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U.S. invades Africa. Crickets.

by stevesim Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 11:39:17 AM EST

A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by the Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.

Has anyone heard anything about this in the media?  

Well, now you have.  Tell everyone that the Chinese and Americans are at war, and the battlefield is Africa. The prize is the natural resources of the continent.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14254-the-real-invasion-of-africa-and-other-recent-not-made-for-ho llywood-holy-wars

The Pentagon's recent announcement that it will send troops to 35 countries in Africa in 2013 confirmed the existence of a costly and foolish plan to occupy the violent and oft-troubled continent for decades to come. Ostensibly to address emerging threats from Islamic groups spreading across the Dark Continent, the real purpose is to counter growing Chinese influence throughout Africa.

http://americanfreepress.net/?p=7890

And, of course, the American mercenary firms are present as well. It seems resource colonialism isn't  dead and the poor Africans will be caught in the middle again.


Display:
Sorry, but Pilger's rant is barely coherent, and your characterization of it doesn't square with the facts. The US has apparently invaded, and currently occupies, 35 African nations? Dates and numbers, please. This apparently includes Algeria! This is frankly smirk-inducing. The number certainly includes Mali, where US military co-operation was strikingly ineffective, with much of the marerial ending up in the hands of the jihadists.

The assertion that the US is waging war in eastern Congo, through proxies which are controlled by Rwanda and Uganda, which are supposed to be under US control apparently, is an interesting one, but requires some references. As for the 35 "occupied" countries, I want to see a list, with the number of US military personnel present in each, and then we could discuss how this affects their sovereignty, case by case.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 12:58:58 PM EST
What is the US military doing in these 35 countries?  This is how the US war in Vietnam and  dirty war Central America started - military advisers.

And to me, this is very much an occupation.  

by stevesim on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 01:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I have no problems with Pilger's text, and it's not even in my language. Are you sure you read it carefully enough? You are rejecting his claim that the US are deploying military in 35 African nations by "The US has apparently invaded, and currently occupies, 35 African nations? Dates and numbers, please." I find that a tad disingenuous.

"The number certainly includes Mali, where US military co-operation was strikingly ineffective, with much of the marerial ending up in the hands of the jihadists."

Material ending up in the hands of the "jihadists" is according to plan: it justifies an intervention in the eyes of the gullible who see Europe in danger. And an intervention cuts off trade relations with China. Surprise surprise.

by Katrin on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 02:26:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
generally speaking there have been secular alternatives contesting the western hegemon prior to the arrival of "Islamism". The Iranians didn't start out with Khomeiny, but Mossadegh. In Afghanistan, it wasn't the Taliban, but Karmal and Najibullah. For years, Israel attempted to coopt the PLO with Hamas.

I'm certainly no fan of Islam or any other religion (or, especially, religion-based ideology) for that matter, but anyone who doesn't think the western countries weren't a major cause of the rise of islamism (think, at the very least, "blowback," but it wasn't always as "accidental") hasn't been paying attention. Islam has, unfortunately for western countries, proved to be a very tenacious resistance ideology, albeit not a progressive one, perhaps even moreso than the one the west has sometimes used it to combat ( as with Israel and Hamas) i.e. real socialism.

by redstar on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 08:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...this was supposed to be to Katrin, below.
by redstar on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 08:39:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the AP article Pilger bases his editorialising on:

Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge.

Algeria is mention directly here:

Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows

This first-of-its-kind brigade assignment -- involving teams from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division -- will target countries such as Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger, where al-Qaida-linked groups have been active. It also will assist nations like Kenya and Uganda that have been battling al-Shabab militants on the front lines in Somalia.

Africom has since its inception being suspected of creating the organisational infrastructure for an increased US military presence in Africa.

For example, Resist AFRICOM

Resist AFRICOM is a campaign comprised of concerned U.S. and Africa-based organizations and individuals opposed to the new U.S. military command for Africa (AFRICOM).

With the establishment of AFRICOM, the Pentagon attempts to increase access to Africa's oil and to wage a new front in the Global War on Terror without regard for the needs or desires of African people. Enabled by oil companies and private military contractors, AFRICOM serves as the latest frontier in military expansionism, violating the human rights and civil liberties of Africans who have voiced a strong "no" to U.S. military presence. We reject this militarization of foreign engagement. Instead, our vision is a comprehensive U.S. foreign policy grounded in true partnership with the African Union, African governments, and civil society on peace, justice, security, and development.

Resist Africom does not appear to have updated their page since 2010.

Btw, found a funny bit at AP:

Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows

The Pentagon's effort in Africa, including the creation of U.S. Africa Command in 2007, has been carefully calibrated, largely due to broad misgivings across the continent that it could spawn American bases or create the perception of an undue U.S. military influence there. As a result, the command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany, rather than on the African continent.

Compare and contrast with wikipedia:

United States Africa Command - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It was reported in June 2007 that African countries were competing to host the headquarters because it would bring money for the recipient country.[24] However, of all the African nations, only Liberia has publicly expressed a willingness to host AFRICOM's headquarters. The U.S. declared in February 2008 that Africa Command would be headquartered in Stuttgart for the "foreseeable future". In August 2007, Dr. Wafula Okumu, a research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, testified before congress about the growing resistance and hostility on the African continent.[25] Nigeria announced it will not allow its country to host a base and opposed the creation of a base on the continent. South Africa and Libya also expressed reservations of the establishment of a headquarters in Africa.[26]

The Sudan Tribune considered it likely that Ethiopia, a strong U.S. ally in the region, will house USAFRICOM's headquarters due to the collocation of AFRICOM with the African Union's developing peace and security apparatus.[27] Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stated in early November that Ethiopia would be willing to work together closely with USAFRICOM.[28] This was further reinforced when a U.S. Air Force official said on 5 December 2007, that Addis Ababa was likely to be the headquarters.[29]

Yes AP, all US actions are intended and carefully calbrated. Including the diplomacy in the Bush years.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 03:41:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberia would be the 'natural' choice for US headquarters. It shares so much history with the US.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 01:35:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Pilger isn't coherent enough, perhaps this article is clearer?
allAfrica.com: Africa: U.S. Military Holds War Games on Nigeria, Somalia
And in a presentation by Vice Admiral Moeller at an Africom conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008 and subsequently posted on the web by the Pentagon, he declared that protecting "the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market" was one of Africom's "guiding principles" and specifically cited "oil disruption," "terrorism," and the "growing influence" of China as major "challenges" to U.S. interests in Africa.

by Katrin on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 02:29:20 PM EST
Three examples is traditional, rhetorically, but it might have been better to make China the fourth example, a sort of 'by the way'. And China's recent mercantilism, especially WRT rare earth elements, added to their official 'communist' ideology is certainly the antithesis of the Pentagon's concept of 'free flow of natural resources'. I don't see how interest by China could do anything other than raise the price. 'Free flow' indeed.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 01:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I admit I could have done a better job on this diary but I have the flu.  I wanted to get it out before I forgot about it.  Sorry about that.
by stevesim on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 02:37:31 PM EST
but he has seriously gone off the deep end with this ludicrous article.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 03:23:43 PM EST
U.S. drones in 35 countries isn't serious enough for you?
by stevesim on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 03:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no problem with any military forces deployed or operating in any foreign country, as long as they are doing it with the permission of the host government.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 05:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And do you assume that a country with the economic and military clout of Mali really can say no? If it does, how long until the coup? That reminds me, the last government of Mali had asked for help in the training of their military, but rejected a foreign invasion. What a coincidence that there was a coup of a US trained officer afterwards!
by Katrin on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 05:59:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The coup was a result of the failure of previous Malinese government to fight the massive northern insurgency which was ravaging the country. According to a poll done by al-Jazeera, 96% of the Malinese support the foreign intervention.

The big problem for the Malinese government given its weak clout was hardly to say no to an intervention: rather, they likely had a very hard time to convince the West to intervene. It took 9 months, and the intervention only came when the islamists surged forward and were suddenly threatening a vital airfield. France was forced into action. Thank god for the strong nerves of Francois Hollande - he didn't doubt in spite of the need of a very swift decision.

The war-weary Americans still refuse to take part except in a supporting fashion. The French were very unprepared, and their heavy units were loaded onto amphibious vessels after air-landed troops were on the ground. I'm not sure if they have even arrived yet.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 06:32:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am glad that you don't subscribe to the official war propaganda that the Islamists (there were about 2000 of them) had quickly moved south and threatened Bamako (a city of 2 million) and then Europe. Yes, their move targeted the airfield, which is vital for what? An invasion. What else? (And which War God were you thanking in that ET-untypical sentence? ;))

I note that you don't offer an explanation why the west armed and trained these Islamists in the first place.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:13:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
(there were about 2000 of them) had quickly moved south and threatened Bamako

apparently after traversing the sahara on foot (bbc)


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 07:39:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... and getting ready to do the same with the Mediterranean. Okay, that no longer seems to be the spin today. But what is the spin now? I've lost track.
by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 08:44:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eh.. I figure the motivation is "No new refuge flows/humanitarian disasters in francophone africa", and given that the rebels seem unwilling to give battle against the french troops, there is no need, and no point in spinning it.
Bloodless show of force against Wahhabi nutters noone likes, with no shady ulterior motive I can spot - as military ops goes, hard to get cleaner.
Only thing I am somewhat worried about is how the army of Mali is going to behave when it moves back in, because if they fled from an insurgency this thin, that says bad, bad, bad things about their discipline.
by Thomas on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 09:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean western governments' neverending caring about humanitarian issues, I guess. I must have completely forgotten that.

Actually I didn't ask about motivation (humanitarian interventions are usually motivated by greed for ressources). I asked what the spin was. Originally it was that the Islamists were threatening Bamako and then Europe, which was why France had only hours to intervene. Yes, really. The decline of the west shows in the decline of its propaganda units. I asked for the current version of the spin. Can someone enlighten me?

Wahhabi nutters in Libya or Syria are no problem that I am aware of, so why not Mali too? I wonder why you say "bloodless"? I say pictureless. Apparently the French and the Malians succeeded in keeping the press out.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 09:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria is not francophone. Mali is. This matters, because it means the victims of local strife are much more likely to be heard in metropolitan France, and because any major refugee flows would disproportionately show up in metropolitan France.

Eh. If they were engaging the insurgency in battle, they would be talking about it - that isn't the kind of thing you can hide. They are not, because the insurgents elected to run. Which says all kinds of bad things about the armed forces of Mali.

by Thomas on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 10:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It says a lot about the troubles to come, I should think. The Islamists having retreated to where they can hide needs either a political solution (no chance for that) or a perpetuation of the military conflict and military control of Mali's north, with all the violations of human rights that militaries tend to commit. The same will happen in the neighbouring countries.

Actually that was clear from the beginning. Mali and its neighbours will need "the help" of neocolonial powers for a long time. China must buy their ressources elsewhere. How very convenient.

And who created these Islamist groups in the first place? Convenient again.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 11:16:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right that there is no chance of a political solution with the armed groups as currently constituted, insofar as these are internationalist jihadists, led by foreigners. It will be hard enough to bring about a reconciliation between the Black, Arab and Touareg populations of the north. On this condition, the remaining jihadists can be tied down and their nuisance value will be reduced. If, on the other hand, the Malian army is heavy-handed and ethnically partisan, then all bets are off, and the jihadists may have a long-term support base.

On the other hand, I didn't know that Mali had a lot of resources to sell, nor that the Chinese were interested in buying them (nor indeed that their commercial interests would have been served by a continuation of anarchy in northern Mali). Can you enlighten me? Do you think the Chinese favour jihad? I think not.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:00:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chinese have their own, on-going, problems with Islamists.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chinese favour ressources and Mali is rich in them. Uranium is found in the region that is contested: Gao, Kidal. The exploration phase is completed, now it's the phase to contract the actual mining, and after this intervention the contract can only go to Areva, I guess. Other ressources are phosphate, bauxite, copper, gold (in the south). From an environmental point of view uranium and bauxite are worst and will require a lot of military to quell the protests.

By a political solution I don't mean a solution with the Islamist organisations that now have fighters in Mali. Their success is a symptom for the weakness of the state and the tensions between the ethnic groups. I mean 2000 fighter, really!

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:02:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so your unsourced comment aroused my curiosity. Has the entire French press, anti-establishment and anti-nuclear outfits included, somehow missed this enormous story?

Turns out to be nothing to write home about :

France does not need Mali's uranium despite all conspiracy stories to the contrary - Atomic Insights

The World Nuclear Association has two relevant web pages, one titled Supply of Uranium and one titled World Uranium Mining. Mali does not appear on either page, indicating that it has neither world leading uranium resources, nor any substantial uranium production.

Digging a little deeper into the sources claiming that uranium is the key to understanding the motives for the Mali conflict, I found a site published by a firm called Consultancy Africa Intelligence that has a page about Mali's mining industry and natural resources. Buried in the discussion about gold and diamonds, I found the following statement:

Several companies in Mali are currently carrying out uranium exploration in the Falea and Gao regions, where the uranium potential is estimated to be 5,200 tonnes.

Going back to those pages from the World Nuclear Association, I found that the world's uranium mining industry produced 54,000 tonnes of uranium in 2011 and that the world's known recoverable resources were 5.3 million tonnes as of the end of 2011. Next to those numbers, a speculative, "potential" resource of 5,200 tonnes is trivial.

In perspective, Mali's 5200 tons of estimated uranium reserves is about 1% of Niger's, or roughly one sixth of the reserves of Jordan, which is the 14th and last country in this list of uranium reserves.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't give a source, because I did my reading on this in German. Obviously Mali's deposits of uranium are large enough to be interesting, because they have been prospected, and mining was considered profitable. The known reserves in countries that allow uranium mining (either extremely thinly populated or dictatorships) are not very large.

I checked again and found that Eva Joly was in Mali in 2011, protesting against the planned uranium mining, and I conclude that the matter is not completely unknown to the entire French press, anti-establishment and anti-nuclear outfits included.

I never said that this was the only reason for France's intervention, by the way. There are more ressources in Mali. And there are neighbouring countries with more ressources.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mali - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mali
Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent

Nothing to see here - move along. Mali, Gold reserves, Germany, France and the US

Nothing to see here - move along. Mali, Gold reserves, Germany, France and the US
Nothing to see here - move along. 


Germany wants their gold holdings repatriated to home soil. They have asked the French to return ALL of their gold stored in France, at a rate of 50 tonnes per year until all 374 metric tonnes are received. 


The French have just commenced military operations in Mali. Mali is Africa's third largest gold producer. Mali, this past year, increased its gold production by just over 50 metric tonnes. 


Obama has offered logistical and other support for the French bombing of Mali from Algeria.  Several foreign oil workers have just been kidnapped by Algerian Islamic Extremists, 7 of them are reportedly Americans.

Is anyone else seeing the connections here?

I'm willing to bet that France does not have Germany's gold and the Bundesbank has given them a few years to mine it from Mali. Yet the Mali source must be secure, hence the military must make sure the gold flows.

The Germans have also requested the Fed return 300 tonnes of stored German Gold. 
A tiny fraction of the supposed 8,000 tonnes of US Gold Reserves. 
But the Fed are going to take 7 years to repatriate this tiny proportion of Gold holdings back to Germany. 

Why is it going to take them so long? 
How much gold is actually stored in Fed vaults? 

How much of it might be gold plated tungsten?

Stupidly the Germans say they are are not going to assay the repatriated gold. 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-01-16/it-will-take-fed-seven-years-deliver-300-tons-german-gold
Gold Buying Spree: All that Pivots is Gold | Global Research

AFRICOM - surprise! - is on a roll, as the Pentagon gets ready to set up a drone base in Niger. That's the practical result of a visit by AFRICOM's commander, General Carter Ham, to Niger's capital Niamey only a few days ago.

Forget about those outdated PC-12 turbo props that have been spying on Mali and Western Africa for years. Now it's Predator time. Translation: chief-in-waiting John Brennan plans a Central Intelligence Agency shadow war all across the Sahara-Sahel. With permission from Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, it's time to start humming a remixed hit: "I see a grey drone/ and I want it painted black".

AFRICOM does Niger is indeed sweeter than cherry pie. Northwest Niger is the site of all those uranium mines supplying the French nuclear industry. And it's very close to Mali's gold reserves. Imagine all that gold in an "unstable" area falling into the hands of ... Chinese companies. Beijing's Maltese Falcon moment of finally having enough gold to dump the US dollar peg would be at hand.

The Pentagon even got permission for all its surveillance gear to refuel in - of all places - crucial Agadez. The French legion may have been doing the hard work on the ground in Mali, but it's AFRICOM which will ultimately reap the profits all across the Sahara-Sahel.

to bad for the syrian people they don't have anything we want, i guess.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 07:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<groan>

Ian Shilling is "connecting the dots" and is "willing to bet". Not a shred of evidence, as in his other sensationalist posts.

Ian Shilling (IanShilling) on Twitter

Ian Shilling @IanShilling

Advocate of Common Sense. Ron Paul supporter. Stock Market trader. Disseminating info. Calling out inaccuracies in the media one tweet at a time. Stay curious!

UK ·

Zero Hedge is gold-obsessing as usual. Oh how secretly and magically gold is the real source and store of value!

Global Research is a CT-peddling dubious source, as has been said here on ET many times (yes, I'm shooting the messenger).

</groan>

Mali has gold mines in the far West close to Senegal. Production in 2010 was 38 tonnes according to British Geological Survey statistics. The mines are in private mining company hands, principally the Canadian Iamgold. Presumably the French are now going to commandeer Iamgold's production (because, as all good Swabian housewives and Ian Shilling suspect, the Banque de France doesn't really have the BuBa's gold).

France does have a direct interest in the uranium mines in Niger, near the Malian border, and that fact is surely not far from the French government's mind. But let's drop the gibbering gold-bug nonsense.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 02:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was too irritated yesterday to tackle the meme 'OMG the west is only interested in Mali's gold and/or uranium!!1!' - and I don't even need to shoot the messenger, I know first hand. West Africa, and particularly Burkina Faso and Mali, are (were?) the research terrain of the mining research group I worked at in South Africa.

While there is plenty of exploration geology done in Mali, which has established considerable reserves of gold, it's hardly enough to write home about. It's a boon for Mali, that's what it is.

In an aside, I get equally miffed with the steady drip-feed of 'Watch those Chinese conquer Africa!!'. In numerous polls African people were more positive about the involvement of China, than about the involvement of USA or Europe. 'We' fail the popularity poll because the Chinese have given Africans (and not African politicians) what they actually want - whereas 'the west' has never even tried. More here.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:12:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is a general pattern in great power competition here. Up and coming powers has an economic advantage (which is why they are up and coming) and uses that to buy influence, while older and established great powers uses military and established control over political institutions. The strategy of the up and coming is obviously more popular.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 09:48:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
France does have a direct interest in the uranium mines in Niger, near the Malian border, and that fact is surely not far from the French government's mind.

For those discussing an uranium link, the Niger part of the 2007-2009 Tuareg conflict is interestng. It contained Areva's uranium mines, Chinese prospecting, local complaints of ecological damage and centralised profits and other similar things.

Tuareg rebellion (2007-2009) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On 6 July 2007, an official from Sino-U was kidnapped by the rebels, but later released, and all work at Teguida stopped.[30] Throughout July, the Niger government and Areva came into direct conflict, each accusing the other of supporting the rebels. The French state broadcaster RFI was ejected from the country for a month on 19 July 2007, and in short succession both Pin and Denamur were ordered to leave Niger. On 1 August, the Niamey government announced it would end all contracts with Areva, and bring in the Chinese to manage the existing operations. High level French diplomats flew to Niger and brokered a climb down, in which the Areva contracts would be extended in exchange for greater French aid to Niamey.[31] The French paper Le Monde expressed doubts about this deal, calling it "Expensive uranium."[32]


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 10:34:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This illustrates pretty well why I am sceptical of kneejerk allegations that the military intervention in Mali is about French economic interests. In Niger, there was a situation where the government was getting very little return from Areva's mines. The Chinese were therefore welcome; and their presence, and uranium concessions granted, allow Niger's government to negotiate a better deal with Areva (negotiations are ongoing).

This only works if the government in question is not a puppet of the former colonial power.

Yet the President of Niger is a strong supporter of the French intervention in Mali.

In large measure, this sort of transformation of the relations between France and former colonies occurred on Sarkozy's watch, much as it hurts me to admit it.

Pascal Canfin, the French aid minister, is currently in the process of moralizing France's aid budgets, more or less along Scandinavian principles.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 10:48:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wahhabi in question ought to be fairly easy to track down because they are assholes, and mostly foreign assholes to boot - Setting shrines afire, outlawing fun, ect. These are not good tactics for making friends, so any competent force.. like, say, the french, should be able to get some locals to point them out and then shoot them a bunch in short order. Desert is not the best place to hide from satellite and air surveillance either.   They know this, of course, so.. They'll run clean out of Mali?
by Thomas on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
Desert is not the best place to hide from satellite and air surveillance either.

How do you get that idea? It's a perfect place for that.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:04:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd much rather try to hide in mountains or forests. I think the Gulf war of 1991 showed very well what happens when you try to face a modern military in the desert.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:10:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been "terrorists", "freedom fighters", smugglers, insurgents, ordinary criminals hiding in the Sahara for decades, and since nobody succeeded in catching them in the past, we can safely assume that hiding there is perfectly possible. This won't change all of a sudden.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:31:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They've not been found and destroyed previously because no one serious has really cared about them. And really, until now, why should anyone have cared?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 02:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FWIW: Syria is actually francophone; the country was, along Lebanon, under French administration as per a League of Nations mandate from 1923 to 1943.

Many Syrians (and even more Lebanese) speak French and there's an important Syrian community in France, including members of the opposition.

This said, the Malian diaspora in France is much larger than the Syrian one: there has been strong immigration from Mali for decades; this movie was released in 1979...

by Bernard on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 04:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The airfield was crucial. If it was lost, intervening would have become much harder. This meant that an intervention suddenly couldn't be put off: it was now or never. And Hollande said now.

Why did the West arm and train the islamists? Well, I wouldn't claim that they wre exclusively dependent on western training, and certainly not on western arms. Just check the pics, it's RPG's and kalashnikovs and dushkas all the way. But sure, they probably recieved some kind of western aid when they helped us get rid of Khaddafi. Which is why we helped them: we shared a common interest with them for a while, just like we did in Afghanistan during the 80's.

The war god in question would obviously be Odin. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 12:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. The intervention was necessary because of the airfield, which was necessary for the intervention, which in turn was necessary for... no matter. It's not the uranium and the Chinese. The god in question clearly is Loki.

Please note that the Islamists didn't rid "us" of Gaddafi, just as "we" didn't share a common interest with them. If you see your interests served by western militarism and warmongery that's your problem, not mine.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 01:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Without the airfield, France lost freedom of action. That is quite clear, n'est pas? Her hand was forced.

Uranium? There is no uranium mining in Mali. You're thinking of Niger. Or Namibia.

And China, what has China got to do with anything?

Iäm very happy we're at long last rid of Khadaffi. And I think most Libyans agree with that. Just like 96% of the Malinese support the French intervention. But I suppose you have more right to decide the affairs of the Malinese than the Malinese do themselves?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:04:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS.

The French "heavy" (medium really) units were landed in Dakar a week ago by the Dixmude, and it probably was a 2-3 day drive to Bamako. So the VBCI's should have arrived by now.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 01:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What for I wonder? Isn't the official spin that the Islamists have already run away? If that isn't good enough, what is? It's as good as admitting that the war won't be over ever. If the Islamists can easily come back once the French turn their backs, the intervention definitely was a bad idea because it can't be won.
by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:04:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to discuss the military campaign, perhaps you could inform yourself a bit?

Over the past week, French and Malian troops have taken Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, and yes, they had armour. Each time, the jihadists failed to defend the cities, heading north into the desert.

Now it is acknowledged by all that the war isn't over. Hollande has said that French troops will leave as soon as possible, which presumably means as soon as the northern towns are credibly garissoned with Malian and other African troops, with safeguards for the Arab and Touareg ethnic groups against reprisals.

But today, there are apparently heavy aerial bombardment north of Gao, where the jihadists are alleged to have retreated to.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Islamists can run back to their safe areas, re-constitute, and wait for another day.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:36:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Their "safe areas" included all of northern Mali, including several cities. Now they can squat in caves in the mountains, and get the shit blown out of them if they congregate.

Not such an attractive platform for their recruiting campaigns to constitute an internationalist jihadist army.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:09:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
who can tell what a jihadist looks like except when they want to look like jihadists?
by stevesim on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:14:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Mali, they ride around in jeeps giving orders, whipping adulterers, cutting hands off alleged thieves, etc.

If they choose to no longer behave in this identifiable jihadist fashion, then there's no problem, i.e. they are no longer jihadists. That works for me, and for the people of Mali, at a guess.

The ethnic divisions they aggravated are going to take a lot of healing, however.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:23:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
until they want to be jihadists again.  
by stevesim on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:28:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if they disappear, the army can't be sure. They will stay on and harass the population, looking for terrorists, which happens to be a sure way of producing terrorism.

Very unhelpful, such an intervention, unless one wants authoritarianism and tension.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:55:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very unhelpful. What was the correct action, I wonder? Let the jihadists spread war in the peaceful south, and let the north rot under their reign of terror. Perhaps give money to MSF so they can prevent amputated stumps going gangrenous.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 05:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The correct action would be not to destabilise countries. The Islamist forces were created and armed by the same powers that now fight them. Don't pretend that the Islamists are anything but the west's creatures.

Did you read the Asian Times link?
If you have a lot of time, try this one too, including all the videos: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/PARADIABOLICAL  

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 05:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't think Mali was already destabilised? How more destabilised can a country be than one which has been invaded by an islamist army?

The international intervention has come to help the government of Mali restore order, stability and sovereign control over its territory. Should Mali not have the right to call for international help? Was it wrong to come to the aid of Kuwait in 1991 as well?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:14:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been saying all along that Mali had already been destabilised! With the aim of creating an emergency that would require a foreign intervention.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • French colonization in the 19th century?
  • French decolonization, 1960-2000?
  • Nato intervention in Libya, 2012?

Actually, I agree with you if you are referring to the third item. With the exception of the "With the aim of".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:41:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Le Monde :
La France va reprendre progressivement son aide publique au Mali, gelée depuis le coup d'Etat militaire du 22 mars 2012, a annoncé lundi le ministre chargé du développement, Pascal Canfin. "L'APD va reprendre dans un cadre européen", a-t-il insisté. "Dans un premier temps, il s'agit de reprendre les 150 millions d'euros qui avaient été gelés après le coup d'Etat" qui a renversé le président Amadou Toumani Touré, a-t-il dit, soulignant que l'UE a également décidé de reprendre son aide pour un montant déjà annoncé de 500 millions d'euros. "Cette reprise de l'aide sera progressive, adossée à la feuille de route. Les décaissements, en crédits humanitaires et de développement, se feront en fonction des progrès de la feuille de route", a-t-il insisté.France will gradually resume its public aid to Mali, frozen since the military coup of 22 March 2012, announced Monday the Minister of Development, Pascal Canfin. "Public development aid will resume in a European context" , he insisted. "To start with, 150 million euros of aid that had been frozen after the coup" that ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré will be resumed, he said, noting that the The UE has also decided to resume assistance for an amount previously announced of 500 million euros. "The resumption of aid will be gradual, co-ordinated with the roadmap. Disbursements of humanitarian and development credits will be based on the progress of the roadmap" , he insisted.
Le Parlement malien a adopté fin janvier une "feuille de route" politique pour l'après-guerre dans le nord du Mali, qui prévoit une discussion avec certains groupes armés et la mise en place d'une "commission de réconciliation nationale". Elle prévoit également la tenue d'"élections générales, transparentes et crédibles" que le président malien par intérim Dioncounda Traoré a souhaité voir organiser avant le 31 juillet.The Malian parliament adopted on January 1 a "roadmap" policy for the post-war in northern Mali, which provides for discussion with some armed groups and the establishment of a "national reconciliation commission ". It also provides for the holding of "transparent and credible general elections, " that the Malian President Traoré Acting Dioncounda wishes to organize before July 31.

Given the striking absence of mineral or other wealth to sneakily confiscate in Mali, I rather suspect it would have been more profitable for France to stay out and let it rot.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:59:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Malinese locals. Who hate them.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:14:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There aren't "the" Malinese locals. The Tuareg for instance are now victimised, which may well drive them into an alliance with the Islamists.

Mali's statehood is in danger, which means that people will turn to religious institutions instead, and some of these are connected to Saudis and other undesirable currents.

Political problems cannot be solved by military means.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:41:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Tuareg for instance are now victimised

Cites for that?

Everyone is keenly aware of the dangers. There were incidents of reprisals in Timbuktu and Gao, but it was mainly a matter of looting Arab shops.

Currently, the Malian army has not entered Kidal, apparently at the request of the Touareg factions which have taken over from the jihadists. Only French and Chadian troops apparently.

But you've got it backwards with respect to statehood and religious institutions. Everyone is Muslim in Mali, and the state is secular. It is the refusal of the secular state by the salafist-inspired insurgency which put Mali's statehood in danger.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 07:49:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 08:43:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
islam has been around for centuries, when did islamism start?

not a reaction to our enriching them with our oil companies?

mercenaries change sides, that's how they roll.


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 07:59:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. the people they have been whipping, shaming, and desecrating the shrines and cultural heritage of? "Disappear among the people" requires the "people" to not want your head on a pike. It is possible that the army will antagonize the locals enough to spawn another insurgency (the islamists took the north from a separatist movement in the first place!) but the Wahhabi grouping is almost certainly toast.
by Thomas on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 01:28:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The jihadist groups are almost exclusively composed of Touaregs (Malian or not) and Arabs (Malian or not). They appear to have favoured the Touareg and Arab populations in the zones they conquered, while treating the black Malians like dirt, thus driving a wedge between populations who previously coexisted fairly peacefully. This, almost inevitably, generates resentment and a backlash, as hotheads among the black populations will tend to take revenge on behalf of those who have suffered, on anyone they can get their hands on.

This issue is absolutely the key. Touaregs, in particular, have real historical grievances. Having been top dogs for a year, if they are now arbitrarily persecuted, it's likely that many will favour a return of the jihadists.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 03:24:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the UNHCR they have good reason not to like the French.
Under colonialism and in post-colonial Mali, the Tuareg became increasingly marginalized and dispossessed. They were hostile to French colonial rule, having been coerced into forced labor, conscripted as soldiers, and dispossessed of grazing lands. They fought a bloody war against the French in 1917, but were suppressed and left without adequate grazing land to remain self-sufficient. The demarcation of French West Africa prior to Malian independence fragmented the Tuareg, situating them in multiple states.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 05:31:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how the relations been between civilians on the ground but it is worth noting that this was hardly the first conflict between Tuaregs and central power.

Tuareg rebellion (1962-1964) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

the response of the Malian Armed Forces, occupying much of what is now Kidal region, Gao Region, and Tomboctou Region resulted in a refugee crisis, as thousands fled to what is now Algeria (the southern reaches of which were still under French control). The military occupation, deaths, torture and imprisonment of suspected rebels has left deep resentment in much of the northern population

Tuareg rebellion (1990-1995) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuareg people form a distinct minority in all the Saharan countries they inhabit and a majority in many Saharan regions. In many cases, the Tuareg have been marginalised by governments based in the Sahel or on the Mediterranean coast. Desertification and droughts in 1972-74 and 84-85 killed livestock and forced the alteration of traditional migration routes, increasing conflict between neighboring groups. Aid from national governments was often unforthcoming, and many sided against the Tuareg-one notable exception being Libya. In both Mali and Niger large numbers of Tuareg nomads fled to refugee camps in Algeria and Libya. There, militants who blamed their respective national governments for failing to aid communities in need began to co-mingle and form the future rebel groups.

Tuareg rebellion (2007-2009) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Agaly Alambo, from Iferouane in northern Niger, was apparently inspired by the Mali-based Tuareg group May 23, 2006 Democratic Alliance for Change (23 May 2006; Alliance démocratique pour le changement - ADC), ex-combatants who led a short campaign in the north of Mali from May to July 2006, when they signed a peace deal with the Bamako government.[21]

Malian Tuareg former insurgents took part in a long series of peace processes, splintering, and raids between formal peace in 1995 and 2006. The peace deals which ended the 1990s Tuareg insurgency in Mali created a new self-governing region, Kidal Region, and provided opportunities for Malian Tuaregs to join the central government in Bamako and the Malian Armed Forces. Unlike the Niger ex-combatants, who appeared successfully integrated into national the Nigerien Armed Forces, small numbers of Malian Tuaregs remained restive, complaining of the Kidal region's poverty. Some were involved in cross border smuggling, and crime was endemic in the region. A splinter faction of the Tuareg ex-combatants rose as the ADC in 2006. After agreeing to a ceasefire, these forces apparently splintered further in 2007.[22]

In this light I doubt that the Tuareg saw the situation as harmonical.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 10:30:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"As soon as possible" sounds like Afghanistan. At least.
by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:08:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It wasn't clear the enemy would be such a pushover when the Dixmude left France. And why not send them? It certainly won't hurt with a bit of extra armour, even if the enemy is retreating.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 02:17:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It will probably make the propaganda units' work more difficult, Starvid. Of course you can deploy 2000 armoured vehicles, but people will think the military has come to stay. But then, that propaganda unit has a difficult job anyway. I don't envy them.
by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:12:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2000 armoured vehicles ? I don't suppose you have a reference for that? ...

For 2500 French troops, that might count as "overkill".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The expression "a bit of extra armour" tempted me. I am waiting for a submarine in the river Niger too...
by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:57:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A serious armoured presence should inspire confidence among the Malinese that the French mean business, and will inspire fear in their enemies.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:16:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over at MoonofAlabama, b real wrote a serie of pretty dense and well sourced posts in 2007 when Africom was founded. I, II, III
A new cold war is underway in Africa, and AFRICOM will be at the dark heart of it.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 03:28:23 PM EST
Look what I found:

A new Risk board!

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 04:06:02 PM EST
Pepe Escobar has something to say about this

http://atimes.com/atimes/China/OB01Ad01.html

by stevesim on Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 at 04:44:06 PM EST
Or better put - it has never wholly left Africa. An overview of French military bases (in 2008) here, for example.

Pilger's frame has become worryingly paranoid. Looks to me he has forgotten the realities of realpolitics, which trump (and apparently offend) his ideological vision.

In reality, it would be foolish to think the conflict in Mali is not about economical interests, be them French, American, Chinese or European. Colonialism for resources was never dead in Africa - it's only the form that changes shape.

But it would also be foolish to think this conflict would not be about Islamism, so say plenty of conflict analysts. It is equally foolish to underestimate the havoc Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb can wreak in the region and resulting in effects that can potentially ripple across Europe, Africa or the Middle East.

And furthermore it is foolish to conflate the military training missions of the US Army, which are often welcomed by African nations, as an "invasion".

by Nomad on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:17:20 AM EST
Really?  like in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, etc.
by stevesim on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand what your comment means to say.
by Nomad on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 07:13:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe he means they were less enthusiastic about the invaders in those countries.

unless you're a plantation owner...


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 09:37:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there were only a few American advisers in those countries yet the USA managed to wage a dirty war against all those who stood in their way, both politically and commercially.  thousands of citizens of these countries were tortured and died because of this. yet the government invited the Americans in.  have you forgotten?
by stevesim on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 09:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To invade: to enter by force in order to conquer or pillage.

Which is what happened in the South American countries with US warships and thousands of troops.

Military training missions by invitation of oficial govements, even when they be corrupt, aren't invasions. If you suggest the missions will be precursors of further troops expansion, the future will tell - though I've the impression the current administration is not particularly keen on risky military interventions.

by Nomad on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where is the difference between an invasion according to your nitpicking definition and using a proxy army like the contras?

Of course the missions' task is to trigger off the need for interventions, and preferably interventions by Europeans. That's what the US have the Nato for, after all.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:33:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The title of the diary is: "U.S. invades Africa."

John Pilger writes: "A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way." The rest of the text veers off to different tangents.

The English definition of the verb to invade is:
invade - definition of invade by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

in·vade  (n-vd)v. in·vad·ed, in·vad·ing, in·vades v.tr.1. To enter by force in order to conquer or pillage.

The evidence of this so-called invasion is based on an AP story that writes:

Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows

The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approvals from the secretary of defense.

In other words, no mention of something that resembles an actual invasion, no evidence of a 'proxy army'. I don't mind quibbling about the use of English language, but let's stick to the same definitions.

 

by Nomad on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 04:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that was before drone warfare
by stevesim on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 03:45:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always wondered over this leftist obsession over drones/UCAV's. It's not in the least different from conventional aistrikes.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad:
it is foolish to conflate the military training missions of the US Army, which are often welcomed by African nations, as an "invasion".

Welcomed by African nations represented by more or less corrupt governments. And this corruption spawns Islamist movements. This is a political problem, not a military one. An attempt to solve it by military means can only end in desaster.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 09:46:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A foreign islamist invasion of Mali is certainly best dealt with by offering military support to the flagging Malinese army.

I'd expect the French troops to leave pretty soon while the Ecowas troops stay long enough for the Malinese army to regain control of it's territory. Any flareups the Malinese or Ecowas troops can't handle themselves will be suppressed by French airpower and special forces.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 01:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let it be clear that I am no apologist for US foreign and military policy, I have always opposed their conception of themselves as the world's police, and suspicious of economic motives behind interventions. I have always been a multilateralist.

Having said that, this diary, and the two sources quoted, do a very poor job of exposing or challenging US motives or policy with respect to Africa, and the effect of hyperbole is to discredit the thesis.

Pilger spends much of his article rattling on about how the US created jihadism (presumably he is talking about the 1980s, when the CIA aided those who were weakening the Soviet Union), as if that had some relevance or explicative power with respect to current US policy in Africa. But I can't make out whether his thesis is

  • the US must be presumed to be still promoting the jihadists, for some murky motive Pilger doesn't explain; or
  • ha ha, it's the US's own fault if there are jihadists running around Africa, or
  • something else.

As for the other article, it contains this gem :
Invading Africa | American Free Press
For centuries, violent tribes have roamed Africa, but today some of these tribes, especially on the eastern side, have converted to Islam. Representing no serious threat to the United States, they have only sought self-government by driving foreign influences from their countries.

I don't know where to start. It's an insult to the intelligence of anyone who knows anything about Africa, and especially insulting to African Muslims.

If there is a case to me made about dangerous US interventionism in Africa, then it needs to be made from scratch with more serious sources and arguments.
 

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 05:18:00 PM EST
Okay. Point taken. BUT: The US (and its satellites) are still creating and supporting Islamist organisations. It is not a thing of the Cold War. See Libya. In Africa they are constructing a net of bases with the aim of securing Africa's wealth for themselves and their misguided allies, and to hell with the populations that have the misfortune of sitting on the ressources the west covets.

You tend to treat Islamism as if it was something that wasn't created by "the west" (ugly expression, but I don't have a better one). Why?

by Katrin on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 05:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You tend to treat Islamism as if it was something that wasn't created by "the west" (ugly expression, but I don't have a better one). Why?

Because it wasn't.

What on earth is meant by this notion? "Created by"? How extraordinarily patronizing.

Is it because of alleged CIA funding of the Afghan Arabs? (This appears to be controversial in itself) Because of NATO intervention in Liberia? (in which case "enabled" would be more accurate than "created").

Or a more general, and metaphysical, attribution of parentage because of "the west"'s colonialism etc? If it's this latter, then I suggest that there is another, heavier responsibility belonging to the former "soviet bloc". Yes, remember how the countries of north Africa and the Middle East had their national revolutions, and ended up with allegedly socialist, pro-Soviet, authoritarian regimes? And how the only structured opposition was born out of religious tradition? ...

But mostly, I think the Arab world engendered Islamism itself. Partly as an authentic totalitarian political movement ("the West" managed two : fascism and communism : can't we let "the Orient" have one of its own?) and partly as a creature of the reactionary oligarchies of the oil states.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:20:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Islamism is an answer to the corruption of western-orientated elites. It uses a focus that neither the former colonialists nor the new hegemons have: Islam. At the same time it is a practical answer to problems of the population in the absence of a properly working state: sharia courts don't take bribes, Islamic schools take less fees than secular ones, and so on. Islamism is not necessarily totalitarian, by the way.

Islamism does not exist independently of western oppression and in its militant form it is the direct result of western short term strategies.  If "created" is too strong (I am not sure it is), your suggestion of "enabled" is much too weak. Where statehood is deliberately destroyed (first time during colonisation, then during the cold war, then by neoliberalism), something else must fill the gap.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 08:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Islamism is an outlet for discontent.

Channel that energy elsewhere and Islamism would be dead.  However, what would spring up would be more damaging to the West's interests...  pan-Arab nationalism, communism, socialism, and so forth.

With Islamism, the West has a made for television villain as they are just too over the top.  It's easy to rally your people for a war against people who cut off hands and make babies wear burqas...

So, Islamism serves many purposes.

by stevesim on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 04:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Islamism wasn't created by the west. It was quite obviously created in and by forces in the muslim world, as a response to the failure of Arab socialism and to deal with the pressures of modernity. See for example this.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:23:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hard to respond seriously to your comment. The request of eurogreen was to make a case of dangerous US interventionism in Africa, build on sources and arguments. I don't see much here.

In Africa they are constructing a net of bases with the aim of securing Africa's wealth for themselves and their misguided allies, and to hell with the populations that have the misfortune of sitting on the ressources the west covets.

That is almost word for word a regurgitation of Pilger. Only the part that is not in italics I agree with. For the part in italics, besides your own prejudices, what arguments or sources do you have to ascribe such ulterior motives?

You tend to treat Islamism as if it was something that wasn't created by "the west". Why?

Rather pointless.

Example. Why have you stopped beating your wife?

So don't answer this: Why do you tend to treat Islamism as if it could only be created by "the west" and not exist without "the west"?

by Nomad on Sun Feb 3rd, 2013 at 06:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biden hails Hollande's `decisiveness' on Mali - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

US Vice President Joe Biden on Monday held talks with French President François Hollande on what he called a "global agenda" of issues, including France's military intervention in Mali, economic matters, conflict in Syria, and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

At a press conference following their lunch, the two hailed the strength of the French-American alliance and expressed broad agreement on the spectrum of complex questions they discussed.

... With France carrying out a military intervention against Islamists in northern Mali, Hollande took the opportunity to "express to Barack Obama and the Americans our gratitude" for what he described as "political, material and logistical support".

Biden reciprocated the sentiment, telling Hollande that he and Obama "applaud your decisiveness and the incredible competence and capability of your military forces".

At the beginning of the French operation, analysts and pundits speculated about trans-Atlantic tension over an alleged US reluctance to get involved in any way with another foreign intervention. But according to Herbert, Biden and Hollande were genuine in their mutual acknowledgement and there is no evidence of France feeling miffed by the US refusal to put "boots on the ground" in Mali.

"This was not just a diplomatic thank-you," Herbert assessed. "In the end, the US has thrown a lot of support behind France, in terms of intelligence and logistical aid. And Hollande has a sincere appreciation of the limitations of the possibilities of US intervention right now."

Biden pats Hollande on the head and says, "You did great, kiddo." If you're not convinced now that the US is behind the whole thing, you never will be.

Connect the dots, people, connect the dots...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 02:37:07 PM EST
US control is diminishing, but it still thinks it owns the world | Noam Chomsky | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

The New York Times describes the "defining policy quandary of the Arab spring as how to square contradictory US impulses, including support for democratic change, a desire for stability, and wariness of Islamists who have become a potent political force". The Times identifies three US goals. What do you make of them?

Two of them are accurate. The United States is in favour of stability. But you have to remember what stability means. Stability means conformity to US orders. So, for example, one of the charges against Iran, the big foreign policy threat, is that it is destabilising Iraq and Afghanistan. How? By trying to expand its influence into neighbouring countries. On the other hand, we "stabilise" countries when we invade them and destroy them.

(...) Concern about political Islam is just like concern about any independent development. Anything that's independent you have to have concern about, because it may undermine you. In fact, it's a little paradoxical, because traditionally the United States and Britain have by and large strongly supported radical Islamic fundamentalism, not political Islam, as a force to block secular nationalism, the real concern. So, for example, Saudi Arabia is the most extreme fundamentalist state in the world, a radical Islamic state. It has missionary zeal, is spreading radical Islam to Pakistan and funding terror. But it's the bastion of US and British policy. They've consistently supported it against the threat of secular nationalism from Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt and Abd al-Karim Qasim's Iraq, among many others. But they don't like political Islam because it may become independent.

The first of the three points, our yearning for democracy, that's about on the level of Joseph Stalin talking about the Russian commitment to freedom, democracy and liberty for the world. It's the kind of statement you laugh about when you hear it from commissars or Iranian clerics, but you nod politely, and maybe even with awe, when you hear it from their western counterparts.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 04:00:21 PM EST
As one Malian told me, the entire war in Mali can be explained by the battle between the Malian state, Tuareg separatists, and Algeria to wrest control of what some believe is one of the most geostrategically important locations on earth.

"There are only three points on earth with this geostrategic importance," said Hamadoun Dicko, a tour guide in northern Mali. "Tessalit is one of them. Whoever controls Tessalit controls the Sahara."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/04/tessalit-geostrategic-sahara-mali-tuareg

by stevesim on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 04:51:09 PM EST
I'd say there are probably few places less strategic than the middle of the Sahara.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 08:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The article is not without interest, but calling Tessalit one of the most important geostrategic points on earth (on the sayso of a tour guide!) is just spicing up copy to grab attention.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 5th, 2013 at 01:34:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An excellent and nuanced article on this little war. A bit short on operational details, but quite frankly, while they are interesting, they're not the most important thing in this war.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 6th, 2013 at 10:21:53 AM EST


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