Africa invites top anti-Americans to summit

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    BANJUL (Reuters) - Two of the world's most anti-American leaders, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and <FORM class=yqin action= method=post> </FORM>Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attended this weekend's Africa summit in Gambia to the consternation of Western diplomats. <SCRIPT language=JavaScript src=""></SCRIPT><SCRIPT type=text/javascript>if (window.yzq_a == null) document.write("<scr" + "ipt type=text/javascript src=""></scr" + "ipt>");</SCRIPT><SCRIPT type=text/javascript>if (window.yzq_a){yzq_a('p', 'P=e4UvX0LaS.Z6DK.RQ_F5wAfr2OTJRUSoV9gAAJVl&T=1bjrqg35a%2fX%3d1151883224%2fE%3d7666528%2fR%3dnews%2fK%3d5%2fV%3d1.1%2fW%3d8%2fY%3dYAHOO%2fF%3d1382633374%2fH%3dY2FjaGVoaW50PSJuZXdzIiBjb250ZW50PSJBbWVyaWNhbjtBZnJpY2E7cG92ZXJ0eTtjb3JydXB0aW9uO3RlcnJvcmlzbTtBRlJJQ0E7aXQ7SXQ7b2lsO2VuZXJneTt0YXhlcztyZWZ1cmxfbmV3c195YWhvb19jb20iIHJlZnVybD0icmVmdXJsX25ld3NfeWFob29fY29tIiB0b3BpY3M9InJlZnVybF9uZXdzX3lhaG9vX2NvbSI-%2fS%3d1%2fJ%3dA1A949D1');yzq_a('a', '&U=139f4utr4%2fN%3dLgKeAdFJq20-%2fC%3d533351.8915993.9696695.1414694%2fD%3dLREC%2fB%3d3800893');}</SCRIPT><NOSCRIPT>[​IMG]</NOSCRIPT>

    Both lived up to their billing with Chavez railing against U.S. "hegemony" and Ahmadinejad blaming Western greed for "poverty, backwardness, regional conflicts, corruption, illicit drugs."

    The role of West-baiting once fell at AU summits to Libya's colourful leader <FORM class=yqin action= method=post> </FORM>Muammar Gaddafi but he has now been welcomed into the Western fold and Libya is soon to be taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

    So why were outsiders Chavez and Ahmadinejad invited?
    The striking presence of such anti-Western figures, particularly the Iranian leader, raised eyebrows among the large number of foreign envoys observing the summit, diplomats said.

    One non-aligned ambassador who asked not to be identified said the invitation to Chavez was more understandable than that to Ahmadinejad since Venezuela has AU observer status.

    He said the Ahmadinejad invitation was apparently extended unilaterally by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, and provoked criticism from some countries in the 53-member AU.

    But Western diplomats suggested the two invitations may also have been intended to underline Africa's breakaway from the influence of former colonial powers in Europe.

    "At one time the links with Europe were still strong. But in the 21st century Africa wants to show that these links have finally been broken," one European ambassador said.

    Professor Shadrack Gutto, director of African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa, said the presence of Chavez and Ahmadinejad should not be seen as anti-Western.

    "The AU is not suddenly turning against the West. These visits were not ideologically decided and there isn't necessarily an anti-Western aspect to it," he said.

    But he added that it was easier for Africa to assert its independence from the West when meeting in the AU than as individual countries, many dependent on Western funding.

    "It does indicate that collectively, as the 53 members of the AU, when they come together the West will not choose for them who they invite or who their friends are," he said.
    "They are saying Africa can have a position that differs with that of the West."
    Gutto suggested that whereas there were strong and logical reasons to invite Venezuela, Ahmadinejad had probably pushed for an invitation to lobby for African support in Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West.
    He said African countries were eager to hear about Chavez's policies toward Western oil companies.

    "Chavez has taken quite a radical line with regard to claiming national sovereignty over natural resources and that resonates with a lot of African countries emerging as substantial producers," Gutto said.
    He said African producers were anxious to ensure they maximised the benefits of their resources and were not being short-changed in contracts with Western oil companies.
    In his speech to the summit on Saturday, Chavez urged Africa to seize greater control of its energy resources, describing the low royalties paid by some oil giants as robbery. Chavez has hiked taxes on U.S. oil companies, which he dubbed "Count Dracula."
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member


    Looks nervous in that room full.
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