Friday, February 15, 2013

The future of Africa looks bleak, here is why

  1. Introduction

  2. Part 1. Western Powers Go Full Retard on Africa: China vs. AFRICOM, a Resource War (permalink)

  3. Part 2. France Has Forgotten the Battle of Algiers, Africa Never Will: “Ordinary Victories” by Manu Larcenet (permalink)

  4. Part 3. Recolonization of Africa, a Symptom of Our Addiction to Growth: Differential Accumulation, Why GDP Growth Rates Influence Foreign Policy (permalink)

  5. Part 4. The Subjugation of Africa, the Battle for a Continent: Full Throttle into Oblivion (permalink)


I. Introduction


Contrary to what some have been hoping for, the future of Africa looks to be bloodier than its past. The reasons for this are as vast and varied as the continent itself, such as resources (oil, water, land, minerals), economic interests of external powers (growth, trade, monetary policy), and ideological differences (structure of governments, corruption, tradition, ethnicity).

One of the main reasons that this scramble for Africa has intensified in the last few years and will most likely continue to escalate for the next few decades is because western nations are losing major battles on multiple other fronts. Just to name a few: the coalition of the willing has lost Iraq as well as Afghanistan; Syria is a stalemate; Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Algeria, Congo, and Mali are a disaster; Bahrain is in lockdown; Latin America is freeing itself from U.S. control; and Israel has gone rogue.

Allan Nairn: As U.S. Loses Its Global Economic Edge, Its "One Clear Comparative Advantage is in Killing, and It’s Using It"



As Noam Chomsky has pointed out:
“Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, US policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining….

“Take the Clinton doctrine. The Clinton doctrine was that the United States is entitled to resort to unilateral force to ensure ‘uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources’.…

“Then he expressed the reason. He said that ‘one of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers’.…

“So the principle on which the international system is based is that the United States is entitled to use force at will. To talk about the United States violating international law or something like that is amazingly naive, completely silly.…

“That's why you get all this talk about American decline. Take a look at the year-end issue of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal. Its big front-page cover asks, in bold face, ‘Is America Over?’ It's a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything.

“If you believe you should have everything and anything gets away from you, it's a tragedy, the world is collapsing. So is America over? A long time ago we ‘lost’ China, we've lost Southeast Asia, we've lost South America. Maybe we'll lose the Middle East and North African countries. Is America over? It's a kind of paranoia, but it's the paranoia of the superrich and the superpowerful. If you don't have everything, it's a disaster.”
This mentality has become a serious problem, especially since international law is not being applied equally across-the-Board. It’s equivalent to giving the bully in the yard the right to do anything they want, with impunity, without accountability, for all to see:
“Italy's former intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the rendition of a terror suspect. The court in Milan also sentenced his former deputy Marco Mancini to nine years in jail over the 2003 kidnapping….

“The Italian trials, which began in 2007, were the first in the world to bring to court cases involving extraordinary rendition, the CIA's practice of transferring terror suspects to countries where torture is permitted….

“Pollari was [initially] acquitted when the first trial ended with the conviction of 23 Americans - all but one of them CIA agents - in 2009. The CIA's Milan station chief at the time, Robert Lady, was given an eight-year term, while the other 22 Americans convicted - one of them a US air force colonel - were sentenced to five years in prison.

“All of them are believed to be living in the US and are unlikely to serve their sentences.”

As Italy Sentences 23 CIA Agents in Rendition Case, Obama Refuses to Prosecute Anyone for Torture


Part 2: Alfred McCoy: "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation"

And this is the agenda that threatens Africa. The United States has been given a mandate to do what it deems necessary to maintain western supremacy and its dominant role on the world stage. Africa happens to be an integral part of that plan, guaranteeing its bleak future. The following are the first three parts of a series that is meant to delve deeper into this subject. More will follow over the next few years as events unfold:



II. Part 1. Western Powers Go Full Retard on Africa: China vs. AFRICOM, a Resource War


In Africa, China has been securing access to resources through lucrative trade agreements while Western powers have decided to take the military option to secure their share of the pie.
“Across Africa, the red flag of China is flying. Lucrative deals are being struck to buy its commodities - oil, platinum, gold and minerals… From Nigeria in the north, to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola in the west, across Chad and Sudan in the east, and south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, China has seized a vice-like grip on a continent which officials have decided is crucial to the superpower's long-term survival.”

China in Africa: New Imperialism?



Chinese world trade has increase over 20-fold in under 20 years and even though Africa represents a minor portion of that growth at present, it is vital for China’s long term security and prosperity. Africa not only contains a vast quantity of the world’s natural resources (more info), it is also the second largest continent with some of the most fertile farmlands (pdf) in the world. This has ushered in the age of the “African land grab”.
“Leading the rush are international agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds as well as UK pension funds, foundations and individuals attracted by some of the world's cheapest land. Together they are scouring Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Congo, Zambia, Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana and elsewhere. Ethiopia alone has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007. Any land there, which investors have not been able to buy, is being leased for approximately $1 per year per hectare…

“Land to grow biofuel crops is also in demand. ‘European biofuel companies have acquired or requested about 3.9m hectares in Africa. This has led to displacement of people, lack of consultation and compensation, broken promises about wages and job opportunities,’ said Tim Rice, author of an ActionAid report which estimates that the EU needs to grow crops on 17.5m hectares, well over half the size of Italy, if it is to meet its 10% biofuel target by 2015…


Source - Art by Eddie Lampkin entitled "The Vilest Scramble for Loot", created at a TANA workshop.

“‘Farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is giving 25% returns a year and new technology can treble crop yields in short time frames,’ said Susan Payne, chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, a UK investment fund seeking to spend $50m on African land, which, she said, was attracting governments, corporations, multinationals and other investors…

“Water is also controversial. Local government officers in Ethiopia told the Observer that foreign companies that set up flower farms and other large intensive farms were not being charged for water. ‘We would like to, but the deal is made by central government,’ said one. In Awassa, the al-Amouni farm uses as much water a year as 100,000 Ethiopians.”

China, USA and the scramble for Africa (Third Angle Insight)



The most recent conflicts have also had a lot to do with obtaining access to Africa's oil:
“Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn't seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude skyrocketing, and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the 19th-century scramble for colonization. Already, the United States imports more of its oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and China, too, looks to the continent for its energy security.”

AFRICOM Expands Mission In Africa



To achieve the task of securing resources, in October 2008 the United States government officially activated U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Headquartered in Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM is the most recent addition to the “unified combatant command with an area of responsibility (AOR) solely dedicated to the African continent”.
“In many ways, a context for the pending strategic role of AFRICOM can be gained from an understanding of the origins of CENTCOM and the role that it continues to provide in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the many ‘stans’ popping up after the implosion of the former U.S.S.R. That context is centered on strategic energy supplies and, explicitly, that of oil.”

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Even though African countries were united in rejecting US requests for a military headquarters on the continent, there were reports as early as 2007 that operations through AFRICOM had already begun:
From oil rich northern Angola up to Nigeria, from the Gulf of Guinea to Morocco and Algeria, from the Horn of Africa down to Kenya and Uganda, and over the pipeline routes from Chad to Cameroon in the west, and from Sudan to the Red Sea in the east, US admirals and generals [had] been landing and taking off, meeting with local officials. [They'd] conducted feasibility studies, concluded secret agreements, and spent billions from their secret budgets.”
In late 2012, it was officially acknowledged that the United States had been expanding its military efforts in Africa and plans to deploy troops to 35 African countries in 2013. This should be regarded as bad news for Africa.

Dr. Marimba Ani - AFRICOM



If you find the idea that Africa can become any bloodier than it is inaccessible, then consider this: Contrary to popular belief, the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa last decade was not Darfur, it was Somalia, and it all began in 2006 when the United States and Ethiopia started a war with Somalia, ending six months of the only peaceful period Somalis had known for years. The end result was the same as all other wars that the United States has started in the last century. Not only was Somalia devastated, it also destabilized the region.

Admin Aids French Bombing of Mali After U.S.-Trained Forces Join Rebels in Uranium-Rich Region



Finally, let’s set the stage. The following maps should help us appreciate the gargantuan game at play. So while Western Mainstream Media continues to feed us government sanctioned news, we should keep this information in mind as events unfold in the next few years. An interactive map with additional parameters available at WorldMap.


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III. Part 2. France Has Forgotten the Battle of Algiers, Africa Never Will: “Ordinary Victories” by Manu Larcenet


One of the most amazing aspects of the African resource wars is that within their own countries, most western powers have been able to stifle opposition for their participation. An incredible achievement considering the state of their economies and the number of wars that they have been involved in in the last two decades (2011–present, 2003–2010, 1990–2002).

Let’s take France as an example since it appears to have the backing of its citizens in taking the lead role in the recent wars which are set to determine the future of Africa.
“French companies must go on the offensive and fight the growing influence of rival China for a stake in Africa's increasingly competitive markets, France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Saturday…

“‘It's evident that China is more and more present in Africa...(French) companies that have the means must go on the offensive. They must be more present on the ground. They have to fight,’ Moscovici told journalists during a trip to Ivory Coast…

“‘Africa is booming. Sub-Saharan Africa will have the second highest regional growth after Asia in 2012 with a rate of 5.5 percent,’ he said. ‘The new phenomenon is that African growth has the potential to stimulate growth in France. We want to be present there.’”

French Intervention in Mali Violates UN Resolution; Root of Crisis Marginalization of the North



To have a full appreciation for the magnitude of the folly of France’s decision to attempt a “total reconquest of Mali” under the supervision of the United States by getting involved in what David Cameron has predicted to be a multi-decade conflict, all we need to do is recap a little history and extrapolate to the present.
“‘It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months, and it requires a response that is patient, that is painstaking, that is tough but also intelligent, but above all has an absolutely iron resolve; and that is what we will deliver over these coming years,’ [David Cameron] said.”

Colonialism in 10 Minutes: The Scramble For Africa
(excerpt from the film Uganda Rising)



During the colonial period, France’s domain in Africa was spread across the continent, numbering 20 regions at its peak, and its most important colony was Algeria, which it ruled with an iron fist from 1830 to 1962.
Long-term French colonization of Africa began in earnest in 1830 with the French invasion of Algeria. The long duration of French occupation, its intense violence, and the large numbers of European colonial settlers made Algeria—in law, in political cultural, and in administrative fact— an entirely unique case in the French colonial world. Indeed, an administrative decree in 1878 ended the status of Algeria as a colony, ostensibly integrating it as part of metropolitan France. This decree merely served to reinforce the two-tiered political system that accorded rights to European settlers while denying them to Algerians, and Algeria largely remained, in fact if not in law, a colony.”

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The Algerian War of Independence against France lasted from approximately 1954 to 1962. Politically, socially and militarily, this was a multi-layered conflict for the French, one that ultimately led to both Algeria’s independence after 132 years of French colonization, and eventually, the collapse of the French Fourth Republic in 1958.”
“This is where the story of political Islamism in North Africa begins: In the historical flashpoint that was the Battle of Algiers, one sees the spark of ideological opposition and the beginning of armed insurgency against the West.”
What took place in Algeria is brilliantly depicted by the following 1966 movie, ”The Battle of Algiers”. It is a cinematic masterpiece and “the only film in Oscar history to be a nominee in two separate non-consecutive years”.

Battle of Algiers trailer
(full movie is available on YouTube)



As for what the effects of this insurgency were on the French psyche, I believe the following 7-pages posted below from “Ordinary Victories” by Manu Larcenet depict an accurate account.
“Pretending that one can dissociate torture from war or abjection from massacre is the lie of the powerful”: ’Ordinary Victories’ by Manu Larcenet
The pages deal with the consequences of atrocities committed for lies. Ignore the period referenced if you wish, project to the date of your choice, and adjust the scale of the atrocities accordingly.

The story so far:
    Marco’s father has recently committed suicide. While going through his belongings, Marco has found a war photo. He has tracked down the person in the photo and now seeks answers. (click images to enlarge)

page 1

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IV. Part 3. Recolonization of Africa, a Symptom of Our Addiction to Growth: Differential Accumulation, Why GDP Growth Rates Influence Foreign Policy


The name of the game when it comes to investing in the markets is that you must not only be ahead of inflation but you must also beat the averages, exceeding the normal rate of return. If you don’t do both then you are neither protecting nor accumulating capital, i.e., in the limit you will lose your wealth. This principle also applies to nations.

Ignoring our need to rely on different economic measures (pdf) other than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a nation to indicate progress, wealth and well-being, if a countries GDP growth rate is below the global average, then over time that country will lose influence and be subject to an unstable economy. In essence, how a countries economy performs is relative to how other countries perform – there is a “growth imperative in capitalist economies” (pdf).
But why do capitalist economies need to grow? Because competition and the quest for profit compel each business to grow or be wiped out by its competitors.”
The economic theory that best encompasses this principle is Differential Accumulation. It “emphasizes the powerful drive by dominant capital groups to beat the average and exceed the normal rate of return.” The video linked below and the following excerpts from an article entitled “Differential Accumulation” by Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan provide further information on this train of thought (emphasis added).
“The concept of differential accumulation is part of a new approach to the study of capitalism. This approach, first developed by Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan, emphasizes the primacy of power rather than of consumption and production. The emphasis on power accentuates the centrality of relative rather than absolute measures and of disaggregate rather than aggregate methods. It focuses attention not on the quest for profit maximization by capital in general, but on the drive for differential accumulation by dominant capital in particular…

Capital, Bichler and Nitzan claim, is nothing but organized power. This power, they say, has two sides: one qualitative, the other quantitative. The qualitative side comprises the many institutions, developments and conflicts through which capitalists constantly creorder – or create the order of – their society; that is, the processes through which they shape and restrict the social trajectory in order to extract their tributary income. The quantitative side is the universal algorithm that integrates, reduces and distils these numerous qualitative processes down to the monetary magnitude of capitalization…

In principle, every stream of expected income is a candidate for capitalization. And since income streams are generated by social entities, social processes, social organizations and social institutions, we end up with capitalization discounting not the so-called sphere of economics, but potentially every aspect of society. Human life, including its social habits and its genetic code, is routinely capitalized. Institutions – from education and entertainment to religion and the law – are habitually capitalized. Voluntary social networks, urban violence, civil war and international conflict are regularly capitalized. Even the environmental future of humanity is capitalized. Nothing escapes the eyes of the discounters. If it generates expected future income, it can be capitalized, and whatever can be capitalized sooner or later is capitalized…

“Now, power, argue Bichler and Nitzan, is never absolute; it’s always relative. For this reason, both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of capital accumulation have to be assessed differentially, relative to other capitals. Contrary to the claims of conventional economics, say Bichler and Nitzan, capitalists are driven not to maximize profit, but to ‘beat the average’ and ‘exceed the normal rate of return’. Their entire existence is conditioned by the need to outperform, by the imperative to achieve not absolute accumulation, but differential accumulation. And this differential drive is crucial: to beat the average means to accumulate faster than others; and since the relative magnitude of capital represents power, capitalists who accumulate differentially increase their power

The centrality of differential accumulation, claim Bichler and Nitzan, means that the analysis of accumulation should focus not only on capital in general, but also and perhaps more so on dominant capital in particular – that is, on the leading corporate-state alliances whose differential accumulation has gradually placed them at the centre of the political economy.

Accumulation Through Crisis: Global Stagflation & the New Wars -- by Jonathan Nitzan
(relevant for this piece: 18 to 25 minute mark)



So how is this related to what’s going on in Africa?

Below you will find a graph of the global GDP growth rate in addition to the growth rates for certain regions and countries. Google Public Data is being used to present the information compiled from The World Bank. The annual growth rate is provided for France, The United States, Italy, the UK, and Belgium – five countries involved with the Mali conflict from the onset - as well as Canada who’s troops have now been drawn into the war, and Japan which has pledged $120 million in aid and support. In addition, the growth rates for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, South Asia, East Asia and Pacific, and China have been included.
“’Africa is booming. Sub-Saharan Africa will have the second highest regional growth after Asia in 2012 with a rate of 5.5 percent,’ [France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici] said. ‘The new phenomenon is that African growth has the potential to stimulate growth in France. We want to be present there.’…

“At the same time China's trade with Africa reached $166.3 billion in 2011, according to Chinese statistics, and African exports to China - primarily resources to fuel Chinese industries - rose to $93.2 billion from $5.6 billion over the past decade. China in July offered African countries $20 billion in loans over the next three years, double the amount pledged in the previous three-year period.”

Adjusted for inflation GDP growth rate per annum (1990 to 2011)



The countries underperforming the global average are the main Western powers that have been involved in the recent conflicts in Africa. They are the ones pursuing the regions and countries that are outperforming the global average. To get a clearer picture, let’s eliminate the secondary players in the above graph and leave only the United States, France, Italy, and the UK from the west, and China from the east, since it is China that they are in competition with as U.S. intelligence reports have indicated.
“China's economy is likely to surpass the United States in less than two decades while Asia will overtake North America and Europe combined in global power by 2030, a U.S. intelligence report said on Monday…

“The health of the global economy increasingly will be linked to progress in the developing world rather than the traditional West.”

Adjusted for inflation GDP growth rate per annum (1990 to 2011)



This discrepancy between the GDP growth rates of these nations is proving to be very problematic for those lagging the leaders. It is this addiction to growth that is fueling the recolonization of Africa through these dirty wars:
“…this is something that we’re seeing throughout the Horn of Africa and in places throughout the Sahel and North Africa, where these groups are getting stronger and stronger. And so, you know, the U.S. is increasingly getting itself involved in these dirty wars in Africa. And, you know, we could have easily gone to Uganda or Somalia or Mali and reported on this, but there’s—you know, since AFRICOM was created as a full free-standing command, like Southern Command and Central Command, AFRICOM has been expanding these wars.”

Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare



More accurate it seems, AFRICOM had been ‘brewing’ the crisis for five years since it began operations in late 2007. Mali for the Pentagon is but the next building block in the militarization of all of Africa by AFRICOM using proxy forces like France to do the dirty work. The Mali intervention using France upfront is but one building block in a project for the total militarization of Africa... The strategic target is China and the rapidly growing Chinese business presence across Africa over the past decade. The goal of AFRICOM is to push China out of Africa or at least to irreparably cripple her independent access to those African resources.”


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This fact is, of course, not lost to many around the world:
“The purpose of this war in Mali is very clear… The purpose is to fight against China and allow our American ally to maintain its presence in Africa and the Middle East. This is what guides these neo-colonialists operations.

“And you will see, when the military operation will be over, France will, of course, keep its military bases in Mali. These bases will be a benefit to the Americans as well. And at the same time, as has always been the case, western corporations will put their hands on juicy contracts that will once again deprive re-colonized countries of their wealth and raw materials.”

Belgian MP LAURENT LOUIS stands against war in Mali and exposes the international neo-colonial plot



To accomplish this task, the United States has been very busy expanding its military presence on the continent.


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As for what the future holds for Africa? The answer should be obvious, more wars as western powers follow up their military operations by trying to secure investment from these newly colonized nations.

Senators Coons, Durbin, Boozman introduce bill to increase U.S. exports to Africa



The following charts and maps provide additional information.


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V. Part 4. The Subjugation of Africa, the Battle for a Continent: Full Throttle into Oblivion


For part four of The future of Africa looks bleak, instead of doing a full write-up connecting all the dots as we did in the Introduction, “Part 1: Western Powers Go Full Retard on Africa: China vs. AFRICOM, a Resource War”, “Part 2: France Has Forgotten the Battle of Algiers, Africa Never Will”, and “Part 3: Recolonization of Africa, a Symptom of Our Addiction to Growth: Differential Accumulation, Why GDP Growth Rates Influence Foreign Policy”, I thought it would suffice to provide links to some of the most recent developments, news and information, that would complement our discussion so far.

The picture being painted should be quite clear, after all, what else would anyone think was happening in Africa other than the recolonization of its land and the subjugation of its people. Western powers did not destroy Libya, a country that had achieved the highest living standard in Africa (1, 2) and did not just start selling weapons to one of the most brutal military dictatorships in Africa (see Egypt below) because they are interested in human rights, peace, prosperity, or a myriad of other reasons that our corporate representatives in government would like us to believe.

We are not in Africa because we care about the children, we are in Africa with force because we need Africa to subsidize Western living standards and corporate profits.
“Africa’s classic depiction in the mainstream media, as a giant basketcase full of endless war, famine and helpless children creates an illusion of a continent utterly dependent on Western handouts. In fact, the precise opposite is true – it is the West that is reliant on African handouts. These handouts come in many and varied forms. They include illicit flows of resources, the profits of which invariably find their way into the West’s banking sector via strings of tax havens.… Another is the mechanism of debt-extortion whereby banks lend money to military rulers (often helped to power by Western governments, such as the Congo’s former President Mobutu), who then keep the money for themselves (often in a private account with the lending bank), leaving the country paying exorbitant interest on an exponentially growing debt.…

“Another form of handout would be through the looting of minerals.… Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are the pitifully low prices paid both for African raw materials and for the labour that mines, grows or picks them, which effectively amount to an African subsidy for Western living standards and corporate profits.

“This is the role for which Africa has been ascribed by the masters of the Western capitalist economy: a supplier of cheap resources and cheap labour. And keeping this labour, and these resources, cheap depends primarily on one thing: ensuring that Africa remains underdeveloped and impoverished. If it were to become more prosperous, wages would rise; if it were to become more technologically developed, it would be able to add value to its raw materials through the manufacturing process before exporting them, forcing up the prices paid….
Additional news and information below:
  1. Libya

  2. Nigeria

  3. Egypt

  4. Sudan

  5. Water

  6. Food

  7. China and the United States


I. Libya


Libya in shock after murder of human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis - “The couple had just returned from voting in Wednesday's election, the attack reminding Libyans of the growing power of extremists in a country racked by violence….

“Bugaighis, a lawyer from a prominent Benghazi family, was among the first to the barricades in Libya's 2011 Arab spring revolution, and later resigned from the first rebel administration, the National Transitional Council, accusing it of freezing-out female members….

“Most recently Bugaighis had been a prominent member of a commission trying to bridge Libya's growing factional divide. That divide appeared as wide as ever on Thursday, with rival militias deployed on the streets of Tripoli and the supreme court suspending sessions amid fears of violence. “

“A car bomb wounded two people outside the assembly designing Libya's constitution in the eastern city of al-Baida and security officials said three soldiers deployed to guard ballot boxes were killed by Islamist militias in Benghazi.”

Libya War: What They Don't Want You to Know


Additional information on Libya:
  • Johann Hari: We're not being told the truth on Libya
  • WikiLeaks documents shed light on US-backed intervention in Libya
  • The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya
  • Libya Truth (DnB Soundtrack)
  • Libya’s “Water Wars” and Gaddafi’s Great Man-Made River Project
  • France eyes Libya deals after unfreezing $2 billion assets
  • Look at ‘Liberated’ Libya and Despair
  • U.S. moves more forces closer to Libya as unrest grows


  • II. Nigeria


    Kidnapped Girls Become Tools of U.S. Imperial Policy in Africa - “The ‘humanitarian’ U.S. military occupation of Africa has been very successful, thus far. ‘The Chibok abductions have served the same U.S. foreign policy purposes as Joseph Kony sightings in central Africa.’ Imagine: the superpower that financed the genocide of six million in Congo, claims to be a defender of teenage girls and human rights on the continent. If you believe that, then you are probably a member of the Congressional Black Caucus….

    “A chorus of outraged public opinion demands that the ‘international community’ and the Nigerian military ‘Do something!’ about the abduction by Boko Haram of 280 teenage girls. It is difficult to fault the average U.S. consumer of packaged ‘news’ products for knowing next to nothing about what the Nigerian army has actually been ‘doing’ to suppress the Muslim fundamentalist rebels since, as senior columnist Margaret Kimberley pointed out in these pages, last week, the three U.S. broadcast networks carried ‘not a single television news story about Boko Haram’ in all of 2013. (Nor did the misinformation corporations provide a nanosecond of coverage of the bloodshed in the Central African Republic, where thousands died and a million were made homeless by communal fighting over the past year.) But, that doesn’t mean the Nigerian army hasn’t been bombing, strafing, and indiscriminately slaughtering thousands of, mainly, young men in the country’s mostly Muslim north.

    “The newly aware U.S. public may or may not be screaming for blood, but rivers of blood have already flowed in the region. Those Americans who read – which, presumably, includes First Lady Michelle Obama, who took her husband’s place on radio last weekend to pledge U.S. help in the hunt for the girls – would have learned in the New York Times of the army’s savage offensive near the Niger border, last May and June. In the town of Bosso, the Nigerian army killed hundreds of young men in traditional Muslim garb ‘Without Asking Who They Are,’ according to the NYT headline. ‘They don’t ask any questions,’ said a witness who later fled for his life, like thousands of others. ‘When they see young men in traditional robes, they shoot them on the spot,’ said a student. ‘They catch many of the others and take them away, and we don’t hear from them again.’”

    Boko Haram Kidnappings An Excuse For The U.S. To Further Entrench Itself In Africa



    III. Egypt


    The Al Jazeera trial: first they came for the Muslim Brotherhood... - “The Al Jazeera verdicts - roundly condemned by foreign governments, media organisations and human rights groups - are just the tip of the iceberg. Since the unseating (by military coup?) of Morsi a year ago, we’ve had hundreds of people sentenced to death, thousands arrested (estimates range between 16,000 and 41,000), and at least one secret military prison set up where torture is rampant.

    “Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood, anti-Salafist and anti-democracy activist purges have reached such a fever pitch that surely even traditional backers of Egyptian military rulers are starting to squirm. Well, sort of. After the jailing of the Al Jazeera journalists, John Kerry said the sentences were ‘chilling’ and ‘draconian’, and the White House chimed in with its own condemnation. But only a few hours before Peter Greste et al were getting their hefty sentences it emerged that the USA was unfreezing military aid to Egypt (aid cut off last year after the violent ousting of ... the elected president Mohamed Morsi). Though the USA chides Egypt in public, behind the scenes it's still arranging mammoth arms deals - just as it did in the Mubarak era.”

    U.S. Renews Aid to Sisi-led Egypt Despite Ongoing Political Repression


    Additional information on Egypt:
  • "Journalism in Egypt is a Crime": Global Outcry After 3 Al Jazeera Reporters Sentenced to 7-10 Years
  • Egypt is a Police State: Senior Muslim Brotherhood Member Condemns New Mass Death Sentence for 683
  • Inside the Brutality of Egypt's New Regime: 2,500 Killed, 16,000 Political Prisoners, Torture Allegations Are Widespread


  • IV. Sudan and Somalia


    South Sudan crisis: Donors pledge $600m at conference - “Donors including the US and the UK have pledged more than $600m (£360m; 440m euros) in aid to South Sudan at a conference in Norway. The sum raised will go towards the target of $1.8bn the UN says is needed to help millions facing starvation. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos says it is still possible to prevent a famine in the conflict-torn country. More than a million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted in December.

    “Thousands have now died in the crisis that started as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar, but escalated into ethnic violence. The conflict has left people unable to farm and with little access to food, aid experts say.”

    Somalia on the brink of food crisis



    V. Water


    Map Room: Hidden Waters - “Across Africa, deep beneath a host of varied terrains, vast groundwater reserves lie almost untouched. These aquifers are some 410,000 cubic miles thick and contain 100 times the freshwater that exists on the continent’s surface. As Africa’s population expands, these aquifers could prove critical in increasing food production, reducing poverty, and adapting to climate change.

    click image to enlarge

    “Last April, scientists published the first comprehensive map of African groundwater reserves in the journal Environmental Research Letters. In the image above, World Policy Journal shows these water resources alongside historic drought conditions in an effort to define the enormous scope of this vital resource. Much of the groundwater lies beneath the Sahel belt, one of the most drought-prone stretches on the planet. Since water scarcity in the Sahel will remain a problem, tapping these hidden freshwater reserves could become a priority.

    “Some countries have successfully exploited these gigantic fossil reserves in the past. In 1984, Libya’s surface freshwater was becoming contaminated with saltwater, so Muammar Gaddafi ordered construction of a $25 billion ‘Great Manmade River’ project to extract water from beneath the Sahara and bring it to cities near the sea. Some estimates suggest that despite its price tag, this method was still one-tenth the cost of the alternative—desalinating water from the Mediterranean. Though the “river” works for now, large government subsidies are still the only way most Libyan farmers can afford water to irrigate their crops. And contrary to Gaddafi’s claim that the aquifer would last 4,625 years, independent research has indicated that it will run dry in just 60 to 100.

    “Many specialists say drilling fossil reserves should only be a last resort. They are costly to tap, and once they are gone, they are gone forever. Still, last-ditch options like the Libyan strategy could appeal to countries suffering from droughts when there is an abundance of clean freshwater beneath their feet.”

    Water Wars: Land snatched from Syria supplies third of Israel's H2O



    VI. Food


    Stunner: Researchers retract paper because company complains it’s hurting profits - “It’s not unusual for us to hear allegations that journals have caved to corporate demands that they retract papers. And companies have certainly objected to the publication of results that painted their products in an unflattering light.

    “But what we’ve never explicitly seen is a retraction notice that comes right out and says that the only reason a paper is being removed from the literature is that a company complained. That’s the jaw-dropping case with ‘Visual defects among consumers of processed cassava (gari),’ a paper published earlier this year in the African Journal of Food Sciences:
    “The retraction is based on the fact that a Gari processing company has requested the retraction this paper from journal’s website and publisher’s database since it is crumbling their business inputs to their competitors leading to a drastic reduction in customers and consumers hence affecting their productivity and profitability.…

    “The incidence of color blindness is higher in gari consumers than the non consumers. Visual defects are correlated to the frequency of eating gari, for how long gari has been eaten and age. The high prevalence of visual defects among the consumers of gari may be due to the exposure to unsafe amount of cyanide in gari that was consumed over a long period of time. This may consequently contribute to high prevalence of blindness and severe visual impairment especially among those aged ≥ 40 years.”
    Gari and Cassava production – A small business that can change your life!



    VII. China and the United States


    China to build railway linking East Africa - “China has signed a deal to build a $3.8bn railway link between Kenya's Indian Ocean port of Mombasa and Nairobi, the first stage of a line that will eventually link neighbouring Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. The agreement was signed in Nairobi on Sunday by visiting Chinese premier Li Keqiang and witnessed by the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

    “Under the terms of the deal, Exim Bank of China will provide 90 percent of the cost to replace the crumbling British colonial-era line with a 609km standard-gauge link, and Kenya the remaining 10 percent. Construction is due to start in October and will take three-and-a-half years to complete, with China Communications Construction as the main contractor, the AFP news agency reported.”

    Jeremy Scahill: Al-Shabab’s Nairobi Mall Rampage Tied to "Disastrous" U.S. Meddling in Somalia


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