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(en) Southern Africa, Anarchist journal Zabalaza #9 - WILL EU TROOPS STOP THE CENTRAL AFRICAN CYCLE OF VIOLENCE? by RONAN MCAOIDH

Date Fri, 12 Sep 2008 09:14:29 +0300

The deployment of an EU military force to Chad and Central African Republic
(CAR) was widely spun as a humanitarian intervention, to protect refugees and
humanitarian workers from attacks by Darfur-based militias, but can we really
expect them to play a positive role in these countries' politics? ---- The first
point that we need to make is that the main influence behind the deployment of
the EUFOR force was France, the former colonial power in Chad and CAR, which
still maintains an active military alliance with both countries' governments.
Any look at a history of the French state's involvement in Africa should soon
dispel any belief in their commitment to human rights. Since the ending of
colonial rule (itself a constant parade of injustice) the French state has
supported brutal regimes in Chad, CAR and Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa,
engineering coup d'etats and military intervention in its bid to ensure that
`their men' in Africa remain in power.

At present, French troops and aircraft
continue to offer support to the govern-
ments of Chad and CAR, outside of the EU
deployment. Recently, they have offered
intelligence and logistical support to the
Chadian army, even airlifting militia from
the Justice and Equality Movement from
their positions in Darfur back to Chad to
defend a city under attack from Chadian
rebels. For Bozize's brutal regime in CAR
they have been even more active, bombing
and occupying rebel areas as well as pro-
viding unconditional political support. It is
necessary therefore, to see France's role in
the current EU deployment as merely part
of a long process of supporting
`their men' in Chad
and CAR, whatever
the human cost of
these regimes.
What France
gets back from
this is profit:
while France
props up these
states French
corporations get
first preference for many
contracts; in 2006 French compa-
nies supplied nearly 20 percent of
Chad's imports and 15 percent of
CAR's. Furthermore, CAR has
major reserves of uranium which
serve as a back-up source for
France's nuclear powered economy.
In Chad France have a strategically
important base in Central Africa, with
three airbases, a thousand troops, and
a squadron of fighter jets ready to be
deployed wherever they are needed.
The Chadian state has also received
backing from the US government, receiving
military training as part of the US `Trans-
Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative', and
being supported from IMF sanctions after
defaulting on an expenditure agreement.
This may well be related to the joint US-
Malaysian exploitation of oil fields in the
south of Chad.
But if all this is the case, why have the
French pushed the EU to get involved
rather than acting alone? After all,
the French have been quite happy
to use their military to fight wars in
these countries in the past, so
what's different now? The
answer lies in France.
The new French pres-
ident, Sarkozy, has
frequently pledged to
end the longstanding
neo-colonial relationship
between France and repres-
sive regimes in Africa.
At the same time, he
is interested in devel-
oping the EU as a polit-
ical force, strongly push-
ing the Lisbon Treaty as
well as a common treaty on immi-
gration. Thus, the present interven-
tion allows the French elite to simultane-
ously develop the military practice of the
EU, while maintaining their privileged rela-
tionship with these regimes. Not only this,
but sending troops under an EU flag rather
than a French one provides the interven-
tion with a coat of respectability.
It is hard to tell whether we will see a sig-
nificant increase in EU military intervention
in Africa; certain sections of the European
elite are keen for the EU to develop its use
of military force in order to secure energy
resources. However, the slow and contra-
dictory development of the European proj-
ect means that the EU are far outpaced by
China in the new `scramble for Africa'. It is
also worth remembering that the positions
of the dictators in Chad and CAR are by no
means secure; in the past France has had
no problem with replacing one tyrant with
another when their man begins to pull at
the leash. It could well happen that the
combined French and EU forces will allow
rebels to overthrow the government if they
lose faith in the current regimes.
Overall we can conclude that this EU
mission does not mean that peace will
come to Chad or to Central African
Republic. The cause of the conflicts is not
an absence of force, if this were the case
these conflicts would have ended many
years ago. The cause of these conflicts is
deeper; it is rooted in the ongoing poverty
and neglect of the people, as well as the
opportunism of would be strong men, who
see a chance to put themselves into power,
and use the resource riches for them-
selves. Western corporations and their
political elites maintain this dreadful state
of affairs, despite their `humanitarian' rhet-
oric, they are only interested in serving
themselves and will use whatever means
necessary to preserve their pillage of these
countries' resources. Those who are gen-
uinely interested in peace and social
change face a real struggle, against the
state, against the power seeking militias,
and against Western neo-colonialism,
whatever face it wears.
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