the revolutionary impulses of the working class, which they fear and loathe.

It is this attitude that informed the decision to found the United Front. This party will not, as NUMSA claims, “explore the possibility of socialism.” On the contrary, it will aim to pre-empt those workers who might be drawn to a genuinely independent political movement seeking to install a revolutionary socialist government.

The United Front decision comes at a time of heightened class tension. Already during apartheid, South Africa was one of the world’s most unequal societies. This inequality has only worsened since the ANC came to power. The response of the working class has dashed the hopes of the business and political elites. These circles had hoped that a majority-black government would smooth over the intensified exploitation of the working class following the end of white minority rule.

Instead, South African workers remain among the worlds most militant. From 2005 onwards, there was a surge in the number of working days lost to strikes. In addition, violent protests against municipal corruption and incompetence have spread across the country. This has earned South Africa the pejorative title (in the eyes of global capital) of “protest capital of the world.”

Those behind the United Front and other factions of the elite have not been able to ignore the sense of betrayal and outrage among workers.

The manoeuvres by NUMSU to found a new party began in the immediate aftermath of the August 2012 Marikana massacre in which 34 platinum miners were shot dead and 78 wounded by South African police. This led to the mass discrediting of the ANC, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and COSATU, who were all responsible and who defended it. The massacre took place during a bitter strike of platinum workers who were demanding an increase in monthly wages to 12,500 South African Rand [US$1,200].

A section of the trade union bureaucracy concluded that it was no longer possible to remain in an alliance with ANC President Jacob Zuma and Vice President Ramaphosa, who were the architects of the massacre. At that point NUMSA placed itself at the head of sections of the bureaucracy who are seeking to create a suitable device to contain the growing anger of the working class.

This is also why the ANC in Gauteng has come out in opposition to the widely-hated electronic tolling (e-tolls) of the province’s highways, which the national government seeks to enforce. Under the aegis of ANC Gauteng Chairman Paul Mashatile and provincial premier David Makhura, a panel of experts was convened to assess the decision to institute e-tolls.

All along, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters had said that the panel’s findings would have no effect on the national government’s decision in favour of e-tolls. Peters was forced into a humiliating climbdown on October 20, by conceding that her department will now make its own submissions to the Gauteng e-toll review panel, after having snubbed it for months.

This may be an indication of a factional realignment in the ANC. If so, it means that the upper hand belongs to a group around Ramaphosa, as opposed to that in favour of Zuma, whom Ramaphosa is expected to succeed in 2019.

Mashatile and Makhura, known supporters of Ramaphosa, are thus serving notice that they too expect a place in the sun. They will, however, reap no rewards if the ANC suffers in the 2016 municipal elections as much as it did in the May elections, when its provincial vote slumped by 11 percentage points. In an attempt to stanch this loss of support, Mashatile and Makhura are siding with popular sentiment on the matter of e-tolls.

The announcement of the United Front should be viewed in the same light. A faction of trade union bureaucrats sympathetic to Irvin Jim and Zwelinzima Vavi seeks an advantage over the faction led by S’dumo Dlamini. For that purpose and that alone, they hope to corral a section of the working class into a sham called the United Front.

Fighting for Survival in the Sinai: Egypt’s Convenient War

By Ramzy Baroud

October 30, 2014 “ICH” – Sinai is both heaven and hell. This triangular desert boasts an arid landscape of hopeless horizons often interrupted by leftover military hardware from previous wars. The land is comprised of breathtaking beaches, incredible history, and a fusion of fascinating cultures that reach back into the past as far as ancient times can possibly go. This thrilling land of contradictions is amazing, yet lethal.

But Sinai is also a place where hundreds of thousands of mostly poor people struggle to survive against incredible odds. Although poverty and illiteracy in Egypt can reach exceptional heights, hardship in Sinai is especially worse.

Since Israel returned the last of Sinai territories to Egypt in 1982, I visited the place nearly ten times, the last being two years ago. And each time, the situation seemed considerably worse.

There was once a time when Sinai thrived in hope; that’s when much of Sinai was being reclaimed by Egypt, one piece at a time. Israel bargained every step of the way, before it finally left Taba, but not before having gained many conditions. It even placed limits on the number of Egyptian soldiers that could be simultaneously stationed in Sinai at a given time. Since then, the desert the size of 60,000 sq km has been impossible to control.

Not that Sinai – perceived as unruly and ungovernable land, rife with drug dealers, kidnappers, and, as of late of “jihadists” and “terrorists” – needs more military force. Violence in Sinai often goes unreported. The area is almost vacant of any independent journalists. News of killings, arrests, torture and a whole host of human rights violations arrive in bits and pieces, hardly ever followed by informed investigations. Few, if any are ever held accountable.

But violence emerging from Sinai itself, however predicable, considering the level of misery, destitution and poverty, is often extenuated by the media and exploited by Cairo to the maximum. The overall nature of violence in Sinai remains a mystery, and not by accident. The explanation is almost always politically motivated, followed by pre-calculated moves to blame certain parties and punish others. This is unlikely to change soon.

Following well-coordinated attacks that killed scores of security personnel in northeast Sinai on Friday, 24 October, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed Egyptians in a televised speech as he was surrounded by a throng of men in military fatigues. Even before any thorough investigation, or any clear evidence, he denounced the “foreign hands” behind the attacks.

He took on the “foreign powers who are trying to break Egypt’s back,” vowing to fight extremism in a long-term campaign. Washington quickly offered its support for the proposed campaign. Even Palestinian Authority PresidentMahmoud Abbas declared his support.

Israeli media were particularly interested in the proposed Egyptian security measures. Radio Israel and the Jerusalem Post cited Egyptian media reports on 25 October, saying that “the government plans to establish a buffer zone along the Sinai frontier with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.”

Hamas, which is struggling to cope with the aftermath of Israel’s massive 51-day war on the Strip and is working to end the siege, has no interest in carrying out bloody attacks on Egyptian soldiers that will prolong the suffering of Gazans and further alienate the movement.

The Post quoted Egypt’s Al-Yom a-Sab’a: “The Egyptian buffer will extend between 1.5 and 3 kilometres. The security forces will work to clear the area of underground tunnels leading to Gaza and it will also level any buildings and structures that could be used to conceal smuggling activity.

Other arbitrary actions are also expected to be taken which will further the isolation of Gaza. Is this why Mahmoud Abbas is particularly sympathetic to the ‘anti-terror’ measures initiated by Sisi?

If the intentions are truly to curb attacks in Sinai, knee-jerk military solutions will backfire. Past government violent campaigns only frustrated a difficult situation in Sinai, where poverty stands at 45 percent.

In his speech, Sisi called on Egyptians to “be aware of what is being hatched against us”. “All that is happening to us is known to us and we expected it and talked about it before 3 July,” he said, referring to the day the military overthrewMohammed Morsi.

But Sinai turmoil has preceded the revolution, the election of Morsi, the coup and all the rest. The security vacuum that followed Egypt’s recent turmoil has indeed exasperated violence in the Sinai Peninsula, but that violence was rooted in a largely different political reality.

The deadly Sinai bombings of October 2004, and attack on tourists in April 2005, on Sharm el-Sheikh resort in the same year, and on Dahab in 2006, were all indicative of a different kind of war launched by militants and tribesmen. Sinai has been exploited by large multinationals who created perfectly serene communities for wealthy European and rich Arab tourists, but excluded the Bedouins, who had been promised major economic rewards. However, they got none.

The National Project for the Development of the Sinai was supposed to inject $20.5 billion into Sinai infrastructure between 1995 to 2017. That proved to be just hype; a mixture of unfinished projects and robust speeches. Sinai is only remembered in national celebrations to merely further highlight the might of the military that liberated it. And now, it’s demonised as a terrorist hub for the same reason.

After the final Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in 1982, the population of the Peninsula had to contend with issues pertaining to their group identity. Their tribal affiliations were too great to be discounted, but their eagerness to be included in the larger Egyptian society was euphoric. But Cairo did so little to bring Sinai’s population, especially the Bedouins, any closer. With time, disillusionment grew into resentment, and eventually violence. They are angry, and have every right to feel that way.

As long as Cairo continues to view Sinai with suspiscion and mistrust, using the desert and its inhabitants as a platform for political opportunities to be exploited, thus carrying out one violent campaign after another to reassert the relevance of the army, these sad episodes will continue. The people of Sinai have suffered tremendously from neglect and poverty and now, extreme violence. Sisi’s promised campaign of yet more security solutions, will hardly ease Sinai’s burden, or bring an iota of hope to its disheartened people.

Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People’s History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

A quarter of South Africans regularly go hungry

By Thabo Seseane Jr.

27 October 2014

A report released by Oxfam South Africa on October 16, World Food Day, found that 25 percent of the country’s 53 million people regularly go hungry. An additional 28.3 percent are at risk of hunger. The study, “Hidden Hunger in South Africa”, was undertaken in the provinces of Limpopo, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

Speaking at its release at an event at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, Oxfam South Africa economic justice campaign manager Rashmi Mistry said, “South Africa is supposed to be a food-secure nation, producing enough food to adequately feed everyone.”

The supposed food security of South Africans is a point of pride for owners of the country’s estimated 35,000 commercial farms. These social layers protest against any mooted reorganisation of the agricultural sector, ominously pointing to the experience of Zimbabwe as what awaits South Africa should market forces in the rural belt be interfered with. Commercial farmers own the majority of 110 million hectares, worth some R155 billion (US$14.4 billion).

This cultivated and grazing land supplies export markets, as well as a domestic food industry dominated by large companies controlling pricing and distribution of products. One result is that women and children, who have less means of getting such products, suffer disproportionately from hunger.

“Women in the communities covered by this study are still largely responsible for feeding their families,” reads the report. “[They] are further burdened when family members are suffering from diseases such as HIV or AIDS, with time and money needed for food spent on caring for the sick.”

Unemployment is estimated at a minimum 25 percent nationally, excluding discouraged jobseekers. More than 15 million people, including some with HIV, receive some kind of social grant. The amount received by unemployed parents, guardians and caregivers amounts to R310 ($28) per child per month. The old-age grant totals a maximum R1,350 ($122) per senior citizen per month.

This pittance severely limits the foods accessible to the 28.25 million South Africans who suffer from food insecurity. Having a job does not improve prospects much either. “People in [permanent] employment or who have casual jobs indicated that they are food-secure in the first week after their wages are paid”, reads the report, “but are … food-insecure for the remaining three weeks in the month.”

Chronic hunger can have far-reaching psychological effects, especially among children. The report quotes Elzetta, from a youth-headed household in Bloemendal, Eastern Cape, saying, “We have to buy the cheapest of the cheapest. We are rated as the cheapest of the cheapest.”

Child- or youth-headed households in South Africa are home to 20 percent of all children, according to Statistics SA. In 2011, children younger than 14 accounted for 40 percent of the population. Assuming a roughly comparable proportion in 2014, this means some 4.24 million children live in homes unsupervised by adults, thanks largely to the numbers of couples who have succumbed to HIV or AIDS.

For child-headed households in Bloemendal, the upshot is a staple regimen of white bread and sugared water or cheap juice. Afrikaans-speaking locals call it the “poppie water diet”.

The Oxfam report expands on poor communities having “good access to bad food but bad access to good food”.

Malnutrition is especially severe among women and children, with the researchers saying that childhood stunting “has increased to 26.5 percent”. They add that obesity levels are amongst the highest in the world, at 42 percent for women.

South Africa’s ill-fed masses, the report notes, increasingly include those engaged in subsistence farming. This is due to factors like climate change, and lack of water, tools, manpower or knowledge.

Seafaring communities fare little better. As a possible reason, Oxfam cites tenuous or restricted fishing rights. Cases of corruption and maladministration have also curtailed the size of catches brought in by subsistence anglers.

The South African Commercial Linefish Association instituted court action against then-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, last year. As a result, for the first time in South African history she had to scrap the entire fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) for 2013. Under the FRAP, hundreds of small commercial fishermen had inexplicably lost their rights to go to sea for a living.

Shaheen Moolla, legal adviser to the fishermen, said the minister had not supplied answering papers to the association’s court action. “She knew she could not go on oath and defend this process,” Moolla added.

In September, the member of the provincial cabinet for education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, announced that his department would cancel feeding schemes for quintile four and quintile five schools. South African schools are subdivided into five socioeconomic bands, with quintiles one and two containing the poorest 40 percent of schools.

Educators and observers objected to Lesufi’s announcement. They argue that even the most privileged student bodies have among them pupils from indigent homes. Many of these children eat only once a day—at school.

The Oxfam report holds out the hope of eliminating widespread hunger through legislation. “A National Food Act should be developed”, it states, “in a bottom-up process with communities who are facing hunger. It should be adequately resourced and should include mechanisms for accountability.”

Speaking as an Oxfam guest on Constitution Hill, SA Human Rights Commission Deputy Chair Pregs Govender maintained that the African National Congress (ANC) government is aware of the issue of endemic hunger. It was a question, she claimed, of those in government “being moved to use their power to change this reality”.

The ANC government is the problem, not the solution. It helps no one to propose new legislation or invoke the constitution as a means of inspiring those in power to act in the interests of the poor. The constitution that Govender held up as the noblest guide to government action is repeatedly lauded, as she knows, as the best in the world. But it is a bourgeois constitution, sanctifying capitalist property relations.

The right to adequate nutrition is meaningless so long as the means to produce food remains the property of agribusinesses working, not for human need, but for private profit. The constitution cannot oblige “the State to take reasonable and other legislative measures” to realise each citizen’s right to adequate nutrition.

That is because this same elitist document holds up as a higher good, the “right” of an employer to exploit his employees. The owners of production are thus legally obligated to take food out of the mouths of workers to pay interest to bankers and dividends to investors. The right to food for all can only be secured with the removal of the ANC from power, through the struggle for a workers’ government based on a socialist program.

Ebola crisis: Major powers line up to send troops to Africa

By Jean Shaoul

23 October 2014

The imperialist powers are using the West Africa Ebola outbreak as a cover for re-establishing or strengthening their military presence in their former colonies. Their aim is to further their geo-strategic interests including control of the region’s offshore oil resources. To this end, rather than sending financial or healthcare assistance, they are deploying military forces.

The United States is spending $750 million over the next six months to send troops to Liberia, its first and only African colony. The operation is being run by the US Armed Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM).

AFRICOM will deploy 3,200 troops, mostly from the 101st Airborne Division, to assist in the construction of emergency Ebola treatment units, with a Joint Force Command Headquarters to be established to oversee the operation in Liberia.

There are currently 539 members of the armed forces at the joint operations centre in Monrovia, the capital. After almost a month, all the troops have to show for their deployment is a 25-bed clinic to treat healthcare workers who come into contact with Ebola. They will run five mobile labs to carry out tests for the virus, with plans for another four. The hospital is to be staffed and equipped, but by other countries under the direction of the Liberian and US governments.

The choice of Liberia is no accident. It is the only country in Africa that had ever expressed any interest in hosting AFRICOM’s headquarters, which currently operates from a base thousands of miles away in Stuttgart, Germany.

The operations centre will be in addition to the US drone bases across Africa, chiefly–and the only one that is officially acknowledged—that at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, adjacent to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. It has been used for launching drone missile attacks and air strikes in Yemen, Somalia and East Africa. This is part of a broader “pivot to Africa” that has involved at least one US operation a day somewhere in the continent, in conjunction with most of the African military forces.

Britain, which rarely misses an opportunity to follow in Washington’s slipstream, is to send 3,000 troops to Sierra Leone. General Sir Nick Carter, who led British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, is advising the government on the number of troops, the use of the navy to patrol the coast, and even the establishment of military blockades and curfews in towns and villages deep inside the country to restrict movement.

A defence source told the Mail on Sunday, “From a military perspective, Ebola is like a biological warfare attack and should be countered accordingly. There needs to be a clampdown on human movement inside Sierra Leone and possibly to and from the country between now and late 2015 when it is hoped that an antidote will have been developed.”

By the end of next month, there will be 750 British military personnel in Sierra Leone, a British colony until 1961 that is one of the world’s main sources of diamonds. Britain already has troops in a base located south of the capital, Freetown, established in 2002 after its intervention in the civil war in 2000. With the ongoing withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, this will be the largest overseas deployment of British troops.

Britain is also sending 91 army medical staff. But this paltry number of medics is dwarfed by the 256 medical personnel that the impoverished 11 million-strong country of Cuba has already sent, with hundreds more being prepared for the Ebola mission.

The British government is also sending a hospital ship, the Argus, and three helicopters to help tackle the Ebola crisis for at least six months. The 100-bed Argus is carrying supplies, weaponry and equipment, including protective suits. As well as transporting 225 military personnel and hardware, the ship will act as a base for the three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters that are to be used for surveillance work and the transport of equipment and personnel. The Argus has its own mini air traffic control centre, Flyco, and will act as a giant landing stage for the boats operated by 80 Royal Marines, whose role is to enforce security for the British operation.

The ship will provide medical services for British personnel, both military and civilian, who fall ill while in Sierra Leone. But the 80 strong civilian medical staff on board—out of a crew of 140—will not be treating anyone who succumbs to Ebola. Instead, any of the staff who contract the disease will be treated on shore.

Again, like its US counterpart, the medical relief effort is to be based largely on volunteers. More than 800 National Health Service doctors, nurses and paramedics have signed up to work in Sierra Leone. The first volunteers, whose salaries will be paid by the Department of International Development, are not expected to arrive until November or December.

France, for its part, is to send troops to Guinea, a country that it dominated until 1958 and which has the world’s largest proven bauxite reserves, which are exported and refined into aluminium elsewhere. It will also build a 50-bed hospital.

Last month Germany agreed to deploy 100 troops and two Transall military transport planes to Senegal, as part of a Franco-German mission to deliver supplies to West Africa. The German armed forces will also set up a 50-bed treatment centre in Liberia. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen is calling for medical volunteers rather than deploying army medical staff, as part of a wider bid to assert Germany’s interests in the region and increase public support for deployment of German troops overseas.

On Saturday, the aid charity Oxfam called for troops to be sent to West Africa, along with funding and medical staff, to prevent the Ebola outbreak becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation.” It said that there was a critical need for logistical support and that countries that did not commit military personnel were “costing lives.” Oxfam even called on the Australian government to back the Labour Party’s demands for troops to be sent to the region.

What few commentators are mentioning is that one factor that lies behind the deployment of troops by the major imperialist powers is the discovery of oil in West Africa. According to a Business Day report last May, the region accounts for one third of the world’s new oil discoveries. The US Geological Survey has reported that the West African Coastal Province has an estimated 3,200 million barrels of oil.

New finds have been made in Liberia and Sierra Leone and there has been a flurry of exploration in Gabon, Guinea, Ghana and Mali, with Russia’s Lukoil about to start exploration in Cote d’Ivoire. According to a briefing paper by Ecobank, the Pan African Bank, entitled “Exploration in West Africa’s Frontier Could Unlock 9 Billion Barrels in 2014,” oil and gas independent companies have spent $US200 million over the past four years acquiring assets in some of West Africa’s less explored countries, notably, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Liberia. These explorations follow on the finds in East Africa where China is actively engaged in establishing itself as a major player.

The military response to the Ebola crisis is thus bound up with a second “Scramble for Africa” that is pitting the major imperialist powers against Russia and China in the struggle for markets and resources.

Libya: From Africa’s Richest State Under Gaddafi, to Failed State After NATO Intervention

Global Research, October 19, 2014

127413This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Western-backed assassination of Libya’s former president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the fall of one of Africa’s greatest nations.

In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.

After NATO’s intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As the government’s control slips through their fingers and into to the militia fighters’ hands, oil production has all but stopped.

The militias variously local, tribal, regional, Islamist or criminal, that have plagued Libya since NATO’s intervention, have recently lined up into two warring factions. Libya now has two governments, both with their own Prime Minister, parliament and army.

On one side, in the West of the country, Islamist-allied militias took over control of the capital Tripoli and other cities and set up their own government, chasing away a parliament that was elected over the summer.

On the other side, in the East of the Country, the “legitimate” government dominated by anti-Islamist politicians, exiled 1,200 kilometers away in Tobruk, no longer governs anything.

The fall of Gaddafi’s administration has created all of the country’s worst-case scenarios: Western embassies have all left, the South of the country has become a haven for terrorists, and the Northern coast a center of migrant trafficking. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all closed their borders with Libya. This all occurs amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that complete the picture of a state that is failed to the bone.

America is clearly fed up with the two inept governments in Libya and is now backing a third force: long-time CIA asset, General Khalifa Hifter, who aims to set himself up as Libya’s new dictator. Hifter, who broke with Gaddafi in the 1980s and lived for years in Langley, Virginia, close to the CIA’s headquarters, where he was trained by the CIA, has taken part in numerous American regime change efforts, including the aborted attempt to overthrow Gaddafi in 1996.

In 1991 the New York Times reported that Hifter may have been one of “600 Libyan soldiers trained by American intelligence officials in sabotage and other guerrilla skills…to fit in neatly into the Reagan Administration’s eagerness to topple Colonel Qaddafi”.

Hifter’s forces are currently vying with the Al Qaeda group Ansar al-Sharia for control of Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi. Ansar al-Sharia was armed by America during the NATO campaign against Colonel Gaddafi. In yet another example of the U.S. backing terrorists backfiring, Ansar al-Sharia has recently been blamed by America for the brutal assassination of U.S. Ambassador Stevens.

Hifter is currently receiving logistical and air support from the U.S. because his faction envision a mostly secular Libya open to Western financiers, speculators, and capital.

Perhaps, Gaddafi’s greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his desire to put the interests of local labour above foreign capital and his quest for a strong and truly United States of Africa. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of the African IMF and African Central Bank.

In 2011, the West’s objective was clearly not to help the Libyan people, who already had the highest standard of living in Africa, but to oust Gaddafi, install a puppet regime, and gain control of Libya’s natural resources.

For over 40 years, Gaddafi promoted economic democracy and used the nationalized oil wealth to sustain progressive social welfare programs for all Libyans. Under Gaddafi’s rule, Libyans enjoyed not only free health-care and free education, but also free electricity and interest-free loans. Now thanks to NATO’s intervention the health-care sector is on the verge of collapse as thousands of Filipino health workers flee the country, institutions of higher education across the East of the country are shut down, and black outs are a common occurrence in once thriving Tripoli.

One group that has suffered immensely from NATO’s bombing campaign is the nation’s women. Unlike many other Arab nations, women in Gaddafi’s Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income. The United Nations Human Rights Council praised Gaddafi for his promotion of women’s rights.

When the colonel seized power in 1969, few women went to university. Today, more than half of Libya’s university students are women. One of the first laws Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal work law.

Nowadays, the new “democratic” Libyan regime is clamping down on women’s rights. The new ruling tribes are tied to traditions that are strongly patriarchal. Also, the chaotic nature of post-intervention Libyan politics has allowed free reign to extremist Islamic forces that see gender equality as a Western perversion.

Three years ago, NATO declared that the mission in Libya had been “one of the most successful in NATO history.” Truth is, Western interventions have produced nothing but colossal failures in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. Lest we forget, prior to western military involvement in these three nations, they were the most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa with the highest regional women’s rights and standards of living.

A decade of failed military expeditions in the Middle East has left the American people in trillions of dollars of debt. However, one group has benefited immensely from the costly and deadly wars: America’s Military-Industrial-Complex.

Building new military bases means billions of dollars for America’s military elite. As Will Blum has pointed out, following the bombing of Iraq, the United States built new bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Following the bombing of Afghanistan, the United States is now building military bases in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Following the recent bombing of Libya, the United States has built new military bases in the Seychelles, Kenya, South Sudan, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Given that Libya sits atop the strategic intersection of the African, Middle Eastern and European worlds, Western control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

NATO’s military intervention may have been a resounding success for America’s military elite and oil companies but for the ordinary Libyan, the military campaign may indeed go down in history as one of the greatest failures of the 21st century.

Garikai Chengu is a research scholar at Harvard University. Contact him

South Africa: ANC and unions exploit popular anger over electronic toll collections

By Thabo Seseane Jr.

14 October 2014

In a show of unity on October 7, International Day for Decent Work, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) president S’dumo Dlamini and his rival, General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, made a populist call for the scrapping of electronic tolling (e-tolling) on Gauteng province highways.

E-tolling has been an emotive public issue since before its launch under the aegis of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) 10 months ago.

”[W]e say down with e-tolls,” Dlamini declared, admitting that in this as in other matters the COSATU executive were merely taking their cue from the African National Congress (ANC) provincial leadership in Gauteng.

“The [Gauteng] ANC rejects e-tolls,” he affirmed. “This evil system must not be implemented in this country.”

The ANC’s Gauteng leaders were in turn shocked into action after their majority in the provincial legislature declined from 64 percent to 53 percent at the last elections in May. Also informing its opposition to the national ANC leadership and the Department of Transport is the perception of Jacob Zuma as having been reduced to a lame duck president in his current, second term, which expires in 2019. By then, Zuma will have been replaced as ANC president, since his term in that office expires in 2017. Consequently, if he is still at the seat of government at the Union Buildings, he will be beholden to the sitting ANC president.

This has convinced factions such as those dominating the Gauteng ANC that, far from being among those to be pandered to, Zuma is a spent force. It is likely that such calculations were behind the utterances of ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile at the party’s recent elective conference in Pretoria: “It’s not that I don’t like SANRAL. But they must know their place. Government agencies don’t run the country, but the ANC [does]. I don’t like government agencies that take on politicians.”

Mashatile, a former premier of Gauteng, was returned unopposed as ANC provincial chairman earlier this month. He served as arts and culture minister until Zuma reshuffled his cabinet after the May elections. This ejection followed Mashatile’s support of Kgalema Motlanthe, the candidate Zuma defeated when he was returned for his second term as ANC president.

Bickering between the Mashatile and Zuma factions goes even further back. A key gripe among Mashatile supporters is that as ANC provincial chairman, he should never have been eased out of the premiership of Gauteng, as he was in 2009 in favour of a more reliable Zuma supporter, Nomvula Mokonyane.

Mokonyane notoriously said of residents of Bekkersdal in their presence, that “the ANC doesn’t need their dirty votes,” when party elders sent her to the town last October to defuse service delivery unrest ahead of elections.

David Makhura was elected deputy chairman unopposed at the ANC Gauteng elective conference. He assumed the premiership of the province in May, after provincial structures submitted to the national leadership a list of candidates for the post that pointedly left out Mokonyane.

Makhura announced in his inaugural State of the Province Address the formation of a panel to “assess” the decision to institute e-tolling. The remit of the panel is confined to the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the scheme. It thus leaves out of consideration the burning question of the rationality and lawfulness of the decision in favour of e-tolls.

The advisory panel is set to submit a final report to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature before the end of November. Meanwhile, according to the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, only 38 percent of drivers are paying their tolls, with SANRAL complaining that the panel has undermined investor confidence in the roads agency.

The establishment of the panel heightened tensions between the Gauteng ANC and the party’s national leadership. National Transport Minister Dipuo Peters maintained that the government would not scrap the “user pays” system as the funding mechanism for urban roads, whose allocations from the national treasury have steadily declined. Makhura insists that the panel’s findings will be binding.

“Pressure is building for the issue to be put to a national referendum,”Business Day editorialised.

In its efforts to limit its losses in the municipal elections due in 2016, the Gauteng ANC is relying on the services of COSATU. The trade union federation has added its voice to calls for a civil disobedience campaign. COSATU in Gauteng has mooted a march to the offices of SANRAL on October 18, where members of the public are invited to burn the e-toll bills mailed them.

The role of COSATU among workers is to foster illusions in the ANC, or at least the existence of a faction that supposedly will balk at privatising infrastructure and passing on the costs thereof to the working poor. But in their stated opposition to e-tolls, Makhura, Mashatile, Dlamini, Vavi, et al. have simply latched onto an issue that in the public mind sets them apart from the scandal-prone Zuma administration. So long as the question of e-tolls had not threatened the jobs of any ANC leaders, as it now threatens them in Gauteng, they all would have gladly followed the party line.

The Sunday Times wrote in March 2013, “If e-tolling goes ahead, Gauteng motorists will pay R71 billion (US$6.46 billion) in toll fees over the next 24 years, with the collection costs estimated to be at least R18 billion. This means motorists will pay billions…that will not improve roads but only profit” the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) joint venture, the operator subcontracted by SANRAL to operate Gauteng freeways.

ETC is 65 percent owned by Austrian and Swedish arms of Kapsch TrafficCom.

For years, journalists have sought without success to prove a link between the e-tolling of South African highways and the multibillion-dollar arms deal through which the country acquired military hardware it did not need. Investigators have noted that arms contractor Saab AB sold its traffic management unit, Combitech Systems AB, to Kapsch AG in January 2000. A few months later, Saab sold 26 Gripen fighter jets to South Africa, despite the air force having previously considered them too expensive and unsuited for its purposes.

In any event, a cabal with unique access to the country’s highest elected offices used its influence to ram through unpopular megadeals for its members and proxies. The conspirators intend to make the working class pay the astronomical costs. People like David Makhura and Zwelinzima Vavi are as much complicit in this culture as anyone else.

A significant section of the ruling tripartite alliance is now persuaded of the useful role played by “leftist” figures like Vavi in keeping working class voters tied to the ANC. This explains the populist turn of Makhura and Mashatile, with Dlamini tagging along behind. Vavi sounded a warning at the International Day for Decent Work gathering about the 50 percent of youth who are unemployed. “What do you expect people will do?” he asked.

The Ebola epidemic: A social disaster in West Africa

9 October 2014

The world has looked on in horror as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has rapidly developed into a humanitarian catastrophe. The present outbreak, concentrated in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, has infected more than 8,000 people already.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the situation in West Africa “continues to deteriorate, with widespread and persistent transmission of [Ebola].” The WHO also reported that there is no evidence that the epidemic is being contained and that a recent decline in reported cases was due to “deterioration in the ability of overwhelmed responders to record accurate epidemiological data.”

On Wednesday came the first Ebola death in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted the disease in Liberia before coming to the US for a family visit, died in a Texas hospital nearly two weeks after he was diagnosed. Meanwhile, a Spanish nurse who was helping treat Ebola-infected patients who had been flown to Europe has become the first person to contract the virus outside of Africa.

These two cases highlight the danger of the virus spreading internationally, including to areas of the world with much less developed health care systems. However, the Western media’s overwhelming focus on these cases in Europe and the United States has served to obscure the ongoing catastrophe in Africa—a consequence of the devastating poverty that is a direct product of the capitalist system.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been the hardest hit by the epidemic. Nearly half of the infections that have been reported have resulted in death—or 3,857 people. The actual death toll is likely to be significantly higher. Aid groups have warned that the disease could become totally out of control by the end of the month.

Despite the vicious character of Ebola, it is not as easily spread as other viruses. Infected individuals can be effectively quarantined with proper health care facilities.

Such facilities are not, however, available in West Africa. The health care systems in the region, already weakened by decades of civil war, have collapsed under the strain of the epidemic. According to the WHO, Liberia has only 621 of the 2,930 beds necessary to treat the current number of Ebola patients in that country, while Sierra Leone has 304 of 1,148 necessary beds.

The disease feeds, in the final analysis, on poverty. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are among the poorest countries in the world. Liberia has an annual per capita income of just $790, Guinea $1,160 and Sierra Leone $1,750. Total annual per capita public and private health care spending was $32 in Guinea, $65 in Liberia and $96 Sierra Leone in 2012.

After standing by for months as the virus spread, the major capitalist powers have made the barest pretense of assistance. The $350 million that has so far been pledged by the United States to combat Ebola is a pittance compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on military aggression and the trillions of dollars monopolized by the corporate and financial aristocracy.

Indeed, under the pretense of a humanitarian mission to build Ebola clinics, the major powers have seized on the opportunity to intensify their military operations in their former colonies. The United States has deployed up to 3,000 troops to Liberia. The US is seeking to assert its hegemony over the region by developing a foothold for its Africa Command (AFRICOM), which currently oversees military operations on the continent from Stuttgart, Germany.

Meanwhile, Britain announced on Wednesday that it would be dispatching at least 750 troops to its former colony Sierra Leone as part of its own supposed humanitarian mission.

The conditions of extreme poverty that have facilitated the spread of Ebola are the legacy of American, British and French imperialism in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. These countries continue to be important sources of raw materials for their former colonial masters just as they were 100 years ago.

France dominated Guinea as a colonial possession between 1898 and 1958, profiting from the harvest of bananas, coffee beans, pineapples, palm oil and peanuts. Guinea currently has among the largest proven bauxite reserves in the world, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s reserves. Nearly all of the bauxite mined in Guinea is shipped out of the country and refined into aluminum elsewhere. The export of the aluminum ore accounts for approximately 60 percent of its annual exports.

Sierra Leone has its origins as a country in coastal resettlement colonies established in the 1780s by the British for many of the thousands of black slaves whom it had freed during the American Revolution. Following the Berlin Conference in 1885, which set off the European Scramble for Africa, Britain moved to violently consolidate its control over Sierra Leone’s inland territory.

Sierra Leone gained its official independence from the British Empire in 1961. Today, it is one of the main sources of the world’s diamonds, which accounted for 46 percent of the country’s export revenue in 2008.

Liberia was established in 1822 as the first and only US colony in Africa by the American Colonization Society as a scheme to settle freed slaves and free blacks on the continent. Liberia officially gained its independence in 1846, but the government was completely controlled by a small layer of elites descended from African American settlers until 1980.

Raw resources such as rubber and lumber are Liberia’s dominant exports. The Firestone Corporation has operated the largest rubber tree plantation in Liberia since 1926, when it signed a 99-year lease on a million square acres of land.

As part of the effort to maintain their control, the major imperialist powers have had their hands in a series of civil wars that have wracked the region. Sierra Leone and Liberia were torn apart by especially bloody civil wars between 1989 and 2003. The fighting displaced hundreds of thousands of people who crowded into Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, creating slums like West Point, which was placed on lockdown in August in a repressive and futile attempt to halt the spread of Ebola in the city.

It is the interests of the corporations and banks that dictate the policy of the major capitalist states in these countries and throughout the continent. The vast majority of the population, confined to poverty, are of interest only insofar as they function as cheap labor for mines or plantations.

While the Ebola virus is extremely deadly, the epidemic spreading throughout West Africa is fundamentally a social disaster—for which the major imperialist powers and the world capitalist system are responsible.

Niles Williamson

Libya Takes Goldman Sachs to Court to Recover $1.2 Billion from a Series of Derivatives Trades

Global Research, October 08, 2014

blankfein-400x302Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman & CEO, Goldman Sachs (AFP)

Libya’s sovereign wealth fund took Goldman Sachs to court in London on Monday to recover $1.2 billion from a series of derivatives trades made during Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

The Libyan Investment Authority claims that its international inexperience and a relationship of trust with the bank was “exploited” by Goldman Sachs, which disputes the allegations.

The Wall Street bank allegedly made $350 million in up-front profits from the trades, although the deals were rendered worthless for the LIA when they matured in 2011.

The LIA is now seeking compensation, with the case expected to start early next year unless a settlement is reached beforehand.

The claim relates to deals made in 2008 under Gaddafi in the few years between the country opening up to Western investments and the dictator’s bloody overthrow in 2011.

The LIA said in court documents seen by AFP that the Wall Street bank used its influence to “drive through a series of complex derivative investments which, whilst extremely profitable for GSI [Goldman Sachs International] were inherently unsuitable for a sovereign wealth fund like the LIA”.

Catherine McDougall, a lawyer from Allen & Overy, who arrived in Tripoli in 2008 to work with the Libyan Investment Authority, also submitted a witness statement which appeared to back up the LIA’s case.

“I asked them [the LIA] where the due diligence was, and they responded ‘due what?’” she said. “They said that they did not ask for any due diligence [adding that] there was no need to since Goldman had advised them to do these trades.”

But Goldman Sachs has denied the allegations, arguing that the LIA representatives knew the risk of the trades, saying in its court filing that the fund included “highly experienced banking professionals”.

“The disputed trades were not difficult to understand,” it said, adding that they had “a clear commercial logic”.

“This claim is a paradigm of buyers’ remorse,” it added, blaming the loss-making trades on the huge disruption on the markets caused by the global financial crisis.

“We continue to believe this case is entirely without merit and intend to contest it vigorously as it moves through the legal process,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement.

Shortly before the financial crisis hit, Libya’s $65 bn sovereign wealth fund was busy building links with different Wall Street banks, including Goldman which was seen to be working hard to win Libyan business.

According to the LIA’s legal team, Goldman first approached the LIA in 2007 and promised to set up a “partnership” with the fund, which would see it train its employees and to provide strategic long-term advice.

Goldman employees also allegedly lavished LIA employees with corporate entertainment, taking them out on wild nights in Morocco and London filled with “heavy drinking and girls”. If the allegations are proven, this behaviour could be deemed a violation of Goldman’s own compliance rules, one witness statement said.

Goldman has countered the claims, insisting that the LIA employees were not duped and understood the deals well enough to make suggestions and amendments to the terms. The hearings continue.

US Air Raids: The Unlearned Lesson of Libya

October 8, 2014 (Yuri Zinin – NEO) The speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Akila Saleh Issa at the UN General Assembly demanded the international community to provide assistance in enhancing security in this troubled country. He stated that the rebuilding of a combat capable army in Libya is a matter of utmost importance, otherwise people will be left to face terrorists on their own.

The alarming statements made by Libyan authorities coincided with the ongoing missiles strikes of the US against ISIL militants.
This latest US military endeavor is now in the media’s focus, while Middle Eastern experts try to figure out the purpose of those strikes, just like Washington’s future steps and time limits that remain largely unclear to this day. Those experts believe that a total of three armed interventions of the United States (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) over the past 13 years have effectively undermined the governing capabilities of the invaded states, which led to the destabilization of the entire region.
In 2011 NATO air strikes against Libya that were carried out under the pretext of the urgent need of protecting civilians from a “violent dictator“, cleared the road to power for radical militants. Three years ago, once Muammar Gaddafi had been brutally murdered in October 2011, these militants took over Libya by filling the vacuum created by foreign intervention. From that moment on the country had been plunged deeper into bloodshed created by the former revolutionaries as they cut each other’s throats in a fight for rich oil-producing regions.
Now there’s two military-political groups in Libya and each has its own government and parliament. The first resides in Tripoli and it is supporting the temporary parliament which has already lost its legitimacy. The second is backing the newly elected parliament in the besieged city of Tobruk, some 1,200 kilometers from Tripoli. According to the UN, new clashes between the two groups in recent months have generated a total of 150,000 refugees, including foreign workers that fled abroad.
The differences between the two camps runs so deep that the chances of them reaching an agreement are minimal.
Additionally, the new governments are unable to stop the tribal clashes that are tearing the country apart, since the structure of the new government bodies is feeble and unsound. In these circumstances the ideas of radical Islam become the governing ideology. What else could one expect? After all, these numerous forces and factions were brought together to attack the old regime. United by hatred alone, they are highly incapable of negotiating with each other.
Syria and Iraq will face the same fate that has been plaguing Libya, if Washington and its allies that strike the ISIL positions today “haven’t learnt the lessons of Libya,” said Prof. Mieczyslaw Boduszynski’s, former US diplomat to Libya.
Clearly, any intervention from outside exacerbates internal conflicts and contradictions in any state. After that there’s no bringing order to the bloodshed and lawlessness, no establishing of an effective civilian body of command, hence a destroyed state that is simply left to plunderers.
Today we are being told that the US coalition will rely on the so-called “moderate opposition” in Syria. But how can you create a solid unit out of tens of groups of militants that are eager to fight each other on any given day? Above all, these groups are largely sympathetic with radical Islamists, so they have already openly declare that they will not be engaging ISIL, if Washington refuses to attack the regular Syrian army troops. Their only desire is to take full advantage of the US air campaign.
Should they succeed, then Syria is doomed for unconditional blood feuds between different groups, a haven for Islamic militants, a sad failure, which Libya has recently become.
Yuri Zinin is a Senior Research Fellow at MGIMO and a columnist for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.