UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
AFRICA ACTION Africa Policy E-Journal March 7, 2003
USA/Africa: Anti-War Statements, 1 (Reposted from sources cited below)
This posting contains a press release from Africa Action and TransAfrica Forum, the texts of letters from Africa Action, TransAfrica Forum, African American leaders, and the Advocacy Network for Africa, as well as a statement from the Angola Peace Network. Other postings today contain excerpts from an interview with the outgoing Nigerian ambassador to the United States and a background report from the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars on U.S. military programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
March 7, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Africa Action 202/546 7961
TransAfrica Forum 202/223 1960 Ext. 113
African American Leaders & Africa advocacy groups call on African Members of UN Security Council to Vote Against War
Letters to African Ambassadors warn of devastating consequences of war for Africa; Urge support for peaceful resolution to current crisis
Friday, March 7, 2003 (Washington, DC) - Africa Action today joined with TransAfrica Forum and other key Africa advocacy organizations in sending letters to the Ambassadors of the African countries on the United Nations (UN) Security Council, urging them to oppose U.S.-led moves toward war against Iraq. Signatories to the letters also include such prominent individuals as Danny Glover, Mary Francis Berry, Joseph E. Lowery, Walter Mosley & Sylvia Hill.
The letters to the Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of Guinea, Cameroon and Angola warn that a war in the Middle East will have devastating economic and political consequences for Africa. They urge the African states to stand firm against pressure from the U.S. and Britain, and to promote a course that will encourage a peaceful resolution of this international dispute.
In a letter initiated by Africa Action and TranAfrica Forum, signatories declared that war against Iraq would be "unwelcome and unwarranted." They note that, "At least 81% of African-Americans oppose the planned war...(and) around the globe, millions of people have stood up in opposition to this planned aggression."
The letter emphasizes that, "Africa, in particular, would suffer significantly from the global economic consequences of war at a time when Africans are facing the truly greatest global threat to human security, namely the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This should be the scourge receiving the attention and resources that have been devoted instead to debating and designing interventions against Iraq."
In a separate letter initiated by the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA), a national network of more than 200 Africa-focused organizations of which Africa Action is a member, endorsers affirm their solidarity with the people of Guinea, Cameroon and Angola, asserting that "a policy of pre-emptive war violates the principles upon which the United Nations was founded, and it will create a dangerous precedent."
The letter continues: "We are convinced that your governments' having the courage to stand for peace will not only contribute to a peaceful resolution in this case, it will also strengthen African voices in international forums in the future."
The letters were endorsed by dozens of organizations and activists from across the U.S. The text of the letters and the full list of signatories of the first letter are included below.
March 7, 2003
To the Governments of Guinea, Cameroon and Angola
Dear President Lansana Conte, President Paul Biya, and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos:
As African-American leaders and activists we urgently call upon your governments to stand firm against the efforts by the United States, Britain and Spain to undermine the work of the United Nations' weapons inspectors now working in Iraq and to initiate a war against Iraq.
We understand that your respective governments are under considerable pressure from the United States and Britain to support their resolution designed to authorize war with Iraq. We believe that this would be a terrible mistake. The USA and Britain are committed to commencing a war that breaks all international laws and precedent. It is a war that is not based on a real threat to Iraq's neighbors or to other countries. Indeed none of Iraq's neighbors have made a call for an international military mobilization against the Baathist regime in Iraq.
As you may know, there is considerable opposition within the USA to the planned war. At least 81% of African Americans oppose the planned war. Support within the rest of the country for war is extremely limited, with answers to polling questions varying dramatically depending on how the questions are phrased. And, as you certainly know, around the globe, millions of people have stood up in opposition to this planned war.
We believe that the U.S. and British effort to initiate a world war in the Middle East is not only unwarranted and unwelcome, but also that it will have devastating economic and social consequences for the most impoverished and most vulnerable citizens and countries throughout the world. Africa, in particular, would suffer significantly from the global economic consequences of war at a time when Africans are facing the truly greatest global threat to human security, namely the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This should be the scourge receiving the attention and resources that have been devoted instead to debating and designing interventions against Iraq.
We hope that with Guinea taking over the Chairmanship of the Security Council this month, that the African members will provide the necessary leadership to avoid a war that will be especially antithetical to the interests of African and Arab peoples, and disastrous for the rest of the world.
We hope that in the consideration of this matter that you decline to support the US/British/Spanish initiative and will, instead, promote a course that encourages the peaceful resolution of this international dispute.
Respectfully submitted by,
Mary Frances Berry, University of Pennsylvania* Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action Bill Fletcher, Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum Patricia Ford, Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union* Danny Glover, Actor/Activist Richard Gordon Hatcher, President of National Civil Rights Hall of Fame; Valparaiso University School of Law* Sylvia Hill, University of the District of Columbia* Jesse L. Jackson, Founder and President, Rainbow/Push Coalition Joseph E. Lowery, Co-Founder and President Emeritus, SCLC; Chairman Emeritus Black Leadership Forum William Lucy, President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Julianne Malveaux, Economist/Author Fred Mason, Maryland/DC AFL-CIO* Walter Mosley, Author Harold Rogers, International Affairs Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Executive Board Member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Damu Smith, Founder, Black Voices for Peace
(*--signifies for identification only)
- - - - - - - -
The Advocacy Network for Africa c/o The Washington Office on Africa 212 East Capitol Street - Washington, D.C. 20003, U.S.A. Phone: 202/547-7503 - Fax: 202/547-7505 - E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7, 2003
Ambassador Mohamed Aly Thiam Embassy of the Republic of Guinea 2112 Leroy Place NW Washington, DC 20008
Dear Ambassador Thiam:
The Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA), originally founded in the late seventies as the anti-apartheid South Africa Working Group, is a network of 231 US-based human rights, religious, development- oriented and other organizations working with African colleagues and networks to address common concerns regarding US-Africa policy. Thirty to forty representatives of these organizations meet monthly in Washington to discuss current issues and to coordinate common advocacy. We share a passion for and a commitment to political, social and economic justice for Africans and a more just and mutually beneficial relationship between the US and African countries.
We come today to express our solidarity with the people of Guinea as decisions are reached regarding Security Council actions on the Iraqi question. We believe, as do you, that peace should be given a chance in Iraq. We note approvingly the action of the African Union meetings in Addis Ababa last month, where heads of state and government urged all parties to make sustained efforts to avoid the use of force and reaffirmed the central role of the United Nations and, particularly, the Security Council, in any action or initiative aimed at maintaining and strengthening peace and international security.
Not only will a war against Iraq bring humanitarian catastrophe of great magnitude; it will also create reactions that no one can predict or control. It has the potential to threaten to destabilize African countries politically, and it will affect African economies negatively. At least 13 African countries lost 1% of their GDP due to spikes in oil prices during the 1991 Gulf War, and there is no reason not to expect similar difficulties now. Moreover, a policy of pre-emptive war violates the principles upon which the United Nations was founded, and it will create a dangerous precedent.
We therefore urge you to hold firm to those principles. No doubt there are risks for Guinea should you challenge our government's preparations for pre-emptive war and thereby refuse to serve the narrow self-interest of our government. We are convinced, however, that your government's having the courage to stand for peace will not only contribute to a peaceful resolution in this case, it will also strengthen African voices in international forums in future. Such an affirmation of our common humanity is the true sign of Security Council relevance.
Please accept this letter as a respectful expression of our concerns and hopes.
On behalf of my colleagues at ADNA, I am
Leon P. Spencer Co-facilitator of ADNA and
Executive Director Washington Office on Africa
Cc: Permanent Mission of the Republic of Guinea to the UN; Permanent Mission of the Republic of Angola to the UN; Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cameroon to the UN; Ambassador of the Republic of Angola; Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon
Angola Peace Network
Declaration Against War in the World
February 15, 2003
[This statement was received from the Angolan Peace Network through AfricaFiles in Toronto (http://www.africafiles.org). Thanks to Thomas Brown for the translation from Portuguese.]
Inter-Church Committee for Peace in Angola. Luanda, Angola
To: His Excellency Dr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations. Subject: Declaration Against War in the World
The world has today, February 15, 2003, marked the United Nations Day Against War, at a time when Angolans are experiencing the transition from a situation of war to one of peace, even though the armed conflict yet continues in one part of our national territory.
Looking at the various conflicts in the world the Peace Network, as a living force in Angola civil society which struggled to bring about peace in Angola, notes with great pre-occupation that the world continues divided between those countries which as a result of their resources and their geo-strategic importance are of major importance to the super-powers and those, which given their small economic importance are not represented by the economic interests of the powers of this time.
The imminent attack by the United States and its allies on Iraq and the war in the Middle East (between Palestinians and Israelies) today dominates the calendar of the United Nations and the international press, to the detriment of the long-standing conflicts in other parts of the globe, especially Africa, where wars never stop as a result of a lack of serious intervention and an investment of the resources and time, with a vision of finding ways conducive to the search for a genuine and lasting peace in these countries.
In our African continent, of which Your Excellency is a beloved son, countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Somalia and Liberia, to name a few, continue to bleed because of the wars whose consequences are catastrophic, placing the people of these countries in a situation of total dependence and sub-human conditions. Sadly the connivance of the international community does not allow us to discern on the horizon an immediate end to these conflicts.
As a people still emerging from a fratricidal war of 27 years, as well as the other wars which preceded it due to the resistance against Portuguese colonialism, Angolans know well the deathly results of any war. Thus we believe the justifications of a war, however objective, do not diminish the destructive character of war, nor diminish its immoral character.
As agents of peace we are convinced that violence only generates more violence and for this reason we vehemently repudiate the attack which is being perpetrated against the sovereign state of Iraq, and call on the Security Council to use its power and mandate to promote world peace and stop the use of force against the martyred people of Iraq, since there has not been until now convincing reasons which justify such outrageous acts against a sovereign people.
We repeat our appeal to the United Nations, as a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the world's people, to strengthen further this peace in the whole region of the Middle East, particularly for the people of Palestine and Israel who for 50 years have lived on the edge of an explosion.
In face of the inherent pre-occupation for universal survival we cannot allow, on the part of anyone, that we be diverted from the great struggles of humanity today, namely: the fight against poverty, drugs and the traffic in children and the great epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as those efforts which are yet to be made for the establishment of governance which is just and participatory in this global village and respect, for all, of a international judicial order.
We entreat the Permanent and Non-Permanent of the Security Council, especially those from Africa (Angola, Cameroon and Guinea) to re-affirm the commitment of the Organization of African Unity at its recent extraordinary assembly in its voting against any war effort.
Luanda, February 15, 2003,
For the Peace Network, Dr. Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, Executive Secretary, COIEPA
Date distributed (ymd): 030307 Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
AFRICA ACTION Africa Policy E-Journal March 7, 2003
USA/Africa: Anti-War Statements, 2 (Reposted from sources cited below)
This posting contains excerpts from an interview with Jibril Muhammad Aminu, the outgoing ambassador of Nigeria to the the United States, by allAfrica.com's Charles Cobb Jr. and Akwe Amosu. Other postings today contain a press release from Africa Action and TransAfrica Forum, along with other anti-war statements, and a background report from the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars on U.S. military programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Cobb and Amosu also recently interviewed Senegal's foreign minister, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, on the war and related issues. See http://allafrica.com/stories/200303050218.html
Sharp Words On Iraq War From Outgoing Nigerian Ambassador
http://allAfrica.com February 14, 2003
By Charles Cobb Jr. and Akwe Amosu
[excerpts only, used by permission. Full text, which covers Nigerian and regional issues as well as the war, is available at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200302140061.html]
Jibril Muhammad Aminu, Nigeria's ambassador to the United
States since November, 1999 is returning home after
just over three years in the post.
Professor Aminu, 62, a highly regarded member of the diplomatic corps in Washington, began his life as a medical doctor, before becoming the vice-chancellor of Maiduguri university in northern Nigeria, 1980-85. He went on to serve as a minister of education in Nigeria's federal government and as minister of petroleum until 1992. On the eve of the third republic, he became a foundation member of the People's Democratic Party which went on to win the first civilian election in June '98, bringing President Olusegun Obasanjo into office.
Ambassador Aminu was a strong supporter of the anti-terrorism coalition that quickly consoldated in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. A war against terrorism is necessary, he says, pointing out that Africa felt the effects of attacks long before September 11. Giving particular relevance to that view, Osama Bin Laden, in his February 10 statement, named two African countries - Morocco and Nigeria - as "infidel regimes enslaved by the U.S." in need of "liberation" by his supporters.
But, as in many nations in Africa, there is strong Nigerian sentiment against the impending war with Iraq, sentiment that is fully supported by the ambassador. So far, says the outspoken diplomat, he has not received a satisfactory answer as to why war with Iraq is necessary.
Africa's importance to Islam still goes unrecognized, says Jibril, who is from the north-eastern Nigerian state of Adamawa and who is returning home to campaign as a candidate for the Senate in Nigeria's forthcoming April election. He spoke with AllAfrica's Charles Cobb Jr. and Akwe Amosu. Excerpts:
Q: You are leaving Washington at a troubled moment. The international consensus that seemed to exist after 9/11 appears to have collapsed, as the United States moves toward war with Iraq. What are your thoughts about this looming war and the implications for Africa - particularly countries like Nigeria with large numbers of Muslims in their populations?
A: The whole world sympathized with the United States and its people over 9/11. That is very clear. Within a couple of weeks after the incident, African presidents gathered and condemned terrorism and undertook to work for its containment, to combat international terrorism.
We have many times made the point that what happened in New York was very ghastly, but it wasn't the first one. A manifestation, a dastardly act of terrorism occurred in Africa three years before - in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam. So Africa cannot be taken out of the equation of the world fight against terrorism.
There is also the question of poverty. The more poverty is entrenched in Africa, the more Africa will become a haven, a refuge for terrorism.
And a third issue to look at is the question of conflict in Africa and how terrorists could take advantage of conflicts like the conflict diamonds which would be effective in money-laundering, people can always pocket diamonds and pass them on for sale. So the conflicts in various parts of Africa like Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia - these are all areas where terrorists could find a way of money-laundering.
There are many other issues, but finally let me just mention one other - this is the question of religion. Africa south of the Sahara has a very large number of Muslims. It has many more Muslims than the whole of the Gulf, and nobody talks about that. People do not really include them. When ever people here talk about Islam, they hear Egypt mentioned, or Libya, or Saudi Arabia - nobody mentions that there are at least 60 million Muslims in Nigeria alone. This number equals most of the countries in the Gulf put together.
This is very important for people trying to combat terrorism and who mistakenly relate it to religion. They will find it important to enter into some kind of dialogue or constructive program of engagement with the Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa as a preventive measure.
Q: How do you react to Osama Bin Laden reportedly saying that a campaign of "liberation" against "infidel regimes' should be launched? He named several countries as representing such regimes which he said were enslaved by the U.S. Morocco was on that list. So was Nigeria - your country.
A: He thinks there is potential in Nigeria. There are vocal individuals in Nigeria. There are students who are free who have been demonstrating one way or the other and some of them admire him. So he will look at Nigeria as a potential area [for recruiting support]. He probably meant [those people] to come under his influence but that is not likely to happen in Nigeria.
By the way, I have my own personal worry as to whether this is really Osama Bin Laden; I am still not completely convinced, although there are a lot of technological gadgets that will help to confirm if this is his voice.
Q: Does the link being proposed between Osama and Iraq make sense to you?
A: [The events of 9/11] made people sympathize very much with the United States. But we don't understand how this has been translated into war against Iraq. And every time, you have a feeling that people are digging underground, digging below the ocean depths, to find excuses to add on. It all started with "axis of evil", nations that were having weapons of mass destruction; then it started with nations which were terrorizing their neighbors - listen to the word now - "terrorizing".
Mr. Sharon, for example, found it very convenient to label the Palestinian freedom fighters as "terrorists". And he found, unfortunately, great sympathy in the U.S. [with the notion that] his struggle against the Palestinians is equal to the American, or the world's, struggle against terrorism. That doesn't really sell very well with us, but it seems to have found ready acceptance here.
Now they have advanced that you have to "preempt" in order to stop terrorism from aligning itself to a rogue state with weapons, finding evidence of a relationship between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. These things worry people!
And also, whatever the United Nations people say, the inspectors - very respected people who appear to be neutral - whatever they say or the Secretary-General says, are all just brushed aside as not being germane to the issue. The important thing is that either "Saddam must go" or "Saddam must be removed" or Iraq must be invaded. People get worried with all of this terrible hardware which is being sent to the Middle East from here.
If you go to Nigeria, you will find many people admiring the United States, sympathizing with America, being grateful for American concern for poverty in Africa; Agoa; money being put aside for Aids. You will not find sympathy for terrorists or for Osama Bin Laden. No Muslim regards Osama as having done a favor for Muslims because he has put Muslims in a very uncomfortable situation. But you will also not find anybody sympathizing with the American position over Iraq.
I have discussed this when I went before the Senate subcommittee on Africa. People are taking bets - which will be the next country attacked? Is it Syria? Is it Iran? Is it Saudi Arabia?
Although consistency is not a great ingredient in the cuisine of international politics, we are human beings and we expect great people to be consistent. Why the inconsistency in the way Iraq was dealt with and the way North Korea, for example, is dealt with? People are asking these things all over Africa; and as the ambassador of Nigeria, this thing has been worrying me, and I have seized every opportunity to raise the issue with my American colleagues and friends.
Q: And how do they respond when you raise this issue?
A: I do think they accept differences of opinion, but they leave no doubt that this is not going to change their mind.
Q: So you are resigned to the likelihood of war with Iraq?
A: Oh yes. If I had to bet, I would bet my last dollar or my last Naira on the fact that there will be a war, unless something happened; unless President Saddam is removed from power by a coup, by assassination, by him leaving like the Shah left Iran... unless any of these happen, I believe there is going to be war.
That makes it look like a personal thing. I know when people become antagonists and foes like [Winston] Churchill and [Adolf] Hitler or like [Lyndon] Johnson and Ho Chi Minh you do develop a personalization of war.People probably think there is a personal quarrel to be settled between President Bush And Saddam. And it seems to have come down to that now. There is this one man and maybe some of his cronies that we see on television - people like Tariq Aziz. Unless these people are removed, I believe there will be war.
Some people say the war has already started because there are some troops that have invaded northern Iraq which are said to be helping the Kurds. So it's a question of "can I eat while we go on talking about the chicken?"
Q: What are the religious implications for a country like Nigeria, which has a significant Muslim population or for Africa as a whole?
A: There will be a lot of protest against the United States. I have said a number of times there will be protest against the United States from the students. The U.S. will have to reckon with students who are free and who have their own views. Particularly in the north (of Nigeria) they are going to demonstrate.
Nigeria will definitely protest any attempt to attack any country, particularly with the revelations coming out that this country will be taken over and ruled in what looks like a colonial occupation. Nigeria will definitely oppose that. And we do.
But let me tell you what will not happen. I don't think that, because of this, individual Americans are going to be at risk, that if they see an individual American they will go and attack him. To go and say, "This is American property" or "This is an American living here...he or she has come for Peace Corps, let's go and attack them." I don't think this will happen in Nigeria. It has not happened before.
And I don't think this will push Nigeria to sympathize with terrorism or people like Osama Bin Laden. People here know the difference between the brand of Islam in 'Sudan' - by which I mean Black Africa in a broad sense - and what obtains in Saudi Arabia which is strict Wahabi. We are always arguing with them when we go to Haj over what to do, what not to do - things like that. I do not think that whether they are Muslims in the north or the south of Nigeria, that they will in any hurry to line up with Osama Bin Laden.
Probably the anger in case of war with Iraq will not be so much with America but with any Arab country that seems to be siding with them. If there is anybody who will face Africans' physical wrath it will be any Arab state who is seen to be supporting America because they are looked on as traitors. It happened in 1990 when people in Kano [a key city in the Muslim north of Nigeria] were demonstrating against the Saudi embassy. I don't believe there will be any breaches of diplomatic relations. This is my own judgement, which may be wrong, but I don't think so.
Q: There have been stresses and strains within Nigeria between the Sharia states in the North and the central government in Abuja. Does a U.S. war with Iraq exacerbate these kinds of strains?
A: No. That is a homegrown and a home-blooming and home-consumed problem. I don't think it is going to be exported. But it could happen accidently. In Kano, it would only take one man to make some kind of silly remark and you could have some problems there. If you mean people going about provoking each other, I don't think it will happen. Sharia is a Nigerian problem and is not particularly relevant to this United States effort to start a war in Iraq.
Q: As somebody who is experienced in international diplomacy, I wonder how you feel about the international fall-out from this U.S.-Iraq crisis. The United Nations is under strain, the Europeans are deeply divided, there's great polarisation among governments who used to work together. Does any of that matter for Africa - if the multilateral institutions are weakened by all of this?
A: We don't know who is serious and who is bluffing. It is a serious problem. I was talking to some Americans last week - they were senior people - and they were saying: "You see, we are trying to push Saddam Hussein. If he know that for certain we are coming then he is going to comply. This is why we don't like what the French and the Germans are doing; because they are encouraging Saddam Hussein to be recalcitrant."
So you see, you don't know, when people are saying these things, whether they are bluffing or whether they are serious. Are all these things being said in America as a way to apply pressure? All this hardware moving east - is this just to apply pressure on Saddam Hussein or is it really serious?
We don't like it! We don't like it at all! We have no doubt that with the destruction of the Soviet Union, for whatever reason, America has a field day; they can do whatever they like.
But, like I was saying, we don't know who is going to be next and we don't know what's going to happen, for example, with age-old problems like the Arab-Israeli problem. We don't know what's going to happen with India and Pakistan. We don't know whether this pre-emptive strategy is going to be copied by other people - whether India will attack Pakistan, or whether some people will destroy their internal opposition by saying they are terrorists. When you throw a stone and it has left your hand, you don't know for certain where it will fall.
Message-Id: <200303071520.h27FKZV03826@marduk.africapolicy.org> From: "Africa Action" <email@example.com> Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2003 10:24:35 -0500 Subject: USA/Africa: Anti-War Statements, 1
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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