Stephen Zunes : Africa (sub-Saharan)
After much wrangling from the French, the UN Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1495 right on the July 31st deadline for the rollover of the MINURSO peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara. In the best diplomatic tradition, the resolution affirmed the commitment to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, even while it seriously compromised on it by supporting a peace plan that would allow the Moroccan settlers in the territory to vote on independence in five years. As with Israeli settlers on the West Bank, these Moroccan colonists are there in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits countries from transfering their civilian population onto territories seized by military force.
The east African nation of Somalia is being mentioned with increasing frequency as a possible next target in the U.S.-led war against international terrorism. Somalia is a failed state–with what passes for the central government controlling little more than a section of the national capital of Mogadishu, a separatist government in the north, and rival warlords and clan leaders controlling most the remainder of the country. U.S. officials believe that cells of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network may have taken advantage of the absence of governmental authority to set up operation. Before the U.S. attacks that impoverished country, however, it is important to recognize how Somalia became a possible haven for the followers of Osama bin Laden and what might result if America goes to war.
Against enormous odds, non-violent action proved to be a major factor in the downfall of apartheid in South Africa, and the establishment of a democratic black majority government, despite predictions that the transition could come only through a violent revolutionary cataclysm. This was largely the result of conditions working against a successful armed overthrow of the system, combined with the ability of the anti-apartheid opposition to take advantage of the system’s economic dependence on a cooperative black labour force. This article traces the history of nonviolent resistance to apartheid, its initial failures, and the return in the 1980s to a largely non-violent strategy which, together with international sanctions, forced the government to negotiate a peaceful transfer to majority rule.
DESPITE the euphoria resulting from independence in Namibia and prospects for negotiations in South Africa, another conflict in that region continues – and the United States is fanning the flames. The US government continues to arm UNITA, a rebel organization seeking to overthrow the Angolan government.