Western Sahara: an albatross on African Union’s conscience

Western Sahara

We are pleased to publish an article on Western Sahara and the African Union, which we have received from Nizar Visram, a free-lance writer from Tanzania (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). This article is published for discussion and education, and is prefaced by a short introduction, giving the background to the struggle.

In 1975, following Spanish dictator Francisco Franco's death, the Spanish state abandoned its last large colony on Africa, Rio de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra - modern-day Western Sahara. However, instead of becoming independent, it was handed over to Morocco and Mauritania, which claimed the territory. The national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, unilaterally claimed the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and fought back with Soviet and Algerian aid. Polisario was able to defeat Mauritania, with whom it has good relations today. However, Morocco was able to drive out all armed resistance from the strategic locations and major towns. It did so thanks to the consistent military aid from Western Europe and the US. Also, the Moroccan state colonised the Western Sahara with civilians, outnumbering the natives, and built a wall for every area that it secured. The longest is now the ceasefire line, set in 1991 by the UN. About half of the Sahrawi population, around 200,000, lives in Western Algeria in refugee camps, where Polisario's headquarters are based.

Western Sahara is mostly desert, but is rich in various resources. Its coast has become an important source of tuna for Europe. In the interior, there are large phosphate mines and its soil is being tested for oil and natural gas. The Western Sahara's profitability is increased even further as the Moroccan king is, jointly with European companies such as Siemens, building renewable energy sources and farming areas. King Mohammed VI personally owns strategic sectors such as electricity, giving him an increased motivation to continue the occupation.


Western Sahara: an albatross on African Union’s conscience

At the 28th Summit meeting of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa on 30 January 2017, Morocco’s readmission to the continental body generated heated discussion. At the end of the day the Kingdom of Morocco managed to win over sufficient member states on its side and it was allowed to join the fold unconditionally.

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Plundering Africa: British imperialism 2016

Africa gold

A recent report by War on Want, The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources, underlines the continued role of Britain as one of the world’s dominant imperialist powers.1 Researcher Mark Curtis has once again produced a vital report providing a savage indictment of the capitalist system. The report exposes the naked plunder by British extractive companies of African resources, ripping minerals, oil and gas out of the ground without concern for the human, social, and environmental cost. All this wealth is then transferred out of Africa through the City of London and tax havens. The report provides ammunition for revolutionaries in the fight against imperialism, in solidarity with African resistance to the plunder and destruction of their countries.

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Angola: 40 years of independence, from revolution to neo-colony

Agostinho Neto and Fidel Castro

On 11 November 2015, Angola celebrated 40 years of independence from its former colonial master; Portugal. The occasion is a significant milestone for the country's ruling party; Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), which has enjoyed 40 years of uninterrupted rule. Looking at the greedy, corrupt, self-serving clique at the top of the MPLA, it is impossible not to question how a once truly revolutionary organisation, that led the heroic struggle for national liberation, which all Angolans may take pride in, has become an enemy of all that the heroes of the liberation struggle fought for.

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The Great African Robbery

Africa is an extremely resource rich continent, yet, despite its natural wealth, Sub-Saharan Africa is at the bottom of the Human Development Index, with 50% of people living in extreme poverty. The Overseas Development Institute estimates that $30bn of aid goes into the continent each year, but huge parts of the African population remain in poverty. A report by 15 charities, Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses* sheds light on why this might be.

Africa has been bled dry over centuries by slavery, colonisation and imperialism, at an incalculable economic and human cost. Today this takes the form not of physical chains, but huge debts, debilitating theft of income and imposed policies that prevent the independence of nations. As Honest Accounts? explains:

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UN ignores sexual abuse in the Central African Republic

In April it was reported in The Guardian that 14 French soldiers sent to the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of international ‘peacekeeping’ efforts after the state collapsed in December 2013, were involved in sexually abusing at least ten hungry and homeless children, some as young as nine, in exchange for food and money. The rape and sodomy took place at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) at M’Poko airport near the capital Bangui, between December 2013 and June 2014. Six children had testified against the soldiers, four were direct victims while two others witnessed the abuse. The kids fled the IDP camp in terror after the assault. France was made aware of the abuse in July 2014 and has belatedly agreed to ‘investigate’. The UN had tried to cover-up the abuse, and is busy persecuting the whistleblower, UN director of field operations Anders Kompass, who leaked the report to French authorities because his superiors had failed to take any action. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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