Africa Confidential, March 2003AFRICA | UNITED NATIONS | IRAQCaught in the crossfire
Africa Confidential's Special Report on Africa/Iraq and the United Nations Security CouncilPrint this special report
The proposed war against Iraq is as unpopular in Africa as it is in
Europe, Asia and the Middle East. African governments, none of whom
except Sudan have close ties with Saddam Hussein's
regime, fear more economic and security problems arising from a new
conflict in the Middle East. Many Muslims in Africa, about half the
continent's people, see a war against Iraq as some sort of attack on
Angola, Cameroon and Guinea
Africa's three non-permanent members of the United Nations Security
Council this year are being wooed energetically by the pro-war (United States and Britain) and anti-war (France, Russia and Germany) factions on the UN Security Council. Alongside Chile, Mexico and Pakistan,
the three African states make up the key 'Undecided Six' that either
faction has to persuade to win the vote. Despite speculation that all
three African states had been persuaded by substantial financial and
diplomatic inducements from Washington, at least outweighing anything
France would offer, we hear that none of the three have signed up
irreversibly to the US/UK position yet.
One problem is that
Africa's own organisations, and those international organisations in
which there is a strong African voice, have passed anti-war
resolutions. African leaders have voted against war on Iraq in four
international organisations this year. And these organisations have
called on Angola, Cameroon and Guinea to vote accordingly on proposed
Security Council resolutions on Iraq. We hear that South African President Thabo Mbeki,
African Union Chairman, has personally telephoned the governments of
all three countries to encourage them to vote according to the AU
The extraordinary meeting of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
on 4 February expressed clear opposition to military action against
Iraq. The AU's central organ for Conflict Prevention, Management and
Resolution stated: 'The Central organ is of the view that a military
confrontation in Iraq would be a destabilising factor in the whole
region and would have far-reaching economic and security consequences
for all the countries of the word, and particularly Africa. The
territorial integrity of Iraq should be respected, all diplomatic means
should be pursued by the international community to ensure that the
Iraqi government complies fully with the provisions of Resolution 1441
and that, in any case, any new decision on the matter should emanate
from the UN Security Council, after a consideration of the final report
of the inspection team.'
The Southern African Development
Community, currently chaired by Angola, has endorsed the AU position.
At the Non Aligned Movement Summit in Malaysia from 20-25
February, its outgoing Chairman, President Mbeki, endorsed the Summit's
resolution on Iraq: that Iraq should disarm in cooperation with UN
weapons inspectors but that no military action should be taken against
Iraq. The new Chairman of NAM, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has written to all the UN Security Council members urging them to vote against military action.
at the Franco-African Summit in Paris on 19-21 February, 41 out of the
42 heads of government or state in attendance backed a French-drafted
statement calling for the UN weapons inspectors to be given more time
in Iraq and that military action should a last resort, undertaken only
with the explicit authorisation of a UN Security Council resolution. Rwanda, whose President Paul Kagame
attended a Franco-African summit for the first time, was the only
country to vote against the statement. President Kagame told
journalists that he opposed the way the statement was introduced at the
conference by French officials and without opportunity for serious
discussion. Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade and Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio
have since expressed reservations on the positions adopted by NAM and
the Franco-African Summit and demanded that greater pressure be put on
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the form of a NAM delegation to Iraq,
calling on him to destroy remaining stocks of chemical and biological
weapons and explain what has been done to the former stocks, said by
Iraqi officials to have been destroyed.
African American activists, including Reverend Jesse Jackson,
have called on Angola, Cameroon and Guinea to oppose military action
against Iraq: 'Africa, in particular, would suffer significantly from
the global consequences of war at a time when Africans are facing the
truly greatest global threat to human security, namely the HIV/AIDS
pandemic,' Jackson said in a letter to the Ambassadors of Angola,
Cameroon and Guinea to the UN.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
said the current negotiations at the UN Security Council would involve
'robust discussion' that is political and economic pressure. 'I'm
willing to speculate that my good friend Dominique de Villepin,
who is currently perambulating around Africa going to Cameroon,
Angola and Guinea, to take three countries at random that in his
perambulations he's not just having café and a little conversation with
those he is meeting. I suspect he is reminding them of their loyalty to
Francophone Africa and how that loyalty can be proved or disproved, '
Straw told the British parliament on 12 March.
African American lobby groups in Washington TransAfrica and Africa
Action have written both to the US and African governments, objecting
to the planned war. In a joint letter to African governments,
TransAfrica and Africa Action said: 'We urgently call upon your
governments to stand firm against the efforts by the US, Britain and Spain
to undermine the work of the UN weapons inspectors now working in Iraq
and to initiate a war against Iraq . . . At least 13 African states
lost 1 per cent of their gross domestic product due to spikes in the
oil prices during the 1991 Gulf War . . . .'
President: Lansana Conté Ambassador to UN: Mamaday Traoré Foreign Minister: François Lonsény Fall
has backed the African Union, Franco-African summit, Non Aligned
Movement and Organisation of Islamic Conference statements on Iraq,
all of which call for more time for United Nations' weapons' inspectors
and oppose use of military force. Conakry's Ambassador to the UN and
current Chairman of the UN Security Council Mamaday Traoré
favours a consensus on the Security Council, and has suggested drawing
up a new resolution with clear benchmarks to measure Iraq's progress on
disarmament. Traoré suggested this to British Ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who drafted a new resolution incorporating such benchmarks in the week ending 15 March.
Guinea has remained studiously neutral on Iraq but the fact that more
than 90 per cent of Guineans are Muslim will feed into the government's
decision making on the issues, as will the substantial amount of
foreign aid to Guinea from oil-rich states in the Middle East. It is
harder to judge how Guinea's current political uncertainties would
affect foreign policy. President Conté is debilitated by diabetes and
there is no clear process for choosing a successor: many believe a
military officer will seize power if the civilian government doesn't
clarify the position. It is assumed however that a military regime
would be closer to Washington and less susceptible to public sentiment
against a war on Iraq.
US Assistant secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner
met with President Conté on 22 February and delivered a US dossier on
the Iraq crisis which hasn't been made public. Kansteiner is said to
have promised continuing education and training programmes for Guinea's
national army. US military aid currently amounts to about US$3 million
to train 800 'rangers'. Guinea's Foreign Minister François Fall met US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on 11 March for closed door discussions.
Also on 22 February, Britain's Minister for Africa and the Commonwealth, Baroness Valerie Amos,
visited Conté in his natal village of Moussayah, 50 kilometres north of
Conakry, and pledged a further US$7 mn. to assist Guinea's management
of refugees fleeing the wars in Côte d'Ivoire and neighbouring Liberia. Britain and Guinea have a common enemy in Liberia's President Charles Taylor, seen by both as a destabilising force in the region. Britain has worked closely with Guinea since it sent troops to Sierra Leone in May 2000 to shore up the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
against rebels of the Liberian-backed Revolutionary United Front.
Britain's military force in Sierra Leone has been reduced to a minimal
protection unit, although its warships periodically patrol the West
African littoral and a company of its Gurkha soldiers landed in Sierra
Leone at the end of February.
American aluminium conglomerate
Alcoa is a major investor in Guinea's bauxite sector but much of the
rest of Guinea's mineral wealth gold, uranium and diamonds has been
barely exploited so far. Guinea also wants to access trade concessions
available under the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Eligibility criteria include several economic policy tests plus an
explicit political measure: beneficiaries should 'not engage in
activities that undermine US national security or foreign policy
interests'. Washington has approved Guinea's eligibility for trade
concessions under the AGOA.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
called on the Guinean government in mid-February and on 11 March to
urge it to maintain support for the French position of allowing UN
weapons inspectors more time to supervise Iraq's purported disarmament.
Paris remains the biggest provider of development aid in the form of
cheap loans and grants to Guinea, amounting to more than Euro 200 mn.
(US$ 205 mn.
Franco-Guinean relations were poisoned in 1958 when French President Charles de Gaulle offered Independence leader Sekou Touré
the choice of joining France's post-colonial African community with a
French franc-linked monetary system or total Independence. Touré chose
the latter stating that he would prefer 'poverty in freedom to riches
in slavery'. On De Gaulle's instructions, French colonial officers then
withdrew all technical officers and shipped out most of Guinea's
non-indigenous technology. Touré then took Guinea into a closer
relationship with the former Soviet Union, distancing Guinea
from both France and the USA. But since the death of Sekou Touré in
March 1984, General Lansana Conté's government has steered a middle
road diplomatically, attempting to maintain good relations with
Washington, Paris and Moscow. Of the three African states, Guinea would
be most likely to abstain if support for a war against Iraq was tested
in the UN Security Council.
President: José Eduardo dos Santos Foreign Minister: João Miranda Ambassador to the UN: Ismael Abraao Gaspar Martins
is inevitable and we're worried about the future of the United Nations
.... we're worried about the aftermath of war but I won't reveal
Angola's position now, ' said Foreign Minister João Miranda after France's Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
visited Luanda on 10 March. He added: 'We are not giving into pressure.
Angola's position is neither closer to the US nor to France. It is
Angola's position. Angola is for peace but the disarmament of Iraq is a primary question.'
Angola's Deputy Foreign Minister George Chicoty
told the UN Security Council on 7 March that: 'The Iraqi authorities
have to allow immediate and unconditional access for the UN inspectors
to pertinent places and information so they can carry on with the
process of verifying the existence of weapons of mass destruction.'
However, Chicoty reminded the Security Council that the African Union
(AU), the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), the Arab League and international
public opinion had serious concerns about the use of force in Iraq and
supported a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
currently President of the Southern African Development Community which
subscribes to the AU position of opposition to a war against Iraq;
later this year Angola will host the AU summit and take over the
chairmanship of the organisation from South Africa. However,
Angola regards itself as a regional rival to South Africa and relations
between the two have been awkward in recent years, with Luanda accusing
South Africa of failing to prevent illegal arms and fuel consignments
to the rebel União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, which finally signed a ceasefire agreement after the assassination of its leader, Jonas Savimbi, in February.
diplomatic strategy cannot be divorced from its mineral reserves, oil,
gas and diamonds. Angola's produces some 920,000 barrels of oil a day,
most of which is exported to the United States and China.
Its oil and gas sector has attracted substantial foreign investment:
the USA's Chevron/Texaco is the biggest foreign investor producing some
63 per cent, France's TotalFinaElf produces some 25 per cent, followed
by the USA's ExxonMobil and Britain's British Petroleum. The
linkage between Angola's oil output and diplomacy is nuanced by
Luanda's national strategy: it is happy to pull in US investment,
technology and customers for its oil industry expansion but wants to
maintain a diversified investment and customer base, which means
keeping ties with France and China. This has made Angola even more
reluctant than Cameroon or Guinea to choose between the USA and France at the UN Security Council.
US Assistant secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner met President José Eduardo dos Santos
on 21 February. US oil imports from Angola of just over half if its
900,000 barrel a day production mean that it is Angola's biggest
trading partner. And with investments by US oil companies Chevron and
ExxonMobil, the US is also the biggest foreign investor in Angola. Last
year the US was also the biggest aid donor, providing some US$128
million of mostly humanitarian relief.
A week before Kansteiner's visit both US President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney
had telephoned President Dos Santos to discuss 'international
developments'. For Angola, the key issues are securing international
support for: (i) a Consultative Group meeting early this year to secure
finance for a post-war recovery programme; (ii) an International
Monetary Fund-monitored reform programme that could make Angola
eligible for low interest credits and substantial relief on its $11
billion foreign debt. But there is no agreement on the conditions for
such a programme: so far IMF strictures on public spending and
accountablity have proved unacceptable to President Dos Santos'
government despite the appointment of some economic reformers in
recent years. Equally Luanda is aware that its plans to hold a
Consultative Group meeting require it to reach some sort of
accommodation with the IMF and World Bank.
Washington might be
able to push forward the schedule for the Consultative Group meeting,
to be held in Brussels. However the Dos Santos government has an
abysmal record on financial accountability; an IMF report leaked last
October described how about $1 bn. a year of Angola's oil revenues was
unaccounted for each year. It will require more than just pressure from
the US Treasury to persuade the IMF Executive to approve new loans and
grants for Angola and endorse its economic reform efforts.
President Dos Santos and his advisors at the Futungo di Belas
(the President's office overrules the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on
the high order diplomatic issues) must decide how to target their
international relations. Relations have improved over the past decade
after Washington finally recognised the Luanda government in 1993. The
message from senior officials in Washington to the Dos Santos
government is that future relations (including aid flows, investment
levels and even oil purchases) will be determined by Luanda's
performance on the Iraq issue.
However some historical baggage
in Washington-Luanda relations has yet to be dealt with. From 1975 to
1990, Washington and South Africa's apartheid government helped finance
Jonas Savimbi's UNITA rebels, who claimed to be fighting for
multi-party democracy and market economics. More than a million
Angolans died in the civil war, which at its peak was killing 1000
people a day. Two of the main US protagonists behind the funding of
UNITA as a bulwark against communism, Vice-President Cheney and
Secretary for Defense Donald Rumsfeld, are today senior figures
in the current US administration and the plan for war against Iraq.
Despite this, some senior US diplomats claimed they had secured
Angola's support in the UN Security Council for the US government's
policy on Iraq.
On 27 February, Britain's Minister for Africa and the Commonwealth, Baroness Valerie Amos,
visited President Dos Santos in Luanda to discuss 'regional issues . .
. and wider international issues, including the situation in Iraq.'
Then on 11 March, Baroness Amos returned to Luanda to meet Foreign
Minister Miranda. Prior to her visit, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
telephoned President Dos Santos to invite him to London for a state
visit this year ahead of scheduled elections. Implied in this
invitation is British support for a Consultative Group meeting on
Angola in the near future.
Foreign Minister De Villepin met with Dos Santos on 9 March to discuss
Angola's stance on Iraq. France's direct development support for Angola
is lower than the US but France's BNP/Paribas is helping to arrange a
$1 bn. oil-backed credit for the Angola government, which currently
faces a chronic shortage of foreign reserves despite the sharp increase
of oil receipts in recent years. France and Germany, like the
USA, are believed to have promised support at the IMF Executive to help
Angola secure an agreement with the IMF and a Consultative group
meeting on poast-war reconstruction.
However, bilateral relations between France and Angola have soured since President Jacques Chirac
state visit to Luanda in June 1998. The main cause was the French
judicial investigation into the Angolagate scandal that implicated
businessmen Pierre Falcone and Arkady Gadymak in a
sanctions-busting oil-for-arms deal in the early 1990s, which accessed
French government credits. When the French investigation was under way,
President Dos Santos unprecedentedly criticised French policy when
receiving the credentials of the French Ambassador to Luanda in 2000.
Since then several efforts have been made quietly to improve relations
including a series of meetings between the respective heads of the
Angolan and French foreign intelligence organisations, General Fernando Garcia Miala and Pierre Brochand.
The apparent stalemating of the investigations into Angolagate in
France may have shored up the Luanda-Paris axis, although French
officials insist that political interference in the issue would be
impossible and unthinkable.
In cost-benefit terms, the US is
more important than France to Angola in investment, trade and
diplomatic weight, even if many in the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola
sympathise with France's anti-war stance. Like others on the Security
Council, Angola is reluctant to make public its preference but, if
pressed, it would lean towards Washington.
President: Paul Biya Foreign Minister: François-Xavier Ngoubeyou Ambassador to the UN: Martin Belinga-Eboutou
Cameroon's position on Iraq, articulated by Yaounde's Ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Belinga-Eboutou,
has been that the UN weapons inspectors should have been allowed time
to complete their mandate and that the use of military force should be
only a last resort. This mirrors the French position almost exactly, which would be likely to be the main external influence on President Paul Biya's decision-making. Biya been fairly inactive in both regional international diplomacy.
US Assistant secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner met President Biya at the end of the Franco African Summit in Paris on 22 February to lobby support for the United States' position on Iraq. Subsequently President George W. Bush telephoned President Biya to reinforce the message. Like Guinea,
Cameroon is eligible for bilateral trade concessions with the USA under
the African Growth Opportunity Act rules, which also stipulate that
participants should not jeopardise Washington's diplomatic and security
interests (which would presumably include voting against US-backed
resolutions in the UN Security Council). US diplomats, we hear, have
been struggling to arrange meetings with Ambassador Belinga-Eboutou at
the UN in recent weeks. Washington has far less sway on aid and trade
with Cameroon, although US-owned Amerada Hess is a growing player in
Cameroon's oil exploration plans and ExxonMobil has the lead contract
on the Chad-Cameroon pipeline. In that project all the oil production is in Chad, which reaps most of the economic benefit.
Britain's Baroness Valerie Amos
called on President Biya in Yaoundé in mid-February and on 11 March
without, we hear, getting assurances of support for the US-UK position
in the UN Security Council. Cameroon is a member, albeit an apparently
unenthusiastic one, of the Commonwealth. The Biya government's record
on tolerating grand corruption and running unfair, unfree elections has
attracted criticism from opposition politicians and non-governmental
organisations question Cameroon's continued eligibility for
continues to enjoy the warmest relations with France. As Cameroon
hosted the last Franco-African summit, President Biya was placed next
to President Jacques Chirac at the consultations and banquet,
reinforcing Biya's caim to be one of the doyens of Africa's club of
Francophone leaders. Biya and Chirac speak regularly on the telephone
and meet at least once a year in Paris. It is almost inconceivable that
Biya would instruct his Ambassador to the UN to vote against France's
position. Although as with Angola and Guinea, France would
perhaps be satisfied with an abstention which would still deny the
US-UK resolution the nine votes required in the Security Council.
is grateful for France's long diplomatic and economic support. Paris
has rebuffed any attempt to censure the Biya government for electoral
irregularities, and also helped to secure substantial debt relief for
Cameroon from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank under the
Heavily-Indebted Poor Country initiative. This is despite HIPC rules
which stipulate that only countries classified as International
Development Association states would be eligible; this should have
ruled out countries classified as poor to middle income, such as
Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire. Paris is also the biggest provider
of aid to Cameroon and plans to increase levels still further over the
next three years. After the chaos and war in Côte d'Ivoire over the
past year, Yaoundé looks set to replace Yamoussoukro at the top of the
constellation of Paris' favoured Francophone capitals. This makes a
Biya vote against the French resolution even more improbable.