In North Africa and Ukraine, April has not been a good month for the American Empire.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, an ally of the U.S., stepped down after 20 years in power, bowing to pressure from weeks of demonstrations led by young people looking for a better life. Protesters remained peaceful and eventually convinced the military to change sides.
The demonstrators are looking for more than just Bouteflika’s departure, and are acting to ensure the military and ruling elite do not repeat the authoritarian practices of the previous government in North Africa.
Last Friday, hundreds of thousands of protesters peacefully rallied in Algiers for a tenth consecutive week. Algeria’s wealthiest businessman and four other tycoons close to Bouteflika were arrested, and it appears the people of Algeria will not stop until their government is expunged of the former ruling class, which could be problematic for American imperial desires.
Peaceful protests led to the ouster and house arrest of 30-year-long Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.
Sudan has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993, but the U.S. recently agreed on talks to remove the country from the list. The country also received a $1.4bn deposit from U.S.-ally the United Arab Emirates in March.
The U.S. did not appear to play a part in al-Bashir’s overthrow, despite its long history of interventions in the North African country, as illustrated by the disastrous creation of South Sudan.
And a former American diplomat to Sudan, Payton Knopf, seemed to be upset that the U.S. isn’t playing a role in the aftermath of al-Bashir’s ousting. "These are the most significant geopolitical shifts in the Horn of Africa since the immediate post-Cold War period…back then, the U.S. shaped what that environment looked like, for better or worse. Now there’s no evidence that the U.S. is engaging with changes of such historical magnitude with remotely the same level of focus," Mr. Knopf told the New York Times.
It’s yet to be seen if al-Bashir’s ouster will be a gain or loss for America’s military excursions in Africa. But it appears that the protesters are not going to settle for a military-run government, though Saudi Arabia and Egypt are attempting to exert control and are pushing for military rule, which puts them at odds with the protesters.
So far, the protesters have been successful as three top generals have resigned, and last Saturday the Sudanese military council and the country’s opposition alliance reached an agreement to form a new governmental body to run the country until the next election.
To say the least, Libya has been a disaster since the U.S. overthrow and assassination of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Things have been so bad that aid organizations and journalists have documented actual slave auctions in the North African country.
And now, former CIA asset Khalifa Hifter (or "Haftar") is attempting to seize the capital Tripoli from the current U.N.-supported government. Although Hifter’s military reportedly controls much of Libya’s oil production, his attempt to take Tripoli has not gone smoothly.
Donald Trump recently spoke with Hifter and offered his praise, putting Trump at odds with the U.N.-supported government. Trump “recognized…Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system,” the White House said.
But even ultra-war hawk Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioned Trump’s recognition of Hifter and warned of its implications. “There is no way General Haftar can take Tripoli and hold it…the prime minister supported by the U.N. is supported by Turkey and Qatar. And if we pick sides, you’re going to create the Syrian situation on the ground in Libya. So, my advice to the president is push for a political reconciliation in Libya. There is no military solution to Libya. Haftar cannot control the country by military force.”
Ukrainian actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won a landslide victory and will become the next president of Ukraine, replacing the U.S.-supported regime of Petro Poroshenko.
"Not much is known about his foreign policy except that he is mainly pro-Western, wants Ukraine to enter the European Union, and would seek NATO membership for his country – all positions that didn’t separate him much from Poroshenko," wrote Alex Ward of Vox.
But Zelensky, who gave part of his victory speech in Russian, has said that he is open to discussions with Russia on defusing the civil war in eastern Ukraine. And though the president-elect is already having a spat with Vladimir Putin over citizenship issues, Zelensky appears to be more likely to restore Ukrainian relations with Russia than was Poroshenko, and the Kremlin is cautiously optimistic. Regardless, Poroshenko’s loss is at least in part a rebuke of the 2014 U.S.-led coup in Ukraine and was likely not good news for those pushing America’s imperialistic foreign policy.
Chris Ernesto is the webmaster and co-founder of St. Pete for Peace, a non-partisan antiwar organization providing peace oriented education events and services to the Tampa Bay, FL community since 2003.