American troops invaded Panama 12 years ago on December 20, 1989 and arrested the head of the state, General Manuel Noriega. The general was convicted by an American court for his active participation in the illegal drug commerce. The same thing is now happening on the Comoro islands, but this time under the guise of the struggle with the international terrorism.
The USA continued its “war with terror,” having dispatched not less than 100 commandos to the island of Moheli (or Mwali) on Wednesday morning. Moheli is included in the Islamic republic of the Coromo Islands. This republic is a member of the Arab League.
The Al-Jazeera TV company reported that the American military, which arrived in special American transport aircraft, placed all the military structures of the Comoro islands under their control, including the army and the police. The leaflets, which have been reportedly dropped on the island, said that the United States of America was continuing its anti-terrorist operation on the territory of the Comoro islands. It was also said that the island was taken by the US Army within the framework of the anti-terrorist operation and charged the president of the Islamic Republic of the Comoro Islands, Assoumani Azzali, of rendering support to terrorists. The leaflets also called upon the population to lay down its arms. It is not clear from Al-Jazeera’s information if the deployment of the American commandos was a military invasion of the United States, or maybe it is an attempt an inner coup d’etat under the disguise of the foreign “anti-terrorist operation.”
BBC supported the information of the Qatar TV company. As the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, a group of the armed men landed on the island of Moheli, which is the smallest of the Comoro archipelago, and took control of the local police. The special representative of the African Union on the Comoro Islands said to the BBC that there were about 20 armed men, both black and white, who were speaking English and French. The reasons why this is all happening now are not clear, but as the special representative of the African union believed, the reasons could be dictated by the opposition to the coming referendum about the political future of the islands ( the referendum is to take place on December 23).
The political instability on the Comoro islands is not new. Two islands, included in the Comoro archipelago, proclaimed their independence in 1997. Incumbent President Azali Assoumani came to power on the Comoro islands in April of 1999 with the help of a coup de’tat. The Comoro islands are included in the Arab League; the Islamic Republic of the Comoro islands is a member of the All-Arab joint defense treaty. All members of the League are considered to have a warfare with any state that assaults one of its members. At the same time, as RIA Novosti reported, a representative of the American embassy in Kenya stated in Nairobi that he did not have any information about the military operation on the Comoro islands.
It is hard to say what this all means. If it is an anti-terrorist operation, the goal of which is to destroy the terrorist groups based on the archipelago, then why was there nothing said about it before? Or maybe it is a coup de’tat, at which the Americans are now good at (the events in Panama and Grenade are the examples).
France should not be ruled out of the events in the Comoros; this country would not mind having the islands back with the help of the “democratic referendum.” But, of course, none of the officials will say it out loud that Paris is watching the development of the situation on the Comoros with interest. France still has to prove it did not have anything in common with the funding of the latest attempt of a coup that took place in 1995. We will see, what is going to happen.
Reference: The Comoro Islands are an archipelago of four islands and several islets located in the western Indian Ocean about ten to twelve degrees south of the Equator and less than 200 miles off the East African coast. They lie approximately halfway between the island of Madagascar and northern Mozambique at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel. The archipelago is the result of volcanic action along a fissure in the seabed running west-northwest to east-southeast. The total area of the four islands is 785 square miles (2,034 square kilometers). The four major islands are Ngazidja, Mwali, Nzwani, and Mayotte (Maore). The total population of the Comoro Islands is estimated to be over 600,000 people today. Over 27% live in urban areas. A 1980 estimate of the average density was 182.5 persons per square kilometer, varying between 65.5 persons per square kilometer in Mwali and 349.1 persons per square kilometer in Nzwani. Today the densities are much higher. The present population increase is an estimated 3.5% per year with an annual birth rate of 47 births per 1,000 and an annual death rate of 12 deaths per 1,000 population. The most recent estimate of the total fertility rate is 6.8 children born per woman. Life expectancy at birth is 54 years for males and 59 years for females. The inhabitants are a blend of various peoples of the Indian Ocean littoral. African, Malagasy, and Arabic features are clearly evident. Maritime commerce before entry of Europeans into the Indian Ocean brought the Comorians into contact with peoples from southern Africa to southeast Asia. Since the end of the fifteenth century European influence has also impacted upon the Comorian life.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/12/19/34952.html