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Europe enters the new scramble for Africa

Postby revelations » 06 Apr 2012, 00:14

By Emanuele Scimia

While war drums keep on beating along the disputed inter-Sudanese border, Europe's engagement in Central and East Africa is intensifying. Over the past months, by emulating the United States, the European Union (EU) has multiplied its political, strategic and economic efforts in a huge swathe of Africa, from northern Tanzania to Ethiopia: an open challenge to China's steady penetration in that region, according to several sources.

The ongoing "geopolitical risk" in Africa, whose flashpoint is the newly-independent state of South Sudan, brings the Fashoda Incident to mind. Fashoda (presently the South Sudanese city of Kodok) is where the colonial designs of France and the United Kingdom materially collided in 1898, during the so-called Scramble for Africa. Now Paris and London join forces as part of an Euro-American bid to carve out a new Western sphere of influence in Africa: the question is whether or not it will be at the expense of China's vested interests.

Military involvement
The participation in military operations is what really distinguishes the African policy of Europe and the United States from that of China. There is a widespread conviction that the US military campaign against the weakened rebel group of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is in reality a Trojan horse for American strategic interests in the Great Lakes region.

Since October 2011, Washington has deployed 100 special operations units in Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight the LRA. On the contrary, China is sticking to its policy of "non-interference" in the internal affairs of African countries, at least as far as the military point of view is concerned.

Within the United Nations and African Union-backed joint military actions against the LRA, the EU has earmarked US$12 million for humanitarian assistance to people who have suffered violence by the Joseph Kony-led militias over the past 25 years. In December 2011, the EU teamed up with the coalition fighting the LRA, financing the construction of logistical facilities.

The EU and US have also trained the forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Under the United Nations' mandate, the AMISOM is conducting armed operations in the war-torn Somalia, helping the UN-backed Transitional government to defeat the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants. In February, AMISOM announced that it would strengthen its contingent with 5,000 soldiers thanks to funding from the EU and United Nations Security Council.

As for Somalia's age-old crisis, Brussels has decided to expand its maritime mission "ATALANTA" against Somali pirates, allowing European warships to attack both sea and land targets. The EU anti-piracy mission in the Indian Ocean, which started in 2008 to patrol shipping lane and protect humanitarian convoys, is extended to at least December 2014 and its two-year prolongation has a budget of $19.7 million.

In addition, in February the EU also ushered in - along with Turkey - a Horn of Africa's Working Group within the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF). The GCTF, which was launched in September 2011, is an initiative to enhance anti-terrorism cooperation and is co-chaired by Washington and Ankara.

Over and above the US special operations across Somalia against the armed Islamist and Washington's rooted standing in the Horn of Africa, it is worth highlighting the French and British military presence in this region. Out of about 8,000 soldiers that France has deployed throughout Africa, 2,850 units are stationed in Djibouti (which also hosts an important American military base), while the anti-terrorism collaboration between the United Kingdom and Kenya is becoming tighter than ever.

Scent of oil
The battle for handling oil resources is the big drama produced by Sudan's break-up and resulting birth of South Sudan in July 2011, after decades of civil war. In 2011, Sudan and South Sudan's combined crude exports averaged 330,000 barrels per day, mostly to Asian markets. China imported around 220,000 barrels per day: 5% of its total oil imports. The problem is that while most of the oil fields are now situated in landlocked South Sudan, all the pipelines go through Sudan to the northern export terminal in Port Sudan.

That situation has led to explosive disputes on borders' demarcation between the two neighboring countries, which have resulted in frequent skirmishes. In January, the government of South Sudan in Juba decided to stop oil's extraction and exportation toward Port of Sudan, in a controversy over the fee that Sudan demands for the crude's transit.

Juba has also triggered a row with the Chinese oil companies working within its boundaries (notably with Petrodar, a Sino-Malaysian consortium), declaring its intention to review all oil contracts signed by the government of Sudan in Khartoum before the secession. Speaking to the daily Sudan Tribune on February 22, some Sudanese officials argued that "South Sudan's threats against Chinese companies are part of a conspiracy to replace them with Western companies".

In effect, European companies are showing interest in the oil development of the Great African Rift Valley. For instance, the Anglo-Irish Tullow Oil has recently discovered oil deposits in Kenya, in the country's north-western region of Turkana.

Such a discover has a great geopolitical importance, since the Turkana Lake is right in the middle of the projected "Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport" (LAPPSET) corridor, which foresees a 2,000 kilometer pipeline connecting South Sudan's oil fields to the Kenyan coastal town of Lamu. The project includes a connection to Ethiopia if oil were to be discovered in its south-eastern region of Ogaden.

The Juba-Lamu pipeline offers South Sudan an alternative to the route going to Port Sudan. The problem for the three African countries involved in the project is to attract investments, and up to now neither the EU nor the US, as well as China, seem to be eager to fund the LAPPSET corridor in light of the permanent instability in the area.

Tullow Oil has also extracted crude in Uganda and is leading exploration campaigns in Ethiopia. The recent discovery of oil reserves around the Lake Albert might turn Uganda into a regional energy and trade hub. In this regard, the Ugandan government in Kampala has struck a deal with Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda to realize a railway network that would stretch all the way to South Sudan.

Kampala is generally considered to be an American ally in Central and East Africa, and the fact that the operator expected to complete this project by 2015 is a Chinese company (China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation) proves that even small or medium African countries have learnt to act with strategic flexibility.

Aggressive commercial stance
China's trade with Africa touched $127 billion in 2010. Beijing is often accused of exploiting its African partner on the grounds of a well-tested scheme: inundating the African countries with its cheap products - as well as granting loans for project of developments and infrastructural investments - in return for oil and raw materials.

On the other hand, the EU is supposed to be pursuing a different approach in dealing with African countries, focused on cooperation and assistance for development. The latest move in this direction is Brussels' commitment to provide $380 million for projects about food security, education and healthcare in South Sudan.

On March 20, during a meeting in Brussels with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, EU high representative for foreign affairs Catherine Ashton praised Juba's intention to join the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and Africa, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) countries. Under this agreement, South Sudan can obtain assistance for development and market access for its goods.

But many African countries, and the same ACP leadership, have complained about the European Commission's proposal to prevent countries that do not conclude an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU from free market access to Europe as of January 1, 2014 - the European Parliament is expected to take a decision with regard to this issue by June.

Plainly put, the truth is that both Europe and the United States are back to the old rules of geopolitics, in which humanitarian preoccupations are shelved and economic leverage gains momentum.

The point is that the two "belligerent" side would have room to settle disputes in East Africa, just as China is trying to devise a diplomatic line going beyond its policy of non-interference. At bottom, it would be in the interest of all players - Europe, United States and China - to avert a Somalia-style war in North and South Sudan, when from Nigeria to the Horn of Africa, through the Sahel region, large part of the continent is sliding into a spiral of chaos.

Emanuele Scimia is a journalist and geopolitical analyst based in Rome. ... 4Dj04.html

Re: Europe enters the new scramble for Africa

Postby revelations » 06 Apr 2012, 01:27

Sudan whispers that South Sudan wants to replace Chinese oil companies with European ones. This is a sensitive point for Beijing: the Europeans have done especially well in the new scramble for oil in Africa.

Re: Europe enters the new scramble for Africa

Postby revolutions » 06 Apr 2012, 02:37

Excellent article that exposes what we Africans are up against. Today, most African countries, because of corrupt puppet dictators, have already lost their sovereignty to neo-colonial powers. And those that resisted to succumb to the New World Order are vilified, demonized and have become targets of Economic Hit Men. If all men are created equal, then why do Africans conform to the model of colonial domination imposed upon them by their former colonial powers ? It's as if they never gained independence. Poor mama Africa!

Re: Europe enters the new scramble for Africa

Postby eritrea » 06 Apr 2012, 10:04

revolutions wrote:
Excellent article that exposes what we Africans are up against. Today, most African countries, because of corrupt puppet dictators, have already lost their sovereignty to neo-colonial powers. And those that resisted to succumb to the New World Order are vilified, demonized and have become targets of Economic Hit Men. If all men are created equal, then why do Africans conform to the model of colonial domination imposed upon them by their former colonial powers ? It's as if they never gained independence. Poor mama Africa!

The second phase of colonialism has ready set its feet in Africa and no self-respecting African can deny this fact except the sons and daughters of Hatse Yohannes who was the first to kiss welcome colonisers that is. And this time around his children seem not to have failed him to preserve his legacy as well.

In any case, whether we like it or not Sudan will be fragmented in to several new states if what is going on continues. Libya is following the same trend though we are totally kept in darkness about what is going on in that country. Their strategies for Somalia are, to divide that country into 4 or more countries. Somali land, Punt land…and so on. This process has already started in the ground I must say.

The fragmentation of Nigeria is in the process as can be read on the news. Even woyane-controlled Ethiopia is not safe from this reality at the end. Ogaden seems to be of great interest for the oil hungry west and every woyanes plea for the west to red mark the ogadien organisation has so far failed and you can only imagine why. Add this with woyanes self-imposed fragmentation policy in that country will surely lead only into one-way road.

ዘብዘብ’ሲ ክትቅጽል እያ

Re: Europe enters the new scramble for Africa

Postby revelations » 06 Apr 2012, 16:05

Europe ill-prepared for China's rise


Let us take the European response as one instance of the wider global response. Until very recently, Europe has been in denial of China's rise. Even now, in Britain for example, while there has been growing recognition of China's economic rise, there is little understanding of what it might mean. While there is huge coverage of the US presidential election, there is far less about the build-up to the once-in-five-years national congress of the Communist Party of China. In constant references to the "international community" - be it over Syria, Libya, Egypt, Somalia, or wherever - the media invariably treat the phrase as synonymous with the West, thereby excluding China (along with the rest of the world).

In other words, the idea of China as a major player that needs to be treated as an equal, rather than a subordinate outsider, is not yet accepted.

This is reflected in the European attitude toward China itself. The reflex action in response to any mention of China - be it from the elite or the ordinary person - tends to be: no democracy, bad human rights, poor environment. While acknowledging China's economic rise, the prevailing attitude is still largely dismissive. In the same vein, European governments have taken it upon themselves to lecture the Chinese on their shortcomings.

The mentality has deep historical roots. Europeans, having dominated the world - along latterly with the US - for 200 years, effortlessly assume that they know best, that their system is superior to all others, that the road of enlightenment is to follow the Western path and become a Western-style society, that the West provides the universal measure for all other societies and which thereby gives Westerners the right to sit in judgment on others.

That is why Westerners are prone to display a haughty attitude of superiority toward the Chinese. Deep down they do not view the Chinese as their equals. It is the legacy of Western imperial history.

For Europe, though, it is a dangerous attitude. Until recently, most Europeans have rather assumed that China's economic rise would be cut short by the country's political shortcomings: many, indeed, still believe that unless China adopts a Western system of government then it will inevitably fail. One of the consequences of this kind of thinking is that Westerners have made little effort to understand China in its own terms. Instead of having an open mind, they have closed minds. Rather than trying to understand - and learn from - the Chinese experience, they insist on viewing it through a Western prism. The Western mentality toward China is based on an arrogance which begets ignorance, an unwillingness to move outside its cultural comfort zone. There are many exceptions, but alas this remains the dominant cultural attitude.

As a result, Europe is extremely ill-prepared for China's rise. There are too few experts, too little coverage, too little knowledge of the extent of China's transformation and very little understanding of what it might mean for Europe. As one British friend, who lives in Shanghai and knows China very well, once rather colorfully said to me: "Europe is sleep-walking into oblivion."

At the end of October, after one of the many European summits on how to save the euro, French President Nicolas Sarkozy phoned President Hu Jintao seeking a huge loan from China; the following day the head of the European rescue fund flew to Beijing to reinforce the request. To many Europeans, the plea came as a bolt from the blue. The idea that Europe was on its financial knees and that China might ride to the rescue as its white knight was a scenario for which two centuries of supremacy had left them totally unprepared.

The last occasion on which Europe had been in such a situation was in the immediate aftermath of World War II when it turned to the US for assistance and received Marshall Aid. But the US is no longer in a financial position to help.

Suddenly Europeans were brought face to face with the reality of the enormous global shift that has been taking place of which previously they had been only dimly aware. It was a shocking moment: the shattering of the presumption of European ascendancy, a dawning realization that the global pecking order was changing. And the bleak outlook for Europe only serves to compound matters: many years of close to zero growth, the steady erosion of social provision and falling living standards. From having been for so long at the epicenter of global affairs, Europe finds itself drifting toward the global margins. And the rise of China, while not the only reason, is the major cause of this reconfiguration.

How will Europe respond to this process? Alas, belatedly - while combined with a continuing sense of denial. The pattern of European trade serves as a powerful metaphor for the fate that awaits it. Unlike the US, Europe's trade with China, as a proportion of its total trade, remains very small. Britain, for example, exports more to Ireland than China, India, Brazil and Russia combined. The most successful European exporter to China is Germany, which has carved out a very important niche in high value-added capital goods.

The danger facing Europe in an increasingly China-centric world is that it will be increasingly confined to the sidelines, isolated from the engines of growth and change in the developing world.

To forestall this will require a profound change in the European psyche: toward modesty, humility, openness, respect, equality and engagement rather than aloofness, haughty superiority, hectoring and disinterest. History, though, weighs heavily on Europe's shoulders: it is not easy to shed the intellectual and emotional baggage of 200 years. The task is urgent: time waits for no country or continent. The longer Europe fails to understand, the greater the price it will pay.

Martin Jacques is the author of the global best-seller When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. The second edition, hugely expanded, updated and revised, was published in English last week. ... 987807.htm


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