As ECOWAS troops entered the Gambia yesterday to depose long-time “strongman” Yahya Jammeh and install the ostensibly “democratically elected” commonwealth-loyal real-estate mogul Adama Barrow one could be forgiven for seeing in this crisis the specter of the 2011 Ivorian crisis, wherein French and comprador troops entered Côte d’Ivoire to depose “strongman” Laurent Gbagbo and install the IMF stooge Alassane Ouattara.
Then as now, the questionable outcome of a corrupt election has led to an imperialist-backed campaign to install the West’s chosen puppet over the BRICS-aligned leader. To the French and their allies, Gbagbo’s greatest crime was his opening the country up to Chinese investment, and Jammeh is in western capital’s sights for the very same reason. Françafrique, the Anglophone sphere and the u.$.-aligned compradors are doing their best to ward off Chinese diplomatic and monetary fingers, but they are losing.
Chinese investment comes with “no strings attached”, as its diplomats love to say, and that is true in the traditional western sense. Chinese aid does not come with stipulations about “free and fair” elections, nor guarantees of “human rights”, but merely that Chinese firms will receive contracts with the aid money to build badly-needed infrastructure—infrastructure necessary for further surplus extraction by Chinese capital. China represents the single-largest export and import market for Afrika, but in recent years imports have far outpaced exports, causing the trade balance to plummet.
For some of Afrika’s largest economies, more than 20% of exports—that is, a sizable chunk of the surplus-value extracted in the export sector—are absorbed by the Chinese economy, and for some it is as high as 70%. The prospect of a more successful, more popular imperialist power in Afrika—not intervening substantially, nor telling its bourgeoisie how to conduct itself, yet still facilitating unequal exchange and capital-export imperialism—is anathema to the western imperialists, whose only reliable tactic—which has met with mixed-to-negative success over the last decade—is to use armed force, such as in the Gambia, or the Ivory Coast or any number of police actions.
But now, with the rise of a BRICS bloc increasingly inoculated against western strong-arm tactics, we may just witness a paradoxical explosion of petulance on the part of the western bloc, if for no other reason than the fact that armed force is virtually all they have left. With China active militarily on the continent (Chinese “peacekeepers” guard the oil fields of S. Sudan, the People’s Liberation Army Navy is constructing a base in Djibouti ostensibly to protect “open trade” from “pirates”) it is clear that, while the u.$. and Europe were busy in the ME and N. Afrika, China was carving out sub-saharan Afrika for itself.
As the BRICS slowly lock out the western imperialists from a swath of world market stretching from the S. China Sea to the Amazon, more and more “gunboat elections” will follow, and the prospect of imperialist war grows more imminent by the day.
It is our duty, however, to remain vigilant, and no matter the blocs or peoples or forces our “own” reactionary imperialist governments come up against, we have but one message for them—hands off Afrika*, hands off Syria, hands off Yemen, hands off Korea, hands off the globe.
*There is not a single country on the Afrikan continent not oppressed by imperialism.