Thursday 21 December 2023

December 21, 1978: The Assassination of ETA Commander "Argala"

"We don't like armed struggle. Armed struggle is nasty, it is hard and as a result of it you go to jail, into exile, be tortured and as a result you can die. You see one forced to kill. It hardens the person, hurts him, but armed struggle is essential to advance".

-  José Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana AKA "Argala".

A "revenge squad" of assassins led by a Spanish Naval Intelligence operative, Navy Captain Pedro Martinez ("Pedro El Marino"), planted a car bomb which killed José Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana, the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) leader who commanded the squad of Basque separatist guerrillas who assassinated Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco in Madrid five years previously.

Pedro El Marino was aided by a Spanish Army officer codenamed "Leonidas”, as well as by ultra-rightist actors, one of whom, Jean-Pierre Cherid, had been a former member of the French O.A.S. (Organisation de l'armee Secrete) and two neo-fascists: Jose Maria Boccardo from Argentina and the Italian Mario Ricci who belonged to Avanguardia Nazionale.

The murder on Thursday, December 21st 1978 was carried out in Anglet, a town in the Basque region of France.

The assassins had wanted to kill Argala on December 20th -the anniversary of Carrero Blanco's death- but were unable to do so as Argala did not emerge from his apartment on that day.

Argala, 29 years old at the time of his death, had activated the explosive that killed Blanco. He was buried six days later on Spanish soil and in 1982, a memorial plaque was unveiled in his hometown Arrigorriaga.

The revenge operation was claimed to have been financed by a personal bank loan with the weapons being purchased in Belgium. However, Pedro El Marino is said to have obtained the explosives from a US military base. He was at the forefront of a state-financed and directed "dirty war" against ETA mainly through a group known as the Spanish Basque Battalion.

 © Adeyinka Makinde (2023)

 Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Friday 8 December 2023

John Lennon (1940-1980)

John Lennon etching by Adeyinka Makinde (1985).

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Failing Palestine: How the Arab and Muslim World has consistently fumbled the Palestinian quest for statehood

The present onslaught by Israeli military forces on the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza brings into sharp focus not only the stark imbalance between the military actors in the conflict, it also serves as a reminder of the abject failure of the Arab and Muslim world in militarily defending Palestinians and promoting the ultimate objective of Palestinian statehood. A brief history of what was traditionally termed as an “Arab-Israeli conflict” reveals a catalogue of shortcomings based on a range of factors including a lack of strategic thinking, the disingenuous championing of the Palestinian cause by various Arab regimes, as well as an indifference to the plight of the Palestinians.

The cause of Palestinian Arabs who were dispossessed of most of their land by Zionist Jews during the 20th century has often been framed as a clash between the modern construct of Israel and the wider Arab world. And although composed of a sizeable proportion of Christian Palestinians, the cause of Palestine has often been taken up by the wider Muslim world.

However, the historical record reveals a complexity of forces which have detracted from the perceived unity and solidarity of Arabs and Muslims in defending the Palestinians.

A useful starting point would be to examine the level of aid and assistance granted to Palestinian guerrillas during the era of the British Mandate. They were never substantively armed by neighbouring Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan who in the 1930s were British client states. This remained the case after the creation of the Arab League in 1945. It meant that Palestinian militias were no match for the Haganah and its elite Strikeforce, the Palmach, the militarised organisations attached to the Jewish Agency in Palestine.

Palestinian resistance had been severely degraded after the anti-British Palestinian insurgency conducted between 1936 and 1939. Widely known as the “Arab Revolt”, Jewish auxiliaries backed the British army and police in suppressing the Palestinian guerrillas in a counterinsurgency effort which in its late stage was decisively orchestrated by Captain Orde Wingate, an artillery officer and ardent Zionist.

The cumulative effect of the dismantling of an organised Palestinian force after the revolt and the subsequent failure of the Arab League to arm Palestinians severely affected their ability to resist well-armed Jewish forces during the crucial years leading up to 1948 when Plan Dalet was implemented during the war between Arab armies on the one hand, and the armies of the Jewish Agency (alongside the Jewish terror groups Irgun and Lehi) on the other.

The ensuing Nakba or “Catastrophe” was the inevitable consequence.

Contrary to the view imposed in Western consciousness that the aim of invading Arab armies was to destroy the about-to-be-declared Jewish state, the soldiers sent by countries such as Egypt and Lebanon – by all estimates numerically less than the Jewish combatants - were fighting not to push the Jewish settlers “into the sea”, but to hold onto territory apportioned to Arab Palestinians under the so-called UN Partition Plan of 1947.

Also, Jordan, then in possession of the finest army in the Arab world, had reached a secret nonaggression pact with the Jewish Agency. The only bone of contention would be over the city of Jerusalem which the Jordanian Army successfully defended against attacks by the Haganah.

Approximately 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from the territories controlled by the Jewish state declared by the Jewish Agency in Palestine. Egypt and Jordan took control of Palestinian land respectively in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

While Palestinian Fedayeen attacked Israeli territory from these locations during the 1950s and the 1960s, the cause for Palestinian statehood was not taken seriously by Arab nations until the Battle of Karameh and Yasser Arafat’s emergence as a global figure of resistance.

Arafat, a civil engineer turned guerrilla, was the leader of al-Fatah, one of several groups which were part of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) of which he served as Chairman. He engineered a direct confrontation with Israeli forces by consciously making Karameh, a village in the Jordanian-controlled West Bank, the location for an almost certain suicidal last stand against the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Arafat did this by contravening the first rule of guerrilla warfare by making the village his fixed base of operations.

Moshe Dayan, the former IDF Chief of Staff who was then Israel’s defence minister mobilised an IDF force to destroy Arafat and his Fedayeen. In response, the Commander of the Iraqi forces stationed in Jordan until King Hussein’s army could be reorganised and re-equipped after the defeat sustained during the Six Day War solemnly advised Arafat that he should withdraw his men to nearby mountains. The Jordanian Army gave the same advice.

But Arafat refused to heed their advice, opting instead to make a stand. In the light of the Arab humiliation inflicted by the Israelis in June 1967, he replied that a group needed to give an example of Arab courage, adding that he was prepared to “fight and die”.

Arafat had 297 guerrillas including child soldiers, one of whom asked him if they could defeat the Israelis. Arafat replied by saying “We cannot defeat them, but we can teach them a lesson.”

Arafat’s al-Fatah fighters initially shocked the invading force. The IDF arrived to find what appeared to be a ghost town, but the guerrillas sprung out of their hidden positions and threw themselves at the Israeli tanks. Some planted grenades on the tanks or exploded themselves on the tanks while strapped with grenades. A number of Israeli tank crews responded by leaping from their tanks and taking flight. But after recovering from this early jolt, the firepower of the IDF began to tell. With about two-thirds of the Palestinians killed, the Jordanians entered the fray, using artillery which enabled Fatah fighters to attack the Israelis from behind their lines.

Abu Jihad, Arafat’s right-hand man, had arranged for the Jordanians to give covering fire to the Fatah guerillas to facilitate their withdrawal. But many Palestinians and their sympathisers continue to strongly believe that the Jordanian units spontaneously came to the aid of the Palestinians out of a sense of shame at seeing the Palestinians fighting the Israelis alone.

Whatever the truth, at some point Dayan decided to withdraw the IDF who lost a total of 28 men. The Palestinians lost 93 guerrillas while 128 Jordanians were either killed or wounded.

Karameh reinvigorated the cause of Palestinian nationalism. But it also forced Arafat, on the advice of Egyptian President Gamal Nasser, to begin to devise a political programme for achieving Palestinian statehood, an objective which Arafat knew could only be achieved by compromising with the Jewish state.

The task of negotiating and actualising a two-state solution would be a tough one which he knew would, at least initially, be resisted. He was also fully aware that it could lead to his assassination. However, before Arafat could begin the journey which would lead to the Oslo Accord, he had to contend with hardline members of his organisation and other groups within the PLO who sought to use other methods.

There were those Palestinian groups who, bemoaning the timidity or outright indifference of many Arab regimes to their cause, felt that the Palestinians should work towards overthrowing these governments as the route towards liberating Palestine. Arafat refused on the grounds that the PLO should not interfere in the internal affairs of Arab states, but the likes of George Habash of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) sought this route beginning with the attempt by the PFLP and other radical Palestinian groups to overthrow the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan. The result was that in September 1970 King Hussein ordered his army to confront them leading to the expulsion of all Palestinian militia from Jordan. The PLO relocated to Lebanon.

Arafat’s political programme had to be stalled for a good period of time because of the decision of various groups to resort to international terrorism. The Black September Organisation carried out attacks against Israeli targets, including at the Munich Games, and Jordanian ones, including the assassination of Wasfi Tal, the foreign minister. The PLPF faction led by Waddie Haddad proceeded to stage a series of plane hijackings with the help of non-Palestinians such as Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (Carlos The Jackal) and the West German Revolutionary Cells. The involvement of the PLO and other Palestinian militias in the Lebanese Civil War also served as a setback to Arafat’s plans.

While the Palestinian cause remained dear to the heart of many ordinary people in the Arab world, the commitment to Palestinian liberation was not nearly as strong among Arab regimes. The fourth Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 is proof of this. Just as was the case in 1948, the main protagonists Egypt and Syria did not go to war to dismantle the Israeli state and liberate Palestine. The objectives of President Anwar Sadat and President Hafez Assad was to retake the land each nation lost to Israel in 1967, respectively the Sinai and Golan Heights. Syria totally failed. Egypt on the other hand crossed the Suez Canal and made gains before losing territory after an Israeli counterattack. Sadat, who declared the effort of his military to be a sufficient victory, went on to sign a peace accord with Israel which involved the Israelis handing back the Sinai peninsula.

But the signing of peace treaties between individual Arab states and Israel inherently works against the objective of establishing a Palestinian state. This is true not only in regard to the US-brokered Camp David Agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1978 and the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty of 1994, it also applies to the so-called “Abraham Accords” reached in 2020, as well as the proposed normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

A just and lasting solution to the Palestinian quest for statehood can only come to fruition peacefully by a comprehensive agreement involving Israel, the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours.

The Arab League which could have been the instrument for the application of pressure on Israel to bring about a Palestinian state has been impotent. But it should be noted that the Saudi-led Arab Peace Plan adopted by the League at its 2002 summit held in Beirut did offer Israel a comprehensive peace. In return for a full normalisation of relations with Israel, the plan called for Israel to end its occupation of Arab territory seized during the war of 1967, Israel’s recognition of an independent Palestinian state composed of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, and what was termed a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee issue.

As Arafat had realised when formulating his political programme in the late 1960s, a compromise solution would inevitably mean that many Palestinians would not be able to re-settle in the lands from which their forebears had been expelled. He was explicit about this during the years when he painstakingly repeatedly spoke to PLO leaders until he managed to turn the majority around to his thinking to pave the way for the Oslo accord of 1994. But Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, unreasonably dismissed the Arab Peace Plan as did Binyamin Netanyahu when the plan was revived in 2007.

Yet, the Arab League has always possessed the means to aid the Palestinian cause by employing a host of diplomatic and economic measures against Israel and its Western backers. For one, the Saudis unilaterally agreed not to impose the weapon of oil sanctions. The oil embargo was used to devastating effect in 1973. But it could have been used in 1967 as a means of pressuring the West to get Israel to accept United Nations Resolution 242 which was adopted in November 1967. It could also have been used in 1982 to prevent Israel’s destructive invasion of Lebanon which resulted in the PLO’s expulsion from the country. The threat of using the oil weapon is one which could have been used as a powerful tool with the objective of resolving the Palestinian issue on the negotiating table.

The truth of the matter is that many Arab regimes, particularly those who are ruled by conservative monarchies, have often preferred for the Palestinian issue to be buried and forgotten. Many wished for the PLO to have faded away after its expulsions from Jordan and Lebanon. Countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have been compromised by their levels of dependency on the United States which over the decades has backed Israel.

The present conflagration in Gaza arguably exposes the shortcomings of Arab states and the wider Muslim world.

While Gaza is presently being destroyed by Israel whose leaders have explicitly invoked the genocidal Old Testament doctrine of Amalek in response to the operation undertaken by Hamas on October 7th, 2023, there is little of substantive reaction by Arab and Muslim governments in pressuring Israel and its Western backers who have effectively given carte blanche to Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to carry on the slaughter.

The Arab and Muslim world are not purposefully applying pressure economically, diplomatically and militarily.

For one, the employment of the oil weapon would serve as a means of registering their collective disapproval in the strongest manner short of war. Iran’s suggestion that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) impose an oil embargo and other sanctions on Israel was met with muted response. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) of which Saudi Arabia is a prominent member issued a statement saying that “no immediate action or emergency meetings were planned by the group in light of Iran's comments.” The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also announced that the organisation would not be taking any action stating that the GCC was “committed to energy security” and would not use oil “as a weapon.”

Arab states could also withdraw crucial investments made within America’s fragile, debt-ridden economy, with the confidence that they can cast their lost firmly with the rising institutions of the germinating multipolar world.

In the sphere of diplomacy, none of the five Arab states who have diplomatic relations with Israel have signalled their intent to break off their ties. Further, no Arab or Muslim state appears to have considered the application of universal jurisdiction which would enable each of them to claim criminal jurisdiction over Israeli leaders if they believe individual leaders have been complicit in the perpetration of specific war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza, including genocide. That this would be a useful tool is illustrated by the US State Department’s public denial that it was applying pressure on Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), not to invoke the 1948 Genocide Convention at the International Criminal Court.

Finally, notwithstanding Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s recent bellicose statements regarding a possible “Crescent versus Cross” war, there is no sign that Turkey or Egypt, who possess powerful militaries are prepared to resort to the military option of rescuing Gazans from their gruesome predicament.

Polls have consistently indicated that the vast majority of Arabs have a different posture towards Israel than their leaders. It is a source of considerable embarrassment to a sizeable segment of Sunni Muslims who comprise 1.7 billion of the world’s population that many Sunnis look to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia, as the force who could neutralise Israeli aggression.

Hezbollah is the only military force in the Arab world to have inflicted defeats on Israel. It is Hezbollah which caused Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation. And in 2006, Hezbollah inflicted substantial losses on the invading IDF which forced the Israeli military to withdraw after 34 days.

That Hezbollah has the capacity to inflict a strategic defeat on Israel was made clear by the pessimistic results of Exercise 'Firm Hand' and Exercise 'Chariots of Fire' conducted by Israel respectively in 2023 and 2022. Each war game posited the IDF fighting multifront wars including uprisings in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, as well as a confrontation with Hezbollah.

While Hezbollah’s skirmishing with the IDF on the Israel-Lebanon border has tied Israeli forces down in northern Israel from where Israeli settlements have been relocated at great cost to the country, there is no sign that Turkey, perhaps in combination with Egypt, are seriously considering taking military action to create a buffer between Israel and Gaza in order to stop the slaughter of Palestinians.

Turkey has the military capacity to defeat Israel in a conventional war. It has also developed a strategic relationship with Pakistan which has a nuclear weapons production capacity. Pakistan has in the past promised Islamic nations, most notably Saudi Arabia, use of what has been termed its “Islamic Bomb” if Israel threatens them.

While it is clear that a wide war in the Middle East involving Israel and a combination of Muslim adversaries would risk a devastating, even apocalyptic aftermath, the Arab and Muslim populations are wondering at what point the slaughter of a considerable number of innocent non-combatants in Gaza will reach a threshold at which point Arab and Muslim states will act in concert to use not only the full panoply of available economic and diplomatic measures, but also as a last resort, orchestrate a military intervention.

The implementation of one or a combination of these measures are arguably the only means through which the Palestinians of Gaza will be saved from being ethnically cleansed and further, could form the basis for the creation of the state Palestinians have been denied since 1948.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England. He has an interest in history and geopolitics.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Israel-Palestine at War: Understanding Israel's enduring "Sacred Terrorism"

Israeli bombardment at the Gaza City seaport, October 11, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)

The present crisis prompted by the raid by Palestinian guerrillas of Hamas on settlements and security installations in southern Israel has been condemned by the Israeli authorities as an act of wanton terrorism. This has been echoed by Western governments who have invoked the perennial mantra that Israel “has the right to defend itself”; a position which many point out provides the government of Israel with the justification for responding with disproportionate force that will necessarily involve the wholesale commission of war crimes against innocent Palestinians within the Gaza Strip, a piece of land which is often referred to as the world’s largest open air concentration camp. But the mainstream media’s compartmentalisation of events does a disservice to comprehending the overall picture of the Israel-Palestine conflict as one which is predicated on the decades long calibrated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the expropriation of their land. Moreover, this narrative fails to address the issue of Israel’s enduring policy of provocation-and-retaliation, as well as an equally long-term military strategy of deliberately attacking civilian populations; a policy described by early Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett as Israel’s “sacred terrorism.” Israel’s terror strategy is explicitly acknowledged by contemporary political and military analysts. While Israel is often touted as a Middle Eastern nation which espouses “Western values,” this totally distorts the true picture of its relations with Palestinians which is informed by an exceptionalist morality consistently enunciated by the leaders of Political Zionism and practised by successive generations of Israeli military and political leaders. Further, it obscures the reconfiguration of Israeli society in terms of the rise in influence of extremist religious and ideological forces.

The raid conducted in southern Israel on October 7th, 2023, by members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, guerrillas of the Palestinian Islamist organisation known as Hamas, led to the killing of over 1300 Israelis and the taking into captivity of over 200. Hamas did not only attack settlements, its fighters overran border guard posts, military and police installations and in the process entered into firefights with Israeli security personnel. Several senior officers of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were killed. These included Colonel Yonatan Steinberg, Commander of the IDF’s 933rd "Nahal" Brigade, Colonel Roi Levy, Commander of the IDF's special forces "Ghost" Unit, and Lieutenant Colonel Eli Ginsberg, a former naval special forces officer of Shayetet 13 who commanded LOTAR, a special forces counter-terrorism unit of the IDF. In all, just over 300 Israeli military and over 50 Israeli police lost their lives. Apart from killing elite military personnel, the raiders destroyed communication installations and captured equipment.

The raid has left Israelis understandably enraged at the murder of civilians from infants to the elderly. Many are also outraged by the apparent grossly negligent lapse in state security and there are claims by survivors that a large number of deaths were of Israelis caught in the crossfire between security teams and the raiders. Yasmin Porat, an Israeli survivor from the attack on Kibbutz Be’eri near the Gaza boundary, claimed Israeli forces killed their own civilians when firing tank shells at houses in the kibbutz where Hamas gunmen were holding hostages. Israeli Apache attack helicopters were also scrambled into action. But with almost no intelligence on which to rely to make “fateful decisions,” one pilot later commented that “I find myself in a dilemma as to what to shoot at, because there are so many of them.”

It may take some time, perhaps until an inquiry along the lines of that undertaken by the Agranat Commission, before clarification is given about Israeli citizens whose lives were taken in the crossfire, as well as whether the Israeli military’s shelling of homes and use of hellfire missiles directed at hostage-taking Palestinian gunmen was an application of the “Hannibal Directive”, a secret field order issued in 1986 through which the IDF seeks to kill its own soldiers (and by extension Israeli civilians) to prevent them being taken hostage.

That lies in the future. Presently, Israel wants its revenge in the course of which it seeks to destroy Hamas, a pan-Islamist organisation, which Israeli intelligence services had ironically helped build up to serve as a counterweight to al-Fatah, the secular nationalist body headed by Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat.

But Israel’s subsequent actions of bombing Gaza and its threatened ground invasion are seen as a means by which it will exact a large-scale form of collective punishment. Certainly, Israel’s decision to cut off water, food, fuel, electricity, and the Internet is seen as part of a disproportionate series of acts which will affect innocent civilians, thus amounting to war crimes.

The Israeli authorities have sought to justify their actions by referring to heinous acts committed by Hamas during its invasion of Israeli territory, insisting that murder, rape, and the desecration of corpses accompanied what they proclaim as the largest amount of Jewish life taken since the anti-Jewish massacres of World War 2. Some high-ranking Israeli officials have declared Palestinians to be “animals” and the civilians in Gaza to be effectively complicit in the actions of Hamas.

Yet, this compartmentalization of Hamas’ deadly attack of October 7 does a great disservice in detracting from the wider basis of the conflict including the cycle of revenge undertaken over the years by both sides. The position of Gaza, a densely populated territory, which is constantly monitored and subjected to an Israeli blockade encompassing land, air, and sea, arguably nurtures the conditions in which pent up rage is cyclically unleashed against Israel.

Several of Israel’s leaders have made clear what the objective is of blockading Gaza. In 2018, Avigdor Lieberman, when serving as the defence minister under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, told readers of Makor Rishon that “We allow them to keep their heads above water, but not beyond that”. Speaking to Ma’ariv in 2021, his successor, Benny Gantz, a former IDF Chief of Staff, stated “We will not allow real and long-term development in the Gaza Strip”.

The instigators of the raid of October 7th, would doubtlessly have had on their minds the abuse and humiliations constantly heaped on Palestinian communities. In the West Bank, Palestinians are deprived of their land by encroaching Israeli settlers who seize their homes and destroy their farms. At the same time, their homes are regularly destroyed by Israel’s security forces as a means of exacting collective punishment for acts of resistance.

Palestinians also have limited rights of access to freshwater aquifers. The “Apartheid-like” impositions in the West Bank means that they are subjected to daily humiliations by the occupying Israeli army at checkpoints and they cannot use highways that are the preserve of the gun-wielding Israeli settlers.

Moreover, many Palestinians have been killed by both Israeli security forces and settler militias in incidents where they are not held accountable for their deeds. It should not be forgotten that many Palestinians, including minors, are regularly arrested, and detained by Israeli security services. Indeed, in July of this year, the Times of Israel ran an article stating that over 1,100 Palestinians were being held without trial, the highest figure since 2003. Thus, a key motivation for the taking of Israeli military and civilian hostages was based on securing the release of 1,117 Palestinian adults and up to 700 Palestinian minors.

The desperation and the long-standing grievances of the Palestinian people as relates to the dispossession of their land along with their long-term incarceration in Gaza and the emasculation of their leadership in the West Bank are thus key issues that need to be borne in mind when reviewing the events of October 7th. Also, an examination of Israel’s apparent willingness to commit genocide in Gaza and to oversee the removal of its population has to be seen in the context of the ideology of Political Zionism and the policies Israeli leaders have developed over the period in which it has existed as a state.

The ultimate goal on which Zionism is predicated is to effect the removal of Palestinian communities and to correspondingly expand territory on what is termed Eretz Yisrael or “The Land of Israel.” And in linking this to the present war with Gaza, it is important to understand the moral postulates on which Zionism’s early leaders operated and the policies they developed which encompass “provocation-and-revenge” and the targeting of civilians.

The morality of Political Zionism regardless of its designation as “accommodationist” or as “Revisionist Zionism” or “left” or “right” is consistent about finding the ways and means to remove Arabs from a Jewish state.

Zionism’s founding father Theodor Herzl wrote of the need to transfer the Arabs, and in private Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion was adamant about the need to expel the Arabs preferably under the cover of war. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist Zionism school of thought, was frank when stating in his tome The Iron Wall that the Arab population were a living, breathing people whose natural attachment to their land meant that they would not voluntarily cede their rights and therefore would have to be forcibly dispossessed by military means.

General Moshe Dayan also understood the pervading mindset with which the Zionist settlers would have to be inculcated in order to hold on to the land. His eulogy for Roi Rotberg, given in April 1956, after Rotberg, a settler, had been ambushed and killed by Arabs near Gaza, expounded the idea that Israelis should accept the hatred which dispossessed Palestinians directed at them and that they should therefore embrace the sword:

Let us not be deterred from seeing the loathing that is inflaming and filling the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who live around us. Let us not avert our eyes lest our arms weaken. This is the fate of our generation. This is our life's choice - to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down.

Dayan’s words are seen as the defining speech of Zionism.

Moshe Sharett, an early Prime Minister of Israel, quoted Dayan as saying “Israel must see the sword as the main, if not the only instrument to keep morale high and keep the tension … we must invent dangers and adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge. Above all, let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries so we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.”

The Israeli modus operandi of acting provocatively before claiming victimhood as a prelude to retaliation and a land grab was articulated with clarity by Dayan in 1967:

The taking of the Golan Heights was for the farmland - not security. We would send a tractor in to plough to get the Syrians to shoot. If they didn’t, we would advance further and further until they did shoot. Then we would use artillery and air force.

In his private diary published posthumously in 1979, Sharett bemoaned what he described as “the long chain of false incidents and hostilities we have invented, and so many clashes we have provoked.”

The ongoing Israeli assault of Gaza and the inevitable destruction of innocent human life is a deliberate strategy aimed not only at physically eradicating Palestinians but is also a continuum of the impositions of the Gazan siege and harsh occupation of the West Bank which were designed to demoralise Palestinians to the point at which they will leave their ancestral land. Israel is fully aware that levelling Gaza from the air is not destroying the military assets of Hamas which are largely ensconced beneath the ground. Such action will inevitably cost civilian lives including those of Palestinian children.

Israel has targeted civilians as part of an enduring policy, which has been alluded to by successive Prime Ministers, high-ranking military officers, diplomats, foreign ministers and military analysts.

In 1948 Ben Gurion wrote in his Independence War Diary that Israel must “strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise the action is inefficient. At the place of action there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent.” The massacre of Palestinian villagers, most of them women and children, in the West Bank village of Qibya in October 1953, exemplified this.

In 1978 during Israel’s first invasion of Lebanon, Lieutenant General Mordechai Gur, the IDF’s Chief of Staff, spoke frankly to Al HaMishmar about the war waged against Arab civilian populations living in cities and villages. A few days later in a review of Gur’s interview published in Ha’aretz Ze’ev Schiff, a military analyst, wrote the following:

In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously because they deserved it, …the importance of Gur’s remarks is the admission that the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposefully and consciously… even when Israeli settlements had not been struck.

In 1981, Abba Eban, when a former UN Ambassador and Foreign Minister, wrote in the Jerusalem Post a response to a letter written by then Prime Minister Menachem Begin. According to Eban, “the picture that emerges (from Begin’s letter) is of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr. Begin nor myself would dare mention by name.” But Eban supported the policy given that Israel’s monopoly of violence ensured that ultimately “there was a rational prospect for the cessation of hostilities.”

The bombing of civilian populations for political purposes was evident during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Most of the 20,000 people killed were civilians. Even Lieutenant General Yitzhak Rabin, the future hope for peace noted in the Jerusalem Post in 1988 that Israeli raids in remote Lebanese villages inflicted civilian casualties which “is precisely our aim”.

Today, the "Dahiya Doctrine", which was drawn up in 2006 by Gadi Eizenkot, a future chief of staff of the Israeli army, specifically promotes the annihilation of civilian populated areas in Lebanon when Israel takes military action against its northern neighbour. Its concomitant action against Gazans is known as “mowing-the-grass.” Here the idea is that Israel hits at Hamas, degrading its capabilities while inevitably inflicting collective punishment by physically destroying a sizeable proportion of Gaza’s civilian population during periodic outbursts of violence.

It should also be noted that the killing of civilians also has the sanction of certain rabbis. During the 2014 crisis, the Jerusalem Post reported a rabbi’s claim that Jewish law permits the destruction of Gaza in order to bring safety to Israel. It echoed an uncompromisingly brutal counsel from Rabbi Manis Friedman, a prominent figure in the Chabad movement who, in response to a question posed in a 2009 edition of Moment magazine’s “Ask the Rabbis” feature, stated that the “only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women, and children (and cattle).”

The late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late chief rabbi for Israel’s Sephardic community and spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party called for the annihilation of Arabs during a Passover sermon delivered in 2001:

It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable … waste their seed and exterminate them and vanish them from this world.

It would be remiss not to add the religious background to the attack of October 7th. The choice of the codename “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” was a deliberate allusion by Hamas to the invasions of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque in recent times by Israeli zealots and by Israeli security. The mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, is also the location of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. It is where two Jewish temples of antiquity were built and crucially where Jewish fundamentalists aim to build the Third Temple. The building of a Third Temple would, it is claimed, necessitate the destruction of the Muslim mosque.

Just two days before the October 7 raid, 832 intruders consisting of rabbis, settlers and far-right university lecturers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa compound to commemorate the ending of the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

The continual invasions of the mosque by Jewish extremists, as well as the raids conducted by Israeli police who also impose restrictions on the site are seen as provocations, not only by Palestinians, but also by the wider Muslim world. Indeed, when in September 2000 serving Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, accompanied by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, visited the mosque, it was seen as a provocation and led to the Second Intifada.

Pressures related to the building of the Third Temple may in part be due to the anxieties held by extremist Israelis about Israel’s long-term survival. Although not a fundamentalist, the former Prime Minister and IDF chief Ehud Barak summed up fears related to Israel’s future in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth in May 2022:

Throughout Jewish history, the Jews did not rule for more than eighty years, except in the two kingdoms of David and the Hasmonean dynasty, and in both periods, their disintegration began in the eighth decade.

The developments fixated on the Al-Aqsa Mosque are not necessarily a niche preoccupation of marginal Jewish zealots. They strike at the heart of the demographic evolution of Israeli society which has led to tensions among Israelis. Israel’s traditional dominant class of liberal secular Ashkenazi Jews are being superseded in population size and political influence by the previous underclass of Mizrahi Jews who in alliance with settlers and other fundamentalist Jews have tired of the presence of Arabs on Eretz Yisrael and feel that the time has come to establish Israel proper. In other words, for them, the time is now ripe to expel the Arabs, annex the remnants of Arab land and build the Third Temple.

It was with this constituency in mind that on May 21st, 2023, Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition cabinet, the most right-wing in Israeli history, which includes the ideological disciples of Rabbi Meir Kahane, met inside a tunnel underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Much of the support for Netanyahu’s judicial reforms have come from Mizrahi communities while most of the demonstrations against the bid to limit the powers of the Ashkenazi-dominated judiciary were of Ashkenazi background.

Israel’s future as a right-wing authoritarian state was predicted 75 years ago by a group of American Jewish intellectuals including Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein who wrote to the New York Times to warn that the acceptance into mainstream politics of Menachem Begin’s Herut Party which evolved into Likud, would lead Israel down the path which would legitimise “ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism and racial superiority.”

The rise in influence of extremist parties such as Shas and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) who ally with Likud has created the conditions for this. And the programme aimed at limiting the power of the Supreme Court is arguably one manifestation by which such ultranationalism is becoming embedded in Israel. But it could be argued that the route to this state of affairs was an inevitable evolution of Political Zionism just as the goals of “accommodationist” or revisionist Zionist were ultimately the same.

For instance, the primary objective of Political Zionism was from the outset to found a Jewish state in Palestine to the exclusion of all other races and religions. Israel’s formal declaration of itself to be a racialist, ethno-state came to fruition in 2018 through the passage by the Knesset of the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

Further, the rumpus over the curtailment of the power of the Supreme Court has little bearing on the plight of Palestinians even if the complex aspects of what is motivating this could be reduced to a narrative positing the opposing sides as fundamentalist oriental Jews on the one hand, and liberal, Enlightenment-believing Ashkenazi Jews on the other.

The Palestinian view is that the Supreme Court has upheld the status quo as far as the occupation of Palestinian land and anti-Palestinian discrimination is concerned. For example, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the legality of the blockade imposed on Gaza and the right of the Israeli government to cut electricity and fuel flows into the enclave despite the implications related to its habitability.

In 2022, Ha’aretz described the Israeli judiciary as the “Occupation’s Rubber Stamp” because it permitted the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes to make way for an IDF training site. The Supreme Court has facilitated the expropriation of Palestinian land and the expansion of Jewish settlements, both of which have served to constrict Palestinian land into a series of enclaves on the West Bank and thus make a two-state solution a non-viable proposition.

Many applications have been made by Palestinians to the Supreme Court but only a few have been heard, among those dismissed include a petition related to the murder and maiming by IDF snipers of unarmed Palestinians during the Great March of Return in 2018.

This is a summary of the background to the present Israel-Gaza conflict. It is disingenuous in the extreme to proceed on the basis that the attack of October 7 happened in a vacuum. So too is the attempt to construct the conflict as being one between Israeli “Western democratic and civilisational values” on the one hand, and Palestinian “barbarism” engineered by “radical Islam” on the other.

On the contrary, the central issue from the time of Israel’s creation was and remains one of ethnic cleansing and land dispossession. And the present onslaught on Gaza, sanctioned by Israel’s political and military classes and approved by Western leaders, are a war crime of a  magnitude in excess of what Hamas is claimed to have committed on October 7th.

It is a continuum of Moshe Dayan’s “provocation-and-revenge” strategy, in other words, Israel’s “sacred terrorism” in application and it has the objective of completing the removal of Palestinians from the Palestinian homeland.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

The paramount issue concerning Nigeria is not electoral integrity but on having a political & intellectual leadership capable of plotting a path to creating a national industrial base.

. The SIDE issue

So today I believe is the day the Nigerian Supreme Court decides on whether Bola "Chicago" Tinubu was validly elected to serve as President of Nigeria. The 3rd Republic, which began in 1999 after the last era of military rule, is replete with court-settling of election disputes. One or two disputed gubernatorial results come to mind. It means that theoretically, Tinubu could be stripped of the presidency and a re-run ordered or another of the candidates would be installed in his place.

I think the most likely result would be to throw out the claims. While such a verdict would be seen by the supporters of Peter Obi as evidence of judicial corruption, it would be based on the sound logic of preventing a disruptive procedure.

Obviously, a strong counter-argument would materialise if the cost of keeping Tinubu in power would be to make the country ungovernable. 

I don't see that happening.

The country is, as always, disunited and its long-suffering citizens are incapable of employing an effective version of "People Power".

. The REAL issue

The realist in me sees all of the commotion as a total distraction; a continuum of Nigerians, especially those well-meaning ones who as concerned citizens, activists or legal experts insist on what they deem to be "electoral transparency" and "constitutional propriety".

You see, Nigerians and the populations in post-independence Black Africa, have set the bar low.

The true quest of Nigeria is to create a post-colonial system of government and institutions which do not merely ape the hand-me-down systems of Western Europe and North America, this quest to evolve an indigenised, modern and practical system of governance being a natural corollary of a national programme aimed at creating for the country an industrial base which ineluctably would serve as the guarantor of economic independence because it would transform the country from a consumer-oriented economy to a productive one and one which is no longer an appendage to the global economic order.

What would such a programme look like?

Well, it would involve building up production in steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, textiles, cement, modernising infrastructure (roads, railroads, harbours, communication networks, water processing and power plants) and mechanising the agricultural sector. Specific industrial centres would need to be created around the country. Focusing on heavy industry would be the natural prerequisite to the production of consumer goods. It would also provide the basis for financing the effort of industrialisation. 

Naturally, such a plan would involve investment in technology.

A necessary concomitant of such a national project would be to embark on a programme of mass education which covers basic, vocational and university and postgraduate levels. Most programmes on the African continent have focused on trying to educate their population to basic literacy. 

Creating a manufacturing base would enable Nigeria to be solely responsible for extracting its mineral and other resources and converting them into goods which would be exported under a single currency regime.

Running a "rental" state in which others extract your minerals and where you sell mining rights lasting decades to foreign corporations whether Chinese or Western is demeaning.

The question is whether Nigerian and other African people can get beyond the thinking that economic prosperity can come from some form of evolution.That  people who consider themselves to be educated continue to think like that is sad beyond measure.

Beginning the process of securing an industrial base will involve planning and implementing by visionaries who can unite the people in a common cause. True leaders would find a means of transcending the barriers of tribal, ethnic and religious affiliation and building up a minimum level of cultural homogeneity.

It would also necessarily involve the strong hand of the state to direct the stages of development and to a greater or lesser degree, the "regimentation" of society. The leaders of such an endeavour inherently cannot be in the mould of the lazy, corrupt, sell-out despots of the still existing neo colonial era. It is important to note that the route to economic development in nations such as the USSR, Singapore and South Korea was not achieved through fixations on copying so-called democratic systems.

Nigerians have to demand this kind of vision from their leaders. The motivation for Nigerians and other Black African nations should be image of desperate Africans fleeing from their countries and embarking on perilous journeys across the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea during which they are prepared to risk the degrading circumstances of hunger, kidnap, rape, incarceration, enslavement and a pitiless death. And even if successful in reaching their destinations, the stigma of second or third class status awaits them as will the limitations imposed by racial and nationality-based discrimination.

Again, Nigerians and other Africans have for far too long set the bar low.

They need to ask themselves which of their leaders has presented a plan of several decades duration which is geared to plotting a path to achieving an industrial base.

It is time that they demand more from those who hold themselves out to be the political and intellectual leadership of their country.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde writes about global security, military history and a wider range of issues.

Sunday 27 August 2023

/ˌɪn ˈkam(ə)rə/

Location shoot in London yesterday afternoon.

It's a secret...

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Saturday 12 August 2023

The Niger Crisis: The Case Against War

The recent coup d’état in the West African nation of Niger has sparked a crisis that seems to be heading precipitously to war. Encouraged by the United States and France, ECOWAS issued an ultimatum to the Nigerien junta: relinquish power and restore President Mohamad Bazoum or be removed by a Nigerian-led military coalition. For those who argue that the seizure of power was a coup to far, the policy is justified. However, others concerned that the junta’s coming to power is based on a sound rationale predicated on the enduring plunder of its economic resources by France, its former colonial ruler, as well as by the failure of Franco-Nigerien security cooperation agreements to turn the tide against jihadist insurgents, contend that eschewing the route of diplomacy in favour of military force will create a geopolitical catastrophe on par with that which ensued after NATO’s intervention in Libya just over a decade ago.

A. What sparked the coup?

1. The issue of national sovereignty.

The military takeover in Niger is part of a trend of dissatisfaction among Francophone African countries about French neo-colonial policies which has been disadvantageous in terms of these countries functioning as fully sovereign entities.

The exploitation of the mineral resources of these former colonies (in Niger’s case that of uranium), as well as the stranglehold over the monetary apparatus of their nations has bred a deep-seated resentment of France.

2. The question of national security.

The Nigerien junta specifically referred to the failure of the French and American military presence in their country to combat jihadist-inspired terrorism within Niger.

The Nigerien junta has seen France’s counter-terrorism operation in Mali which was codenamed “Operation Barkhane” end in abysmal failure. It cannot be overemphasised that this French military operation has been universally considered to have been an unmitigated disaster.

And the people of Niger can see that the presence of U.S. troops has also failed to stem the tide of jihadist violence.

When in 2002, at the outset of its flawed “War on Terror”, the United States made its first military presence in Niger, the level of jihadist violence was low. But since the U.S. has widened its presence on the African continent under the auspices of AFRICOM, Islamist terrorist attacks have risen by over 30,000 per cent on the continent.

The Nigerien junta and the other countries in the Sahel consider the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) to be more effective in combating Islamist insurgencies. That is the view in Mali. And it should be noted Wagner certainly played their part in defeating the Islamist insurgency in Syria.

What is more, the military regime in Niger is quite aware that the NATO operation which destroyed Libya in 2011, of which the US and French militaries played key roles, is directly responsible for the expansion of jihadism in the Maghreb and Sahelian region.

The Nigeriens are not stupid. They can see that the role of French and U.S. forces inside their country is not to fight jihadism but to protect their own interests and assets, in the case of France, the flow of cheap uranium to their nuclear plants, and in the case of the United States, its 280-million-dollar drone base near Agadez.

So while the idea of viewing a coup d’état as an occurrence which should be treated with suspicion and even hostility justifiably resonates, we must not lose sight of the fact that coups are not always the product of an adventurism that is predicated on a lust for power or with a backdrop of tribal or ethnic feuding.

On the contrary, many coups have been undertaken to serve as “corrective” endeavours, and the Nigerien one is clearly an example of this kind of a putsch.

Its rulers are acting with the overwhelming approval of the population of Niger.

B. What will be the consequences of pursuing the military option?

If ECOWAS chooses to eschew the path of diplomacy and opts for military action, it will be risking unleashing a wave of unintended consequences that will destabilise the West African region.

Intervention may lead to any combination of the following results:

1. An all-out war in the Sahelian region.

The military regimes of Mali and Burkina Faso have stated that any intervention will be seen as an attack on their respective nations. Algeria has also pledged to support Niger in the event of war breaking out.

The Nigerien regime also appears to be soliciting the help of Wagner PMC which is composed of seasoned veterans who have successfully fought in war theatres such as Syria, eastern Ukraine and Mali. They will be more battle hardened than any troops of ECOWAS or of the US and France.

2. A guerrilla or Insurgency-type of resistance.

The Nigerien army is a small one. It may decide to disperse and fight a guerrilla-type of campaign. They will have the capacity to do a great deal of damage to a larger and better equipped force by choosing where and when to fight on terrain that they know better.

3. Population displacement and an ensuing refugee crisis.

When war comes the affected population will seek refuge in other countries. This, in the first instance, will affect neighbouring countries such as Nigeria. It would also likely increase the numbers of poverty-stricken Africans who undertake the perilous journey through the Sahara to the Mediterranean shores from where they hope to get to Europe.

4. Rise in Islamist terrorism

Each Western-promoted intervention on the African continent has led to a steep increase in Islamist terrorism.

. In 2006, the U.S. encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia to combat Islamism but the operation led to an expansion of the terroristic power of Al-Shabaab.

. In 2011, U.S.-led NATO forces utilising proxies in the form of al-Qaeda militias, prominent of which was the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), used UN resolution 1973 as a pretext to overthrow the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and in the process destroyed Libya. It led to the raiding of the armouries of the fallen Libyan Army which developed into an arms supply network across the Maghreb, the Sahel, and the Lake Chad Basin, thus facilitating the rise of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).

. Now in 2023 the United States and France are encouraging a Nigerian-led ECOWAS force to invade Niger, a course of action that would invite an expansion in the violent activities of militias such as AQIM and ISWAP whose numbers would be swelled further by any overt military actions on the part of France and America.

C. Summing up.

While it is true that ECOWAS member states such as Nigeria are correct to construe the Niger coup as a threat to the development of democratic institutions in the region, their decision to eschew the route of diplomacy as a means of peacefully managing the crisis is highly suspect given the fact that military action was not pursued after coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Conakry.

The “last straw” argument is a less convincing one than that which posits the United States and France as foreign powers which are desperate to hold onto their interests in Niger. France is seeing its long standing “shadow empire”, the construct of Gaullist-era figures such as Jacques Foccart, collapsing around it and the United States, its status as the sole global hegemon under threat from the rise of China, wishes to preserve intact its network of military bases.

The loss of access to cheap Nigerien uranium for its nuclear plants would be disastrous for the French economy, while the United States, reliant for years on a not insignificant amount of Uranium produced by Russia, wants to redirect its uranium consumption to that produced by Niger.

There is ample evidence that the coup in Niger is supported by the overwhelming majority of the country’s population. The regime arguably embodies the will of the Nigerien masses to be rid of the French whose military presence in their country is seen as threatening.  President Charles de Gaulle evicted NATO from France in 1966 because he knew the Atlantic military alliance posed a threat to French sovereignty. Similarly, the Nigerien military regime construe the presence of French troops on their soil as an infringement on their economic and political sovereignty. And the refusal of the French government to abide by the order given by the junta that its forces leave Nigerien territory is seen as evidence of France’s longstanding imperial attitude to its former colonies.

The French government asserts that the junta's renunciation of existing security pacts is void due to its constitutional "illegitimacy", while failing to appreciate that the foundational pact regarding technical military cooperation of 1977 which was signed by the military regime led by Lt. Colonel Seyni Kountche would by the same reasoning also be void.

The anti-French sentiment expressed in the policies of the Nigerien junta and its counterparts in Mali and Burkina Faso, mirror the change in perspective of many other African states who believe that they will be able to better develop their economies using the alternative model of international trade being offered by China and Russia. To them, the BRICS system represents a new and more equitable method of economic interaction in the burgeoning multipolar world.

It is on issues concerned with ensuring the respect for national sovereignties, increasing security cooperation, and devising an overarching economic development plan with the objective of transforming their minerally rich but poverty-stricken nations into self-sufficient countries possessing an industrial base that the leaders of ECOWAS ought to engage with the Sahelian juntas.

An engagement based on waging war is a recipe for disaster. It would likely trigger a tsunami of events which would surpass the bitter aftermaths of the aforementioned operations in Somalia and Libya.

Speaking to RIA Novosti on August 9, 2023, Antinekar al-Hassan, political adviser to Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted president of Niger, opined that he did not think that ECOWAS will “make the mistake of intervening militarily in Niger, because if they intervene militarily, that means all of Africa will be at war.”

It remains to be seen if Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, egged on by his Western backers, is able to appreciate the lessons of history.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer and lecturer with an interest in international security and geopolitics.

Thursday 10 August 2023

Remarkable Capt. Rawe: Navy News Obituary for Captain James Rawe (1925-2023)

Captain James Rawe (1925-2023) photographed in 2016 after receiving the Legion d'honneur.

The passing of Captain James Rawe at the age of 97 will be felt in the USA, France and Nigeria as well as his native UK.

As a teenage midshipman James Rawe safely navigated a Landing Craft Tank, delivering the HQ Battalion of the US 12th Infantry Regiment onto Utah Beach in the first wave on D-Day.

Unlike the landings at nearby Omaha Beach, the invasion of Utah ran remarkably smoothly.

A qualified commando, he also served with Combined Operations before being sent to the Far East as a specialist hydrographer to conduct extensive survey work around the coasts of Malaya, Borneo, and Hong Kong, as well as the South China and Java Seas.

That led to an invitation to help “start a Royal Navy type survey service and possibly a Nigerian Navy.”

The result was that then Lieutenant James Rawe became the first person, Nigerian or British, to sign up for the Nigerian Naval Force established in 1956 (it became the Royal Nigerian Navy in 1958, and upon becoming a republic in 1963, simply the Nigerian Navy).

The early part of his new career was spent surveying Nigeria’s coastline in command first of HMNNS Pathfinder and later HMNNS Penelope.

As a founding father of the country’s navy, he was involved in recruitment drives, sat on several courts martial and boards of inquiry and supported VIP visits such as Queen Elizabeth II, and Lord Mountbatten, the Chief of the Defence Staff.

In the mid-1960s, while serving as the Commanding Officer of Apapa Naval Base, Capt Rawe was caught up in coups and unrest which engulfed the country and the military especially.

A man filled with a strong sense of duty, he dismissed suggestions to leave the country, arguing that he was in Nigeria at the request of the Queen and did not wish to besmirch Britain’s good name, nor leave the fledgling navy without a senior staff officer.

The turmoil eventually boiled over into the eastern region of Biafra breaking away.

James Rawe’s survey work and his wartime experience with Combined Operations led to his involvement with amphibious landings in 1967 and 1968, landings which paved the way for the eventual capitulation of Biafra.

Captain Rawe retired from the Nigerian Navy the following year and became a senior probation officer in Oxfordshire.

Captain Rawe was decorated widely during his naval service - at least half a dozen medals from the Nigerians alone - and he received the Legion d’honneur from the French government in 2016 for his role on D-Day and the liberation from Nazi tyranny.

He is survived by his widow Irene, three sons, nine grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

With thanks to Adeyinka Makinde.

Published in Navy News, June 2023 (Issue 827).