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No to Britain’s Pretexts for Imperialist Penetration of Africa:
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :
Stop the War Coalition international conference:
Confronting War Ten Years On
Rally to mark the 10th anniversary of the February 15th London mass demonstration opposing the attack on Iraq: For a Future Without War!
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No to Britain’s Pretexts for Imperialist Penetration of Africa:
On February 13, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, provided a written statement to Parliament on the current French-led military intervention in Mali, which the British government strongly supports. The Foreign Secretary was forced to point out that although military intervention led by France, which includes aerial bombing raids as well as ground assaults, had made some progress, intense fighting still continued in the north of Mali. Hague again made it clear that his government will continue to provide support for the French-led mission, which now also involves some troops from neighbouring African countries in addition to NATO involvement, by providing transport and logistical support, “training” and intelligence, in addition to interfering in other ways in Mali and throughout the region.
The Foreign Secretary’s statement makes it clear that the government will continue to interfere in the internal affairs of Mali at every opportunity, in the manner of a dyed-in-the-wool imperialist, not least in the elections which have been scheduled for July this year by the country’s interim government. Hague reiterated the government’s claim that “terrorism” in the region would require a multi-faceted international presence and response for some time. It is a “terrorism” that the British government has had more than a hand in creating. The government has already announced that it will provide both financial support and training to the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), which has still not been fully deployed. The big powers are also making plans to deploy troops under the auspices of the UN that would enable Britain and others to jointly take control of the military occupation of Mali, and extend their military presence throughout the region. This is all done under a banner of the “need for greater political momentum in Mali”, and for a “political settlement” to accompany “military progress”.
The government’s activities in Mali are part of a wider policy of “countering terrorism overseas” as Hague expressed it in a keynote speech given at the Royal United Services Institute on February 14. The government claims that it is concerned to eliminate the source of “terrorism” and locates this within “ungoverned spaces” and “vulnerable” and “fragile” states many of which it claims exist in Africa, concepts which the British government has itself been a prime mover in creating. The British government then asserts that it is therefore its duty to intervene in these countries, allegedly to prevent the conditions for “terrorism” developing. According to the Foreign Secretary, Britain must not only be at the forefront of the “war against terror” but must also establish partnership to strengthen the “building blocks of stable democracy”. That is to say, the Eurocentric values and capital-centred political and economic institutions, as well as an intelligence and security apparatus, which will allow Britain maximum interference in the internal affairs of other countries. This is the “new political order” which Britain is attempting to impose which runs contrary to and tears up established principles of international relations, and does not turn a hair in doing so.
The government has already taken steps to impose some of these measures and allegedly build this “new political order” in North Africa through £110m of funding from what it calls its Arab Partnership Initiative. By these means, far from supporting the political changes that are taking place in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, it is intended to subvert them and divert them into channels that do not favour the people of these countries. While in others such as Algeria it is attempt to establish a much stronger presence in line with the strategic and economic interests of the big monopolies.
In its more recent announcements the government has tried to take the high moral ground by claiming that its “counter-terrorism” methods are based on the most democratic values, that it eschews the use of torture and that it expects the same high ethical standards from its partners and allies overseas. However, as the British army is currently being accused of war crimes and systematic torture committed in Iraq and as it is no secret that Britain’s major ally, the US, to whom it is a subservient partner as Anglo-American imperialism, routinely subjects people to torture and other inhuman practices, with Britain’s connivance, such self-righteousness is the height of hypocrisy.
At the present time, the government is paying special attention to Africa, where it is in contention with the other big powers. It is in this context that it raising the spectre of terrorism and intervening in Mali and other countries. It has recently announced that it will attempt to consolidate its position in Algeria, Libya, South Sudan, the DR of Congo and Somalia. Somalia, where large oil and gas deposits have been found and which occupies an important strategic position, is being referred to as a “personal priority” for the Prime Minister! It is also being hailed as a successful example of external intervention co-ordinated by the UN and the government will host a second international conference in London in May in order to plan further interference in the rebuilding of Somalia’s armed forces, police, coastguard, justice system and public finances. Such arrogance! The government clearly envisages that a similar model of intervention, using African troops and with support from the big powers will eventually be employed in Mali.
As part of its International Defence Engagement Strategy the government recently announced that it has taken measures to strengthen its continuing activities in relation to “security and justice sector reform” in Libya, South Sudan and Somalia, as well as on-going military “training” in several of Britain’s former colonies in West Africa. These and other measures are entirely consistent with the alleged training and “anti-terrorism” activities of the US Africa command (AFRICOM) throughout the African continent.
Through these and other means, the government continues its dirty military intervention and interference in concert and in contention with the other big powers. It is a contention that is leading to great instability, armed conflicts and a situation of “endless war” in many regions of the world and particularly in Africa and Asia. In these circumstances, it is an urgent necessity for the workers and all democratic people in Britain to step up their struggles to stay the hands of the warmongers and create the conditions for establishing an anti-war government. There can be no conciliation with the criminality of British imperialist intervention.
Stop the War Coalition international conference:
The Stop the War Coalition's international conference, Confronting War Ten Years On, met in London on February 9, to mark the 10th anniversary of the massive two-million-strong demonstration that took place in London on February 15, 2003, to oppose the attack on Iraq by the Anglo-US powers. This demonstration itself was one of countless manifestations throughout the globe on that day. Around 1,000 people registered for the day-long conference to hear speakers from the anti-war movement in Britain and from around the world, and to take part in discussion sessions on the last decade of wars since the demonstration and to confront the current and future wars.
The conference, open to delegates and members of Stop the War Coalition, and to all who paid a registration fee, had three plenary sessions: The consequences of war; The war on terror today; and the International movement. These sessions had a line up of contributors which included speakers from Britain, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Canada, Germany and the United States. During the conference, parallel sessions were organised for open discussion on: Palestine and the Middle East; Drones and remote control imperialism; Art and war; The new scramble for Africa and Islamophobia.
This was an impressive conference at this time not only in its upholding of the spirit of the February 15 mass demonstration, but in that it was focused on building that unity and self-reliance to organise the anti-war movement that has grown out of that period. The conference contributors also focused on using that experience of the struggle over 10 years – 12 years from the invasion of Afghanistan – to take forward the alternative agenda of the people confronting war and to fight for a future without war. All the sessions were relevant to the current situation and were packed with participants. In the session on the "scramble for Africa”, participants grappled with this latest Anglo-US and French agenda to extend the “war on terror” into Africa as a pretext to intervene in Africa on the military and every other front to further seize the precious resources of the African people. This was not just an important discussion but was also preparation for meetings and actions against the interference in Mali, Libya, Algeria and other African countries. Key to this was the responsibility of the anti-war movement to develop its opposition to the British government's interference in Africa. In the session on drones, the extent of the criminal involvement of the British government in the collaboration with Israel in the building of these illegal weapons which are used to assassinate the Palestinian people in Gaza and the Afghan people in Afghanistan was exposed. As a result of this growing awareness of Britain's criminal involvement in drone deployment, a national demonstration is planned on April 27 against Britain's drone base in Lincolnshire.
In his contribution in the plenary on The war on terror today, Andrew Murray, Vice-President of the Stop the War Coalition, pointed out that “we need to rebuild the strength from this tremendous conference today to finish off the work we set ourselves 10 or 12 years ago”. He said that in his opinion “we need a strong labour movement not just organisationally confident in its own strength but also with a maturer growing political understanding of imperialism which leads to war and our need to oppose it”.
The conference embodied that it is the responsibility of the people, of the anti-war movement and all the forces of the working class movement and people of Britain, to block these criminals in government who put themselves as judge, jury and executioner of the world’s people.
It is a responsibility to get organised, to strengthen that conviction, to unite in action. And to take up the task to get the organised workers movement in all its forms, including the trade unions, to be part of this movement for a future without war, which means hitting at the source of war, no matter which party in Westminster (or Washington) is in power in the fight for an anti-war government in Britain.
Rally to mark the 10th anniversary of the February 15 London mass demonstration opposing the attack on Iraq:
A rally to mark the 10th anniversary of the London demonstration when two million people demonstrated against the attack on Iraq was held in the Civic Centre, Newcastle, on the very day of the anniversary, February 15, 2013. It was organised jointly by the Martin Luther King Peace Committee, Unison Northern Region and Newcastle Stop the War Coalition. Over 60 people enjoyed a reception and buffet, a short film of the demonstration, including the poem by Adrian Mitchell Tell me lies about Iraq, and four speakers representing the peace movement, stop-the-war movement and trade union movement. Questions and comments were also contributed by the participants who also raised many points on furthering the work. At the end there was a cultural contribution of progressive rap from Zeinab Raza and an anti-war song from Tony Kempster, who was also one of the speakers, both which were very well received.
The rally marked a new point in the anti-war movement in the north-east. Learning from the experience of the last twelve years, the movement is paying attention to the unity and organisation across wide sections of the people and is further engaging with the trade union movement as their members face endless wars that effects themselves and their families especially in regions like the north-east. The rally affirmed that this great movement against war is not going to stop and will continue to confront the present wars together with the aim of realising a future without war.
Photos and audio files of the speakers and song contributions can be found at the website: http://www.northeaststopwar.org.uk
(Newcastle Stop the War Coalition)
Northern Region RCPBML film of the Newcastle demonstration
The organisation Friends of Korea organised a meeting on February 9 on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the birth of the late leader Kim Jong Il (known as the Day of the Shining Star). Friends of Korea unites those organisations and individuals who oppose the threats to the right to be of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and combat the disinformation which is spread, particularly here in Britain, about the reality of life in the DPRK and its just stands.
The stand of the meeting was one of genuine friendship with the people of the DPRK. It shared the Korean people’s sense of celebration that they have advanced so far, relying on their own efforts.
The meeting took place shortly after the UN Security Council resolution of January 22, 2013, which condemns the DPRK for its satellite launch of December 12, 2012, on the grounds that the launch used “ballistic missile technology”. As speakers at the meeting pointed out, “ballistic missile technology” in this context simply means “rocket science”, and it is to the utmost credit of the small country of the DPRK that they have the rocket scientists who can successfully launch such a satellite. It is a blow to the technological monopoly of the big powers. The DPRK’s exercise of its right to the peaceful use of space is a question of its right to defend its sovereignty.
Since the meeting, the DPRK announced that it had conducted a nuclear test on February 12. Again, the Anglo-American imperialists and the big powers wish to maintain their nuclear monopoly so as to exercise nuclear blackmail against states such as the DPRK, and in this context develop the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. It is against this background of hostility and warmongering that the DPRK has conducted its third nuclear test once more in defence of its sovereignty.
The Friends of Korea meeting concluded by adopting a message stating that its participants will continue to do all that they can to defend the right of the DPRK to its sovereignty and to its own chosen path, contributing to the common cause of the bringing into being of a world free from imperialism, domination, subjugation, aggression and war.
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