Endless Civil Wars

Egypt’s armed forces removed Mohamed Morsi from his presidential post in July. In the aftermath, his Muslim Brotherhood supporters staged large-scale sit-in protests, which led to clashes with security forces. Though protests were quelled and the Muslim Brotherhood was dissolved as a non-governmental organisation, Egypt’s turbulent political situation is proving hard to tame, reflecting the political and social division in the country since Hosni Mubarak’s reign ended in 2011.

Reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s raging civil war in August promoted the United States to threaten to use force to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and help rebels topple President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. A potential military strike was averted, however, when Syria agreed to dismantle its chemical arsenal and facilities by mid-2014 under a UN Security Council resolution.

But the chaos of Syria’s civil war that has caused hundreds of thousands of casualties, and millions of refugees continues. Some of the weaponry, mainly chemical warheads for missiles and artillery shells, is concealed deep in the Alamite enclave (the heartland of Al-Assad’s Alamite sect) in West Syria, and along the coast around Latakia, upto the Turkish border. 75% of Syria’s 22 million population are Sunnis. The Alamites, a mystical Islamic sect, represent about 12% of Syria’s population. Advanced weaponry, including chemical and biological arms are being upgraded with the help of North Korean and Iranian experts. Assad has accelerated the defence of the Alamite lands, which is totally forfeited and isolated from the rest of Syria. The most advanced weapons manipulated in Syria or imported from Russia, are kept in the Homs–Tartus–Latakia Alamite Region. While Syria continues to burn in civil war, the situation is worsening in Afghanistan for more than one reason.

A decade after the fall of the Taliban regime, 55% of Afghanistan’s children are stunted because of inadequate food. Poor nourishment in the first two years of life has led to more than half of Afghan girls and boys suffering damage to their minds and bodies, that cannot be undone. More than ten years of western involvement in Afghanistan has left a legacy where children are suffering from chronic malnutrition, not getting enough nutrients from their food. Western powers have poured billions into Afghanistan to fund development and reconstruction. The USA has spent $90 billion (54 billion Pound). Malnutrition reduces 2% to 3% of Afghanistan’s national income. The Afghan government has launched a five-year programme to fortify flour used to make flat bread, oil and other foodstuffs. Even a minimally healthy diet is beyond the reach of the majority of Afghans. Violence is spreading in Afghanistan as foreign troops prepare to head home. The country remains one of the world’s poorest, with low life expectancy, and poor health care for mothers and young children.

Although USA is attempting to finalise an agreement with the Karzai government to keep a few thousand soldiers in Afghanistan, NATO forces have already begun to withdraw. Taliban militants have overrun much of the countryside in southern Afghanistan. Partly trained by their western allies, Afghan security forces are suffering heavy casualties and mass desertion. Policemen routinely kidnap for money, and steal fuel and supplies. Afghanistan is ravaged by the worsening civil war. The economy is largely funded by opium trafficking.

The hard fact is that America is utilising civil war as a weapon to maintain their hegemony in the entire middle eastern region. War ended in Iraq long ago but Iraqis have no respite from being haunted by bloody civil war day in and day out. How Africa was devastated by civil wars in one country after another with the covert and in some cases over involvement of old colonial powers is not yet a dead issue. The policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ works and it works well for imperial powers. Ethnicity, religion and now terrorism—all serve the purpose. Both America and Russia are now very much active in the same game in Ukraine.

Vol. 46, No. 36, Mar 16 - 22, 2014