Dr. Gary K. Busch
The Western powers, egged on by France, are calling for a military intervention in the Ivory Coast to solve a political impasse over the race for the Presidency there. The racist and patronising overtones of this policy will not be missed in Asia and Africa. On the 19th of December there was an ‘election’ in Belarus. The President jailed four of the candidates before the vote and his troops were openly involved in the beatings and arrests of scores of opposition candidates, pro-democracy demonstrators and bystanders after the presidential elections. The European Union cannot even agree to apply sanctions against Belarus despite their observers testifying to the abuses and jailings. The U.S has done virtually nothing about this. It is business as usual. This arrogance in the West mirrors its attitude towards other African elections, which have been every bit as conflicted as that in the Ivory Coast, as African ‘Presidents-for-Life’ sought to avoid term limits imposed by their constitutions. It is a holdover of the general contempt expressed by the West for Africans and African institutions.
The West’s attitudes and posturing mask a self-imposed ignorance of the facts and a rejection of any truth which interferes with their preconceived prejudices. They praise and promote Allasane Ouattaara without recognising that he was the “Father of the Rebellion”, which plunged the democratic state of the Ivory Coast into chaos as mercenaries and dismissed soldiers took the French shilling to fight a civil war against Gbagbo and his elected government. He has continued to support the rebels since 2002 and was joined in his rebellious actions by Henri Bedie (Ouattara’s old enemy) in pushing for the rights of the rebels. In other any country of the world this type of activity would be condemned as treason and these traitors and their followers would have been strung up from the nearest tree.
When, in 2002, this band of mercenaries and dismissed soldiers faced the Ivoirian Army they were driven back to Bouake. They were on the path to surrender when the French demanded a 48-hour cessation of hostilities to evacuate the civilians. In that 48-hour interval the French dropped paratroopers into Bouake who stood beside the rebel soldiers so that the Ivoirian Army couldn’t extinguish the rebellion. For four days after that, Burkina Faso sent truckload after truckload of soldiers down to assist in Bouake and weapons and mercenaries arrived from Nimba County in Liberia to augment the rebel ranks. The French saved the rebels.
In all the accords which followed at Linas-Marcoussis, Accra, Pretoria and Ouagadougou there was one common element. The rebels were told to disarm. They refused and still refuse. They are sure their aggression gives them the right to decide who runs the country. There is an important principle in international law “Ex Injuria Jus Non Oritur” which states that a party cannot create legal rights for itself by virtue of an act of aggression or injury that it has committed. This was a topic hotly debated within the UN in relation to resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003 (on the question of Iraq). There are other legal questions which arise, especially the “Erga Omnes” dictum encapsulated in the Barcelona Traction Case of 1970, which outlaws acts of aggression and genocide and emphasises the obligations of the international community to protect the human rights of those aggressed against.
In short, the rebels have no rights under the Ivory Coast Constitution. They have acted to destroy the institutions of the State. As such, they do not have rights under Linas-Marcoussis, although they accrued obligations to work towards the restoration of order. As they had no rights under the Constitution or Linas-Marcoussis, they have no rights under Resolution 1633. They only have obligations; to disarm, return the territory they illegally occupy in the North to a unified Ivory Coast; and to end their rebellion against the state. Using the guidelines of Ex Injuria Jus Non Oritur, they should not pretend to have acquired rights as a result of their aggression.
Even worse, as a compromise made by the legitimate government of the Ivory Coast it was agreed to appoint a Prime Minister from outside the ruling party and to allocate Cabinet seats to various rebel groups. These thugs and tin pot warlords suddenly became Ministers. They demanded chauffeured cars and fat salaries. They did no work. They demanded jobs for their families in the Civil Service. They turned governance into a running comedy. They were protected in this by the ‘international community’ who forgot about disarmament.
When the pressures became too strong the Ivory Coast Government attempted to curtail the wildest excesses of the rebels. In retaliation, the French troops seized the airport; shot down the nation’s air force and attempted to march on the Presidential palace to capture Gbagbo. The citizens of Abidjan rallied at the Hotel Ivoire, empty-handed to try and present the French from attacking the Presidential palace. On November 6, 2004 the French’ Peacekeepers’ opened fire on unarmed Ivoirians from tanks and armoured cars. You can see for yourself in two videos on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9XYgmNlpzo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A4l3xg-jvE. Sixty-four Africans were killed and 1.300 wounded. This was all planned as can be seen by the positioning of snipers in the upper rooms.
A colonel of the Ivorian gendarmerie affirmed that French forces on November 9 fired directly and without warning upon the crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan. Colonel Georges Guiai Bi Poin, who was in charge of a contingent of Ivorian gendarmes dispatched to control the crowd and coordinate with the French troops, says that the order to fire came from the commander of the latter, colonel D’Estremon. Colonel Gaia Bi Poin is quoted saying: “French troops fired directly into the crowd. They opened fire on the orders of their chief Colonel D’Estremon. without warning.” “Not one of my men fired a shot,” he said. “There were no shots from the crowd. None of the demonstrators was armed — not even with sticks, or knives or rocks.”
The commentary from the ‘international community’ was muted and circumspect. Here, a Western country with a seat on the UN Security Council shot down another nation’s air force and slaughtered its citizens in cold blood and there was barely a ripple from Western commentators. Their next step was to demand that the Ivory Coast dissolve its National Assembly. This was a suggestion by Obasanjo of Nigeria. The UN agreed. The Ivoirians resisted and began to confront the UN ‘peacekeepers’. The UN relented.
The question to be asked is how, in the 21st century could such a policy of control be carried out. It was clear that the Ivoirian citizens did not agree to be dominated and murdered by the French and other peacekeepers. The answer is more disturbing and ominous. The rebellion was sustained in the Muslim north of the Ivory Coast by the installation of the UN of almost exclusively Muslim peacekeepers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco and Jordan.
See http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/unoci/resources.shtml (the deployment.pdf) and you will see that the Muslim rebels of the North are hosts to almost exclusively Muslim UN peacekeepers and these same peacekeepers are now in the South as well. The ostensible reason for the rebellion was that Muslims were not being considered equal citizens in the country. This is not a religious issue; it is cultural one as well as presenting a danger from the large groups of radicalised jihadists incorporated in these peacekeeping troops. Fundamentalism is not their only virtue. In addition to the eighteen French peacekeepers who were tried and convicted in French courts for rape, murder, theft, bank robbery and intimidation in the Ivory Coast there were scores of other UN peacekeepers indicted for similar crimes in the Ivory Coast and elsewhere in Africa. In 2003 UN peacekeepers were repatriated for abuse in Burundi; scores of UN troops were censured for sexual abuse in the Sudan; there were even more in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia; and there are similar accusations and trials which were underway in the Ivory Coast. The United Nations is not now, nor has it ever been a neutral presence in the countries in which it operates, nor have they proved themselves to be more than just another army living off the locals with impunity.
As the US former UN representative, John Bolton, queried during the last deployment of troops to Abidjan “Aren’t these peacekeepers the problem, not the solution?” Maybe it is time for the West to review their levels of ignorance and try to establish a rational policy on how to deal with rabble, traitors and mercenaries; not forgetting frustrated colonialists.