Year 2000 No. 97, June 8, 2000

Condemn the Continued British Military Intervention in Sierra Leone

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

Condemn the Continued British Military Intervention in Sierra Leone

For Your Information
Sierra Leone Diamond Embargo Proposed by Britain
Robin Cook in Sierra Leone

NATO Military Exercises in Baltic Sea

Forthcoming Events
Conference on NATO, Yugoslavia and the New World Order
National Demonstration: Stop Scapegoating Refugees!

Daily On Line Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 020 7627 0599
Web Site: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
e-mail: office@rcpbml.org.uk
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition: 70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)

Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail ): 1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10



Condemn the Continued British Military Intervention in Sierra Leone

Britain’s interference in the affairs of Sierra Leone is to continue, according to a statement made by the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, on Tuesday, June 6, in Parliament.

According to the statement, British armed forces will continue to provide what Robin Cook referred to as "valuable back-up to the UN operation" in Sierra Leone, including "military advice to its headquarters", despite claims that British forces will be withdrawn in mid-June. At the same time the Foreign Secretary gave more details of the measures the British government is taking to arm and train the armed forces of the government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, that was itself originally brought to power with British military assistance. Indeed Robin Cook even boasted that the British government had taken the lead in arming the Kabbah government and will make sure that it retains that position in the future.

In the short term, the government is proposing to strengthen the Sierra Leone army by training new recruits and junior officers. Apparently this training, which will initially involve nearly 300 British troops, also requires the "support" of HMS Argyll and RFA Sir Percival, which will be stationed offshore.

Robin Cook is making every effort to present the British government as working in "partnership" with the government of Sierra Leone and as the "biggest donors to the peace process". It is clearly his hope that people will have forgotten the British government’s actions in the past, including the Foreign Office’s involvement in the Sandline International affair, the flouting of the UN embargo on fuel and arms to bring President Kabbah to power, and a range of other sordid activities which have created the conditions for the current situation in Sierra Leone. Talk of partnership is merely an attempt to create a justification for armed intervention and must be condemned. What is more, it is becoming very evident that the British government’s concern is not for the people of Sierra Leone, a country which was subject to British colonial rule for over 150 years, but particularly for that country’s great mineral wealth in diamonds.

The government has already openly stated that its main aim in Sierra Leone is to make sure that the government of Ahmad Kabbah is in control of the diamond producing areas of the country. Now it has announced that it is also taking action through the auspices of the UN Security council to effectively ban what it refers to as the illicit trade in diamond exports from Sierra Leone and at the same time, along with the US and the EU, it is stepping up interference in the neighbouring country of Liberia, which it alleges is profiting from diamond smuggling.

The fact is that the British government has no justification for its armed intervention in Sierra Leone nor its interference in the affairs of other countries in Africa. Behind its pious talk of "partnership" and "humanitarian concern" is its engagement in a new scramble for the mineral and other resources of the African continent in the same manner as the 19th century colonialists. The British working class and people can have no illusions about the reasons for the British governments intervention in Sierra Leone or other parts of Africa, based as they are on the global interests of the big monopolies. All democratic people must call for an end to the government’s intervention in Sierra Leone and its interference in Africa and throughout the world.

Article Index


For Your Information

Sierra Leone Diamond Embargo Proposed by Britain

Britain is proposing to the UN Security Council the imposition of a global embargo on diamond exports from Sierra Leone. A draft resolution is to be circulated recommending a ban on all diamonds out of Sierra Leone except for those exported by the government. Adoption of the measures could take a number of weeks. Since the Sierra Leone government has no certification process to show the origin of the diamonds, the ban, in effect, would cover all gems leaving the country. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that the British government believed that a Security Council resolution on Sierra Leone would provide a "golden opportunity" to focus international attention on the problem of the "illicit trade" in diamonds.

The draft resolution comes in the wake of the request of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on May 22 to strengthen the UN "peacekeeping force" in Sierra Leone to 16,500 from an authorised 13,000 military personnel. The mandate of the mission was not expected to be changed but be "more clearly defined", according to a British official. Kofi Annan in his report had also asked the Security Council to consider sanctions against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) forces in Sierra Leone, referred to as the "rebels", to prevent them from "reaping the benefits of their illegal exploitation of mineral resources, in particular diamonds". The RUF at present controls around 90% of the diamond areas in eastern Sierra Leone.

According to agency reports, the RUF sells the gems through Liberia, and it is unclear how the Security Council would deal with Liberia if the embargo were imposed. A British official said some kind of monitoring mechanism would have to be created as well as an implied threat to countries in the region if they failed to co-operate.

It was Britain and the US which had proposed the settlement to the peace talks in the summer of 1999 which had brought Fodoy Sankoh of the RUF into the Sierra Leone government as chairman of the commission which controlled the diamond mines. At the same time, the Lomé peace accord specified that the amnesty granted to Fodoy Sankoh did not apply internationally, with the implication that he would eventually be pursued for trial outside Sierra Leone.

Recently, the capture of the 500 of the UN "peacekeeping" force occurred in when in late April and early May, that force attempted to go to the area of the diamond mines. US President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to Africa, Jesse Jackson, at the time it was announced that he would come to West Africa to help negotiate the hostages’ release, said that Fodoy Sankoh "should be coaxed back into the political equation" and drew a parallel between the RUF and the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela. On May 26, President Clinton announced $20 million to go to the UN and several individual countries, including Nigeria, for their operations in Sierra Leone.

Robin Cook in Sierra Leone

British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has arrived in Sierra Leone to help in trying to broker a "peace deal". He is due to meet President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and other government leaders early today.

Article Index


NATO Military Exercises in Baltic Sea

Naval manoeuvres under NATO direction began in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, June 6. It is reported that 46 ships, four submarines and 20 aircraft from NATO and all Baltic Sea countries except Russia are involved, in the biggest operation of its kind.

The exercises, under the code-name Baltops 2000, involves navies from the NATO members Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, and Poland, as well as the US. Navies from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Sweden are also taking part. Russia, which has access to the Baltic Sea at St Petersburg and Kaliningrad, has criticised Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for seeking the join the NATO military alliance.

The Baltops exercises have been held annually since 1972, and include exercises in gunnery, replenishment at sea, undersea warfare, radar tracking, mine countermeasures, seamanship, search and rescue and enacting scenarios of potential world crisis situations. This year’s Baltops are under the command of a US Vice Admiral. They will end on June 17, with a joint visit to the German port of Kiel at the western-most point of the Baltic Sea.

Article Index


Forthcoming Events


WDIE has received notice of the following events:

Conference on NATO, Yugoslavia and the New World Order

One year after the bombing

SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 10.30 pm to 5.30 pm

CONWAY HALL, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON WC2

(Holborn Tube)

"Eye witness reports, international speakers, bookstalls and workshops"

Organised by Committee for Peace in the Balkans

National Demonstration: Stop Scapegoating Refugees!

SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 1.00 pm

LINCOLN INN FIELDS, LONDON WC2

(Holborn Tube)

Organised by a coalition of groups including the Roma/Gypsy Community Organisation

Article Index


RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page