African Union Turned into Handmaiden for Pax Americana

News Opinions Sophia Tesfamariam
African Union under US state department
The aftermath of AU’s betrayal to Africa, particularly to Eritrea and Somalia is there for all to see.

By Sophia Tesfamariam,

Professor Ali A. Mazrui, Director of the Institute of Global Cultural  Studies and Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities State  University of New York, in his 2003 article “Between Pax Americana and Pax Africana“, wrote about the effects of the September 11 attacks on Africa and US policy in Africa . Professor Mazrui, in concluding his article asked the following:

“…will American resources help to strengthen Pax Africana, or will American power simply turn it into a handmaiden of Pax Americana ? How can we avoid the Americanization of Pax Africana ?…”

Hence the title and subject for today’s lengthy piece…

But before we get to that, let us take a look at more from Professor Mazrui’s insightful article. He wrote:

“…many Africans were killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001–Senegalese hawkers, Nigerian investors, Ethiopian or Eritrean drivers, Ghanaian students, Egyptian and South African tourists, and others… security forces throughout the continent subsequently opened their doors to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency. At that moment, Pax Americana entered Africa , forging an alliance with the governments and people long struggling to establish a Pax Africana…”

After 9-11, the jury is out on whether our world changed or if it’s just that the secrets of our world were exposed…we will wait and see. One thing is for sure, things were different, uglier. The air waves were filled with stories of extraordinary renditions and secret CIA and FBI run prisons in places like Ethiopia . Prisoners nabbed and transported there were said to be tortured during interrogations. Hundreds of young men remain missing today, held in these secret prisons and in US military bases around the world.

The world got to see the horrors perpetrated in places such as the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, a United States-run prison in Afghanistan , and the barbaric acts committed by US soldiers against prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq . Post 9-11 also saw the erosion of state sovereignty and the US use of unmanned drones in targeted extrajudicial killings of suspected terrorists. In his 2003 article, Professor Mazrui wrote:

“…The FBI reportedly arrived in Tanzania with the names of 60 Muslims selected for interrogation. The Kenyan authorities, eager to please the US, were tempted to hand over Kenyan citizens on the slightest encouragement…The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington of September, 2001 and their aftermath may exacerbate tensions not only between pro-Western and anti-Western schools of thought in Africa, but also between Christians and Muslims…”

It should be recalled that Kenyan officials, eager to please the US, also turned over two Eritrean journalists. The Wikileak cables show that the Ethiopian regime made the request to Johnnie Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. The two journalists were turned over to the Ethiopian regime and their whereabouts are still unknown. As for exacerbating tensions between Moslems and Christians, suffice it to mention the ongoing killings and religious conflicts in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Post 9-11 Africa saw the demise or erosion of political independence and sovereignty. Gone also was the once cherished and guarded virtue of being independent, the freedom from the influence, or control. The idea that a state could be sovereign was always connected to its ability to guarantee the best interests of its own citizens. If a state is unable to act in the best interests of its own citizens, it cannot be thought of as a “sovereign” state. As the cables have shown, not only did leaders in the Horn of Africa fail to fend for their own populations, they instead turned their nations into vassal states, and become spear carriers for the regime in Ethiopia and its handlers.

As the African Union begins its Summit in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, the lives of millions of Africans will be affected by the “resolutions” that the African body will undertake. There are many questions that need to be asked, but the most important question is- Whose agenda is being advanced at this summit? Can this regional organization resist external pressures and internal machinations to truly advance Africa ‘s interests? It may, but this author is not holding her breath, as the record is long and ugly and with the release of the Wikileak documents, the world has a chance to see the disgraceful manner with which African leaders deal with each other and how they sell each other out in order to curry favor with the west.

From setting the agendas, to influencing its outcomes, US officials have manipulated the African Union to advance US interests on the continent. From choosing its leadership (a hotly contested issue in this Summit ) to instructing its leaders on how to steer discussions, such as the one on the Copenhagen Climate change Summit , the African Union pretty much serves as an auxiliary of the US foreign policy establishment, including the US Defense Department. Mercenary regimes such as the one in Ethiopia advance US interests using the IGAD and
African Union as cover and unashamedly admit to it with their American interlocutors. The main topic at this AU Summit is the Chairmanship.

To better understand the process and what it entails, I will refer to a cable [1] in which the former African Union Chair, Alpha Oumar Konar, who also served as the President of Mali, in which he explained the AU election process and more:

“…Konare said that West Africa has had its turn and that the next AU Assembly Chairman would come from either the Eastern or Central region. Konare commented that there are “not many choices” in the Eastern region. Ugandan President Museveni is no longer a possibility as he has changed the constitution to allow him to remain in office, Konare stated. Tanzania would be acceptable, but the President is too new. Konare said that Kenya is not an option because the President is “ill.” Konare concluded that Congo-Brazzaville President Sassou-Nguesso is the most likely candidate to replace Obasanjo…AU officials report that the next AU Assembly Chairman will have been selected behind-the-scenes in advance of the late-January 2006 AU Summit, but the official announcement will occur in Khartoum …”

In 2006, the AU decided to create a Committee “to consider the implementation of a rotation system between the regions” in relation to the presidency. Controversy arose at the 2006 summit when Sudan announced its candidacy for the AU’s chairmanship, as a representative of the East African region. Several member states refused to support Sudan , the issue of Darfur was used as a pretext. Sudan ultimately withdrew its candidacy and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo was elected to a one-year term.

At the January 2007 summit, Sassou-Nguesso was replaced by President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana , despite another attempt by Sudan to gain the chair. At that time, the US once again decided to interfere in the process and the incompetent vindictive Jenadyi E. Frazer, US
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs decided to approach her friends in Ethiopia:

“…Outlining U.S. concerns about the possibility of President Bashir serving as African Union Assembly Chairman, Frazer said the USG remained strongly opposed to his candidacy, but publicly had stated that it was up to the AU to decide its leadership. While Congolese President Sassou-Nguesso had not played a strong role as AU Assembly Chair, Nigerian President Obasanjo had, (i.e., leadership of the AU matters). The USG had no confidence in Bashir’s leadership, and had asked former Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail to advise Bashir not to seek the Chairmanship. The east African bloc needed to voice its objection and select an alternate (perhaps Tanzanian President Kikwete), or allow another regional bloc to assume the Chairmanship (such as Ghanaian President Kufuor for west Africa)…”

In January 2008, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania took over as chair, representing the East African region and thus apparently ending Sudan ‘s attempt to become chairat least till the rotation returns to East Africa.

The current chair is Benin and today, Sudan is once again at the centre of the controversy surrounding the African Union. It should be recalled that the venue for the Summit was moved from Malawi to Addis Ababa . Malawi had asked the African Union to prevent Sudan’s President Bashir from taking part in the event, saying his visit would have “implications” for Malawi ‘s aid-dependent economy. When the late Malawi leader refused to arrest Bashir and allowed him to attend a Comesa Summit in Malawi , the United States and other western donors cut off Malawi ‘s development aid package. Today, succumbing to US pressure, Malawi ‘s President Joyce Banda explained her government’s decision not to host Bashir. She said:

“… Malawi is already going through unprecedented economic problems and it would not be prudent enough to take a risk by allowing one person to come and attend the summit against much resistance from our cooperating partners and donors…”

Development aid or political independence, self respect and dignity…

Let’s continue and read what Konare, the former Chair of the AU had to say about Sudan and Bashir’s chairmanship:

“…Asked for information on the next AU Assembly Chairman, Konare replied that he is adamant that Sudanese President Bashir not succeed Obasanjo, and that “many” African leaders agree with him that Sudan’s assuming the Chairmanship would be a disaster for Africa. Konare went so far as to declare that he will step down as AU Commission Chairperson if El Bashir were elected. He expressed disbelief that El Bashir believes he is prepared to assume the Chairmanship…”

And so went the efforts to thwart that Chairmanship.

A cable[2] details a discussion held between Vicki Huddleston, the US Charge D’Affaires in Ethiopia and Patrick Mazimhaka, the African Union’s Deputy Chairperson on 6 January 2006. According to the cable, in which the US official asks that Mazimhaka’s identity be protected, he urged “high level calls to key African heads of state to encourage that they proactively oppose a Bashir chairmanship”.

Let us take a look at more from that cable:

“… Despite Konare’s best efforts, Mazimhaka noted, Bashir remains unconvinced and even dispatched an envoy to the AU and several African countries to advocate a Bashir chairmanship. The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs assesses that “all of East Africa ” is behind Bashir, Mazimhaka said. Mazimhaka noted that a meeting of Central African states called by Chad on January 5 failed to issue a declaration opposing a Bashir chairmanship. Mazimhaka speculated that Central Africa does not want to rock the boat since Congo-Brazzaville President Sassou-Nguesso is the only other clear contender for the
Assembly chairmanship…”

But there is more:

“…Mazimhaka concluded that there is a “high risk” that Bashir will be endorsed at the closed session of heads of state at the Khartoum AU Summit January 23. Mazimhaka believes that those heads of state who do not want to explicitly endorse Bashir will not attend the Summit and instead deploy Foreign Ministers. A Bashir chairmanship will mean a “dead year” for the AU in terms of ability to promote a positive agenda for the continent, Mazimhaka lamented…”

It is a sad and disgraceful read. It is made worse when African Union leaders undermine and insult Africa ‘s leadership to please their western handlers. There are enough cables that show the extent of the emasculation of Africa’s leadership, including the leadership at the African Union, and how they have been manipulated to advance US interests in the region, even it meant carrying out policies that were detrimental to the well being of the African people and compromised the credibility and integrity of the continental and regional organizations.

As an African and a citizen of the Horn, it is an insult to the intelligence of the millions there to suggest that the United States was really concerned about the integrity of the African Union; yet, the US official had no qualms stating the following:

“…DCM noted that AU Chairmanship is an issue of credibility for the continent and commented that Bashir does not deserve a position of authority and prominence at this stage… Charge noted that the USG shares AU Commission concern that a Bashir presidency would damage AU credibility. She asked Mazimhaka for ideas on how to ensure Bashir does not win the Assembly chairmanship…”

External interference in the process and undue pressure and influence on the African governments is what will ultimately undermine the credibility and integrity of the African Union and it should be up to the whims and personal opinions of self serving junior US diplomats from the incompetent Bureau of African Affairs that should be making decisions for Africans and their leadership.

It is equally shameful that African officials be used to create a wedge between the leaders in Africa . The cable captured Mazimhaka’s servitude and shameful attitude towards his fellow African:

“…Mazimhaka (protect) said that only high-level outreach to key countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Botswana, Algeria and Ghana has a chance of success. Mazimhaka said that international partners should strongly encourage these leaders to attend the Summit and to vote against Bashir…Mazimhaka stated that when AU member states agreed to allow Sudan to host the Summit it was made clear that Sudan should not expect to chair the Assembly. Crucially, he said, Bashir lacks the moral authority to lead the AU and promote resolution of the continent’s conflicts…”

Racist US diplomats seem to enjoy pitting Africans against each other and no one does it better than James Swan, the US Ambassador to Djibouti . Of course they can’t be entirely blamed for the actions of some African leaders, but they seem to find their weakest points and use it to emasculate and control them. Allow me to illustrate some examples of his “diplomatic” manipulation of Djibouti ‘s leadership by presenting an 18 April 2009 cable[3] in its entirety:

“…During a meeting with Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Youssouf April 11, Ambassador drew from reftel points to (1) ask about a “Sudan Tribune” article claiming that Djibouti had invited Sudanese President Bashir to visit and (2) stress the negative implications of such a visit. Youssouf assured Ambassador that no invitation had been extended to Bashir, nor was any planned. As a member of the African Union and Arab League , Djibouti would support positions agreed in these institutions. But Djibouti had no interest, he said, in any “provocative” act, such as hosting Bashir…”

With the veiled threat of stopping US support for these countries, emasculated African leaders have sold out their people for pittens.

Today, Ethiopia has sent peacekeepers to Susan and pretends to be a friend to both the North and South. The cables do not reflect that, they instead expose Ethiopia ‘s hypocrisy. A 25 January 2007 cable from Addis Ababa , “DEMARCHE DELIVERED: ETHIOPIAN VIEWS ON AU CHAIRMANSHIP VOTE”, is telling of the minority regime and its cadre’s attitudes towards the Sudanese leadership:

“…Minister Tekeda highlighted that while Ethiopia believed selecting Sudanese President Bashir as African Union Assembly Chair was not desirable for the AU, Ethiopia could not openly oppose Bashir’s candidacy for fear of alienating pro-Ethiopian elements within the GOS, which would thus drive Sudan closer to Eritrea… Ethiopia recognized that a Bashir chairmanship would leave the AU “paralyzed for a year”…”Don’t take our reticence as evidence of support” for Bashir, Tekeda said…”

The various comments made by Ethiopian officials about Sudan’s leadership are reflected in Ethiopia ‘s Deputy Foreign Minister Tekeda Alemu’s statements found in another cable. The 5 February 2008 cable said:

“…Tekeda stated that the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and Sudan was improving, although he characterized the relationship as more of a “love-hate” affair…”

During his 6-hour long meeting with UN Ambassador Susan E. Rice on 16 May 2009, Meles opined about all the countries in the region and also on Sudan . Here is what he told his American confidante:

“…Meles has consistently stated that instability in Sudan poses major threat to Ethiopia ‘s security. Noting the corruption within the Bashir regime, Meles said Sudan and Ethiopia have an understanding that Ethiopia and Sudan will not challenge each other nor interfere in each other’s internal stability. Meles noted, however, that Sudan could deteriorate into internal conflict… Meles commented that he did not characterize the situation in Darfur as genocide, because genocide depends on “intent.” While Meles recognized the massive human rights abuse in Darfur, he concluded that many of the deaths in Darfur was from starvation…”

Certainly, he cannot possible dare to accuse others of genocide knowing his massacres in the Gambela, Ogaden and Oromia regions are far worse than anything in Sudan.

Meles Zenawi is found giving his advice to US officials on options in the Sudan . According to a 2009 cable[4]:

“…Meles offered that if he were the United States, he would look at two options. First, which he clearly conveyed as the preferred choice, would be to “remove the Bashir regime.” Acknowledging that such an option was unlikely, Meles advocated for making a clear representation to the GoS that the United States is not/not “out to get them”…Meles concluded the discussion by highlighting that “they don’t trust the Obama Administration,” and “they trust the Obama Administration less than the Bush Administration,” and with a clear reference to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and former Senior NSC Director for Africa Gayle Smith “…especially some friends of mine…”

So much for Bashir…but if the South Sudanese think they are immune, the cables will provide them with a very rude awakening. According to a 11 November 2009 cable[5], Special Envoy Scott Gration met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in Addis Ababa for 90 minutes on the evening of 30 October 2009. The cable said:

“…Meles said a way has to be found to address SPLM fears that have arisen from their own ineffectiveness. Ultimately, he said, “you have to make their decisions for them.” Shortley said that the S/E’s negotiations with the NCP are often frustrating in that the Sudanese “want the carrots up front and the U.S. can’t do that.” Meles replied that “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” suggesting that the African Union might prove useful in this regard. He said the NCP had taken in recent years to hiding behind the AU because the U.S. position was not seen as productive. With the U.S. policy shift, he said the AU might now actively promote new ideas — such as compromise on an election law — as they emerge, effectively “providing the U.S. cover like IGAD did when the CPA was being negotiated…”

The cables show how Ethiopia , while backstabbing the Sudanese leadership on the one hand, was using them [their silence] to advance his illicit agendas against the State of Eritrea. The above conversation with the Scott Gration took place about a month before the US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions resolution 1907 (2009) was adopted by the Security Council. The two Sudan ‘s were also paraded via video conference on 5 December 2010, representing IGAD in Susan E. Rice’s and Meles Zenawi’s orchestrated drama.

But when it comes to outright insults on the leadership of the SPLM, the Djiboutian Foreign Minister takes the cake. According to the cable[6] visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Vicki Huddleston [former Charge D’Affaires in Ethiopia ] met on 15 June 2009 with Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Youssouf.

“…He asserted that some European powers (NFI), influenced by business interests, appeared to favor a split of the south from the north. The situation in the south is complicated by an “intricate tribal problem.” Youssouf lamented that First Vice President Salva Kiir has proven to be merely an “executive,” not a “leader.” At this delicate time in South Sudan , ” a leader is missing…”

The leadership in Djibouti that has compromised the long term interests of the people of Djibouti by parroting the mercenary minority regime’s diatribes against the State of Eritrea and its people, a regime that has stooped so low as to become obedient errand boys for Susan E. Rice and Meles Zenawi in forums such as the UNHCR and the Security Council, does not have the moral or legal high ground to talk about the new South Sudanese leadership.

Providing the “African Face” for US agendas disguised as “African Initiatives”, Djibouti is one of the regimes who make up what the US has called the “African Bloc”, regime that have served as instruments for the Obama Administration’s racist, incoherent and dangerous agendas in the Horn of Africa in general and vis a vis Eritrea in particular. Despite the “diplomatic” statements and long winded articles that are churned out daily by the minority regime’s “news outlets”, it is the Wikileak cables that provide the true picture of the regime, its inferiority complex, its crab mentality and its backroom shenanigans, backstabbing, lies and deceptions.

As someone who has read over 2000 cables from Asmara, the Eritrean capital, and thousands more from Addis Ababa, Djibouti, Nairobi, Kampala and more…and as an Eritrean American, I am proud to note that readers will be hard pressed to find a single cable that points to H. E. President Isaias Afwerki, or any members of his government engaging in such despicable, dishonorable and shameful actions against fellow Africans. As a matter of fact, the President of Eritrea abhors gossip and double speaks and is known for being honest and straightforward. Reading what passes for “diplomatic victory” in the eyes of the leaders of the region and their handlers is a testament to his upstanding statesmanship and self-respecting leadership.

Allow me to end with this, the eloquent 10-page November 2008 letter to Zimbabwe ‘s Morgan Tsvangarai (Movement for Democratic Change-MDC) written by Thabo Mbeki , South Africa ‘s former President. In his letter, Mbeki seemed to touch on the key principles of Pax Africana, of the Bantu’s idea of Obuntu, which relates to people’s allegiances and relations with each other, Tanzania’s Ujamaa a principle of family-hood and self reliance, Amana, a Hausa concept of faith, trust and honesty, and Eritrea’s “Nakfa Principles” of self reliance, handwork, and determination, and a sense of brotherhood, principles that are missing in African politics of late.

Through his letter, Thabo Mbeki sought to give the young Tsvangarai, a bit of elderly advice. Suffice it to quote a few phrases from that infamous letter[7]:

“…It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe , believing that others further away, in western Europe and North America , are of greater importance…”

“…Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the countries of western Europe and North America, and therefore secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbours…”

“…Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to
solve the problems of Zimbabwe …”

Much the same could be said to the Horn leaders who have sold their souls to the highest bidders, and who probably feel their “skirted friends” in the US Administration will save their beleaguered regimes from the wrath of their own suffering and angry populations.

As the Summit progresses and a new leadership is chosen, those gathered in Addis Ababa, who represent over a billion Africans, are once again reminded that they have a historical responsibility to uphold the tenets of the AU Charter and do what is right for the people of Africa. The African Union’s noble founding principles should not continue to be hijacked by a few mercenary African regimes, such as the minority regime in Ethiopia . These disgraceful regimes should not be allowed to turn the continental organization into the handmaiden for Pax Americana…!

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!
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[1] accessed 4 July 2012
[2] accessed 4 July 201
[3] accessed 4 July 2012
[4] accessed 4 July 2012 [5] accessed 4 July 2012[6] accessed 4 July 2012 [7] accessed 30 May 2012
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