The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia

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But the real Achilles heel of the Ethiopian revolution is the national question. The fruits of the Ethiopian revolution are being squandered by the Dergue in the colonial war against Eritrea. The political and economic tasks associated with the consolidation of the democratic revolution and a transition to socialism are incompatible with the national policy of the Dergue. The international realignment of the Dergue is no proof of its socialist character. It does not even guarantee that it will be a stable anti-imperialist force. In , well after it had carried out its radical democratic program of land reform and nationalizations, following the failure of the of offensive against Eritrea, the Dergue turned to US imperialism and Zionism for aid.

The US responded by providing the largest dollar amount of weaponry in its 24 years of aiding Ethiopia, including F-5 starfighters and M tanks. Israel trained a 20, man elite unit for anti-guerrilla war known as the Flame Brigade. The Soviets also provided 1, advisors. Three months later the Dergue broke off ties with the US and formally aligned itself with the Soviet camp. But both Washington and Addis Ababa appear to be keeping their options open.

The Agency for International Development continues to give grants to Ethiopia. At least as of last year Israeli personnel was still involved in training Ethiopian troops. The Dergue thus does not appear to have irrevocably severed its ties with imperialism and it is certainly not inconceivable that at some future point it could reverse its international alignment. A failure to carry through the tasks of the democratic revolution makes such a possibility all that much more likely. If the Dergue is neither M-L or fascist, then what exactly is it? These regimes represent a bureaucratic and military strata of the petty bourgeoisie whose aspirations are circumscribed by imperialist domination.

In the absence of an organized worker peasant alliance with proletarian leadership, these forces dominate the anti-imperialist struggle. While such forces have begun the democratic revolution, none have successfully effected a transition to socialism. Ethiopia under the Dergue appears to have much in common with Egypt under Nasser. Both countries carried through real but partial social revolutions. Both regimes suppressed their left opposition and monopolized power in the hands of a bureaucratic-military elite.

Both countries aligned themselves with the Soviet Union and adopted a general anti-imperialist stance.

European Imperialism - Islamic Studies - Oxford Bibliographies

The fate of Egypt after Nasser illustrates the instability of these formations, their vulnerability to renewed imperialist penetration. The other central question in relation to the present crisis in the Horn is the nature of the Eritrean national movement. It might be one thing if the Dergue opposed secession while recognizing the right of Eritreans to secede. We would have thought that the question of secession was up to the Eritreans to decide. The Dergue and even some of its left critics see the Eritrean question as the problem of an oppressed nationality within Ethiopia and belittle the Eritrean claims to.

But the facts do not support such an argument. Prior to the occupation of Eritrea by Italy towards the end of the 19th century, Eritrea had known invasion and partition by many conquerors and had enjoyed only brief periods of relative independence. Like Ethiopia, Eritrea was not and is not a homogeneous nation but a country with many nationalities, languages and religious groups. It was the colonization of Eritrea by Italy which created the modern political and territorial entity of Eritrea. The experience and resistance to colonialism shaped the national consciousness of the Eritrean people.

Early in its existence the OAU agreed that borders inherited from colonialism must be maintained. Imperialism has exploited secessionist movements, as in Katanga and Biafra, and thus the OAU policy has the support of progressive as well as neo-colonial African states. This is why Ethiopia had almost unanimous support in the Ogaden war with Somalia. But Eritrea is not the Ogaden. Eritrea was a distinct colony, first of Italy, and after World War 2 of Britain.

The forcible merger of Eritrea some 26 years ago with Ethiopia was done under the auspices of the UN with the backing of western imperialism. The nearest thing to an analogy in Africa is the case of Namibia. The former German colony of Southwest Africa is now forcibly held by South Africa which gained control of it by being designated trustee by the League of Nations. The final argument of the Dergue and its supporters is that the Eritrean national movement is a pawn of imperialism and Arab reaction. According to a number of correspondents, the State Department is considering backing Eritrean independence as well.

Clearly this support is based on preventing the development of further Soviet influence and protecting the joint interests of the oil sheiks and US imperialism. But on closer examination, this argument is not so compelling after all. The character of the Eritrean Liberation Movement itself must be taken into account. The armed struggle was launched against Ethiopia by the ELF in The ELF was dominated by bourgeois nationalist elements who subordinated the armed struggle to diplomatic maneuvers, failed to fully mobilize the masses, and played down the class struggle.

As a result the movement made only limited gains. The ELF sought to crush its rival, resulting in a civil war which lasted until Since then there has been a cease fire and limited cooperation between the two groups.

Carter’s Twisting African Policy

Recently an agreement was reached calling for the eventual merger of the fronts. This is to be a protracted process to allow for ironing out the major differences between the two. The EPLF calls for a policy of self-reliance. It does not seek or accept aid from the reactionary Arab bloc or the imperialists.

It seeks to develop support from anti-imperialist forces. Only the PLO and the Polisario Liberation Fronts among anti-imperialist forces actively back Eritrea, but neither provides economic or military aid.

International and Regional Politics/Developments

Thus the reactionary forces have not backed the whole liberation movement, but only those sections which they consider reliable allies who would insure that an independent Eritrea would not be a threat to their interests. But by the end of the 90s, after the fall of Stalinism, he was no longer a useful element for imperialism. This was yet another case of a puppet of Western imperialism turning against his masters.

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His corruption had became an obstacle for an efficient exploitation of the country's natural resources on the part of US and Canadian companies. The final straw for him came when in the Summer of Mobutu tried to use the race card to prop up his regime and decided to expel the Banyamulenge Tutsis from Eastern Zaire with the excuse that they were 'foreigners'. Kabila, a former 'Marxist' guerrilla who had been fighting Mobutu since he first came to power in the 60s became its public figure.

One of the first consequences of the rebellion was to break the Hutu militia domination over the refugee camps, thus pushing the refugees back to Rwanda.

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  • The Interahamwe genocidal militias fled, some to as far away as Congo-Brazzaville, some to the Central African Republic, some deep into the Zairea jungle. The main aim of Rwanda had been accomplished and in the process many of the Hutu refugees were also massacred , but the rebellion took on a momentum of its own as Mobutu's army, unpaid, unfed and demoralised, seemed to be collapsing at the mere sight of the advancing ADFL forces.

    After the fall of Stalinism, Angola abandoned any pretence of socialism and embraced the 'free market' economy. But the UNITA rebels wanted to keep their lucrative control over the Angolan diamond mines on the Zairea border, despite having put their signature to a democratic transition with Dos Santos. The US and Canadian mining corporations bankrolled Kabila, as Mobutu's corruption had become too much for the normal running of a capitalist corporation. Finally, Washington also supported the ADFL thinking they could place a more reliable government in place in Zaire, under the control of its local allies, Uganda and Rwanda.

    In the short space of eight months the ADFL crossed a country as big as the whole of Western Europe and were welcomed by the masses, relieved after years of oppression under Mobutu. Therefore, when Kabila took control of Kinshasa in May and changed the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of Congo, he did it as the head of a very unstable coalition of groups with different interests and agendas. The fact that his main backers were Ugandan and Rwandan troops presented him as an agent of foreign powers in the eyes of the masses.

    Washington and the other imperialist powers showed very little interest in giving any aid to the new regime, which had inherited a country bled dry by more than 30 years of corruption and plunder by the West and its local agent Mobutu. Also, as the Wall Street Journal noted on August 5th that Kabila "has alienated potential foreign investors, especially the crucial mining sector, by making deals and then breaking them. A report in mid-July said that all economic indicators, including mineral production, were down, and there had been virtually no new foreign investment since Kabila came to power.

    The world market for minerals is already saturated and the prices have gone down very rapidly. Therefore the exploitation of the Congolese mines is not that necessary and could even damage the interests of the mining companies by further increasing overproduction. Having exploited the country's resources for decades, they are now quite prepared to let the mines lay idle. Kabila managed to alienate Washington also in relation to his foreign policy, by establishing links with and visiting Cuba and China where he praised China's model of economic development.

    Added to this was the fact that the regime had failed to put an end to the activities of different guerrilla groups still operating from Eastern Congo against Rwanda and Uganda. Kabila, in an attempt to gain popular support replaced most of the Rwandan officers in the army and the government by people from the Katanga province where he is from , many of them from his own family.

    At the same time, the Congolese Tutsis and their Rwandan backers started to consider the new regime as unreliable and started to plot a coup to replace Kabila with a more reliable ruler. A number of other elements in the ADFL including its leader and state minister Deogratias Bugera had also been removed and some even jailed by Kabila and were accumulating grievances against him.

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    France had also been helping out the ousted Mobutu generals to reorganise, with the help of some South African mercenary groups linked to the former apartheid regime. All these forces united in a marriage of convenience against the Kabila regime. At the end of July, Kabila ordered the withdrawal of the remaining Rwandan troops from the country and this was the signal for all these discontented forces to organise a coup. On August 2nd a number of army commanders from mainly Tutsi Banyamulenge units in Kivu mutinied and in a matter of days took control of most of Eastern Zaire.

    They had the support of Rwanda and Uganda and had been given the green light by Washington and Paris, although all these countries tried to deny their involvement. Shortly afterwards the rebels were airlifted to Kitona South Western Congo , at the opposite side of the country. There they were joined by some 30, soldiers of the former Mobutu army and managed to take the key dam of Inga which supplies water and electricity to Kinshasa DR of Congo capital and most of the mineral rich Southern Congo provinces.

    It looked like the fall of Kinshasa was just a matter of days.

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    The rebels were just a few miles away from the capital. Completely isolated and about to lose control of the country Kabila decided to play the race card. Congo's state radio repeatedly broadcast appeals to use "a machete, a spear, an arrow, a hoe, spades, rakes, nails, truncheons, electric irons, barbed wire, stones Meanwhile, there were reports of massacres of the local population in Eastern Zaire by the Tutsi rebel forces Congolese and Rwandan , adding to the poisonous atmosphere of ethnic hatred. This was mixed with a nationalist and anti-imperialist feeling on the part of the masses which allowed the regime to resist until a few weeks later, on August 22nd, the intervention of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia on Kabila's side, completely changed the course of the conflict. By August 28th, the mutineers had been defeated in the west.

    What led these countries to take sides in the Congo war? But money is not the only reason.

    The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia
    The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia
    The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia
    The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia
    The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia

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