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What Happens When Africa is Attacked Next
by Ed Whitfield

December 2, 2001

Greensboro, NC

Two of the next three targets on the USA's short list for the war on terrorism are in Africa. Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are said to be the
next areas where the USA will exercise its "right to self defense" and go after al Qaeda cells. There is a question how the now acquiesent US black population will respond to an attack on Africa, where the collateral damage will be little black children and their families who are already impovished by years of hunger due to the legacy of colonialism, recent super-power contention and current international financial policies. Several years ago, a friend of mine told me that for the USA to send troops in support of the white minority government in South Africa, they would have to simultaneously deploy
them in Detroit and Los Angeles and Newark. It was clear that in some communities, Malcolm's message of the link between the struggles in Africa and the struggles in the USA was important part of the social fabric and popular consciousness.

Both Sudan and Somalia have been sites of US military activity in recent years. The cruise missle attack on a pharmaceudical factory in Sudan in 1996 destroyed 50% of Sudan's capacity to produce malaria drugs. This factory was innitially claimed to be producing chemical weapons for the al Qaeda network. But the German engineers who built it were surprised and insisted that it was only capable of producing the medicines it was designed to produce. The US has all but admitted that the attack was in error, but has still failed to respond to Sudan's demands to be compensated for the destruction.

Already, internet access has been shut off to Somalia, and all international monetary transfers have been blocked. The attack there may be imminent. Even without the coming military attack, these economic and communication attacks will seriously dammage the fragile recovering economy of this war torn area.

Somalia was the scene in 1992 of a major US military embarassment. Eighteen US rangers were killed when they came under attack while searching for one of Somalia's "War Lords" who had lost favor with the USA. Some people are saying that the coming attacks on Somalia are payback for the 18 American lives. What is seldom mentioned is the tens of thousands of Somalis who were killed in that conflict. The idea that the US might want to avenge the 18 rangers in spite of the existing Somali death toll from that conflict that is likely 1000 times higher is the height of racism. How many Somalis is a US citizen worth?

Since the US black communities displayed passivity following the intervention in Grenada in 1983 and in Panama in 1989, it may be felt that there is no real worry, but no one is really sure. Both Grenada and Panama slipped by because by and large, the black community here did not know what was going on.

In Grenada, in particular, the confusion caused by anti-communism and the cold war rhetoric left most people bewildered as to what was really
going on. The overthrow of Maurice Bishop's government by ultra-leftist" forces precipitating a US mission to rescue endangered medical students formed the backdrop of the US intervention actually designed to destroy the nationalist independence movement in that country. In its place was installed another puppet government connected to the US to do its bidding, and finish rooting out the ideological sentiments that had Grenadans thinking that they had a right to be respected on the world stage.

The US black community falling more and more into the grip of 501-c3 non-profit agencies was too busy dividing up federal monies and applying for new grants to be actively involved in foreign affairs that required an analysis that went beyond the race analysis that kept South Africa in the center of our attention.

Six years later, when the US decided to stop the growing nationalist movement in Panama that would have been key to deciding the new policies after the end of the lease of the Canal Zone, most black Americans didn't have a clue what was going on. Few people fell for the Noriega story. It was too clear to too many, that the US itself was implicated in drug running to seriously believe that drugs were the reason for going after Noriega. But at the same time, the level of press censorship kept most blacks from even knowing that as many as 5,000 Panamanian blacks were killed in a 36 hour period and the homes
of 20,000 black Panamanians destroyed in attacks that spared the white sections of Panama all together. As word finally trickled in about the mass graves, and the level of the carnage, everything was over, and a disorganized black community here never got riled up.

The situation with the war on terrorism has a chance to be different. The attack on civil liberties here already come at a time where there is a growing movement against police repression and police brutality. It doesn't take much to link the general demonization of black youth (especially males) in the US to the demonization of opponents of US policies outside the country. It doesn't take much to tie the persecution of US dissidents, people like Mumia Abu Jamal and Imam Jamil al Amin formerly known as Rap Brown, both now facing murder charges in Philadelphia and Atlanta respectively, and the call for secret military tribunals and summary executions.

The Million Man March has proven that blacks are still capable of mobilizing in large numbers, even when the agenda is not clear. There is no serious evidence that either Somalia or Sudan are bases for the al Qaeda network. There is no reason why they should be attacked. We would hope that US agression against innocent people in Africa would be a sufficient clarion call to move our community and other justice minded people into action.

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