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The African Union is technically not a nation, but a supranational entity that operates as the de facto federal government of Africa. It was founded in 1963 by the then-independent nations of Africa. A debate between the Casablanca and Monrovia Blocs resulted in the creation of a political federation, as desired by the Casablanca Bloc, in order to oppose intervention from the three superpowers (USA, USSR, and Japan) and enable Africa to begin a road to peaceful, independent development. Today, Africa is considered a second-tier world power after decades of stunning growth.
For centuries, Africa was a prosperous continent with many leading civilizations, such as Egypt and Mali, who inspired the world. They were relatively wealthy compared to the rest of the world and highly involved in global affairs. However, Africa slowly began to fall behind the rest of the world until the 1800s when most of the continent was seized by European colonial powers. After World War II, the European empires could no longer maintain their colonies in Africa and began to grant them independence. Once they achieved independence, the weak, relatively poor African nations found it difficult to move forward, though some were doing better than others. Nonetheless, enthusiasm from their independence enabled the development of a panAfrican identity in many countries and many new African leaders embraced calls for a united Africa. African leaders soon moved towards this goal.
Driven by spreading PanAfrican sentiments and practical geopolitical desires, African leaders began moving towards a unity, though the path that unity would take was highly debated. African countries organized themselves into two competing ideological groups, the Monrovia and Casablanca Blocs. The Monrovia Bloc, led by Leopold Senghor of Senegal, opposed the creation of a political federation and advocated close economic cooperation. The Casablanca Bloc, led by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, advocated a full political federation for Africa. After many meetings on the matter, such as the conference at Sanniquellie, Liberia, the leaders of all independent African nations were invited to a major conference in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Emperor Halie Selassie on May 25, 1963 in order to resolve the conflict. During the discussions, many nations leaned towards the creation of a much weaker organization focused primarily on economic integration. However, as the debate went on, Nkrumah and others began to counter this argument with the idea of a political federation. By playing off the fears of foreign manipulation from the three superpowers, the majority of the nations present agreed with the idea of a political federation. By the end of the conference, the Treaty of Addis Ababa was drawn up, which created the African Union.
In the immediate years after the establishment of the African Union, the new leaders of a united Africa focused their efforts on the establishment of a united, federal government that could endure and rule Africa. After six months of deliberation, a body of experts from across the continent released the African Union Constitution, a document which would formally establish a supranational federation that would govern Africa.
The African Union Constitution created a government that took examples from throughout history. Democratic elements were taken from European political tradition. Power structures and divisions of government are based on traditional African political structures. Some aspects of government were even taken from various Eastern governing traditions. A common currency and market, continental judiciary, African army, a central bank, and unified foreign representation was created as well. In order to ensure African unity, strong central governing structures were created that could monopolize political power and economic regulation across the continent. The constitution was approved by a continent-wide referendum in January 1964, though some amendments were added. Throughout the 1960s, AU political authority was extended throughout the continent. Governments at all level throughout the continent were subjected to AU oversight and direct political connections were forged with the new government.
Palestinian War of Liberation
The African Union experienced its first test in 1967 when a war erupted with Israel. The Egyptian government, with AU permission, continued to cooperate with its Arab allies to liberate Palestine. In response to intelligence reports that the Israelis were massing on the Syrian border, the AU authorized Egypt to close the Suez Canal on May 22. In order to counter the supposed Israeli mobilization, the AU moved 400,000 soldiers to the Israeli border. Jordan, Iraq, and Syria also began massing troops at their respective borders with Israel. On June 5, 1967, the Israeli Air Force launched Operation Focus, a preliminary assault on all African-Arab air forces surrounding Israel. However, African radar systems detected incoming jets over the Red Sea and scrambled much of its air force in Egypt, Sudan, and Libya and alerted their Arab allies in response. As a result, Operation Focus failed to achieve its desired goal. While losses were significant, over 150 (mainly Arab) were lost, hundreds of aircraft were saved and 89 Israeli aircraft were downed, nearly half of its air force.
The Israelis timed the beginning of their ground assault with that of their air assault. The Israelis focused the bulk of their military on the Egyptian-Israeli border in an attempt to drive African forces across the Sinai before their vastly superior numbers could overwhelm Israeli forces. 70,000 Israeli soldiers crossed the border and began their assault on the Sinai and Gaza Strip. During the first 48 hours of the conflict, African forces held on in Gaza, but experienced reversals in the central Sinai. By the third day, African forces had reorganized and halted the Israeli advance. On the fourth day, African forces were back to the Israeli border and had removed Israeli forces from the Gaza strip. Faced with an invasion of Israeli territory, Israeli commanders were forced to reallocate forces from other fronts. The United States also sent emergency military aid to Israeli in an attempt to save the Israelis. Throughout the advance, the African air force had flown numerous sorties against Israeli targets resulted in large losses of equipment on the front. On the fifth day, African forces seized the port of Eloth and much of the Israeli air force had been driven back by superior numbers. Led by 1,500 tanks, African forces rapidly advanced and reached Beersheba by June 10. Israel also experienced reversals on the Syrian and Jordanian fronts, where they were pushed from the West Bank and Golan Heights.
Facing a total collapse on all fronts, Israel desperately attempted to arrange a peace settlement to no avail. The United States desperately pressed all sides to reach a peace agreement and stepped up their aid to Israel. The Soviet Union and Japan, who supported the Arabs and Africans respectively, both said they would counter any American intervention with that of their own. Seeing victory in their grasp, Iran and all Arab states declared war on the State of Israel. By June 15, the whole of southern Israel had fallen to African-Arab forces after a massive withdrawal by Israeli forces in an attempt to protect their more populated areas and prevent their forces from being cutoff. African forces were now able to travel through the West Bank in order expand the front against Israel and assist stalled Syrian forces. Palestinians in northern Israel rose up in revolt against Israeli forces, with the assistance of the Lebanese army, which crippled the Israeli war effort in the north. Finally, on June 30 after a pushing through strong Israeli resistance, African-Arab forces reached Tel Aviv, which fell on July 15, 1967, ending the state of Israel.
Despite the destruction of a nation, most of the world, with the exception of the United States and Western Europe, stayed silent on the collapse of Israel. While a UN resolution was passed condemning the war, no intervention was forthcoming. The former territories of Israel formed the new United Republic of Palestine. However, the strength of the African military was proved during the war and the Africa remained united throughout the war effort.
In order to facilitate the Palestinian War, the African Union had to undergo rapid centralization of political and military authority. After the war, centralization policies were expanded and central economic measures were strengthened. In 1969, the common market was established followed by the common currency in 1971. The AU bureaucracy was expanded to accommodate the expanded duties of the AU. Under the leadership of President Julius Nyerere, the AU implemented major economic reforms along socialist lines, collectively known as Ujamaa. After the end of the Nyerere Presidency, the PanAfrican Party (PAP), who maintained a majority in the PanAfrican Parliament, continued many of the Ujamaa policies throughout the 1970s. As a result of these policies, Africa experienced a massive improvement in social conditions, a growth in government, and achieved economic stability throughout the continent.
Thanks to the foundations laid by the Ujamaa reforms of the 1970s, the African Union was able to embark on a path of economic growth and democratization. However, the 1970s also represented an era of great political, social, and economic experimentation.
Until the 1981, the PanAfrican Party (PAP) had managed to maintain majority rule in all organs of the AU. However, scandals and the rise of alternative political parties stripped the PAP of its majority in the November 1981 elections. Despite the opposition's new stunning victory, no majority coalition was able to be formed. The weakened PAP continued to rule as a minority government, which sparked even greater opposition across the continent. In Parliament and national governments, the PAP fought fierce political battles with its opponents as the governing situation of the AU became increasingly chaotic. For over a year, the AU was politically paralyzed.
The increasing political tensions fueled existing conflicts across Africa. In several areas, such as Nigeria and southern Morocco, militant groups representing a variety of interests, from political to ethnic to religious, were either actively fighting the national government or were only suppressed by a combination of AU soldiers and money. Some national politicians, seeking to exploit the conflict, reactivated their ties with these groups. Other groups independently reasserted themselves. Regardless, by late 1982 a series of conflicts between national governments and rebel groups were breaking out across the continent as the political struggle continued. The conflicts pushed enough of the opposition into a coalition with the PAP to enable the formation of a majority government in January 1983.
Despite the political raproachment, rebellions were still occurring across Africa. The source of most of these conflicts came from various ethnic and religious groups that claimed they were repressed by their national governments. Many of these groups even claimed to support the AU and the principles of PanAfricanism. Their main source of concern was their national governments. For most of these conflicts, the AU, attempting remaining neutral, allowed national military forces to combat the rebellions. However, as many national militaries became desperate or began to lose, the violence and ferocity of the conflict increased.
Fearing that the situation could spiral out of control, the AU directly intervened in many of these conflicts. Some were quickly resolved diplomatically. Others, such as in Nigeria, were too complex to be quickly resolved through negotiation. With an increasing number of unresolvable conflicts, (name), President of the PanAfrican Parliament, decided to address the root of the problem: borders. Most African countries had borders that were arbitrarily drawn by European colonizers, which grouped many antagonistic ethnic and religious groups together unnecessarily. In what later became known as the (name) Declaration, the AU announced that the integrity of the AU was greater than the integrity of any component state, which established a principle of constitutional superiority. While both goals were part of the AU Constitution, continental integrity now trumped national integrity.
Following the (name) Declaration, the AU began its pacification campaign with Nigeria, who's conflict had exploded into a full blown civil war between the three main factions: the Hausa-Fulani Northerner-dominated government, the southeastern Igbo-led bloc, and the southwestern Yoruba-led bloc. It began with the forced nationalization of all Nigerian oil fields, located primarily in the south, by AU forces. While this upset foreign governments and caused the northerner-dominated Nigerian government, who at this point had become the aggressor, to withdraw from the AU, it stripped them of their financing and created a buffer zone in the south between the southeastern and southwestern blocs, who were also fighting for control of the oil. Next, the AU recognized each of the three blocs as independent states: Nigeria in the north, Biafra in the southeast, and Yorubaland in the southwest. Finally, through military force, the AU defeated each of the newly independent states in term and forced them to the bargaining table. By 1985, Nigeria, Biafra and Yorubaland had joined the AU and the Nigerian Civil War had ended.
Using the model of Nigeria, the AU simultaneously suppressed other uprisings across the continent. By mid-1986, all rebellions had been crushed and numerous new African states had been formed, such as Western Sahara. From 1986-1989, a series of referendums were held across the continent on the status of territorial integrity. Some nations, such as Zaire, broke up into their constituent ethnic groups, while others merged with portions of other nations in order to unite their respective ethnic group. By the end of 1989, the turmoil had largely ceased as the AU worked to integrate the newly independent nations of Africa.
Rise to Prominence
Throughout the 1990s, Africa experienced a surge in economic growth after an end to the experimental policies of the 1970s and the instability of the 1980s.
The African Union Military (AUM) is the unified armed forces of the nations of Africa. It is one of the largest militaries in the world and has recently undergone rapid modernization. It is composed of the African Continental Aerospace Force (ACAF), the African Continental Army (ACA), and the African Continental Navy (ACN). Collectively, it acts as Africa's overall defensive and offensive military force controlled by the AU government. National military forces are effectively state militias and national guard-type military forces, though many possess significant equipment.
The African Continental Army was formed shortly before the Palestinian War of Liberation. It was originally composed of a few volunteers and forces taken from various national militaries. During the 1970s and 1980s, the ACA was unified and professionalized as national armies were reduced in size and strength. By the early 1990s, the ACA had become an all-volunteer professional military force with mostly modern equipment. Today, the ACA is the largest of the three military branches with 5,000,000 active personnel, including 4,000,000 combat troops. It is tasked with defending Africa's borders and ensuring internal security when necessary.
The African Union has only recently emerged as a major political player after the weakening of the Soviet Unionfollowing the Union Crisis and the following decline of Cold War politics, which coincided with Africa's economic rise. Their political might is mainly buoyed by their economic strength and they are projected to become a major world power. However, their economic might and military potential scares many nations, especially Europe, and they risk being at the center of new wars. In addition, they suffer from many natural disadvantages that some are skeptical that they can overcome.