[Marxism] Background to Imperialist Intervention in Sudan

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 14 15:46:38 MDT 2004


August 12, 2004
US and France Begin a Great Game in Africa

by Julio Godoy
PARIS - France and the United States have begun a new race to compete for 
favors with undemocratic regimes in Africa. The competition is growing 
particularly in the oil-rich North and West Africa.

The French government announced last month that it is due to sign a military 
pact with former colony Algeria that would include weapons and technology 
transfer, training and intelligence sharing.

The agreement was negotiated by French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie 
on a visit to Algiers July 19. Alliot-Marie, the first French defense 
minister to visit Algeria since the end of the bloody war of independence in 
1962, said the "historic" agreement will "turn a page" in French-Algerian 
history.

Foreign minister Michel Barnier visited Algiers earlier in July to discuss 
new cooperation. Finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy followed his colleagues 
later in the month to approve a $2.5 billion aid package.

France has invited Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to commemoration 
of the liberation of south France from Nazi occupation in 1944, in the face 
of protests from French veterans of the war of independence.

Analysts say these moves seek to secure access to Algerian oil and gas 
resources to counter similar efforts by the U.S. government.

"The French government wants to counter the diplomatic advances achieved by 
the Bush government in Algeria in particular, and in West Africa in 
general," says Francois Gèze, an expert in French-Algerian relations. In an 
article in Le Monde written with Algerian-born scholar Lahouari Addi who 
lives in France in exile, Gèze condemned the "French alliance with a 
criminal regime."

Gèze told IPS that the Algerian government has detained and tortured 
opposition leaders for more than a decade now. But given the anti-terrorism 
climate, Algeria represents what "the 'great' Western countries wish for in 
the Arab world" – a government ready to cooperate with the United States 
whatever its domestic record.

France has been building diplomatic relations across oil-rich West Africa. 
This includes Gabon ruled by Omar Bongo since 1966, Congo Brazzaville ruled 
by Denis Sassou-Nguesso who came to power in 1997 following a civil war that 
cost hundreds of thousands of lives, and Angola where former independence 
hero José Eduardo dos Santos has been in power since 1979.

In a recent instance of new "cooperation" the French government dealt with 
dos Santos to protect French citizen Pierre Falcone charged with transfer of 
weapons to Angola. Dos Santos named Falcone Angolan ambassador to the United 
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 
headquartered in Paris. The appointment would provide him diplomatic 
immunity.

It is no coincidence that the United States has been following a similar 
strategy of supporting military dictators in Africa while seeking access to 
natural resources in their countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Angola and Gabon in 2002 in the 
first trip ever by such a high-ranking U.S. official to these countries. 
Last year, U.S. President George W. Bush visited Senegal, Nigeria, Botswana, 
Uganda and South Africa.

In March this year, the U.S. government invited top ranking military 
officials of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia to 
the U.S. European command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The command 
center also covers 48 African countries.

The Stuttgart summit covered representation from the Middle East through the 
Maghreb (Arabic North Africa) to the Gulf of Guinea. This is a region 
sitting above a giant sea of underground oil.

Two weeks before the March meeting, Gen. Charles F. Wald, deputy commander 
at Stuttgart had toured Angola, Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana, South 
Africa and Gabon among other African countries.

"Every place I go in Africa, where we talk about the war on terrorism, there 
is a resonance and an agreement that we have something in common," Wald said 
during the visit. The threat extremists pose to democratically elected 
governments is "universally understood," he said. But of the countries he 
visited, only South Africa has a democratically elected government.

Earlier this week the U.S. government indicated its interest in the oil-rich 
Gulf of Guinea in announcing a military cooperation program with Nigeria. 
Gen. Robert Fogleson, commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe, said at the 
announcement: "This region is important to the stability of the United 
States … because of the petroleum … and so it's no surprise to me that if 
the U.S. Navy, the U.S. government wanted to exercise, that they will take 
the areas that are of great importance to them."

Analysts believe that over the next five years a quarter of non-Gulf oil on 
the world market will come from sub-Saharan Africa.

(Inter Press Service)

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