Note: These remarks were delivered at a Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) special weekly organizing meeting in Detroit on Mon. December 12, 2016. The gathering featured as the keynote speaker journalist Eva Bartlett who reported on her coverage of the United States backed war in Syria. Bartlett spoke on a panel chaired by Randi Nord of Geopolitics Alert along with contributions by Joe Mshahwar of Detroit FIST and Abayomi Azikiwe.
This is a very important meeting which is taking place at the end of a tumultuous year. An incoming United States administration and its transition processes has been quite revealing about the overall character of imperialism during this period.
During the course of the electoral campaign of both Donald Trump and former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton very little attention was paid to the U.S. imperialist wars that are raging across various geo-political regions throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
However, with the nominations by President-elect Trump of leading military hawks provides an indication of the direction of Washington’s foreign policy over the next four years. A worsening relationship with the People’s Republic of China and the continuation of the hostilities with Iran along with the war in Syria will place the Republican administration and Congress on a collision course with the peoples of the so-called Global South as well as the majority of working and oppressed people inside the U.S.
We are honored to have with us journalist Eva Bartlett who has covered the war in Syria over the last several years. Her views on this war are largely at variance with the corporate media outlets based in the U.S. and other countries which attempt to conceal the real reasons behind the conflict and the role of Washington, Brussels and Wall Street.
Geo-political Significance of the Syria War
The equitable resolution of the imperialist war against Syria is essential in any effort to bring genuine peace and stability throughout West Asia and other parts of the world. These efforts represent the cornerstone in future relations between the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the U.S.
Analysts committed to the continued dominance of U.S. imperialism in West Asia view the outcome of the war in Syria as a part and parcel of a broader struggle against Iran, Russia, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Ansurallah in Yemen and other forces that have played a progressive role in the recent period. A military defeat of the armed opposition groups in Syria would inevitably strengthen Moscow, Tehran, the government based in Damascus and resistance groups throughout not only this region but internationally.
Although the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama along with Russia and European Union (EU) states negotiated the Iran Nuclear Deal last year, the war against Tehran continues through the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. It is the aim of the U.S. to destroy any stable anti-imperialist government or organization anywhere in the region.
In Yemen well over 10,000 people have been killed in the last year-and-a-half of relentless bombing and ground war waged by the Saudi Arabian-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance which is armed with U.S.-manufactured warplanes, ordnances, intelligence coordinates, refueling technology and diplomatic cover. Millions in Yemen have been displaced and further impoverished while the State Department under Secretary of State John Kerry has blocked all attempts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and peace agreement.
Saudi Arabia, which is one of the largest U.S. arms purchasers, sees a consolidation of power by the Ansurallah as a threat to its dominance in the Arabian Peninsula as well as the national security of Riyadh, which has an oppressed population including Shite groups in the eastern region on the border with Yemen. Consequently, this war of genocide continues against the poorest state in the region with Washington’s coordination remaining hidden from the American people.
The Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa as Pentagon Military Outposts
There are tremendous linkages between the imperialist policies of the U.S. in West Asia and the Horn of Africa. The Gulf of Aden and Red Sea area is perhaps one of the most militarized waterways in the world. This region is a lucrative hub for international commerce related to the trade in oil and military equipment. Under the guise of fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, the U.S., the European Union Naval Forces (EUFOR) and NATO maintain a strong presence.
According to a document published by NATO: “Since 2008, at the request of the United Nations, NATO has been supporting international efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off the Horn of Africa and in the Indian Ocean. NATO is currently leading Operation Ocean Shield, which helps to deter and disrupt pirate attacks, while protecting vessels and helping to increase the general level of security in the region. NATO works in close cooperation with other actors in the region including the European Union’s Operation Atalanta, the U.S.-led Combined Task Force 151 and individual country contributors. NATO will terminate Ocean Shield on 15 December 2016, but will remain engaged in the fight against piracy by maintaining maritime situational awareness and continuing close links with other international counter-piracy actors.” (http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_48815.htm)
In Djibouti, formerly known as French Somaliland, the Pentagon maintains a large military base at Camp Lemonier. This installation is part of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) initiated in 2008 under the administration of former President George W. Bush. AFRICOM has been enhanced under Obama.
As early 2012, the Washington Post published an article saying: “Around the clock, about 16 times a day, drones take off or land at a U.S. military base here, the combat hub for the Obama administration’s counterterrorism wars in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. Some of the unmanned aircraft are bound for Somalia, the collapsed state whose border lies just 10 miles to the southeast. Most of the armed drones, however, veer north across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, another unstable country where they are being used in an increasingly deadly war with an al-Qaeda franchise that has targeted the United States.”(Oct. 25, 2012)
It has been publically announced that some 4,000 U.S. troops are based in Djibouti at Camp Lemonier. France also maintains a presence there as well. The Pentagon has spread its operations across Africa under false banner of fighting Islamic terrorism and piracy. Nonetheless, instability continues in neighboring Somalia and is increasing in Ethiopia.
Somalia: Failed U.S. Policy and the Continuation of the Proxy War
Since 2007, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) has been financed, trained and coordinated by the Pentagon and the EU. At present some 22,000 troops are stationed in and around the capital of Mogadishu.
Nonetheless, there is still no stability in Somalia which has been subjected to nearly four decades of U.S. intervention both directly and indirectly. A war-weariness has taken hold in Somalia with threats by the EU to withdraw funding and consequently leading to the drawing down of AMISOM forces.
Although the headquarters of the regional 54-member AU is based in nearby Ethiopia, the character of neo-colonialism which Dr. Kwame Nkrumah wrote about over five decades ago maintains a firm grip on African economies and nation-states. A genuine revolutionary transformation throughout the region would be essential in any program to achieve genuine independence and sovereignty for both the Horn of Africa and West Asia along with its waterways.
Task of the Anti-Imperialist Movement
Therefore with Washington’s role in the both of these geo-political regions it is imperative that the anti-imperialist and antiwar movements in the U.S. take a decisive position in support and defense of the peoples of these areas. We cannot remain neutral in the face of massive Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and State Department involvement.
Our solidarity with the government in Syria is directly related to creating the conditions for building regional peace, security, national sovereignty and sustainable economic development. There can be no qualitative growth in West Asia and Africa absent of a total withdrawal of U.S. imperialist forces and their allies.
In closing I would like to acknowledge a very important policy address delivered by the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a Security Conference in Tehran on December 11.
An article published by Mehr News Agency quoted Zarif as saying “The transition era which emerged after the Cold War has lasted for over twenty years and still possesses characteristics of a transition period the only difference being that the West is no longer considered as the main axis of change.”
This same report continues emphasizing that: “He (Zarif) noted that all changes in the international community used to take place within the Western framework while current changes go beyond that; ‘we need to grasp the reality that developments are not originated or concluded in the West anymore.’ He expounded that the world was no longer affected by Western developments as West Asia, in its own right, has turned into an influential component shaping the future and it will deeply affect the international system. The new order, unlike what it might seem, will not be formed in the West as well as that West Asia has turned into an actor rather than merely being the subject of action, Zarif noted.”
These observations and summations apply as well to the Horn of Africa and the continent as a whole. It is our job to ensure that this process of transformation is conducted as speedily as possible.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire