Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Revolutionary Eruption in the Maghreb States of North Africa? A Discourse on Their Implications for United States - Africa Relations

Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Revolutionary Eruption in the Maghreb States of North Africa? A Discourse on Their Implications for United States - Africa Relations

Article excerpt

Abstract

Revolutionary uprisings which engulfed states of North Africa between December, 2010 to October, 2011 were interpreted by the West simply as resulting from "lack of economic opportunities" in the region and the "iron fist" policy of their rulers. These interpretations, as contended by this paper are too simplistic and grossly inadequate to deepen understanding of the issues which have their antecedents in the policies of the Superpowers during the Cold War years. The Cold War polarized the world into two blocs thereby creating client-states and shoring-up despotic regimes with deficient national aspirations at the expense of their working masses. The paper maintains that the Arab Spring is partly the result of a turning point in Western diplomatic encounters with the non-European World of Africa, and Asia on one hand, and the insensitivity of leadership in client-states on the other.

Keywords: revolution, Maghreb, uprising, policy, African independence, cold war, despotic regimes

1. Introduction

Between December, 2010 and October 2011, socio-economic and political upheavals erupted in the Maghreb region of North Africa and the Middle East in a manner which some have described as proportionate to a wind of change blowing across the region. These uprisings which took place in explosive rapidity have been termed as 'revolutions' either for want of a better nomenclature or resulting from the revolutionary propensity which they assumed. At the end of the upheavals, the governments of three Maghreb states- Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were torpedoed and replaced not with revolutionary regimes but with either Transitional Councils, military juntas or elected governments superintended by the military as in the case of Egypt.

Resulting from faulty assumptions, the West have blamed autocrats of the region for the uprisings and further attributed the upheavals to a lack of economic opportunities. At the wake of the 'revolutions', the US intervened ( in the case of Libya), under the auspices of UN, purportedly for humanitarian considerations. This paper recalls that earlier invasions by the West purported to be for the same reasons only ended up in the balkanization of African states into 'spheres of influence', to secure markets and raw materials. Predatory interventions of World Powers on smaller nations for strategic concerns without commensurate returns sharpen the contradictions between the ruling class and the masses who perceive their rulers to be collaborators with the very forces of imperialism. Having been impoverished and alienated from the products of their labour, the working class and 'peasants' become agitated and restive, especially when socio-economic conditions become unbearable. Until capitalism bridges the gap between the ruling class, and the 'hungry', uprisings of revolutionary proportion may not cease and this is a concern as it is important to international peace and security. The ruling class in Africa should learn from the bitter fact that the advance industrial nations are working assiduously to bridge the gap between their rich and the poor as a 'safety measure', to secure their property. This can be explained by the massive outflow of Western Capital looking for investment outlets in profitable areas of the World. In the face of competition for strategic resources coming from China and other emerging Asian economies, the West may have to fine tune their diplomatic and trade policies with Africa or lose its influence in these nations.

1.1 Material Studied

Materials for this paper were essentially derived from a selection of published literature on United States foreign policy and US-Africa Relations, internet sources, newspapers/magazines and historical literature on the region some of which are reflected in works cited.

1.2 Area Description

The area is the North Africa sub-region bounded by the Mediterranean coast to the North, the Atlantic Sea board to the west, the Sahara Desert and the West African States to the south. …

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