How 9/11 Derailed the African Peace Process

18 Apr 2009

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Speaking at a roundtable discussion last month on the topic "Challenging Militarism: Feminist Activism and Scholarship", Professor Fumi Olonisakin Director of the Conflict, Security and Development Group at Kings College, London, argued that global security changes brought about by 9/11, ended the process of post-Cold War demilitarization in Africa and "arrested" security sector reform, threatening democracy and civil society's calls for change on the continent.

Transcript of this video clip:

FUMI OLONISAKIN: The end of the Cold War saw peaceful change in Mali; in Benin Republic - and it wasn't all bad news. But 9/11 arrested that development, because from a situation where the rest of the world gave conditionality's to African countries to say: reduction in military expenditure, no more than 4% (of GDP), even though some of the countries have far more than 4% -- some of the countries trying to give those rules.

It was good news because the narratives changed. The dialogues changed. For the first time, we started hearing about democratic control of armed forces. Some call it security sector reform. Whatever it was, you saw civil society begin to emerge and begin to demand some form of change.

What the approach post 9/11 did was to begin to re-write again those narratives again for us on the continent of Africa - and the narratives divided the US and Europe in a form.

For the US it was understandable that having suffered massively as a result of 9/11, you needed to do it quickly - get the enemy wherever they might be. Maybe not even identify the enemy properly and it had to be a militarized approach [sic].

So from demilitarization on the continent of Africa, which started slowly from Namibia to Mozambique and (company), you saw a new phase of again trying to train intelligence officers, counter terrorism training and governments that were beginning, slowly beginning to reform suddenly started a narrative of we have terrorists in our backyard. These were no terrorists. In many cases, they were the opposition leaders. 

But, the dialogue changed again and that spells trouble for a continent that is so dependent on the outside world.

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/125.19.

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