The fruit of Nato’s war in Libya are the coups and terror spreading across Africa

It’s not just Libya that’s living with the fallout from Nato’s intervention. Blowback from the Libyan war has spread across Africa, destabilising the Sahel region and beyond.

Nigeria car bomb

Bomb blast in central Jos, Nigeria

Iraq may have been a blood-drenched disaster and Afghanistan a grinding military and political failure. But Libya was supposed to have been different. Nato’s war to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 was hailed as the liberal intervention that worked.

The western powers might have had to twist the meaning of the UN resolution about protecting civilians, the city of Sirte might have been reduced to rubble, large-scale ethnic cleansing taken place and thousands of civilians killed. But it was all in a noble cause and achieved without Nato casualties.

This wasn’t Bush and Blair, after all, but Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy. The people were free, the dictator was dead, a mooted massacre had been averted – and all this without any obvious boots on the ground. Even last year the prime minister was still claiming it had all been worthwhile, promising to stand with Libyans “every step of the way”.

But three years after Nato declared victory, Libya is lurching once again towards civil war. Over the past few days, the CIA-linked General Hiftar launched his second coup attempt in three months, supposedly to save the country from “terrorists” and Islamists. On Sunday, his forces stormed the national parliament in Tripoli, after 80 people were killed in fighting in Benghazi two days earlier.

Now Libya’s chief of staff has called on Islamist militias to defend the government in advance of new elections. Since the country is overrun with militias far more powerful than its official forces, riven with multiple divisions and prey to constant external interference, the chances of avoiding full-blown conflict are shrinking fast.

But these are only the latest of the clashes and atrocities that have engulfed Libya since Nato’s “liberation”: including bombings, assassinations, the kidnapping of the prime minister, the seizure of oil terminals by warlords, the explusion of 40,000 mainly black Libyans from their homes, and the killing of 46 protesters on the streets of Tripoli in one incident — ignored by the states that supposedly went to war to protect civilians.

In reality, the west seized the chance to intervene in Libya to get a grip on the Arab uprisings. Nato air power in support of the Libyan rebellion increased the death toll by a factor of about 10, but played the decisive role in the war— which meant no coherent political or military force was ready to fill the vacuum. Three years on, thousands are held without trial, there are heavy curbs on dissent, and institutions are close to collapse.

But the US and Britain are still training Libyan troops to keep control. Before Gaddafi’s overthrow, Hiftar headed the military wing of the CIA-backed National Salvation Front. In advance of his latest coup attempt, a sympathetic US sent a force of marines to Sicily ready to intervene, and John Kerry has promised to help Libya with “security and extremism”.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are openly backing Hiftar, as is the military coup leader in Egypt, General Sisi. Having suppressed, jailed and shot in large numbers Egypt’s own Islamists, Sisi and his Gulf backers are determined to prevent them consolidating power in oil-rich Libya. There are signs that Sisi – who complains that the west failed to garrison Libya after Gaddafi’s overthrow – wants to use Libya’s crisis to send in his own forces.

But it’s not just Libya that’s living with the fallout from Nato’s intervention. Blowback from the Libyan war has spread across Africa, destabilising the Sahel region and beyond. After Gaddafi’s fall, Tuareg people who had fought for him went home to Mali, bringing Libyan arms caches with them. Within months, that had tipped northern Mali into full-scale armed rebellion and takeover by Islamist fighters.

The result was last year’s French military intervention, backed by the US and Britain. But Libya’s impact goes much wider. Among the groups whose armed campaigns have been fuelled by large-scale heavy weapons supplies from Gaddafi’s looted arsenals is Boko Haram.

Support for the fundamentalist Nigerian terror sectwhich kidnapped 200 schoolgirls last month and has been responsible for more than 1,500 deaths since the start of the year – has been fed by deprivation, drought and brutal state repression in the Muslim north.

But, as elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, each outside intervention only spreads the cycle of the terror war. So the call for action over the outrage of the Boko Haram kidnapping has brought US, British and French forces to oil-wealthy Nigeria, just as the Mali crisis last year led to the establishment of a US military drone base in neighbouring Niger.

US armed forces are now involved in 49 out of 54 African states, along with the former colonial powers of France and Britain, in what’s becoming a new carve-up of the continent: a scramble for resources and influence in the face of China’s growing economic role, underpinned with an escalating military presence that spreads terror as it grows. That will bring its own backlash, as did the war in Libya.

Supporters of Nato’s Libyan war counter that, even if the country is now plagued by chaos and violence, there was no western military intervention in Syria and more than 150,000 have died in its horrific civil war. But of course there is large-scale covert intervention in support of the Syrian rebels by both the Nato powers and the Gulf states.

One of the ugliest aspects of western policy towards Syria is the turning on and off of that backing to keep their favoured armed groups in the game – without giving them any decisive advantage. In fact, US, British and Gulf support is being stepped up right now because of regime advances on the field.

But it defies logic to imagine that the death toll would have somehow been lower in Syria, or the sectarian conflict less brutal, if the US and its allies had launched a full-scale military attack at any stage of the conflict. The experience of Iraq, where the war is now estimated to have killed 500,000, makes that obvious enough.

But such is the expectation of routine war-making among parts of the western elite that they’re already impatient for another outright intervention. “What would America fight for?” asked the Economist plaintively earlier this month, echoing the US Republican charge of weakness in the White House. For the rest of the world, the reality of Libya and its disastrous consequences should be answer enough.

Source: Guardian

France Increases its Support to Terrorists in Syria

Yusuf Fernandez

In late February, some international agencies reported that hundreds of foreign rebels were fleeing from the Idleb Province in Northwestern Syria through Turkey under the claim that they were planning to join al-Qaeda militants in Mali in order to fight against French troops deployed there.
terrorists in SyriaThe reason of this withdrawal is not clear.

Some observers said that the real reason behind it was the Syrian army´s offensive against terrorist groups in the province and the disappointment of some militants who have seen that their fight is not popular in Syria, as their recruiters had made them believe before going to Syria.

The irony is that France, which invaded Mali some weeks ago to theorically fight against radical groups in that country, will have to end up fighting against the same groups that the French government has been openly funding. These militants have used French money and training in Syria in order to gain combat experience and they will implement this newly-acquired knowledge against French troops in Mali.

According to observers, France has become the most prominent Western backer of Syria´s armed opposition and is now directly funding terrorist groups around Aleppo and other parts of the Arab country as part of a new attempt to overthrow the Syrian government. Large sums of money have been delivered by French government proxies across the Turkish border to rebel commanders, diplomatic sources have confirmed. The money has been used to buy weapons inside Syria and to fund armed operations against government forces.

Laurent FabiusOn March 14, French FM Laurent Fabius announced that France and the UK would ignore a EU ban on sending weapons to Syria in order to supply terrorist groups fighting there with more arms. The goal remains the same: to overthrow Bashar al Assad´s government. The French newspaper Le Figaro also reported in those days that French military advisers had recently met with rebel groups inside Syria, in an area between Lebanon and Damascus. It is worth pointing out that sending military personnel to a country without the permission of its government amounts to a military invasion.

Despite all this support, the political goal of France in Syria seems to be as far as ever. “Things are not moving. The solution that we had hoped for, and by that I mean the fall of Bashar and the arrival of the (opposition) coalition to power, has not happened”, acknowledged Fabius on January 24. In December 2012, he had claimed that the “end is nearing” for the Syrian president. A senior Lebanese official who visited France towards the end of last year told the daily Al Safir that “France was surprised by the fact that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, his regime and his army could resist”.

For its part, the Syrian government has condemned this French interference in its internal affairs. “France is acting like a hostile nation”, said National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar to AFP. “It is as if it wants to go back to the time of the occupation,” he added, referring to the French rule in Syria after World War I. Damascus has made it clear that France´s current policies will weaken or even eliminate its political, economic and cultural influence in Syria, maybe forever.

Moreover, France is now getting nervous about the possibility of reprisals from the al-Qaeda-linked groups, similar to those it is funding in Syria, for its intervention in Mali. On March 1, three suspected militants were arrested in southern France for allegedly planning an attack in the deays ahead, the Paris prosecutor said.

Change of foreign policy

The boomerang effect of supporting terrorism in Syria is just one of the disastrous consequences of the change of the French policy towards the Arab and Muslim world, which started when the pro-Israeli and pro-NATO Nicolas Sarkozy became President. Prior to that fact, France had gained a solid reputation due to its Gaullist foreign policy, one of whose pillars was the independence of the country with respect to the United States. In February 2003, French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, was universally applauded when he opposed Colin Powell´s pathetic attempts to justify the then-forthcoming invasion of Iraq with blatant lies about the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

French soldiers in MaliThe new French foreign policy, under influence of Zionist politicians such as Sarkozy himself, Bernard Kouchner or Laurent Fabius and Zionist activists as Bernard Henry-Levy, changed the equation. France began to promote pro-Israeli and neo-colonial policies in Africa and the Middle East, where France adopted an even more radical stance against Syria and Iran than any other Western country.
In Africa, Paris has increased its military presence in recent years. France´s intervention in Mali, with a contingent of 750 troops, has sought to bolster the Malian army against the al-Qaeda rebels, who have controlled the north of the country for about two years. However, the war in Mali is still beginning and, even worse, it is becoming another asymmetric and far-reaching war which could involve France for years, although Paris has repeatedly announced its willingness to evacuate its army from the African country as soon as possible.

Qatar, France´s ally, supported extremists in Mali

On the other hand, Qatar, which just happens to be a major ally of France in the Syrian question, has criticized Paris´s intervention in Mali arguing that the force would not solve the problem. French officials have openly accused Qatar of funding the Mali rebels.

Hamad, HollandeThe first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and al-Qaeda-linked groups came in a June 2012 article in French weekly the Canard Enchainé. The publication quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The MNLA (secular Tuareg separatists), al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.” “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The speculation is that Qatar is keen to increase its influence in Mali in order to develop business ties with this nation, which is believed to have significant oil, gas and uranium resources. Moreover, its presence in Mali “greatly increase the Emirate´s influence in West Africa and the Sahel region”, regional geopolitical expert Mehdi Lazar, who specialises on Qatar, wrote in French weekly news magazine L’Express in December. Qatar would also be trying to destabilize Algeria, one of the Arab countries remaining free from its political influence.

France, for its part, is determined to help the pro-French military junta rule the entire nation and sees Qatari activities in Mali with dismay. The Canard Echainé wrote: “Earlier this year, several notes from the DGSE (the French Intelligence Service) alerted the Elysee Palace on international activities and, dare we say, the emirate of Qatar.”

On 22 January, French news site France24 published an article entitled “Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?” which claimed that Doha had taken sides with the Mali insurgents. According to author Segolene Allemandou, Qatari rulers aim to spread extremism in Africa with the help of these rebels. The subtle message was clear: the emirate´s support for terrorism will damage its long-term image in Europe.

Destroying a pluralist Syria

Assad praying at Sunni mosqueIn this context, everyone can understand that Saudi and Qatari support extremists who fight against a multifaith and multicultural Syria and against all the religious groups supporting interfaith cooperation and coexistence, such as mainstream Sunni Muslims, Shiites, Alawites and Christians. After all, in Saudi Arabia only the Wahabi current enjoys full religious freedom. The rest of the faiths are discriminated, persecuted or banned. But some people can find it difficult to understand why the West, including France, is allied with extremist Salafist groups persecuting Christians and destroying churches.

The anwer is that France and other Western governments are actually not interested in democracy or political and religious freedom but in pursuing their own political, strategic and economic interests at any cost. French aggressions in Africa have led to the death of thousands of innocent people and have ruined the lives of millions of others, not to mention its involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. With its current policies towards Syria, Paris only tries to reimpose their neo-colonial yoke on that country. However, after many decades of independence and of enjoying their sovereignty, Syrian people are not willing to become slaves of European goverments or of corrupt, backward, terrorist-friendly and despotic regimes as the Saudi or the Qatari.

By funding and delivering weapons to terrorist groups, the French government, alongside with its allies, is not only violating the international law but it is also destroying the possibility of a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict and leaving its resolution in the hands of the military. In this way, Syria´s friends should take good note of this fact and multiply their military aid to Syria in order to prevent their own interests from being damaged. The Syrian state is strong and its people is indomable, but there is no doubt that Syria will need all kind of support from free people in the world in order to resist this aggression.

Source: Al-Manar Website
18-03-2013 – 14:11 Last updated 18-03-2013 – 15:45

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

"Hundreds of foreign jihadis seen leaving Syria on Tuesday through Turkey"


DAMASCUS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — “Hundreds of foreign jihadist fighters joining the battles against the Syrian troops were seen leaving Syria on Tuesday through borders with neighboring Turkey, the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The reason behind the withdrawal is still vague, said the Observatory, citing one fighter as saying that his comrades “have been pulled out of Syria to join jihadists in Mali.”

The Observatory said the fighters pulled out from Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, a main hotspot in Syria’s long- standing conflict.

The Syrian government has for long accused Turkey of making its lands as routes for the foreign radical fighters in order to fight against the Syrian administration.
Meantime, the Syrian air force shelled the town of Kureen in Idlib earlier in the day, said the Observatory….

In the Kurdish-dominated district of Ashrafieh, clashes erupted earlier in the day between rebel fighters and Kurdish local committees, the Observatory continued….”

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French war on Mali to clinch warplane mega deal

French war on Mali to clinch warplane mega deal

France’s Rafale warplanes

France’s Rafale warplanes
Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:31AM
The Rafale has spearheaded the French war on Mali and has been hailed by French President Francois Hollande for its successful air strikes against the impoverished desert African country. Four weeks after the French offensive began in Mali, Hollande flew to India last week in a bid to finalize what is reputedly the biggest military aviation deal in history, centered on the Rafale.”
France’s claim of combating terrorism in Mali does not add up. Re-conquest of this former French colony and control of rich natural resources in West Africa are some of the more plausible reasons for this criminal offensive that began on 11 January.

Yet another plausible reason is to showcase the Rafale, France’s new fighter-bomber.

The Rafale has spearheaded the French war on Mali and has been hailed by French President Francois Hollande for its successful air strikes against the impoverished desert African country. Four weeks after the French offensive began in Mali, Hollande flew to India last week in a bid to finalize what is reputedly the biggest military aviation deal in history, centered on the Rafale.

In other words, the whole war may have been staged to showcase the Rafale with the precise purpose of sealing a deal worth $12-14 billion with India and to fend off a rival tender from Britain’s state-of-the-art Typhoon.

Here’s the background.

Another week, another UN Security Council member comes to India to flog weapons of mass destruction. Just as tensions are boiling between nuclear-powered India and Pakistan over the incendiary Kashmir dispute – soldiers have been killed on both sides in cross-border firefights in recent weeks – along come the leaders of France and Britain to push multi-billion-dollar weapons sales.

Last week, it was French President Francois Hollande who led a delegation of four government ministers and some 60 industrial chiefs to India.

Arriving on 14 February and greeted by Indian Premier Manmohan Singh, French English-language broadcaster France 24 reported the importance of Hollande’s purpose in no uncertain terms: “The two-day visit will be dominated by trade issues, including a $12-billion contract for Rafale fighter jets, dubbed ‘the deal of the century’ in France.”

That deal – still to be finalized, perhaps next year – involves the sale of 126 French-made Rafale fighter-bombers and a potential follow-up of 63 more. It is reckoned to be the biggest-ever military aviation contract between two countries. The bombers are designed to deliver nuclear warheads – a feature that no doubt lends a selling edge on the Indian sub-continent.

This week, however, it was British Prime Minister David Cameron’s turn. Cameron flew to India for a three-day visit to shore up the “special relationship” with Britain’s former colony and past imperial “jewel in the crown.” It was Britain’s biggest overseas trade delegation, according to spokesmen in Downing Street. Accompanying Cameron were four government ministers, nine parliamentarians and representatives of over 100 British industries and businesses, including British Aerospace.

The latter company is particularly relevant since the main objective for Cameron was to dissuade India from finalizing the French fighter jet deal and to award the contract instead to the British-made Eurofighter Typhoon.

“PM in last-ditch bid for India fighter deal,” headlined the Financial Times, which added that Cameron was trying to snatch the contract “from under the nose of French President Francoise Hollande.”

The irony is a little hard to take of UN Security Council members engaged in a dog fight to fuel an arms race between India and Pakistan – the two states, both nuclear powers, have fought four wars since their foundation in 1947. The irony of Britain’s nefarious role is especially bitter. It was Britain’s malevolent partition of India that created the long-running dispute between newly formed India and Pakistan over the mainly Muslim territory of Kashmir. Three of the four wars fought by India and Pakistan have been over Kashmir – that is, as a result of British imperialist meddling. And now Britain is seeking to make billions of dollars from the bellicose tensions that it bequeathed to the region.

To call this a cynical business is a gross understatement. As the adage goes: war sells, war is good for business. And both France and Britain in recent years have done their utmost in pushing wars across the Middle East and North Africa, which in turn have helped push up sales of their state-of-the-art warplanes. The latest sales promo is France’s war on Mali – but more on that later.

The British-French rivalry for the Indian fighter jet bonanza can be traced to NATO’s war on Libya during 2011, which culminated in the overthrow and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. On 17 March 2011, the UN Security Council voted a resolution to set up a no-fly zone in Libya, ostensibly under the pretext of “responsibility to protect” civilians in an apparent uprising by militants in the east against the government of Tripoli. Two days later, on 19 March, the no-fly zone quickly turned into a seven-month aerial bombing campaign by NATO against Gaddafi forces. Many legal experts opine that the NATO bombardment of Libya, which was instrumental in the overthrow of the Libyan government, was not mandated by the UNSC Resolution 1973. That is, NATO acted illegally.

The two NATO powers that led the bombing onslaught in Libya – involving more than 10,000 air sorties – were France and Britain. The air war was a showcase for the new Rafale, built by French company Dassault, as well as British Aerospace’s Typhoon. Indeed, it was Rafale fighter jets that first opened NATO fire on Gaddafi forces outside Benghazi.

Before NATO’s bombing spectacle in Libya got underway, the Rafale and Typhoon had already been short-listed by India from out of six tenders for the record $12-14bn fighter jet contract. This aerial campaign served as the air force for Libyan militants to bring about Western regime change. But it also had the added benefit of showcasing French and British warplanes that were fresh off the production line and poaching for international customers.

Eight months after NATO’s blitzkrieg on Libya finished, the government of India announced that it was opting for the Rafale.

The Financial Times on 7 July 2012 reported: “For Dassault’s Rafale and Eurofighter’s Typhoon, the conflict to unseat Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi helped to decide the biggest jet fighter tender ever.” The paper went on blandly: “In fact, the Typhoon and Rafale both performed well over Tripoli, bolstering confidence on both sides that they are the better aircraft. In the end, the French [warplanes] were quicker and that, say analysts, helped nudge India’s decision towards Dassault’s Rafale.”

That’s not the end of the affair. Even though the French seemed to clinch the fighter jet mega deal with India last July, the British have not given up hope on snatching the prize from their rival.

Indeed, hot on the heels of Hollande’s visit last week to New Delhi, British Prime Minister David Cameron was in India precisely to convince Premier Singh on the benefits of the Typhoon.

The Guardian quoted a Downing Street spokesman as saying: “We respect [sic] the fact that the Indians have chosen their preferred bidder and are currently negotiating with the French. Of course, we will continue to promote Eurofighter [Typhoon] as a great fast jet, not just in India but around the world.”

Given the magnitude of the aviation deal with India and other potential buyers, it can be safely assumed that the British have not been “respecting” the French rival, but rather have been lobbying New Delhi intensely to steal the deal ever since the Indian government signaled last year that it was opting for the Rafale.

The war on Libya may have launched the Rafale on the world stage as a lean fighting machine, winning over New Delhi in particular, but perhaps the French felt compelled subsequently to go to war in Mali with the aim of closing the Indian deal. Bear in mind that Hollande’s Rafale-selling delegation to India comes one month after the beginning of the French offensive in its former West African colony.

With British rival pressure bearing down on the French, it is not inconceivable that deployment of the Rafale in the challenging environment of Mali was contrived as a timely reminder to India of the aircraft’s military capabilities.

It should be recalled that France’s military intervention in Mali on 11 January – as with NATO’s bombing of Libya – was not authorized by the UN Security Council. The latter only gave a qualified approval last December for the deployment of an African-led mission to Mali under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was envisaged to take place in September later this year. The French jumped the gun for an urgent reason. Why?

The official French rationale for launching its sudden offensive in West Africa – defending Europe’s security from terrorism – does not quite ring true. After all, the radical militants it is supposedly combating in Mali are the same, or are closely related to, the Mujahideen militants in Libya that the Rafale fighter jets were providing air cover for in 2011. These same elements are also linked to extremists that France and other NATO states are supporting in Syria to overthrow the Assad government in Damascus. Clearly, the official French rationale for its military intervention in Mali spearheaded by the Rafale fighter jets does not add up.

But a “sale of the century” hanging in the balance involving fighter jets to India worth $12-14 billion? Now, that does make sense.


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US-Saudi Funded Terrorists Sowing Chaos in Pakistan

Baluchistan, Pakistan – long target of Western geopolitical interests, terror wave coincides with Gwadar Port handover to China.

February 18, 2013 (LD) – Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province, bordering both US-occupied Afghanistan as well as Iran, was the site of a grisly market bombing that has killed over 80 people. According to reports, the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. Billed as a “Sunni extremist group,” it instead fits the pattern of global terrorism sponsored by the US, Israel, and their Arab partners Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The terrorist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group was in fact created, according to the BBC, to counter Iran’s Islamic Revolution in the 1980’s, and is still active today. Considering the openly admitted US-Israeli-Saudi plot to use Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups across the Middle East to counter Iran’s influence, it begs the question whether these same interests are funding terrorism in Pakistan to not only counter Iranian-sympathetic Pakistani communities, but to undermine and destabilize Pakistan itself.
The US-Saudi Global Terror Network
While the United States is close allies with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is well established that the chief financier of extremist militant groups for the past 3 decades, including Al Qaeda, are in fact Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While Qatari state-owned propaganda like Al Jazeera apply a veneer of progressive pro-democracy to its narratives, Qatar itself is involved in arming, funding, and even providing direct military support for sectarian extremists from northern Mali, to Libya, to Syria and beyond. 
France 24’s report “Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?” provides a useful vignette of Saudi-Qatari terror sponsorship, stating:

“The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The report also stated: 

“Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrassas, schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

“Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.”

These institutions are present not only in Mali, but around the world, and provide a nearly inexhaustible supply of militants for both the Persian Gulf monarchies and their Western allies to use both as a perpetual casus belli to invade and occupy foreign nations such as Mali and Afghanistan, as well as a sizable, persistent mercenary force, as seen in Libya and Syria. Such institutions jointly run by Western intelligence agencies across Europe and in America, fuel domestic fear-mongering and the resulting security state that allows Western governments to more closely control their populations as they pursue reckless, unpopular policies at home and abroad.
Since Saudi-Qatari geopolitical interests are entwined with Anglo-American interests, both the “investment” and “return on this investment” are clearly part of a joint venture. France’s involvement in Mali has demonstrably failed to curb such extremists, has instead, predictably left the nation occupied by Western interests while driving terrorists further north into the real target, Algeria.
Additionally, it should be noted, that France in particular, played a leading role along side Qatar and Saudi Arabia in handing Libya over to these very same extremists. French politicians were in Benghazi shaking hands with militants they would be “fighting” in the near future in northern Mali.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is Part of US-Saudi Terror Network
In terms of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, as well as the infamous Lashkar-e-Taiba that carried out the 2008 Mumbai, India attack killing over 160, both are affiliates of Al Qaeda, and both have been linked financially, directly to Saudi Arabia. In the Guardian’s article, “WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” the US State Department even acknowledges that Saudi Arabia is indeed funding terrorism in Pakistan: 

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has also been financially linked to the Persian Gulf monarchies. Stanford University’s “Mapping Militant Organizations: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” states under “External Influences:”

LeJ has received money from several Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates[25] These countries funded LeJ and other Sunni militant groups primarily to counter the rising influence of Iran’s revolutionary Shiism.  

Astonishingly, despite these admission, the US works politically, financially, economically, and even militarily in tandem with these very same state-sponsors of rampant, global terrorism. In Libya and Syria, the US has even assisted in the funding and arming of Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, and had conspired with Saudi Arabia since at least 2007 to overthrow both Syria and Iran with these terrorist groups. And while Saudi Arabia funds terrorism in Pakistan, the US is well documented to be funding political subversion in the very areas where the most heinous attacks are being carried out.
US Political Subversion in Baluchistan, Pakistan
The US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been directly funding and supporting the work of the “Balochistan Institute for Development” (BIFD) which claims to bethe leading resource on democracy, development and human rights in Balochistan, Pakistan.” In addition to organizing the annual NED-BFID “Workshop on Media, Democracy & Human Rights” BFID reports that USAID had provided funding for a “media-center” for the Baluchistan Assembly to “provide better facilities to reporters who cover the proceedings of the Balochistan Assembly.” We must assume BFID meant reporters “trained” at NED-BFID workshops.
 Image: A screenshot of “Voice of Balochistan’s” special US State Department message. While VOB fails to disclose its funding, it is a sure bet it, like other US-funded propaganda fronts, is nothing more than a US State Department outlet. (click image to enlarge)
Images: In addition to the annual Fortune 500-funded “Balochistan International Conference,” the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy has been busy at work building up Baluchistan’s “civil society” network. This includes support for the “Balochistan Institute For Development,” which maintains a “BIFD Leadership Academy,” claiming to “mobilize, train and encourage youth to play its effective role in promotion of democracy development and rule of law.” The goal is to subvert Pakistani governance while simultaneously creating a homogeneous “civil society” that interlocks with the West’s “international institutions.” This is how modern empire perpetuates itself.


There is also Voice of Balochistan whose every top-story is US-funded propaganda
drawn from foundation-funded Reporters Without Borders, Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, and even a direct message from the US State Department itself. Like other US State Department funded propaganda outfits around the world – such as Thailand’s Prachatai – funding is generally obfuscated in order to maintain “credibility” even when the front’s constant torrent of obvious propaganda more than exposes them.

: Far from parody, this is the header taken from the “Baloch Society of North America” website.
Perhaps the most absurd operations being run to undermine Pakistan through the “Free Baluchistan” movement are the US and London-based organizations. The “Baloch Society of North America” almost appears to be a parody at first, but nonetheless serves as a useful aggregate and bellwether regarding US meddling in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The group’s founder, Dr. Wahid. Baloch, openly admits he has met with US politicians in regards to Baluchistan independence. This includes Neo-Con warmonger, PNAC signatory, corporate-lobbyist, and National Endowment for Democracy director Zalmay Khalilzad.
Dr. Wahid Baloch considers Baluchistan province “occupied” by both the Iranian and Pakistani governments – he and his movement’s humanitarian hand-wringing gives Washington the perfect pretext to create an armed conflagration against either Iran or Pakistan, or both, as planned in detail by various US policy think-tanks.
There is also the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad, or BSO. While it maintains a presence in Pakistan, it has coordinators based in London. London-based BSO members include “information secretaries” that propagate their message via social media, just as US and British-funded youth organizations did during the West’s operations against other targeted nations during the US-engineered “Arab Spring.”
 Image: A screenshot of a “Baloch Human rights activist and information secretary of BSO Azad London zone” Twitter account. This user, in tandem with look-alike accounts has been propagating anti-Pakistani, pro-“Free Baluchistan” propaganda incessantly. They also engage in coordinated attacks with prepared rhetoric against anyone revealing US ties to Baluchistan terrorist organizations. 
And while the US does not openly admit to funding and arming terrorists in Pakistan yet, many across established Western policy think-tanks have called for it.
Image: Why Baluchistan? Gwadar in the southwest serves as a Chinese port and the starting point for a logistical corridor through Pakistan and into Chinese territory. The Iranian-Pakistani-Indian pipeline would enter from the west, cross through Baluchistan intersecting China’s proposed logistical route to the northern border, and continue on to India. Destabilizing Baluchistan would effectively derail the geopolitical aspirations of four nations.
Selig Harrison of the convicted criminal, George Soros-funded Center for International Policy, has published two pieces regarding the armed “liberation” of Baluchistan.
Harrison’s February 2011 piece, “Free Baluchistan,” calls to “aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression.” He continues by explaining the various merits of such meddling by stating: 

“Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.”

Harrison would follow up his frank call to carve up Pakistan by addressing the issue of Chinese-Pakistani relations in a March 2011 piece titled, “The Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis.” He states:

“China’s expanding reach is a natural and acceptable accompaniment of its growing power—but only up to a point. ”  

He continues: 

“To counter what China is doing in Pakistan, the United States should play hardball by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan along the Arabian Sea and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar. Beijing wants its inroads into Gilgit and Baltistan to be the first step on its way to an Arabian Sea outlet at Gwadar.”

While aspirations of freedom and independence are used to sell Western meddling in Pakistan, the geopolitical interests couched behind this rhetoric is openly admitted to. The prophetic words of Harrison should ring loud in one’s ears today. It is in fact this month, that Pakistan officially hands over the port in Gwadar to China, and Harrison’s armed militants are creating bloodshed and chaos, attempting to trigger a destructive sectarian war that will indeed threaten to “oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar.”
Like in Syria, we have a documented conspiracy years in the making being carried out before our very eyes. The people of Pakistan must not fall into the trap laid by the West who seeks to engulf Baluchistan in sectarian bloodshed with the aid of Saudi and Qatari-laundered cash and weapons. For the rest of the world, we must continue to uncover the corporate-financier special interests driving these insidious plots, boycott and permanently replace them on a local level.
The US-Saudi terror racket has spilled blood from New York City, across Northern Africa, throughout the Middle East, and as far as Pakistan and beyond. If we do not undermine and ultimately excise these special interests, their plans and double games will only get bolder and the inevitability of their engineered chaos effecting us individually will only grow.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Mali, Algeria, Libya: the real reason Britain signed up for war on Africa

The truth behind the ‘war on terror’ is that it is part of Western powers’ imperialistic quest to secure natural resource reserves for their corporations

By Patrick Kane
Huff Post
14 February 2013

With the start of 2013 the ‘war on terror’ has burst back into the headlines. The attack on a BP gas plant in Algeria sparked declarations from David Cameron which identified North Africa as the new front line.

Already the UK has backed military intervention in Mali and upgraded military support for Algeria and Libya. In Algeria, Cameron announced a strengthened ‘military partnership’ to combat terrorism and “improve security in the region”, and in Libya he pledged more British training for security forces and support for securing the country’s borders.

The reality of the never-ending ‘war on terror’ is that it is integrally bound up with an imperialistic drive for resources.

Central to understanding David Cameron’s rapid reaction to events in North Africa is a government document published in November last year to little or no fanfare.

That document is the UK’s Energy Security Strategy, released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change: the first time the UK has ever produced such a strategy. The document rings the alarm for the UK’s future energy security, stating, “Declining reserves of fossil fuels in the North Sea are making the UK increasingly dependent on imports at a time of rising global demand and increased resource competition”, which is leaving the UK “increasingly exposed to the pressures and risks of global markets”.

The point is illustrated with some dramatic statistics: UK oil production, which currently provides for 70% of UK oil demand, is “expected to decrease by 5% per year”, meaning that within 20 years the North Sea oil supplies will have run out, leaving the UK completely dependent upon imports, whilst global demand for oil is predicted to increase by 15% by 2035.
There will be even more competition for gas supplies, with global demand forecast to rise by 55% by 2035. Again, declining North Sea supplies mean that the UK will go from importing about 50% of the gas it uses currently “to nearly 70% by 2025”.

At international level, the document identifies the importance of “energy diplomacy” in securing UK supplies of oil and gas for the future. Energy diplomacy, it says, includes “maximising commercial opportunities” for UK corporations, forcing open new markets to guarantee them unrestricted access to valuable energy resources.

Here we get to the crux of the strategy: it is not the ordinary UK citizen that is being protected- for evidence look no further than the exorbitant energy bills crippling Britain’s poor- but the interests of UK corporations which supply the energy.

This ‘energy diplomacy’ is of course a euphemism for militaristic British foreign policy. This includes the provision of military aid and weapons sales to regimes which control strategic energy reserves regardless of how repressive and violent they may be, as well as the readiness to use military force against states or groups which threaten UK energy security interests or those of UK allies.

Of course, militaristic British policy focussed upon securing energy resources at the expense of human rights is not new, for evidence just look at Nigeria. What we are witnessing currently is an increased sense of urgency to take control of strategic energy resources.

The Ministry of Defence in 2010 laid out its analysis of future strategic threats to the UK, and predicted that in coming years major powers are “likely to use their defence forces to safeguard supplies [of hydrocarbons]”. It identified North Africa as a strategically important area where a key focus of European states’ engagement will be on securing access to energy resources.

The military cooperation agreements announced last month with Algeria and Libya are part of UK ‘energy diplomacy’ aimed at securing access to strategic resources in North Africa. Both countries are identified in the UK Energy Security Strategy as producers of gas and oil which are important trading partners and hence countries which are important to the UK’s energy security.

Algeria now supplies 5% of the UK’s gas needs, whilst Libya is not only an important trading partner, but is a country whose oil supply is so important to the global oil market that the price of oil rose by 10-20% when armed conflict erupted there in 2011. Before the conflict in Libya had even finished, it was reported that BP had begun talks with rebel leaders aimed at securing access to the country’s oil wealth, and the French foreign minister publicly stated that it was “fair and logical” for French companies to benefit after French military intervention in the country.

In Mali, France’s UK-backed intervention is in support of a regime which violently seized power in a coup d’etat last April which led to the country’s suspension from the African Union. Could the large, as yet unexploited uranium and oil reserves thought to be contained in the deserts of Northern Mali and Eastern Niger explain the eagerness to back such a regime?
For a clear example of the link between Western commercial energy interests and militarism in North Africa, just look over the border from Mali at Niger. Last week, the president of Niger announced that French special forces have been deployed to the country to protect the huge Arlit uranium mine owned by French multinational Areva, in response to instability in the region. French companies used to have exclusive access to uranium supplies in Niger, however a change in government policy in 2007 ended the exclusivity, meaning they now face competition from Chinese and Indian companies.

The truth behind the ‘war on terror’ is that it is part of Western powers’ imperialistic quest to secure natural resource reserves for their corporations. We should all fear for the peoples of energy-rich regions as the global resource grab plummets new depths.

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Galloway to David Cameron: What is the difference between the jihadists in Mali we oppose and the jihadists in Syria we back?

George Galloway MP to British Prime Minister David Cameron:

What is the difference between the jihadists in Mali we oppose and the jihadists in Syria we back?

David Cameron hailed the C-17 transport plane, pictured at RAF Brize Norton, before news emerged that one of the aircraft had broken down at French airbase
Response to David Cameron

Bradford West MP George Galloway responded to Prime Minister David Cameron’s refusal to answer a parliamentary question, by resorting to a cheap insult, by detailing the Arab tyrannies and puppet presidents Britain backs.

‘I asked a reasonable question, to detail the difference between the jihadists in Mali we oppose and the jihadists in Syria we back and in response to a legitimate inquiry I received a sneering insult more fitted to the gutters of Eton than the Mother of all Parliaments,’ Galloway said. ‘Britain is guilty to backing the worst, most bloodthirsty dictators in the world, bar none. This country backs and arms the foul Saudi Arabian sheikhdom which has the least democracy and probably the worst human rights record on the planet.

Then there’s Bahrain. And what about Egypt where this government backed Mubarak until almost the end? And it is less than a week ago, isn’t it, that the Foreign Office was warning British citizens to get out of Benghazi immediately for fear of their lives – at risk from the same jihadis we supplied, armed and fought for.’

Galloway added: ‘I have written to the Prime Minister today about his response to me and I will be interested how he responds.’

Below is the text of the letter:

Wednesday 30th January 2012

Dear Prime Minister,

I’m sure on reflection you will realise that your answer to me today was beneath you and unbecoming for a British Prime Minister. I will deal with the complete absence of a substantive reply in a moment. But let me deal first with the vulgar abuse.

I do not support any Arab dictatorship, unlike you. It is you who is selling weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia and providing military training there. It is you who is supporting the Bahraini dictatorship. It is you who supported the Mubarak dictatorship until its last hours. Ditto the late dictatorship in Tunisia, Yemen etc. It is you who has the warmest possible relations with the dictatorships in the Gulf. I could go on, believe me. I, on the other hand, have spoken, written and broadcast against all Arab dictatorships. Perhaps your staff, in preparing your reply, will provide you with the evidence of this. I also read Frankenstein until the end.

I told one of your predecessors, Lady Thatcher, on the eve of the triumph of those whom your party routinely described as ‘Afghan freedom fighters’ that she “had opened the gates to the barbarians…. And that a long dark night would now descend upon the people of Afghanistan”. I warned repeatedly against the folly of the creation of the Arab-Afghan force which became Al Qaida. Immediately after 9/11 I said in the House that “I despise Osama Bin Laden, the medieval obscurantist savage. The difference is that I have always despised him. I despised him when you (pointing at the Tory benches) were giving him guns and money”.

I find it genuinely inexplicable that you are doing it all over again. This is a tragedy which begins to look farcical when one considers the issue which I raised today with you.

We are now killing Al Qaida in Mali and helping Al Qaida kill in Syria – killing Christians, killing Shiites, killing Kurds, killing Druze, killing Sunnis who won’t join their jihad, and soon, trust me, they will be killing each other.

There may be “key differences” between Al Qaida in Mali and their counterparts in Syria. I asked you to explain these to the House today. You refused. But it is a question which will not go away before a puff of vulgar abuse.

I look forward to your reply. I am seeking to publish this letter.

Yours sincerely,

George Galloway MP
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
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Posted on February 10, 2013 by Alexandra Valiente

Washington has a lot of influence on countries like Qatar, which is reportedly the main source of weapons and support for the Syrian rebels, so they are not absolved from responsibility, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin told RT.

­With a civil war raging in Syria, French intervention in Mali, the risk of a military strike against Iran and the increased threat of Islamic terrorism in North Africa, the international community is faced with a series of complex challenges that offer no simple solutions.

Ambassador Churkin explained to RT why diplomacy is the only way out of the crises in Syria and Iran, why Mali was a legitimate intervention, and how the rush to unilateral, military action cripples efforts at legitimate, multilateral solutions.

­RT: I’m very pleased to introduce Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin. Ambassador Churkin, thank you very much for making yourself available for this interview.

Vitaly Churkin: Thank you.

RT: Let me begin with Iran. Russia is about to sit down yet again for talks with five other world powers on Iran’s nuclear program. The negotiations are due at the end of February. The US Vice-President Joe Biden said that the US was ready for direct negotiations with Iran. Do you see it as a breakthrough, as a serious push for diplomacy on the part of Washington?

VC: Well, hopefully, and of course we are looking forward to the resumption of the talks of the six with Iran in Astana in late February. And we have always welcomed the possibility of direct contacts between the United States and Iran. Unfortunately, over the years there has been some back-and-forth: some positive statements on the one side were met by negative statements on the other side.
This time, I understand, there’s been a strong negative statement from a high level from Tehran which was saying that those talks were impossible. The Iranians are notoriously difficult negotiators, and of course the subject matter is very complex, so on each particular issue there are always very difficult discussions, and it is quite a challenge to make headway. But we believe that there has been some headway on the substance of those discussions, and we hope that there is a good point from which the negotiators can proceed with making some progress.

RT: Just speaking more generally, when talking about progress in relations with Russia, I heard many times members of the Obama administration say, “Well we’ve got Russia” – quote unquote – “on board – to put more pressure on Iran.” In what context, in what ways do you see Russia on board with the United States on Iran? Do you see points where Russia is on board with the US on Iran?

VC: Our American colleagues have an interesting way of describing the situation. They very often tend to talk, as you tried to quote them, in terms of the American positions and others coming over to those positions. This is not the case at all, this is not the way we see it. When we enter into some discussions with the United States and other partners in various situations we try to find a common position, so sometimes they move towards us, sometimes it’s a compromise where we have to come together midway, this is the way we find a compromise.

We’re prepared to continue working together within the format of the six, even though we make no secret of the fact that we think that some of the things which are being done by some members of the six are counterproductive because, in addition to Security Council sanctions, they piled up all sorts of unilateral sanctions, which we believe are not needed as a matter of principle. Because once we agree to work together, once we develop a certain system based on Security Council resolutions, to add anything on top of that is the wrong thing to do, and in our view this is creating some humanitarian problems in Iran which should not be there, and it’s creating some bad blood in the talks with Iran which is not really necessary.

RT: If the US and Israel, together or separately, were about to make the decision to strike Iran, is there anything that could stop them?

VC: I hope common sense and good reason will stop them because this would be the worst thing to do. First of all, the opportunities for a dialogue are there. Nobody, no member of the six, including the United States, maintains that the Iranians have already made the political decision to develop a nuclear weapon. They accept, they say, that as far as they know the Iranians have not yet made that decision. Since this decision has not yet been made – even according to them – then certainly there is room for diplomatic discussions, for diplomacy etc. etc.

A military strike would certainly make no further talks with Iran possible, so every opportunity for political discussions would be lost. I agree with those who believe that in fact that would give a great push to those in Iran – if that strike were to happen – who might be advocating building a nuclear bomb. So that would be an irrational dangerous step, to say nothing of the regional repercussions of the conflict with Iran because now we are facing instability in the region as one of the ‘standing on its own feet’ phenomenon. Until recently we were talking about common threats which we needed to face, like terrorism, international economic crisis. Now I would suggest a new common threat which we have to come to grips with and do something about it – it’s instability in a major region spreading from Mali and Libya in northwest Africa all the way to Iran.

RT: Speaking of Mali, how do you assess France’s military operation there?

VC: I believe the extremists of the north made a pretty bad miscalculation, they got carried away and they decided to make a military move to the south, heading towards the capital, Bamako. Then the government of Mali requested the French to send in the troops, and they did. And we understood; we had no objections, because in terms of international law it was a completely clear request of the government, because of a clear threat to its security and integrity of the country. So we supported that in our discussions in the Security Council.

Basically, everything that is happening – and now the African troops have moved in, too, in support of the French – is within the context of the resolution of the Security Council. We do have, let’s face it, sometimes quite acrimonious discussions in the Security Council, but this is not one of those situations. This is a situation where people understand the dangers, and also have a very frank exchange of views about what needs to be done in order to avoid finding ourselves, putting the United Nations in an overly precarious or dangerous situation.

RT: What effects did the Arab Spring have on the situation that is unfolding in Mali right now?

VC: One repercussion of the Arab Spring was the dramatic events in Libya. In the course of that crisis lots of weapons were brought into Libya, and there were lots of weapons as it is. But still, many more weapons were brought into Libya. During the recent hearings, which then-Secretary of State Clinton had in the House of Representatives, one of the congressmen said that they had information that Qatar “with a wink and nod from the United States”, as he put it, brought in 20,000 tons of weapons into Libya. And, you know, [with] 20,000 tons – you can arm a small terrorist army. And of course, this is exactly what happened.

In Mali, we definitely see a spillover of the Libyan crisis to a neighboring country. And most likely, the spillover has affected other places as well. For instance, it may well be – there are many indications to that effect – that the terrorist attack in Algeria close to the Libyan border also had some sort of Libyan connection in terms of people, maybe weapons, terrorists emanating from Libya participating in that attack.

RT: Did you say “at the wink of the United States”?

VC: This is his expression. And I think, “at the wink and nod of the United States”. In my understanding of English, it means some kind of encouragement, so the United States was aware of that. And, incidentally, he…

RT: (interrupts) I want to ask, actually, about Syria. The US now insists that their support for the Syrian opposition is non-lethal. Could it be that the allies of the United States are providing weapons “at the wink and nod of the United States”?

VC: Well, this is definitely the case. I mean, the United States chose to stay clean of the bad guys. At some point of the crisis they realized that things were going very wrong, that terrorist groups were coming in, the radical Islamists were active. And they were beginning to realize, maybe before some of our other Western colleagues, that things were making a very dangerous turn, and that the original scenario that they had in mind – that it will take just a couple of months to topple the Assad regime and then democracy will triumph – was completely unrealistic and had nothing to do with the actual situation on the ground. But the United States is an extremely powerful country, definitely with a lot of influence on, for example, such a country as Qatar, which is, reportedly, the main source of weapons and support for armed opposition.

If the United States wanted to be logical and really take a stand, it certainly could make it clear to those who supply weapons to the Syrian armed opposition groups. So the fact that they simply say that they themselves are not doing that does not really absolve them completely from responsibility of what is happening there in terms of the activity of armed opposition groups.

RT: You said that at some point US officials started to realize… I think that is a sense that a lot of people are getting. Because the Obama administration seems to be a lot more cautious talking about Syria now as opposed to a year ago, for example. They talk about how complex the situation is on the ground. So have you noticed that change?

VC: Yes, this is what I am saying. This change is clear, and this change is clear here in our informal discussions in the Security Council. Clearly, one could feel that their understanding of the situation has become much closer to our understanding of the complexity of what is going on there. So this is what I think makes it important to continue our dialogue in that format. But there is one disconcerting thing, among other things. There is a lot of talk about chemical weapons in Syria, which is a valid concern, and we have also talked very seriously with the Syrian government and they’ve given us all sorts of assurances that, as they put it, if there are chemical weapons in Syria they do not intend to use those weapons. But to our liking there is too much talk about that in a sort of a threatening context – that should something happen, then all sorts of things will be done. So sometimes it does give us an impression that somebody is looking for a pretext for a military intervention, to say nothing of the fact that this kind of narrative, we fear, might provide an incentive for the opposition to do something extremely dangerous with chemical weapons.

RT: What kind of interference, what kind of an international effort would Russia support?
VC: Now I think what Syria needs is more diplomatic support. We were the only ones who were trying to work both with the government and the opposition to bring them to the table, to try to form that transitional body, which is referred to in the Geneva document. Now our partners keep saying that the Geneva document is indeed the only rational document, point of departure, which is there on the table in order to try to arrange a political dialogue between the government and the opposition.

RT: Why were they reluctant then?

VC: I suppose they were still clinging to their idea of toppling the government and the opposition was not prepared to go into dialogue with the government. Our Western partners made a mistake and sent a very bad signal when they recognized the newly formed National Coalition on the basis of a platform which rejected any dialogue with the government and which called for the destruction of the government structures. But on the basis of that platform they did recognize them.
However, recently there’s been potentially a very important development, and this is the statement by the leader of that coalition about which initially we were very skeptical, and still it has many problems with this coalition. It doesn’t have much of a unity within itself, it has some contradictions with other opposition groups. But still it’s there. We have to take it as a fact. And the leader of that opposition, Mr. Ahmed Muaz al-Khatib, recently made a statement which attracted a lot of attention, saying that he is prepared to enter into dialogue with the government. He gave some preconditions for that. But it was crucially important that for the first time from an important member of the opposition this statement was delivered.

So what the international community should do now is to encourage this kind of attitude. And of course, this statement came after a statement which was made by President Assad in early January, which was criticized by many, because it was not going far enough, because it was too tough, etc. And maybe much of that criticism was accurate but he did talk about dialogue with the opposition as well.

So in our view, the role of the international community working from various directions is to try to grab those threads from both sides and to see if they can meet.

RT: Thank you.

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EU shifts NATO’s burden to US “shoulders”

Not before time, personally I really object to any of my taxes going towards paying for this outfit. Originally intended as a mutual defence organisation, it has now become just an extension of U.S. military aggression in their search for world hegemony. It needs to be totally disbanded

Not a long ago US Vice President Joe Biden reproached the countries of the EU of unacceptable cutbacks of military spending. The EU leaders tried to justify this strategy by having own vision of the defense policy but in fact Europeans simply don’t see against whom they should get armed, experts say.

According to the 2012 NATO political report, the US accounted for 72% of NATO spending %. The authors of the report stressed that Britain, Germany, Italy and France were consistently cutting their spending on defense which doubts the capability of the European allies to act without the US’ assistance.
NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen repeatedly voices US concerns regarding this trend. Earlier this month, he came up with a new fresh example of the “destructive” consequences of the European thriftiness. He touched upon the preparation and the early stage of the French operation in Mali saying that the planes which were to deliver French troops to Mali had been collected one by one across the whole Europe. He said that without the US transportation aircraft, flying tankers and air reconnaissance it would be very hard for the French troops in Mali.
The EU’s main diplomat Catherine Ashton and Germany’s Defense Minister Tomas de Messier tried to find excuses for the whole EU. They said that the defesne and security policy of the united Europe was not rested on the direct use of military force.
In reality, when criticizing Europeans Americans are using the tactics of ruling from “behind the stage” and trying to make their allies accomplish at least relatively small military goals in the area around Europe.
Judging from the point of view of the military alliance the US reproaches look quite objective, Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the National Defense journal, says. But Europe does not really want to get heavily armed against an abstract enemy:
“Russia’s enemy image and the deployment of the Russian armed forces in the west of the country makes it clear that we are not planning any global offensive to the West. I would describe the tactics of the European governments as a reasonable rationalism.”
“The last several years saw significant cutbacks in spending of the European armies,” Korotchenko says. “For example, many NATO countries have almost cancelled tanks. In the Netherlands the process of reduction armored vehicles is under way at a fantastic speed.”
At the same time Europe often raises the issue of forming its won armed forces. When commenting the above mentioned 2012 NATO report in Brussels Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsky said that Europe needed an efficient united army as never before.
“In terms of defense Europe feels quite comfortable under NATO’s nuclear umbrella and soon it will feel even more comfortable under the US shield,” Ivan Konovalov head of the Center of Strategic Studies said. “But at the same time many European politicians find the idea of having a united European army very attractive.”
“All the European parliaments regularly discus the creation of the single European military contingent. The problem is – who is going to pay for it? If France and Germany take the responsibility again it will be a very serious financial burden for them because it is clear that other countries will be ready only to provide their servicemen and equipment. That why no single European contingent will be created until the financial issue is not solved.”
A lot experts believe that the US is tired of such a burden and in the near future it will try to ensure its geopolitical interests by using the military potential of its old and new allies.

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Post-Gaddafi Libya at Heart of Regional Violence

Dogon ethnic group women walk back to the village on 1 February 2013 in Binta. (Photo: Eric Fefenberg – AFP)
Published Sunday, February 3, 2013
What comes to pass along Libya’s vast southern border can impact not just North Africa, but countries around the world.
World powers suffer battle fatigue quite easily, principally because of the unpopularity among the electorate of drawn-out wars.

When such fatigue set in five months after France launched its first air raid on Gaddafi forces, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy sent Gaddafi an offer of safe passage to the Fezzan with 200 of his supporters, in return for leaving Tripoli. Gaddafi countered by demanding that he instead be joined by 2,000. Surprisingly, Sarkozy – after consultation with NATO allies – agreed.

The agreement was drafted and everyone – including Gaddafi’s closest confidants – began working out the logistics. Gaddafi soon surprised everyone by tearing up the agreement and travelling to the coastal city of Sirte to make his last stand. However, his convoy was captured en route heading south towards the desert. Was this because the French led Gaddafi to believe that the offer for a safe southwards passage might still be available? That is something we will never know from Gaddafi himself.

Leaked documents suggest that it was the Algerians who provided NATO with Gaddafi’s coordinates by monitoring his calls to his daughter Aisha. Privy to the sarkozy offer, the Algerians were probably alarmed at the prospect of Gaddafi’s presence near their south eastern borders given his alliance with the Touareg separatist movement, otherwise known as the “lords of the desert.”
The situation in the Sahel region would have been far more complex and the threat to Libya and its neighbors would have been far more perilous had Gaddafi accepted the Sarkozy offer and lodged himself in northern Niger, where he has always enjoyed sympathy and support. This could not have escaped the attention of France’s policy makers. Perhaps Gaddafi’s calculation that the Sarkozy offer was in effect a trap might not have been far off the mark.

Even without a Gaddafi-run enclave, Libya’s south – bordering Sudan, Chad, Niger, Egypt, and Algeria – remains the country’s soft underbelly. The strip of land from northern Chad all the way to Mauritania and the Atlantic Ocean is known as the Sahel region, one of the world’s poorest areas and a site of vast socio-economic deprivation.

In the Sahel, central government control is at its weakest, hence the heightened potential for non-state actors like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to recruit, arm, and train. Recent events in Mali and Algeria illustrate this threat. The Algerian extremists who seized Westerners at a natural gas plant in the desert reportedly got their arms from Libya, as did the insurgents in Mali who France is now trying to crush.

The insurgents’ activities are not confined to the Sahel or to south Libya. The danger emanating from the south poses a real threat to the whole of Libya, as well as its neighbors to the east, west, and south.

Over the past two years, from the uprising to the overthrow of Gaddafi, Libya has been one of the main recruiting centers for Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda fighters. Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton spoke to the US Congress about the events in Benghazi, warning that jihadist groups have formed a complex network of alliances in North Africa, using south Libya and Mali as their main bases.

Members of the group who recently seized the Tigantourine gas field in southeastern Algeria, leaving 38 hostages and 29 extremists dead, included several Egyptian jihadists active in Libya. Sources in Algiers reported that Mohamed-Lamine Bouchneb, the militant leading the attack, had purchased arms for the assault in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Before their attack, the kidnappers gathered – undisturbed – in the southern Libyan town of Ghat, just across the border from Algeria.

A senior Algerian officer also claimed to have definite evidence that the organizers of the Tigantourine attack are the same group who carried out the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. This correlates with statements from US State Department officials that some members of Ansar al-Shariah, the local group that the US believes carried out the attack in Benghazi, had connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, one of the militant groups now entrenched in the Sahel region.

It’s still unclear how far the French will take their present pursuit of this network of extremists operating all along the Sahel region. Will France extend its operation to Libay to target the source of arms directly?

France will calculate any action in Libya with extreme caution. Old rivalries for influence in the Sahel die hard, particularly those between “old Europe” and the US. The latter will look askance at any attempt by France to seek to gain long-term military dominance in southern Libya. No doubt France knows where this line is drawn and will probably not seek to cross it.

Europe is extremely concerned for its interests in Libya. Most recently, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia have urged their citizens to leave the Libyan city of Benghazi due to a “specific, imminent threat to Westerners” linked to French actions in Mali and the danger of new kidnappings by extremists.

As if there is not enough intrigue in the Sahel, a recent report issued by the French Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM) stated that Qatar is helping to fund armed groups. In particular, the Qatari special forces are supporting certain rebel factions in northern Mali, including Ansar Ed-Dine.

The report is more speculative than factual and begs the question of Qatari interests in the Sahel and its ability to operate independently of the US and Europe and against the interests of Algeria. If Qatar’s financial and military involvement in the Sahel is confirmed, it has the potential to inflame an already combustible region.

This brings us full circle to Libya, where a combination of a rise in militant extremism, a weak central authority, an abundance of heavy arms, and growing regional secessionist sentiments is pushing the country towards the “failed state” precipice.

While the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Libya is of concern to neighboring countries and beyond, only Libya can solve the problem of factionalism, arms trafficking, and al-Qaeda’s increasing influence in the region. This catastrophic blind march towards the edge of disaster has to be halted by any means.

Nor can Libya’s neighbors afford to be complacent about the repercussions of such a scenario. If Libya does not enforce government control throughout the country, the country will most certainly join the ranks of “failed states.” In the gathering storms of turmoil and instability of the region, the Mediterranean will have to pay an exorbitant price. This is justifiably so because the fate of the Sahel is intertwined inexorably with that of Libya.

Abdullah Elmaazi is founder and CEO of Trakon Consulting & Training. He is a regular contributor to The Tripoli Post.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.

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Mali “Resource War” Extends into Niger

Mali “Resource War” Extends into Niger: France sends Troops to Secure Niger Uranium Mines

Niger.uranium.areaBarely two weeks after invading Mali with over 2,000 troops of the Foreign Legion, France has dispatched special forces troops to neighboring Niger to secure uranium mines run by the French state-owned nuclear power company Areva.

The new French military intervention in northwest Africa was first reported by the weekly magazine Le Point and confirmed by military sources contacted by other sections of the French media. Le Point reported that French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had quickly agreed earlier this week to a “major innovation” in ordering the Special Forces Command to send troops to protect the Areva uranium production sites in Imouraren, and 80 kilometers away in Arlit. The magazine noted that this is the first ever use of the French commandos to directly defend the assets of a corporation.

The magazine reported that French government officials had taken the decision following the botched attempt to rescue the French hostage, Denis Allex, in Somalia and the recent bloody hostage-taking incident and siege at the Armenas gas facility in Algeria, where over 80 people were killed.
Those two events “in addition to launching the ‘Serval’ operation in Mali have significantly increased risk factors for French installations, including industry and mining in the region,” Le Point reported.
In reality, the dispatch of French commandos to the uranium mines in Niger only underscores the overriding economic and geo-strategic motives behind the French military intervention in Mali. Under the cover of a supposed war against Islamist “terrorists” and a defense of the central government in Mali, French imperialism is using its military might to tighten its grip on its resource-rich former African colonies.

Official spokesmen at both Areva and the French Defense Ministry refused to discuss the new military deployment, citing security concerns.

In Niger itself, officials denied any knowledge of the dispatch of the special forces commandos. “It’s true that the terrorist threat has increased today, but as far as I know there is no such agreement in place at the moment,” one official told Reuters.

A Niger army officer told the news agency that there were already security arrangements in place that had been agreed to with France and imposed after the September 2010 kidnapping of seven employees of Areva and one of its contractors in the northern Nigerien town of Arlit.

“We also have counter-terrorism units in the Agadez region,” said the officer. “For now, I don’t know of a decision by the Nigerien government to allow French special forces to base themselves in the north.”

Failure to inform the Nigerien government of its plans would not be out of the question. Ever since its independence in 1960, France, which had ruled the country as a colony for 60 years, has treated Niger as a semi-colony.

The uranium extracted from the mines in Niger have been considered of strategic importance by successive French governments. The yellowcake produced from Niger’s uranium ore has been used to make France’s nuclear bombs as well as to fuel its nuclear reactors, which account for over 75 percent of the country’s electricity.

While vast profits have been reaped from Niger’s uranium, the mining operation has benefited only a thin layer of the country’s subservient bourgeoisie. According to the United Nations human development index, Niger is the third poorest country on the planet, with 70 percent of the population continuing to live on less than $1 a day and life expectancy reaching only 45.

Moreover, the mining has exacerbated ethnic and regional tensions within Niger. Uranium production is concentrated in the northern homeland of the nomadic Tuareg minority, which repeatedly has risen in revolt, charging that whatever resources do accrue from the mining operations go to the southern capital of Niamey. One of the main demands of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a largely Tuareg armed militia that has battled the Nigerien army, has been the more equitable distribution of uranium revenues.

Moreover, the exploitation of uranium by Areva has created an environmental and health disaster in the mining areas. The environmental group Greenpeace found in a 2010 report that water wells in the region were contaminated with radiation levels up to 500 times higher than normal. In Arlit, site of one of the major Areva mines, deaths from respiratory diseases occur at twice the national average.
France has every reason to fear that its intervention in Mali, which has already seen the bombing of civilian populations and the torture and execution of civilians by the French-backed Malian army in predominantly Tuareg areas, could cause armed conflict to spill over the border into Niger.
However, in addition to securing its profitable facilities from “terrorism” or popular revolt, France has other reasons to flex its military muscle in Niger. In an attempt to increase its share of the uranium profits, the Nigerien government has recently issued exploration permits to Chinese and Indian firms. By dispatching armed commandos, Paris is asserting its domination of the former colony as part of its African sphere of influence.

As France stepped up its African intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used testimony before a Senate committee Wednesday to affirm Washington’s determination to escalate its own intervention in the region.

“We are in a struggle, but it is a necessary struggle,” said Clinton. “We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.”

Clinton acknowledged that the rebellion in Mali as well as the hostage siege at the gas plant in Algeria had been fueled in large measure by the US-NATO toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, where Washington and its allies armed and supported Islamist militias as a proxy ground force in the war for regime change.

“There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya,” she said. “There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM [Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb] have weapons from Libya.”
She argued that, while there was no evidence that any of these forces in North Africa posed a direct threat to the US, Washington should launch a preemptive campaign against them anyway. “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it,” she said 

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The West’s hidden agenda in Mali

Jan 25, 2013


A French soldier explains to Vietnamese (er, Malian) children why he thinks he is in their country

A French soldier explains to Vietnamese (er, Malian) children why he thinks he is in their country

When it comes to unfamiliar, far-off places, we trust our mainstream media to tell us what is going on with interminable conflicts raging through much of the world, and why—and most media trust Western governments’ explanations.

Thus, we learn that France (with the United States in the wings) intervened in the bloody upheavals besetting the West African country of Mali in order to help the government battle a threat as ubiquitous and expected as the old Red Menace: Al Qaeda.

But, as is usually true, things are not so simple. In fact, coming to grips with the searing civil war and foreign crisis du jour requires wading through multiple layers of tangled relationships—which threaten to turn the conflict into a yet another protracted, foreign-assisted internecine conflict.

Amid cinematic gun battles claiming the lives of dozens of Western hostages at a gas field in neighboring Algeria, the world may be finally waking up to the complexity of the Malian crisis. Yet many of those who have studied the region in depth saw it coming. “This has for a very long time been an accident waiting to happen,” says Professor David Anderson, an expert of African politics at St Cross College, the University of Oxford.

And no wonder. Because, as always seems to be the case, these benighted and barren provinces sit atop some rather spectacular wealth.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

West Side Story

The current conflict long predates (and ultimately will transcend) the recent-vintage Al Qaeda and all of its amorphous and poorly-defined franchise operations.

For decades now, the Tuaregs—a native Berber tribe whose members are spread across the vast expanse of the Sahara desert—have launched periodic rebellions to gain independence from Mali, Niger, Algeria and other countries in the region, whose territories incorporate lands the Tuaregs claim as their own.

The current crisis may be said to have its roots in another Western intervention, when France, the United States and allies—notably including Islamists with Al Qaeda ties—invaded Mali’s northern neighbor, Libya, under pretenses of protecting a domestic uprising and vanquished the quasi-socialist leader there, Muammar Qaddafi, who had, among other things angered Western financial and business interests. (For more on that poorly understood story, see WhoWhatWhy’s reports, here and here.)

Malian Tuaregs, reinforced by a large contingent of their well-trained and heavily armed non-AlQaedite brethren—who had escaped from Libya after their benefactor, Qaddafi, was routed in 2011–captured the entire northern part of the country early last year.

On April 6, 2012, the Tuaregs in the north declared independence for their territory—which is larger than the state of Texas. By early June, however, clashes had broken out between the secular Tuareg movement (its main representative being the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawa, or MNLA) and Islamists, some of whom are allied with an AQ variant that calls itself Al Qaeda in the Maghreb. The MNLA was pushed out of the main cities, and the Islamists took over the fight against the government.

But wait: things are still more complicated.

Each side consists of many different factions, and many splinter groups add to the complexity. According to some reports, for example, the attack on the Algerian gas field, which ostensibly took place in revenge for the French intervention in Mali, was in fact part of a power struggle between two large Islamist factions, led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Abelmalek Droukdel. The Islamist banner is considered by some nothing more than a “legitimate” overlay on a sprawling criminal network that ran kidnap, protection and tobacco smuggling rackets. This mano-a-mano spills over both sides of the border.

More Arcana, Then the Proverbial Pot ‘o Gold

In any case, the president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, was deposed in March 2012 by the Malian military—ostensibly as a result of his incompetent response to the Tuareg rebellion—an act that seems to have rent a dense web of local and regional relationships. To add a hint of tantalizing but obscure spice, several independent sources suggest that it was actually Toure, with regional and Western acquiescence, who had invited the radical Islamists to use the north as a base.

Consider, for example, the following report from the ground by May Ying Welsh, al-Jazeera’s correspondent:

Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels…. While ATT relied increasingly on ethnic militias and special units to crush Tuareg insurgency, the Malian army was starved and demoralised, its hungry soldiers forced to sell their weapons to eat, to watch AQIM parade before their barracks, and planes filled with cocaine landing near their bases. The system was rotten. Could they be blamed for overthrowing it?

Here’s the good news: the explanation for this behavior is simple.

If the Tuaregs in Mali’s north were to achieve independence, this would destabilize all neighboring countries that harbor significant Berber populations. The desert areas inhabited by the nomadic tribes, moreover, contain some of the largest concentrations of valuable natural resources in the world—including gold, uranium, oil, gas, and various industrial metals. Mali alone is the third largest producer of gold in Africa—despite being also one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the United Nations Human Development Index, it ranks 175th of 187 countries, and the standard of living there is considerably below the average for sub-Saharan Africa.

Unlike the Tuaregs, most of the radical Islamists have little interest in independence—they fight largely for the establishment of sharia (Islamic law). For the most part, they are also ruthless against their rivals but avid trading partners—whether in the trade of hostages and cocaine (as has been the case in the region for the last several years) or in natural resources. Despite being a target of the post-9/11 War on Terror, they are often quietly preferred by members of the international community to the more secular local nomads.

It is a delicate balance. Neither the regional countries nor France can allow the Islamists to become too powerful, for fear that they would turn into a destabilizing factor themselves. Their push to take over southern Mali proved to be the last straw, leading to the current intervention.
According to Professor Anderson,

French concerns about wider regional stability are genuine, as are the worries of the Algerian government – who are a major target of some within Al Qaeda. France is the Western power with the strongest geo-political interests and financial investment here. Tthe French have bases in Chad, to give but one example, and fear that instability in Algeria brings it too close to home. [Also they have] 6000 French citizens in Bamako [Mali] alone, [as well as significant] mining interests.

A “French Afghanistan”?

However, the situation could easily spin out of control and become a West African quagmire for France and the neighboring countries which are participating in the UN-sanctioned intervention. The Islamists have threatened to turn Mali into a “French Afghanistan,” and this appears to be more than an empty threat. Mali is almost twice the size of Afghanistan, and with its desert and mountainous terrain in the north, somewhat resembles its Asian counterpart. Central authority was never very well established in that part of the country, if at all.

Robert D. Kaplan, the noted foreign affairs analyst and correspondent, described in a recent Stratfor article his experiences in the region some years ago:

Here the Malian state did not exist. …These aren’t countries so much as city-states—Nouakchott, Bamako, Niamey, Ndjamena—with armies that try to keep some order in the far-flung, far less populated reaches. State armies never have ruled this desert; rather, they have maintained for much of the time a stable cease-fire with the Tuaregs there (often through integration of key Tuareg fighters into local military bases).

The mixture of rugged terrain, a vast expanse populated sparsely with nomadic tribes, and the presence of numerous militias with diverging agendas suggests that the war will be long, brutal and asymmetric.

Thus, when at the start of the operation the French government said that the military was going into Mali merely for several weeks, a colleague who specializes in Russia giggled. “This is exactly what the Russians said before they invaded Afghanistan,” he said. Mere days later, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that his country would continue to be involved in the conflict for “as long as necessary.”

And it all is redolent of foreign adventures past. According to a new report from a French-based human rights group, the “good guys,” i.e. the Malian army, may be carrying out summary executions and brutal abuses of civilians accused—often with no basis—of helping the rebels.
More recently, the MNLA—arguably the only indigenous force capable of taking on the Islamists—suggested through one of its leaders that it was willing to cooperate with the Western intervention forces.

It remains to be seen if a deal can be reached. It seems highly unlikely that the Malian government—or any of the international actors involved—would concede the MNLA’s demand for independence. On the other hand, the secular Tuaregs are reportedly afraid that, as has happened in the past, they will be the main victims of a war against Islamist terror. Given that both sides are under pressure, some sort of a compromise involving an increased autonomy in northern Mali may be possible.
By most accounts, a purely military solution imposed by foreign forces cannot hold. If the intervention forces hope to achieve their goal of stabilizing the country, they would need to negotiate with the Tuaregs and to address the deeper underlying issues. Unfortunately, so far there are few signs of that happening. And the deeper underlying issues do not play well with short-attentioned international audiences.

Oh, wait. Did we mention that there’s gold—and all kinds of amazing stuff, under the ground? Actually, when it comes to that subject, even a dauntingly complex stew like Afghanistan can seem very simple indeed.

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Allies in Libya, Enemies in Mali

An English-language manual for installing a laser sight on a gun, believed to belong to Islamist rebels, lies in the courtyard of local resident Issa Dembele’s house in Diabaly Jan. 23, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Joe Penney)
By: Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor. Posted on January 24.
Thanks to French President Francois Hollande, who felt the need to step in to contain the collapse of Mali, and a calamitous rescue operation by Algerian forces that resulted in the deaths of 37 hostages, the Western media has discovered Mali.

The largest West African country is under threat of division in a war that sees government troops, along with a Western coalition led by the French, battling well-armed ethnic Tuaregs and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansaruldin group, who were already at war with each other.

Once known as French Sudan, Mali is one of France’s main allies in sub-Saharan Africa. Fears are growing in Paris that the chaos might spill out to neighboring states fom what was anciently called “French West Africa,” drastically affecting regional and international stability and peace. But that’s not all. France is concerned the spread will put what remains of its influence in this part of the world under serious threat.

The war in Mali, many believe, wasn’t entirely unpredictable for those keeping a close eye on the situation. There were strong indicators, such as weaponry and fighters crossing the loose borders. The country was forced to face the ambitions of well-armed ethnic Tuareg fighters, who returned home after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.

Tuaregs revived their 100-year-old dream of an independent state in the Azawad territory to the north of Mali. They took advantage of a coup d’état that ousted President Amado Toumani Toure to control their area and declare independence with the help of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

The latter were looking for a safe haven in a hostile environment, especially amid the end of the Libyan war. The Islamists, later on, overthrew the Tuaregs and installed Shariah law in the area, a move some sources suggest was prompted by post-revolution Libya, whose leaders were keen to uproot any pro-Gadhafi sentiments near their borders.

Post-revolution Libya is perhaps the most critical factor in the struggle for Mali; the fall of Gaddafi and the links the Ansaruldin have with the new rulers of Tripoli gave this war a different perspective. It is as if Mali were the arena where another version of the Libyan war resumed, though with different objectives.

Less than two years ago, NATO strikes helped the rebellion in Libya and paved the way for the opposition to end 40 years of Gadhafi rule. At that time foreign intervention was welcomed by Libyans, and not much opposed by Arabs and Muslims. This was in stark contrast with the reaction to foreign intervention in Iraq in 2003.

While in Libya, I had the chance to meet Abdulmonem Al Mukhtar, once a member of the Islamic Libyan fighting group, who was killed just weeks after we met in April 2011. Al Mukhtar fought against the Americans in Afghanistan and returned to Libya on March 2011 along with 100 of his loyal fighters to take part in the war.

Abdul Monem Muktar Mohammed, left, seen with some of his men, was leading a convoy of 200 cars west of Ajdabiya, Libya, when a bullet struck him in the chest, his aides say. (Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times / April 16, 2011)

Near Ajdabiya, to the east of Libya, I asked how he could be an enemy of NATO in Afghanistan and an ally in Libya. He laughed, told me not to be a “fanatic” and added, “In Afghanistan, they are an occupation force. Here, they are helping us topple the dictator.”

It wasn’t only Abdulmonem who approached the situation this way. Everyday people gave similar answers, and mainstream media organizations weren’t far behind in that logic. There was a common belief that in a war for liberation, all means were justifiable.

Later on some of the Syrians revolting against President Bashar al-Assad started demanding foreign intervention to help them defeat the regime, and so did those who supported them around the Arab and Muslim world. People initially welcomed foreign intervention — at least, until they contemplated it further.

As a result of the Libyan war, a new war started in the region. Once again, the tables are turned.

Yesterday’s allies in Libya are today’s enemies in Mali. Voices refusing foreign intervention became louder and louder, calling on the West, specifically France, to respect the sovereignty of the sub-Saharan state. Some dubbed the military intervention a new crusade, while the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia and the prime minister of Libya all warned the intervention will fuel conflict in the region.

Many didn’t realize that a war in Mali had surfaced until news of foreign intervention made headlines. Some are starting to raise questions about the consequences of foreign military intervention, and the forces it will unleash. The Libyan “success” preceded the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Ben Ghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and now we have Mali.

It is not that the war in Mali started only now; it’s only now that the world started thinking of its consequences.

Ali Hashem is an Arab journalist who is serving now as Almayadeen news network’s chief correspondent.

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Terrorists and ‘Terrorists’: Quotes Make the Difference

Jan 23 2013 / 10:27 pm 

By Jeremy Salt

The French bombing of Islamic extremists and terrorists in Mali contrasts nicely with France’s support for Islamic extremists/terrorists in Syria. Francois Hollande says Mali had to be stopped from becoming an Islamic terrorist base on ‘Europe’s doorstep.’

Mali is 3237 kms from France and Syria is 3322 kms from France, so the doorstep difference is 85 kms. Yet, while blocking ‘Islamic terrorism’ in Mali, France is promoting it in Syria through its support for the Islamist groups fighting to bring down the secular government of Bashar al Assad.

In the past two weeks alone they have fired rockets at Aleppo University, killing nearly 90 students on the first day of their semester examinations, and set off bombs in towns across north and central Syria, including Salamiyya, killing more than 40 people. The population of Salamiyya is largely Ismaili, heterodox Muslims who will have no place in the Islamic emirate the armed groups want to set up. But let us not call the men who do this terrorists. According to the British newspapers, they are rebels whom the Syrian government simply chooses to call ‘terrorists.’

About the same time Aleppo university was being bombed, three men were arrested in England on suspicion of the ‘commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism’ in Syria. What led ultimately to their arrests was the seizure of a British photographer in Syria by a takfiri group that included Bangladeshis, Chechens, Pakistanis and at least one Briton, a doctor taking time off from his job with the National Health Service to wage jihad in Syria. If the British government was alarmed it was not because of the Syrians being killed but because of the threat to Britain itself from these home-grown takfiris. Good heavens, they might come home and do there what they are doing in Syria, and that can’t be allowed.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Like France the British attitude to terrorism is massively hypocritical. Hollande, Fabius, Cameron and Hague express their outrage at crimes committed by the Syrian government or army while remaining silent in the face of atrocities being committed every day of the week by the armed groups. When British hostages are killed in Algeria it is ‘cold blooded murder’, according to William Hague: 90 students are butchered in Aleppo and he has nothing to say.
The media plays its part by snapping up the claim that actually it was the Syrian government that organized the bombing of its own university and within a day the story is forgotten anyway.

The Syrian army had it right when it issued a statement saying the university was targeted as an act of revenge against the people of Aleppo for refusing to support the armed groups. We know this is true because even the armed groups have admitted it. Suburb by suburb they are now being cleared out of Aleppo, Damascus and other cities. All they can do now is bomb, snipe and massacre.

The military council set up to coordinate the activities of the armed groups exists only in name. There is no coordination at the political or armed level. The armed groups are following their own leaders. They reject the authority of the new Doha council. This matters not at all because this council has quickly proved to be as useless as the Syrian National Council set up in Istanbul. It has no support on the ground and the idea that somehow it can turn itself into an alternative government is laughable.

Events in North Africa are bound to affect how the governments who have sponsored these groups read the situation in Syria. Noone knows how much money Doha and Saudi Arabia have poured into this anti-Alawi, anti-Iran and anti-Shia operation but much of it has ended up in European bank accounts. Many of the figures bribed to betray the government in Damascus took the money and took off, never to be seen again.

Referring to Bashar al Assad and his government, Hague says ‘their failed leadership is now the prime cause of the instability and crisis in Syria’. In fact, the prime cause of the death and devastation in Syria is the intervention by William Hague and his friends. Hague even had the gall to say that the situation in North Africa would have been much worse had not Britain, France and the US intervened in Libya, when the exact opposite is true. Libya is connected to Mali and Mali to Algeria as surely as the thigh bone is connected to the hip. Behind the ponderous Churchillian rhetoric and the gravelly voice, Mr. Hague comes across as a very silly man.

While fighting Islamic ‘extremism’ or ‘terrorism’ in Mali, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, the US, the UK, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been fuelling it in Syria. They will never admit it but the only barrier against Syria being turned into a Taliban-style state in the heart of the Middle East is the government they are trying to destroy. Transition to a democratic order is not even remotely on the cards as long as the western governments, the gulf states and Turkey continue to back the armed groups – the ‘terrorists’ as they don’t like to call them.

The French are now speaking of the reconquest of Mali. Britain and the US are slowly joining in. What is at stake is not just the rise of an Islamic ‘terrorist’ state in North Africa but Mali’s phenomenal mineral wealth, which takes us back to Libya and why it was attacked.
We still have to surmise. Was it for oil, was it to prevent Qaddafi from taking Africa out of the hands of the IMF, was it to lay hands on the 137 tons of gold bullion stored somewhere in Tripoli, present whereabouts unknown, or was it a combination of all these reasons? What we can say is that the ‘dictator’ was simply the way in.

The recent actions of these governments across the Muslim world, often, unfortunately, with the collaboration of so-called Muslim governments, duplicate 19th century imperialism at the high water mark.

As for Syria, the International Crisis Committee (IRC) has described the humanitarian crisis created as the result of outside intervention through the sponsorship of armed groups as ‘staggering’. More than 600,000 Syrians have fled into surrounding countries, and another two million have been internally displaced. Palestine 1948 and 1967 and Iraq 2003 have been replicated. Rape and sexual violence inside Syria is ‘horrific’, says the IRC. Frustrated at what they say is a lack of support from outside, the armed groups are fighting among themselves and, most recently, fighting with the Kurds for control of territory close to the Syrian border. There is widespread looting of public and private property, including factories, and profiteering from the sale of wheat to Turkish middlemen.

According to a US State Department intelligence report: ‘Warlords are a reality on the ground now …A failed state is the most likely outcome of the current conditions unless adjustment [is] done.’ People are moving from one ruined city or town to another in attempt to get away from the violence. In Lebanon and Jordan refugee are being flooded out of their tents by winter rains.

So, what do we say in the face of this endless western meddling? Vive la France? God save the Queen? Hail the Chief? 

How many times will the people of the Middle East have to go through what we have seen in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and what we are now seeing in Syria before they realize that dealing with the west is always the kiss of death. 

How many countries will have to be destroyed before they wake up?

No matter how much they hate a dictator, a government or a system, they have to sort out their problems amongst themselves. Behind the siren slogans of civilization, liberation, democracy or humanitarian concern, what they get is always going to be much worse once the west gets its foot through the door.

– Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He contributed this article to

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Is Algeria Paying for the Malian War?

The armed group that abducted foreign nationals working in British Petroleum Company, Southern Algeria threatens of the battle led by France in Mali and its neighboring countries. Spectators reiterated that the abduction will not be the last amidst this new chapter of “Western War on Terrorism”.

Al-Qaeda threatened to strike France, and experts stressed that it does in fact possess this logistic ability, seeing that there are several Southwestern nationals in France and other countries in the ancient continent.

This explains Western and European countries’ reluctance to support the unguaranteed French venture in fear becoming targets to Jihadist Fundamentalists.

Lack of Expertise

The uneven terrains of the Great African Sahara, the difficult transportation due to its quick sands, and lack of expertise regarding ground operations, make Europeans and Westerners averse in directly participating with French forces in the war.

However, they suffice to logistic support and at most sending troop trucks to transfer soldiers to the Malian capital Bamako.

France is truly alone (though it claims to be leading an alliance with the fragile African Army) in this ongoing battle that will apparently last for months, despite Algerian support of opening its airspace for French military planes and closing its borders with Mali.
The French President, therefore, had no choice but to address the Arab Gulf to fund its new war on the armed groups that run merrily in North Mali and threaten the capital Bamako.

The United Emirates was the foremost to support Hollande due to military and educational ties between the two countries, where French forces have military bases on Emirates lands and a branch of the Louvre Museum.
Moreover, strategic agendas Paris had plotted in Mali turned head over heels; Hollande and Sarkouzi had intensively gathered international support to declare this war and restore an area that France deems a part of its welfare in the coastal area.

Paris was given, however, permission from the UN’s Security Council to militarily intervene, and underwent this war beside the African forces expert in the secrets of fighting in the desert.

However, the Islamic fundamentalist fighters’ advances towards Bamako made France hasten to deploy land and air forces and counter these groups that are mastered in fighting in the vast Sahara.

Hefty Cost

Most observers in Southwestern Africa as well as Western Europe see that this war has a hefty financial, human, and political cost not only to France but to all neighboring countries. Probably the Western workers’ abduction from the British Petroleum Company is the best example; Fundamentalist groups began targeting vital Algerian interests in oil excavations and exports.

A French Minister’s declaration that Algeria opened its airspace to French military aircrafts will make Algeria a target for Jihadist organizations in North Mali. The foreign workers abduction in BP is but the beginning of targeting Algerian interests.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Exploited and Misused: The Impossible Discourse of the ‘Arab Spring’


The 'Arab Spring' has become an Arab springboard for regional meddling and foreign intervention.

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The ‘Arab Spring’ has become an Arab springboard for regional meddling and foreign intervention.

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By Ramzy Baroud
Jan 23 2013 / 11:10 pm

A reductionist discourse is one that selectively tailors its reading of subject matters in such a way as to only yield desired outcomes, leaving little or no room for other inquiries, no matter how appropriate or relevant. The so-called Arab Spring, although now far removed from its initial meanings and aspirations, has become just that: a breeding ground for choosy narratives solely aimed at advancing political agendas which are deeply entrenched with regional and international involvement.

When a despairing Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire on December 17, 2010, he had ignited more than a mere revolution in his country. His excruciating death had given birth to a notion that the psychological expanses between despair and hope, death and rebirth and between submissiveness and revolutions are ultimately connected. His act, regardless of what adjective one may use to describe it, was the very key that Tunisians used to unlock their ample reserve of collective power. Then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s decision to step down on January 14, 2011, was in a sense a rational assessment on his part if one is to consider the impossibility of confronting a nation that had in its grasp a true popular revolution.

Egypt also revolted less than two weeks later. And it was then that Tunisia’s near-ideal revolutionary model became prey for numerous, often selective readings and ultimately for utter exploitation. The Egyptian January 25 revolution was the first Arab link between Tunisia and the upheavals that travelled throughout Arab nations. Some were quick to ascribe the phenomenon with all sorts of historical, ideological and even religious factors thereby making links whenever convenient and overlooking others however apt. The Aljazeera Arabic website still has a map of all Arab countries, with ones experiencing revolutionary influx marked in red.

Many problems have arisen. What tools, aside from the interests of the Qatari government, for example, does Aljazeera use to determine how the so-called Arab Spring manifests itself? And shouldn’t there be clear demarcations between non-violent revolutions, foreign interventions, sectarian tension and civil wars?

Not only do the roots and the expressions of these ‘revolutions’ vastly differ, but the evolvement of each experience was almost always unique to each Arab country. In the cases of Libya and Syria, foreign involvement (an all-out NATO war in the case of Libya and a multifarious regional and international power play in Syria) has produced wholly different scenarios than the ones witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt, thus requiring an urgently different course of analysis.

Yet despite the repeated failure of the unitary ‘Arab Spring’ discourse, many politicians, intellectuals and journalists continue to borrow from its very early logic. Books have already been written with reductionist titles, knitting linear stories, bridging the distance between Tunis and Sanaa into one sentence and one line of reasoning.

The ‘Arab Spring’ reductionism isn’t always sinister, motivated by political convenience or summoned by neo-imperialist designs. Existing pan-Arab or pan-Islamic narratives however well-intended they may be, have also done their fair share of misrepresenting whichever discourse their intellectuals may find fitting and consistent with their overall ideas. Some denote the rise of a new pan-Arab nation, while others see the ‘spring’ as a harbinger of the return of Islam as a source of power and empowerment for Arab societies. The fact is, while discourses are growing more rigid between competing political and intellectual camps, Arab countries marked by Aljazeera’s editorial logic seem to head in their own separate paths, some grudgingly towards a form of democracy or another, while others descend into a Hobbesian ‘state of nature’ – a war of all against all.

But reductionist discourses persist, despite their numerous limitations. They endure because some are specifically designed to serve the interests of certain governments – some with clear ambitions and others are simply trying to ride the storm. In the case of Syria, not a single country that is somehow a party in the conflict can claim innocence in a gory game of regional politics, where the price tag is the blood of tens of thousands of Syrians.

Western media continues to lead the way in language-manipulation, all with the aim of avoiding obvious facts and when necessary it misconstrues reality altogether. US media in particular remains oblivious to how the fallout of the NATO war in Libya had contributed to the conflict in Mali – which progressed from a military coup early last year, to a civil war and as of present time an all-out French-led war against Islamic and other militant groups in the northern parts of the country.

Mali is not an Arab country, thus doesn’t fit into the carefully molded discourse. Algeria is however. Thus when militants took dozens of Algerian and foreign workers hostage in the Ain Amenas natural gas plant in retaliation of Algeria’s opening of its airspace to French warplanes in their war on Mali, some labored to link the violence in Algeria to the Arab Spring. “Taken together, the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, the Islamist attacks on Mali, and now this Algerian offense, all point to north Africa as the geopolitical hotspot of 2013 — where the Arab Spring has morphed into the War On Terror,” wrote Christopher Helman, in Forbes, on Jan 18.

How convenient such an analysis is, especially when “taken together.” The ‘Arab Spring’ logic is constantly stretched in such ways to suit the preconceived understanding, interests or even designs of western powers. For example, it is now conventional media wisdom that the US is wary of full involvement in Syria because of the deadly attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. When seen from Washington, the Arab region appears less compound and is largely understood through keywords and phrases, allocated between allies and enemies, Islamists and liberals and by knee jerk reactions to anything involving Israel or Iran.

One only needs to compare media texts produced two years ago, with more recent ones. Whereas the first few months of 2011 were mostly concerned with individuals and collectives that had much in common with Mohamed Bouazizi – poor, despairing, disenfranchised, and eventually rebellious – much of the present text is concerned with a different type of discussion. Additionally there are almost entirely new players. The Bouazizis of Tunis, Egypt and Yemen remain unemployed, but they occupy much less space in our newspapers and TV screens. Now we speak of Washington and London-based revolutionaries. We juxtapose US and Russian interests and we wrangle with foreign interventions and barefacedly demarcate conflicts based on sectarian divisions.

“Arab awakening is only just beginning”, was the title of a Financial Times editorial of Dec 23. Its logic and subtext speak of a sinister interpretation of what were once collective retorts to oppression and dictatorships. “The fall of the Assads will be a strategic setback to Iran and its regional allies such as Hizbollah, the Shia Islamist state within the fragile Lebanese state,” the editorial read. “But that could quickly be reversed if Israel were to carry out its threats to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, enabling Tehran’s theocrats to rally disaffected Muslims across the region and strengthen their grip at home. It is easy to imagine how such a conflict would drag in the US, disrupt the Gulf and its oil traffic, and set fire to Lebanon.”

Note how in the new reading of the ‘Arab Spring’, people are mere pawns that are defined by their sectarian leanings and their usefulness is in their willingness to be rallied by one regional power or another. While the language itself is consistent with western agendas in Arab and Muslim countries, what is truly bizarre is the fact that many still insist on contextualizing the ever-confrontational US, Israel and western policies in general with an ‘Arab Spring’ involving a poor grocer setting himself on fire and angry multitudes in Egypt, Yemen and Syria who seek dignity and freedom.

Shortly after the Tunisian uprising, some of us warned of the fallout, if unchecked and generalized discourses that lump all Arabs together and exploit peoples’ desire for freedom, equality and democracy were to persist. Alas, not only did the reductionist discourse define the last two-years of upheaval, the ‘Arab Spring’ has become an Arab springboard for regional meddling and foreign intervention. To advance our understanding of what is transpiring in Arab and other countries in the region, we must let go of old definitions. A new reality is now taking hold and it is neither concerned with Bouazizi nor of the many millions of unemployed and disaffected Arabs.

– Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

N Syria learns to hate FSA occupation, NATO errs to add new front

Members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army (file photo)

Members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army (file photo)

Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:19AM GMT


NATO commanders have committed, what may turn out to be, a fatal strategic blunder by opening a new fighting front against Algeria and Mali – sending Libyan-based death squads to take hostages at the In Amenas natural gas facility, shortly after France had dispatched troops to northern Mali to confront the advancing Tuareg — before they had succeeded in finishing off Assad.”

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When the history of the NATO destabilization in Syria finally comes to be compiled, this past week may be regarded as the turning of the tide against the foreign death squads and in favor of the Assad government.
On the one hand, official Washington – the principal sponsor of the foreign fighters – has been deeply shaken by reports coming from circles close to the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) which depict a rising wave of hatred in northern Syria against the catastrophic misrule experienced under the death squad occupation there.

Ordinary Syrians of all backgrounds are increasingly disgusted by the corruption, incompetence, and oppression of the FSA regime. The rebel chaos is contributing to a significant increase in the popularity of Assad and his regime, which had guaranteed stability and freedom from the worst privations for decades.

On the other hand, NATO commanders have committed, what may turn out to be, a fatal strategic blunder by opening a new fighting front against Algeria and Mali – sending Libyan-based death squads to take hostages at the In Amenas natural gas facility, shortly after France had dispatched troops to northern Mali to confront the advancing Tuareg — before they had succeeded in finishing off Assad.

In this, the NATO bigwigs are repeating the same mistake made by Hitler in June 1941 when he launched his Barbarossa attack on the USSR before he had achieved the decisive elimination of the British. The result became an unwinnable two front war which doomed the Nazi dictator.

Who is out of touch with reality – Assad or Obama?


The imperialist think tanks of Washington had been optimistic during the late autumn and early winter of 2012-2013 that the collapse of the Assad government would occur in short order. They were taken aback in early January by Assad’s defiant and self-confident New Year’s speech to his supporters. With her usual snide cynicism, the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland hissed that Assad was “out of touch with reality.”

This week The Washington Post was forced to quote an expatriate Syrian journalist’s remark that “many Syrians wonder whether it isn’t the United States and its allies who are out of touch….” (Liz Sly, “Assad still confident that he can control Syria,” The Washington Post, January 12, 2013)

Then came the shocking reports that the rebel-held areas, far from becoming a paradise of freedom and democracy under FSA rule, were exhibiting the grim features of a “failed state.” As David Ignatius, a veteran speaking tube for the State Department and the intelligence community wrote on January 13, “this stark analysis is contained in an intelligence report provided to the State Department last week by Syrian sources working with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Describing the situation in the area from Aleppo to the Turkish border, where Assad’s army has largely disappeared, the report draws a picture of disorganized fighters, greedy arms peddlers and profiteering warlords.” (David Ignatius, “Anarchy in Syria,” The Washington Post, January 13, 2013)

Sly, working from the same reports, stressed the inability of the rebels to win decisive battles, “The rebels have been systematically overrunning government positions in many locations, but they have not demonstrated the capacity to make headway against the tough defenses ringing Damascus, the capital, and the key prize for whoever claims to control the country.”

The rebels were able to take control of the Taftanaz military airbase located in northern Idlib province after five months of fierce fighting, but this was immediately canceled out by the final defeat of a death squad brigade after a three-month-long campaign in the Daraya neighborhood near Damascus, the key to an even more important military facility. At about the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry once again underlined that it would not be a party to forcing Assad to give up power.
Conditions rapidly deteriorating in rebel-held areas of Syria

According to Musab al-Hamawi, an anti-regime agitator from Hama, quoted by Sly, “conditions are deteriorating dramatically in rebel-held areas…Assad is confident because he knows we are losing ground in terms of popularity among the people…”
One thinks of Florentine secretary Niccolo Machiavelli’s 1509 report to his government describing conditions in the parts of Venetian territory, which had been occupied by French forces after the battle of Agnadello during the War of the League of Cambrai. Machiavelli wrote that the French occupation was stupid and oppressive, and that the occupiers would soon be driven out, giving the Venetians a new lease on life. This forecast was quickly proven true.

France’s Hollande starts Mali adventure
In 2011, Libyan intelligence called attention to plans by NATO and the Israelis to utilize the Berber-Kabyle-Tuareg people – originally the non-Arab nomads of the Sahara — as an instrument of destabilization. A group of Tuareg adventurers using the cover of religious extremism left southern Libya for a military campaign, which soon gave them control of most of northern Mali, including the area around Timbuktu. Here, they installed a grim and cruel regime claiming to be Islamist, and began preparations for conquering the southern part of Mali as well.

Citing the presence of these Tuaregs as a reason, French President Hollande last week announced that France would honor the request of the Mali government to send military forces against the separatists. Opposition to this move was muted inside France. Most of the former antiwar leftists and others who had supported the attack on Libya had scant objection to the latest imperialist adventure.

Algeria had granted France overflight permission for planes headed for Mali, and this became the transparent pretext for the extremist group loyal to Moktar Bel Moktar, specialized in terrorism and kidnapping, to leave its sanctuary in southern Libya and to attack the British Petroleum natural gas facility at In Amenas, taking hundreds of Algerian workers hostage along with scores of foreign nationals.

In the past, terrorist groups coming from northern Algeria had been unable to move from north to south across the desert to strike the country’s vital oil and gas industry. But now, thanks to the availability of southern Libya as a terrorist base, this has been accomplished.

Out of the crucible of civil war: The Algerian hard line against terrorists

Because of the heritage of a long and costly war of independence to oust the French colonialists, Algeria has a tradition of asserting its own national sovereignty against the NATO bloc. Algerian President Bouteflika, a veteran of the National Liberation Front (FLN)’s resistance against the French military, took power as the GIA was winding down and has been in office ever since. He clearly figures on the CIA hit list.

In 2011, Bouteflika warned NATO that the bombing of Libya in support of the rebels would destabilize the region, and attracted the hostility of the Libyan rebels. More recently, when France announced its incursion into Mali, Bouteflika repeated his warning that the region was being destabilized. Two visits to Algeria over recent years by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not sufficed to turn Algeria into a NATO satellite.

Taking on Mali and Algeria with the outcome of the Syrian destabilization still uncertain shows the folly of the NATO generals.

Now, however, with the rebel onslaught against Damascus bogged down, and belief in an easy victory long since overwhelmed by the enormous casualties inflicted on foreign fighters by the Syrian army, Syria may no longer seem so attractive. Mali, by contrast, offers the possibility of fighting directly against French and perhaps US forces. The NATO generals have divided their forces and opened a second front – never a reliable recipe for success.


France Launches War in Mali in Bid to Secure Resources

France Launches War in Mali in Bid to Secure Resources, Stamp Out National Rights Struggles

France, the former slave power of west Africa, has poured into Mali with a vengeance in a military attack launched on January 11. French warplanes are bombing towns and cities across the vast swath of northern Mali, a territory measuring some one thousand kilometers from south to north and east to west. French soldiers in armoured columns have launched a ground offensive, beginning with towns in the south of the northern territory, some 300 km north and east of the Malian capital of Bamako.

A French armoured convoy entered Mali several days ago from neighbouring Ivory Coast, another former French colony. French troops spearheaded the overthrow of that country’s government in 2011.

The invasion has received universal support from France’s imperialist allies. The U.S., Canada and Europe are assisting financially and with military transport. To provide a figleaf of African legitimacy, plans have been accelerated to introduce troops from eight regional countries to join the fighting (map here).

“Islamist terrorists” etc., etc.

The public relations version of the French et al invasion is a familiar refrain. “Islamic terrorists” and “jihadists” have taken control of northern Mali and are a threat to international security and to the well-being of the local population. Terrible atrocities against the local populace are alleged and given wide publicity by corporate media. Similar myths were peddled by the warmakers when they invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

Off with a handshake into a C-17 transport plane, to support French imperialism.

It is true that Islamic fundamentalists have ruled northern Mali with an iron hand since taking over in 2012. But the reasons for this latest intervention lie in the determination of the world’s imperial powers to keep the human and natural resources of poor regions of the world as preserves for capitalist profits. West Africa is a region of great resource wealth, including gold, oil and uranium.

The uranium mines in neighbouring Niger and the uranium deposits in Mali are of particular interest to France, which generates 78 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy. Niger’s uranium mines are highly polluting and deeply resented by the population, including among the semi-nomadic, Tuareg people who reside in the mining regions. The French company Areva is presently constructing in Imouraren, Niger what will become the second largest uranium mine in the world.

Notwithstanding the fabulous wealth created by uranium mining, Niger is one of the poorest countries on earth. As one European researcher puts it, “Uranium mining in Niger sustains light in France and darkness in Niger.”

Mali (population 15.5 million) is the third-largest gold producing country in Africa. Canada’s IAMGOLD operates two mines there (and a third in nearby Burkina Faso). Many other Canadian and foreign investors are present.

A key player in the unfolding war is Algeria. The government there is anxious to prove its loyalty to imperialism. Its lengthy border with northern Mali is a key zone for the “pacification” of northern Mali upon which France and its allies are embarked.

Further proof of the hypocrisy of the ‘democracy’ that France claims to be fighting for in Mali is found in the nature of the Mali regime with which it is allied. Often presented in mainstream media as a ‘beacon of democracy’ in west Africa, the Mali government was little more than a corrupt and pliant neo-colonial regime before last year when the U.S.-trained and equipped Mali army twice overthrew it – in March and again in December. The Mali army now scrambling to fight alongside its French big brother was condemned and boycotted by the U.S., Europe and Canada during a brief, sham interlude of concern following the first coup.

Today, the Mali government is a shell of a regime that rules at the behest of the Mali military, the latter’s foreign trainers, and the foreign mining companies that provide much of its revenue.

The Tuareg People

At the political heart of the conflict in Mali is the decades-long struggle of the Tuareg, a semi-nomadic people numbering some 1.2 million. Their language is part of the Berber language group. Their historic homeland includes much of Niger and northern Mali and smaller parts of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Libya. They call themselves Kel Tamasheq (speakers of the Tamasheq language).
The Tuareg have fought a succession of rebellions in the 20th century against the borders imposed by colonialism and then defended by post-independence, neo-colonial regimes. They are one of many minority nationalities in west Africa fighting for national self-determination, including the Sahwari of Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco and whose Sahwari leadership, the Polisario Front, is widely recognized internationally.

The Tuareg were brutally subdued by colonial France at the outset of the 20th century. Following the independence of Mali and neighbouring countries in 1960, they continued to suffer discrimination. A first Tuareg Rebellion took place in 1962-64.

A second, larger rebellion began in 1990 and won some autonomy from the Mali government that was elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1997. A third rebellion in Mali and Niger in 2007 won further political and territorial concessions, but these were constantly reneged. A Libya-brokered peace deal ended fighting in 2009.

The Mali state and army constantly sought to retake what they had lost. Violence and even massacres against the Tuareg population pushed matters to a head in 2011. The army was defeated by the military forces of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) and on April 6, 2012, the MNLA declared an independent Azawad, as they call northern Mali and surrounding region. The Tuareg are one of several national groups within the disputed territory.

The independence declaration proved premature and unsustainable. The MNLA was soon pushed aside by Islamist-inspired armed groups that oppose Tuareg self-determination and an independent state. The army, meanwhile, continued to harass and kill people. A group of 17 visiting Muslim clerics, for example, were massacred on September 22, 2012.

According to unconfirmed reports, the MNLA has renounced the goal of an independent Azawad. It entered into talks with the Mali regime in December for autonomy in the northern region. A January 13 statement on the group’s website acquiesces to the French intervention but says it should not allow troops of the Mali army to pass beyond the border demarcation line declared in April of last year.

Militarization of Mali and West Africa

Mali is one of the poorest places on earth but has been drawn into the whirlwind of post-September, 2001 militarization led by the United States. U.S. armed forces have been training the Mali military for years. In 2005, the U.S. established the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership comprising eleven ‘partner’ African countries-Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

The ‘partnership’ conducts annual military exercises termed ‘Flintlock.’ This year’s exercise is to take place in Niger and according to the January 12 Globe and Mail, “Canada’s military involvement in Niger has already commenced.”

Canadian troops have participated in military exercises in west Africa since at least 2008. In 2009, Mali was named one of six “countries of focus” in Africa for Canadian aid. Beginning that year, Canadian aid to Mali leaped to where it is now one of the largest country recipients of Canada aid funds.

In 2008, Canada quietly launched a plan to establish at least six, new military bases abroad, including two in Africa. (It is not known exactly where the Africa part of the plan stands today.)

War Atrocities

Only days into the French attack, evidence is mounting of significant civilian and military casualties. In the town of Douentza in central Mali, injured civilians can’t reach the local hospital, according to Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders). “Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital,” said a statement by the agency’s emergency response co-ordinator Rosa Crestani.

The International Red Cross is reporting scores of civilian and military casualties in the towns coming under French attack.

Amnesty International is worried. Its West Africa researcher, Salvatore Saguès, was in the country last September and saw the recruitment of children into the Mali army. He is worried about retaliatory attacks by the army if it retakes control of the towns and cities it has lost, notably in the northern cities of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

He also warned of the plans to bring neighbouring armies into northern Mali. “These armies, who are already committing serious violations in their countries, are most likely to do the same, or at least not behave in accordance to international law if they are in Mali,” he said.

According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, the latest crisis has internally displaced nearly 230,000 Malians. An additional 144,500 Malians were already refugees in neighbouring countries.
UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards says half the population of the town of Konna, some 5,000 people, sought as French bombs threatened to fall by fleeing across the River Niger.

In an ominous sign of more civilian casualties to come, and echoing the excuses for atrocities by invading armies against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine in recent years, French military commanders are complaining of the difficulty in distinguishing fighters they are bombing from non-combatant populations. France’s army chief Edouard Guillaud told Reuters that France’s air strikes were being hampered because militants were using civilian populations as shields.

No to the War in Mali

The military attack in Mali was ordered by French President François Hollande, the winner of the 2012 election on behalf of the Socialist Party. His decision has been condemned by groups on the political left in France, including the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste and the Gauche anticapitaliste. The latter is a tendency with the Front de gauche (Left Front) that captured 11 per cent of the first-round presidential vote last year.

Shockingly, the Left Front leadership group has come out in favour of the intervention. Deputy François Asensi spoke on behalf of the party leadership in the National Assembly on January 16 and declared,
“The positions of the deputies of the Left Front, Communists and republicans, is clear: To abandon the people of Mali to the barbarism of fanatics would be a moral mistake… International military action was necessary in order to avoid the installation of a terrorist state.”

His statement went on to complain that President Hollande did not bother to seek the approval of the National Assembly.

A January 12 statement by the French Communist Party (PCF
), a component of the Left Front, said,

“The PCF shares the concern of Malians over the armed offensive of the Jihadist groups toward the south of their country… The party recalls here that the response to the request for assistance by the president of Mali should have been made in the framework of a United Nations and African Union sponsorship, under the flag of the UN…”

Unlike the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in 2004, which the PCF and Socialist Party supported at the time, France and its allies did not feel the need to obtain a rubber stamp of approval from the UN Security Council this time in Mali. But doing so would not have changed the predatory nature of this latest mission, just as it didn’t in Haiti.

A January 15 statement by the Canadian Peace Alliance explains:

“The real reason for NATO’s involvement is to secure strategic, resource rich areas of Africa for the West. Canadian gold mining operations have significant holdings in Mali as do may other western nations…
“It is ironic that since the death of Osama Bin Laden, the U.S. military boasts that Al-Qaeda is on the run and has no ability to wage its war. Meanwhile, any time there is a need for intervention, there is suddenly a new Al-Qaeda threat that comes out of the woodwork. Canada must not participate in this process of unending war.”
That’s a call to action which should be acted upon in the coming days and weeks as one of the poorest and most ecologically fragile regions of the world falls victim to deeper militarization and plundering. •
Roger Annis is an antiwar activist who lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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 The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

By Design: French Mali Invasion Spills into Algeria

Global Research, January 17, 2013

Exactly as predicted, the ongoing French “intervention” in the North African nation of Mali has spilled into Algeria – the next most likely objective of Western geopolitical interests in the region since the successful destabilization of Libya in 2011.

In last week’s “France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali” report, it was stated specifically that:

“As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:
Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.”

Now, it is reported that “Al Qaeda-linked” terrorists have seized American hostages in Algeria in what is being described by the Western press as “spill over” from France’s Mali operations.

The Washington Post, in their article, “Al-Qaida-linked militants seize BP complex in Algeria, take hostages in revenge for Mali,” claims:

“As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its article, “Militants Grab U.S. Hostages in Algeria,” reports that:

“Militants with possible links to al Qaeda seized about 40 foreign hostages, including several Americans, at a natural-gas field in Algeria, posing a new level of threat to nations trying to blunt the growing influence of Islamist extremists in Africa.As security officials in the U.S. and Europe assessed options to reach the captives from distant bases, Algerian security forces failed in an attempt late Wednesday to storm the facility.”

The WSJ also added:

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would take “necessary and proper steps” in the hostage situation, and didn’t rule out military action. He said the Algeria attack could represent a spillover from Mali.”

And it is military action, both covert and incrementally more overt, that will see the West’s extremist proxies and the West’s faux efforts to stem them, increasingly creep over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn right before our eyes.

Image: The French Empire at its height right before the World Wars. The regions that are now Libya, Algeria, Mali, and the Ivory Coast all face reconquest by the French and Anglo-Americans, with French troops literally occupying the region and playing a pivotal role in installing Western-friendly client regimes. Also notice Syria too, was a French holding – now under attack by US-British-French funded, armed, and backed terrorists – the same terrorists allegedly being fought in Mali and now Algeria.

Meanwhile, these very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France who are both claiming to fight the “Free Syrian Army’s” ideological and very literal allies in North Africa.
In reality, Al Qaeda is allowing the US and France to intervene and interfere in Algeria, after attempts in 2011 to trigger political subversion was soundly defeated by the Algerian government. Al Qaeda is essentially both a casus belli and mercenary force, deployed by the West against targeted nations. It is clear that French operations seek to trigger armed conflict in Algeria as well as a possible Western military intervention there as well, with the Mali conflict serving only as a pretense


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Islamist rebels for France: Terrorists in Mali, friends in Syria!!

Islamist rebels for France: Terrorists in Mali, friends in Syria!

While France finds itself committed to intervene in Mali TO PROTECT THE STATE against the Islamist fighters related to Al-Qaeda (WOW), it considers the same guys, the jihadists who are shouting Allah Akbar and fighting the “infidel regime” in Syria as “rebels for freedom and democracy”! No problem, for France, if they are actually destroying the Syrian state, destroying the infrastructure of electricity power units, fuel pipelines, schools, ATM, police departments and all governmental institutions!

While France believes it’s a duty to send helicopters and air forces to bombard the Islamist militants in Mali, it accuse Syrian army to be “committing a brutal aggression” when it’s defending the state on its land!

We Syrians don’t ask France to help us fighting those extremist gangs that are destroying our country, but we just tell the French politicians to “f*** off” and stop dropping crocodile’s tears on Syrian people that is living now a crisis of electricity, gas and diesel thanks to those “rebels for freedom and democracy” who seem to believe that even electricity and schools belong to the “regime”! As well as thanking the EU that has organized many conferences of “the friends of Syrian people” and each time comes out with an AMAZING way of support to Syrian people: To stress the sanctions!

Whenever we run out of electricity, fuel, diesel, food and bread we remember our “friends of Syrian people” and feel, you can’t imagine how much, we feel grateful for those dear friends!
With such friends, we don’t need any more enemies!
One may say: “France is not supporting jihadists in Syria, it’s just supporting the “rebels” who are fighting for freedom and democracy” and this is why its president Francois Hollande has received Muaz Al-Khatib, the head of the so-called Syrian Opposition National coalition, that has been established in Doha with the presence of the American ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and the prince of Qatar, in his palace in Paris and recognized it as “The legitimate representative of Syrian people.” Well one can know the nature of the those rebels in Syria when you know that Muaz Al-Khatib, that is supposed to be a politician struggling for democracy, was very disappointed with the U.S decision to blacklist “Jabhat Al-Nusra” that is related to Al-Qaeda and is the key military force fighting Syrian army in Syria. Muaz Al-Khatib, in his speech at the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh – Morocco on 12-12-2012, said:
The decision to blacklist one of the groups fighting the regime as a terrorist organization must be re-examined!
And the official site of Muaz Al-Khatib:
As well as the leaders of the so-called FSA and opposition figures who also condemned the American decision and considered Al-Nusra as a “friend” in declarations to France Press agency!
Source (Arabic):
Note: This is weird that such declarations by Muaz Al-Khatib and “military opposition or rebels” can’t find a place to be published in the western media, even if you look for it on google! I could only find it in the Arabic version of because the western politicians know that while Arabic world has a hosting environment for extremism and can have compassion with Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda, they don’t risk revealing this nature of “rebels” in Syria to the European audience because they want to keep this “white” face of them!
Iyad Khuder January 15, 2012

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