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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.

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Is English Politics stuck in the merde?

Three by-elections – three victories for Labour. In the 80’s that would have been cause for cheer, with visions of booting out the hated Tories.
Fast forward to today, and we have to acknowledge it’s not what it says on the tin.
For UK’s Labour, read PSOE of Spain or PASOK in Greece or the Social Democrats in Germany. Why not mention U-turn Hollande in Paris too?

The only ones crowing last night were UKIP – a decidedly nasty party which uses the BNP as a foil to say that it’s not fascist or racist, simply patriotic.

So, why did BNP activists canvass and campaign on behalf of UKIP?

The dirty little secret in the UK was that we did have a political force every bit as vile as Marie le Pen’s National Front in France and its equivalent in Holland, Italy, Hungary and Finland.

English politics can be classified so:

Far-Right: BNP & English Defence League
Hard-Right: UKIP
Right: Tories
Centre-Right: Lib-Dems & New Labour
Left: Individual Labour MP’s/activists / Greens (though
with a powerful German Greenesque cabal) &
Respect (controlled by a theocratic Right wing)

England is now shifting to the Hard Right. UKIP don’t need to win any Parliamentary seats in this rotten electoral system which discriminates against smaller parties.
UKIP has set the agenda. All parties, especially the One Nation Labour Party, is bowing down to this.
The shrill anti-immigration rhetoric of all parties is what we shall see more of before 2015. The opportunistic anti-EU budget stance of Miliband and Labour shows what’s in play.

To secure the southern English seats, Miliband will shift further to the right (while keeping to populist anti-banks slogans).
His model is France’s Francois Hollande.
Fool the Commentariat, appeal to the ‘progressive vote bank’ and let Ed Balls do a deal with the City of London.

Make no mistake, as people were fooled with Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems in 2010, they look like repeating that mistake with Ed Miliband in 2014-15 (as I did in 1997 with Tony Blair).
So, if Miliband does become PM (with help from LibDem Cable), we should except the Labour administration to follow similar hollowed out Socialists on the mainland and continue with the neo-liberal agenda of inequality in the name of efficiency.

I see no basis for a English Syriza to rise later in this decade.
There is no sign now, and precious little in its history, to show that that there is any appetite for rebellion.

Instead, I fear that an embittered England, finding it difficult coming to terms with the departing Scots, will recreate a Harsh Right tinged Identity politics.
Exclusion, forced patriotism & a backs-to-the-wall siege mentality will dictate the discourse.

After all, the background to this is the fact the UK is one of the most highly indebted states on this planet where its elite refuses to re-invent the state into a peaceful European entity.
The Greeks continued to spend on armaments even while the economy was tanking.
England continues the same (spending almost twice as much per head as most of Europe). Imperial delusions and a servile relationship with the USA demand that the only strategy is for obeisance to the City of London and sacrificing the working classes and the Precariat.
The welfare state has no protectors in any of the mainstream parties. There are some startling similarities between the Spanish and English elite.
Both are now looking to drive down the economy and make it Low-Cost.
Both are counting on the majority to meekly allow this social and economic engineering to reach its conclusion.
In Iberia, it looks like the rebellion will manifest itself in independence movements and the final break up of Imperial Spain.
On this island, the Scots will leave eventually.
What then for the English?

Are the General Strikes in Europe today an investment rather than a cost?

The reactionaries will no doubt focus on passengers have missed flights as a consequence of today’s General strikes in Southern Europe.
They will divide the GDP of each country by 365 days and claim that that one day’s worth of Gross domestic product was “lost”.
They will ask: can we afford to lose this wealth in the middle of such a crisis.

To which we can respond by asking them to calculate:

a) the potential wealth-generation of half of the youth willing and able to work but unable to find a post
b) the potential GDP of 26% of Spain’s unemployed and the vast multiplier effects as each Euro earned changes hand several times
c) the continual loss in revenue by governments as they allow Multinationals to get away with not paying taxes
d) the health, psychological and social costs of cuts, loss of jobs and livelihoods and homes to live in caused by the current policies.

Whether the general strike is enough on its own or not, the fact that Greeks took to the streets meant that vulture bond holders had to take a severe haircut on their worthless bonds.
The more the fightback by Europe’s peoples, the more likely the governments will abandon this 1930’s era of Cuts and austerity for the majority and replace it with a 21st century strategy of creating decent jobs, reducing inequality and moving to an innovative, Green economy.
In that sense, strikes act as a long-term investment in the future of economies by attempting to stop the current madness.
Docility can no longer be the zeitgeist of this generation. Action and a call for an alternative way of thinking is fast becoming the dominant paradigm of the population.

Is Mondragon a real alternative to Kapitalism?

There is no alternative (“Tina”) to capitalism?

Really? We are to believe, with Margaret Thatcher, that an economic system with endlessly repeated cycles, costly bailouts for financiers and now austerity for most people is the best human beings can do? Capitalism’s recurring tendencies toward extreme and deepening inequalities of income, wealth, and political and cultural power require resignation and acceptance – because there is no alternative?

I understand why such a system’s leaders would like us to believe in Tina. But why would others?

Of course, alternatives exist; they always do. Every society chooses – consciously or not, democratically or not – among alternative ways to organize the production and distribution of the goods and services that make individual and social life possible.

Modern societies have mostly chosen a capitalist organization of production. In capitalism, private owners establish enterprises and select their directors who decide what, how and where to produce and what to do with the net revenues from selling the output. This small handful of people makes all those economic decisions for the majority of people – who do most of the actual productive work. The majority must accept and live with the results of all the directorial decisions made by the major shareholders and the boards of directors they select. This latter also select their own replacements.

Capitalism thus entails and reproduces a highly undemocratic organization of production inside enterprises. Tina believers insist that no alternatives to such capitalist organizations of production exist or could work nearly so well, in terms of outputs, efficiency, and labor processes. The falsity of that claim is easily shown. Indeed, I was shown it a few weeks ago and would like to sketch it for you here.

In May 2012, I had occasion to visit the city of Arrasate-Mondragon, in the Basque region of Spain. It is the headquarters of the Mondragon Corporation (MC), a stunningly successful alternative to the capitalist organization of production.

MC is composed of many co-operative enterprises grouped into four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge.
In each enterprise, the co-op members (averaging 80-85% of all workers per enterprise) collectively own and direct the enterprise.
Through an annual general assembly the workers choose and employ a managing director and retain the power to make all the basic decisions of the enterprise (what, how and where to produce and what to do with the profits).

As each enterprise is a constituent of the MC as a whole, its members must confer and decide with all other enterprise members what general rules will govern MC and all its constituent enterprises. In short, MC worker-members collectively choose, hire and fire the directors, whereas in capitalist enterprises the reverse occurs.
One of the co-operatively and democratically adopted rules governing the MC limits top-paid worker/members to earning 6.5 times the lowest-paid workers.
Nothing more dramatically demonstrates the differences distinguishing this from the capitalist alternative organization of enterprises. (In US corporations, CEOs can expect to be paid 400 times an average worker’s salary – a rate that has increased 20-fold since 1965.)

Given that MC has 85,000 members (from its 2010 annual report), its pay equity rules can and do contribute to a larger society with far greater income and wealth equality than is typical in societies that have chosen capitalist organizations of enterprises. Over 43% of MC members are women, whose equal powers with male members likewise influence gender relations in society different from capitalist enterprises.

MC displays a commitment to job security I have rarely encountered in capitalist enterprises: it operates across, as well as within, particular cooperative enterprises. MC members created a system to move workers from enterprises needing fewer to those needing more workers – in a remarkably open, transparent, rule-governed way and with associated travel and other subsidies to minimize hardship. This security-focused system has transformed the lives of workers, their families, and communities, also in unique ways.

The MC rule that all enterprises are to source their inputs from the best and least-costly producers – whether or not those are also MC enterprises – has kept MC at the cutting edge of new technologies. Likewise, the decision to use of a portion of each member enterprise’s net revenue as a fund for research and development has funded impressive new product development. R&D within MC now employs 800 people with a budget over $75m. In 2010, 21.4% of sales of MC industries were new products and services that did not exist five years earlier. In addition, MC established and has expanded Mondragon University; it enrolled over 3,400 students in its 2009-2010 academic year, and its degree programs conform to the requirements of the European framework of higher education. Total student enrollment in all its educational centers in 2010 was 9,282.

The largest corporation in the Basque region, MC is also one of Spain’s top ten biggest corporations (in terms of sales or employment). Far better than merely surviving since its founding in 1956, MC has grown dramatically. Along the way, it added a co-operative bank, Caja Laboral (holding almost $25bn in deposits in 2010). And MC has expanded internationally, now operating over 77 businesses outside Spain. MC has proven itself able to grow and prosper as an alternative to – and competitor of – capitalist organizations of enterprise.

During my visit, in random encounters with workers who answered my questions about their jobs, powers, and benefits as cooperative members, I found a familiarity with and sense of responsibility for the enterprise as a whole that I associate only with top managers and directors in capitalist enterprises. The easy conversation (including disagreement), for instance, between assembly-line workers and top managers inside the Fagor washing-machine factory we inspected was similarly remarkable.

Our MC host on the visit reminded us twice that theirs is a co-operative business with all sorts of problems:

“We are not some paradise, but rather a family of co-operative enterprises struggling to build a different kind of life around a different way of working.”

Nonetheless, given the performance of Spanish capitalism these days – 25% unemployment, a broken banking system, and government-imposed austerity (as if there were no alternative to that either) – MC seems a welcome oasis in a capitalist desert.

This article was written by Richard Wolff in the Guardian earlier in 2012.

Elections that could decide the fate of Europe the next 12 months

First, on November 25th, 2012, the Catalans are going to sound the inevitable death-knell of the Spanish state.
In February 2012 , the Cypriots have Presidential elections as do the Maltest in March.
The Cypriots are in talks with the Troika but also have deep economic ties with Russia.
Greece may well be in utter turmoil by the spring of 2013 though whether that leads to elections or a Golden Dawn inspired spare of civil unrest, barbarity and a military coup is open to question. The scenario of Syriza winning the next election is a lot more appetising but for that exact reason, one can imagine the Colonels plotting to prevent such an eventuality.

Then, in April, the Italians have Parliamentary elections. The post-Berlusconi era (through democratic succession, will face the next stage of the Euro turmoil.

The Big One is the Federal German elections in September 2013. It is difficult to over-estimate the impact on the EU what it would mean if Angela Merkel were to lose. It also depends on whether the opposition SPD-Greens decide to talk a bold stand against the current austerity programme or as now offer an uninspiring ‘alternative’… Nevertheless, Merkel’s fall (after Sarkozy in 2012) would herald a shift away from the current lunacy.

Interesting times for Europe in store then.

Young Greens ask: do you believe in Transnational lists in Europe?

The advocates of Transnationalism suggest that these lists “for the European Parliament are needed in order to develop the concept of pan-European citizenship”.
The majority of Europeans will prefer a continent at peace with itself. In England, we unfortunately term the mainland of Europe as “the Continent”, betraying an alliegence to historic mistrust, rather than willingly accepting that we are an island within a Continent and have centuries of common ground with regards to history, culture and ideals.
Being European is therefore relatively easy to agree with.
Nevertheless, the Federalist agenda is to bind us into one specific version of Europe.. A version which we as a Party are opposed to in many aspects.
One of the fundamental problems of a Brussels-led vision has been its cavalier idea that citizens can forget deep-set political beliefs and artificially adopt this version of European identity.
Moreover, there is no guarantee that democratic accountability would be improved.
Europeans already disenchanted with the lack of democracy within the EU would find pan-European parties a step in the wrong direction.
If we say we champion diversity, then I cannot see how transnational lists can possibly help. .

Widening the scope, our Green Party (EU111), we say that “European institutions must be designed with care and with mechanisms to prevent the drift towards centralism that has repeatedly been seen in history”.

As Green activists, we have the freedom to have our own personal beliefs. As an MEP, on any occasion where those personal beliefs differed from Party Policy, I would be bound by the principle that I could state them only if it was made clear that they were NOT party policy, and then immediately state the latter.
In terms of voting, I would follow Party policy because the mandate given by voters and “implicit contract” with Green Party activists is to pursue the policy and platform on which we had stood.

Farid Erkizia Bakht

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