Prince Charles and Lady Camilla arrived in the tiny West African nation of The Gambia the other day on the first leg of a week-long tour of the region to reaffirm ties with Commonwealth countries. But with the couple’s arrival come accusations and fears Britain is reasserting itself via that “neo-colonial institution”.
The royal couple could not have chosen a better time to replant the British flag in Gambia. Since the former Gambian government severed its Commonwealth ties back in October 2013, the organization has done everything in its power to unseat the now ousted President Yahya Jammeh. On the arrival of the royals in The Gambia, the British High Commission said the visit would celebrate the UK’s “dynamic, forward-looking partnership with the Commonwealth nations on a range of shared priorities.” There’s little doubt those priorities include reasserting Anglo-European control of the whole region and uninhibited puppeteering through the new President Adama Barrow.
Barrow came to power through elections former President Jammeh said had “unacceptable abnormalities.” His petitioning the country’s Supreme Court for a new election, and his refusal to step down, resulted in the intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which magically transformed itself into a military alliance when the bloodless coup on Jammeh had seemingly failed. Back in 2013, The Guardian ran the story of Edward Snowden revelations on GCHQ and the NSA spying on the then head of ECOWAS, among many other targets associated with giving aid and wielding influence in West Africa. But this news only hints at the UK’s new brand of colonial extension. A story at the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) reveals the geo-strategic nature ECOWAS in cahoots with the Brits.
According to “The Privatisation of Violence: New mercenaries and the state,” by Christopher Wrigley back in 1999, the UK government basically moved to decriminalize mercenary activity in the region. The author quotes the UK Foreign Office position stated in 1991 that said: “it was not in itself reprehensible to serve a foreign government in a military capacity.” Those pompous Brits went on to proclaim a “moral obligation” to settle the situation in Sierra Leone at the time. For the sake of time here, suffice it to say the UK’s and their royals’ hands are sticky-thick with the blood of West Africans since slavery was condoned. The aforementioned report links ECOWAS and its military arm, known as ECOMOG, to proxy war and mercenary activity from Sierra Leone to Nigeria and back. From the documents, it looks like ECOWAS has been used to create economic embargoes of weapons to the foes of The Empire. But this is fodder for another story.
Since Charles and his wife will travel to Ghana on Friday, and then to Nigeria from the 6 -8 November, it’s important to tie up Britain’s interest in West Africa neatly. This report entitled “Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War,” by Chibuike Uche in
The Journal of African History provides the evidence needed. The author shows the major interest British oil interests played in the Nigeria/Biafra conflict back in the 1970s. Back then Shell and BP wanted “One Nigeria” so that their economic bloodsucking could go on unabated. Just to show the diabolic and inhuman nature of Britain’s geo-policy, let me quote from The Independent and author Michael Leapman, from 1998:
Biafra was one of the great emotive causes of the late Sixties. The name still conjures up images of emaciated children, close to death, starved as a result of the blockade imposed by the Nigerian Federal Government to defeat the secession of the country’s Eastern Region. I was there, and the images do not fade.
Yes, the Brits helped the Nigerian government starve people to death because those people wanted independence. They supplied weapons, money, and more so that Nigeria could return to normal so that British financial interests could be served. Read the story, be disgusted, and consider that Prince Charles was a prince in 1998 too. Now he returns to West Africa with the same purpose.
It’s an interesting footnote here that Princess Diana was killed in August of 1997, especially if we considered her tour of West Africa with Charles back in 1990. I was just reading a story by BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt where the author describes the reason for that visit. Blunt says.
The West African tour was officially meant to be for Prince Charles, as the future head of the Commonwealth, to get to know the region; in reality, it was very much more about getting the right kind of coverage in the British press.
The correspondent’s story reminded me of Lady Diana in this part of Africa, shaking hands with people with leprosy, embracing those with AIDS, and inadvertently making her boring Husband Charles all the more pompous and useless. Seeing him with Camilla this week makes me think of how chummy, stuffy, and utterly safe those royals are. I guess West Africa resources helps keep them that way.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”