Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:01 UTC
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, hereafter also referred to simply as the Congo) could once again serve as a catalyst for a wider regional conflict and another "African World War", while the Arab states of North Africa have a chance to move closer to the emerging Multipolar World Order in Afro-Eurasia.
The DRC is on the verge of yet another period of civil war, this time brought about by President Kabila's postponement of national elections and refusal to step down during the interim. The author forecast this exact scenario over half a year ago for The Duran in an article titled "China vs. the US: The Struggle for Central Africa and the Congo", in which the real reason behind the turmoil poised to take over one of Africa's largest countries was revealed. Rather than being what the Mainstream Media is trying to project as yet another stereotypical African crisis of a "dictator refusing to give up power", the truth is that the emerging conflict is actually about a larger proxy struggle between the US and China for control of the world's largest coltan and cobalt deposits - minerals which are an irreplaceable part of modern electronics and communication devices. As the aforementioned article proves, the country with the greatest degree of access to these reserves will acquire a strategic advantage in the future world economy, which is why the US is contemplating the use of Hybrid War to destructively dislodge China and its affiliated companies from this industry so that they can be later replaced by Western firms.
The Chaos Belt
Should an incipient Hybrid War be unleashed in the Congo, it'll affect much more than just that country's inhabitants. The DRC is crucially located in the heartland of the African continent, and has already twice in the past served as the trigger for sparking larger regional crises. The First and Second Congo Wars grew to involve a multitude of African states, with the latter one even earning the moniker of "Africa's World War" because of the broad geographic scope of its participants. Ignominiously, it also boasts the title of being the bloodiest war since World War II, and an estimated five million people died from its direct or indirect results since it first broke out in the late-1990s. Considering how there's already an obviously documented track record of the Congo turning into a deadly black hole of regional and continental chaos, there's a disturbing chance that it could once more function in this frightful role if it's again thrown into turmoil per the abovementioned forecast.
Speaking of which, the author's Duran article also spells out the most likely scenario forecasts for what can predictably happen in the event that the Congo slips back into chaos. All predictions in one way or another return to the common denominator of regional conflict, seeing as how the country's borders are already extraordinarily porous and a myriad of armed groups traverse its northeastern peripheral territory. As is explained and cited in the article, South Sudanese, Ugandan, and Rwandan "rebel" groups (referred as terrorists by some actors) run wild in this loosely governed corner of the country, and there's nothing preventing militias from the failed state of the Central African Republic from crossing over the Congo's northern frontier either. The author paid more attention to these scenarios in a text submitted to a conference about "The Threats Of Terrorism In Africa: Internal And External Aspects", which was hosted by the Institute of African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in November 2016. The English translation should be published at Katehon sometime early next year, but the Russian version is accessible at this link.
The analysis lays out the ease at which a Color Revolution crisis in the Congo could trigger a wider regional war, focusing on how the non-state actors in the northeastern DRC have a history of exploiting Kinshasa's weaknesses and launching cross-border attacks against its neighbors, which consequently invites reciprocal measures from the victimized governments and fuels the rapidly accelerating conflict cycle. If just one of the three bordering states in this region - South Sudan, Uganda, and/or Rwanda - intervenes in the Congo during these tumultuous times, then it could encourage the others to do so as well in decisively finishing off their non-state foes and preemptively safeguarding their own sovereignty. What's most dangerous about this possibility is that, as history shows, the intervening countries in the Congo don't stop once their immediate and publicly presented objectives have been completed and instead transform their unilateral mandate into one of regime change.
South Sudan and the Central African Republic are much too weak to do this, but Uganda and Rwanda are a whole different set of countries entirely which have already done this on one occasion. Should the Congo erupt in violence and trigger a larger regional war, it's very likely then that the transoceanic stretch of African states stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean could get involved to varying extents and thus transform the bicoastal region into a chaotic belt of conflict. Each of the DRC's neighbors have their own destabilization vulnerabilities, and in the case of the Republic of the Congo and Angola, both have experienced sporadic Color Revolution strife which could be emboldened by a host of new situational factors (refugees, cross-border fighters, etc.) emanating from a collapsing Congo. Zambia and Tanzania, typically much more stable than the rest of the DRC's neighbors, could also be sucked into the vortex of violence too.
The author explored the specifics of each and every one of these possibilities in his Oriental Review series about Africa's Hybrid War risks, and while the progressively published series has yet to be released in its full entirety, the reader should certainly reference it going forward if they're interested in more details about the interconnected conflict potential in the continent.
North Africa: European Threat Or Eurasian Opportunity?
The last main trend to explore in Africa is the uncertain geopolitical future of its northern Arab shoreline. This part of the continent is historically and demographically distinct from rest of its sub-Saharan parts, and is geographically endowed with a greater potential for interacting with Eurasia. As was explained in the first section about the EU, there's reason to believe that the situation in this part of Africa might deteriorate in the future and thus create countless challenges for Europe. On the other hand, however, the reverse might actually happen, and Algeria for example might undergo a smooth leadership transition just like Uzbekistan did while Daesh in Libya might finally be defeated. Furthermore, Egypt could continue along the trajectory of its present pro-Russian tilt and thus draw more of the region into the Eurasian multipolar orbit.
Should that happen, then Egypt could interestingly complement its Horn of Africa Ethiopian rival by being a Russian-friendly multipolar counterpart to the Chinese-friendly ancient civilization to its south. Egypt and Ethiopia aren't expected to smooth over their differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam anytime soon (no matter what public statements might be issued to the contrary from time to time for convenient diplomatic purposes), but their competition with one another over water rights and broader leadership issues could be stabilized through the discrete involvement of Russia and China's mediating influence over their main respective African partners. If Moscow and Beijing can help keep the peace between these two multipolar states and neither of them capitulates to the US' Hybrid Wars against them, then the "Afro-Eurasian Blueprint From A Multipolar World Order" can be significantly strengthened and expanded through the incorporation of North and East Africa's largest, most powerful, and geographically convenient states.
Of course, this optimistic scenario largely hinges on the situation in each anchor state's regional neighborhood, as the continuance of civil war in Libya and the spread of Daesh could augur quite negatively for Egypt's future prospects, as could an intensification of the Qatari-backed Muslim Brotherhood terrorist insurgency against Cairo. Likewise, the unrest in Ethiopia among the Oromo and Amhara communities against the central government could return to being a major force for destabilization after the six-month state of emergency ends, and there's no doubt that the US will continue to work with the hyper-nationalist diaspora to stoke a conflict aimed at collaterally damaging China's ultra-crucial New Silk Road through the country. Further afield, there's of course the uncertainty posed by the looming departure of Algerian President Bouteflika from the political scene in North Africa, just as there's the very real risk of a second round of civil war breaking out in South Sudan and spilling over the border to encourage a similar process in Ethiopia.
That being said, if Russia and China can manage to transform Egypt and Ethiopia into their respective continental anchors, maintain the cold peace between both rivals, and assist their partners in counteracting the regional Hybrid War threats against them, then there's a strong likelihood that these two states could become the lynchpins of multipolarity in Africa and thus complement the emerging world order that Moscow and Beijing are jointly constructing all across the Eastern Hemisphere.
The US' Operation Condor 2.0 has successfully reversed the leftist-socialist gains that most of South America experienced over the past decade, but China's Trans-Oceanic Railroad (TORR) is poised to geostrategically transform the situation in the continent once more and give a boost to multipolarity. Additionally, China is delicately working on forging a strategic partnership with Mexico, and if Beijing can manage to pull off this ambitious task, then it will be uniquely positioned to challenge the US in the Western Hemisphere like never before.
Operation Condor 2.0
The US embarked on a massive mission during the Old Cold War to acquire hegemonic control over all of South America's governments, undertaking a series of coups to ensure the installment of pro-American right-wing military governments. This endeavor was called Operation Condor, and the structural pattern established during that time and the lessons that have been gained in hindsight are both equally applicable to the modern day as well. The author elaborated on the nature of Operation Condor 2.0 in an end-of-the-year summary for his Context Countdown radio program, and the reader should listen to it if they want more details on what's transpired across the past year in South America. In short, the US organized a role in the 2012 Paraguayan 'constitutional coup', the 2015 narrow electoral defeat of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's intended successor, and Brazil's 'constitutional coup' this summer against President Rousseff. Additionally, it also has its hands dirty in engineering the Hybrid War on Venezuela and occasional regime change disturbances in ALBA-allied Bolivia and Ecuador. Taken together in a holistic sense, it's clear to see that US has been very active in upending the political legacy of the mid-2000s "Pink Tide" socialist-leftist electoral revolutions and replacing (or intending to replace, as in the case of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador) their leaders with pro-American surrogates.
The Grand Reversal
The geostrategic consequences of Operation Condor 2.0 greatly transcend the generic assessment that unipolarity undermined multipolarity in South America. To be specific, most of the socialist Mercosur trade bloc is now under the control of neoliberal American-allied politicians, which itself is a substantial change from what had previously been the continent's leftist and multipolar status quo for over a decade. On the other hand, Mercosur's rival is the newly created Pacific Alliance, which has been closely tied to the US ever since its institutional inception in 2012. That year is also symbolic of when the US pulled off South America's first successful post-Cold War coup in Paraguay. On the surface, it might look to the unaware observer that the US has swiftly managed to put the entire continent under its control in the course of just a few brief years, but this is actually misleading to conclude because yet another grand strategic reversal has progressively been playing out in South America during this time.
The author's upcoming monograph at Katehon about "21st-Century Geopolitics Of South America" will more comprehensively explain all of this once it's published sometime next year, but for the meantime and in pertinence to what's presently being discussed, the overall idea is that while Mercosur has become more unipolar, the Pacific Alliance has interestingly become more multipolar. The origins of the former trend were just spoken upon, but the latter is a result of China's high-level diplomacy to these countries through the visits of Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping. On the last visit of the Chinese leader to South America, he even declared that he wants to increase the level of partnership between the People's Republic and the Pacific Alliance. In and of itself, this is a hallmark development which signifies the bloc's greater embrace of multipolarity, but the real game-changing initiative which could tie the Pacific Alliance closer to China and potentially even save Mercosur is Beijing's plans for constructing a Trans-Oceanic Railroad (TORR) across South America.
Originally conceived in 2015 during Premier Li's visit, it envisions connecting Peru's Pacific port of Ilo to Brazil's Atlantic coast. The plan has since been modified in summer 2016 to pivotally include a shortcut through Bolivia and the replacement of Rio de Janeiro with Sao Paolo. Taken together, this project essentially ties the Pacific Alliance state of Peru with the Mercosur anchor of Brazil via landlocked Bolivia in order to create a New Silk Road corridor which bridges the continental divide between them and vitally injects a surge of multipolarity into South America. The exact situational specifics about this and the larger geopolitical consequences that it can predictably entail will be expostulated upon in the aforementioned Katehon monograph which should be released in early 2017, but what's important at this point for the reader to comprehend is that the New Cold War has hit South America and that the US could resort to Hybrid War in the crucial transit state of Bolivia to disrupt, control, or influence this monumental infrastructure project. Should TORR enter into operation, then it could be just as transformational as CPEC in the sense that it would fully revolutionize the region's strategic situation and deal a crippling blow to unipolarity, ergo why the US is interested in undermining it.
The Chinese-Mexican Strategic Partnership
China and Mexico are both US outsourcing destinations which might appear to have little else in common with one another besides that shared trait, but they've actually been moving closer to each otherr over the years in a largely unpublicized and mostly discrete way. The "private" nature of their relations abruptly changed, however, with the election of Donald Trump. The President-elect has promised to challenge China on its currency and trade behavior, while pledging that he'll renegotiate NAFTA and also resolutely deal with the millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico which have invaded the country. Trump's policy of "America First" is predicted to disrupt the comfortable status quos to which China and Mexico have become accustomed for years, and this in turn has served as an incentive for both of them to immediately move closer to one another. American media was aghast after China and Mexico signed agreements aimed at boosting bilateral trade and energy cooperation with one another shortly after Trump's victory, seeing this for the unmistakable signal which it was meant to be that both sides will accelerate, intensify, and diversify their relations all throughout the Trump era.
It's doubtful that this will ever expand to the level of military cooperation, but it could result in political-strategic relations in the broader Latin American region and perhaps even at the UN. The reader should recall what was mentioned in the previous forecast above about how President Xi declared that he wants to increase ties between China and the Pacific Alliance, and with Mexico being the largest country in the bloc, it's obvious that this will inevitably translate into enhanced Chinese-Mexican engagement with time. It's very hard for the US to counter this anti-American trend seeing as how it's paradoxically encouraged in the first place by Trump's policy of "America First", but the US' intelligence agencies could foreseeably wage limited Hybrid War on Mexico as a short-term response in putting pressure on Mexico City. They're already doing this to an extent through the US' state and non-state connections with the deadly Mexican drug cartels, the former through the scandalous "Operation Fast And Furious" gun-running scandal and presumably related yet-to-be-disclosed covert campaigns, while the latter is through the US population's insatiable hunger for narcotics.
In the event that Mexico gets too comfortably close to China, the American "deep state" (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) might gamble that it's time to transform the low-level drug insurgency into an overt regime change campaign led by "democratic freedom fighters", simply switching out an AK-47 for a political placard in making the reverse Hybrid War transition from Unconventional Warfare to a Color Revolution. Of course, the US would have to be especially careful with any operation which could destabilize Mexico, since this could counterproductively lead to an even larger outflow of immigrants from the country and into the US. It might relatedly be for this future-focused reason that the Trump Administration plans to go forward with its plans for building a wall with Mexico, since there's no other way that the presently unguarded large swaths of the US' southern border could be defended in the face of a pronounced inflow of "Weapons of Mass Migration" into the former "Reconquista" territories should American-orchestrated large-scale unrest erupt in Mexico (whether intentional or unintentional as an inevitable byproduct of the aforementioned scenario).
If the US can't for whatever reason swap out a serving multipolar and Chinese-friendly Mexican President with a unipolar pro-American stooge, then it might be compelled to intensify the low-level drug insurgency in Mexico to the point of publicly becoming a Color Revolution or outright Hybrid War, modelled in practice off of what it experimented with in EuroMaidan and the "Arab Spring". This is a very risky gamble which could easily backfire on the US in the worst ways possible, hence the need to preemptively safeguard against this real scenario through the construction of a border wall with Mexico. The US would only countenance this extreme possibility if it felt desperate enough that it was "losing" Mexico to China and had to take radical action in order to reverse what some decision makers might otherwise see as "inevitable" by that point. The author's specific forecast isn't necessarily foretelling a "Mexican Civil War", but rather drawing attention to what will definitely be an intensification of Chinese-Mexican relations up to the level of a possible strategic partnership and consequently prognosticating the ways in which the US might end up responding to it (whether clumsily through the Hybrid War scenario or more "professionally" through a post-modern 'constitutional coup' or something similar).
Comment: Previous installments:
- Andrew Korybko's 2017 Forecast: China & Russia
- Andrew Korybko's 2017 Forecast: ASEAN & East Asia
- Andrew Korybko's 2017 Forecast: Central & South Asia
- Andrew Korybko's 2017 Forecast: EU & Middle East