UK Embassy Official Threatened in Zimbabwean Press

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Gun_Empty, Apr 4, 2007.

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    I'm not sure if there is a precedent to this in international relations?

    In any event, I believe that this is a situation for which the British public would support intervention. I admit I am not fully aware of the details of the situation, but if we are truly a 'force for good' can anyone tell me why intervention has never been considered? Apart from the cynical 'they've got no oil' and historical delicacies, I'm sure I am over simplifying and missing something here?
  2. Hit the nail on the head, they have no resources that Bliar or Bush need so therefore its nothing to do with us!!
  3. I have to agree.

    I may be just Jo Public but can anybody shed any light why we have any links with this country anyway. No oil, massive inflation corrupt goverment!

    Wow sounds like home from home.

    Maybe Mr Mugabe could invite Bliar over when he retires.

    Now that would be "The Rumble in the jungle"
  4. Any links??

    We built the country - formerly Southern Rhodesia - from nothing; almost all its white citizens are of UK descent; SR sent more volunteers pro rata than any other country of the Empire to serve in the British forces during both World Wars etc etc.

    There may be no hydrocarbons, but Zim. is incredibly fertile - "the breadbasket of Africa" - and has colossal mineral wealth : gold, copper, diamonds etc etc.
  5. Your right of course Caubeen old boy (I was tongue in cheek on my comments) my ex - girlfriend's father was an inspector in the SR police so well aware of the history.

    Trouble is under the hand of Mr Mugabe the country has been turned into a sh!t-hole.
  6. They know from this government's wet reaction over the current Iranian situation that they can do what they like.
  7. Sadly, Mugabe knew successive HMGs were wet decades before this present business with Iran, and he's behaved accordingly. They have sat back and watched Mugabe systematically destroy what was arguably the finest, best-structured, most fertile and richest country in sub-Saharan Africa - and brutalise and dispossess the majority of its people, black and white.

    It was all uncannily foretold by former SR PM Ian Smith, and it's desperately sad.
  8. So my initial premise was correct! No oil, no money, no americans, no 'force for good'. Simple I suppose.
  9. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Very true, and to think Maggie was in the chair when the Lancaster House agreement was signed.

    Seems we washed our hands of Africa, and now we are not prepared to put even a finger back in the water......
  10. With no neighbouring nations willing to ally themselves to an invading country, how would we take on Zimbabwe, no airhead possible, no lines of communication? Do we fight through Mosambique or Namibia, try and coerce them with the shared history they have with Zimbabwe?

    I really would be interested as to how this could be carried out
  11. Maggie's questionable reputation for toughness was earned in the Falklands. Less well remembered are her involvements in that infamous LH Agreement, and - closest to home - her signature on a treaty giving another state a voice in the governance of part of the UK - i.e. the Anglo-Irish Agreement of Nov. '85.

    MT was visibly shaken when Enoch Powell got to his feet in the House and asked, "Does the Rt. Hon. lady understand—if she does not yet understand she soon will—that the penalty for treachery is to fall into public contempt?"

    Ian Gow - one of her best, and a fine soldier - resigned immediately, and was murdered by PIRA.

    Albion's perfidy . . . .
  12. The history is interesting but we must remember that the helicopter is being used elsewhere as is the infantry regiment and both the tanks. No capacity to intervene!
  13. No capacity; no friendly nations to host our presence before going in; the inevitability of international outrage (including Commonwealth countries) if we did; the certainty that Mugabe would play the whingeing victim of colonial oppression, thus ensuring sympathy and continuing power; and the absence of any desire by HMG to intervene.

    About the most we'll see is an evacuation of our diplomats, and perhaps a token handful of other UK passport-holders - all on a chartered civvy aircraft with no service personnel on board. Bliar will not allow one pair of British boots to set foot in Zim.

    HMG effectively abandoned Zim. with the Lanc. House Agreement in Dec. '79. Another disgraceful legacy of the supposedly Iron Lady.

    Except now Zimbo has fewer troops and the Povo seem to be behind a change.

    Can we liberate Zimbabwe?
    Mike Dewar concludes that the best way to topple Mugabe is to enlist South Africa�s help As Mr Mugabe continues to flout international opinion, suppress democratic opposition to his regime, and reduce this once rich nation to abject poverty, some commentators are asking if it might not be desirable to remove this despot by means of military intervention.

    �It�s goodbye, Mr Chips.�

    I leave it to others better qualified than I am to debate the legality in international law of such an action. And, of course, whether or not the United Nations would sanction military intervention is a big question. But leaving aside these enormous issues, is it militarily practicable to mount such an operation?

    Zimbabwe is bordered by Zambia in the north, Botswana in the west, Mozambique in the east and South Africa in the south. Only the last two have deep-water ports, of which Beira in Mozambique is the closest to Zimbabwe. A prerequisite for any serious military operation in Zimbabwe would be a port of entry in a neighbouring state to bring in the necessary logistical support and infrastructure to sustain any military operation. It would also be necessary to create a military base from which to mount the cross-border operation. This presupposes the political agreement of either the South African or Mozambique governments to such an idea. Again there are those better qualified than I am to make this call, but the likelihood of either agreeing is probably nil. Let us pursue the idea further nevertheless.

    How seriously would any invading force have to take the opposition? The Zimbabwe army consists of about seven brigade equivalents (or about 40,000 men). The air force is some 4,000-strong, with some MIG-21s and some Hawk aircraft. The quality of the military is extremely suspect. But it would be foolish to undertake a military operation in Zimbabwe with less than an air-mobile division. This would mean a force of at least 20,000 men. It would require air support, mostly fighter ground-attack aircraft, attack helicopters, transport and reconnaissance aircraft. Even though a rapid collapse of the opposition would be likely, it is the occupation and subsequent peace-keeping task that would be the most manpower-intensive. We have recently witnessed this phenomenon in Iraq.

    Zimbabwe is a large country, some 500 miles across and some 500 miles deep. The two main centres of population are Harare and Bulawayo, and it would be necessary to secure both. But it would also be necessary to clear remnants of Mr Mugabe�s Zanu-PF supporters from towns and villages across the country. The so-called �war veterans� have been particularly aggressive. They are poorly armed and organised, but would need to be policed following any military operations. To what extent the existing police force would be available is open to some doubt. Some sort of occupation over a period of years would be likely.

    The next question is which country, if any, would be likely to provide a division to remove the regime in Zimbabwe. There are no likely European candidates. France, the only nation with a history of intervention in Africa, is unlikely to be willing to offer its troops, particularly in the light of M. Chirac�s invitation to Mr Mugabe to a recent conference of African leaders in Paris. The United States is very wary of intervention in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa is the only other candidate, and the likelihood of Mr Mbeki agreeing to armed intervention, let alone providing troops, is very low. That leaves the United Kingdom. The chances of the UK going it alone are virtually nil. Moreover the ability of the armed forces in the wake of the second Gulf war to mount yet another division-sized operation is suspect. Indeed, the Chief of the Defence Staff has made it clear that Britain will not be able to mount significant expeditionary forces for at least two years, except in circumstances of national emergency. It should not be forgotten that the UK sent some 45,000 military personnel to Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. Some 11,000 remain there. One third of the British army was deployed in Iraq, while other operational requirements were undertaken in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Afghanistan and in Britain to replace striking firemen. Even though 19,000 �extra� troops are available for deployment with the end of the fire strike, the 11,000 extra troops still deployed in Iraq need to be subtracted from this number. To risk involving UK forces in another long-term occupation when they are likely to be in Iraq for years to come is unthinkable.

    An operation in Zimbabwe would not be simple. It would probably not require armoured formations, although Zimbabwe does have a few ageing and ineffective main battle tanks. But it would require the deployment of three brigades. In that the army has only one truly air-mobile brigade, two brigades would need to deploy overland. This would be a time-consuming and possibly messy exercise.

    It is arguable that some sort of coup de main undertaken with the support of special forces might be sufficient to topple the regime. However, it would be extremely embarrassing if such a high-risk strategy failed; and, in any event, there would be no troops available for the subsequent peace-making or peace-keeping tasks.

    Given that such an undertaking is almost certainly impossible without US participation, and given US lack of interest in sub-Saharan Africa, it is safe to conclude that such an operation is a non-starter. Moreover the likelihood of a neighbouring African state providing either basing facilities or even an overflying agreement is extremely low. Add to this the recent over-commitment of Britain�s armed forces in the Gulf and elsewhere, and conventional military intervention is not going to happen.

    So what is the answer? Some sort of destabilisation operation is a possibility, but no government is likely to own up to inserting special forces to lead a counter-insurgency operation. Serious sanctions are a possibility. Both the US and the EU have played at sanctions, but in a rather half-hearted manner. In any event the likes of Libya and South Africa will provide most of the goods needed by Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, sanctions might accelerate the implosion of Zimbabwe, which is bound to occur eventually � how soon is difficult to forecast. But if the internal situation gets a lot worse, South Africa may be persuaded to take a tougher line and perhaps even impose sanctions herself. South Africa�s support is crucial to toppling Mugabe. In fact it is the key. A serious diplomatic offensive by the British government to achieve a change of attitude by South Africa is the best chance of effecting regime change in Zimbabwe. And if troops were ever to be used, even if only as a peace-keeping force, the participation of South African troops would make the whole operation politically acceptable to Africa as a whole. But military intervention per se � it�s not on the cards.
  15. Well if land intervention is out perhaps we could run a naval blockade to deny Mugabe access to oil and stop exports of Copper to China. Sure that would work. Oh, hang on.....

    "Today, in the light of dozens of recently declassified British documents, the Beira patrol is a cautionary tale for states that must decide upon, and commanders who must then orchestrate, maritime interception operations. It illustrates the challenges of shaping an appropriate force for maritime sanctions and shows vividly how demanding even a small blockade can be, especially if prolonged. It reveals the difficulties of fashioning credible rules of engagement and the complexities of the interplay between rules and force posture. It also exemplifies the legal, resource, and political obstacles to modifying a blockade once it has started."

    Ah. So as we lack the capability to do so could we ask the Americans bomb the country back into the Stone Age? No? Oh well as it appears to be about ready to get there all by itself not much point really.

    So perhaps just better stand back, go tut tut tut and let it all fall apart until the surrounding African states can stand it no longer and do something.

    What? Somebody has already thought of that??