The next time politicians or the media demand that the West should “sort out Africa”, we should remember the attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004.
The coup organisers were British public school boys and financial racketeers who grabbed wealth through arms deals.
Equatorial Guinea is one of a group of oil producing West African states. The coup plotters – Mark Thatcher, Simon Mann, David Hart and a JH Archer – wanted to use mercenaries to snuff out its government and install one that would give them access to most of the oil money.
Simon Mann, who was on trial in Equatorial Guinea this week, is an old Etonian and former SAS officer. He says he was approached to organise a coup in Equatorial Guinea and that 12 British millionaires paid for the plan. He says Mark Thatcher, son of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was one of them.
Also implicated is the right winger David Hart. Another old Etonian, Hart first came to public attention during the 1984 Miners’ Strike, when he bankrolled an organisation of scabbing and coordinated the legal action that saw the miners’ union funds seized by the courts.
Hart went on to work as a consultant for arms manufacturers BAE Systems and Boeing.
Ely Calil is a Lebanese millionaire accused by Mann of being at the centre of the plot. He is a former adviser to the disgraced Tory politician Jeffrey Archer and is now an oil trader living in Chelsea, west London.
Legal documents and bank accounts uncovered from the coup plot show a payment from JH Archer to Mann totalling £74,000. Jeffrey Archer’s lawyers issued a carefully worded denial saying he had never “issued a cheque in the sums mentioned”.
Throughout Mann’s trial, ambassdors and embassy staff from around the world took frantic notes as he implicated Spain, the US and South Africa in approving the coup.
None of the great powers gave a damn about Equatorial Guinea when it became independent from Spain in 1968.
But in 1995 huge oil deposits were discovered. The US, French, British and Spanish governments have lined up either with the Obiang regime or its opponents depending on which they think will deliver the most wealth.
When the British government first heard about the planned coup, they called in Tim Spicer to ask what was happening. Spicer set up the mercenary company Sandline International with Mann in 1996. Spicer now works for Aegis, a company that currently runs a 20,000 strong private army in Iraq.
This is the reality of Western “intervention”. Wherever imperialism goes it takes profiteers and gangsters with it.