The World

AFRICA AGONISTES

Tribal genocide...racial uprisings. . .superpowers extending spheres of influence... emerging nations.. .strongmen. . .and war

May 30 1977
The World

AFRICA AGONISTES

Tribal genocide...racial uprisings. . .superpowers extending spheres of influence... emerging nations.. .strongmen. . .and war

May 30 1977

AFRICA AGONISTES

Tribal genocide...racial uprisings. . .superpowers extending spheres of influence... emerging nations.. .strongmen. . .and war

While persistent attempts to settle the question of majority rule in Rhodesia and Namibia may be starting to pay off, the lowering of the tricolor in Djibouti, capital of France's last colony in Africa, on June 27 could mark the start of yet another African tragedy. For Dji-

bouti has all the classic stigmata of a potential victim (see map refer ence for details) in what used to be known as the Dark Continent. Dark deeds are still being done. Current estimates put at nine the number of African countries in which the Kremlin's Cuban hatchetmen are

beavering away; and, since 1965, 25 heads of state have `ost their po sitions (and some their heads) to Africa's favorite alternative to an election, the coup. Hardly a day passes but the continent is in the news. The main stories are backgrounded, in capsule form, below:

,~ Western Sahara: When Spanish __________ troops finally left this 92-year-old former colony for the last time in February, 1976, the heirs to its 109,000 square miles of sand and phosphate (the giant Bu Cra mine is estimated to have up to 10 billion tons of reserves) were Mauritania and Morocco. The latter's legacy, a 65% stake in Bu Cra, nicely complemented its own deposits, which make it the largest producer in the world. But the Polisario Front, despite re ports of their subjugation, are still ranging the desert in Land Rovers, shooting up the invaders with their Soviet Kalashnikov rifles and sophis ticated rockets. The Polisario claim the support of the country's 100,000 inhabitants and also have Algeria's backing. There have already been two incidents between Moroccan and Algerian troops and the possibility of others carries the risk of wider conflict. The Russians supply socialist Al geria, the United States the Moroccan monarchy.

" Ubya-Egype Ever since Egypt's President Anwar Sadat signed the second Sinai agreement with Is rael in 1975, relations with radical Colonel Qaddafi's Libya have worsened. As with many Arab quarrels, words speak louder than deeds-but a fundamental po Irtical cleavage exists since Egypt is firmly in the conservative Arab camp. Until last August, the word war had the upper hand; but then Egypt moved an estimated 15,000 troops to the Libyan border in reprisal, it said, for a wave of Libyan-in spired bombings and sabotage, including an air hijacking. Last January, 79 peoplewere killed and 600 injured in riots against higher food prices which, Sadat claimed, were fomented partly by Libya. Since then Egypt has hanged several al leged Libyan terrorists and both sides have re fused admission to, or expelled, each other's citi zens. The countries are still linked-with Syria-in the Federation of Arab Republics but that tie may not long survive Qaddafi's warning, this month, that Sadat is "playing with fire."

Qaddafi, Co~oneI Muammar: Born 1941, Muslim fundamentalist and Arab socialist. Took power in 1969 from Libya's King Idris and, with oil rev enues of eight billron dol lars a year, is building a welfare state oasis in desert for Libya's 2.5 mil lion inhabitants. But his commitment to an all-embracing "Arab Nation" and destruction of Israel have led him to finance subver sion and terrorism abroad on massive scale-rebel lions in Chad, Eritrea, the Philippines; attempted coups in Morocco and Jordan; Palestinian forces in Lebanon; Palestinian extremists who carried out Mu nich Olympics massacre etc. Ironically, however, Qaddafi's activities may have helped cement "con servative" Arab alliance Egypt, Sudan, Syria under Saudi Arabian auspices) which wants to settle the Is raeli question.

Djibouti: The scenario for conflict in the barren Territory of Afars and Issas (TAI) starts with the rivalry between the two tribes and theirfamily links in neighboring states. The Muslim Issas com prise more than half the 220,000 registered population and look to Somalia, to the south; the Afars' relations are the Danakil tribe in Ethiopia. The dispute between these two countries goes back centuries, but is cur rently fueled by Somalia's wish to absorb the TAI and Djibouti's importance to Ethiopia as its only rail outlet to the sea (carrying 75% of Eth iopia's trade). Back of all this, however, the Soviet Union, which already has a base at Berbera in Somalia, would like Ethiopia, So malia and Southern Yemen to form a loose so cialist federation as a counter to plans of the conservative Arab states (Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Saudi Arabia), with U.S. support, to bring the Red Sea shores under their control. The French are leaving 12,000 troops (about 3,000 fewer than the British have in Ulster) to keep the peace in the TAI. But whether they are successful is as likely to be decided in Mos cow, Cairo or Washington as in Djibouti.

4 •} EthiopIa At c4*~ tempts at seces sion are traditional in Ethiopia, but late Emperor Haile Selassie coped with them, even the long-running insurrection of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and its allies. The left-wing move ment, which ousted him in 1974, riven by bloody personal and polit ical feuds, has been less success ful. The ELF now controls most of the province, pinning down nearly half the government's 50,000rong, U.S-supplied army. To

help secure his position, Eth iopia's head of state Lieut.-Colo nel Mengistu Miriam has expelled the U.S. presence and asked the Soviet Union for arms worth $150 million. He has also, say Western diplomats, brought in Cuban ad visers to train a new 200,000strong peasant and workers' army. With this he hopes to wage "a people's war" against the se cessionists and his political oppo nents. But that could bring him into collision with Sudan and other Arab states who are backing the ELF.

Obasanjo, Lieut.-Gen oral Olusegun: Former h~f nf c~t~ff th Min~ri~r~

Supreme Military Council, has steered black Africa's most populous (more than _________ 80 million) and richest (oil revenues worth about four billion dollars) nation through worst crisis since three-year civil war ended in 1970; Obasanjo is con tinuing predecessor's policy of "dynamic change' administrative and constitutional reform, general cleanup of corruption and educational advance. But he will need all his eloquence (he took speech lessons at the Nigerian state radio) to persuade Nigerians whose tribal and religious loyalties are still divided to unite to face severe challenges of food shortage, lack of health care and industrialization.

Kenyatta, Jomo: Mem ber of dominant Kikuyu tribe, father of Kenyan in dependence and, at 83, doyen of Africa's leaders. Since 1963 has presided over one of black Africa's most stable governments and, consequently, over one of the Third World's economically most suc cessful countries. But tribal ana political tensions re main; and scandal over assassination, in 1975, of op position MP Josiah Kariuki-outspoken critic of Kikuyu establishment and Kenyatta family's personal fortunes-has left resentment. Kenyatta is ailing and his death could spark struggle for supremacy be tween Kikuyu, Luo and, possibly, other candidates for succession, creating opportunities for Somalia and Ethiopia to renew territorial claims in north.

male nurse who now, at 43, as president, controls destinies of former Portuguese col ony Mozambique. Arguably Soviet Union's closest ally in Africa as he steers country toward "Afrocommunism" and commits borders to full Soviet-supported military campaign against white Rhodesia. Yet in one of great ironies of African politics Machel has quietly allowed strong bonds of colonial era with South Africa to grow. Mo zambique's economy is still afloat largely be cause Pretoria's technicians run ports, rail ways and because it pays in gold for migrant mine labor. So for all his Marxist rhetoric, Ma chel is pragmatist. He is also shrewd manipu lator of political opponents although his pol icies have scared away more than 100,000 skilled whites and provoked resistance in army which he led in 10-year "Liberation War" against Portugal.

Angola: A report that Cuban and Angolan soldiers had been sent to the oil-rich, north ern province of Cabinda, in case of a Zairean reprisal for the inva sion of Shaba (see ZaIr.) served merely to underline the fact that Angolan President - Agostinho Neto's Marxist government is not yet in undisputed control. Despite its Cuban-backed defeat of rival nationalist movements last year, guerrilla fighting continues. Zaire, meanwhile, is not the only country that covets Gabinda's oil; so does the People's Republic of the Congo, to the north; and Cabinda has its own liberation movement.

7~ Rhodesia: When Premier Ian Smith unilaterally declared his country inde pendent in 1965 to prevent the British bringing in majority rule, he started a wave of euphoria among the 250,000strong white population, which dominates the coun try's six million blacks. Today the situation is very dif ferent~ black nationalist guerrillas control large sec tions of the country; the economy is declining; the call-up has been extended to whites up to 50 years old; and there is a steady drain of emigrants-last year more than 7,000 whites left for safer billets in South Africa, Europe and North America. Never theless, Smith is holding on. Thanks in part to divi sions among the black nationalists he even managed to frustrate a settlement initiative started by Henry Kissinger at the end of 1976. But the British and U.S. governments have returned to the fray and a new set of proposals touted round southern Africa by British Foreign Secretary David Owen may get a better hear ing from the warring sides.

Zaire: Despite President Mo butu's exploitation of TV for personal propaganda, the news, which still travels by drum in remote areas, has been discour aging for him. The invasion of Shaba (formerly Katanga) prov ince by exiles based in Angola has been halted with Moroccan and other foreign aid, but it has re vealed glaring weaknesses in the former strongman's hold on the country he took over 11 years ago after five years of civil war. Politi cally, Mobutu has seemed frail since Angola's left-wing govern ment won its civil war a year ago (Mobutu backed one of the losing factions). His long-standing eco nomic difficulties have been wors ened by low world copper prices and problems, due to the Angolan fighting, of getting Zaire's princi pal export to its customers. As the Shaba invasion showed, however, the West is not yet ready to see Zaire's potential riches fall prey to Soviet-inspired outside pres sure-nor to write off Zaire's two billion-dollar international debts.

South Africa: Four million whites exercise complete domination over 20 million non whites. But economic problems and political pressure from within and without are putting ever greater pressure on the country's apartheid policies. Prime Minister John Vorster's government wants to set up nine independent tribal "homelands" forbiackSouthAfri cans. But all but two tribal leaders have rejected the scheme be cause it offers only 13% of the land to 80% of the people and because most homelands are ungovern ably fragmented. There is also the explosive problem of eight million urban blacks. Six months of riot ing last year, stemming from dis content over education, sharply reduced foreign investment in South Africa, thus worsening its first recession for 30 years. This, in turn, has helped black unem ployment to the million mark. The RandDaily Mail recently called re suiting tensions a "time bomb" and renewed riots, over higher rents, supported that view.

Namlbla: At the end of 1978, with luck, what the League of Nations called a "sacred trust of civilization' `-South Af rica's mandate in Namibia (South West Africa)-will be ended. An in dependent government will re place the control Pretoria has maintained in defiance of a UN de cision in 1966 and an International Court of Justice opinion in 1971 that its presence in Namibia is ille gal. Current moves to end South African rule-which has involved apartheid, white colonization and exploitation of valuable mineral resources (copper, diamonds and uranium)-date from 1975. Repre sentatives of the United States, Canada, Britain, France and West Germany (the country which first colonized Namibia) are pressur ing South African Prime Minister John Vorster to reverse his stand that the South West Africa People's Organization (swAu'o), which has fought a long guerrilla campaign for independence, could not take part in free, inter nationally supervised elections.