In a pattern largely overlooked by many, roughly half of the mainland members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are experiencing various degrees of regime change instability, with the asymmetrical warfare model presently active in Southern Africa closely resembling the one that was already applied in the neighboring “Global South” region of South America.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a regional integration organization that brings together most of sub-equatorial Africa and is largely considered to be a platform for extending BRICS member South Africa’s influence throughout this broad area. After all, South Africa’s Southern African Customs Union (SACU) forms the economic core of the group and has the potential of one day expanding northward to incorporate SADC’s other members. This is a possible eventuality, albeit a long-term one, due to the 2015 Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between SADC and its counterparts of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC, which has future plans to formally become a federation).
The overarching trend connecting these interlocking organizations together is China’s Silk Road vision for Africa, which the author elaborated on in depth in the relevant chapter of his book-length article series about the Chinese-Indian New Cold War. To be brief about it, Beijing is driving “South-South” connectivity as a means of ensuring that Africa and the People’s Republic truly have a “community of common destiny”, in that China and its partners in the TFTA can economically complement one another all throughout the 21st century in creating a strategic center of gravity in the Afro-Pacific region. Unsurprisingly, this contrasts with American strategy because the success of this ambitious and multidimensional endeavor would complete the transition from the fading Unipolar World Order to the emerging Multipolar World Order, hence the need to wage various Hybrid War campaigns in order to disrupt, control, or influence this development.
In the context of this particular article, it’ll be revealed how the US’ Hybrid War on SADC has resulted in throwing roughly half of the community’s mainland members into five separate phases of regime change turmoil. Aside from the four insular states of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles, the continental countries who have been mostly unaffected by this so far are Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, and Tanzania. While it may seem odd that an entire piece is being written in order to prove a pattern that purportedly exists among 6 of the bloc’s 16 total members, the fact of the matter is that the affected states cover a gigantic geographic area and encompass some of its most strategically important states. To list them off, the targeted SADC countries are Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, the Republic of South Africa (RSA), Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with the below map helping the reader understand the sheer scale of this regime change intrigue on a continental level:
Red: Hybrid War SADC States
Blue: Non-Targeted SADC States
The caveat to the above is that the blue non-targeted states might be victimized in the future, whether directly through their own Hybrid War regime change plots or indirectly as a result of their neighbors’ crises potentially spilling over their border and into their territory. Even so, the disturbing trend of 6 geographically large and relatively populous SADC states experiencing differing extents of unrest all within the same 12-month period point to an unmistakable pattern that the author is describing as the “SADC Spring” because it represents a new level of coordinated regime change activity masterfully adapted for each particular battlefield. Unlike the previous “springs” which were known for deceptively presenting themselves as anti-government “people’s protests”, the SADC Spring mostly eschews that specific technology in favor of “deep state”/”constitutional” coups or militant activity. This doesn’t imply that the basic “building bloc” of the “spring” brand won’t occur at any time, but just that it’s no longer the force that the conspirators are depending on like they did in times past.
Before concisely reviewing the events that make up the SADC Spring theater-wide regime change campaign, it’s important to link what’s happening in sub-equatorial Africa to what’s recently taken place in sub-equatorial South America through the US’ “Operation Condor 2.0”, which is the author’s characterization of the US’ prior application of the same newly evolved “spring” technology in that part of the world. Whether through the “electoral coup” in Argentina or the “constitutional” one in Brazil, the US has managed to substantially sweep away the state-level results of the so-called “Pink Tide” and replace those said leaderships with pro-American right-wing governments. Pairing Operation Condor 2.0 with the SADC Spring, one can plainly see that the US is truly on the asymmetrical offensive all across the literal “Global South” (in the sense of being the Southern Hemispheric states below the equator), and that the examined events in Africa merely represent the continuation of the US’ tendency to indirectly conduct asymmetrical warfare campaigns in peripheral regions of impending strategic significance to its global Chinese rival.
At this point, the analysis will transition to raising awareness about the five separate phases of regime change turmoil that have engulfed many of SADC’s mainland members. The reader should know that the hyperlinked text below is designed to connect them with the author’s previous works on the matter, which include his Hybrid War profiles of the countries in question as well as recent materials. This could be useful to those who want to learn more about these topics beyond the admittedly broad scope that they’re presented in for this article. Having said all of that, here’s how the 6 Hybrid War-afflicted SADC states can be categorized in order of the most “peaceful” regime change transition to the most violent ongoing one:
Angola’s “deep state” coup against the dos Santos family was successful, and furthermore, it led to no unrest whatsoever in the streets. It was a swift “electoral” coup that took place entirely behind the scenes, and given the passive support of the military and intelligence services in not preventing or reacting to it, the assumption can confidently be made that they were in favor of it happening. Similarly, a different type of “deep state” coup took place in nearby Zimbabwe, although this one was very dramatic and can be accurately described as more of a military coup. Nevertheless, the ruling party did indeed vote to remove Mugabe, demonstrating military-political coordination and confirming its “deep state” origins. Whereas the Angola “deep state” coup was entirely peaceful, the Zimbabwean one was not, though both of them still ended up succeeding but with uncertain long-term geopolitical results that remain to be seen.
Moving up the Hybrid War escalatory ladder is Zambia, which found itself threatened by a Color Revolution after the August 2016 election of President Edgar Lungu. It took some time, but by summer 2017, the government had to impose a state of emergency because of the opposition’s riotous behavior in organizing violent crowds and firebomb attacks. The situation has largely calmed down since then, however, but the political polarization within the country hasn’t. President Lungu’s party narrowly won the 2016 vote, and Zambia is electorally divided between his strongholds in the east and the opposition’s bastion of support in the west. More than likely, Zambia’s frozen Hybrid War will thaw out in the coming months as stability and the rule of law continue to deteriorate in the neighboring Congo, with the cross-border consequences potentially prompting a scenario where the opposition decides to commence a renewed round of anti-government unrest.
The next Hybrid War battleground to be discussed is South Africa’s, where the opposition and its external patrons have relentlessly attempted to carry out a peaceful “constitutional coup” against President Zuma, anticipating that the success of this operation would deal a deathblow to the country’s practical integration in BRICS just like the removal of Rousseff did for Brazil. Again, one can identity the similarities between these two pro-American Hybrid War campaigns in the “Global (and geographic) South” against two BRICS members, as they both were plotted via “constitutional” means, though the Brazilian one incorporated a degree of “traditional” Color Revolution unrest in order to give it a level of “legitimacy” to the international audience.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is slated to hold its next conference in the coming days, and this gathering acquires extra significance because it’s thought to set the party’s trajectory for the post-Zuma period after the incumbent’s term ends in 2019. This makes it so that the upcoming event will determine the course of the planned-constitutional regime change in the country, with the most influential variable being the competing interests of internal party factions that will guide it in one direction or another. There’s a speculative chance that some cadres might seek to move the ANC in an altogether different direction so as to increase its electoral appeal and provide more convincing competition in the face of the rising opposition, but there’s no telling yet whether this would be a positive or negative development for the country’s multipolar geopolitics.
Scaling up the violence threshold in the SADC Spring, South Africa’s neighboring energy-rich state of Mozambique has found itself embroiled in two fronts of low-intensity violence, one with the rebel-opposition group RENAMO in the western-central regions and the other more newly created one with Muslim terrorists (possibly linked to Al Shabaab) in the north. While the more traditional militia-government violence has subsided ever since both sides agreed to indefinitely extend their ceasefire in order to facilitate a power-sharing “political solution” to their rivalry, the newfound terrorist-government conflict isn’t yet resolved and might even be exacerbated by the authorities’ decision to close down local mosques as a preventative security measure.
Almost 1/5 of Mozambicans are Muslim, so this could have the unintended effect of making them susceptible to the idea that the government is “suppressing” them, thus inspiring some of this demographic to resort to militancy and jihad in response. The author previously warned about a “Swahili Coast” Hybrid War scenario which might see the Muslim-inhabited portions of the East African coastland in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya erupting in revolt against their national governments. This possibility needs to be closely monitored and immediately responded to by the relevant states in order to contain it, possibly even including coordinated multilateral responses especially in the event that Daesh decides to get involved in making the region another “province” in its global “caliphate”.
Civil War Risk:
The highest stage of Hybrid War regime change conflict presently ongoing in the SADC space is in the Congo, which has been wreaked by ever-spreading instability since President Kabila announced late last year that the country’s first-ever democratic political transition will be delayed because of logistical difficulties. Truth be told, this was entirely foreseeable, as the author wrote in his June 2016 analysis for The Duran, because the Congo occupies a crucial place in the New Cold War between the US and China due to its copious cobalt reserves that are nowadays intrinsic to all sorts of electronic products from advanced armaments to iPhones and electric vehicles. Different terrorist attacks have taken place all throughout the country, though the focus point of violence has been the central Kasai region and the eastern parts of the Congo near Rwanda and Uganda, though the latter area holds with it the dangerous potential of becoming a cross-border terrorist nexus that could catalyze another “African World War” by next year with profound humanitarian implications.
As a concluding thought, the below map uses color shading to illustrate the intensity of the 6 examined Hybrid War cases, which could possibly provide clues about their overspill potential throughout the SADC region and beyond. The escalation chain goes from Angola à Zimbabwe à South Africa à Mozambique à Congo, but the model predicts that the latter two states’ destabilizations could potentially spread across their borders in causing trouble for Zambia and then Tanzania.
Zambia, as was already explained, had recently thwarted an incipient Hybrid War, but the landlocked state will have difficult dealing with the possibility of simultaneous crises in its Congolese and Mozambican neighbors, and this would be bound to disrupt the TAZARA railway and therefore trigger consequences for Tanzania’s stability as well. Not only that, but the growing refugee crisis that the Congo’s meltdown is creating for Angola might bring the whole cycle full-circle and suck the southwestern African state into the Hybrid War void there.
All in all, what the above SADC Spring model and below map indicate is that this part of Africa isn’t anywhere near as stable as some might have previously considered it to be, and that it’s silently become a serious zone of competition in the New Cold War. When remembering what the US has already accomplished in South America, it should be clear to see that Washington is on the full-fledged asymmetrical offensive in the “Global (and literal) South”, far away from the ‘prying eyes’ of the international media but nevertheless on the forefront of its worldwide counterstrike against multipolarity.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.