International Opinion

Imperialism is not dead and Australia should watch its back

By | | comments |
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (image by U.S. Secretary of Defense via Wikimedia Commons)

Although open imperialism has diminished since World War II, it has not disappeared.

Support for anti-imperialist movements in China and Russia has gone but the divisions between power blocks remain.

The Muslim world, due to its possession of valuable resources or its strategic location, is subject to constant upheavals.

This year in April then in July we witnessed two coups in Muslim countries.

Both can be traced to the policies of the old imperial powers which have not abandoned their desire to dominate poor countries for their own benefit.

In Egypt, the coup against the elected government in 2013 resulted in the dictatorship of Al Sisi and the downward spiral of the economy, mass killings and the incarceration of political opponents.

In Turkiye, the attempted coup in 2016 resulted in 240 deaths but defeat for the plotters.

Throwing Out Imran Khan

The Pakistani coup seems to be along these familiar lines.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, was a strong opponent of corruption, a defender of Pakistani independence from imperial control and a supporter of democracy in a country long dominated by the military establishment and alternative bouts of prominence by the Sharif and Bhutto families.

According to Craig Murray, British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 the Pakistan military was willing to accept him as it wanted to distract from its role in enabling the CIA and U.S. military in the drone killings, the invasion of Afghanistan and the excesses of the War on Terror.

He refused American money in return for sending troops to Yemen in support of the Saudis but his biggest sin, according to Murray was:

'He supported the developing country movement to move trading away from the petrodollar. He accordingly sought to switch Pakistan’s oil suppliers from the Gulf states to Russia.'

The Intercept was given a secret cable by a friendly source in the Pakistan military:

'The U.S. State Department encouraged the Pakistani government in a March 7, 2022, meeting to remove Imran Khan as prime minister over his neutrality on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.'

The day before the meeting, Khan had addressed a rally and responded directly to European calls that Pakistan rally behind Ukraine:

“What do you think of us? That we are your slaves and that we will do whatever you ask of us? We are friends of Russia, and we are also friends of the United States. We are friends of China and Europe. We are not part of any alliance.”  

He was removed from office in April and sentenced to three years imprisonment (now suspended) on 5 August.

The Coup in Niger

The July military coup involving the arrest of President Mohamed Bazoum was condemned by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the European Union and the U.S.

ECOWAS issued an ultimatum to Niger to restore the elected president to authority or face military intervention but has since opted for negotiation.

Chandra Muzaffar, a respected Muslim commentators and president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), explains why this coup was met by huge ongoing demonstrations of support from the people of Niger.

The coup was understood as an attempt to end the exploitation of the country's resources by France and other Western interests. Rich in oil, uranium and gold, it is of great value to its former colonial overlord.

Its uranium industry is largely controlled by France’s Atomic Energy Commission and French companies, while a small share is owned by the Niger.

Muzaffar writes:

'Based on uranium from Niger, France is fully electrified, but in Niger 75 to 80 per cent of people have no access to electricity.'

Muzaffer also points out that Niger, along with other former French colonies in Africa, is tied to the French currency, all domestic and foreign financial transactions are via the Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA).

Bazoum, although elected, was seen as a puppet of Western interests.

According to Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition: 

'Democracy in the sub-region is a fig-leaf for increasing authoritarian rule and exploitation benefitting a very thin layer of the elite.'

Rigged elections, legal minefields laid down for opposition candidates to prevent challenges and vote buying are common, plus low voter turnout, combine to make a mockery of claims to democracy.

The military governments of Mali and Burkina Faso have also declared that they will fight on Niger’s side should there be war and they may involve Wagner Mercenaries. 

Imperial divisions are occurring with France refusing to engage diplomatically with the junta and the U.S. sending an envoy to meet with it.

There is thus a balance of power struggle between the USA and France while there is the possibility that China and Russia with its Wagner network will benefit from the upheaval.

Implications for Australia

Imperial interests are devoid of morality.  Democracy and human rights are slogans used without substance.

One current illustration is the different treatment of India and China over anti-Muslim policies. While opposition to China uses the disgusting treatment of the Muslim Uyghur population, the BJP Leader Narendra Modi of India is feted and embraced as a friend, despite an anti-Muslim policy based on Hindu extremism.

Australia is becoming involved in imperial preparations, as the U.S. lines up the pawns in its struggle against Russia and China.

These countries are no longer socialist threats to corporate interests, but rivals in the elbowing match to get access to trade and resources.

Tony Kevin a former Australian ambassador to Poland and Cambodia, writes about the newly announced ‘Australia-United States Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact’.

'To get behind the veiled language and understand what the U.S. might be really pushing for here: to cut China out of the Australian critical minerals mining industry, and to lock up this vital strategic resource for exploitation by the U.S. strategic defence sector as and when it wishes.'

Further, he opined:

American companies should have a controlling interest in U.S.-funded mines, so that the U.S. government can enforce compliance with U.S. regulations, such as blocking Chinese companies’ involvement or investment in the mine.


Partnering with experienced Australian partners will also enable less experienced US companies to build valuable mining skills.

Is this the result of the Albanese Government demonstrating to Washington that there is no need for a repeat of the 1975 "coup"?

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Recent articles by Bilal Cleland
It can be another way: Jews and Muslims can live peacefully

One of the great lies in the present discourse about Palestine and Israel is the ...  
Australian colonialism bares its fangs

The result of the Voice Referendum highlights the work needed to eradicate racism ...  
Voice vital to the rights of First Nations people

The proposed Voice to Parliament, if successful, will recognise Indigenous rights ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate