Democracy Now! recently spoke with Horace Campbell, professor of African-American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He has written extensively on African politics. His new piece for CounterPunch is called “Obama in Kenya.” He is also the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya. (Democracy Now!)
- Obama in Kenya: Why the Horn of Africa Matters to Geopolitics
- US-Ethiopia Relationship Strong, But Complicated
- Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
- Obama Pledges Military Aid to Kenya, Advocates for Human Rights
- Obama Accused of Human Rights Hypocrisy on Ethiopia Visit
- Obama praises Ethiopia over fight against al-Shabab
- In Ethiopia, Obama and the United States stand in China’s long shadow
- Obama Visits Ethiopia and Kenya, Land of His Father
- China Is Besting the U.S. in Africa
‘When US president Barack Obama speaks in front of the African Union in Ethiopia today (July 28), he will address the delegation at the organization’s new, shiny headquarters—built by the Chinese.
The symbolism aptly demonstrates the challenge that America faces in Africa. While the president is beloved on the continent, he and the US are increasingly competing with China for influence. Delegates listening to Obama may be reminded of another speech given at the African Union last year. Then, Chinese premier Li Keqiang told leaders that he expects his country’s trade with the continent to double by 2020, with investment quadrupling t0 $100 billion.
China has paid special attention to Ethiopia, the fastest growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa, which has expected GDP growth of over 10% this year alone. Much of this growth is being driven by China, whose total investment in the country has reached almost $17 billion, according to data from the Heritage Foundation.’
Margaret Thatcher demanded Britain find ways to ‘destabilise’ Ethiopian regime in power during 1984 famine
‘Margaret Thatcher demanded that Britain find ways to “destabilise” the regime which presided over Ethiopia’s disastrous 1984 famine after concluding that British aid was wrongly supporting its “particularly cruel” government, according to previously unpublished records.
A top secret Downing Street memo reveals how the former Prime Minister wanted to support rebels fighting the authoritarian regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam and suspend some types of relief to the Ethiopians after a year of aid operations to alleviate the famine which killed a million people and inspired Band Aid and the Live Aid concerts.
Documents released by the National Archives at Kew, west London, show Mrs Thatcher decided it was wrong to “jog along” with the Mengistu government, whose human rights abuses greatly exacerbated the death toll from the famine, and lambasted the Foreign Office for failing to come up with robust measures to tackle the regime.’
‘Eritrea and North Korea are the first and second most censored countries worldwide, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the 10 countries where the press is most restricted. The list is based on research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to harassment of journalists and restrictions on Internet access.
In Eritrea, President Isaias Afewerki has succeeded in his campaign to crush independent journalism, creating a media climate so oppressive that even reporters for state-run news outlets live in constant fear of arrest. The threat of imprisonment has led many journalists to choose exile rather than risk arrest. Eritrea is Africa’s worst jailer of journalists, with at least 23 behind bars-none of whom has been tried in court or even charged with a crime.
Fearing the spread of Arab Spring uprisings, Eritrea scrapped plans in 2011 to provide mobile Internet for its citizens, limiting the possibility of access to independent information. Although Internet is available, it is through slow dial-up connections, and fewer than 1 percent of the population goes online, according to U.N. International Telecommunication Union figures. Eritrea also has the lowest figure globally of cell phone users, with just 5.6 percent of the population owning one.
In North Korea, 9.7 percent of the population has cell phones, a number that excludes access to phones smuggled in from China. In place of the global Internet, to which only a select few powerful individuals have access, some schools and other institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet. And despite the arrival of an Associated Press bureau in Pyongyang in 2012, the state has such a tight grip on the news agenda that newsreel was re-edited to remove Kim Jong Un’s disgraced uncle from the archives after his execution.
The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries. To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries.’
…The concern in Egypt is about the potential threat to its dominance over the Nile.
Egypt fears Ethiopia’s dam will restrict the flow of this strategic waterway – the main source of water in a country where rainfall is scarce.
The row started in 2011, and Egypt has been worried ever since that its annual quota of the Nile water might be reduced.
This conflict comes at a time when different parts of Egypt are already suffering from a shortage of water. In the northern Nile Delta, the agricultural heart of Egypt, a lot of farmers are waiting with a heavy heart to see if they will be able to cultivate their land next summer.
On Jan. 8, Ethiopia turned down Egypt’s demand that it suspend construction of its mega-dam on the Nile, further escalating tensions between the two states. Fearing that Ethiopia’s $4.2 billion project would reduce the river’s flow, Egypt calls for a halt in construction until the dam’s downstream impact is determined. Otherwise, it has vowed to protect its “historical rights” to the Nile at “any cost.”
While scoffing at Egyptian threats, Ethiopia has called for Cairo’s collaboration in negotiations and claims that the dam will have no adverse effect on Egypt. It would, in fact, decrease evaporation and improve water flow. Ethiopia hopes that the ambitious hydroelectric project, slated to be completed in 2017, would catapult the country out of poverty. Frustrated by what it described as Ethiopia’s stubborn stance, Cairo is threatening to take the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
Is this just standard diplomatic brinkmanship before an inevitable compromise, or a harbinger of a looming water war? Regardless, the lack of progress on the diplomatic front bodes ill for a quick end to a stalemate that has long gripped the region. Home to 600 million people, more than half of Africa’s total population, the Nile Basin is already traumatized by endless internal political strife and mounting pressures to feed a population growing at Malthusian proportions.
However, as ominous as it sounds, the collapse of the talks does not necessarily mean Egypt and Ethiopia will soon be locking horns. Despite suggestions to the contrary, this is simply the waning phase of a protracted diplomatic dance before an inevitable conciliation.
Ever since the onset of the Arab Spring, it has become increasingly difficult for the U.S. to maintain its decades-long policy of support for dictatorial Middle Eastern regimes that obediently conform to U.S. interests, as I wrote more than two years ago. While U.S. support for these regimes hasn’t shifted, cracks have begun to form, as was seen with the Obama administration’s decision this month to withhold some military aid to Egypt.
But as long-standing U.S. towards brutal Middle Eastern regimes begins to adjust due largely to increased awareness, America’s penchant for supporting dictatorship is shifting to Africa. Newly strengthened U.S. allies are sharply intensified domestic repression.