The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A.
Question: On 23rd Vedember, 2008, it was announced in Konakari, the capital of Guinea that ceratin armed forces divisions rebelled within four hours after the death of Guinean President General President Lansana Conte. The following day, the rebels announced formation of a consultative council under the name National Council for Development and Democracy. It was also announced that the military officer who made the announcements, Captain Moussa Camara will head the council. At its inception, the revolution was was opposed by the prime minister who was supported by the chief of staff who called on the rebels to be loyal to the government...but the prome minister surrendered to the revolutionaries within three days!
What is the reality? Is it a local matter where the revolutionaries seized the oppurtunity of the president’s death or does it have regional and global ramifications?
Answer: If we observe the events as well as the global views expressed in the wake of the coup, it becomes evident that the global conflict is not unrelated to the events of this revolution. And to better comprehend this, let us consider the following:
1. The chief of the rebel forces, Captain Moussa Dadis Camarra announced on behalf of the rebels that they do not intend to say in power for more than two years until they hold presidential elections by the end of the year 2010. (BBC 24th December, 2008). He also mentioned that the underlying causes for the coup were that the democratic institutions in the country had failed to tackle the crisis, hence the constitution will be under suspension from now on as well as all political and trade union activity will cease. He futher added: “The country faces acute frustration and it is absolutely necessary to stop corruption and improve the economy.“ (BBC 24th December, 2008). This suggests that the coup was not a result of the situation arising from the death of the republic’s president but was pre-planned. The coup did not result out in a mmtter of 4 hours after the death of their president. Pertinently, this coup leader had earlier attempted coups and the most recent attempt being in the month of May this year itself.
2. As for the international reactions, the first reaction came from France which is considered to be influential in its former colony of Guinea. The French reation was: “France said that it will resist any coup attempt.“ (BBC: 23rd December, 2008). The French foreign ministry spkesman Eric Chevallier told a press conference: “We will not tolerate aby situation where the Constitution is not honoured.“ He added: “It appears that the legitimate authorities are in control in the country presently and the claims are not substantiated.“(BBC 23rd December, 2008). It ppears from these statements that France is concerned about the success of the rebels and rejects their actions, it eben said that it will oppose and reisist them! The french newspapers attacked and criticised the rebels, some newspapers even rediculed them like the Le Figaro which said: “The Guinean soldiers who roam the streets of Conakry have placed an obscure person who earlier headed their fire department as the head of their country“!
3. As for the United States, the White House spokesman Tony Frato said: “We are working with our partners in the regionas well as other countries and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in order to encourage institutions in Guinea to take all necessary steps for a peaceful and democratic transition in Guinea.“ He added: “it is evident that the region is disturbed and its history has mostly not known peaceful transitions and democratic authority.“ (al-Jazeerah: 23rd December, 2008). The American statement that it supports a peaceful and democratic transition of authority is a false statement and exploits democracy because it says at the same time that the region has not seen peaceful transitions of authority. This only implies that the only way left is the military coup through which the US can lodge its own people in authority...!
The American statement also suggests that the US is satisfied with the events and even sipports them in a way. However the US cannot back the rebels openly beacuse it claims to be a champion of the democratic process and peaceful transitions. But it is also known that America disregrads these values where its own interests are at stake.
America’s satisfaction at the events and its implied support is also evident from the statement of the State Department’s spokesman Robert Wood who told the US radio that the US wants Guinea to return to civil democratic rule immedeately. He said that America is deeply concerned about the absence of any cilvilians in the current stage of transition of power in Guinea and that America has not taken any decision with regard to the coup in Guinea and in the process of consultations with its allies to take a coordinated stand on the issue (25th December, 2008). The staments of the US official spokesman suggest that the US is itself not against the coup, rather it supports it in a way,because the stament spoke of the US concern about the absence of civilians in the transition and not about America’s concern at the coup itself. Also his statement that the US has not taken an official decision yet, implies that it supports the coup but is waiting for an opportune time to announce the same. If the coup had been against its interests, it would have mobilised the world and would not have been sitting quietly as it always does in the face of such coups that are against its interests. Add to this the fact that America itself had earlier calledfor elections in the month of May next. (al-Jazeerah: 26th December, 2008). This implies America support to the coup.
4. As for Britain, it‘s radio while reporting the events, commented on 24th December, 2008: “The split (in the Guinean armed forces) perhaps points to the ethinic diviion in the forces and in the country.“ The radio added: “This will affect the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast.“ It also added: “Observers have stressed that these events will adveresly affect the neighbouring countries like Soerra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast who have of late enjoyed relative stability after years of conflict. The comments also made a reference to the coup leader and quoted his comrades saying that he was not a bright student. This suggests that the British are not happy with the coup and realise that it is not in their interest and will adversely affect the region. They also relaise that it is not in the European Union’s interests or elsi thay would state that it has ethnic coonotations and tht it will adveresely affect the neighbouring countries.
5. Late night on 24th December, 2008 the hed of the rebels Mousssa Camarra announced himself to be the head of the state and said: “I am satisfied, and I want to stress that I am the head of the republic and chief of the National Council for Development and Democracy. The prime minister Ahmed Teejan Sawari refuted him in a statement to the French international radio saying that his government continues to be in office and will remain in authority during the transition phase. (al-Jazeerah: 25th December, 2008). Sources also said that the chief of staff of the armed forces Diara Camarra tried to discuss with the rebels to convince them to respect the donstitutional process which calls ofr the president of the national parliament to become the interim president of the country. This means that there are two conflicting parties; one is headed by the coup leader Moussa Dadis Camarra and the other by the chief of staff who is backed by prime minister and the parliament. The coup leader hurriedly anounced himself to be the president of the republic to preempt others from jumping to power, like the chief of the armed foces staff for instance and to prevent the speaker of the parliament from becoming the interim president. It may be mentioned that the late president Lansana Conte had himself come to power through a military coip in the year 1984 within a week of the death of the then president Ahmed Sekou Toure.
6. From these, it is evident that:
The events come within the purview of a global conflict between America on one hand and Europe, especially France and Britain on the other and that the US is backing and supporting the rebels, while France and Britain are against the coup because it adversely affects their interests in West Africa snce the US has been successful on Conakry Guinea.
7. This was with regard to the events as seen from a global perspective.
As for the surrender of the prime minister to the rebels after having announced his opposition to them, the reality of the matter is as follows:
A. Indeed, Ahmed Teejan Sawari and his 30 ministers surrendered to the rebels and announced their loyalty to the coup leader saying: “We thank you and place ourselves at your disposal.“ (al-Jazeerah: 26th December, 2008). He also praised the coup leader as a wise person. (CNN 26th December, 2008). The Prime Minister Ahmed Sawari had initially oppised the rebels and the armed forces chief of staff Diara Camarra had announced his support to the prime minister and declared him as the representatative of the republic as well as demanded that rebels surrender themselves. Now with the prime minister himself surrendering to the coup leaders implies that the rebels have seized control over the affairs.
B. On the other hand, it also implies that France and Britain have realised that the coup has been successful or appears to be so and that their opposition would be in vain. They appear to have accepted America’supperhand in return for a pardon for the prime minister and the chief of staff surrendering to the rebels.this is as if Britain and France have secured their interest in Guinea and the American interests have vome to occupy a place of prominence. This itself amounts to surrender.
8. It is known that George Bush had in his last tour of the region where he visited 5 countries in February this year including West Africa.This signifies that America gives priority to West Africa in its attempt to consolidate its influence in the entire African continent. We may recall the statement of Geroge Bush who had said: “Africa is extremely important in the US strategy and the situation in Africa has a direct influence in the security of America itself.“(Chinese People’s Newspaper: 25th February, 2008). His statement clearly describes the Africn issue as vital to American interests when he said that they have a direct bearing on the security of the US! This was as if he regarded the entire south eastern Atlantic belt, i.e. the West African region and the regions to its east as an internal matter of the United States under the Monroe Doctrine which considered the entire south eastern Atlantic belt, i.e. the West African region and the regions to its east as a vital issue for America. And that any hostility towards it implies a direct threat to the US. Bush’s stand is similar to the views of James Monroe vis a vis his rival European colonialists.
Africa has emormous natural resources including hige oil reserves which are very tempting for this Big Brother of the western colonialists! It has been reported in the Al Ahram international report published on 16th June, 2007 that the US National Council estimates that the Guinean soast will provide the United States about 24 to 25% of its oil imports by the year 2020. The African International Policy Center estimates that by the same year the Guinean oil exports will reach a trillion dollars if the oil prices remain around 50 dollars to a barrel. Guinea is the largest exporter of the raw Aluminium ore called Bauxite and its geographical location is strategically vital along the Atlantic coast from where exports to the US can ne shipped rapidly and more securely than the Middle East which is under threat of falling away from America at the hands of its Muslim people. The cost of shipping from the western Atlantic coast are also going to be cheaper for America due to its proximity and it is expected to transport hige quantities of petrol from the African continent in future if the US maintains its influence in the region.
29th Dhul Hijjah, 1429 A.H
26th December, 2008.