Thursday, December 13, 2018

Battlefield Africa

  1. Odyssey Lightning: With the primary objective of removing ISIS from Sirte, Libya in 2016, this operation needed a clever-sounding and what’s better at putting into words a strike against the enemy than lightning?
  2. Junction Serpent: Another in a series of operations in Libya, Junction Serpent was supposed to provide targeting information for DoD strikes carried out in the previously-mentioned Odyssey Lightning.
  3. Jukebox Lotus: The name for the crisis response to the Sept. 2012 terror attack against the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. 
  4. Octave Anchor: We’ll just have to assume that Anchor means Navy SEALs 
  5. Juniper Shield: This is the overall name for U.S. military ops against al Qaeda in northwest Africa and the training of partner forces. 
  6. Juniper Nimbus: This op seems to be centered around counter-Boko Haram efforts in Nigeria.
  7. Nimble Shield: No idea what this one is about. But I do know the name sounds similar to Nimble Archer, a 1987 operation in which the Navy struck Iranian oil platforms.
  8. Junction Rain: A Coast Guard-African partner operation involving the boarding of ships using Junction and Rain, likely to signify its amphibious nature.
  9. Octave Shield: The op mainly focused on terror groups in Somalia.
  10. Objective Voice: One of the ops that Africom has publicly flaunted, Objective Voice, previously called Assured Voice – Africa, had a mission to counter extremist propaganda. 
  11. Jupiter Garrett: This seems to be about drone operations in Somalia, according to 
  12. Observant Compass: The mission to kill or capture , Joseph Kony
  13. Echo Casemate: This name was used to describe an airlift of peacekeepers to the Central African Republic in 2013. 
  14. Juniper Micron: This was the U.S. military’s part in providing support to France in Mali. 
  15. Rainmaker
  16. Odyssey Resolve: The first of three phases, this op was for intelligence-gathering ahead of U.S. strikes in Libya. 
  17. Oaken Steel: A brief, rapid deployment of troops to the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan
  18. Oblique Pillar
  19. Oaken Sonnet: Contingency operations in South Sudan
  20. Justified Seamount
  21. New Normal: “New Normal” operation is basically a quick-reaction force-type mission for whatever new incident might happen to go down on the continent, apparently.
A list of  U.S. military operations that have taken place or are still ongoing on the African continent,

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Urban Mogadishu

Some 2.6 million people live in Mogadishu, with more than 28,000 people per square kilometre, making the Indian Ocean city the second most densely populated in the world after Dhaka in Bangladesh. About 600,000 displaced people live across Mogadishu, with many families evicted multiple times as developers, buoyed by a construction boom, seek to build on land where informal settlements have sprung up. About a third of new displacements recorded in the Horn of Africa country from 2017 to mid-2018 were to, or within, the war-scarred city,

Erratic rainfall, prolonged drought, floods and difficulties accessing markets continue to drive rural Somalis into urban areas, following a 2011 famine which killed 260,000 people. 

"We are continuing to observe new internally displaced families arriving in Mogadishu," said Melaki Yirga, deputy regional director for the charity Mercy Corps. "These women, men and children have very little access to humanitarian support such as basic food."

Some 4.2 million Somalis - a third of the population - will need humanitarian aid and protection in 2019, one-third less than in 2018, largely due to good rainfall this year, the United Nations says. More than 60 percent of these people - 2.6 million - are internally displaced, with female-headed households, children and the elderly particularly at risk, it says.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Cutting down forests for chocolate

The cocoa industry is failing to meet a highly publicised pledge to stop deforestation in West Africa and eliminate tainted beans from supply chains, environmental campaigners say.
Big chocolate companies and the governments of Ghana and the Ivory Coast continue to be responsible for the deforestation of tens of thousands of hectares of land over the past year in former rainforest-covered nations, despite their solemn promises to end the practice last November, the campaigning organisation Mighty Earth said. Farmers who continued to cut trees down said they could still sell their cocoa openly without any repercussions.
Cocoa is a mainstay of the Ivorian and Ghanaian economies but their rainforests have been devastated by it. With more chocolate being devoured each year – the average Briton ate 8.4kg of it in 2017 – the few remaining forests are being cut down to meet demand. Satellite mapping shows many new areas where there has been significant deforestation in the past year, particularly in Ivory Coast. In the south-west region alone, 13,748 hectares (34,000 acres) of forest have been lost in 2018 – equivalent to 15,000 football fields, more than the 13,000 lost there in 2016.
In Ghana deforestation continues inside Tonton, Tinte Bepo and Tano Ofin forest reserves, and unless the land is immediately restored, cocoa grown on it will probably find its way to the supply chains of big companies such as the Singapore-based agribusiness Olam. Cocoa is mostly grown on small plots of land by individual farmers, who sell it on to cooperatives and middlemen, who in turn sell it to big companies. This makes it more difficult to track cocoa beans down to the farm they were grown on and to monitor their practices.
Governments have failed to stop it, and companies are still buying cocoa from “dirty producers” who continue to cut down the few remaining patches of rainforest, according to Chocolate Greenwashing, a Mighty Earth report.
“Companies have talked the talk but not walked the walk,” said Etelle Higonnet, the report’s lead author. She warned that “peak deforestation danger season”, the time of year when most trees are cut down, will begin within weeks. “The time for shilly-shallying is over,” she said. “Government and industry need to commit manpower and resources to solve the problem right now.”
 Ivory Coast, in areas such as Goin Debe and Cavally, if nothing is done, Goin Debe’s forests will disappear entirely by 2071 and Cavally’s “protected” forest by 2061, Mighty Earth said. The country has lost 90% of its forest since independence in 1960.
Very little of the cocoa industry’s $100bn (£80bn) profit makes it into the pockets of cocoa farmers even now. They receive only 6% of a chocolate bar’s sale price to the manufacturers’ and retailers’ 80%. But activists warn the new plans could further benefit corporations at the expense of farmers.
“The state has a duty to help small producers and agricultural cooperatives to become professional and competitive, instead of adopting a strategy that will ultimately eliminate them,” said Youssouf Doumbia, the president of OI-REN, an environmental civil society organisation. “The result of such a measure would ultimately be to concentrate almost all the revenues of the sector in the hands of a small group of managers of large companies and to impoverish the population.”

Protecting the Displaced

Niger has adopted Africa's first national law for the protection and assistance of people fleeing violence, floods and droughts, the government and United Nations said..

The government says there are about 174,000 displaced people in the West African country, mostly in regions where Islamist violence has spilled over from Mali and Nigeria. That figure excludes others who were forced to leave their homes to search for grazing land or water, said Lawan Magagi, Niger's minister of humanitarian action and disaster management. 

The new law was approved unanimously by the national assembly on Monday. It is based on the Kampala Convention, a 2009 African Union treaty that establishes guiding principles for protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Other African countries have ratified the Kampala Convention, but not incorporated it into national law, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Starvation in Somalia (1992)

Editorial from the December 1992 issue of the Socialist Standard

Nobody can fail to be moved by the pictures and accounts of people starving in Somalia. It really is an obscene crime against humanity that people should be dying of starvation in a world which is not only capable of producing enough to feed everybody but even has enough food stockpiled to stop it straightaway. As the Observer reported on 30 August:
Britain has enough wheat and barley lying unused in its grain stores to feed the entire Somalian nation for more than a year.
 At one single centre—on a disused RAF base near Kidderminster in Worcestershire—there are four huge warehouses stuffed with enough grain to supply the stricken war-torn nation for a month.
   One of these warehouses is said to be so full that it is virtually impossible to open its large steel doors. Yet in Somalia, hundreds of people—mostly children—are dying daily.
  The Kidderminster grain mountain is part of a total of 568,000 tonnes housed in Britain—in turn part of 19.6 million tonnes of wheat and barley kept in EC warehouses.
  This massive surplus could feed Somalia—which needs 40,000 tonnes of food aid per month for its starving people—for more than 40 years.
In a sane world, one geared to meeting human needs and serving human welfare, stopping people in Somalia dying of starvation would be a question purely of logistics. Organising to transport the food from where it is stockpiled to Somalia.

But of course we are not living in a sane world. We are living in a world dominated by market forces. And it is their inability to operate in the human interest that has caused the problem in the first place and is now preventing it being solved in the simplest, most direct way.

People are starving in Somalia not because there is not enough food in the world to feed them. They are starving because they lack the means to make their demand—or rather, their absolute need—for food effective. They lack either money to buy food or access to land to grow their own. Those in Somalia who do have these things are not starving.

Those with money in Somalia can, and do, have access to food—the television has shown pictures of well-stocked markets, sometimes with starving people lying on the other side of the street. We mention this not to belittle the extent of the obscene situation in Somalia but to underline the point that famines only affect those whose access to money or land has collapsed for some reason. Famines are a social not a natural phenomenon.

Protecting the market for food in Somalia is in fact a key factor shaping the so-called “food aid” policies of governments and the UN. They know that to make available for free distribution anything but minimal amounts of food per starving person would be to undermine local markets and local market-oriented production, leading to more people coming to lose their access rights to food. And of course they are right. Given the market system this is exactly what would happen. So, quite apart from financial cost considerations, they deliberately limit the amount of free food they supply.

This is what we mean when we say that it is market forces that are preventing the immediate starvation in Somalia being solved in the way that it would be, almost literally overnight, in a sane society, one that would have to be based on the common ownership of resources: transporting the food from the warehouses of Europe to the towns and villages of Somalia.

But what of the long term? Could starvation be averted after the warehouses of Europe and North America had been emptied to feed the starving in Somalia and other parts of the world? In other words, could the planet produce enough to adequately feed the whole world’s population on a permanent, continuing basis?

Professor Vulimiri Ramalingaswami, who is chairman of the World Health Organisation’s medical research committee, is in no doubt that it can. “We have the ability as a world to produce enough food for everyone”, he told a meeting in Geneva in August. “We need to devise mechanisms so these fruits can reach those in greatest need” (Guardian, 18 August).

Professor Ramalingaswami is to chair a conference in Rome this month that the WHO is organising jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organisation. The FAO and the WHO are apparently thinking in terms of a “world crusade to end famine deaths”. Something like this is indeed what is required: a crash programme to increase world food production and distribute it on a free, non-market basis to where it is needed. But it is not going to happen. For the same reason that the warehouses of Europe are not going to be emptied to immediately stop the starvation in Somalia. It would undermine the market.

Not this time the local markets in some famine-stricken part of the world, but the world markets for wheat, maize, rice and other world commodities. As long as all things are produced for sale on a market with a view to making a profit, food is never going to be produced to feed people who can’t pay for it. As long, in other words, as food remains a commodity people will starve and Somalias will continue to happen.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

COP24 - High Hopes, Low Expectations

 The African continent is already experiencing the effects of climate change. In many places drought, torrential rainfall or flooding are regular occurrences. The worst is still to come, the UN warns.

"We are the most vulnerable, we are the least responsible but we will suffer the most," Seyni Nafo, spokesman of the African delegation at the World Climate Conference summed up. "Climate change has the potential to destroy our development," Nafo warns. "Climate change is a common problem and we can only find a common solution."          

The damage done amounts to five and 10 percent of individual countries' Gross Domestic Product.(GDP) 

 "The person on the street does not see the impact of what is decided at the COP meetings. But people are seeing the real impact of global warming every day," said Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey.

 In 2020 up to 250 million people could be affected by serious water shortages as a result of rising temperatures. If the rise exceeds two degrees Celcius, half the population of Africa could be affected by malnutrition.

The hope is that the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland can be a launchpad for meaningful action. For James Murombedzi, a climate expert with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, this is the most important climate conference so far. 

The goal is to reach agreement on a detailed set of rules that would implement the decisions taken at the Paris conference of 2015. Global warming, it was agreed, should be limited to 1.5 degrees Celcius. This can only succeed if emissions of greenhouse gases cease entirely from 2050 onwards – and they must be drastically reduced in the years leading up to that deadline. However, experts agree that measures taken so far by the international community fall far short of that goal. Mandatory measures are needed, they say. 

High on the agenda of the African delegation is also a second pledge made in Paris, namely that poor countries would receive financial help to enable them to adapt to climate change. Starting in 2020 rich industrial nations are expected to pay an annual amount of 100 billion US dollars. Here, too, no concrete commitments have been made. For some experts, the sum of 100 billion dollars is not enough. Africa is dependent on agriculture and measures must be taken to ensure climate damage is kept to a minimum. More investment in irrigation systems is needed, says UN expert Murombedzi. 

For Nnimmo Bassey, this is not a question of charity or benevolence but of justice. 

There is no guarantee of success for COP24. 

Fighting climate change means changing the way economic systems function and changing the lifestyle of entire societies, particularly where consumer behavior and mobility are concerned, says Murombedzi. "Especially in the highly developed countries, there appears to be not enough political will to take on necessary costs."

Nnimmo Bassey is also skeptical about the chances of COP24 marking a new beginning. "I hope the delegates, both ministers and technocrats, will actually begin to talk from their hearts and not just from political considerations. If that is not done, it will be just another COP and it will be like fiddling while the planet burns."

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Gun-running to South Sudan

Uganda, a key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report by Conflict Armament Research says. 
It also asks how a U.S. military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls.
The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan.
Uganda bought arms and ammunition from at least three EU members — Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia — that were diverted to South Sudan’s military and armed allies in Sudan. 
With the Bulgarian weapons, “South Sudan arranged for Uganda to issue end-user certificates (the essential paperwork for an international arms transfer) ... to make it look like these weapons were for the use of the Ugandan armed forces when in fact they were always destined for South Sudan,” said Mike Lewis, the head of regional operations for Conflict Armament Research.
The report also describes how a network of “jointly owned Ugandan and U.S. companies — controlled by British, Israeli, Ugandan, and U.S. nationals — procured a military jet from the United States and an Austrian-made surveillance aircraft, which one of these companies delivered into service with (South Sudan’s military) in 2015 and 2016, respectively.”
Based on interviews and commercial documents, the report found that the company, Yamasec, transferred both aircraft to South Sudan’s military. The U.S. military jet, after being used by Uganda’s air force, was deployed in South Sudan in 2016, overflying armed opposition targets along with attack helicopters.
Sudan in the past also supplied Chinese-made ammunition to South Sudan’s armed opposition.

Africa—A Field For Investment (1952)

From the December 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Africa is a vast continent, with a population of 200 million where 700 different languages are spoken. It is coming more and more into the news, for it offers enormous opportunities for the investment of capital.

The Daily Mail had two articles (4 and 5 Sept) on the proposal to form a Central African Federation, to include Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and which will be discussed at Westminster shortly.

And The Daly Telegraph (10-9-52) reports:
   “A Sahara expedition which will study methods of halting the desert’s advance. Mr. Baker and his three companions will spend a week in Paris meeting French Sahara experts at the Ministry of War and elsewhere. They will visit the plantations in Algeria, and will go to Tunisia, through Laghouat, In Salah 700 miles south of Algiers, and cross the desert through Zinder to Nigeria. They will then drive to Uganda and Kenya."
The Daily Telegraph (6-9-52) reports a “decision to build a £70 million oil refinery on the Kenya mainland opposite Mombasa Island. The Government will freeze 2,000 acres in the interests of the security and well-being of Kenya. Work is expected to be provided for hundreds of Europeans and thousands of Africans. It is widely thought that Mombasa will become an important naval base."

There are all kinds of plans for developing Africa. Experts have been investigating dam sites on the River Zambesi, to harness the power of the Victoria Falls; the Zambesi, one of Africa's greatest rivers, forms the northern border of Southern Rhodesia, and it is believed that, some 200 miles north-east of the Falls, between the high banks of the Kariba Gorge, a dam site would create an inland sea as big as the three largest American dams put together. Cheap electric power could be generated at low cost

Another large plan is the Sabi Lundi development scheme, which has large possibilities for industry, for there are coal and phosphate deposits here.

All these plans need capital.
   “The President of the World Bank, disclosed that the bank has lent £500 million to 27 countries in the last five years. It is helping to finance a £100 million four year plan by Southern Rhodesia " (Daily Graphic 6-9-52).
A booklet has been prepared by the Public Relations Dept, of Southern Rhodesia, and is called “Southern Rhodesia, A field for investment." We are told that, "Southern Rhodesia is admirably placed to be the manufacturer in chief to many millions of Africans inside and beyond its borders. Apart from its own people, Southern Rhodesia can therefore look northwards and eastwards to Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, the Eastern Congo and Portuguese East Africa, to a population of not less than 12 to 15,000,000 Africans, for potential markets for her growing industries."

We thus can see that economic development is going on.

What will be the result of all this development on the native Africans? "The five million whites in Africa fear that they will be swamped and overpowered by the Africans, whose standard of civilisation is incomparably lower than theirs. The Europeans there seek to avert this real danger by retaining all forms of political power in their own hands for as long as possible " (page 42 “Attitude to Africa," by W. A. Lewis, Michael Scott, M. Wight and C. Legum).

The Africans are thus being drawn into the vortex of our present capitalist economy.
I. Flower.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Oil Corporation Corruption

A court in Milan is considering charges of corruption against Eni and Shell in a controversial oil deal that led to Nigeria losing an estimated $6bn.
The campaign group Global Witness has calculated the OPL 245 deal in 2011 deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget.
Eni and Shell are accused of knowing the money they paid to Nigeria would be used for bribes.
The former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, was found guilty by a court in France of money laundering and it emerged he had so much cash in $100 bills that it weighed five tonnes.
"We discovered that Shell had constructed a deal that cut Nigeria out of their share of profit oil from the block," Ava Lee, a campaigner at Global Witness told the BBC's World Business Report."This amount of money would be enough to educate six million teachers in Nigeria. It really can't be underestimated just how big a deal this could be for a country that right now has the highest rates of extreme poverty in the world."
The Italian government is discouraging Nigerian migrants trying to reach Italy by claiming that it will help them at home, but Italy's biggest multi-national, part-owned by the state, is accused of scamming billions from the Nigerian people.

Nigeria goes to the polls.

"The politicians have failed us. I feel like all those elected into office only care about themselves. They only want our votes and don't provide us with the basic needs we demand for."
"Life is difficult. The little money I make is never enough. I have to feed my family from the food I sell, I can't afford to buy them other food."
According to a report in June by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC-based think-tank, Nigeria has overtaken India as the world's poverty capital.
The study estimated that 87 million people in a country of nearly 200 million were living in extreme poverty, compared with 73 million people in India.
The report also projected an increase in extreme poverty in Nigeria - Africa's leading oil producer and most populous nation - until at least 2022.
According to a 2018 African Development Bank report, "nearly 80 percent of Nigeria's 190 million people live on less than $2 a day".
Another major concern is corruption, an issue that has long plagued Nigeria due to public officials feasting on funds generated from crude oil exports. Last year, Nigeria ranked 148th out of 180 countries on Transparency International's corruption index.
The country produces more than two million oil barrels per day and holds one of the world's largest gas reserves, but can barely produce electricity to power many of its households and factories. The shortage is also pushing the price of goods up, as they are mostly produced by manufacturing firms running on costly diesel-powered generators.