By Abayomi Azikiwe, August 27, 2022
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited three African Union (AU) member-states during early August in an attempt to enhance the presence of Washington on the continent.
This tour came amid an escalation of tensions between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China in regard to their relations with Washington.
Blinken first visited the Republic of South Africa where he had a joint meeting with Naledi Pandor, his diplomatic counterpart. Pandor reiterated the views of the African National Congress (ANC) government which has refused to denounce Moscow over its special military operation in Ukraine.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has stated that the U.S. should encourage a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine. This view is at extreme variance with that of the administration of President Joe Biden which has sent billions of dollars in military equipment and other support aimed at continuing the war.
Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have called for the weakening and removal of the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Biden administration has imposed unprecedented draconian sanctions against Moscow, forcing U.S.-based firms to leave the country and making it even more difficult for nations around the world to conduct trade with Russia.
Historically during the period of the Soviet Union, the socialist state supported the national liberation movements and progressive governments on the African continent during the 1950s through the 1980s. Those states in Eastern Europe which were allied with the Soviets also participated in providing scholarships, military training and joint economic projects.
As hundreds of U.S.-based corporations and the Pentagon provided direct economic, intelligence and military support to the racist South African apartheid system prior to the democratic breakthrough of April 1994, the socialist countries including the Soviet Union, the Comecon sector, China, Cuba, Yugoslavia, among others, were diplomatically and materially bolstering the struggle to win independence and non-capitalist development.
Since the ascendancy of the ANC to power in South Africa in May 1994, successive administrations have sought to rebuild and sustain normal relations with Washington and its allies. However, there are issues which have continued to divide Pretoria and Washington.
Ukraine is not the only point of disagreement involving geopolitical positions. South Africa has remained a staunch proponent of Palestinian liberation along with calls for the departure of the Kingdom of Morocco which has occupied the Western Sahara for more than four decades. In contrast, the administrations in the U.S. since 1948 have provided unconditional diplomatic, material, military and public relations support to the State of Israel. In regard to the Western Sahara question, the previous administration of President Donald Trump recognized the “sovereignty” of Morocco over the political, military and economic control of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the provisional government representing the Western Sahara, previously a colony of Spain until the 1970s….