Monday, 25 May 2015 15:42 David Moore Editorial Dept - Africa
In the past weeks a few South Africans – possibly inspired by an artificially resuscitated Zulu ‘king’ who mused that it might be a good idea for foreigners to go home to till their fields – murdered seven migrants, pillaged hundreds more and scared thousands into temporary refuge camps.

The vast majority of their compatriots responded in shock and sympathy with the victims. Most South African interpreters of this carnage repeated a tendency typical to that corner of the planet: exceptionalism. It might be helpful to challenge this patriotic particularism with wider global and deeper historical comparisons.

Even whilst nearly 1,000 other Africans seeking refuge from zones of war and economic devastation were drowning in the Mediterranean, South African discourse about its latest round of xenophobia remained provincial. As in the past, South Africa's intellectuals focused on the ‘special types’ of this country's interactions with a long history of global transformations. From the South Africa Communist Party's (SACP) “Colonialism of a Special Type” (CST) to invocations for ‘national democratic societies’ (down a few notches from NDRs, but on a distinct detour to socialism's road nonetheless), South Africans tend to think they're unique.

Sunday, 01 March 2015 11:15 Greg Shupak Editorial Dept - Africa
The title of Horace Campbell's book on NATO's 2011 Libyan intervention, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, is an allusion to a Guardian article by Seumas Milne entitled, “If the Libyan war was about saving lives, it was a catastrophic failure.” Echoing Milne's use of “catastrophic” is apt. Claudia Gazzini of the liberal NGO International Crisis Group points out that, if the casualty figures provided by Libya's National Transitional Council are accurate, “the death toll subsequent to the seven-month NATO intervention was at least ten times greater than the tally of those killed in the first few weeks of the conflict” before NATO intervened.

As Campbell shows, while NATO claimed to be protecting human rights, it bombed Libyan civilians and enabled the Libyan opposition to persecute black African migrant workers and ethnically cleanse the black Libyan town of Tawergha. Less than four years after NATO attacked Libya, Bernadino Leon, the United Nation's special envoy to Libya, says the country is “close to the point of no return.”

Perhaps as many as two million Libyan refugees have fled to Tunisia, though the exact figure is in dispute. In November, militants claiming affiliation with ISIS secured control of the Libyan city of Derna, where they have carried out public executions and assassinated activists.

Saturday, 17 January 2015 14:33 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Africa
Human rights groups are using satellite imagery to force Nigeria to accept the true scope of Boko Haram’s latest atrocities. - When unconfirmed reports circulated last week about the mass killing of potentially up to 2,000 Nigerians by terrorists from Boko Haram, human rights organizations used a high-tech tool — stunningly vivid imagery from satellites hovering hundreds of miles above the killing zone — to find evidence backing eyewitness reports of entire villages being burned to the ground.

Satellites weren’t only used to document the extent of the destruction and estimate the number of civilians killed in the massacres. In addition, the rights groups have further used the information to rebut any Nigerian government attempts to minimize the scope of the attack and claim that only 150 died. The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has faced mounting international criticism over its inability to contain or defeat Boko Haram, which has killed thousands as part of a bloody campaign to impose Islamic law in swaths of Nigeria. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly warned that Boko Haram could pose a threat to regional stability.

On Thursday, Jonathan, who has remained relatively silent on the recent attacks, made a surprise visit to Maiduguri, in the country’s north, where he visited with troops at a military base.

“What you’re doing is not easy,” he told them. “We’re working day and night, trying to curtail this madness.”

In recent years, human rights groups have increasingly turned to satellites to document atrocities in areas too dangerous or difficult to visit on the ground. Using satellites, Human Rights Watch has documented building demolition in Syria, barrel bombs in Aleppo, and destruction of world heritage sites in various conflict zones.

Sunday, 20 January 2013 22:06 Editorial Dept - Africa
The Restoration of a Dictatorship? - The new constitution submitted to referendum by Mohamed Morsi, the president of Egypt elected with the support of the Freedom and Justice party, i.e. the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in addition to its properties of attacking working-class achievements as well as women's and minorities’ rights, is preparing the legal ground for the Brotherhood to seize the whole political power in the country. The powers proposed for the president in the constitution, not subject to any supervision, are leading Egypt toward dictatorship.

This picture in Egypt is perhaps not precisely the same with what happened in Iran after the 1979 revolution, but by looking at Iran we can clearly see how the restoration of a dictatorship took place. The only important difference might be that the people of Egypt have detected the prospect of such a restoration and are trying to defend the achievements of the revolution without any hesitation.

Although the continuous protests of religious minorities and women (despite all the attempts of the supporters of president Morsi such as sexual harassment and physical assaults) as well as those of political organizations forced the president to make concessions on the content of the constitutional declaration related to the powers granted to the president, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have gone on to complete the constitutional referendum, denying any delay requested by protesters and opposition.
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 20:46 Zeinab Abul-Magd Editorial Dept - Africa
The newly elected president of Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy, began his national address by thanking God and the families of the revolution's martyrs for granting him such a victory, and immediately proceeded to deeply thank the armed forces. He saluted the Egyptian military and added, “Only God knows how much love I have in my heart [for it].”

There is a consensus in Egypt now that we live under military rule. Most observers believe the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) executed a military coup over the last two weeks through legal measures, and describe it as a ‘soft’ coup that hardly relied on tanks and guns.

In February 2011 [see timeline], while the slogan of “The army and the people are one hand” was coined and disseminated, the SCAF established full control over the essential institutions of the state. The main pillars of a successful coup were all there: control over media, the bureaucracy, the security apparatus and the legal system.

However, the Egyptian coup seems hard to interpret. The intricate election of Morsy as a civilian president who does not belong to the coup plotters came as a surprise to many. As opposed to old-fashioned coups of the Cold War era, when the leaders of coups installed themselves as autocrats for life, the Egyptian coup allowed a civilian contestant to triumph over a fellow military candidate from the presidential race and assume power.

Thursday, 09 February 2012 00:00 Vishwas Satgar Editorial Dept - Africa
During the 20th century, South Africa's national struggle occupied an iconic place in the global political imagination. International opposition to apartheid came together in the heady days of socialist revolutions, anti-colonial struggles and the rise of the 1968 new left. Despite this euphoric historical ferment, the global anti-apartheid movement furnished internationalism with a distinctive political thread.

This was more than anti-colonial or anti-imperialist solidarity. The anti-apartheid movement was part of a heroic endeavour to isolate one of the most racist, unjust and offensive social systems in the world. It prefigured the new transnational activism that has come to the fore against neoliberal globalization, and it is a movement from which valuable lessons can be drawn for contemporary global struggles.

While the South African liberation struggle was exceptional, it was also implicated in the limits of a cycle of struggle sweeping through the third world after the Second World War. Socialist and national liberation vanguardist politics showed serious limitations once in power. By the 1990s, both Arab (Egypt and Libya) and black African (Angola and Mozambique, for example) attempts at socialism had been defeated on the continent. However, the authoritarian hold of such politics was still alive, now married with transnational neoliberalism. The collapse of the Soviet Union further strengthened this shift.

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