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Analysis of Wikileaks Cables: USA Embassy’s Take on Mauritius & Seychelles

26.09.2011


Here is LALIT’s first analysis of the recently published Wikileaks Cables from the US Embassy in Port Louis to Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State, and to others in the US state apparatus. The cables date from 2006 to 2010. Some are “secret”, others merely “confidential”. But, taken as a whole, they betray the US’s modus operandi, as an imperialist power.

Outrageous Pressure on Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles
1 The first thing of note is the outrageous way that the US Embassy puts constant and overt pressure on the Mauritian and Seychelles Government to “toe its line”. There is pressure to vote for this US-supported candidate, not that undesirable-to-the-US candidate, to vote “yes” not “no”, at the UN – on every conceivable issue. There must be, the US says, more “voting coincidence”. The US has no respect for the democratic platform on which Mauritian or Seychelles governments were elected, but wants them to do as the USA says, and what is in US interest, without the least qualms. The Mauritian Government stands up rather better against the US pressure than the James Michel one in Seychelles, which has well-nigh completely capitulated. For example, the Mauritian Government objects to Nuclear-carrying ships on Diego, under the Pelindaba Treaty, and says so. However, the Mauritian Prime Minister often makes unacceptable undertakings to the USA representatives, and meets the Ambassador for a session once every 4 months, which they claim no other Embassy gets to do. Navin Ramgoolam even discusses his political strategies, e.g. his reason for re-naming Aneerood Jugnauth as President, so as to make an MSM-MMM alliance more difficult. We believe that the Government must bring the US Embassy to heel, instead of snugling up to it. It is not here to run Mauritius.

US Like a Virus in the Civil Service
2 The US Embassy seems to think it can just step into Government offices and contact individual civil servants, who are employees supposed to be loyal to the Mauritian State, and who are always being reminded that everything they do falls under the Official Secrets Act, and that they are not even allowed to make statements to the Press, and yet the US Embassy deals directly with them. Officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Police Officers, Officers in the Customs, are all accosted by US Embassy staff, and pressured in ways that smell both undemocratic and potentially corrupt. The US Embassy must be reminded that it is an occupying power, and as such is not welcome within Government departments. No foreign embassy should be, in fact.

US sees the world through Racist Lens
3 The Cables divulge a very “racist” lens for perceiving Mauritius and Mauritian politics. The Cables to Hilary Clinton openly announce, for example, Cabinet members as such-and-such a number of Ministers of one race, and such-and-such of another; they also follow Jocelyn Gregoire closely, and try to interpret Mauritius “volte-face” on UN issue in communal ways.

Military Penetration
4 The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that the US has got the Seychelles Government to sign up to, and which it was (and no doubt still is) desperately trying to get the Mauritian Government to sign up to, is yet another outrageous form of neo-colonization. The Agreement negotiated by James Michel and only one Minister Jean-Paul Adam (behind the backs of the Seychelles Parliament, and even Cabinet!) with the US Embassy, allows for the stationing of:

* 170 US armed forces personnel bearing arms in Seychelles.
* “Hunter-Killer” drones stationed there, to survey the area of Western Indian Ocean, including around Mauritius and the Horn of Africa, and capable of strikes.
* P-3 military planes are stationed there

The pretext is “anti-piracy”, with what could well be pre-arranged “incidents” to force Seychelles’ hand, but the Agreement includes “anti-terrorism”, “anti-drugs” and anything else that might come up, or any mixture of the above. Before the signing of this SOFA, the Seychelles had clearly been asked to write a letter to Obama to beg for money, which they did. Curiously, this letter came after Cables about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which owns 60% through Heinz in the Government Company Indian Ocean Tuna, while the Seychelles Government owns 40%, and how Lehmann Brothers had also issued Bonds to service Seychelles’s external debt. Anyway, after signing, there was a long, painful process of changing the date of the coming into force of SOFA post facto, from the Seychelles side. Clearly, the USA swims along watching, like a shark does next to a shoal of fish, knowing it is difficult to strike when all is in order and all the fish are in formation with other fishes, and waiting for the moment a particular fish has some difficulty (like economic alarm-bells, or piracy), then the predator strikes.

The Washington Post of 20 September notes, in its analysis of these same Wikileaks cables that “Another base [in addition to in Djibuti] is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of ‘hunter-killer’ drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.” They also emphasise that these drones can be armed for strikes. From the Mauritian point of view, this is very worrying for the region, when we see how the USA has gone completely outside of international law and even beyond the bounds of the guiding principles of common decency, perpetrating “go in and assassinate” operatons in sovereign countries, like Yemen and even in the US’s supposed ally’s country, Pakistan, and bombing civilians under ever-changing pretexts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Libya and cow-towing to a war-mongering Israeli State.

Individual instances of “our man in Mauritius”
5 There are some individual Mauritians who are close to the Embassy. Before he was employed by the Pentagon, Mauritian journalist Nad Sivaramen’s editorial was quoted in the Embassy Cables, at the time he was presumably being groomed for the Africa Command. Kailash Ruhee is the US “man in the Prime Minister’s Office”. He is even quoted as saying he drafted a letter requesting a meeting with Obama, to go through the US Embassy, and the letter specifically did not include a request to discuss Diego Garcia and Chagos at this point. However, this request to include Diego Garcia and Chagos on the agenda was subsequently added by others at the PMO only AFTER Ruhee’s draft. This is a very damning cable for a highly respected man like Kailash Ruhee. It is not a pretty thing to be exposed like this as a collaborator with an occupying power. It is also damning for the USA, in the same way as they are so against Mamoud Abbas even putting something on the agenda. This is an advanced form of repression on free expression.

We also note with concern that the Embassy invents “profiles” of high civil servants, including details of things as bizarre as the medicines they take when ill. The cables claim that Police Commissioner Gopalsingh stated that he will vote in accordance with US Embassy “recommendations” in an Interpol General Assembly. This kind of pressure on civil servants is just outrageous interference.

LALIT thinks, if what the US cables say about Kailash Ruhee is not true, which it might not be (It is the US that claims this), he should come forward and say so. He should clear this up at once. The same goes for former Attorney General, Rama Valayden, who is described as being very eager to get US military vessels to visit Port Louis. If it is not true, please could Rama Valayden come forward and deny it.

Instances of Mauritian Attempts to Stonewall US Re-Colonization
6 Many Mauritian civil servants, in their favour, and bearing in mind that the US embassy people should not have formal access to them at all, seem to act with integrity. M. Neewoor and M. Curé in Foreign Affairs are amongst those who stonewall the persistent US demands. Others, also to their credit, including sometimes the Prime Minister and even more so the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Madun Dulloo and Arvind Boolell, just seem to “pass the ball”, “blame someone else”, “sweep the US request quietly under the carpet”, “postpone indefinitely”, “make vague gargling sounds of good intentions” in order to avoid bowing down to the US’s colonialist demands for control over the Mauritian state apparatus. (Precision: The actions are in quotation marks to indicate that a game is being played; they are NOT quotes from the Cables, but LALIT’s analysis of the scenarios described in the Embassy Cables to Hilary Clinton.) Of course, it would be better if Mauritians stood up to the US on principled stands on all issues, not just on some while using these excuses and pretexts and subterfuges, on others.

Nosiness and Palab
7 Obviously the US Embassy is very curious, on the one hand, of any links between Seychelles/Mauritius and Cuba or Venezuela or China, and also very scathing about these countries, on the other – spreading rumours, basically. What was badly organized for the Chinese President’s visit, or whether Raoul Castro “talks” too much like his brother. Knowing this, Navin Ramgoolam obviously “teased” the US ambassador by smoking a Cuban cigar during their meeting. This nosiness goes as far as the US Embassy arranging to meet the Seychelles President 2 hours after his return from Cuba. Poor man would hardly have had time to wash his hands, before giving information on his mission!

AGOA: the devil is in the detail
8 LALIT concludes that the devil of the conditionalities of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) is in the detail. Through this type of apparent “advantage” for the private sector bosses in Africa, the State in African counties then allows the US to creep into (or to try to, anyway) the State apparatus of African countries, in minutious ways. The same can be said of “agreements” for training the Police Force or with the Customs, and for phytosanitary “aid” for “entry into the US market”. These agreements all end up acting like viral contamination, which is what they are designed to do. The US gets into the cells of the State apparatus of other countries.

Conclusion

LALIT will be publishing more detailed accounts of the Cables in separate articles.

How we set about analysing the Cables, to prepare this analysis, was this: Ten of LALIT’s Central Committee members shared out the 150 or so Cables intercepted between the US Embassy in Port Louis addressed to Hilary Clinton, as Secretary of State and to other bits of US State Apparatus (from 2008-10) that Wikileaks has made public. We each went through them all so as to pool our analysis overall, before going into the details of the cables. Last week LALIT had its first working session on the totality of the Cables. So, this first article summarises some of our discussion, and aims to show our concern as to how the US State Apparatus works in relation to the Mauritian and the Seychelles Governments.

So, prior to publishing bits and pieces of these documents with our piecemeal comments, blow by blow (as the Press has done), we offer some overall comments on the general contents of these rather shocking documents, recently put into the public domain. They are shocking, because they show very clearly how the USA operates at an international level.
It is important that Wikileaks has permitted us access to this kind of secret information.