WHY ME? This may well have been the question being posed by both Colonel Gaddafi of Libya and Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire as they came under fire from French and NATO armed forces last year. Both men were removed from power, the first killed and the second forcibly taken to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The ostensible reason: because both were attacking civilians in their own countries, according to the complicit UN.
This is now a pretext for armed intervention in Syria where, coincidentally, some of the same “civilians” active with weaponry in Libya are now being identified. (Active, as they were in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and Chechnya.)
What wasn’t broadly publicised at the time of Gbagbo and Gaddafi’s removal and killing was their joint crime of resisting the imperial ambitions of the USA and the EU. Gbagbo, for whatever reasons, had come around to adopting a public opposition to the continuation of the West African CFA franc as his country’s currency, and had its removal as part of his election programme.
The West African CFA – originally “Colonies françaises d’Afrique” (“French African colonies”); now Communauté financière d'Afrique (“Financial Community of Africa”) – is a trading agreement and monetary arrangement covering eight countries in the region. Gbagbo wanted to take Côte d’Ivoire out of the CFA as it permanently cedes power over a nation’s currency to France and the eurozone. In this way, France decides what’s produced, what’s traded and what the terms of trade are for the eight countries and their relations with France.
French president Sarkozy couldn’t countenance this challenge, so his 2,500 troops sent to interfere in the election captured Gbagbo and whisked him out of the country, leaving the more compliant Alassane Ouattara in control.
The big mistake
Across the continent, Gaddafi had made the mistake of saying “no” to the Mediterranean Basin Alliance, an imperialist trading scheme dreamt up by the EU at the Barcelona Conference in 1995. Under the scheme, North African countries enter into unfavourable relations with the EU and trade at a disadvantage. Morocco has been tied into the scheme for a number of years and will no doubt be in someone’s sights for breaking the terms by kicking EU fishing fleets out of its territorial waters.
Instead, Gaddafi had pursued the creation of a Pan-African bank, funded by Libyan oil revenues to the tune of £42 billion. A number of countries from South Africa to Sudan were interested in this scheme that would have allowed for African-funded investment in industry and equal terms of trade. With China becoming increasingly influential across the continent of Africa the EU and USA are concerned that those countries in thrall to western finance should remain so.
Thus Gaddafi, who only two years ago was still being praised for “coming in from the cold”, had to go. ■