Members of the Seleka rebel alliance patrol Bangui, in the Central African Republic, to restore order and prevent looting two days after a coup plunged the mineral-rich country into chaos.
A failed coup in the North African country of Chad this week is just another repercussion from the wave of Western state-sponsored violence and destabilization, stretching from Central Asia, through the Middle East and across Africa.
The Chadian regime of President Idriss Deby said it had thwarted a coup attempt after it arrested an unknown number of army personnel and at least one opposition politician. Chadian authorities in the capital Ndjamena accused Libya of complicity in the plot by giving cross-border support to rebel groups - a charge denied by Libya.
Whatever the truth about that specific claim, however there seems little doubt that the bid to topple Deby in Chad is bound up with the wave of violence and instability that Western powers have intensified over the past two years in their pursuit of wider geopolitical interests.
Western state meddling - much of it covert and all of it criminal - in Libya and Syria is fanning sectarian, ethnic and political violence into Iraq and as far East as Pakistan, while also rebounding into North, West and Central Africa. This global trail of violence is compounding the explosive legacy already left by more than a decade of American-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Chad’s Idriss Deby has been a staunch supporter of Western powers in their so-called “War on Terror” purportedly aimed at defeating “Islamic extremism.” When France launched its military onslaught on Mali in January this year, Paris claimed that the dramatic move was to “save” the government of Mali from being overrun by “Islamic terrorists.” A more plausible explanation was France using the spurious War on Terror charade to regain a foothold in resource-rich Africa out of old-fashioned imperialist and criminal interests.
Neighboring Chad was one of the first African states to offer troops to support the more than 4,500 French forces dispatched to Mali. That gave French neo-imperialism a welcome “African face.” When French Mirage warplanes first began bombing northern Mali on January 11, they reportedly operated from bases in Chad, which like Mali, is also a former French colony. Chad also sent some 2,000 of its troops to join French forces in routing rebels from the northern Malian cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. At least 30 Chadian soldiers have been killed in rebel attacks over the past three months compared with six French servicemen.
Chad itself has been wracked with civil war between disparate rebel groups opposed to the authoritarian rule of Deby, who came to power in a military coup in 1990. The Chadian rebels are not motivated by a unifying ideology and the country does not fit easily into a puerile Western narrative of Islamists pitted against a Western-backed regime. The only unifying motive seems to be a desire to get rid of a corrupt ruler.
But it seems likely that Western-instigated instability in Libya has now spilled over into Chad, as it has done in Mali when secessionist militants declared independence in northern Mali in April 2012. With Deby’s forces stretched in Mali to support French troops that created a renewed opportunity for Chadian rebels to challenge the regime in Ndjamena.
Meanwhile, last month, the President of the Central African Republic (CAR), Francois Bozizé, was ousted in a coup by Seleka rebels. On 24 March, Bozizé, who had fallen out of French favor, fled to Cameroon. He accused Chad of supporting the rebels who ousted him. Notably, France did not intervene to salvage the crumbling government of Bozizé as it had done in Mali, even though it had troops stationed in its former CAR colony. That fact alone points up the cynical double standards employed by Paris to justify its Malian intrigue.
In this seemingly confused ferment of coups and violence across North, West and Central Africa can be traced the hands of Western imperialism - some of it by design, some of it as an unintended consequence of illicit meddling. But the upshot is that Western imperialist interference is unleashing violence and suffering on a global scale.
When the Arab Spring revolts tipped at the end of 2010 and early 2011, they were the main genuine social revolts against corrupt Western-backed despots. This could be seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Since then, the Western powers have either co-opted reactionary elements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia and Egypt, to restore the old pro-Western order; or they have brutally repressed popular uprisings as in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to prop up incumbent pro-Western dictatorships.
Libya and Syria were in a different category. Here the Western powers saw an opportunity to use the Arab Spring as a cover for long-held plans for regime change. On the one hand, Libya under “new political management” represented a huge gain of oil and gas wealth for Western energy companies, and a key geopolitical bridgehead into the African continent that could be denied to global rivals, China and Russia. Whereas, on the other hand, Syria if brought under Western tutelage, would represent a grave blow against the Axis of Resistance to Western-Zionist imperialist interests across the Middle East. Dislodging Syria from the Axis, according to the Western calculation, would deal a major setback to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Iran, as well as undercutting Russia and China in a vital energy region.
To that end, small-scale protests against Gaddafi and Assad were quickly infiltrated by Western proxy forces and fomented into armed conflicts against the state. In the case of Libya, the Western NATO military alliance became directly involved in mid-March 2011 with the deployment of warplanes and cruise missiles launched from warships in the Mediterranean. That cynical military intervention by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi went well beyond the legal terms of the No-Fly Zone that was supposedly mandated by the UN Security Council.
In Syria, the NATO powers have so far limited themselves to covert military intervention, although the recent Western lies about chemical weapons may prompt a change in tactics. In spite of official claims to the contrary, there are many credible reports that Washington, London and Paris have been supplying weapons and logistical support to the disparate mercenary groups that are battling to overthrow the government of Bashar Al Assad in Damascus.
American Senator Rand Paul earlier this month disclosed that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told him that Washington has been complicit in the supply of weapons to Syrian militants from Libya since at least September 2012. Senator Paul says that the main organizer of this channel for weapons and Jihadist mercenaries from Libya to Syria was the former US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was killed when the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked by as yet unknown assailants on 11 September 2012.
It is understood that the weapons supplied to Libyan militants during the regime-change operation against Gaddafi came from NATO or the NATO conduits of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This same arrangement of NATO using the Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships to run arms and mercenaries into Syria still pertains, with the additional players of Turkey and Jordan.
The Western states have also been running guns and missiles into Syria using routes other than Libya. The CIA is known to have coordinated cargo planes loaded with armaments from Croatia via Turkey and Jordan into Syria.
The extremist ideology of the mercenaries in Libya and Syria is influenced by the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. This “Takfiri” fundamentalism is especially driven by a pathological hatred towards Shia Islam, but also all other Islamist sects and religions or non-religions that, by twisted definition, do not conform to the “puritanical” Wahhabist beliefs.
This extremist fundamentalism has served Western imperialist interests well dating back to the British Empire’s defeat of the Ottomans during the First World War and during America’s Cold War proxy counterinsurgency against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Out of the latter conflict would emerge the American and British-run so-called Al Qaeda network. That network comprises an alphabet soup of mercenary brigades ranging from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to the al-Nusra Front in Syria. Geographically diffuse, these various groups are commonly grounded in the same extremist Wahhabism and a propensity for unrelenting violence. While the Western governments have claimed to be locked in a “War on Terror” against this network, history has shown that far more often than not, the Western states have colluded with these terrorist groups for geopolitical objectives. There is a straight line of evolution from Afghanistan during the 1980s to present-day Syria and beyond.
But this collusion with extremist proxies for the attainment of imperial ambitions has opened up a toxic can of worms on a global scale. NATO’s covert warmongering in Libya has spilled over into Syria, which is in turn inflaming internecine violence between Sunni and Shia in Lebanon, Iraq and as far east as Pakistan. The Western imperialist warmongering in Libya has also fanned into Mali, Algeria, and now Chad and other African countries.
What we are seeing on a global scale is the pernicious consequences of Western imperialist powers recklessly trying to carve up the planet to suit their capitalist ruling interests. There seems no end to this trail of violence and destruction as one consequence inexorably leads to another deadly consequence. But one way towards ending it is for people of the world and the Western public in particular to understand the underlying motive forces behind the seeming confused miasma of misery. Those forces emanate from the ruling class and their servile politicians in Western capitals. Those forces are pitted against the ordinary public of Western countries as much as they are against the people of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. This is a global war on the people of the world by elite capitalist power either in direct confrontation using NATO and financial market forces or under the cover of proxy terrorism.