Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org appears on CPR Sunday with security analyst Mark Sleboda, and broadcaster Don DeBar to discuss the latest global developments. The conversation examines the latest terror attack in Turkey and what it means for the war in Syria, the Kurds, and the region. Eric, Mark, and Don discuss the shifting battlefield in Syria, what the most recent developments tell us about the war, and the ultimate aims of the players involved. Eric also touches on the terror attack in Burkina Faso and how events in Africa should be understood as part of a much broader US-China conflict. All this and much more on CPR Sunday this week.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post confirmed that the US military had closed its drone base in Arba Minch, in Southern Ethiopia. While there was at least some mention of the closure in the corporate media, none of the coverage provided the much needed geopolitical and strategic context necessary to understand the true significance of the shuttering of the US base. Instead, most of the coverage focused on the redeployment of US assets to other parts of Africa, or indeed beyond the African continent.
However, the real story has gone completely untold. And what exactly is “the real story” one might ask? In a nutshell, the closure of the US base is merely the latest chapter in an ongoing geopolitical chess match between the US and China, one which has seen Africa become by far the most hotly contested ground. And while the story of China’s economic and political penetration of Africa has been told and retold countless times by many analysts, very few express the issue in terms of move and countermove between the US and China (see my 2014 article here for further exploration of this theme).
But this is precisely how the issue must be framed and, seen in that light, it is entirely reasonable to interpret the US move to close its Ethiopian drone base as motivated less by tactical and military needs than by political considerations.
China and Ethiopia: A Blossoming Partnership
As China has expanded its African footprint, Ethiopia has grown increasingly significant from Beijing’s perspective. Seen as a source of both cheap exports and massive investment potential, Ethiopia now figures centrally in China’s plans for the Horn of Africa, and for the continent generally. Indeed, the statistics show just how important Ethiopia has become.
According to the World Bank, Ethiopia is the world’s fastest growing economy as measured by GDP. While it should be noted that GDP is not a measure of actual economic improvement for the majority of citizens who still live in the most abject poverty by and large, it does indicate the growth of the economy as a whole. And it is precisely that GDP growth (2014-2017 GDP compounded annual growth rate of +9.70%), and potential for future growth, that has lured Chinese investors and the Chinese state.
Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (Jan. 14, 2016) on the latest report documenting US bombings around the world. Draitser argues that the findings of the report are no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, and that they merely reinforce the understanding that US power is projected through violence and coercion. He notes that this fact exposes US hypocrisy as it blasts Russia, China, North Korea and other countries for ‘aggression’ and ‘belligerence.’
Part 1 of this article focused on the death of Zahran Alloush, commander of the Jaish al-Islam group in the Damascus suburbs, and his organization’s laundry list of crimes against the Syrian people, as well as his long-standing connections to Saudi Arabia. Part 2 below highlights the implications of his death, among other recent developments, and how it will translate on the battlefield.
The assassination of Zahran Alloush, commander of the Jaish al-Islam Salafist group, has led to a major change on the ground in Syria. Seemingly everywhere one looks, the Syrian Arab Army is on the offensive, moving to reclaim towns and cities it had once conceded to the rebel-terrorist alliance fighting against the Syrian Government. Even the most hardened anti-Assad crusader must admit that the situation of the rebel-terrorists today is much worse than it was four months ago when the Russian engagement in Syria first began.
Indeed, Alloush’s death is not the only one that has had a tangible impact on the ground. Just weeks after the targeted assassination of Alloush and a number of other high-ranking commanders of the Jaish al-Islam organization, one of the leaders of the equally criminal Ahrar al-Sham was assassinated in Homs province. With his death, Ahrar al-Sham has also been reeling, desperately trying to cling to territory in the face of a long expected counter-offensive by the Syrian army in tandem with air strikes from its Russian allies.
These developments have contributed in no small part to the significant political shift from the US and its western allies who have, for all intents and purposes, dropped the “Assad must go” precondition for negotiations. It should be noted that this move owes directly to the significant assaults upon what must be regarded as Saudi-Qatari proxies in the Syrian war, specifically Jaish al-Islam and Jaish-al Fatah (of which Ahrar al-Sham is a member). Only because of the significant tactical victories against these gulf proxies is there now a real opportunity for a resolution to the war in Syria.
This week Eric sits down with Steven Donziger, the US spokesman and legal adviser for the Ecuadorian communities suing Chevron over its gross environmental pollution since the 1960s. The case has made international headlines as it is the first of its kind to see indigenous communities winning a judgment against an oil company for environmental degradation. Eric and Steven discuss the specifics of the case and the ways in which Chevron has attempted to use legal maneuvering and trickery to avoid paying a massive settlement to those affected. The conversation also touches on the parallels between this case and others, as well as the long-term effects of the damage caused by Texaco/Chevron. All this and much more in this important episode of CounterPunch Radio.
Intro and outtro by David Vest.