Africa: War and AIDS, 04/03/03

Africa: War and AIDS, 04/03/03

AFRICA ACTION Africa Policy E-Journal April 3, 2003 (030403)

Africa: War and AIDS (Reposted from sources cited below)

This posting contains (1) a reminder for organizations to sign the "Money for AIDS, Not for War" statement, (2) an update from HEALTH GAP noting that the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is proposing $3 billion a year in authorization for AIDS funding, and $1 billion a year for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, despite White House pressure to reduce the amount, and (3) an interview by Afriscope Radio (http;// with Africa Action executive director Salih Booker, on Africa and the war in Iraq.

The 37 to 8 vote shows significant continued bipartisan Congressional support for increased funding for AIDS. But the measure must also be approved by the full Houuse as well as the Senate, and that "authorization" is only the first step in the congressional budget process - "appropriation" is also required before funds are actually made available.

A webcast of the markup hearing is available at: Additional details are available in the Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report at: rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=16969 [type URL on one line] and in a report by at

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If your organization has not already signed the "Money for AIDS, Not for War" statement distributed earlier this week in the E-Journal, please go to to read the statement, get it approved by your organization, and send in your organization's name. We plan to release the statement, with the list of organizational signatures, on or around April 15.

If your organization has already signed, or you do not represent an organization, please download the statement and forward it to groups you know that you think would be willing to sign. And please use the slogan or statement at meetings and demonstrations you participate in.


HEALTH GAP (Global Access Project) PRESS RELEASE

5 PM Wednesday April 2, 2003 contact: Paul Davis, +1 215 833 4102

House Republicans defy Bush Pressure to Shrink Global AIDS bill

Today the House International Relations Committee, chaired by Representative Henry Hyde, voted on a bill that authorizes $3 billion dollars a year for each of the next five years to fight Global AIDS. The bill earmarks at least $1 billion for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Global Fund is facing bankruptcy in spite of the fanfare accompanying its launch two years ago by world leaders at the G8 summit in Genoa.

Activists from Health GAP applaud Chairman Hyde and his Democratic counterpart Tom Lantos for resisting the extensive attempts from the White House to shrink the size of the bill and to eliminate or reduce the earmarks for the Global Fund. Hyde also resisted maneuvers by extreme conservatives in the Administration to insert anti-family planning and anti-condom language in the bill.

"Representatives Hyde and Lantos deserve a lot of credit for putting the lives of millions of people with AIDS before the foolish unilateralism and right wing extremism of the Bush Administration." stated Health GAP's Paul Davis. "The Republicans who have reversed their own positions on global AIDS and squashed this bill in the Senate to please President Bush should instead follow the example of Representative Hyde."

Health GAP also approved of the bill's inclusion of a "challenge grant" for the Global Fund, where the United States will leverage other nation's future contributions to the Global Fund by matching donations at 33 cents for every dollar contributed. "The innovation of a challenge grant is exactly what is needed to leverage resources from other wealthy nations in time for the G8 summit this June when donors will make new commitments to the Global Fund," reports Davis. "The House members working on this bill have crafted a creative and urgently needed response to a global health disaster that supports the good parts of the White House global AIDS plan, and corrects the damaging mistakes."

Unlike Representative Hyde, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has retreated under White House pressure from his past positions supporting billions for the Global Fund, while Senate Foreign Relations Chair Richard Lugar has twice withdrawn the bill from the calendar this session. Davis noted "Representative Hyde today stuck to his convictions in spite of the thumbscrews applied by White House. Will Senator Frist publicly make a stand in support of the positions he has held in the past?"

Advocates fear a House Floor ambush from extremist Members of Congress seeking to insert dangerous and irrelevant amendments about family planning and the use of condoms. "House leadership must bring this bipartisan bill to a vote as quickly as possible without damaging amendments," said Davis.

Paul Davis Health GAP (Global Access Project) e: t: +1 215.833.4102 (mobile) f: +1 215.474.4793 w:


Afriscope Radio Lead Story for March 28, 2003

"The war in Iraq is sure to have an overwhelmingly negative impact on Africa": Africa Action's Executive Director fears

Africa's Concerns Over War With Iraq:

Health: Bush's promised $15 billion HIV/AIDS relief fund for Africa and the Caribbean is now in jeopardy.

Economy: As during the 1991 Gulf War, the current conflict in Iraq could "spike" oil prices for a number of African countries and lead to a loss in their GDP. Africa is "extremely vulnerable to external shocks."

Geopolitics: "U.S. policy toward Africa will be driven increasingly by geopolitical considerations related to the war in the Persian Gulf, and by geo-strategic interests in African oil."

As a national organization with a mission to work "for political, economic and social justice in Africa," Washington, D.C.-based Africa Action is alarmed that the U.S.-led war with Iraq could destabilize the continent politically while distracting world attention from the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. In an exclusive Q&A with Afriscope Weekly, Salih Booker, Africa Action's executive director, says the Bush Administration is more focused on victory in Iraq than on "Africa's urgent priorities," such as President Bush's much-praised promise of $15 billion as emergency AIDS relief for Africa and the Caribbean.

Afriscope Weekly (AW): Three African nations, Angola, Cameroon and Guinea, found themselves on center stage at the United Nations Security Council before international diplomacy failed and the U.S. led a "coalition of the willing" to war with Iraq last week. These three countries withstood intense pressure from the Bush Administration to support its impending military action against Iraq, preferring a U.N.- led initiative. How were these African countries able to withstand unprecedented superpower pressure?

Salih Booker (SB): The three African countries maintained a neutral stance, along with Mexico, Chile, and Pakistan, because of the overwhelming public sentiment in their countries against the war, but also because they maintain close relations with Europe as well as the U.S. Given that European countries, particularly France, were also strongly against the U.S. pressure, it made perfect sense for the three to avoid "taking sides." In fact, the "undecideds" made extraordinary efforts to come up with constructive compromises. The fact was, however, that the U.S. wanted no compromise.

That Angola, Cameroon and Guinea were able to withstand U.S. pressure is indicative of the level of opposition to this war felt by their own citizens and felt across the African continent more broadly. At the first summit meeting of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa last month, African leaders made a clear statement of opposition to a U.S.-led war against Iraq, insisting that any decision on this crisis must be made through the UN Security Council. The ability of Angola, Cameroon and Guinea to withstand U.S. pressure in March must be seen in the context of this broad African opposition to the war.

AW: Days into the U.S.-led war with Iraq, we hear or see very little, at least from this side of the Atlantic, of any reactions out of Africa. What is your own informed sense of reactions on the continent right now, both from citizens and governments?

SB: There was broad opposition to this war throughout the African continent before it began, and this opposition remains strong now that the war is underway. The Secretary General of the African Union, Amara Essay, said last week that the start of the war caused deep regret and grief among African Union members. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has termed the war "immoral". Across the continent, particularly in countries with predominantly Muslim populations, there have been civil society protests against the war since it began last week.

The fact that we do not hear stems not from any African support for the war, but both from the fact that African countries have many pressing issues of their own they must deal with and from the lack of media coverage of the reaction that is taking place.

AW: Does the war in Iraq impact Africa, negatively or positively, both in the short-term and long term?

SB: The war in Iraq is sure to have an overwhelmingly negative impact on Africa. Not only does it have the potential to destabilize African countries politically, it will have a negative impact on African economies also. Africa is the poorest region in the world, and it is extremely vulnerable to external shocks. During the last Gulf War in 1991, at least 13 African countries lost 1% of their GDP as a result of spikes in oil prices, and there is no reason not to expect similar difficulties now.

As the war continues, U.S. policy toward Africa will be driven increasingly by geopolitical considerations related to the war in the Persian Gulf, and by geo- strategic interests in African oil. The U.S. is likely to ignore Africa's priorities, placing military base rights above human rights. And the war against AIDS, which is the truly greatest threat to human security of our time and which is obviously an urgent priority for Africa, will continue to suffer from a lack of resources.

AW: Some people have said that this war will make the Bush Administration turn its back from its promise of $15 billion to fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa? Do you entertain the same fears?

SB: The Bush Administration has already begun backtracking from the proposal announced in the "State of the Union" address on January 28. The President's proposed "Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief" came in response to rising pressure form Africa advocacy groups, AIDS activists and faith community workers who have fought for a greater U.S. response to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. This pressure was the catalyst for forcing senior administration officials to craft the new plan that was featured prominently in the State of the Union address. The initiative announced by President Bush promised $15 billion over 5 years, "including nearly $10 billion in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean."

However, it has subsequently become apparent that the $15 billion price tag is not for Africa and the Caribbean but includes all U.S. funding for AIDS worldwide. What is worse, the Bush Administration has acknowledged that most of this money will not even be requested until 2006 and beyond. Meanwhile, 3 million Africans are dying of AIDS-related illnesses every year, without access to essential treatment and care. Despite the fact that he has called this an "emergency" initiative, the President requested no new money to fight AIDS in the 2003 Omnibus Funding Bill that was being voted upon within weeks of his speech, and the request for next year, FY2004, will be less than $1 billion. It is therefore clear that the Bush Administration has already reneged on its recent commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa, and that this was really all an outrageous manipulation.

AW: Eventually, Iraq's oil will be controlled at least indirectly by U.S. and British interests after the war. How might this affect oil-driven economies in African countries like Nigeria, the world's sixth largest supplier of oil?

SB: There is no necessary direct connection. Imported oil, both from the Middle East and Africa, will continue to be significant for the U.S. under any political scenario. In the short run, the importance of African oil is enhanced. Thus it is strange that the news media seem to be totally ignoring the escalating conflict in the Niger Delta, which has interrupted oil supplies and led major companies such as Shell and Chevron to stop much of their production. This is another example of how simplistic focus on one country means the neglect of other vital interests.

The U.S. National Intelligence Council projects that U.S. oil supplies from West Africa will increase to 25% by 2015. This would surpass U.S. oil imports from the entire Persian Gulf. The U.S. remains interested in diversifying its oil supply and ensuring access to secure sources of oil from regions outside the Middle East. African countries will remain very important oil suppliers to the U.S., even after the war in Iraq.

AW: Some people said Nelson Mandela was playing the race card when he accused the U.S. and British governments of undermining the U.N. because its Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is a fellow African. Was Mandela right in that charge?

SB: It is unfair to accuse Nelson Mandela of playing the race card. He was simply calling attention to the fact that U.S. leaders disregard the UN, even more so when its leader is African. Nelson Mandela perhaps exaggerated the extent to which the U.S. respected the UN under earlier Secretary-Generals. But there is no doubt that U.S. government attitudes are driven by a disregard for peoples who are not part of the rich white minority in the world.

AW: Do you see Kofi Annan and the United Nations bouncing back from the seeming irrelevance brought about by this U.S. and British-led invasion of Iraq against the will of the U.N. Security Council?

SB: The United Nations remains an essential international body. While the policy of pre-emptive war and the rejection of U.N. authority in this crisis appear to violate the very principles upon which the U.N. was founded, this does not render the U.N. irrelevant by any means. It is the voice of the international community; it remains the appropriate forum for international decision-making and diplomacy, and while it has been undermined by the actions of the U.S. and its allies in launching a war against Iraq, the U.N. must continue to assert itself as the key international body, central to global efforts to solve problems that challenge humanity.

AW: One of the Bush Administration's secondary goals of going to war in Iraq is to continue the worldwide campaign against terrorists. Since several African countries have been either victims of terrorism or safe havens for terrorists, will this war make matters better or worse?

SB: It is a mistake to take the Bush administration at its word. We must oppose terrorism against civilians, whether it comes from extremist groups or from governments. But we should not accept a unilateral definition of terrorism. We should not forget that it was the U.S. that first sponsored extremist Islamic terrorism, when it thought this could be used against the Soviet Union. And we should not allow a government to decide who is a "terrorist" on the basis of its own scare tactics and ideological extremism. We should remember that Vice President Cheney voted to keep Nelson Mandela in jail on the grounds that his movement to free South Africa was "terrorist."

AW: Has there been a united voice coming from African governments so far about their concerns on the impact of this war on the continent?

SB: There is widespread concern among African governments about the impact the war will have on the continent and about its implications for international relations more broadly. The unilateralism driving this war undermines the power and voice of bodies such as the African Union, and has raised concerns in many quarters that this will leave Africa more marginalized and isolated as it seeks to address the most urgent global priorities, from poverty to HIV/AIDS to environmental degradation, which are most serious in Africa. Desmond Orjiako, spokesperson for the African Union, said this week that the position of the African Union's members has not changed since its initial declaration of opposition to the war in February. He said that the biggest concern of African leaders was that the war would beget greater poverty for the poor, and especially for the people of Africa.

A few African governments, for their own reasons, have endorsed Washington's policies, and allowed their names to be used. These include Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda. But the vast majority has spoken out for peace.

AW: In an ironic way, wars sometimes have a way of showing a silver lining in the sky. Do you see any hopeful signs for Africa, given the continent's proximity to the Middle East?

SB: As stated above, this war is likely to have an overwhelmingly negative impact on Africa, in economic and political terms, and in terms of further marginalization of the continent and its own urgent priorities. Foremost among these priorities is the HIV/AIDS crisis, which has already claimed close to 20 million African lives. But the international response to the AIDS pandemic remains far less than adequate, and the war in Iraq is likely to distract attention even more from this critical threat and from the necessity for a concerted global effort to win a war on AIDS.

The only hopeful sign is that this may be the beginning of the end for the system of world minority rule. The mobilization of world opinion against the war in Iraq is part of a broader global consciousness, reaching even into a large part of the American public, which realizes that the days of decision-making by a small wealthy group, however powerful, is incompatible with a future for the human race. As this global change emerges, however long it takes, Africa's problems - which are really humanity's problems - will rise to the fore.

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Date distributed (ymd): 030403 Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+


Message-Id: <> From: "Africa Action" <> Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2003 17:03:34 -0500 Subject: Africa: War and AIDS

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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