Sunday, January 26, 2014

Africa, Germany & the UN: " From the dream on the barbed wire at Flanders and Bilston Glen "

Al Jazeera reports

Germany sees bigger military role in Africa
                                         Ursula von der Leyen said she foresaw boosting the training mission in Mali 

New defence minister talks about Mali and CAR and says Germany cannot stand by in the face of "murder and rape".

Germany's new defence minister said Sunday her country should engage more strongly in Africa by sending additional military trainers to Mali and supporting the French intervention in Central African Republic.

It is easy to forget that pre WW1 Germany had fairly extensive colonial acquisitions in Africa. The Treaty of Versailles extinguished Germanies African possessions. German East Africa  included what are now Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania , Kenya and Mozambique. German South West Africa Namibia and Botswana. German West Africa included bits of Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and  Togo.  

Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday Germany that "cannot look the other way when murder and rape are a daily occurrence, if only for humanitarian reasons."

She is of course correct and what is frustrating is that dealing with the situation in the Central African Republic ( CAR ) seems to be a step too far for the UN Security Council. Ideally the troops on the ground would be wearing blue helmets and under a unified command rather than French and African Union troops. The failure of the UN to get its shit together has left a gap that it seem the EU nations are now moving to fill. That is a good and the forces in the CAR are UN mandated but they represent a failure of the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council needs to be reformed.  

The first female defence minister said she foresaw boosting the training mission in Mali from its current mandate of 180 personnel, with 99 now on the ground, to up to 250, and deploying a medical services airbus to back up the French mission in CAR.

"In Central Africa, a bloody war is unfolding between Christians and Muslims. We cannot allow this conflict to set the entire region ablaze," she added.

I think it would be fair to say that Muslim terror groups are eyeing up opportunities in sub Saharan Africa, the last thing the world needs is another Afghanistan. In the neighbouring DR Congo the government is fighting the Ugandan Muslim terrorist group the ADF, interestingly the UN Experts Group for the DR Congo noted:

The Group determined that during 2013, foreign, Arabic-speaking men have conducted military training courses and operations with ADF; however, the Group was not able to firmly establish the nationalities of these foreigners or their organizational affiliation(s)."

In the long term European national armies should be merged into a European military because "unified armed forces are a logical consequence of an ever-increasing military cooperation in Europe," said the minister who has been in her post for about one month.

It would be a logical development for the EU and it might well come to pass but where does that leave the UN Security Council ? When the UN acts it does so with the authority of the world, a rival EU Security Council would damage the authority of the UN, it also might prove a damn sight more efficient which is why we need to reform the UN Security Council.   

Development Minister Gerd Mueller meanwhile said Germany also planned to expand its aid activities in Africa, especially in Mali, speaking to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

This reads very like a German vote of no confidence in the UN Security Council and who could blame them, New Zealand has long desired UN Security Council reform. 

At the height of the Rwanda killings, New Zealand and others pushed for the Council to act; but, under pressure from the US, France and UK – all with a veto – its response was watered down, the UN peacekeeping force was downsized, and the genocide continued, unabated.

As recounted by the Czech Ambassador (on the Council at that time ), our Ambassador “drew his final trump”, and turned a draft presidential statement into a draft Council resolution - “an absolutely brilliant manoeuvre” because, “unlike a presidential statement, a resolution didn’t need unanimity”; and any debate would highlight the veto possibility and expose the opponents in “their real colours”. "

New Zealand for all its brilliance at the Security Council couldn't stop the Rwandan genocide. The CAR is fast becoming a genocide situation, a student of history might see many ironies in the German intentions, the less obvious one being that the Security Council was set up to ensure that never again would the world witness a holocaust.

The chairman of the German Armed Forces Association, Andre Wuestner, told the same newspaper that the Mali mission would likely take more than a decade, citing the "disastrous" state of the armed forces there and the goal of "a stable and functioning state".

The West African nation of Mali was hit by a coup in 2012 when its northern half was occupied by Al-Qaeda-linked armed fighters before being liberated by a French-led military intervention.

French forces also intervened last month in CAR to try to stem violence between mainly Muslim Seleka fighters who had staged the coup last year and rebels from the country's Christian majority.

If the UN Security Council will not reform it will become redundant and kudos to Germany for making it so obvious.

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