Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Who Is Winning In The New Scramble For Africa


As the internecine conflict in Sudan morphs into Africa's latest humanitarian crisis people in the compassion fatigued west heave a weary sigh and get ready to reach into their pockets, wall;ets and bank accounts once more as heart rending stories images of suffering and deprivation flood our media. 

Reports of violence breaking out in Africa rarely raise eyebrows in the West these days. chances are the conflics seem far away both geographically and culturally to us and so we feel it has little to do with us, whatever 'progressives' and the woke brigade may deem the West’s historical responsibilities for the continent’s problems may be. But as the recent events in Sudan demonstrate, this is no longer the case. The turmoil unfolding there is of far more importance to us in a geopolitical sense than most previous ones.

While the fighting in Sudan is, on the face of it, little more than a power struggle between the two rival factions for control of the country, there is also an important international economic dimension to this conflict. At its heart is competition between the great powers for influence over the continent — what has been elsewhere been called the “new scramble for Africa”.

In view of Africa's its vast natural resources, including gold, its agricultural potential and its geopolitically strategic location, Sudan has long attracted regional and international power plays. In recent years, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel have all been cultivating economic and political ties with the country’s leadership  an,d its two warlords in particular.

Russia, however, stands out for its “special relationship” with Sudan. Putin made sure to cultivate an alliance with the country’s former leader, Omar al-Bashir, deploying the infamous Wagner Group in 2017 to provide him with political and military support. More importantly, that same year, al-Bashir signed a military cooperation agreement with Russia which included allowing the Russians to establish a military base along the Red Sea, ensuring a permanent presence for the Russian Navy in a crucial region and easy access to the Indian Ocean.

Al Bashir was overthrown in 2019 but Putin shrewdly switched his support to Sudan's new military leaders and continue to advance Russia's economic and political interests in the region. When considered in the context of China's expansion of commercial and political influence in Africa and other parts of the developing world, and the efforts of Saudi Arabia and Iran to promote their different brands of Islamism, the current conflict in Ukraine can be seen from a different angle, not so much a local conflict as part of a bigger face off between proponents of a monopolar world led by the USA and a multipolar world with economic and military power centred in the east rather than the west.

Africa, South America and parts of Asia have been the scene of Western (more recently US) political and economic meddling and manipulation for generations and the results haven’t always been pretty for the locals as Washington has systematically used the status of the US$ to crush other economic powers. Awkward questions have often been fobbed off with “He may be a tin-pot dictator but he’s our tin-pot dictator”

Is it surprising or disappointing to see that Russia and China can and do play the same game and have been doing it for years. While westrern governments have been pandering to the wimpish bleatings of extremist left wing minorities and pumping aid into African and other impoverished regions the Russians and Chinese have been making deals that benefitted their own interests as much as the places their investments helped develop. 

 Does anyone still think that nothing happens in Africa unless the US signs off on it? The West is fully engaged in using the cult of climate hysteria to solidify central planning political power. Much of the “science” has been either questioned or de-bunked entirely yet the propaganda and witch-hunts continue apace. It is China and Russia that are securing the supplies of natural resources essential to implement Western eco-diktats like Net-Zero. Are those deals fair and equitable? Probably not. Are they debt traps? Probably. But these deals are getting done and the Belts and Roads are actually being built.

Conversely, I invite you to behold Canada’s narcissistic sock model Trudeau. Canada just guaranteed Volkswagen $13B in subsidies for an EV battery plant. That announcement follows the uncharacteristically frank statement by Trudeau that Canada will probably never meet its NATO spending commitment (he’s somewhat less frank about admitting Canada hasn’t met any emissions targets). He was recently in New York crowing about this deal. The deal is secret (of course) but Trudeau claims Canada is such a wonderful place to do business that VW actually turned down more money from the US (Translation: Canada has made concessions that even the US wouldn’t consider). Meanwhile Canada has large lithium deposits that will endure years of regulatory reviews and court challenges before they ever see the light of day.

Clearly, Canada is not a global player but IMO this sort of reality-defying pretzel logic is indicative of Western leadership right now and clearly the BRICS + countries are taking advantage of it.





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