SUFFERING a decisive and humiliating defeat at the hands of the Afghan people has in no way diminished British imperialism’s appetite for military adventures designed to re-colonise the world, in this case West Africa.
Indeed, according to a report yesterday from the influential Foreign Affairs Committee of MPs, the forced withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan should be seen by the government not as a defeat but as an opportunity – freeing up the armed forces to engage in another bloody imperialist adventure, this time in Sahel-Saharan countries of west Africa.
This encompasses the Sahel region that runs along the south of the Sahara Desert and the western Sahel-Sahara region which includes Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad – the latter two countries bordering oil-rich Libya where imperialism is having trouble with its terrorists, who overthrew Gadaffi with more than a little help from NATO, but are now completely out of control and interfering with the flow of oil to the West.
According to this committee, the UK needs a ‘bigger footprint’ in the region in order to fight ‘extremism’ which, these MPs claim, is the ‘new frontline of violent extremism’.
The Sahel-Saharan countries are now following in the footsteps of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, amongst others, to be designated by western imperialism as the new frontline for a war of aggression and conquest.
The report utilises all the well-tried formulas employed in the past to prepare for full-scale military intervention, with the committee chairman Sir Richard Ottaway saying that Britain should ‘help build indigenous security capacity’, while noting that, ‘The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan provides an opportunity to increase the number of British military training missions in the region.’
He added: ‘A powerful threat from extremism remains throughout the region with no sign yet that African countries would be able to deal with future crises on their own.’
Every imperialist military intervention, including the Vietnam war, has started out with ‘military advisors’ and ‘training missions’, and the latest plans for this region – which comprises Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso – are following this well-trod path.
The committee’s report was greeted with enthusiasm by Cameron and the coalition government, with a Foreign Office spokesman saying that they agreed with its analysis that ‘disengagement from this region would carry long-term risks for the UK’.
This is not surprising as, just over a year ago, Cameron issued a statement in support of the French military offensive in Mali, making it clear that it represented a full-on escalation of military intervention throughout west Africa and beyond by imperialism.
Cameron said: ‘This is a global threat and it will require a global response…that is about years, even decades, rather than months.’
At the same time, the French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, spelt out exactly what French aims were: he defined them as ‘the total re-conquest of the country’.
A re-conquest of Mali has nothing to do with any ‘global war against terror’ and everything to do with safeguarding the financial and economic interests of France in Mali and other countries of the region.
The intention of Western imperialism is nothing short of restoring the power of imperialism in West and North Africa, including Nigeria and Libya, both because of its strategic importance and its mineral and oil wealth.
Driven by the world crisis of capitalism, imperialism is lurching from one defeated military adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq into yet another attempt to re-colonise the world, regardless of the millions of lives that will inevitably be lost in the course of these wars.
The cost in human lives is matched by the financial costs of these wars. In May 2013, it was calculated that the cost to Britain for the Afghan war alone stood at £37 billion – the equivalent of £2,000 per household. This money was raised by the government through its campaign of austerity cuts to workers’ pay, welfare and the NHS.
When Cameron promises permanent austerity for the working class, it is going hand-in-hand with permanent war against the people of the world.
The working class must reject permanent war and permanent austerity by organising a general strike to bring down this government and bring in a workers’ government to put an end to imperialism.