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Who are SA's international friends?

15 March 2012, 10:56

If we were to be attacked for no apparent reason by another country or nation, would we have international allies and friends we can call on in case we needed their help to help us defend ourselves militarily?

Politically South Africa is currently a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, which more or less means that it is not aligned with any of the larger nuclear powers, and so we maintain a neutral stance in world affairs.

As far as I am aware we have no military allies or enemies either currently. South Africa where it can, participates in peace-keeping operations by sending in our troops to African trouble spots when either the United Nations or the African Union calls for such involvement. South Africa does not unilaterally send in troops to any country first and foremost. It has even resisted calls to force the dreaded regime change thing in certain African countries like neighbouring Zimbabwe,Libya under maddog Gaddafi and the Ivory Coast's defiant Laurent Gbagbo.

But this has not always been the case though. During World War I nearly a quarter million South Africans served in South African military units supporting the Allied Forces. Of that number, 43000 served in German South-West Africa and another 30,000 on the Western Front(an area the German Army opened up when they invaded Luxembourg and Belgium. About 3,000 South Africans also joined the Royal Flying Corps. Altogether 18 600 South Africans died in WW1.South Africa also assisted the Allied Forces by capturing the two German colonies of German West Africa and German East Africa, as well as participating in battles in Western Europe and the Middle East.

During World War II, our ports and harbours, such as Cape Town, Durban, and Simon's Town, were important strategic assets to the British Royal Navy. About 334,000 South Africans volunteered for full-time military service in support of the Allied Forces abroad. And 9,000 were killed in action and many others were captured by the Axis Powers and held as prisoners of war. 

Today South Africa is not involved in any military action. But we do have border controls in operation to apprehend the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political persecution. As of January 2007, South Africa also supports large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (33,000), Somalia (20,000), Burundi (6,500), and other states in Africa numbering 26,000.We still in dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River and in 2006, the Swazi king advocated he'll resort to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa.

Currently South Africa has 13 439 781 males between the ages of 16-49 available for military service and 12 473 641 females of the same age group available for military service according to the CIA Factbook.Of that number 7 617 063 males and 6 476 264 females are fit enough to go to war for South Africa. 

South Africa has many trading partners though. The SADC region (Southern Africa) and the Brazil, South Africa, India alliance are very notable partners of South Africa. Who knows if any of them would ever assist South Africa in case a war broke out against us. The the CIA World Factbook list South Africa as part of certain groupings, treaties and organisations. Some of the more politically significant ones are SADC, AU, NAM.

South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland are all members of the South African Customs Union, the oldest customs union in the world.SACU was renegotiated in 2002 to create a more democratic institutional structure, a dispute settlement mechanism and to require common policies on industrial development, agriculture, competition, and unfair trade practices.

Here's how it is for South Africa at moment if this is correct:
Closest Allies:
- Russia
- China
- Zimbabwe
- Namibia
- Mozambique
- Zambia
- Swaziland
- Lesotho

Friendly with:
- UK
- Germany
- Netherlands
- Malaysia
- France
- Sweden
- Most other African countries, not mentioned above
- Australia
- New Zealand

Who despise us:

None publicly announced their hatred yet.Doesn't mean we have no enemies. Allies are sometimes difficult to define.Unless in sports counts for anything.

South Africa's foreign policy swings back and forth and never stays the same. Under the misfit Thabo Mbeki,South Africa seemed to have an overarching aim as its foreign policy,at least on paper. It was all about the promotion of an African renaissance, even if that meant ignoring the human-rights violations of some of South Africa’s Allies.

Under Zuma, South Africa has no pattern in their policies. We often appear to be pursuing two contradictory sets of values. At one moment, Zuma's ANC Government is upholding the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference,which are ideal for despots around the world. At the next moment, Zuma insists that his primary objective is to contribute to the ideals of democracy, human rights and justice. This results in a mishmash of unpredictable responses from different countries.

A case in point: In Egypt, for example, Zuma joined the international community in demanding the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as the country's president,yet in Côte d’Ivoire, the ANC sat on the fence for months, refusing to accept Alassane Ouattara’s internationally recognised victory in the presidential elections,and only done so when it was endorsed at the call of the peace and security committee of the African Union for the defeated incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, to step down.

Look how quiet the ANC is in Swaziland and Zimbabwe where there is violations of civil rights and the suppression of pro-democracy protests. Still Zuma and his elite cadres even recalled the South African ambassador to Israel after Israeli commandos stopped a flotilla of pro-Palestinian campaigners from reaching Gaza and in doing so killing nine Turks on board.

More contradictions follow South Africa' ANC regarding Myanmar and Zimbabwe. In Myanmar the ANC did not hesitate to condemn November 2010's  rigged elections and were calling for the release of the opposition leader,Aung San Suu Kyi. Yet the same ANC refrains from saying a word of public criticism of Zimbabwe’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, despite a string of rigged and robbed elections, killings, torture and other state-sponsored violence against his own people.Why the difference hey ANC?

In October 2010,the ANC appeared to change its studied neutrality on Iran’s nuclear plans, voting for UN sanctions on Iran, but then afterwards came out saying they'd actually intended to vote against the measure for sanctions. And when a jailed Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel peace prize in December 2010, South Africa was one of the few countries that refused to congratulate him.

Tom Wheeler, a former South African ambassador,once wrote: It is hard to find a pattern to South African policies at the moment.None of it makes any real sense. There’s no substance,and no coherence.


3.South Africa's foreign policy: The Economist.

4.CIA World Factbook.

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