The ability battle between authoritarian powers like Russia and China and Euro-Atlantic liberal democracies led by the EU and the US reached a brand new stage of depth with the invasion of Ukraine. However it is very important keep in mind that this struggle performs out throughout the complete globe and generally in sudden locations, Juan Carlos Ondo Angue writes.
Juan Carlos Ondo Angue is the previous president of the Supreme Court docket, leader-in-exile of the opposition, and president of the Motion of Republicans of Equatorial Guinea.
The tiny Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea is thought for 2 issues: its monumental oil reserves and its brutal dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longest-serving president in historical past who first seized energy from his uncle in 1979.
That was till Equatorial Guinea was thrust into the highlight as one other vital frontline within the present international geo-strategic battle for affect. Studies primarily based on US intelligence warned that China plans to determine its first everlasting navy presence within the Atlantic Ocean within the nation.
With a brand new base on the continent’s western coast, Beijing would pose vital challenges to transatlantic safety. This might be China’s second abroad navy base in Africa after a naval base in Djibouti was arrange in 2017, with a dock reportedly able to accommodating plane carriers and nuclear submarines.
Russia, too, has its personal navy pursuits within the nation. Equatorial Guinea is without doubt one of the nations the place the Russian government-linked paramilitary organisation Wagner Group functions. Almost 200 Wagner troops had been reported to be concerned in defending Russian navy intelligence officers at a base at Pico Basilé.
These hyperlinks ought to come as no shock. The dictatorial regime in Equatorial Guinea has way more in frequent with the autocratic regimes of Russia and China than with democratic nations.
Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony with a inhabitants of 1.4 million, gained independence in 1968 and has been managed by one household ever since.
Present President Obiang, who assumed workplace in 1979, has overseen many years of brutal human rights abuses, together with quite a few killings, main him to be described as a mass assassin and the “hardest-working dictator on the earth”. He has even been accused of cannibalism.
The key supply of his wealth comes from big offshore fuel and oil reserves found in 1996. Regardless of having mainland Africa’s third smallest inhabitants, Equatorial Guinea boasts the highest GDP per capita attributable to these huge power property. Nonetheless, virtually all of the nation’s wealth is reserved for the corrupt elites.
The president’s son and inheritor obvious, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, has confronted quite a few worldwide corruption prices lately, none of which have stopped him from exhibiting off his lavish life-style on social media. He has been convicted of embezzlement in France and had property frozen by the British authorities.
Final month, it emerged that Spain’s nationwide excessive courtroom is investigating one other of the president’s sons, Carmelo Ovono Obiang (who acts as the top of the nation’s secret service overseas), alongside different high safety officers, for the kidnap and torture of two opposition politicians in 2019, which concerned utilizing the president’s jet to fly them from South Sudan to Equatorial Guinea.
November 2022 noticed Equatorial Guinea host the most recent in a protracted line of sham elections, which the authorities claimed the President received with 97% of the vote on a turnout of 98%.
Brazen corruption and brutal violence have damaged Equatorial Guinean society. And the place worldwide companions have tried to encourage change or distanced themselves from Equatorial Guinea, China and Russia have stepped in.
By 2021, Equatorial Guinea’s debt to China amounted to an estimated 50% of GDP.
China’s try to introduce navy capabilities inside easy accessibility to the US shoreline has understandably spooked the US authorities, which scrambled senior nationwide safety advisers to attempt to courtroom Equatorial Guinea’s management.
President Obiang was additionally in attendance at President Biden’s US-Africa Leaders Summit in December 2022. This sends a bleak message to democracy activists from Equatorial Guinea, particularly as China, which is not any stranger to human rights abuses, has the higher hand.
The world’s liberal democracies should not let Obiang proceed to play each side. The world’s longest-surviving dictatorship has been allowed to abuse its nation and its individuals for greater than 4 many years. Now it poses a safety threat to Europe, and the US President Obiang is 80 years outdated, and even dictators can not dwell ceaselessly.
Change is coming to Equatorial Guinea. It’s excessive time that the European Union and the US rose to the problem, actively sanctioning the nation’s management and supporting pressing democratic transition.