On Monday, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) authorized the deployment of Kenyan troops to Haiti. The intervention responds to a request issued by the acting prime minister and unelected head of Haiti, Ariel Henry, whose regime has been legitimized by support from the US, France, and Canada, among others.
With 13 votes in favor and two abstentions (Russia and China), the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved resolution 2699 to initiate an international mission. Previously, analysts had anticipated that Russia and China may have used their veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block the intervention.
The ruling on the multinational force was written by the US and will be carried out by 1,000 Kenyan soldiers. Technically, the intervention will not constitute a UN mission; as a result, UN member states will not be obliged to contribute to the intervention. Instead, the US has announced that it will contribute $200 million to the military intervention. In addition, the US Department of Defense, the branch of the US government directly responsible for the United States Armed Forces, will foot half the bill, according to the Miami Herald.
“The so-called ‘multinational security support mission’ in Haiti is not an actual UN mission,” wrote geopolitical analyst Ben Norton on the subject. “It is a US military intervention, using the UN and Kenya as cover. The US wrote the UN resolution. The US is overseeing the operation. The [US] Defense Department is funding it.”
The resolution specifies that the military operation will last one year, with a review after nine months. Although the intervention aims to address rising violence as a result of crimes, the US and its allies, to date, have focused their efforts on isolating the controversial figure of Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier and his G9 organization, which has, in reality, sought to broker peace deals between Haiti’s warring criminal factions.
The resolution will be deployed in coming months, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
A coalition of organizations composed of Haitians living in the US has recently demanded that the Biden administration end its support for Haiti’s unelected regime. Henry was appointed as leader of Haiti after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Although the case is still ongoing and the investigation is being led by US authorities, it appears that mercenaries, mostly Colombian, were hired by a Miami, USA-based company to carry out the killing of Moïse.
On Friday, September 22, the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON) and Family Action Network Movement (FANM) wrote to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the request.
“Any military intervention supporting Haiti’s corrupt, repressive, unelected regime will likely exacerbate its current political crisis to a catastrophic one,” they wrote. “It will further entrench the regime, deepening Haiti’s political crisis while generating significant civilian casualties and migration pressure.”
“This regime has dismantled Haiti’s democratic structures while facilitating and conceding control of the country to many gang leaders. The PHTK governments did not run a fair or timely election,” the letter added.
“They have created a prevalent culture of corruption that deprives the government of the necessary funds to support the Haiti National Police and provide basic governmental services to the Haitian population.”
Kenya, a country of almost 55 million inhabitants, announced last July its willingness to send a thousand troops and thus assume a supporting role in the intervention. Sensing that Kenya, as an African nation, is largely being used as a proxy for the US military, which remains greatly unpopular in Haiti, Kenyan journalists and social movements have criticized the use of their country’s military in such a manner. Activists have complained that Kenya has “allowed itself to serve the agenda of white imperialists who continue to fund the criminal mafias in Haiti to destabilise it but pretend to mean good to it,” writes Nairobi-based journalist Gordon Osen.
Haitian protester holds an anti-US sign during a protest against the unelected, US-backed Haitian regime, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Oct. 17, 2022. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP.
The intervention was approved by the military council despite arguments made against intervention last December by Haiti Liberté’s Kim Ives, speaking before the UN Security Council.
“The facts themselves are not neutral,” said Ives at that time. “They speak to a history in which international law has been violated and the principles of peace and self-determination on which this body was founded have been trampled. These precedents have spawned the current crisis in the past three decades. Haiti has been the victim of three coup d’etats — in 1991, 2004, and, most recently, 2021. After each of these crimes, which involved international actors, the UN Security Council has been asked, as it is being asked today, to militarily intervene in Haiti. The council agreed to do so in the first two cases, thereby essentially cementing in place an unjust and illegal status quo.
“The victims of these coups, the Haitian masses, were the ones policed, repressed, terrorized, demonized sexually, violated, politically bullied, and economically sanctioned. That is why the 16 million Haitian people — 12 million living in Haiti and some four million living abroad — are patently, and almost universally, opposed to any more UN interventions, with the exception of Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie.”
The 2010 United Nations intervention in Haiti infamously introduced cholera to the country, resulting in over 600,000 cases and approximately 10,000 preventable deaths.
Steve Lalla is a journalist, researcher and analyst. His areas of interest include geopolitics, history, and current affairs. He has contributed to Counterpunch, Resumen LatinoAmericano English, ANTICONQUISTA, Orinoco Tribune, and others.
Republished from Lalla's Medium.
The Big Three are retaliating against the UAW by laying off thousands of its members at plants across the country. Defeating these attacks will require the self organization and mobilization of all the workers.
In a clear act of retaliation against striking auto workers, the Big Three have laid off thousands of employees since the United Auto Workers (UAW) strikes began on September 15.
At Ford, more than 600 non-striking workers were laid off at the Wayne, Michigan plant just two days after the strike began. Meanwhile, GM and Stellantis have laid off a combined 3,000 workers, with more layoffs expected. At the same time, a number of auto suppliers for the Big Three have also been laying off substantial portions of their own workforces to retaliate against the UAW strike. If the strike continues for several more weeks or months, it is quite possible that these layoffs (and the use of scab labor) will increase exponentially, as the companies seek to protect profits and divide the workforce in order to weaken the strike. Directly confronting and resisting these layoffs must be a central task of the entire union if they wish to protect their jobs, win their demands, and build union solidarity.
While the UAW has condemned the layoffs, the auto companies claim that they are an inevitable result of the strike, which, by disrupting manufacturing and distribution across several major plants, has left many other workplaces without the necessary materials needed to continue production. However, it’s important to note that these layoffs are not only a corporate response to the chaos created by the strike; they are quite obviously an explicit tool of retaliation that the auto companies are using to punish the UAW and its members in order to break the strike.
As UAW president Shawn Fain said in a response to the layoffs: “if the Big Three decide to lay people off who aren’t on strike, that’s them trying to put the squeeze on our members to settle for less.” Fain also made the point that the layoffs were unnecessary, and the company could afford to continue paying those laid-off workers. With more than $20 billion in combined profits for just the first half of this year, they definitely could.
But these layoffs are not only about squeezing workers — they are also part of a clear strategy by the Big Three to try to withstand the worst effects of the strike at the expense of the workers themselves. GM, Ford, and Stellantis, though they continue to rake in record profits, are using these layoffs to save millions in wages while simultaneously sowing fear and insecurity among all of those not yet on strike, many of whom could be laid off at a moment’s notice. This is a clear attempt not only to put pressure on the strikers, as Fain explains, but to create divisions within the union and among different sectors of workers — those still receiving paychecks, those receiving strike pay, and those being laid off.
Meanwhile, the companies are using the state and bourgeois law to punish workers even further by refusing to pay contractually-obligated supplementary unemployment benefits, and arguing that those laid off during a strike do not qualify for state unemployment. This claim may prove to be true for some workers, thanks to anti-worker “right to work” legislation in several states like Kansas and Michigan (which is still a right-to-work state until March 2024), where layoffs are taking place.
It is not out of the question that management will try to make these layoffs permanent as further punishment against the strike and the bold demands the union is putting forward. This makes it necessary for the union to stop the “business as usual” approach to layoffs. They have to treat this act of retaliation as a serious threat that requires a direct response, and not simply rely on the law or the courts, which fail the working class all the time.
Although the stand-up strike strategy has allowed Fain and the UAW to gain public support while also causing chaos within the production processes of the Big Three, the top-down nature of the struggle so far means that these laid-off workers, and many others, have no agency in decisions about their strike, or about fighting layoffs.
To ensure these workers are compensated and get their jobs back, the rank and file must demand that the strike take up the reinstatement of all workers laid off in the UAW and related industries directly as part of its demands. In order to fight these layoffs, the UAW should organize meetings in every single local to unite all workers — those on strike, those who are not on strike, and those who have been laid off. This would allow workers (many of whom are already organizing flying squadrons, fighting management on the floor, and refusing to work overtime) to discuss together how to continue the strike, how to resist scabs, and how to develop a strategy that can best fight these layoffs both during the strike and after. Every new wave of layoffs should be met with further walkouts and an escalation of the strike. The members should make sure that any new contract guarantees that laid-off workers are rehired and receive compensation for lost wages.
But beating the Big Three and building a union capable of defending those gains will require the collective efforts, creative energy, and active engagement of all of the membership, not only the elected leaders, staff, and bureaucrats. Every worker is capable of leading, and ultimately, it is the workers themselves who are on the front lines of struggle every day and who know best how to organize themselves to fight the bosses. This is why self organization, in the form of strike committees and mass meetings of rank-and-file workers, is so important.
Such a self-directed struggle against these layoffs would not only create greater solidarity among workers within the union, but would help to build the kind of organization needed to weather a strike long enough to win all of their demands, including the bold demand for a 32 hour workweek, which could be an essential part of the fight against layoffs as the industry transitions to the production of electric vehicles.
Just as the workers of the great GM sit-down strikes and their communities and families did in 1937, rank-and-file auto workers, alongside workers across the country, have it in their power today to rebuild a fighting labor movement.
James Dennis Hoff is a writer, educator, labor activist, and member of the Left Voice editorial board. He teaches at The City University of New York.
Republished from Left Voice.
“The workers are the liberators,” declares UAW President, sending 7,000 more out on strike. By: Natalia MarquesRead Now
United Auto Workers are expanding their strike to put additional pressure on General Motors and Ford, playing the three largest automakers against each other
On September 29, United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain announced that 7,000 more unionized auto workers are going out on strike, to join the 18,000 workers already participating in the “Stand Up Strike” against the three largest automakers in the United States.
Since 146,000 UAW auto workers saw their master contract expire with the three largest automakers (Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors) on September 14, the UAW has implemented the unique “Stand Up Strike” method. Instead of sending all 146,000 Big Three auto workers out on strike in one fell swoop, the union is having workers walk off the job in waves. This ensures that the companies are always on their toes—already causing the corporations to miscalculate and prepare for strikes at the wrong plants.
The two additional plants called out on strike are General Motors’ Lansing Delta Township Assembly in Michigan and Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant. The union decided to go easier on Stellantis this time around, although the union had originally planned to expand the strike for all the Big Three this Friday. Shortly before Shawn Fain was to make his weekly Stand Up Strike announcement, Stellantis sent some last minute emails to the union, acquiescing to worker demands around cost of living allowances (COLA), the right not to cross a picket line, and the right to strike over product commitments and plant closures.
Ford was spared last week because of significant progress the union had made on its central demands at that company, and UAW instead elected to send all Stellantis and Ford parts distribution centers out on strike. But as Jane Slaughter writes in Labor Notes, “Today the UAW once again called out workers at Ford and GM, putting some muscle behind its bold demands—a big wage boost, a shorter work week, elimination of tiers, cost-of-living adjustments tied to inflation, protection from plant closures, conversion of temps to permanent employees, and the restoration of retiree health care and benefit-defined pensions to all workers.”
In his announcement of the 7,000 workers newly on strike, Shawn Fain referenced US President Joe Biden’s visit to a UAW picket line this week, marking the first time a sitting US President has ever visited a picket line. During his visit, Biden expressed open support for UAW’s demand for a 40% wage increase.
“Companies were in trouble, now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too,” Biden said to striking workers, referencing the 2009 government bailout of the auto industry. “You deserve what you’ve earned. And you’ve earned a helluva lot more than what you’re getting paid now.”
But Fain was not about to give Biden a pat on the back simply for showing up. On Friday, the UAW leader was frank about what it took to get the President of the United States to show unequivocal support for striking workers. “The most powerful man in the world showed up for one reason only: because our solidarity is the most powerful force in the world.”
On Friday, Fain referenced the historic plant that Biden had visited, the GM Willow Run facility in Michigan, “where UAW members built the B24 Liberator bombers during WWII.”
“Our union was essential in building what was called the arsenal of democracy,” he said in a Facebook Live address to all UAW members and the rest of the public. “Just like 80 years ago, today our union is building a different arsenal of democracy. But this war isn’t against some foreign country. The frontlines are right here at home. It’s the war of the working class versus corporate greed. We are the new arsenal of democracy.”
“The workers are the liberators and our strike is a vehicle for liberation,” he declared.
Workers hold the line for a fair dealWhile the Stand Up Strike model has proven effective, the sheer excitement and anticipation of each non striking Big Three worksite is testament to the fighting spirit of these autoworkers.
Peoples Dispatch spoke to Jeffrey Parcell, President of UAW Local 3039, whose members work at a Stellantis PDC in Tappan, New York. Tappan auto workers were asked to go out on strike after the first week, on September 22. When asked what it was like to work while the strike was ongoing, Parcell candidly said, “We were pissed. We wanted it to be us.” Finally walking out at noon last Friday was extremely satisfying to workers, Parcell said. Management had anticipated that if there were to be a walkout, it would happen at midnight, like it did with the first strike wave on September 14. Instead, Fain ordered Stellantis and GM PDCs to go on strike at noon Eastern Time.
Parcell describes how underprepared management was, and how workers left everything on the shop floor and walked out at midday. At one point while workers were on the picket line, a supervisor walked out of the PDC, and workers reminded him that he wasn’t on break, telling him to get back inside and get back to work. In an economic system where the roles are almost always reversed, strikes offer a unique opportunity to give the bosses a taste of their own medicine.
“The day we walked out, you know, we were ready to go,” Parcell said. The workers in Tappan are ready to hold the picket line for as long as it takes to reach a fair contract. “We’re prepared to go as long as we gotta go man. We dealt with the rain over the weekend, a lot of storms and stuff like that. We’re still out there 24/7 around the clock.”
Patrick Paisley, a worker at the Tappan PDC for five years, was impressed with the solidarity other working people have shown on the picket line and at solidarity rallies in the surrounding area. “It’s not just for us,” he told Peoples Dispatch. “A lot of people have been taken for granted, you know. I’m hoping that the bigger heads can see that people want to be recognized, or at least compensated, or appreciated, whatever, you know?”
Republished from Peoples Dispatch.
Citing a U.S. official familiar with current intelligence, U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh said that the U.S. intelligence believes that the Ukrainian forces have become demoralized and have no chance of winning, adding that there currently exists no discussion in Kiev or the White House regarding a ceasefire.
In a new post on his Substack account, Hersh said,
There are significant elements in the American intelligence community, relying on field reports and technical intelligence, who believe that the demoralized Ukraine army has given up on the possibility of overcoming the heavily mined three-tier Russian defense lines and taking the war to Crimea and the four oblasts seized and annexed by Russia. The reality is that Volodymyr Zelensky’s battered army no longer has any chance of a victory.
Hersh also noted there is no interest in peace talks. Quoting the official, Hersh continued that Ukraine’s claims of incremental progress in the offensive constitute of “all lies”.
The renowned investigative journalist reported last month that the CIA informed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the Ukrainian counteroffensive would not likely yield results.
This information, said Hersh, came from a U.S. intelligence official, who stated more specifically, that “the word was getting to him [Blinken] through the Agency [CIA] that the Ukrainian offense was not going to work. It was a show by Zelensky and there were some in the administration who believed his bullshit.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling on his Western allies for months to provide his military with long-range missiles, arguing that this could drastically improve the outcome of the counteroffensive. But before that, it was the anti-air missiles, the advanced offense tanks, heavily armored troop carriers, and the HIMARS system.
Ukraine is depleting resources at an unsustainable rate, firing 90,000 artillery rounds per month when the Pentagon is only capable of producing a third of that number, while also losing around 20 percent of NATO-provided weapons–that were either destroyed or damaged–within the first two weeks of the counteroffensive, which saw very limited ground gains since it was launched almost three months ago.
Republished from Al Mayadeen.
President Petro hopes the Asian nation can help Colombia with transportation projects based on the use of trains and electric technologies.
On Thursday, Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced that he will travel to Beijing, where he will meet with President Xi Jinping to discuss the future of Bogota's subway. Its construction is currently being handled by a Chinese consortium.
"I have an interview with the Chinese president on October 25," he said, adding that he hopes the Asian nation can help Colombia with transportation projects based on the use of trains and electric technologies.
With this trip, Petro will continue a pragmatic policy of friendship with China that began on Feb. 7, 1980, with the establishment of diplomatic relations during the administration of the then-Colombian President Julio Cesar Turbay. Since then, the relationship has been growing, and China became Colombia's second-largest trading partner in 2010.
In 2022, bilateral trade amounted to US$18 billion, with US$2 billion corresponding to Colombian exports and US$16 billion to imports of Chinese goods and services.
China's Ambassador to Colombia Zhu Jingyang assured that "China is interested in receiving more Colombian products and developing a process for more products to access the Chinese market, as recently happened with Colombian beef."
President Petro's emphasis on the relationship with China is also evident in his appointment of the film director Sergio Cabrera as ambassador in Beijing. Cabrera spent his adolescence in that Asian country, where he learned to speak Mandarin and even became a Red Guard.
Currently, Bogota's subway is Colombia's largest engineering project. For the construction of the first line, the China Harbour Engineering Company Limited and Xi'an Metro Company were selected in 2019.
The Social Equality and Happiness Mission will adapt the Chinese experience to the Caribbean country’s reality to alleviate poverty and inequality.
Caracas, September 21, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government has announced a new social program focused on fighting poverty and inequality, which will be supported by China’s International Poverty Reduction Center.
On Monday, during his weekly TV program, President Nicolás Maduro said that the “Social Equality and Happiness Mission” was “almost ready” to be launched and its main purpose is to “optimize the fight against inequality, against poverty and to build a more harmonious country.”
Although Maduro did not give details, he stressed that the social program will work alongside the Chinese anti-poverty center. The government led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been responsible for lifting over 850 million people out of poverty in the Asian giant since 1980.
“In 1981, almost 90 percent of the Chinese population was below the absolute poverty line as measured by the World Bank,” —the Venezuelan leader went on to explain in his national broadcast —“but in 2019 the figure did not reach 1 percent and by the end of 2020 the Chinese government announced poverty eradication in the country.”
China’s success story in reducing poverty has been recognized worldwide as it has gone hand in hand with sustained economic growth and rapid industrialization. Beijing has also created alliances with countries from the Global South to help advance socioeconomic cooperation.
Venezuela’s new social program follows President Maduro’s recent trip to China, where he met with President Xi Jinping to establish an “all-weather strategic partnership” and signed 31 cooperation agreements. The main ones include China’s support for Venezuela’s special economic zones (SEZs), poverty reduction efforts and boosting the country’s national electric grid and public healthcare system.
Maduro clarified that the Chinese experience will be adapted to the Caribbean country’s reality, its culture and people’s most important necessities.
Currently, Venezuela does not have official data regarding poverty and inequality rates. In 2014, the government stopped publishing numbers as the country entered an economic crisis after oil prices plunged globally and hyperinflation crushed working-class people’s purchasing power. The situation was aggravated by the imposition of unilateral coercive measures by Washington and its allies as part of a regime change strategy.
The sanctions levied against the Caribbean nation have targeted every key sector of the economy, especially the oil industry, the country’s main source of foreign revenue. In 2017, the US Treasury imposed sanctions against state oil company PDVSA followed by an oil embargo in 2019. Washington likewise banned diluent and fuel imports exacerbating fuel shortages affecting electricity generation and agricultural production.
In response to the US-led blockade, the Venezuelan government implemented a hybrid economic liberalization program and a nationwide de facto dollarization while advancing efforts to diversify the economy and increase non-oil revenues. As a result, the economy began to grow again in 2021 after seven years of contraction. Inflation receded to the lowest levels in nearly a decade and small-scale private enterprises expanded.
However, some analysts have pointed out that the economic reforms have contributed to a significant increase in inequalities due to growing private sector benefits, the de-regularization of labor and stagnated public sector workers’ wages. Venezuela’s minimum salary currently stands at 130 bolívares (around US $5).
President Maduro has not directly addressed complaints about low wages and the loss of social benefits from public sector workers, particularly in the education sector, who have staged several protests alongside workers from the industrial sector. The administration is likewise engaged in dialogue with trade unions regarding salary adjustments with mediation from the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Recently, the Venezuelan government has been primarily focused on resolving quality-of-life issues by remodeling deteriorated schools and hospitals and attending to public service problems through the so-called “1×10 System.” The initiative allows people to denounce issues within their communities using a digital app, breaking away from the bureaucratic processes to receive a rapid response.
According to the latest report, almost 1.5 million cases have been attended through the app-based program since its launch. The issues mostly relate to water, electricity, roads, internet connection and cooking gas supply.
During the Hugo Chávez government (1999-2012), Venezuela’s household income poverty reduced from 42 percent in 1999 to 27.3 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, structural poverty fell from 29.3 percent in 1999 to 19.6 percent in 2013. The achievement responded to a series of social programs, some of them in cooperation with Cuba.
The declaration omitted the use of the word aggression in the context of the Ukraine war, which had been a major point of contention. It recognized that the G20 is not the platform to resolve geopolitical and security issues while acknowledging their impact on the global economy
The 18th Summit of G20 (Group of 20) concluded in New Delhi with the adoption of a joint declaration on Sunday, September 10. The declaration reiterated the G20’s commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goals and raised the need to reform global decision-making with the inclusion of more voices from the Global South.
The two day meeting of world’s top economies concluded with Indian Prime Ninister Narendra Modi handing over the presidency to Brazil which will host the summit next year.
The New Delhi summit with the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future” invited the African Union (AU) as its 21st member with its chairperson Azali Assoumani joining the proceedings.
The AU represents 55 nations on the continent with a population of around 1.4 billion and a combined nominal GDP of USD 3 trillion.
The leaders of G20 member countries and heads of international organizations addressed the summit gathering as it closed. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, speaking at the end of the summit, noted that the world is still witnessing poverty, hunger, and concentration of wealth. He also emphasized the need to address the issue of rising inequality in all spheres of life ranging from health, education, food, gender, race, and representation.
Leaders’ Declaration: Global South pushes its agenda
Host nation India was able to pull together all the participants to agree to the New Delhi declaration, despite earlier speculation that the war in Ukraine may play a spoiler. Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, who attended the summit instead of president Vladimir Putin, praised New Delhi for preventing the West from pushing its agenda and “politicizing” the forum at the cost of the Global South on many issues including the war in Ukraine. The declaration omitted the use of the word aggression in the context of the Ukraine war, which had been a major point of contention.
The declaration reiterated that the G20 is the “premium forum for international economic cooperation” and not “the platform to resolve geopolitical and security issues” while acknowledging the impact of these issues on the economy. The attempt by the West to use the G20 platform to push its agenda on geopolitical issues has often been criticized by some members of the G20.
The declaration also urged the countries to adhere to their commitments under the UN charter and maintain the territorial integrity of all countries. It also acknowledged that the war in Ukraine has had a massive global economic impact particularly for the least developed countries which are still trying to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
It called for the revival of the Black Sea Grain deal and food grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine as it is necessary to meet the demands from developing countries.
Apart from reiterating the long-standing view of the developing countries about immediate reforms in the UN system, the declaration also voiced the need for greater representation of developing and poor countries in global economic decision-making to create a multilateral world reflecting the changing realities.
It noted that a large number of developing countries have been facing debt vulnerabilities which need urgent attention. It proposes immediate reforms in the global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and establishment of an efficient multilateral development bank (MDB) to address issues related to democratic disbursal of loans.
Noting that global economic growth is slower than expected and remains uneven, it underlines that all structural issues need to be resolved to address them.
The declaration reiterated the significance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a multilateral forum and underscored that a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024 must be created under it.
Sustainable development with multilateralism and reforms in global governance
Noting that “no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and fighting for our planet” the declaration pressed for greater cooperation to tackle the issues related to climate change and to ensure “sustainable, inclusive and just transitions” in the world.
The declaration underlined the need to have increased efforts and financing to achieve the Paris Agreement to tackle the rise in global temperature and other climate issues. The G20 agreed to take steps to limit the rise of temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius by 2030 but rejected any push to have a time-bound phasing of fossil fuels as demanded by some countries and the UN earlier.
The declaration talks about member countries taking efforts to restore at least 30% of the destroyed ecosystem by 2030 and at least 50% reduction of land degradation by 2040.
It reiterated the G20 commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Noting that only 12% of the SDGS are on track, the group declared that attempts need to be made to achieve time-bound targets and increased financing from all sources for the same.
It noted the structural constraints which prevented developing countries from catching up with the West and focused on the needs to manage gaps in skills, wages, social security of the workers particularly in the gig economies.
The declaration underlined the need to increase the role of women in economic decision-making.
Haiti, plunged into cycles of humanitarian crisis, rejects the possibility of new foreign intervention. By: Monyse RavenaRead Now
Movements propose transitional government and cooperation with the Global South to rebuild the country
Brasil de Fato spent seven days in Haiti at the invitation of popular organizations and movements. During the visit, BdF spoke to over 20 human rights organizations and all were unanimous in stating: the escalation of violence in the Caribbean country is stimulated by agents outside the island, and will probably be the justification for a new military intervention—rejected by the country’s civil society—led by foreign forces and sanctioned by the United Nations (UN).
Another common criticism from activists is the international press coverage of the country. Exuma Emmanuel, a communicator for Radio Resistance and the Haitian People’s News Agency, a community and popular web radio based in Port-au-Prince, is incisive, “The kind of international coverage given to Haiti has many negative effects for those who live here” he says. “One of which is to sell the image that it is one of the worst places in the world to live, and this also has an effect on Haitians living outside the country.”
“Outside the country, Haitians are afraid to present themselves as Haitians. There are other political effects on Haiti, since independence, negative news has formed an image,” he adds.
Camille Chalmers, economist, professor and representative of the Platform for Alternative Development in Haiti (PAPDA) asks, “How do people talk about the crisis in Haiti?”
“The dominant discourse in the international press is always about wars, the need for humanitarian aid,” she says. “This discourse has been going on since the 19th century because the imperial powers never accepted Haitian independence. The country helped in many independences and the [other] countries were afraid of the Haitian revolution.” Camille also highlights the permanence and originality of the Haitian popular movement and its anti-imperialist consciousness.
Increased violence and armed groups
The situation in the country is complex, with an increase in violence driven by armed groups that now control more than 50% of the territory, as confirmed by the organizations. The most critical situation is in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Armed groups control several popular neighborhoods, often involving murders and kidnappings.
According to Exuma Emmanuel, “the violence that has been encouraged wants to impose a new occupying force on the country.”
“The weapons used by the armed groups in the working class neighborhoods come from the United States. The Haitian people are not just desperate, they are fighting,” says Emmanuel, who explains that the gangs control strategic areas, creating a climate of terror and preventing people from organizing themselves.
According to a United Nations report on the situation in Haiti, violence intensified in 2023 and the number of murders recorded in the country increased by 21% this year, from 673 in the last quarter of 2022 to 815 between January 1 and March 31. The number of kidnappings rose by 63% in the same period, from 391 to 637.
Cases of rape of women and girls are also among the main complaints of the organizations heard by Brasil de Fato. A report by Amnesty International, presented at the beginning of April, points out that 40% of the country’s population is in a food emergency, which corresponds to five million people going hungry.
According to the UN, the Haitian authorities recorded 1,014 kidnappings in the country between January and June this year.
Haiti has the third highest inflation rate among Latin American countries (behind Argentina and Venezuela), at around 30%, and a volatile exchange rate. Fuel prices have risen by 260% in two years and the country is facing a new migration crisis with a flight of skilled labor. The majority of the population has no access to drinking water, medical care or adequate housing.
For Radio Resistance coordinator Reyneld Sanon, the international community is backing a “criminal government.” “Everything they do is to justify Haiti as a chaotic entity,” he says.
Since the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, the presidency has been vacant and there are no plans for new elections. After the president’s death, Ariel Henry was appointed prime minister. Popular organizations claim that his appointment was made through direct interference by the Core Group, made up of the embassies of Germany, Brazil, Spain, the USA, France, Canada, the European Union and the special representative of the Organization of American States.
At the moment, there is no functioning parliament or higher courts in the country.
A group of popular movements and human rights organizations are proposing the establishment of a transitional government as a way out of the crisis. The proposals have been systematized in the “Montana Accord,” which is opposed by the Core Group.
The agreement was proposed in August 2021 by the Commission for the Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis. The group brings together non-governmental organizations, popular and religious movements, political leaders and intellectuals who met after Moïse’s assassination. The name Montana Group refers to the place where the group held its meetings, the Hotel Montana, in the capital Port-au-Prince.
“The transition of power can be one of continuity or rupture, but the current government is illegitimate and illegal,” says Camille Chalmers on the challenge of the historic moment Haiti is experiencing.
Neidyson Cèzaire, a communicator, producer and activist, rejects the possibility of a new foreign intervention. “International aid from Western countries has never helped a country to develop,” he says. “The way forward for Haiti is to prioritize South-South cooperation. Western countries hate Haiti, they want to make us pay for being responsible for breaking the world order of slavery.”
Chalmers concludes by saying that “we need real solidarity. US imperialism is one of the actors driving the crisis. We do need to build international support networks, not military intervention.”
Unlike the popular organizations and movements that work directly with the population, Prime Minister Ariel Henry asked for international military aid to fight the armed groups in October 2022 and has yet to receive a response.
However, it is expected that at the next UN Security Council meeting on September 14 there will be statements and a possible determination on the issue.
The Brazilian government has already shown interest in having the Brazilian Federal Police train the Haitian police, but is waiting for the Security Council to approve a multinational police force in the country.
History and independence
Haiti was the first colony in the Americas to gain independence and the only independence revolution carried out by Black enslaved people. The Haitian revolution began in 1791, when the then French colony was called Santo Domingo. After a long struggle, independence was proclaimed in 1804 and the country was renamed Haiti, a name of Indigenous origin. The Haitian revolution combined the struggle for independence from the metropolis with the struggle to free the enslaved.
However, Haiti’s history in the 20th and 21st centuries has been marked by successive foreign occupations: the US occupation from 1915 to 1934; and the Duvalier military dictatorship, which lasted almost 30 years from 1957 to 1986. With the end of the dictatorship, the 1987 constitution brought several advances, including the establishment of Creole as an official language alongside French.
There were two coup attempts against the progressive former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991 and 2004.
Also in 2004, the occupation by MINUSTAH, a multinational UN force commanded by Brazilian military personnel, began and lasted until 2014. One of its commanders was General Augusto Heleno, head of the security cabinet in Jair Bolsonaro’s government.
Recent Haitian history also includes the devastating earthquake of 2010, which greatly inflamed the country’s social and economic crises, and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“Each intervention had serious and interrelated consequences. We arrived in 2016 with an important cycle of demonstrations led by the peasants and which were harshly fought by the gangs,” concludes Chalmers. Another cycle of important popular demonstrations took place in 2022, protesting against Ariel Henry’s government and the increase in violence.
BdF reporters tried to contact the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Haiti, but had not yet received a response by the time the report closed.
This article was translated from an article in Portuguese originally published on Brasil de Fato.
Republished from Peoples Dispatch.
Niger’s government accuses France of mobilizing for war after discussing troop withdrawal. By: Pavan KulkarniRead Now
The commander of French forces in the Sahel has discussed disengagement from Niger, yet Macron has refused to withdraw troops, whose continued presence in Niger was deemed ‘illegal’
Questioning the “sincerity” of France’s comments about the withdrawal of its troops from Niger, the transitional military government, the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), has accused the former colonizer of mobilizing for war.
CNSP spokesperson Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said on September 9 that a “hundred or so rotations of [French] military cargo planes unloaded large quantities of war material and equipment” in multiple member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He added that “two A400M type military transport aircraft and a Dornier 328 were deployed as reinforcements in Ivory Coast”, and “two Super Puma type multi-role helicopters” and “around forty armored vehicles” have been deployed “in Kandi and Malanville in Benin”.
He alleged that “France has continued to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS countries, as part of the preparations for an aggression against Niger that it is planning in collaboration” with the sub-regional bloc.
The AFP quoted an unnamed French military source denying the accusation, saying, “None of this is in preparation or intention. There is no intervention, no attack planned against Niger”. France had earlier extended support to ECOWAS, which has threatened to use military force if the CNSP does not restore France’s ally Mohamed Bazoum as Niger’s president.
Bazoum, whose regime had instituted a crackdown on the mass protest movement against the presence of French troops in their country, was removed from presidency on July 26 in a military coup that has received popular support.
French troops in Niger are “in a position of illegality”, maintains Niger’s PM
Following the coup, on August 3, the CNSP, canceled the agreements on the basis of which the French troops were present in the country. The one-month notice period in these agreements expired on September 3, following which the French troops in Niger are “in a position of illegality”, the CNSP-appointed Prime Minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, said at a press conference on September 4.
He added that the “ongoing exchanges should allow these forces to withdraw from our country very quickly”. According to Abdramane’s CNSP communique on Saturday, Niger’s Chief of Staff and the commander of French forces in the Sahel met on September 1 “to discuss a plan for the disengagement of French military capabilities from Niger.”
Earlier last week, the AFP quoted an unnamed source in the French defense ministry confirming that “discussions on the withdrawal of certain military elements have begun.” Le Monde had also reported that “Paris has discreetly opened discussions with the ruling military in Niamey on ‘the withdrawal of certain elements,’ after initially refusing to comply with the junta’s demands”.
However, “no progress has been made in implementing an agreement,” Abdramane criticized on September 9, questioning “the sincerity of the announcement of the French withdrawal plan”. He explained the reasons for CNSP’s skepticism, saying that “this withdrawal announcement comes from an operational level. It was not made by the French armed forces general staff, not by the French government, nor was it the subject of any official, written, or declaratory press release as is always customary in such circumstances.”
During a press conference on Sunday, September 10, after the conclusion of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated that “We do not recognize any legitimacy in the statements” of the CNSP, which he referred to as “the putschists”.
“If we redeploy anything, I will only do it at the request of President Bazoum and in coordination with him, not with officials who today are taking a president hostage,” he said. “As for the rest, I have no intention as long as the situation is this. It sort of freezes everything, since the only person we have to legitimately talk to is President Bazoum.”
Anti-French protests continue
In the meantime, demonstrations which began soon after the coup in support of the CNSP, demanding withdrawal of French troops, have now become an almost daily event. Thousands continue to gather outside the French base in capital Niamey, in a protest against the former colonizer’s intransigence.
After threatening late month to storm the French bases if its troops did not leave the country, protesters sacrificed a goat dressed in the French tricolor and symbolically buried a coffin draped in its national flag outside its base in Niamey earlier this month. Up to 1,500 French troops are deployed in this base and two others in Ouallam and Ayorou.
US on the retreat while China offers to moderate
The US, which has another 1,200 of its own troops in two bases in the country, is taking a more cautious approach than France. Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said at a press briefing on September 7 that the US is “repositioning some of our personnel and some of our assets from Air Base 101 in Niamey to Air Base 201” further north in Agadez.
Reiterating that the US hopes “that the situation on the ground gets resolved diplomatically,” she added that although “there is no perceived threat…to US troops”, they are being relocated as “a precautionary measure”. Politico reported on September 8 that the US military is “preparing to cut its presence in Niger nearly in half in the next few weeks,” citing unnamed Defense Department officials.
In the meantime, the Chinese ambassador to Niger Jiang Feng, said at a meeting with Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine that the Chinese government “intends to play the role of good offices, a role of moderator, with full respect for the regional countries.” Feng added that China “stands with Nigeriens”.
Republished from Peoples Dispatch.
The bloc has too much riding on Kiev’s highly-unlikely success, and that’s why it’s doing all it can to prolong the conflict
As the West’s proxy war in Ukraine slips inexorably towards utter failure, the neocons behind the debacle are faced with dwindling avenues of retreat.
Early confidence that Russia, in its current form, would collapse under the pressure of the harshest sanctions regime in history failed to materialize. Early Russian miscalculations on the battlefield were not followed by a military meltdown, but by a pragmatic display of strategic adaptability, which is begrudgingly admired in the military war rooms of the West. The Russian army, far from falling apart, has steeled itself into making bold decisions to retreat when prudent and advance when required, both of which have proven devastating for their Ukrainian opponents. It follows that, as the Western political elites that cultivated this conflict peer into another winter of political, military, and potentially economic discontent, it is now that we potentially face the most dangerous period in Europe since the outbreak of WWII.
The catalyst for a wider war in Europe isn’t, in fact, a limited conflict in Ukraine in itself, one that started in 2014 and, notably, had been largely ignored by Western powers for almost a decade. The real issue is that NATO, which is currently engaged in a proxy War with Russia, is facing a ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ scenario regarding its growing military involvement in Ukraine. If the US-led bloc escalates further as defeat looms, it could likely lead to direct confrontation with Russia. If it doesn’t, its proxy will collapse and leave Russia victorious, a fate once utterly unthinkable in Brussels, Washington, and London, but now becoming a nightmarish reality.
Such a defeat would be devastating and potentially terminal for the prestige and reputation of the whole NATO brand. After all, despite the Soviet Union having long ceased to exist, the bloc still markets itself as an indispensable bulwark against imagined Russian expansionism. In the event of an increasingly likely Ukrainian defeat, that ‘essential partner’ in ‘countering Russia’ will have been proven utterly impotent and largely irrelevant. More cynically, the vast US arms industry would also be denied a huge and lucrative market. So, how does a multi billion-dollar machine that has prophesied absolute victory against Russia even begin to contemplate defeat? And how do senior EU bureaucrats like Ursula Von der Leyen climb down from their quasi-religious devotion to the ‘cause’ of utterly defeating Russia, which she has shamelessly evangelized for over a year and a half? Lastly, how does the American administration, which has gone politically, morally, and economically ‘all in’ against Russia in Ukraine, contemplate what amounts to an increasingly inevitable European version of Afghanistan 2.0?
They will need to do two things: Firstly, find someone to blame for their defeat and secondly, find a new enemy to deflect public opinion onto. The ‘someone to blame’ will be quite easy to identify – the narrative will be flush with attacks on states like Hungary, China, and to some extent India, who will be accused of "undermining the unified effort needed to isolate and defeat Russia."
Blaming Ukraine itself will also be central to this narrative. Western media will insure it’s singled out as incapable of ‘taking the medicine’ proffered by NATO and therefore suffering the consequences, not listening to Western military advice, failing to utilize Western aid correctly and, of course – given that little has been done by Zelensky to tackle the endemic corruption in Ukraine – this fact will be easily weaponized against him and used to lubricate a slick narrative of ‘we tried to help them, but they simply couldn’t be saved from themselves’.
The ‘shift focus to another enemy’ narrative is the simplest and most obvious – that will be China. NATO is already trying to expand its influence in Asia, including via a planned ‘liaison office’ in Japan. The ‘China is the real threat’ narrative is bubbling steadily to the surface in Western media.
And, most worryingly, should Western powers fail to make their case for ‘plausible deniability’ around the culpability for this war, there is always the option of further escalating it. Such an escalation could rapidly lead to direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, an outcome no lucid observer on either side of the debate could or should be contemplating. The problem is, rational assessment and negotiation seem to have become so rare in Washington and Kiev that a devastating escalation could, quite remarkably, be considered an option by the deluded neocon think-tank advisers wielding disproportionate influence over an increasingly desperate political class in Washington and Brussels. In the event that NATO does indeed sanction a direct intervention into Ukraine, it will, of course, be justified as a ‘peacekeeping’ or humanitarian intervention by Polish or Romanian troops, but the categorization of the ‘mission’ will become gloriously irrelevant when the first clashes with Russian forces occur, followed by a potentially rapid spiral into all-out war between Russia and NATO.
It could be argued that the process to disassociate from Ukraine has already started, beginning with the embarrassment Zelensky faced at the recent NATO summit and progressing with the open spats between Western ‘partners’ over whether to give Ukraine ever deadlier weapons to essentially insure its self-destruction.
From here on out one thing is abundantly clear, nothing will happen by accident when it comes to the EU and NATO's interaction with the Zelensky regime. Whatever comes next may need to be spun both ways, to either pull out or to escalate. A case in point is the blame game being openly acted out around the obvious failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, with open finger-pointing in the Western media by Ukrainian officials like the ambassador to Germany, Aleksey Makeev. Kiev’s top man in Germany recently blamed the West for the bloody failure of the ill-fated project, suggesting it was solely due to European and American delays in shipping weapons and cash to Kiev. According to the ambassador, it was this Western failure that apparently allowed the Russians to build their defenses in eastern Ukraine, where tens of thousands of unfortunate Ukrainian conscripts have met their fate in the past three months.
In the real world, the counteroffensive, which has now become a slow-motion calamity, had been telegraphed to the Russians and the wider world for almost a year and will surely be recalled as one of the greatest military misadventures in history. The fact that the Ukrainian regime openly advertised its intentions, even loudly pointing out the avenue of assault and strategic goals, is conveniently ignored by the likes of Makeev. It now seems apparent that Kiev believed that its overt saber-rattling would stimulate faster and larger weapons shipments from its increasingly concerned partners – it didn’t, and by the time those very same sponsors’ patience ran out with Kiev’s lack of progress on the battlefield, it was glaringly obvious any offensive against long-prepared Russian defenses was doomed to fail. Yet, because of Kiev’s PR need and demands from Western political elites, the counteroffensive began, wiping out entire battalions of Ukrainian troops and burning through a huge portion of the Western heavy weapons previously provided.
The situation evokes a kind of tragic romantic folly, with Ukraine desperate to woo NATO and the EU to the point of suicide, NATO and the EU playing the aloof lover; never having really considered marriage but willing to allow its admirer to throw itself onto the spears of the real object of their attention – Russia. Of course, the real concern now preoccupying the EU-NATO cabal is how to survive this tawdry affair and move on. While the hapless Jens Stoltenberg would have us believe NATO has never been stronger, the reality is far less rosy for the ‘defensive alliance’ that has bombed its way across Europe and the Middle East, and now seeks to expand to the Pacific. The reality is that the Ukraine conflict could destroy NATO. It has become something of a modern day League of Nations, adept at admonishing small fish, but utterly incapable of standing toe to toe with any peer adversary, a failed political institution, posing as a military alliance, that in reality would collapse in the face of a direct challenge from either Russia or China. Of course, it seems that NATO has also willfully fallen under the spell of its own propaganda.
The big question now is whether the bloc would in reality contemplate a direct confrontation with Russia in Ukraine? Or will the Western political elites who built the scaffold the Ukrainian conflict is now blazing on choose to reverse through blame or escalate through desperation?
One thing is indisputable: The fate of NATO and its credibility as a ‘defensive alliance’ is irrevocably intertwined with the outcome of the Ukrainian conflict, yet because NATO is, in reality, a political rather than military institution, these crucial issues will never be debated openly, as the answers would be akin to a priest announcing the nonexistence of God from the pulpit.
Chay Bowes, journalist and geopolitical analyst, MA in Strategic Studies, RT correspondent.
Republished from RT.
The People’s Forum co-executive director reflects on the future of class struggle in the US and across the globe
Class struggle did not end with the so-called “end of history” in 1991. All over the world, even in the center of global imperialism, the United States, poor and working people continue to struggle and hope for a better future—despite the deep economic despair that the working class has been experiencing in the US.
300 visionaries including organizers, community leaders, and workers met in the Dilemmas of Humanity: A Socialist Horizon conference in Atlanta to discuss how the existing social movements in the US can seize the energy of the class struggle to stand with the masses of people and drive revolutionary change. Manolo De Los Santos, co-executive director of the People’s Forum in New York City and researcher at the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, outlines six fundamental conclusions emerging from these discussions.
Dear comrades, our day of debate and dialogue is almost coming to an end. But not the struggle. The class struggle never ends. They told us once that history ended in 1991. That there was no reason for people to keep fighting, or to ever talk again about socialism. But here we are, in the year 2023, with 300 other people in this room, talking about socialism. And it’s not just the people in this room. It’s millions of people all over the planet. Young people, working people, Black people, people who refuse to continue living the same way under the same masters.
Why did we call this conference A Socialist Horizon? Our enemies keep telling us that socialism has failed. That socialism is a utopia. That socialism is a far away concept. But when we talk about horizon, what is a horizon? It’s that line of sight where the Earth and the sky meet. Where the impossible meets the possible. Where what we think couldn’t be done yesterday becomes evermore realistic and concrete in our ongoing struggles.
They said that young people would never rise up in this country. Ferguson happened. 2020 happened. And even just the thought of uprising scared some of these people in their boots. But what we’ve come to today through our debates, through our group work, has revealed a series of conclusions that I want to share with all of you today.
These are not my words, these are the results of all of the discussions we’ve had today. Both the formal ones, where we’ve met in groups, but also the informal discussions that have taken place.
And there are six key conclusions that we wanted to synthesize.
One, there is a force capable of transforming the world. That is the working class. Only the masses of people, of working people, of Black and Brown people, of poor people in our society are capable of actually making this society better.
Two, it’s not a coincidence that we’re holding this conference in the US South. That we’re holding this conference in Atlanta. This region was a motor force in the development of capitalism in the United States, and therefore it will be necessary for the leadership of the movements and organizations of the South to bring this system down.
I want to be more precise with something I said earlier. We built this society, we can destroy this system, and we can build a new one. But that is only possible through people’s internationalism. Through working class internationalism. We will not defeat capitalism alone from the US South. We will not defeat capitalism alone from the United States. We have a role to play, but we must unite with the revolutionary forces around the planet.
Third, and this was a hot topic today. We had a prophet onstage, Eugene Puryear, who brought it out so clearly. We need a communist party. We need organizations. It is not enough to continue building organizations as we have now. We have to take another step, a renewed step into building a new type of organization capable of taking in the aspirations of millions of people in a dynamic process towards revolution.
Four, and this came out throughout all the different groups. The solutions we’re looking for are already present in our movements and in our everyday struggles. Someone aptly said today, that we have to be capable of naming our enemies and the solutions in the same breath.
Five, that political and popular education are necessary elements in order for us to build unity and consciousness among our class and struggles.
Six, and lastly, this conversation that we have started today is part of an ongoing struggle that goes back centuries. We are the accumulation of all the struggles that have failed, and that have also won, throughout the history of humanity and this planet. We have to continue building a collective conversation. We have to continue forging and building collective action. We have to come out of this room with a commitment to building as a beginning premise, a sense of tactical unity as we move forward. This is not an easy task. This is not an easy task knowing that we have a diversity of organizations, over 40 different organizations that are here in the room, representing different sectors, different struggles, different movements, different forms of fighting. But if we have been able to be in one room together throughout a day, building common definitions, then that in itself is already the promise that we can begin to build tactical unity.
Manolo De Los Santos is the co-executive director of the People’s Forum and is a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He co-edited, most recently, Viviremos: Venezuela vs. Hybrid War (LeftWord Books/1804 Books, 2020) and Comrade of the Revolution: Selected Speeches of Fidel Castro (LeftWord Books/1804 Books, 2021). He is a co-coordinator of the People’s Summit for Democracy.
Republished from Peoples Dispatch.
Like dominos, African states are one by one falling outside the shackles of neocolonialism. Chad, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and now Gabon are saying 'non' to France's longtime domination of African financial, political, economic, and security affairs.
By adding two new African member-states to its roster, last week's summit in Johannesburg heralding the expanded BRICS 11 showed once again that Eurasian integration is inextricably linked to the integration of Afro-Eurasia.
Belarus is now proposing to hold a joint summit between BRICS 11, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). President Aleksandr Lukashenko's vision for the convergence of these multilateral organizations may, in due time, lead to the Mother of All Multipolarity Summits.
But Afro-Eurasia is a much more complicated proposition. Africa still lags far behind its Eurasian cousins on the road toward breaking the shackles of neocolonialism.
The continent today faces horrendous odds in its fight against the deeply entrenched financial and political institutions of colonization, especially when it comes to smashing French monetary hegemony in the form of the Franc CFA - or the Communauté Financière Africaine (African Financial Community).
Still, one domino is falling after another – Chad, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and now Gabon. This process has already turned Burkina Faso's President Captain Ibrahim Traoré, into a new hero of the multipolar world – as a dazed and confused collective west can’t even begin to comprehend the blowback represented by its 8 coups in West and Central Africa in less than 3 years.
Bye bye Bongo
Military officers decided to take power in Gabon after hyper pro-France President Ali Bongo won a dodgy election that “lacked credibility.” Institutions were dissolved. Borders with Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo were closed. All security deals with France were annulled. No one knows what will happen with the French military base.
All that was as popular as it comes: soldiers took to the streets of the capital Libreville in joyful singing, cheered on by onlookers.
Bongo and his father, who preceded him, have ruled Gabon since 1967. He was educated at a French private school and graduated from the Sorbonne. Gabon is a small nation of 2.4 million with a small army of 5,000 personnel that could fit into Donald Trump’s penthouse. Over 30 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day, and in over 60 percent of regions have zero access to healthcare and drinking water.
The military qualified Bongo’s 14-year rule as leading to a "deterioration in social cohesion” that was plunging the country “into chaos."
On cue, French mining company Eramet suspended its operations after the coup. That’s a near monopoly. Gabon is all about lavish mineral wealth – in gold, diamonds, manganese, uranium, niobium, iron ore, not to mention oil, natural gas, and hydropower. In OPEC-member Gabon, virtually the whole economy revolves around mining.
The case of Niger is even more complex. France exploits uranium and high-purity petrol as well as other types of mineral wealth. And the Americans are on site, operating three bases in Niger with up to 4,000 military personnel. The key strategic node in their ‘Empire of Bases’ is the drone facility in Agadez, known as Niger Air Base 201, the second-largest in Africa after Djibouti.
French and American interests clash, though, when it comes to the saga over the Trans-Sahara gas pipeline. After Washington broke the umbilical steel cord between Russia and Europe by bombing the Nord Streams, the EU, and especially Germany, badly needed an alternative.
Algerian gas supply can barely cover southern Europe. American gas is horribly expensive. The ideal solution for Europeans would be Nigerian gas crossing the Sahara and then the deep Mediterranean.
Nigeria, with 5,7 trillion cubic meters, has even more gas than Algeria and possibly Venezuela. By comparison, Norway has 2 trillion cubic meters. But Nigeria’s problem is how to pump its gas to distant customers - so Niger becomes an essential transit country.
When it comes to Niger’s role, energy is actually a much bigger game than the oft-touted uranium – which in fact is not that strategic either for France or the EU because Niger is only the 5th largest world supplier, way behind Kazakhstan and Canada.
Still, the ultimate French nightmare is losing the juicy uranium deals plus a Mali remix: Russia, post-Prighozin, arriving in Niger in full force with a simultaneous expulsion of the French military.
Adding Gabon only makes things dicier. Rising Russian influence could lead to boosting supply lines to rebels in Cameroon and Nigeria, and privileged access to the Central African Republic, where Russian presence is already strong.
It's no wonder that Francophile Paul Biya, in power for 41 years in Cameroon, has opted for a purge of his Armed Forces after the coup in Gabon. Cameroon may be the next domino to fall.
ECOWAS meets AFRICOM
The Americans, as it stands, are playing Sphynx. There’s no evidence so far that Niger's military wants the Agadez base shut down. The Pentagon has invested a fortune in their bases to spy on a great deal of the Sahel and, most of all, Libya.
About the only thing Paris and Washington agree on is that, under the cover of ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States), the hardest possible sanctions should be slapped on one of the world’s poorest nations (where only 21% of the population has access to electricity) - and they should be much worse than those imposed on the Ivory Coast in 2010.
Then there’s the threat of war. Imagine the absurdity of ECOWAS invading a country that is already fighting two wars on terror on two separate fronts: Against Boko Haram in the southeast and against ISIS in the Tri-Border region.
ECOWAS, one of 8 African political and economic unions, is a proverbial mess. It packs 15 member nations - Francophone, Anglophone and one Lusophone - in Central and West Africa, and it is rife with internal division.
The French and the Americans first wanted ECOWAS to invade Niger as their “peacekeeping” puppet. But that didn’t work because of popular pressure against it. So, they switched to some form of diplomacy. Still, troops remain on stand-by, and a mysterious “D-Day” has been set for the invasion.
The role of the African Union (AU) is even murkier. Initially, they stood against the coup and suspended Niger's membership. Then they turned around and condemned the possible western-backed invasion. Neighbors have closed their borders with Niger.
ECOWAS will implode without US, France, and NATO backing. Already it’s essentially a toothless chihuahua – especially after Russia and China have demonstrated via the BRICS summit their soft power across Africa.
Western policy in the Sahel maelstrom seems to consist of salvaging anything they can from a possible unmitigated debacle - even as the stoic people in Niger are impervious to whatever narrative the west is trying to concoct.
It's important to keep in mind that Niger’s main party, the “National Movement for the Defense of the Homeland” represented by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, has been supported by the Pentagon – complete with military training – from the beginning.
The Pentagon is deeply implanted in Africa and connected to 53 nations. The main US concept since the early 2000s was always to militarize Africa and turn it into War on Terror fodder. As the Dick Cheney regime spun it in 2002: “Africa is a strategic priority in fighting terrorism.”
That’s the basis for the US military command AFRICOM and countless “cooperative partnerships” set up in bilateral agreements. For all practical purposes, AFRICOM has been occupying large swathes of Africa since 2007.
How sweet is my colonial franc
It is absolutely impossible for anyone across the Global South, Global Majority, or “Global Globe” (copyright Lukashenko) to understand Africa's current turmoil without understanding the nuts and bolts of French neocolonialism.
The key, of course, is the CFA franc, the “colonial franc” introduced in 1945 in French Africa, which still survives even after the CFA - with a nifty terminological twist - began to stand for "African Financial Community".
The whole world remembers that after the 2008 global financial crisis, Libya’s Leader Muammar Gaddafi called for the establishment of a pan-African currency pegged to gold.
At the time, Libya had about 150 tons of gold, kept at home, and not in London, Paris, or New York banks. With a little more gold, that pan-African currency would have its own independent financial center in Tripoli – and everything based on a sovereign gold reserve.
For scores of African nations, that was the definitive Plan B to bypass the western financial system.
The whole world also remembers what happened in 2011. The first airstrike on Libya came from a French Mirage fighter jet. France's bombing campaign started even before the end of emergency talks in Paris between western leaders.
In March 2011, France became the first country in the world to recognize the rebel National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya. In 2015, the notoriously hacked emails of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton revealed what France was up to in Libya: "The desire to achieve a greater share in Libyan oil production,” to increase French influence in North Africa, and to block Gaddafi's plans to create a pan-African currency that would replace the CFA franc printed in France.
It is no wonder the collective west is terrified of Russia in Africa – and not just because of the changing of the guard in Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and now Gabon: Moscow has never sought to rob or enslave Africa.
Russia treats Africans as sovereign people, does not engage in Forever Wars, and does not drain Africa of resources while paying a pittance for them. Meanwhile, French intel and CIA “foreign policy” translate into corrupting African leaders to the core and snuffing out those that are incorruptible.
You have the right to no monetary policy
The CFA racket makes the Mafia look like street punks. It means essentially that the monetary policy of several sovereign African nations is controlled by the French Treasury in Paris.
The Central Bank of each African nation was initially required to keep at least 65 percent of their annual foreign exchange reserves in an “operation account” held at the French Treasury, plus another 20 percent to cover financial “liabilities.”
Even after some mild “reforms” were enacted since September 2005, these nations were still required to transfer 50 percent of their foreign exchange to Paris, plus 20 percent V.A.T.
And it gets worse. The CFA Central Banks impose a cap on credit to each member country. The French Treasury invests these African foreign reserves in its own name on the Paris bourse and pulls in massive profits on Africa's dime.
The hard fact is that more than 80 percent of foreign reserves of African nations have been in “operation accounts” controlled by the French Treasury since 1961. In a nutshell, none of these states has sovereignty over their monetary policy.
But the theft doesn't stop there: the French Treasury uses African reserves as if they were French capital, as collateral in pledging assets to French payments to the EU and the ECB.
Across the “FranceAfrique” spectrum, France still, today, controls the currency, foreign reserves, the comprador elites, and trade business.
The examples are rife: French conglomerate Bolloré's control of port and marine transport throughout West Africa; Bouygues/Vinci dominate construction and public works, water, and electricity distribution; Total has huge stakes in oil and gas. And then there’s France Telecom and big banking - Societe Generale, Credit Lyonnais, BNP-Paribas, AXA (insurance), and so forth.
France de facto controls the overwhelming majority of infrastructure in Francophone Africa. It is a virtual monopoly.
“FranceAfrique” is all about hardcore neocolonialism. Policies are issued by the President of the Republic of France and his “African cell.” They have nothing to do with parliament, or any democratic process, since the times of Charles De Gaulle.
The “African cell” is a sort of General Command. They use the French military apparatus to install “friendly” comprador leaders and get rid of those that threaten the system. There’s no diplomacy involved. Currently, the cell reports exclusively to Le Petit Roi, Emmanuel Macron.
Caravans of drugs, diamonds, and gold
Paris completely supervised the assassination of Burkina Faso's anti-colonial leader Thomas Sankara, in 1987. Sankara had risen to power via a popular coup in 1983, only to be overthrown and assassinated four years later.
As for the real “war on terror” in the African Sahel, it has nothing to do with the infantile fictions sold in the West. There are no Arab “terrorists” in the Sahel, as I saw when backpacking across West Africa a few months before 9/11. They are locals who converted to Salafism online, intent on setting up an Islamic State to better control smuggling routes across the Sahel.
Those fabled ancient salt caravans plying the Sahel from Mali to southern Europe and West Asia are now caravans of drugs, diamonds, and gold. This is what funded Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), for instance, then supported by Wahhabi lunatics in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
After Libya was destroyed by NATO in early 2011, there was no more “protection,” so the western-backed Salafi-jihadis who fought against Gaddafi offered the Sahel smugglers the same protection as before - plus a lot of weapons.
Assorted Mali tribes continue the merry smuggling of anything they fancy. AQIM still extracts illegal taxation. ISIS in Libya is deep into human and narcotics trafficking. And Boko Haram wallows in the cocaine and heroin market.
There is a degree of African cooperation to fight these outfits. There was something called the G5 Sahel, focused on security and development. But after Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Chad went the military route, only Mauritania remains. The new West Africa Junta Belt, of course, wants to destroy terror groups, but most of all, they want to fight FranceAfrique, and the fact that their national interests are always decided in Paris.
France has for decades made sure there’s very little intra-Africa trade. Landlocked nations badly need neighbors for transit. They mostly produce raw materials for export. There are virtually no decent storage facilities, feeble energy supply, and terrible intra-African transportation infrastructure: that’s what Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects are bent on addressing in Africa.
In March 2018, 44 heads of state came up with the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) – the largest in the world in terms of population (1.3 billion people) and geography. In January 2022, they established the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) – focused on payments for companies in Africa in local currencies.
So inevitably, they will be going for a common currency further on down the road. Guess what’s in their way: the Paris-imposed CFA.
A few cosmetic measures still guarantee direct control by the French Treasury on any possible new African currency set up, preference for French companies in bidding processes, monopolies, and the stationing of French troops. The coup in Niger represents a sort of “we’re not gonna take it anymore.”
All of the above illustrates what the indispensable economist Michael Hudson has been detailing in all his works: the power of the extractivist model. Hudson has shown how the bottom line is control of the world’s resources; that’s what defines a global power, and in the case of France, a global mid-ranking power.
France has shown how easy it is to control resources via control of monetary policy and setting up monopolies in these resource-rich nations to extract and export, using virtual slave labor with zero environmental or health regulations.
It's also essential for exploitative neocolonialism to keep those resource-rich nations from using their own resources to grow their own economies. But now the African dominoes are finally saying, “The game is over.” Is true decolonization finally on the horizon?
Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.
Republished from The Cradle.
(OrinocoTribune.com) - Military leaders in Gabon have taken power, placing the president under house arrest following disputed elections. The military takeover follows recent coups d’état in the former French colonies of Niger (earlier this year), Burkina Faso (2022), Mali (2020 and 2021), and Guinea (2021). Gabon’s military was likely inspired by the recent military coup in Niger, which France and its allies, including Nigeria and the US, have been unable to overturn.
“I think, obviously, the soldiers have been inspired by the coups in other countries, beginning primarily in 2020 with Mali,” said Milton Allimadi of Black Star News. “They have seen that, in spite of international denunciation and a call by the West, a call by the United States, France, by ECOWAS—which is a regional economic organization, the Economic Community of West African States—for the people who initiated the coups to reverse them and surrender power to civilians, in each successive state they’ve seen that the people who carried out the coup have survived… After the military takeovers, you have seen the scenes of people coming out and celebrating in the streets. So, obviously, there is a major contradiction when a call for the military to reverse the coup is coming from Western leaders and organizations that people believe are actually propped by the West.”
Fifty-five-year family dynasty overthrown
The incumbent in Gabon’s recent election, Ali Bongo Ondimba, was declared the winner of presidential elections on Wednesday. Ali Bongo has led Gabon since 2009, and his father, Omar Bongo, was president of Gabon from 1967–2009.
Although it is sparsely populated, with only 2.4 million inhabitants, the Central African country of Gabon, located on the Atlantic coast of the continent, has significant reserves of oil—accounting for about 80% of Gabon’s exports—manganese, and timber that have been exploited in recent decades. As a result, Gabon’s GDP is much greater than that of many African countries. According to Gabon’s 2022 GDP per capita, based on purchasing power parity (PPP), Gabon is the sixth-wealthiest nation on the continent. Nevertheless, about 40% of the population lives in poverty, and unemployment is widespread.
Gabon’s Bongo dynasty has traditionally been an ally of the West during its 55 years in power, backing the illegal NATO bombing of Libya and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, for example. Gabon’s economy is heavily dependent on links with France. However, in recent years, tensions between Gabon and France have developed. Numerous members of the Bongo family are currently implicated in French corruption investigations.
The Bongo administration had recently banned French media outlets France24 and RFI for their alleged bias in coverage of the elections. This was viewed by some as retaliation for the investigation into Bongo dynasty corruption.
The military leaders announced on state television that General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema of the country’s presidential guard has been designated president of a transitional committee to lead Gabon. It has been widely reported that Oligui is a cousin of Ali Bongo, and it is unclear whether the change in leadership represents a new direction for the country in terms of its relations with France and the West.
“The biggest question is, is the coup a result of the aspirations of the people of Gabon or the government of France?” wrote African Streams on social media.
As a former French colony and part of the Franc Zone, Gabon’s currency is the Central Africa CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro, and France has hundreds of soldiers permanently deployed in Gabon. France’s mining giant Eramet is the second-largest private employer in Gabon.
Cold War context
Speaking on Sputnik News’ The Critical Hour, historian Gerald Horne placed the most recent coup in the context of the new Cold War between the imperialist West, led by the US, and the emerging powers of China, Russia, and the global majority. In addition, Horne suggested that the spate of coups on the African continent, particularly in former French colonies, may continue.
“There are some intriguing aspects to this regime change in Gabon, and this is what your audience should focus on,” Horne noted. “That is to say, you could see this, in many ways, as the final chapter of the Cold War, because, before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, you had a plethora of states on the African continent that were pledging themselves to follow the socialist route. That included Benin, for example, that included Mozambique, that included Angola, that included the present Republic of the Congo—which, by the way, might be next on the list for regime change. It is a former French colony. In fact, it has been so close to France that during the Nazi occupation, the so-called free French set up their headquarters in Brazzaville, in the present-day Republic of the Congo. In fact, the then People’s Republic of Congo hosted a large delegation from the Black Panther Party during the good old days of the battle against global imperialism, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
“After the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Horne continued, “these nations were frog-marched into being free market autocracies, so to speak, and now we see an ongoing rebellion against that. We see, in fact, we can fairly predict, that probably next on the list will be Cameroon, where Paul Biya is now 89 years old and has been serving for decades. He is trying to match the record of the late Omar Bongo. And there is restiveness in Cameroon, not least because he has imposed a very autocratic regime on those who do not speak French, believe it or not, and that has led, in fact, to an armed uprising in Cameroon.”
“There is one figure your audience may want to follow in the coming days with regard to Gabon,” suggested Horne. “I am speaking of Jean Ping, a former high-level official at the African Union, in Ethiopia, a high-level official in Gabon [Ping ran against Bongo in Gabon’s 2016 presidential elections], who has been detained up until the last few months. Interestingly enough, his father is Chinese and his mother is Gabonese, and there is a suggestion that the post-Bongo regime in Gabon, like many African countries—Zimbabwe, for example, South Africa, for example—will be looking eastward. And that means, of course, looking towards China, where Jean Ping will play a pivotal role.
“Between Washington and Paris.” added Horne, “there was this de facto agreement that Washington would step aside and let France maintain this neocolonial empire as long as it could keep the lid on it. But it can’t keep the lid on it, and Washington is now concerned about the encroachment of China, the encroachment of Russia in Africa, and whether their [US] stranglehold over natural resources will be jeopardized. Inevitably, this will lead to tensions with France. I might be tempted to say that we are officially in a new order, a new post-Cold War order.”
Steve Lalla is a journalist, researcher and analyst. His areas of interest include geopolitics, history, and current affairs. He has contributed to Counterpunch, Resumen LatinoAmericano English, ANTICONQUISTA, Orinoco Tribune, and others.
Republished from Orinoco Tribune.
Following the Johannesburg summit, the continent will become a major focus for the organization
Traditionally, BRICS policy makers turn their attention to African issues every five years, when the summit is held in South Africa. Last month’s gathering was no exception, and compared to the previous years, was even grander in scale. For the first time ever, invitations were sent out to all the leaders of the continent, and almost everyone responded. The event in Johannesburg was attended by the leaders of 19 African countries, ten were represented by vice-presidents and prime ministers, and ten others by ministers of foreign affairs, ministers of economy, and ministers of finance.
The summit became a turning point for the BRICS, given it was most likely the last meeting of the association’s five founders in the traditional format. On January 1, 2024, six more states will join as full members: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, and Iran.
As a result, the world’s fastest-growing continent, Africa, will be represented in BRICS not just by one, but by three countries. The invitation to Egypt – and particularly Ethiopia –came as a surprise to most observers, but we may confidently assert that the development of Africa and the work of BRICS on the continent will become an essential and permanent part of the grouping’s agenda.
In this regard, Russia has a particular responsibility as the host of the next summit, which will be held in Kazan in the summer of 2024.
Africa for BRICS and BRICS for Africa
The expansion of BRICS into Ethiopia and Egypt means that the summits will be held in Africa more often, and the organization’s activities will expand on the continent.
Several initiatives in the fields of logistics, energy, and finance have already been announced under the auspices of BRICS. All of them are different in scale and have varied in terms of success. Many affect the interests of Africa, but so far, no project has been implemented outside of South Africa. The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) could play an important role in financing these schemes. The physical presence of BRICS in Africa is currently limited to the NDB’s Africa Regional Centre, but it too finances projects only in South Africa.
Since 2016, the NDB has supported 14 projects in South Africa aimed at developing transport infrastructure, water supply systems, and the energy sector, as well as projects dealing with environmental protection and recovery from COVID-19. The only one outside its territory – the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Phase II – also concerns South Africa, since it deals with supplying it with water. Most programs are implemented through the provision of loans that cover the entire cost or up to half of the cost of the project. Some projects also attract funding from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
Obviously, the activities of the National Development Bank require geographical diversification and more consistent profiling.
The parties agreed that specific criteria for obtaining the status of a “BRICS partner country” will be developed by the next summit. Many African countries may be interested in obtaining this status if it comes with practical advantages such as access to financing, assistance in the field of food security, the digitalization of public administration, the BRICS energy platform, and others. In other words, the status of a “BRICS partner country” will allow projects to be implemented under the auspices of the organization. Each state concerned will receive new development opportunities and will commit to ensuring the necessary conditions for implementing such projects.
Who was invited?
According to South African Minister of Foreign Affairs Naledi Pandor, 23 countries have applied to join, including the following African states: Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, and Morocco. However, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry denied South Africa’s statement and Rabat’s officials did not take part in the events of the summit. One of the reasons for this was the presence of representatives from Western Sahara – a disputed territory.
Ethiopia and Egypt, as well as South Africa, are long-standing and reliable partners of Moscow. However, these countries have difficult relations with each other. This primarily concerns the long-standing conflict over the GERD dam, which Ethiopia is building on its section of the Nile and which Egypt considers a threat to its water supply. The BRICS platform may allow both to negotiate on an international level without interference from the West. It will also help the countries find common ground in the field of economics without escalating the political side of the issue. Meanwhile, for BRICS this will be a good opportunity to work out mechanisms for establishing economic ties between the participants even as they face various disagreements.
By the start of the summit, Egypt had already become a shareholder of the BRICS New Development Bank, even as the country remains one of the most heavily indebted on the African continent. Cairo’s volume of external debt amounts to $163 billion, and the Egyptian pound is steadily depreciating. Because of this, using alternative currencies for trade and especially imports is a priority for the country. Russia is the most important supplier of grain to Egypt. Converting trade into rubles, yuan, pounds, and now UAE dirhams will be an important task in the coming years.
Within BRICS, Ethiopia will represent the African continent in a no less major way than South Africa. Ethiopia is a founding country of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and home to the headquarters of the African Union. Moreover, Addis Ababa is widely considered the diplomatic capital of Africa. However, just like in the case of Egypt, the problem of external debt ($28 billion, with a significant part owed to China) has significantly impeded the country’s development in recent years. Ethiopia’s debt restructuring process has now started and new BRICS partners, such as the UAE, will be able to participate in this process not only on a bilateral basis, but also by means of the NDB and other institutions which will be created in the future.
The Algerian government has also applied to join BRICS and become a shareholder of the NDB, offering an initial contribution of $ 1.5 billion. In July of this year, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune visited Russia and China, and the Algerian side “informed, again, the Chinese side of the steps it has taken to apply for Algeria's membership of the BRICS” and China “welcomed Algeria’s positive willingness to join this group and affirmed supporting its efforts to achieve this objective.” However, Algeria did not receive an invitation.
If a change in government sees Argentina withdraw its candidacy, Russia could theoretically resume negotiations with others. Algeria – a long-standing and loyal friend – could become an ideal representative of the Francophone world in BRICS, as long as the window of opportunity remains open. This may be possible since the document defining the participation criteria and the procedure for accepting new members has not yet been publicly disclosed.
Russia for BRICS and BRICS for Russia
An important part of the preparations for the BRICS summit in South Africa were negotiations held at the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, which took place in July. The goal to promote a deeper BRICS-Africa partnership, for example, was sealed there. Russia, which will host the 2024 BRICS event, intends to promote the expansion of economic cooperation tools and to establish a structure for relations between members, as well as with Africa.
For Moscow, it is particularly important that de-dollarization has become a systemically important BRICS initiative – and not only in matters of trade, but also investment, banking, and international reserves. BRICS countries are already doing a lot in this respect, including accumulating physical gold reserves and reserves in each other's currencies, and connecting to systems for the transfer of financial messages. However, there is still a lot to be done.
According to the summit’s final declaration, finance ministers and the directors of central banks were given the task of optimizing trade in national currencies, and the like, which should strengthen the role of BRICS financial institutions. This will help African countries overcome dependence on Western-dominated internationallenders – the successors of the Bretton Woods system – and will provide tools for dealing with energy poverty and ensuring food security.
The need to create sustainable food supply chains was also stated. This vital both for Africa and for exporters, represented within BRICS primarily by Russia.
The expansion in Africa largely depends on Moscow. The NDB has refused to finance projects in Russia due to sanctions. This means that those funds may now be sent to Africa – especially since Egypt has become one of the bank’s shareholders, and Ethiopia will likely have a similar opportunity soon. However, first of all, the interests and recommendations of Russia as a shareholder must be taken into account.
Today, Russia's priorities within BRICS are concrete projects such as the International North–South Transport Corridor and the general development of logistics and other transport corridors. There are also plans to create a trust fund to support BRICS research infrastructure.
Andrey Maslov, Director of the Centre for African Studies, HSE University, and Daria Sukhova, Research intern of the Centre for African Studies, HSE University
Republished from RT.
A comprehensive Ukrainian defeat is the only possible outcome of its conflict with Russia. By: Scott RitterRead Now
Kiev was offered a peace deal long ago, but chose war instead, egged on by its Western backers. Now its fate is sealed
September 2 marked the 78th anniversary of the World War Two surrender ceremony onboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. This moment formalized Japan’s unconditional capitulation to the United States, and its allies, and marked the end of the conflict. From the Japanese perspective, it had been ongoing since the Marco Polo bridge incident of July 7, 1937, which started the Sino-Japanese War.
There was no negotiation, only a simple surrender ceremony in which Japanese officials signed documents, without conditions.
Because that is what defeat looks like.
History is meant to be studied in a manner that seeks to draw out lessons from the past that might have relevance in the present. As George Santayana, the American philosopher, noted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The Ukrainian government in Kiev would do well to reflect on both the historical precedent set by Japan’s unconditional surrender, and Santayana’s advice, when considering its current conflict with Russia.
First and foremost, Ukraine must reflect honestly about the causes of this conflict, and which side bears the burden of responsibility for the fighting. ‘Denazification’ is a term that the Russian government has used in describing one of its stated goals and objectives. President Vladimir Putin has made numerous references to the odious legacy of Stepan Bandera, the notorious mass murderer and associate of Nazi Germany who is feted by modern-day Ukrainian nationalists as a hero and all but a founding father of their nation.
That present-day Ukraine would see fit to elevate a man such as Bandera to such a level speaks volumes about the rotten foundation of Kiev’s cause, and the dearth of moral fiber in the nation today. The role played by the modern-day adherents of the Nazi collaborator's hateful nationalist ideology in promulgating the key events that led to the initiation of the military operation by Russia can neither be ignored nor minimized. It was the Banderists, with their long relationship with the CIA and other foreign intelligence services hostile to Moscow, who used violence to oust the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, from office in February 2014.
From the act of illicit politicized violence came the mainstreaming of the forces of ethnic and cultural genocide, manifested in the form of the present-day Banderists, who initiated acts of violence and oppression in eastern Ukraine. This, in turn, triggered the Russian response in Crimea and the actions of the citizens of Donbass, who organized to resist the rampage of the Bandera-affiliated Ukrainian nationalists. The Minsk Accords, and the subsequent betrayal by Kiev and its Western partners of the potential path for peace that these represented, followed.
Ukraine cannot disassociate itself from the role played by the modern-day Banderists in shaping the present reality. In this, Kiev mirrors the militarists of Imperial Japan, whose blind allegiance to the precepts of Bushido, the traditional ‘way of the warrior’ dating back to the Samurai of 17th century Japan, helped push the country into global conflict. Part of Japan’s obligations upon surrender was to purge its society of the influence of the militarists, and to enact a constitution that deplatformed them by making wars of aggression – and the military forces needed to wage them – unconstitutional.
Banderism, in all its manifestations, must be eradicated from Ukrainian society in the same manner that Bushido-inspired militarism was removed from Japan, to include the creation of a new constitution that enshrines this purge as law. Any failure to do so only allows the cancer of Banderism to survive, festering inside the defeated body of post-conflict Ukraine until some future time when it can metastasize once again to bring harm.
This is precisely the message that was being sent by Putin when, during the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum this past July, he showed a video where the crimes of the Banderists during the Second World War were put on public display. “How can you not fight it?” Putin said. “And if this is not neo-Nazism in its current manifestation, then what is it?” he asked. “We have every right,” the Russian president declared, “to believe that the task of the denazification of Ukraine set by us is one of the key ones.”
As the Western establishment media begins to come to grips with the scope and scale of Ukraine’s eventual military defeat (and, by extension, the reality of a decisive Russian military victory), their political overseers in the US, NATO, and the European Union struggle to define what the endgame will be. Having articulated the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as an existential struggle where the very survival of NATO is on the line, these Western politicians now have the task of shaping public perception in a manner that mitigates any meaningful, sustained political blowback from constituents who have been deceived into tolerating the transfer of billions of dollars from their respective national treasuries, and billions more dollars’ worth of weapons from their respective arsenals, into a lost and disgraced cause.
A key aspect of this perception management is the notion of a negotiated settlement, a process which implies that Ukraine has a voice as to the timing and nature of conflict termination. The fact is, however, that Kiev lost this voice when it walked away from a peace deal brokered between its negotiators and their Russian counterparts last spring, at the behest of its NATO masters as communicated through then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The decision to prolong the conflict was predicated on the provision to Kiev of tens of billions of dollars in military equipment and assistance. The authorities duly staged a mass mobilization, meaning that Ukrainian troops vastly outnumbered their Russian counterparts.
Kiev's new NATO-trained and equipped force achieved impressive territorial gains during a fall offensive. The Russian reaction was to stabilize the front and carry out a partial mobilization of its reserves to accumulate enough manpower to accomplish the mission assigned from the outset of the operation – denazification and demilitarization. Denazification is a political problem. Demilitarization is not. In the case of Ukraine, it means to effectively destroy Ukraine’s ability to wage armed conflict on a meaningful scale against Russia. This objective also presumably entails the need to remove all NATO military infrastructure, inclusive of equipment and material, from Ukraine.
Russia has been undertaking the successful demilitarization of Ukraine’s armed forces since the initiation of partial mobilization. The equipment Ukraine is provided by the West is similarly being destroyed by Russia at a rate that makes replacement unsustainable. Meanwhile, Russia’s own defense industry has kicked into full gear, supplying a range of modern weapons and ammunition that is more than sufficient.
The harsh reality is that neither Ukraine nor its Western allies can sustain the operational losses in manpower and equipment that the conflict with Russia is inflicting. Russia, on the other hand, is not only able to absorb its losses, but increase its strength over time, given the large number of volunteers that are being recruited into the military and the high rate of armament production. At some point in the not-so-distant future, the balance of power between Russia and Ukraine in the theater of operations will reach a point in which Kiev is unable to maintain adequate coverage along the line of contact, allowing gaps to open up in the defensive line which Russia, able to employ fresh reserves, will exploit. This will lead to the collapse of cohesion among Ukrainian troops, more than likely resulting in a precipitous withdrawal to more defensive positions that could be established west of the Dnieper River.
Ukraine, through its actions in 2014, lost Crimea. Ukraine, and through its choices in 2022, lost the Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson. And if Kiev persists in extending this conflict until it is physically unable to defend itself, it runs the risk of losing even more territory, including Odessa and Kharkov.
Russia did not enter the conflict with the intent of seizing Ukrainian territory. But in March 2022, Kiev rejected a draft peace agreement (which it had preliminarily approved at first), and this decision to eschew peace in favor of war led to Russia absorbing Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson.
As one of its conditions to even begin negotiating for peace with Moscow, Kiev demanded the return of all former Ukrainian territories currently under Russian control – including Crimea. To achieve such an outcome, however, Ukraine would have to be able to compel compliance by defeating Russia militarily and/or politically. As things stand, this is an impossibility.
What Ukraine and its Western partners do not yet seem to have come to grips with is the fact that Russia’s leadership is in no mood for negotiations for negotiations’ sake. Putin has listed its goals and objectives when it comes to the conflict – denazification, demilitarization, and no NATO membership for Ukraine.
This is the reality of the present situation. Russia is working to achieve its stated goals and objectives. As things stand, there is little Ukraine or its partners in the US, NATO, and the EU (the so-called ‘collective West’) can do to prevent it from accomplishing these aims. The timeline is not calendar-driven, but rather determined by results. The longer Kiev – and its Western partners – drag out this conflict, the greater the harm that will accrue for Ukraine.
It is time for Ukraine and its Western partners to move to the path of peace and reconstruction. But this can only happen when Ukraine surrenders and accepts reality.
Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.
Republished from RT.