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Zimbabwe’s crisis is internal – but Zimbabweans must now make sure to keep it that way

, the events in Harare could be exploited by the neo-colonial west to the detriment of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and partnerships with China.

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When the current political crisis, one that many have called a “coup” broke out in Zimbabwe, it was initially unclear who was behind the events and what their demands were. Since then, it has been made clear that most of those in the Army and their political supporters who “took power” were ZANU-PF loyalists and more importantly, they are almost all traditional loyalists to President Robert Mugabe.

It further became clear that far from being a western plot to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and its historic friendship with China, that instead General Constantino Chiwenga, the military leader of the events in Harare had met with Chinese military officials in Beijing days before launching the partial military takeover in Zimbabwe.

As I previously wrote in The Duran,

“…Chiwenga told his Chinese allies that it was his desire to “deepen exchanges and cooperation in all fields with China to promote the rapid development of bilateral state and military relations between the two countries”. According to Chinese officials, Chiwenga also expressed his gratitude to China for “long-time, selfless help” towards Zimbabwe.

China is the biggest sovereign investor in Zimbabwe by a long way. Chinese projects in Zimbabwe are essentially the only practical hope at this time, for Zimbabwe to transform its resources into national wealth during a period when due to hyper-inflation, Zimbabwe’s de-facto national currency is the US Dollar.

Most Zimbabweans remain positive about China’s economic role in the country and this attitude was expressed clearly by “coup leader” Chiwenga.

While some will now rush to say that China helped to “plot the coup”, this statement is as false as blaming the events in Zimbabwe on the western funded “opposition”. China has no need to interfere in a country which is having an internal dispute within the ruling, pro-China ZANU-PF party. The fact that the military which is staunchly loyal to the ruling party has been the vehicle which has moved events, only confirms this reality.

The official international newspaper of the Communist Party of China, the Global Times, said of the events in Zimbabwe,

‘The long-term friendship between China and Zimbabwe will transcend the internal disturbances in Zimbabwe’.

This statement is an accurate reflection of China’s position. By calling the events ‘disturbances’, Beijing is communicating that it would have ultimately been happier with a status quo that was stable in terms of bilateral relations. Incidentally, the position of neighbouring South Afirca is much the same. If anything senior ANC leaders in Pretoria are more loyal to Mugabe than the leadership in Beijing due to Zimbabwe’s support of the anti-Apartheid movement.  However, because China is confident in Zimbabwe’s friendly attitude towards China transcending internal disputes, China will accept the unfolding events in Harare without condemning them. Military interference in such an instance is totally out of character for contemporary China. The biggest danger for those who oppose the western backed opposition on Zimbabwe is that they will size this opportunity to create further instability. This remains a real possibility, but thus far, the military and members of the ZANU-PF elite appear to be in firm control of the situation.

While China was happy with the Mugabe status quo, in many ways China may take heart in the fact that a younger, seemingly pro-China leader plucked from ZANU-PF may replace the 93 year old Robert Mugabe–and as of now it is still a matter of if.

Zimbabwe depends on China to provide the necessary development mechanisms to lift the country out of stagnation. It must be said that due to the country’s Dollar dependence, there will also be a temptation among any Zimbabwean leaders to look west on occasion for matters of debt relief.

China is also prepared for this and has been long before the events of the last 48 hours. If anything, a renewed ZANU-PF government, may give China the impetus to attempt and structure debt relief programmes for Zimbabwe based on the Yuan.

Under Persident Xi Jinping, China’s motto in intentional relations is “win-win”. While no coup can be described as a winning situation, China and Zimbabwe’s likely future leaders are clearly committed to a situation which minimises any potential loses”.

The events in Zimbabwe are NOT an anti-Chinese plot backed by the west

All of this remains true. The danger now is that unless Robert Mugabe who yesterday appeared in public for the first time since the so-called coup, the Army and other ZANU-PF supporters of ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa reach an agreement in rapid fashion, those who do not have Zimbabwe’s interests at heart, those in the west and particularly in ex-colonial power Britain, could either supinely or directly intervene and in doing so, threaten the sovereignty and political dignity of Zimbabwe.

Scattered reports, including from the rabidly anti-Mugabe BBC (banned in Zimbabwe) have obtained photographs reportedly showing anti-Mugabe demonstrators on the streets of Harare. Photos from other outlets show protests in support of Mugabe.

It would appear that for now, the Army is living up to its statement that the events which have transpired are about removing “criminal” individuals surrounding Mugabe rather than Mugabe himself. This likely means that the Army is keen to reach an accord with Mugabe insuring that his wife Grace will not automatically assume power upon the President’s death or retirement. The Army also likely seeks the reinstatement of Mnangagwa as Vice President in order to insure his own orderly assumption of power when Mugabe eventually leaves office.

These agreements may prove embarrassing for Mugabe in the very short term, but if they are executed with precision and with a public showing of dignity, it could prevent a the crisis from growing.

The biggest worry is that a protracted negotiation period could ensue, one which could then be exploited by Zimbabwe’s historic enemies. Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who many in Africa see as a tool of the west has reportedly returned to Zimbabwe among the recent chaotic events. While these reports are unconfirmed, it may mean that the western powers are quietly trying to arrange for anti-Mugabe figures to effectively swarm Harare and turn the internal power struggle among ZANU-PF supporters and the military elite, into a wider crisis that could be ripe for exploitation by those who for years have sought to stage a ‘colour revolution’ in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai would appear to be the ready-made figurehead of such an operation although there are certainly others who fit this bill.

If an agreement can be reached between the Army leaders and Mugabe, this could calm things down and police and other security officials could then go about maintaining public order until the would-be coup fades into memory and life returns to a sense of normalcy.

If not, it would largely fall on South Africa to provide stability in Zimbabwe should a broader crisis emerge.

South Africa’s ruling ANC, many of whose supporters are staunchly pro-Mugabe as a matter of historic principle, would not be keen on any western backed colour revolutions transpiring in Zimbabwe. As South Africa’s Apartheid regime ended in the lifetime of most prominent ANC members, having a western backed government in Harare would be unacceptable, even though modern South Africa, a BRICS member has healthy relations with all major players across the multi-polar world.

While South Africa has not been keen to dirty its hands in the current crisis in Zimbabwe, if things de-stabilise, there may be a race to see who can get to Harare quicker: South African peace keepers and diplomats who would  conduct negotiations to preserve the constitutional order in Zimbabwe or western NGOs along with American and British politicians whose only interests in Zimbabwe are to ruin China’s good relations with a potentially rich nation, with the added insult of reminding Zimbabwe of the much hated period of UDI Rhodesia where Ian Smith ran a government that virtually all Africans consider racist.

None of this is to say that patriotic Zimbabweans should not have a debate on the future of their country. They should have such debates and they indeed must. But using a political crisis to foment such debates under the long arm of western meddling, will not produce any results. If this is the case, the choice between Zimbabwe won’t be about Mugabe versus Mnangagwa, but about independence versus the re-imposition of neo-colonial rule at the hands of those who look far more like Ian Smith than Robert Mugabe.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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