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Africa is the frontline this decade

In 2010, we looked to South Africa only for football.

In 2011 and for the rest of the decade, Africa will prove to be next theatre of war.

Ivory Coast is on the edge of civil war.

Sudan could split – the Christian South seceding after years of Western backed insurgency action. Darfur continues to smoulder while the North & Khartoum look to regroup, probably withdrawing further into theocracy.

Nigeria is simmering, split according to oil, religion and identity.

The Horn of Africa is so far gone that it does not appear on the news anymore.

The West is waiting for Zimbabwe to collapse. Some retired old hands at the FCO have never got to terms with the 1980 Lancaster House accords.

Egypt has to explode a few years into the regime of Mubarak’s son.

To work it out, we need to follow the oil or gas pipelines.

The energy multinationals want their pound of flesh (or barrels of oil) and regimes and the collaborating elites will cause mayhem at historic levels.

So expect to hear about Chad, Cameroon and Angola.

Cruelly forgotten is Congo. Until a situation arises where those resources are controlled by others.

Which brings us neatly into the activities of Asian governments and corporations. They can only elbow in up to a point. They may have the money but they don’t have the troops on the ground or navies to get them there.

When an entity like CNOOC or a food giant goes too far, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a military escalation, via a bout of induced instability.

Let us remember that the Gulf of Guinea (the coast off West Africa) is another Middle East in gas and oil (add Algeria, Chad & Libya) while much of sub-saharan Africa is one giant mine, filled with treasure.

It’s been a one way bet since the 1990s with the withdrawal of Cuba, China and Russia.

Now the latter (at least China) are re-entering with sackloads of coin. There is as yet no ideological side to this as it’s either a case of IMF free market hell or state-owned Asian capitalism. It’s an unpalatable choice between two types of plunder.

How nascent African movements interact with competing foreign states and their multinationals will be fascinating.

Once we had ‘one person, one vote’ and a contest between capitalism and socialism.

What is there now?

The politics of identity is being used to destabilise states.

Africa needs something else. We have seen how parts of Latin America have shifted to the Left while others beef up their strength on a commodity surge, without letting the generals back in again (like the 1970s).

But Africa hasn’t done the same, or at least not got our attention.

The new movements might want to finance their future on the remittances of their brothers and sisters in Europe, America and West Asia.

But the rest of us need to know there is an alternative African message,  ideology and worldview. A updated form of national liberation based on class, not colonisation.

We can’t keep ignoring a billion people sitting on the richest resource pile in the world.

One difference between this decade and the 1970s: the majority are informed, connected and switched on. It looks like it’s going to be a continent of upheavel, hate, loot, savagery and blood with a few oases of rebellion to show the way.

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