Socialist Worker

Africa pays the price for Western intervention

Imperial rivals are already causing chaos in Africa, writes Charlie Kimber

Issue No. 2049

A large swathe of Africa is either on the verge of war, or actually at war – and outside intervention by the great powers will only make it worse.

The series of conflicts in the region around Sudan are fuelled by old colonial polices and modern imperialist strategy.

So more imperialist intervention, as some people urge in Darfur in Sudan, will only make the agony worse.

An article in the Financial Times spelt out last week that the fighting in Darfur is now “a proxy war between Sudan and neighbouring Chad, and is in danger of spreading to other states in the region”.

One of those states is the Central African Republic (CAR). Here there is already fierce fighting between the government forces and rebels.

The repression carried out by the government is backed by French troops, leaving thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless.

In Somalia, to the east of Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people have fled a firestorm unleashed by Ethiopian forces who have the full backing of the US and Britain.

To the south west of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo is still at war. This, the 21st century’s costliest war with over four million dead, was made far worse by the great powers’ manoeuvres.

If United Nations (UN) forces are sent to Darfur, as Tony Blair urges, they will be controlled by the UN security council’s permanent members – France (causing mayhem in CAR, Chad and many other African countries), Britain (despoiling Iraq and Afghanistan, and the premier colonial power in Africa), China (pouring arms into Africa, and with its own strategy to control African resources), the US (butchering Iraq and Afghanistan while sanctioning the Ethiopian assault on Somalia), and Russia (the butchers of Chechnya).

Will such powers organise a “humanitarian force”? They have never done so, and they never will. Their own rivalries will probably make it impossible to agree the terms of such intervention.

The Chinese government, for example, is the main partner with the Sudanese oil industry.

Many of the people who took part in the protests last weekend calling for increased action against the Sudanese government over Darfur are motivated by the desire to see the end of the suffering there.

But the demands of the Save Darfur Coalition – a no fly zone, more sanctions against Sudan and UN intervention – are a recipe for more war.

The coalition has also invited war criminals like former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright to its rallies.


The media often belittle the numbers on demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet they welcomed protests for intervention in Darfur – and even led the BBC news with them last weekend.

The hypocrisy of the British government is revealed by home secretary John Reid’s repeated attempts to expel Sudanese asylum seekers who came from Darfur.

It was only the decision by three high court judges on 4 April that has prevented the mass deportation of Sudanese asylum seekers.

Darfur’s suffering is terrible and real, but it cannot be wrenched from a wider context which includes the actions of the great powers that have raped Africa and continue to hold it in their grip.

Across the whole of Africa there is a new scramble for control of vital resources – principally oil. Any intervention in Darfur will be part of this power game.

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Tue 1 May 2007, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2049
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