John Parker is a member of the Socialist Unity party and a senatorial candidate on the Peace and Freedom party ticket in California. He just returned from a fact-finding trip to Russia and Ukraine. He is also a member of Black Alliance for peace. He joins us from Los Angeles. Margaret Kimberley and John Parker will discuss Russia and Ukraine in a webinar entitled “Eyewitness Donbass and Russia”, on Sunday, May 29 at 5pm ET.
Anxiety about the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) toward the Russian border is one of the causes of the current war in Ukraine. But this is not the only attempt at expansion by NATO, a treaty organization created in 1949 by the United States to project its military and political power over Europe. In 2001, NATO conducted an “out of area” military operation in Afghanistan, which lasted 20 years, and in 2011, NATO—at the urging of France—bombed Libya and overthrew its government. NATO military operations in Afghanistan and Libya were the prelude to discussions of a “Global NATO,” a project to use the NATO military alliance beyond its own charter obligations from the South China Sea to the Caribbean Sea.
NATO’s war in Libya was its first major military operation in Africa, but it was not the first European military footprint on the continent. After centuries of European colonial wars in Africa, new states emerged in the aftermath of World War II to assert their sovereignty. Many of these states—from Ghana to Tanzania—refused to allow the European military forces to reenter the continent, which is why these European powers had to resort to assassinations and military coups to anoint pro-Western governments in the region. This allowed for the creation of Western military bases in Africa and gave Western firms freedom to exploit the continent’s natural resources.
Early NATO operations stayed at the edge of Africa, with the Mediterranean Sea being the major frontline. NATO set up the Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) in Naples in 1951, and then the Allied Forces Mediterranean (AFMED) in Malta in 1952. Western governments established these military formations to garrison the Mediterranean Sea against the Soviet navy and to create platforms from where they could militarily intervene in the African continent. After the Six-Day War in 1967, NATO’s Defense Planning Committee, which was dissolved in 2010, created the Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NOCFORMED) to put pressure on pro-Soviet states—such as Egypt—and to defend the monarchies of northern Africa (NATO was unable to prevent the anti-imperialist coup of 1969 that overthrew the monarchy in Libya and brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to power; Gaddafi’s government ejected U.S. military bases from the country soon thereafter).
Conversations at NATO headquarters about “out of area” operations took place with increasing frequency after NATO joined the U.S. war on Afghanistan. A senior official at NATO told me in 2003 that the United States had “developed an appetite to use NATO” in its attempt to project power against possible adversaries. Two years later, in 2005, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, NATO began to cooperate closely with the African Union (AU). The AU, which was formed in 2002, and was the “successor” to the Organization of African Unity, struggled to build an independent security structure. The lack of a viable military force meant that the AU often turned to the West for assistance, and asked NATO to help with logistics and airlift support for its peacekeeping mission in Sudan.
Alongside NATO, the U.S. operated its military capacity through the United States European Command (EUCOM), which oversaw the country’s operations in Africa from 1952 to 2007. Thereafter, General James Jones, head of EUCOM from 2003 to 2006, formed the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008, which was headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, because none of the 54 African nations were willing to give it a home. NATO began to operate on the African continent through AFRICOM.
Libya and NATO’s Framework for Africa
NATO’s war on Libya changed the dynamics of the relationship between the African countries and the West. The African Union was wary of Western military intervention in the region. On 10 March, 2011, the AU’s Peace and Security Council set up the High-Level ad hoc Committee on Libya. The members of this committee included then-AU Chairperson Dr. Jean Ping and the heads of state of five African nations—former President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Mali’s former President Amadou Toumani Touré, former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni—who were supposed to fly into Tripoli, Libya, and negotiate between the two sides of the Libyan civil war soon after the committee’s formation. The United Nations Security Council, however, prevented this mission from entering the country.
At a meeting between the High-Level ad hoc Committee on Libya and the United Nations in June 2011, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations during that time, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, said, “It is unwise for certain players to be intoxicated with technological superiority and begin to think they alone can alter the course of human history toward freedom for the whole of mankind. Certainly, no constellation of states should think that they can recreate hegemony over Africa.” But this is precisely what the NATO states began to imagine.
Chaos in Libya set in motion a series of catastrophic conflicts in Mali, southern Algeria and parts of Niger. The French military intervention in Mali in 2013 was followed by the creation of the G5 Sahel, a political platform of the five Sahel states—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—and a military alliance between them. In May 2014, NATO opened a liaison office at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. At NATO’s Wales Summit in September 2014, the alliance partners considered the problems in the Sahel that entered the alliance’s Readiness Action Plan, which served as “[the] driver of NATO’s military adaptation to the changed and evolving security environment.” In December 2014, NATO foreign ministers reviewed the plan’s implementation, and focused on the “threats emanating from our southern neighborhood, the Middle East, and North Africa” and established a framework to meet the threats and challenges being faced by the South, according to a report by the former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Michael R. Turner. Two years later, at NATO’s Warsaw Summit in 2016, NATO leaders decided to increase their cooperation with the African Union. They “[welcomed] the robust military commitment of Allies in the Sahel-Sahara region.” To deepen this commitment, NATO set up an African Standby Force and began the process of training officers in African military forces.
Meanwhile, the recent decision to eject the French military is rooted in a general sensibility growing in the continent against Western military aggression. No wonder then that many of the larger African countries refused to follow Washington’s position on the war on Ukraine, with half the countries either abstaining or voting against the UN resolution to condemn Russia (this includes countries such as Algeria, South Africa, Angola and Ethiopia). It is telling that South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said that his country “is committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms not only of our own people but for the peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara, Afghanistan, Syria and across Africa and the world.”
The ignominy of Western—and NATO’s—follies, including arms deals with Morocco to deliver Western Sahara to the kingdom and diplomatic backing for Israel as it continues its apartheid treatment of Palestinians, bring into sharp contrast Western outrage at the events taking place in Ukraine. Evidence of this hypocrisy serves as a warning while reading the benevolent language used by the West when it comes to NATO’s expansion into Africa.
His victory fills Latin America with hope. The people begin to breathe new airs of dialogue, social equality, and integration,” it said.
On Monday, the Puebla Group welcomed the victory of the Historical Pact candidates Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez in the first round of the Colombian elections held on May 29. In a statement entitled “Long live Colombia!, the one that begins to live ‘tasty’ from today,” the Latin American intellectuals and politicians described their victory as an expression of “the hopes of change of Colombian progressivism.”
The Puebla Group also celebrated “the democratic spirit and the civic and peaceful will that was expressed on election day, especially due to their participation levels.”
The victory of Historical Pact candidates reflects “the enormous work of young people who dream of a new Colombia, where all the men and women excluded be recognized,” it added.
The Puebla Group also invited to respect the results of the elections in order to “build a fair, democratic, and peaceful Colombia” because the “victory of Gustavo Petro fills Latin America with hope. The people begin to breathe new airs of dialogue, social equality, and integration.”
Prior to the first round, progressive Latin American leaders demanded that President Ivan Duque provide security and stop questioning the legitimacy of the electoral process.
The Puebla Group was founded in 2019 by over 40 progressive Latin American leaders. They include President Alberto Fernandez (Argentina) and former presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva (Brazil), Jose Mujica (Uruguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Ernesto Samper (Colombia), Evo Morales (Bolivia). Spain, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Martin Torrijos (Panama), and Leonel Fernandez (Dominican Republic).
This week has been incredibly painful for Sudan. On Monday seven revolutionaries were killed in the protests, and many other protestors are badly injured and are fighting for their lives. Since the coup on 25 October 2021, 71 revolutionaries have been killed. The photo above is of five of the young revolutionaries killed on 17 January.
The military is ramping up the violence, and it is only going to get worse. Hospitals in Khartoum have been getting attacked for weeks now, medics are regularly beaten, tear gas deployed inside the premises, and injured protestors arrested (as in kidnapped from their beds). A massive hike in electricity prices recently shows the regime has a cash problem. The recent killing of a police officer was blamed on a young revolutionary, who has been arrested. It’s clear to most Sudanese that the killing was carried out by elements of the regime to justify the barbaric use of violence, including the use of anti-aircraft weapons, against human bodies, sound bombs, live ammunition, and the deliberate firing of tear gas canisters at the heads and faces of protestors (on Monday this week all the deaths were by bullets but a lot of deaths in recent weeks have been due to trauma from the impact of gas canisters to the head). Resistance committee members in the last week have faced a more aggressive than usual campaign of arrests.
In response to the bloody day, and the escalating repression, the revolutionary forces on Monday announced two days of mass civil disobedience, which started on Tuesday 18 January in preparation for a general strike. Doctors’ unions also announced full withdrawal for three days (18-19-20 January) from all military and security owned hospitals, and a strike of three days from “cold” non-urgent cases in all hospitals.
Please see the link to the original Arabic text here.
Khartoum State Resistance Committees Coordination joint statement (17 January 2022)
We cannot retreat, the price of this journey was and still is our lifetimes, and know, revolutionaries of the world, that we are still steadfast, and we are still victorious, and we are still confident that we will win our battle and the revolution against the rotten bloody regime.
Men and women revolutionaries, Our Rebel People:
A new massacre has been added to the massacres of the military coup d’état against the Sudanese people. Until now, we have lost seven revolutionaries [today] and we consider them martyrs who live among us. Until this moment, we are still counting our wounded; there are many serious injuries with live bullets and tear gas canisters aimed at the faces of the revolutionaries. Daily, the coup council and its militia allies reveal to the world and to the Sudanese who wrongly imagine some good will come out of this, that the council are just gangs that call themselves a state. They steal our resources to kill us, they arm their soldiers at the expense of bread, health, and education in order to spread bullets in the streets. This is not our army, they are the enemies of the Sudanese, and it is necessary to resist them until we win, or they rule an empty country after they have killed us all. This is our covenant with the martyrs.
We call on all the revolutionaries to completely close Khartoum and erect barricades everywhere. Our barricades terrify them and remind them that we are the strongest and largest army in this country. We call on all professionals, employees and workers everywhere to establish their committees in the workplace, and to coordinate well between those committees and the resistance committees in preparation for the general strike and the implementation of civil disobedience on 18-19 January.
We call on the revolutionaries in all the neighborhoods of the country to prepare for a long battle in which we defeat the militias, based on our good preparation of our organization, on the continuation of the announced [civil disobedience] schedules, and on the arrangement of ad-hoc schedules according to what the women and men revolutionaries see [happening] in their neighborhoods.
We will publish our next steps in response to 17 January massacre. This massacre will not go unnoticed. We are the generation that was destined to write the end of the military coups, and we will not postpone this battle. The action is what you see and not what you hear.
Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, Bolivia recovered from the economic losses suffered during the coup regime of Jeanine Áñez
After suffering deep economic setbacks during the de-facto rule of coup-installed president Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia’s economy not only recovered but achieved new levels of economic and social growth in 2021. Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, the country’s exports grew at record levels, the unemployment rate fell sharply, the lithium revenue generated historic income, and the economy is estimated to grow by over 5% in 2022.
President Arce, on January 2, reported that the country’s exports until November 2021 exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest figure in the last three years. “With hope, work and, above all, with unity, that’s how we started 2022. As of November 2021, our exports exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest in three years, with a trade surplus of 1.7 billion USD. It’s just the beginning! We are moving forward,” tweeted the head of state.
At the same time, the vice minister of foreign trade and integration, Benjamín Blanco, reported that the country is set to beat another record, with 10 billion USD until December, a figure that has not been reached since 2014. “Exports are going to reach around 10 billion USD. It is a figure that has not been reached since 2014, we are going to break a record after many years in exports and that also leaves us with a positive trade balance of more than 1.5 billion USD, after eight years we did not have a credit balance for our country,” he said.
Blanco also reported that not only was there a growth in the value of exports, but also their volume increased. He highlighted that the country obtained international recognition for the quality of cocoa, which will allow it to be exported at better prices. He also said that the country intends to reach the European market with Bolivian wine in 2022.
Meanwhile, on January 4, the minister of economy and public finance, Marcelo Montenegro reported that between May 2020 and October 2021, more than 1.1 million Bolivians got jobs, and unemployment decreased from 11.6% to 5%. “The economy has recovered, the growth rate of six percent is not negligible, with falling unemployment, inflation and deficits controlled, the positive trade balance and exports are growing,” said Montenegro.
He said that in 2022, the government will continue working to generate jobs for Bolivians in various sectors. “The prospects for 2022 management have a tendency to continue improving in employment and income, as well as greater dynamics in construction, transportation, manufacturing, mining and other sectors,” he said.
On January 5, the ministry of hydrocarbons and energies reported that the Bolivian Lithium Mineral company (YLB) generated a historic income of around 28 million USD from sales in 2021. It said that it is the result of the sales of potassium chloride and lithium carbonate in the national and international markets.
The main countries that demand Bolivian lithium carbonate are China, Russia and the United States, while those that require potassium chloride are Chile and Brazil, according to data from YLB. Apart from exports, both products are also marketed to small producers in the national market through the company’s outlets in Uyuni and Cochabamba cities.
Based on the positive indexes registered in 2021, such as the 6% increase in the country’s GDP as compared to a -8.8% in 2020, Bolivian economic analysts have forecasted an economic growth of 5.1% for 2022.
Huge protests are continuing to shake Sudan through the mass movement demanding civilian rule and democracy led by the Resistance Committees. Despite increasing repression and the regular killing of protesters by the security forces, tens of thousands are still joining demonstrations opposing the military coup. Alongside the protests in the streets, important struggles have developed in some workplaces, and activists are starting to make links between the fight for economic dignity and the battle for democracy and political freedom.
The court workers’ movement is nationwide – picket line in North Darfur. Picture via SWARFTU on Facebook
Justice workers’ walkouts shut down courts across Sudan
Thousands of court workers took part in strikes between 2-6 January to demand a rise in their bonuses in order to meet the spiralling cost of living. Workers in the Judicial Authority organised national action coordinated by strike committees in every province, which reported up to 100 percent participation in some areas, according to the Sudanese Workers Association for the Restoration of Trade Unions (SWAFRTU). Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan, Gedaref, North Darfur and West Kordofan were among the provinces where the whole workforce walked out.
“We must keep hold of the strike weapon – it is the strongest to achieve our just demands,” wrote court worker and trade unionist Mohammed Abd-al-Majid on the SWARFTU page. “Workers and employees used every legal and legitimate means to obtain their rights, including negotiations and follow-up meetings, but when all doors were shut in their faces as a result of the dissolution of trade unions by the coup leader, they resorted to strikes.”
Mass sackings at Bank of Khartoum as workers challenge corrupt bosses
Over 200 workers at the Bank of Khartoum have been dismissed, and over 500 more face the sack as management clamps down after months of mobilisations demanding improved conditions at work and opposing the military coup. The bank was privatised in 2010, when the government sold most of its shares to the private sector, with the Bank of Abu Dhabi buying 70 percent. Businessmen close to the old regime also made a fortune out of the bank’s privatisation. Fadl Mohamed Khair, who was arrested in a crackdown on corruption in the dying days of the Bashir regime is reported to have pocketed over 1.9 billion Sudanese pounds from the Bank during 2018 alone.
Since the beginning of the revolution in December 2018, Bank of Khartoum workers have begun to fight back. They are demanding a pay rise to match the spiralling cost of living and campaigning to get rid of managers who are pushing through job cuts to maximise profits for the bank’s foreign and local bosses.
Some Resistance Committees are mobilising solidarity for the sacked bank workers – picture via SWARFTU on Facebook
The battles in the courts and at the Bank of Khartoum have begun to spark solidarity campaigns and efforts to bring together striking workers and activists from the Resistance Committees. Zakaria Yunis Musa, a court worker in West Darfur called for solidarity with the bank workers in an open letter published on the SWAFRTU Facebook page. “The court workers and Bank of Khartoum workers must coordinate and stand in solidarity with each other,” he said, “in order to expose the feudalists and capitalists. Workers and wage earners are most able to feel each other’s pain and through solidarity and unity they will succeed in winning their human, material, economic, social, cultural and political rights.”
Some Resistance Committees have put out statements in solidarity with the court workers, bank workers and other strikers. The December Revolution Coordination in Ombada, a district on the Western edge of Omdurman, urged activists to mobilise in support in a statement on 5 January.
“Let us stand in solidarity with the workers at the Bank of Khartoum, the judicial institution, and Centroid Company in order to restore their rights. We must root the principle of mutual solidarity among all the forces of resistance in order to bring about a revolution in the institutions and housing. This will lead to the overthrow of a regime which established economic policies based on sacking workers and denying them their rights. We need to build a national economic system based on nationalising all the public properties and institutions which have been privatised through the same reactionary policies.”
Gail Reed: I want to tell you how 20,000 remarkable young people from over 100 countries ended up in Cuba and are transforming health in their communities. Ninety percent of them would never have left home at all if it weren’t for a scholarship to study medicine in Cuba and a commitment to go back to places like the ones they’d come from — remote farmlands, mountains, ghettos — to become doctors for people like themselves, to walk the walk.
Havana’s Latin American Medical School: It’s the largest medical school in the world, graduating 23,000 young doctors since its first class of 2005, with nearly 10,000 more in the pipeline. Its mission, to train physicians for the people who need them the most: the over one billion who have never seen a doctor, the people who live and die under every poverty line ever invented. Its students defy all norms.
They’re the school’s biggest risk and also its best bet . They’re recruited from the poorest, most broken places on our planet by a school that believes they can become not just the good but the excellent physicians their communities desperately need, that they will practice where most doctors don’t, in places not only poor but oftentimes dangerous, carrying venom antidotes in their backpacks or navigating neighborhoods riddled by drugs, gangs and bullets, their home ground .
The hope is that they will help transform access to care, the health picture in impoverished areas, and even the way medicine itself is learned and practiced, and that they will become pioneers in our global reach for universal health coverage, surely a tall order .
In a speech broadcast on the Khabar 24 television channel, the President said that “preparations for terrorist attacks by underground sleeping cells went unspotted by the state”.
According to the Head of State, the National Security Committee and the General Prosecutor’s Office are already investigating the existence of a command post which was preparing and guiding in the actions all those involved in the events which caused deaths, numerous wounded and considerable material damage.
He indicated that around 20 thousand extremists were involved in the violent disturbances that took place in recent days in the city of Almaty, the former capital of the country.
Tokayev informed that an interdepartmental group was created to find and apprehend criminals and terrorists. “I promise the public that all these people will be subjected to the most rigorous criminal sanctions,” he emphasized.
The situation in Kazakhstan destabilized on January 2 with the outbreak of protests over rising liquefied petroleum gas prices in the southwest of the country.
A government commission decided two days later to lower fuel prices, but protests continued and spread to other areas, especially in Almaty, the country’s largest city.
On January 5, the president accepted the resignation of the full government and took over as head of the National Security Council, headed until then by former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
According to official reports cited by the Sputnik news agency, 18 security officers were killed and 748 were injured in the unrest.
The Interior Ministry reported that 26 armed individuals were killed, 18 others were wounded, while more than three thousand people were arrested in the last few days.
Due to the speed with which the demonstrations spread and the magnitude they reached in a few days, political analysts consider that the actions are not spontaneous and respond to an attempt to apply in the country the format of the so-called color revolutions, organized from abroad.
.Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla called today for unity and solidarity among Latin American and Caribbean nations, in defense of their interests of peace, independence, sovereign equality, sustainable development and social justice.
During the 22nd Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held today in Argentina, Rodriguez Parrilla ratified his country’s unwavering commitment to regional integration.
The head of Cuba’s diplomacy, in his speech, reiterated the firm will to preserve CELAC as a genuinely Latin American and Caribbean mechanism for political coordination, and stressed the full validity of the postulates of the proclamation of the region as a Zone of Peace.
He also recognized the commendable efforts made by Mexico, in its Pro Tempore Presidency, to revitalize CELAC and maintain its activism in the midst of the various challenges generated by the pandemic.
Cuban diploamt also expressed Cuba’s solidarity with that South American country in its claim to the International Monetary Fund for a solution to the inherited debt, as well as its support for Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.
The 22nd Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is taking place today at the San Martin Palace in Buenos Aires, with the participation of representatives of the 33 Member States.
“Until the 1990s, Petroperu produced up to 187,000 barrels per day, but privatization policies paralyzed its development to the detriment of the country,” the Peruvian president said.
On Monday, Peru’s President Pedro Castillo announced that Petroperu assumed the exploitation of the Block I field. This allowed this public company to return to producing oil after 25 years, in which it remained limited to fuel refining, distribution, and marketing.
Petroperu took over the operations of Block I for the next 22 months as the Peruvian State concluded a 30-year exploitation contract with the private company UNNA Energy.
“It is a fact of enormous significance for both the public company and the country,” Castillo said during the delivery ceremony of Block I, which is located in the Piura region on the border with Ecuador.
“Until the 1990s, Petroperu produced up to 187,000 barrels per day, but privatization policies paralyzed its development to the detriment of the country,” the Peruvian president commented.
Block I is a small oil field with 99 drilled wells whose average daily production is barely 540 barrels of oil. However, this field will allow Petroperu to supply its own production to the Talara refinery, whose modernization cost the company over US$5 billion.
It will also serve as preparation to exploit blocks 192 and 64, two fields in the Amazon where Petroperu will partner with other private companies so that they directly assume the operations of the wells.
Block 192 is the Peruvian largest oil field and has a basic production of about 10,500 barrels per day. There, Petroperu will be associated with the Canadian oil company Altamesa, which would be the beneficiary of a 30-year exploitation contract that the Castillo administration is expected to approve in early 2022