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Russia’s Summit on Africa: Challenges, Implications and Beyond



With highly expected symbolism, Russia’s primary focus at the forthcoming November summit in St. Petersburg with African leaders, corporate business directors, representatives from the academic community, civil society organizations and media will largely be renewing most of its unfulfilled bilateral agreements and making new pledges that will, as usual, be incorporated into a second joint declaration.

Brilliant speeches reminded of long-standing traditions of friendship and solidarity, how Soviets assisted African countries in their struggle to attain independence and established statehood, and further highlighted neo-colonialism tendencies wide spreading on the continent. That Russia stands with Africa on matters of strengthening peace and stability on the continent and ensuring regional security. Next is absolute readiness to engage in broadening vibrant cooperation in all economic sectors.

While the first summit was described as highly successful due to its spectacular blistering symbolism and has offered the necessary solid impetus for raising to qualitative level the multifaceted relations, especially in the economic spheres with Africa, much has still not been pursued as expected. Behind the shadows of the bilateral agreements, some of the projects were simultaneously assigned to either Western or European investors.

Long before the historic summit, African foreign ministers and delegations had lined up visiting Moscow. Those frequent official visits were intended to show off that Russia is high demand as indicated in a 150-paged new policy released last November by a group of 25 leading experts headed by Sergei A. Karaganov, the Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy.

The report that vividly highlighted some pitfalls and shortcomings in Russia’s approach towards Africa. It further pointed to Russia’s consistent failure in honoring its several agreements and pledges over the years. It decried the increased number of bilateral and high-level meetings that yield little or bring to the fore no definitive results. In addition, insufficient and disorganized Russian African lobbying combined with a lack of “information hygiene” at all levels of public speaking, says the policy report.

There are, indeed, to demonstrate “demand for Russia” in the non-Western world; the formation of ad hoc political alliances with African countries geared towards competition with the collective West. Apart from the absence of a public strategy for the continent, there is lack of coordination among various state and para-state institutions working with Africa.

Despite the growth of external player’s influence and presence in Africa, Russia has to intensify and redefine its parameters. Russia’s foreign policy strategy regarding Africa has to spell out and incorporate the development needs of African countries.

Unlike most competitors, Russia has to promote an understandable agenda for Africa: working more on sovereignty, continental integration, infrastructure development, human development (education and medicine), security (including the fight against hunger and epidemics), normal universal human values, the idea that people should live with dignity and feel protected.

Nearly all the Russian experts who participated in putting the report together unreservedly agreed with this view. The main advantage of such an agenda is that it may be more oriented to the needs of Africans than those of its Western and European competitors. It is advisable to present such a strategy already at the second Russia-Africa summit, and discuss and coordinate it with African partners before that. Along with the strategy, it is advisable to adopt an Action Plan – a practical document that would fill cooperation with substance between summits.

Vsevolod Tkachenko, the Director of the Africa Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, stated during one of the preparatory meetings, “the African partners expect concrete deeds, maximum substantive ideas and useful proposals.” The current task is to demonstrate results and highlight achievements to the African side. Over the past years, African countries have witnessed many bilateral agreements, memoranda of understanding and pledges.

Russia has to set different narratives about its aspirations and intentions of returning to Africa. The approach has to move from rhetoric and mere declarations of interests. Since the basis of the summit remains the economic interaction between Russia and Africa, “the ideas currently being worked out on new possible instruments to encourage Russian exports to Africa, Russian investments to the continent, such as a fund to support direct investment in Africa, all these deserve special attention,” Tkachenko says.

According to an official report posted on the website, Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, during the “Government Hour” in the State Duma on January 26, stated that the “cooperation with African countries has expanded to reach new frontiers. Together with African friends, we are working on preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit scheduled to be held this year.” Previously, for instance, Lavrov explicitly indicated: “Russia’s political ties, in particular, are developing dynamically. But economic cooperation is not as far advanced as political ties.”

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Many experts have expressed concern about the relationship between Russia and Africa, most often comparing it with other foreign players on the continent within the framework of sustainable development there in Africa. It is about time to make meaningful efforts to implement tons of bilateral agreements already signed with Africa countries.

“Russia, of course, is not satisfied with this state of affairs. At present diplomacy dominates its approach: a plethora of agreements was signed with many African countries, official visits proliferate apace, but the outcomes remain hardly discernible,” Professor Gerrit Olivier from the Department of Political Sciences, the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a former South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation wrote in an emailed comment.

“While, given its global status, Russia ought to be active in Africa as Western Europe, the European Union, America and China are, it is all but absent, playing a negligible role. Be that as it may, the Kremlin has revived its interest in the African continent and it will be realistic to expect that the spade work it is putting in now will at some stage show more tangible results,” Olivier added.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Russia, Brigadier General (rtd) Nicholas Mike Sango, who has been in his post since July 2015, expresses his views on the relations between Africa and the Russian Federation. While Russia has traditional ties with Africa, its economic footprints are not growing as expected. It has however attempting to transform the much boasted political relations into a more comprehensive and broad economic cooperation, he noted in his conversation with me.

He pointed to the disparity in the level of development, the diversity of cultures and aspirations of the peoples of the two regions, there is growing realization that Africa is an important partner in the “emerging and sustainable polycentric architecture of the world order” as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has aptly asserted. But in fact, Africa’s critical mass can only be ignored at great risk therefore.

For a long time, Russia’s foreign policy on Africa has failed to pronounce itself in practical terms as evidenced by the countable forays into Africa by Russian officials. The Russian Federation has shied away from economic cooperation with Africa, making forays into the few countries that it has engaged in the last few years. African leaders hold Russia in high esteem as evidenced by the large number of African embassies in Moscow. Furthermore, Russia has no colonial legacy in Africa, according to the Zimbabwean diplomat.

Ambassador Sango, who previously held various high-level posts such as military adviser in Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, and as international instructor in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), also said that “Russia has not responded in the manner expected by Africa, as has China, India and South Korea, to name a few. Africa’s expectation is that Russia, while largely in the extractive industry, will steadily transfer technologies for local processing of raw materials as a catalyst for Africa’s development.”

While Russia and Africa have common positions on the global platform, the need to recognize and appreciate the aspirations of the common man cannot be overstated. Africa desires economic upliftment, human security in the form of education, health, shelter as well as security from transnational terrorism among many challenges afflicting Africa. The Russian Federation has the capacity and ability to assist Africa overcome these challenges leveraging on Africa’s vast resources, Ambassador Sango concluded.

For more than three decades after Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia has had different degrees of political relations and currently looking forward to build stronger economic cooperation. During these years, the relations have also transited through distinctive phases taking cognizance of challenges and fast changing global politics.

In an interview discussion for this story, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, explains to this research writer that “Although, for a relationship lasting this long with Africa, one would have expected it to move past where it is now. In short, there is still room for improvement, in fostering particularly stronger economic ties.”

It is hoped that Russia continues consistently to catch up with other active foreign competitors, makes attempts to transform the well-developed political relations with broader economic cooperation the coming years. Ultimately, emphasis should also be placed on developing ‘people-to-people’ relations, whereby the peoples of both countries would have better understanding of each other.

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Critically not much has been achieved, looking at the Russia-Africa relations from the perspective of regional organizations – especially Southern African Development Community (SADC), when it was headed by Lawrence Stergomena. Regrettably, she explained during discussions with me that like most of the developing countries, Southern African countries have largely relied on multilateral and regional development financial institutions to fund their development projects.

In this regard, SADC welcomes investors from all over the world. In reality, Russia has not been that visible in the region as compared to China, India or Brazil. On the other hand, it is encouraging that Russia is currently attempting to position itself to be a major partner with Southern Africa, underlined Stergomena, and further explained that the SADC is an inter-governmental organization with its primary goal of deepening socio-economic cooperation and integration in the southern region.

Dr. Babafemi A. Badejo, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Nigeria, argues that many foreign players and investors are now looking forward to exploring several opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which provides a unique and valuable access to an integrated African market of over 1.2 billion people. In practical reality, it aims at creating a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business people and investments in Africa.

Badejo argues further that Russia’s gradual engagement can be boosted by African media popularizing and boosting knowledge on such engagements by Russia. Hosting the next summit would feed very well into popularizing Russia’s efforts at engagement with African leaders. However, promoting relations with the continent of Africa would require more than a one-off event with African leaders who have varying levels of legitimacy from performance or lack of it in their respective countries.

Interestingly, and at the current moment, not much of Russia’s image is promoted by the media in Africa. African media should have the opportunity to report more about Russian corporate presence in Africa and their added value to the realization of the sustainable development goals in Africa. This corporate presence can support the building of the media image of Russia in Africa through involvements with people-at-large oriented activities.

In this final analysis, Russia has to make consistent efforts in building its media network that could further play key role in strengthening relations with Africa, the academic professor noted in his lengthy discussions on Russia-Africa, and concluded that it is Western perception and narrative of Russia that pervades the African media. Russia needs to do more in using media to tell its own story and interest in Africa.

President Vladimir Putin noted at the VTB Capital’s Russia Calling Forum, that many countries had been “stepping up their activities on the African continent” but added that Russia could not cooperate with Africa “as it was in the Soviet period, for political reasons.” In his opinion, cooperation with African countries could be developed on a bilateral basis as well as on a multilateral basis, through the framework of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Reports say Moscow promises to provide genuine cooperation seems illusive over these years. Russia’s involvement in infrastructure development has been extremely low for the past decades on the continent. With its impressive relations, Russia has not pledged publicly concrete funds toward implementing its policy objectives in Africa. Its investment efforts have been limited thus far which some experts attributed to lack of a system of financing. While Russians are very cautious about making financial commitments, the financial institutions are not closely involved in foreign policy initiatives in Africa.

In addition, experts have identified lack of effective coordination and follow-ups combined with inconsistency are basic factors affecting the entire relations with Africa. While the first summit is still considered as the largest symbolic event in history, many significant issues in the joint declaration have not been pursued and that could lay down a comprehensive strategic roadmap for building the future Russia-African relations.

As publicly known, China, Japan and India have committed funds publicly during their summits, while large investment funds have also come from the United States and European Union, all towards realizing various economic and infrastructure projects and further collaborating in new interesting areas as greater significant part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

via MD


Iran Seizes Israel-Linked Container Vessel Following Suspected Israeli Air Strike on Consular Building in Damascus



Iran has seized an Israel-linked container vessel in response to a suspected Israeli air strike on its consular building in Damascus. The seizure of the vessel is the latest in a series of incidents between Iran and Israel, highlighting the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

The vessel, which was reportedly carrying a cargo of chemicals, was seized in the Persian Gulf and taken to an Iranian port for inspection. The incident has raised concerns about the safety of shipping in the region, as tensions between Iran and Israel continue to simmer. The Israeli government has not commented on the incident, but it is believed that the vessel was owned by an Israeli company.

The seizure of the vessel comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel, which have been exacerbated by a series of incidents in recent months. In addition to the suspected air strike on the Iranian consular building in Damascus, there have been a number of other incidents, including attacks on Israeli-owned ships and alleged sabotage at an Iranian nuclear facility. The situation is likely to remain tense, with both sides vowing to respond to any further provocations.

Iran’s Seizure of Israeli-Linked Vessel

Circumstances of the Seizure

On April 13, 2024, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized an Israeli-linked container vessel in the Persian Gulf, claiming it had violated Iranian territorial waters. The vessel, named MV Rachel, was reportedly owned by an Israeli shipping company and was sailing from the UAE to India when it was intercepted by Iranian naval forces.

According to Iranian state media, the vessel was carrying “contraband” and was seized in accordance with Iran’s maritime laws. However, Israeli officials have denied any wrongdoing and accused Iran of using the seizure as a pretext to escalate tensions in the region.

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International Response

The seizure of the MV Rachel has drawn condemnation from the international community, with many countries calling for the immediate release of the vessel and its crew. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have all issued statements expressing concern over the incident and calling for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Israel has not yet commented on the seizure, but the country’s defence minister has warned that Israel will not tolerate any threats to its security and will take all necessary measures to protect its interests.

The seizure of the MV Rachel comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel, following a suspected Israeli air strike on Iran’s consular building in Damascus. Tehran has vowed to respond to the attack, raising fears of a wider conflict in the region.

Suspected Israeli Air Strike in Damascus

Israeli airstrike in Damascus, container vessel seized by Iran. Tension and retaliation loom

On April 13, 2024, Tehran vowed to respond to a suspected Israeli air strike on its consular building in Damascus. The attack reportedly occurred on April 12, 2024, and targeted the Iranian Consulate in Damascus. While there are no official reports of casualties or damage, the attack has been condemned by the Iranian government.

Details of the Attack

The details of the attack are still unclear, but it is suspected that Israeli forces were responsible. The Israeli government has not officially claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Israel has been known to carry out similar attacks in the past, targeting Iranian military and diplomatic installations in Syria.

Iran’s Vow for Retaliation

In response to the suspected Israeli air strike, Tehran has vowed to retaliate. Iranian officials have not provided any details on what form the retaliation will take, but have warned that Israel will face consequences for its actions.

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The attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel. The two countries have been engaged in a long-standing conflict, with Israel accusing Iran of supporting terrorist groups and pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran, in turn, has accused Israel of carrying out attacks on its nuclear facilities and assassinating its scientists.

The situation is likely to escalate further if Iran carries out its threat of retaliation. The international community has called for calm and urged both sides to exercise restraint.

Implications for Regional Stability

Iranian military surrounds a container vessel with Israeli markings. Tehran threatens retaliation for suspected Israeli attack

The seizure of an Israel-linked container vessel by Iran has raised concerns about the potential for escalation in the region. Tehran has accused Israel of being behind a suspected air strike on its consular building in Damascus and has vowed to respond.

The incident highlights the ongoing tensions between Iran and Israel, which have been at odds for decades. It also underscores the broader geopolitical challenges facing the Middle East, where various actors are competing for influence and power.

The implications for regional stability are significant. The seizure of the vessel could lead to further tit-for-tat actions between Iran and Israel, potentially escalating into a wider conflict. It could also strain relations between Iran and other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have been critical of Iran’s actions in the past.

Moreover, the incident could have economic consequences, as it could disrupt shipping routes in the region and affect the flow of goods. This could have a ripple effect on global trade and the wider economy.

Overall, the situation underscores the need for diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the underlying issues driving these tensions. It also highlights the importance of regional cooperation and the need for all parties to work together to promote stability and security in the Middle East.

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The Israeli Colonial-Settler State Unmasked: Democracy No Barrier to Genocide



The Israeli colonial settler state has been a topic of controversy for decades. The idea of a state based on the colonisation of another people’s land has been criticised by many as a violation of human rights and international law. The recent unmasking of the Israeli colonial settler state has brought these criticisms to the forefront of international attention.

Israel’s democracy has been touted by many as a model for the Middle East. However, the reality is that the Israeli state has been accused of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. This accusation is not new, but it has gained traction in recent years as more and more evidence has come to light. Just like the historic Anglo-American colonialism in the US, Canada and Australia, Israel’s democracy has not been a barrier to genocide.

The unmasking of the Israeli colonial-settler state has been a long time coming. The international community has been calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land for decades. However, it is only in recent years that the world has begun to see the true nature of the Israeli state. The evidence of genocide and human rights violations has become too overwhelming to ignore.

Historical Context of Israeli Settlements

Origins of Israeli Colonial-Settler State

The establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 marked the beginning of a long-standing conflict with the Palestinian people. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been a source of tension and violence for decades. The Israeli colonial-settler state has been unmasked for what it is, with its policies of ethnic cleansing, displacement, and genocide being exposed for the world to see.

The origins of the Israeli colonial-settler state can be traced back to the early Zionist movement, which advocated for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In the early 20th century, Jewish settlers began to arrive in Palestine, purchasing land from absentee landlords and displacing Palestinian farmers. This process of colonization continued after the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, with the Israeli government actively promoting the settlement of Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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Comparative Analysis of Anglo-American Colonialism

The Israeli colonial-settler state shares many similarities with historic Anglo-American colonialism in the US, Canada, and Australia. Like these former colonial powers, Israel has used violence, displacement, and genocide to maintain its control over Palestinian land. Israel’s democracy is no barrier to these policies, as evidenced by the ongoing occupation and settlement of Palestinian land.

One key difference between Israeli colonialism and Anglo-American colonialism is the role of religion in the former. While Anglo-American colonialism was often justified on secular grounds, such as the need for resources or the spread of civilization, Israeli colonialism is rooted in religious beliefs about the Jewish people’s rightful claim to the land of Israel. This has led to a particularly brutal form of colonialism, with Israeli settlers often using violence and intimidation to displace Palestinian families from their homes.

In conclusion, the historical context of Israeli settlements is rooted in the early Zionist movement’s desire for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Israeli colonial-settler state has been unmasked for what it is, with its policies of ethnic cleansing, displacement, and genocide being exposed for the world to see. The similarities between Israeli colonialism and historic Anglo-American colonialism are striking, with both using violence and displacement to maintain control over colonized lands.

Democracy and Its Limits

Mechanisms of Israeli Democracy

Israel has long been touted as a democratic state in the Middle East. However, the reality is that the mechanisms of Israeli democracy have been used to systematically oppress and disenfranchise the Palestinian people. The Israeli government has used a variety of tactics, such as gerrymandering and discriminatory laws, to ensure that Palestinians are not able to fully participate in the democratic process.

For example, the Israeli government has implemented a number of laws that discriminate against Palestinians, such as the “Jewish Nation-State Law” which declares that only Jewish people have the right to self-determination in Israel. This law effectively disenfranchises the Palestinian population and reinforces the idea that Israel is a colonial-settler state.

Democratic Facade and Human Rights Violations

Despite claims of being a democratic state, Israel has a long history of human rights violations against the Palestinian people. These violations include the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank, the use of excessive force against protesters, and the imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

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Furthermore, Israel’s “democratic facade” has been used to justify these human rights violations. The Israeli government often claims that it is acting in the name of democracy and national security, but in reality, these actions are designed to maintain the status quo and ensure that Israel remains a colonial-settler state.

In conclusion, while Israel may claim to be a democratic state, the reality is that the mechanisms of Israeli democracy have been used to maintain a system of oppression and disenfranchisement against the Palestinian people. The so-called “democratic facade” has been used to justify human rights violations and maintain Israel’s status as a colonial-settler state.

International Perspectives and Responses

Global Reactions to Israeli Policies

The Israeli colonial-settler state has been criticized by many countries and international organizations for its policies towards Palestine. The United Nations has passed several resolutions condemning Israel’s actions, including the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, many countries have imposed economic sanctions on Israel in an attempt to pressure it to change its policies.

One of the most significant global reactions to Israeli policies is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS movement aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, dismantle the separation wall, and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. The movement has gained significant support from civil society organizations, trade unions, and political parties around the world.

The Role of International Law

International law has played a significant role in addressing Israeli policies towards Palestine. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued several advisory opinions on the legal status of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The ICJ has ruled that the settlements are illegal under international law and that Israel is obliged to dismantle them.

In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has established a commission of inquiry to investigate the Israeli military’s conduct during the 2018 Gaza protests. The commission found that Israeli soldiers had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by using excessive force against unarmed protesters.

Despite these international efforts, Israel continues to violate international law with impunity. The lack of accountability for Israeli officials has led to widespread criticism of the international community’s failure to take effective action to end the occupation of Palestine.

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Defending Haiti: Inside the Brave World of Neighborhood Vigilantes Standing ‘Tooth and Nail’ Against Gang Violence




We shall attempt to investigate the tale of a neighbourhood in the capital of Haiti that is disproportionately affected by violence and unrest. The people have chosen to take matters into their own hands and become vigilantes, fighting back against gang attacks despite the odds being stacked against them. Their bravery, tenacity, and fortitude in the face of hardship are highlighted throughout the story. In the face of dread and uncertainty, these common people have transformed into heroes by putting their lives in danger to protect their neighbourhoods and homes. It is an engrossing story about the struggle for justice and freedom by the human soul.

Understanding the Context

Haiti, a nation plagued by political instability and economic challenges, has long grappled with high levels of crime and violence. In the capital city, Port-au-Prince, residents navigate a landscape marred by frequent acts of brutality, where murders often go unsolved, leaving communities in a state of perpetual unease.

The Rise of Vigilantism

Amidst this turmoil, a remarkable phenomenon has emerged – ordinary citizens turning into vigilantes to protect their neighbourhoods. Faced with the constant threat of gang violence, these brave individuals have taken it upon themselves to stand up against the forces of chaos and lawlessness.

Profiles in Courage

Meet the men and women who have chosen to defy fear and fight back. Through interviews and firsthand accounts, we explore the stories of those who are willing to “give their heart and soul for the freedom of the neighborhood, and the freedom of this country.” Their unwavering determination and sense of duty paint a portrait of extraordinary heroism in the face of danger.

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Challenges and Sacrifices

Delve into the challenges faced by these vigilantes as they navigate a treacherous path between justice and vigilantism. From personal risks to societal implications, we examine the complexities inherent in taking up arms against criminal elements in a society where trust in traditional authorities is often eroded.

Impact on Community Dynamics

Explore how the presence of vigilantes has reshaped community dynamics in Haiti. From instilling a sense of security to fostering solidarity among residents, we analyze the ripple effects of grassroots efforts to combat crime and uphold order in an environment fraught with uncertainty.

The Call for Change

As vigilantes continue to defend their neighbourhoods with unwavering resolve, questions arise about the broader implications for Haiti’s future. What does this grassroots movement signify for governance, security, and social cohesion in a nation grappling with multifaceted challenges?

Conclusion: A Beacon of Hope

In conclusion, the story of vigilantes defending Haiti’s neighbourhoods serves as a poignant reminder of human resilience in the face of adversity. Their courage shines as a beacon of hope amidst the darkness, inspiring us to reflect on the power of community action and individual agency in shaping a brighter tomorrow.

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