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    Russia-Africa Summit Gives Continent ‘Leverage’ Against Former Colonial Powers

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    As African nations head to Russia’s Sochi for the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit, the ability of the formerly colonized continent to “diversify” its relationships with non-European industrial countries like Russia, China, and India bodes well for future development, a historian told Sputnik Thursday.

    The first-ever Russia-Africa Summit was wrapped up on Thursday in the Russian city of Sochi. The summit was intended to boost trade, economic and investment deals between Russia and the nations of the African continent. 

    Dr. Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, told Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary that the summit represents Africa’s desire to push away from North Atlantic countries that once colonized the continent.

    Russia and African nations signed over 500 agreements worth more than 800 billion rubles ($12 billion) at the Sochi forum, Russian presidential adviser Anton Kobyakov said Thursday, Sputnik reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin also said Thursday that Russia will continue its efforts toward international strategic policy for strengthening Africa's stability and ensuring regional security.

    “In order to take the measure of this very important summit, you have to take into account at least one, two or three factors. What I mean is, the early arrivals in Sochi was the president of Zimbabwe [Emerson Mnangagwa] - his country is under very severe sanctions from the North Atlantic countries, allegedly because of human rights violations … obviously what’s happened to Zimbabwe is that the government of ZANU-PF was audacious enough to expropriate land from the European minority, and the North Atlantic countries, led by the United States, feel that they should be punished and sanctioned forever more,” Horne told hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon.

    In March, US President Donald Trump extended sanctions on Zimbabwe for one year, claiming that the government poses an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to US foreign policy, Reuters reported.

    “I would not be surprised if the significant numbers of these delegations had been in Sochi before. Because recall that during the days of the Soviet Union, Sochi, which is the resort on the Black Sea, was oftentimes a place where African militants and liberation fighters from Southern Africa would go for rest and rehabilitation as it were. And that leads me to the third factor, which is that there’s still a legacy of appreciation … with regard to the predecessor regime in Moscow, speaking of the Soviet Union,” Horne explained. 

    In the 1950s, the European nations’ African colonies began to break away, forming independent countries, either by the ballot box or the cartridge box. Then-Premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev started to provide economic and military aid to African governments and started building port facilities in the Indian Ocean, supporting revolutionary movements that emerged in Africa through the building of dams and factories. One such structure is the Aswan Dam, built across the Nile in Aswan, Egypt, between 1960 and 1970.

    “I think this summit is very important and it also comes in the wake of another summit that took place a month ago between the Chinese leadership in Beijing and African nations of a similar character,” Horne explained. 

    Last September, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) completed its third summit meeting. Russian-Chinese relations have been actively developing in various fields, having healed since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. While immediately after the People's Republic of China was formed in 1949, the two countries had enjoyed close relations, that friendship broke down in the 1960s amid disputes over industrialization and world prominence of the two socialist countries.

    “I think that African nations are looking to diversify … because as things stand now, you still have French colonialists, for example, who still dominate their former colonies including Mali, Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville, etc, and that is an unsuitable model. And I think that the African nations realize that, which has led them on the way to Sochi,” Horne explained, also noting that the strengthening of relationships between the African continent and Russia could “push out” Washington or “see its role significantly eroded.”

    “We all know about the [US] Africa Command (AFRICOM) which is situated disproportionately in the Sahel region, that is to say the the band of territory stretching eastward from Mali through Niger, where there is a major base all the way to the Indian Ocean coast of Djibouti. There are thousands of US forces who are part of the so-called Africa Command.”

    “Certainly this Sochi meeting is rather important not only coming in the wake of the meeting with China, but also keep in mind that New Delhi, India, has also tried to develop a similar sort of relationship. And they, that is to say India, might have an advantage, given the fact that as a legacy of British colonialism, there are significant South Asian and Indian populations along the Indian Ocean coast … so this all bodes quite well for the 21st century of the future,” Horne said.

    “So, this obviously [bodes well] for the future of developing relationships with the emerging powers of the 21st century and the ability to leverage that against the North Atlantic imperialism.” 

    “The North Atlantic countries have a lot to apologize for … with regard to the depredation and the atrocities that they have inflicted upon Africa in previous decades and centuries,” Horne added.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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