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Pepe Escobar’s brilliant analysis of the Mali War – mega Afghanistan in Africa

Burn, burn – Africa’s Afghanistan
By Pepe Escobar
From Asia Times Online

LONDON – One’s got to love the sound of a Frenchman’s Mirage 2000 fighter jet in the morning. Smells like… a delicious neo-colonial breakfast in Hollandaise sauce. Make it quagmire sauce.

Apparently, it’s a no-brainer. Mali holds 15.8 million people – with a per capita gross domestic product of only around US$1,000 a year and average life expectancy of only 51 years – in a territory twice the size of France (per capital GDP $35,000 and upwards). Now almost two-thirds of this territory is occupied by heavily weaponized Islamist outfits. What next? Bomb, baby, bomb.

So welcome to the latest African war; Chad-based French Mirages and Gazelle helicopters, plus a smatter of France-based Rafales bombing evil Islamist jihadis in northern Mali.
Business is good; French president Francois Hollande spent this past Tuesday in Abu Dhabi clinching the sale of up to 60 Rafales to that Gulf paragon of democracy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The formerly wimpy Hollande – now enjoying his “resolute”, “determined”, tough guy image reconversion – has cleverly sold all this as incinerating Islamists in the savannah before they take a one-way Bamako-Paris flight to bomb the Eiffel Tower.

French Special Forces have been on the ground in Mali since early 2012.

The Tuareg-led NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), via one of its leaders, now says it’s “ready to help” the former colonial power, billing itself as more knowledgeable about the culture and the terrain than future intervening forces from the CEDEAO (the acronym in French for the Economic Community of Western African States).

Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based “observatory”, hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and – oui, monsieur – France itself.

Instead, they were slammed by the UN Security Council – faster than a collection of Marvel heroes – duly authorizing a war against them. Their West African neighbors – part of the ECOWAS regional bloc – were given a deadline (late November) to come up with a war plan. This being Africa, nothing happened – and the Islamists kept advancing until a week ago Paris decided to apply some Hollandaise sauce.

Not even a football stadium filled with the best West African shamans can conjure a bunch of disparate – and impoverished – countries to organize an intervening army in short notice, even if the adventure will be fully paid by the West just like the Uganda-led army fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia.

To top it all, this is no cakewalk. The Salafi-jihadis are flush, courtesy of booming cocaine smuggling from South America to Europe via Mali, plus human trafficking. According to the UN Office of Drugs Control, 60% of Europe’s cocaine transits Mali. At Paris street prices, that is worth over $11 billion.

Turbulence ahead
General Carter Ham, the commander of the Pentagon’s AFRICOM, has been warning about a major crisis for months. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what’s really going on in what the New York Times quaintly describes as those “vast and turbulent stretches of the Sahara”?

It all started with a military coup in March 2012, only one month before Mali would hold a presidential election, ousting then president Amadou Toumani Toure. The coup plotters justified it as a response to the government’s incompetence in fighting the Tuareg.

The coup leader was one Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who happened to have been very cozy with the Pentagon; that included his four-month infantry officer basic training course in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 2010.
Essentially, Sanogo was also groomed by AFRICOM, under a regional scheme mixing the State Department’s Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership program and the Pentagon’s Operation Enduring Freedom. It goes without saying that in all this “freedom” business Mali has been the proverbial “steady ally” – as in counterterrorism partner – fighting (at least in thesis) al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Over the last few years, Washington’s game has elevated flip-flopping to high art. During the second George W Bush administration, Special Forces were very active side by side with the Tuaregs and the Algerians. During the first Obama administration, they started backing the Mali government against the Tuareg.

An unsuspecting public may pore over Rupert Murdoch’s papers – for instance, The Times of London – and its so-called defense correspondent will be pontificating at will on Mali without ever talking about blowback from the Libya war.

Muammar Gaddafi always supported the Tuaregs’ independence drive; since the 1960s the NMLA agenda has been to liberate Azawad (North Mali) from the central government in Bamako.

After the March 2012 coup, the NMLA seemed to be on top. They planted their own flag on quite a few government buildings, and on April 5 announced the creation of a new, independent Tuareg country. The “international community” spurned them, only for a few months later to have the NMLA for all practical purposes marginalized, even in their own region, by three other – Islamist – groups; Ansar ed-Dine (“Defenders of the Faith”); the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO); and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Meet the players
The NMLA is a secular Tuareg movement, created in October 2011. It claims that the liberation of Azawad will allow better integration – and development – for all the peoples in the region. Its hardcore fighters are Tuaregs who were former members of Gaddafi’s army.
But there are also rebels who had not laid down their arms after the 2007-2008 Tuareg rebellion, and some that defected from the Malian army. Those who came back to Mali after Gaddafi was executed by the NATO rebels in Libya carried plenty of weapons. Yet most heavy weapons actually ended up with the NATO rebels themselves, the Islamists supported by the West.

AQIM is the Northern African branch of al-Qaeda, pledging allegiance to “The Doctor”, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Its two crucial characters are Abu Zaid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, former members of the ultra-hardcore Algerian Islamist outfit Salafist Group for Predication and Combat (SGPC). Belmokhtar was already a jihadi in 1980s Afghanistan.

Abu Zaid poses as a sort of North African “Geronimo”, aka Osama bin Laden, with the requisite black flag and a strategically positioned Kalashnikov featuring prominently in his videos. The historical leader, though, is Belmokhtar. The problem is that Belmokhtar, known by French intelligence as “The Uncatchable”, has recently joined MUJAO.

MUJAO fighters are all former AQIM. In June 2012, MUJAO expelled the NMLA and took over the city of Gao, when it immediately applied the worst aspects of Sharia law. It’s the MUJAO base that has been bombed by the French Rafales this week. One of its spokesmen has duly threatened, “in the name of Allah”, to respond by attacking “the heart of France”.

Finally, Ansar ed-Dine is an Islamist Tuareg outfit, set up last year and directed by Iyad ag Ghali, a former leader of the NMLA who exiled himself in Libya. He turned to Salafism because of – inevitably – Pakistani proselytizers let loose in Northern Africa, then engaged in valuable face time with plenty of AQIM emirs. It’s interesting to note in 2007 Mali President Toure appointed Ghali as consul in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. He was then duly expelled in 2010 because he got too close to radical Islamists.

Gimme ‘a little more terrorism’
No one in the West is asking why the Pentagon-friendly Sanogo’s military coup in the capital ended up with almost two-thirds of Mali in the hands of Islamists who imposed hardcore Sharia law in Azawad – especially in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, a gruesome catalogue of summary executions, amputations, stonings and the destruction of holy shrines in Timbuktu.
How come the latest Tuareg rebellion ended up hijacked by a few hundred hardcore Islamists? It’s useless to ask the question to US drones.

The official “leading from behind” Obama 2.0 administration rhetoric is, in a sense, futuristic; the French bombing “could rally jihadis” around the world and lead to – what else – attacks on the West. Once again the good ol’ Global War on Terror (GWOT) remains the serpent biting its own tail.

There’s no way to understand Mali without examining what Algeria has been up to.
The Algerian newspaper El Khabar only scratched the surface, noting that “from categorically refusing an intervention – saying to the people in the region it would be dangerous”, Algiers went to “open Algerian skies to the French Mirages”.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Algeria last October, trying to organize some semblance of an intervening West African army. Hollande was there in December. Oh yes, this gets juicier by the month.

So let’s turn to Professor Jeremy Keenan, from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University, and author of The Dark Sahara (Pluto Press, 2009) and the upcoming The Dying Sahara (Pluto Press, 2013).

Writing in the January edition of New African, Keenan stresses, “Libya was the catalyst of the Azawad rebellion, not its underlying cause. Rather, the catastrophe now being played out in Mali is the inevitable outcome of the way in which the ‘Global War on Terror’ has been inserted into the Sahara-Sahel by the US, in concert with Algerian intelligence operatives, since 2002.”

In a nutshell, Bush and the regime in Algiers both needed, as Keenan points out, “a little more terrorism” in the region. Algiers wanted it as the means to get more high-tech weapons. And Bush – or the neo-cons behind him – wanted it to launch the Saharan front of the GWOT, as in the militarization of Africa as the top strategy to control more energy resources, especially oil, thus wining the competition against massive Chinese investment. This is the underlying logic that led to the creation of AFRICOM in 2008.

Algerian intelligence, Washington and the Europeans duly used AQIM, infiltrating its leadership to extract that “little more terrorism”. Meanwhile, Algerian intelligence effectively configured the Tuaregs as “terrorists”; the perfect pretext for Bush’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative, as well as the Pentagon’s Operation Flintlock – a trans-Sahara military exercise.

The Tuaregs always scared the hell out of Algerians, who could not even imagine the success of a Tuareg nationalist movement in northern Mali. After all, Algeria always viewed the whole region as its own backyard.

The Tuaregs – the indigenous population of the central Sahara and the Sahel – number up to 3 million. Over 800,000 live in Mali, followed by Niger, with smaller concentrations in Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. There have been no less than five Tuareg rebellions in Mali since independence in 1960, plus three others in Niger, and a lot of turbulence in Algeria.

Keenan’s analysis is absolutely correct in identifying what happened all along 2012 as the Algerians meticulously destroying the credibility and the political drive of the NMLA. Follow the money: both Ansar ed-Dine’s Iyad ag Ghaly and MUJAO’s Sultan Ould Badi are very cozy with the DRS, the Algerian intelligence agency. Both groups in the beginning had only a few members.

Then came a tsunami of AQIM fighters. That’s the only explanation for why the NMLA was, after only a few months, neutralized both politically and militarily in their own backyard.

Round up the usual freedom fighters
Washington’s “leading from behind” position is illustrated by this State Department press conference. Essentially, the government in Bamako asked for the French to get down and dirty.

And that’s it.

Not really. Anyone who thinks “bomb al-Qaeda” is all there is to Mali must be living in Oz. To start with, using hardcore Islamists to suffocate an indigenous independence movement comes straight from the historic CIA/Pentagon playbook.

Moreover, Mali is crucial to AFRICOM and to the Pentagon’s overall MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) outlook. Months before 9/11 I had the privilege to crisscross Mali on the road – and by the (Niger) river – and hang out, especially in Mopti and Timbuktu, with the awesome Tuaregs, who gave me a crash course in Northwest Africa.
I saw Wahhabi and Pakistani preachers all over the place. I saw the Tuaregs progressively squeezed out. I saw an Afghanistan in the making. And it was not very hard to follow the money sipping tea in the Sahara. Mali borders Algeria, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Guinea. The spectacular Inner Niger delta is in central Mali – just south of the Sahara.
Mali overflows with gold, uranium, bauxite, iron, manganese, tin and copper. And – Pipelineistan beckons! – there’s plenty of unexplored oil in northern Mali.

As early as February 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T Moeller was saying that AFRICOM’s mission was to protect “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market”; yes, he did make the crucial connection to China, pronounced guilty of ” challenging US interests”.

AFRICOM’s spy planes have been “observing” Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara for months, in thesis looking for AQIM fighters; the whole thing is overseen by US Special Forces, part of the classified, code-named Creek Sand operation, based in next-door Burkina Faso. Forget about spotting any Americans; these are – what else – contractors who do not wear military uniforms.

Last month, at Brown University, General Carter Ham, AFRICOM’s commander, once more gave a big push to the “mission to advance US security interests across Africa”. Now it’s all about the – updated – US National Security Strategy in Africa, signed by Obama in June 2012. The (conveniently vague) objectives of this strategy are to “strengthen democratic institutions”; encourage “economic growth, trade and investment”; “advance peace and security”; and “promote opportunity and development.”

In practice, it’s Western militarization (with Washington “leading from behind”) versus the ongoing Chinese seduction/investment drive in Africa.

In Mali, the ideal Washington scenario would be a Sudan remix; just like the recent partition of North and South Sudan, which created an extra logistical headache for Beijing, why not a partition of Mali to better exploit its natural wealth? By the way, Mali was known as Western Sudan until independence in 1960.

Already in early December a “multinational” war in Mali was on the Pentagon cards.

The beauty of it is that even with a Western-financed, Pentagon-supported, “multinational” proxy army about to get into the action, it’s the French who are pouring the lethal Hollandaise sauce (nothing like an ex-colony “in trouble” to whet the appetite of its former masters). The Pentagon can always keep using its discreet P-3 spy planes and Global Hawk drones based in Europe, and later on transport West African troops and give them aerial cover. But all secret, and very hush hush.

Mr Quagmire has already reared its ugly head in record time, even before the 1,400 (and counting) French boots on the ground went into offense.

A MUJAO commando team (and not AQIM, as it’s been reported), led by who else but the “uncatchable” Belmokhtar, hit a gas field in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert, over 1,000 km south of Algiers but only 100 km from the Libyan border, where they captured a bunch of Western (and some Japanese) hostages; a rescue operation launched on Wednesday by Algerian Special Forces was, to put it mildly, a giant mess, with at least seven foreign hostages and 23 Algerians so far confirmed killed.

The gas field is being exploited by BP, Statoil and Sonatrach. MUJAO has denounced – what else – the new French “crusade” and the fact that French fighter jets now own Algerian airspace.

As blowback goes, this is just the hors d’oeuvres. And it won’t be confined to Mali. It will convulse Algeria and soon Niger, the source of over a third of the uranium in French nuclear power plants, and the whole Sahara-Sahel.

So this new, brewing mega-Afghanistan in Africa will be good for French neoloconial interests (even though Hollande insists this is all about “peace”); good for AFRICOM; a boost for those Jihadis Formerly Known as NATO Rebels; and certainly good for the never-ending Global War on Terror (GWOT), duly renamed “kinetic military operations”.

Django, unchained, would be totally at home. As for the Oscar for Best Song, it goes to the Bush-Obama continuum: There’s no business like terror business. With French subtitles, bien sur.

Young Greens ask: Do we need a Global New Deal across the world?

The Global Green New Deal was launched in 2009 as a counter-cyclical response to the debt & financial crisis.
The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) argues that the investment of one percent of the world”s GDP or £500 billion in five key sectors would be enough to fund the deal. Energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy, sustainable transport, agriculture and freshwater are the key areas for structuring the “green economy”.
Not very much is heard about this today.
In a nutshell, we can support a Green New Deal in Europe as one big step on the way to repairing Europe, not sufficient by itself but necessary.
The problems start when we try to apply a one-size fits all approach to the Global South.
To meet our environmental global challenges is as much as about transforming political systems as it for economic systems. Moreover, this Global Green New Deal looks suspiciously like dumping the idea of “sustainable development” from the original Rio +92 summit.
It also assumes that we can use the very same multilateral financial institutions which have promoted a neo-lib’eral model, based on fossil fuels.
After presiding over decades of resource-grabs, fossil fuel wars, supporting the worst type of political and ecological regimes, pushing privatisation and neo-liberal market ideologies globally, with a huge historic ecological debt which it owes, how can Northern countries suddenly think this is a silver bullet?
Europe” s financial system is bankrupt. The Emperor has no clothes. Surely, the time has gone for it to preach economic and ecological models to the rest of the world, especially when we consider its legacy of colonialism..
We should also be listening to ideas from Bolivia and the rest of Latin America for example about the rights of Mother Earth. And how we must stop the commodification of natural resources.
The dialogue has to be two ways.

Farid Erkizia Bakt

These countries won’t exist by 2020…..

One of the biggest casualties of the Great Crisis (set to get worse over the next 3 years) could be the Westphalian system of nation states – this notion of nation states was solidified after the bloody Thirty Years War in Europe.

The outcome will not be just lurches to the Right or Left. It will lead to the biggest fragmentation of Europe since 1918 as empires collapsed after WW1 (Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian)
On top of financial and economic crises, we have a situation of permanent resource war in the Middle East, Africa and Asia including the ‘containment of China’, the war on Muslim states, the Maoist rebelion in India & independence movements in the Seven Sister states bordering China,  the ‘opening up of Myanmar’, the battle between (and within) Latin America and the Yankee North…..

So, let’s prepare for a new World where the following states will fragment/break up (and while a rump may retain the name, it will be far smaller in size than today) and the ‘original’ will only exist in history, nostalgia and our imagination:

United Kingdom

Spain

France

Italy

Belgium

Rumania

Libya

Syria

Iraq

Congo

Pakistan

India

Myanmar

Mexico

Colombia

Phillipines

Saudi Arabia

Jordan

UAE

Qatar

 

We have had a Thirty Years War in our lifetime – that of ‘Globalisation’ or as I see it ‘Amercanisation’ where borders were weakened in a free for all for multinationals and finance.

The casualties are everywhere: hollowed out industries in the Western economies, peoples and states bulldozed in petrodollar wars… a billion or is it two in urban slums… climate ravaged regions…

The result: this is the decade of fragmentation.

Choosing allies

Seamus Milne writes a characteristically  good article in the Guardian.

Puts New Labour in same camp as Lib-Dem in terms of dogma, ideology & unreformed belief in free markets.

That’s why we need to make 26th March big but also not blindly follow Ed Mili back to New Labour’s love of the City of London.

Let’s get real. Ed Balls hasn’t produced a believable radical alternative to what he & his friends followed for 13 years. Let’s attack the Con-Dem regime but replacing Man U with Man C doesn’t change the direction, character and belief of a new Labour regime.

Left-of-centre led Spain & Greece are fulfilling the IMF and ECB’s demands just as enthusiastically as Fianna Fail-Greens did in Ireland.

It shows we need to form a deeper, wider movement joining with good individual Labour politicians and unions. We cannot blindly take an unreformed package which is happy to talk populism when out of power.

The ‘New Labour’ Party isn’t fit for purpose. It’s the tens of thousands of Labour activists and a handful of MPs and half the unions who we should be supporting.

Whenever we don’t get to waving the flag, there’s an outcry of sectarianism. I do not mean that way. The revolts convulsing many countries North and South of the Mediterranean are successful precisely because many have bypassed the traditional ‘opposition’ groups who bought into the status quo.

A bit like much of the NUS and the more radical, angry students who ignored Aaron Porter & Co.

While we build up to the rally and march in two weeks time, we must maintain a sense of realism and optimism.

Realism that much of the TUC  ‘leadership’ didn’t challenge the love-affair with the City of London since the late 1990s. That they are not going prepared to challenge the current ethos either.

Optimism in that like students who were galvanised & energised by taking part in protests, the 26th will be one rally building a movement based around the thousands of local protests outside and inside libraries, council offices and banks.

No political party can co-opt this budding movement or ‘lead it’. Politicians and activists will have to join it, work alongside it and share power over decisions and direction.

The debate and deliberations will move from an oppositional no-cuts position to a ‘rolling back the big private sector’.

Three decades ago, the mood of the times was to roll back the ‘bloated public sector’.  That ideology was spun together into a political ‘narrative’ in the mid 1970s and took 1973-74 energy and political shocks as its catalyst.

In our times, the catalyst is the 2008 banking crash. Nearly three years on, we are in the middle of constructing our own alternative picture of what type of economy, society & environment we would like to see.

It will have a broader canvass. We will have to have pan-European ideology, challenging Wall Street & London’s the hedge fund dominance and fuse Left ideas of wealth & income redistribution with ideas on climate change and peak oil.

Given what’s happening in North Africa and the Middle East, we might need an even wider vision.

The mix is in the melting pot. The end product isn’t clear. The 26th is one signpost in a very long road. Let’s look beyond this month and work it out

A new pan Arab nationalism?

I would love to hear what Egyptians abroad are thinking.
I wonder if they agree that dynastic rule is over.
Gamal or Mubarak the Younger had better make new plans. He is not going to succeed to the throne.
That means the military and business elite are whispering behind the scenes about an alternative.
Where’s Wikileaks when you need it?
This spontaneous explosion of anger seems not have been coordinated by the Brotherhood.
If that is the case, then we are witnessing a new political dynamic in Tunisia & Egypt.
I think this will move from Reform into something more radical. The timing is unpredictable. Is it five months or five years?
Hilary Clinton wishes to impose the 1986 Philippines model of people power and replace Old leaders with new friends (more democratic but still on the same side).
That may not be possible.
If so, then the theocratic states of Saudi Arabia and UAE will be alarmed.
The last thing they want is an updated version of Pan Arab nationalism of the Nasserite tradition.

street, shields, mobile, facebook, tear-gas…..

Today, Egyptians are trying to recreate Tunis.. in a day of ‘revolution’….. it’s a show of strength.

Let’s note that the Muslim Brotherhood aren’t exactly leading the charge…. which says something….

At Conway Hall, I was trying to get the point across that Egypt is the key, it was always the key and will always be the key to the Middle East.

That that regime would probably be overthrown in a few years, not a few months (I would be happier if I were wrong in my timing).

The pattern is reasonably straightforward. Let’s ignore PR from multi-billion dollar corporations, FB and Twitter.

THis is not a Facebook rebellion. What FB is doing is to offer citizens a window to film, record and write what’s happening and their reactions. This is helping fan the flames but the spark comes from action on the ground.

Behind it are some core political beliefs, a sense of right and wrong and that a line has been crossed… that things can no longer remain the same….

Established parties would have been bypassed anyway. National Liberation movements in the 1950s and 60s had to do with a lot less technology.

Let’s not forget that it works both ways. If the police in the UK can infiltrate environmental groups, then their far nastier equivalent in Cairo, Amman and Algiers will be monitoring FB/Twitter & blog.

Whatever happens, the Arab world needs to be free from its regimes.

No one has mentioned Libya. I think Gaddafi could be a lot less safer than he thinks.  An appalling Leader IMHO.

The pleasant thing is that we are thinking what would have been impossible in 2010.

An economic crisis does change politics.

Gdansk 1981

Berlin 1989

Tunis 2011

Cairo (the rest) ???

 

 

 

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.