Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, on RT worldwide satellite television news on December 5, 2013. He discussed the French intervention in the CAR., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
December 06, 2013 12:51
To watch this RT interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:
The French planned operation in the Central African Republic is a part of the ongoing inner-imperialist rivalry between France and the United States for control of post-colonial Africa, Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, told RT.
President Hollande has said that France will take immediate military action as sectarian violence escalates in the Central African Republic.
Earlier the UN Security Council voted to allow French troops to join an African peacekeeping force.
Fresh clashes between local militias in the capital Bangui have killed about 100 people and wounded scores more.
RT: Shouldn't France have taken action earlier as the violence there has been escalating since March when the president was toppled? Why now is this suddenly an issue?
Abayomi Azikiwe: This is something that has been planned now for several months. The French already have troops inside the Central African Republic, [in] the capital of Bangui. They've admitted to at least 650 troops who have been there for considerable amount of time. They claim they are there to protect France’s interests as well as French citizens. This is a former French colony.
We also have to keep in mind that this is not the first time that France intervenes in the affairs of the Central African Republic or other former French colonies on the African continent. So this is something that has been anticipated now for several months. At this point they feel very strongly that they have the backing of the UN Security Council in pursuing this effort.
RT: Do you think that the French-led troops are even capable of taking control over the situation in the country? Is foreign intervention an answer?
AA: No, foreign intervention is not the answer. I don’t believe that France has the capability of normalizing the situation inside the Central African Republic. France is only pursuing its own national interests. It’s also competing with the role of the United States on the African continent. The US has intervened extensively over the last several years in Africa in numerous countries. There is the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) that has thousands of troops right now involved in operations all over the continent and even off the coast of both East and West Africa.
So France doesn’t want to be left out of this new scramble for Africa. People have to keep in mind that the Central African Republic has very important strategic resources such as gold, diamonds and uranium, which are essential to the overall international economic system. So this is a part of the ongoing inner-imperialist rivalry between France and the United States for control of post-colonial Africa.
RT: You mentioned that France is acting in its own interests. But from the outside it definitely looks like a repetition of what we've seen in Mali, where local authorities called for French assistance in curbing the Islamic insurgency. Why is Paris so interested in helping France's former colonies out?
AA: Well, they are not interested in helping the former colonies out, they are interested in pursuing their own economic, political and strategic interests, and [interests] of the opposition in the Central African Republic, which has requested French intervention. But the Seleka government, which is there in power now, has a very small margin of support inside the country, and Seleka itself is not a uniform coalition. It is composed of four different former rebel organizations.
The leader of the group Michel Djotodia is Islamic and the Muslim population there constitutes less than 20 percent of the overall demographics inside the Central African Republic. They can utilize the fact politically that Seleka is a Muslim-dominated coalition, which is trying to control the government there, but by no means is it Islamic or Orient in terms of this political outlook inside the country. You also have competing forces outside of Seleka. Some of them are still loyal to the former president François Bozizé who himself was overthrown earlier this year.
French reinforcements land in Central African Republic
December 06, 2013 12:17
French reinforcements arrived in the restive Central African Republic to bolster France’s 600-strong force as military operations began overnight to quell violence in the capital and protect broader geostrategic interests in the country, analysts say.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Radio France Internationale (RFI) that the streets of Bangui were calm on Friday after French patrols and a helicopter hit the streets of the capital early Friday, Reuters reports.
"The operation has effectively started," Le Drian told RFI regarding the French Patrols.
Just hours before the United Nations Security Council voted to send in French and African Union troops to stabilize the country on Thursday, violence between Muslim former rebels now running the country and a mixture of local Christian militiamen and fighters loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize reportedly left at least 105 dead.
The French-backed resolution authorizes the deployment of the African Union-led force for a year with a mandate to use “appropriate measures” to protect civilians and restore security. The AU force, known as the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), is expected to increase its troop strength from about 2,500 to 3,500.
The resolution also authorized French soldiers for a temporary period “to take all necessary measures” to support MISCA troops, primarily from Cameroon, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Following the vote, French President Francois Hollande said the 600 French troops already in the Central African Republic on Thursday would be doubled “within a few days, even a few hours.”
On Friday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK had agreed to provide a C-17 transport aircraft to help in the French military campaign.
Hague said the aircraft will make three flights in December, with the first scheduled to touch ground in Central African Republic "shortly." The Foreign Office has decided putting British boots on the ground was “not on the table,” he continued.
Britain had previously provided two C-17 transport aircraft to carry foreign forces and equipment during the foreign intervention in Mali this past January.
The operation in the Central African Republic was launched with the aim of ending the sectarian strife which has ravaged the landlocked and mineral rich country of 4.6 million since an alliance of mainly Muslim militias known as Seleka launched a coup in March.
In September current President Michel Djotodia announced that Seleka had been dissolved.
The disbanded group has since dispersed into the countryside, where they have unleashed a campaign of gross human rights violations including rape, murder and looting in the Christian majority country, according to Human Rights Watch.
France’s UN Ambassador Gerard Araud told the Council after the vote that “people have been terrorized by militia carrying out atrocities.”
“On the security front, the country risks collapsing into chaos, with uncontrollable and unforeseen consequences for the whole region,” he warned. “On the human front, the risk of mass atrocities is there.”
“History demands us to avoid the worst,” he said.
Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of Pan-African News Wire, told RT that France is not compelled by humanitarian interests, but rather interested in “pursuing their own economic, political and strategic interests.”
Azikiwe says the opposition requested the assistance of French forces, as the alliance of militias known as the current government commands marginal support in the country.
He says that since only 20 percent of the country is Muslim, the opposition is “utilizing the fact politically that Seleka is a Muslim dominated coalition” although they are “by no means Islamic-oriented in terms of their political outlook.”
Writing for the Guardian, Simon Tisdall notes the religious component of France’s foreign policy, arguing that the current French interventionist doctrine “is about stemming the tide of Islamist extremism and sectarianism that threatens swaths of territory from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel and Maghreb – and potentially, the soft European underbelly of which France forms a vulnerable part.”
Tisdall says that “France’s happy interventionists” have a primarily “humanitarian focus,” although such expeditions have also “served to bolster fading French international prestige, especially in its former African colonies, and to boost [President Francois] Hollande's low approval ratings.”