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French President's Camel Killed And Eaten In Mali / South-Korea & US Start Drills As Tensions With North-Korea Escalate / The Facts And Fallacies Of The War In Mali (2) (3) (4)

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Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by cap28: 1:51am On Jan 23, 2013
[b]Imperialist powers escalate war in Mali
By Ernst Wolff
22 January 2013
Amid continuing offensives by French troops in Mali, the imperialist powers are making clear that the assault on Mali is part of a lasting, neo-colonial escalation of military intervention throughout Western Africa and beyond.
“This is a global threat and it will require a global response... that is about years, even decades, rather than months,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said over the weekend.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian defined his aim in Mali as “the total re-conquest of the country,” using troops provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). France, which is currently spearheading the war in Mali, plans to expel Tuareg and Islamist fighters from Mali to pursue its agenda. Its goal is to stabilize the corrupt regime in Bamako, currently led by the military junta of Captain Amadou Sanogo, as its stooge regime in Mali, where France has significant corporate interests.
Similarly, British Foreign Secretary William Hague held up the current war in Somalia as an example for Mali on how to create space for a “legitimate government” to function. He said, “This has led to a lot of progress in Somalia. What we don’t want in countries like Mali is the twenty years of being a failed state that preceded all of that in Somalia.”
Such a comment could not be more chilling. In fact, Somalia continues to be a deeply impoverished country, torn by civil war, and which Washington regularly targets with drone strikes. Hague’s comment signifies that the NATO powers view such an outcome as perfectly acceptable, even desirable, for Mali.
The broader implications of the escalating war in Mali were laid out in an article yesterday in the New York Times. The Times quotes Rudolph Attala, a former Pentagon counterterrorism official: “To dismantle their [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s] network, the United States and its allies will need a well-thought-out regional strategy.”
The point being made is clear: the war in Mali is not only about Mali, but involves intensive diplomacy and military operations by the imperialists to shape all of Western Africa—including Algeria, Nigeria, and the Libyan regime installed by the 2011 NATO war. The Times notes that Washington and Paris have been “courting Algeria for months,” to get Algiers’ help in Mali.
The Times added: “Forging that strategy will be far from easy, given those involved. The Algerians have an able, if heavy-handed military, but have not been eager to co-operate extensively with their neighbours. Libya’s new government appears willing to cooperate but has little ability. Mali has little military ability, and any enduring solution needs to be crafted with an eye to internal politics.”
Bruce Hoffman, an expert on terrorism at Georgetown University, told the Times that the US should escalate military assistance and drone warfare to help France: “The United States should consider stepping up its support for the French intervention, by providing additional logistical support and perhaps making use of drones, so that the French military can better carry out its operations and hand over the mission as soon as possible to African troops.”
The press is stepping up its criticisms of an alleged “lack of support” for French imperialism’s war in Mali, demanding that their governments rush to help. The former US ambassador to Mali, Vicki Huddleston, criticized the Obama administration for its “inaction” in a recent radio interview.
While US think tanks and intelligence forces are busy deliberating methods of escalating the war, the fighting in Mali has intensified. Over the weekend French Rafale fighter planes and Gazelle helicopter gun ships carried out a dozen operations.
On Monday about 200 French soldiers from the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment, supported by six combat helicopters and reconnaissance planes, seized the towns of Diabaly and Douentza. The infantrymen had set out at dawn from the nearby government-controlled town of Niono, thirty miles south of Diabaly.
Few details about the fighting are known, as reporters have been banned from the combat zone. However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that they had received reports of serious abuses, including ethnic killings, committed by French-backed Malian security forces against civilians in Niono.
According to HRW, Tuaregs and Arabs, the ethnic groups most associated with the rebels in northern Mali, are especially targeted. This recalls similar communal attacks by NATO-backed forces on immigrant workers from ethnic groups considered supportive of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, during the NATO war on Libya.
On Saturday French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, attending an ECOWAS emergency summit in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan, told African leaders that it was time for their nations to take over military operations in Mali “as soon as possible”.
The member states pledged to send 5,800 troops into Mali. They endorsed Major General Shehu Usman Abdulkadir of Nigeria and Brigadier General Yaye Garba of Niger as Force Commander and Deputy Force Commander of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
AFISMA is expected to cost the impoverished former French and British colonies in West Africa over $500 million. International donors will meet January 29 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss funding.
Some 150 troops from Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Chad arrived in Bamako on Sunday.
Nigerian troops were attacked on their way by gunmen in Kogi State, central Nigeria, leaving two officers dead and eight soldiers wounded. An online newspaper said the attack was part of a mission to stop Nigerian troops joining Western powers in their “aim to demolish the Islamic empire of Mali.” A group named Ansaru close to the Islamists of Boko Haram was reportedly behind the attack.
France can firmly count on the support of European imperialism. The European Union (EU) appointed French Brigadier General Francois Lecointre as commander of a mission to send 250 military trainers to Mali in February. It will not only give 50 million euros ($66 million) of funding to Ecowas forces, but has announced it will unblock € 250 million in aid for Mali that was frozen after the military coup in March 2012.
It also offered to host a ministerial meeting of the international support and follow-up group on the situation in Mali on February 5. Following Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and Denmark, Italy has now also offered logistical support.
According to US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, about 100 American trainers have deployed to Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal and Ghana to help prepare troops in these countries for combat in Mali.[/b]
Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by AfroBlue(m): 5:34am On Jan 23, 2013
war is big business!

Development or Exploitation Ahead for Africa
January 22, 2013
Print Version

By James Corbett
To say the French intervention in Mali is hypocritical is the second biggest understatement of the 21st century. The official line is that France is raining holy terror down on Mali now to smoke out the Islamic extremists who are threatening (according to the French) to overrun Africa...and perhaps Europe as well...African leaders increasingly face a stark choice: open the doors for Western business or face the gun barrel diplomacy that has wreaked such havoc in uncooperative nations like Libya and Mali.

As of press time, the seizure of 40 foreign hostages at an Algerian gas field by Islamic terrorists is making international headlines. Admitting it may be “spillover” from the ongoing French military operation in Mali, the US government is confirming the use of surveillance drones to monitor the crisis and the entire scenario has raised the specter of (yet another) excuse for AFRICOM and NATO to put boots on the ground and bombs in the air in North Africa. And so dawns another day in the New World Order empire.

To say the French intervention in Mali is hypocritical is the second biggest understatement of the 21st century. The official line is that France is raining holy terror down on Mali now to smoke out the Islamic extremists who are threatening (according to the French) to overrun Africa...and perhaps Europe as well. The narrative is that at least one of the three partners in the Malian Islamist alliance—Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—has designated France as “a prime target for attack.” As Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times point out, however, this is the same AQIM that in 2007 merged with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) that France was funding, equipping, supplying, training and providing air cover for in the 2011 invasion of Libya.

To say the prospect of American intervention in Algeria to clean up the Islamist “spillover” from Mali is hypocritical is the biggest understatement of the 21st century. Keep in mind it is precisely because of the NATO-led Libyan love bombing of 2011 that AQIM is using Mali and Algeria as a base of operations. This isn't my opinion, this was the express fear that Algeria was warning about during the Libyan invasion. And, as Tony Cartalucci of the Land Destroyer Report notes, this is precisely what the Brookings Institution noted through its mouthpiece Bruce Riedel in The National Interest in August, 2011. The title of that report? “Algeria Will Be Next to Fall.” Yes, this is the same Bruce Riedel who co-authored the infamous Brookings report “Which Path to Persia?” that advocated supporting the State Department-listed terrorist organization the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) to terrorize Tehran.

Oh, and the other piece to this whole puzzle: the LFIG/AQIM that the French (and now possibly the US) are combating in Mali (and Algeria) are the self-same group that is now openly terrorizing Syria with the full aid, support and complicity of the NATO powers.

You know that feeling you get where you don't know whether to laugh at the outrageous absurdity of the hypocrisy that you're being asked to swallow or scream in outrage at it? We need a word for that. I propose we call it NATOsis.

Regardless, none of this will surprise observers of geopolitics in the age of the Global War of Terror. Nor will it surprise them to learn that Mali is Africa's third largest gold producer, is thought to have a potential 5000 tons of uranium deposits, a wealth of mineral resources, and, of course, unexplored oil and gas fields. Nor will it be difficult for anyone to surmise why the hostages in Algeria were captured on an Algerian BP natural gas field. All of this is perfectly predictable because it corresponds in every degree to the mode of neocolonial resource exploitation in Africa, a paradigm that has been in full operation for decades and is gaining steam as the scramble for African resources heats up.

As with every conflict, this resource war in Africa has two sides. On one side there are the neocolonialists of France, Britain, America and the NATO powers, with their pattern of propping up dictators and bombing countries to smithereens in order to insure their access to Africa's vast mineral wealth. On the other side is China, the world's second-largest economy and a country of 1.3 billion people that is in desperate need of an ever-expanding supply of resources to feed the gaping maw of its industrial production. In contrast to the NATO cronies, Beijing is hoping to secure long-term resource access not through the barrel of a gun, but by another time-test method: the greased handshake.

Increasing Chinese investment in Africa has not escaped the attention of Western governments over the past decade, nor has it gone unnoticed by the establishment mouthpiece press, which has dutifully portrayed such investment as a worrying development in international politics. The Chinese strategy is to seek cooperation with African leaders by exchanging infrastructure investment for access to resources. In complete contrast to the Western model—which relies on NATOsis-inducing hypocrisy about “human rights” while the atrocious actions of Western allies like Museveni and Kagame are tolerated or even encouraged—the Chinese do not concern themselves with the domestic politics of these countries at all. Whatever one thinks of these strategies from a moral point of view, it's clear that China is at a considerable strategic advantage in such a struggle. Just ask Gaddafi: he made a speech to the Oxford Students' Union in 2009 stating that China would win the competition for access to Africa's resources over the US precisely because they didn't take sides in internal political struggles. Then again, look what happened to Libya.

There are numerous examples of the Chinese model at work: the $20 billion Beijing will be loaning African governments for infrastucture and agriculture development over the next three years; China's commitment to sending medical personnel to Africa, launching training programs for African workers, and offering 18,000 scholarships to African citizens; the Chinese-funded $200 million headquarters for the African Union in Addis Ababa. The strategy is evident across much of Africa, and is already paying off: China-Africa trade has expanded to $150 billion a year and is overseen by the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which is forging closer ties each year.

A perfect case in point of where these two strategies collide is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a much-neglected and war torn nation in Africa's geographical centre that happens to house trillions of dollars in untapped mineral wealth, including 30 percent of the world's diamond reserves and 80 percent of the world's coltan. Coltan is columbo-tantalite ore, essential for the production of certain electrical components used in cellphone manufacture. The ore is found in the country's eastern regions, which should surprise no one to learn is the epicenter of the Congo's war zones.

As journalist Nile Bowie points out in a detailed article on the situation, China had been steadily gaining access to Congo's mineral wealth in the first decade of the 21st century. In 2008, a deal had been struck between a consortium of Chinese companies and the DRC government, offering mining concessions in Katanga in return for a $6 billion investment in the country's infrastructure. Not surprisingly, the Washington consensus gang was having none of it: the IMF blocked the deal in 2009, claiming it broke the rules for foreign debt relief that the IMF uses to keep such governments in line. Meanwhile the US has been actively supporting, arming, training and equipping the Rwandan and Ugandan governments who have been so instrumental in fueling the conflict in the DRC in recent years.

African leaders increasingly face a stark choice: open the doors for Western business or face the gun barrel diplomacy that has wreaked such havoc in uncooperative nations like Libya and Mali. It is no wonder that so many African nations are increasingly turning to the Chinese model of infrastructure and development loans in exchange for access to markets, which is precisely why we are seeing an increasing effort in recent years to establish some sort of permanent Western military presence on the continent. From the CIA's covert operations in Somalia to NATO's love-bombing of Libya to the manipulations of the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt to France's boots on the ground in Algeria and America's increasing drone presence across the continent, it looks like 2013 will see Africa increasingly bearing the brunt of the West's military attentions.

The intimidation is obvious, but there are signs that Africa might be tiring of neocolonial business as usual, and now that there is a new player in town they are increasingly ready to test the waters with Beijing. If last year's African Union summit and FOCAC breakthroughs are anything to go by, Chinese-African cooperation will be one of the stories to watch this year. In the meantime, the world watches the war unfolding in Mali, holds its breath, and tries to stave off the NATOsis.

The Business of War: SOFEX

SOFEX is where the world's leading generals come to buy everything from handguns to laser-guided missile systems. It stands for "Special Operations Forces Exhibition Conference" and it's essentially a trade-show where just about anyone with enough money can buy the most powerful weapons in the world.

Hosted by Shane Smith | Originally released in 2012 at http://vice.com



Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by okosodo: 6:26am On Jan 23, 2013
What you guys are saying is rubbish. Is it the imperialists that masterminds the killing of people from other religion by muslims during the peace. Muslims are blindly bias every time it comes to religion

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Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by Bawss1(m): 7:17am On Jan 23, 2013
Down with the imperialists! They are only interested in keeping Africa in bondage, let's chase them out of Mali and give Islamic fanatics a free hand. We all know that religious fanaticism that involves destruction of indigenous heritage sites, savage implementation of sharia law and the complete stifling of basic human rights is way preferable. Down with the imperialists I say.


1 Like

Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by thoth: 1:07pm On Jan 23, 2013
okosodo: What you guys are saying is rubbish. Is it the imperialists that masterminds the killing of people from other religion by muslims during the peace. Muslims are blindly bias every time it comes to religion
I always smile to my self whenever i read a post like the one above, How can we be liberated when a Shocking Majority of Nigerians are as Ignorant as the Guy above.
If i may answer his question then it is - YES!! It is the imperialist that masterminded the Muslim killings, it was Imperialist USA that created Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 80's to oust the Russians, it was imperialist USA that aided, supported and assisted the Libyan extremist Fighting Groups that caused this mayhem that was washing all over africa, they gave them weapons,trained them and protected them with air raids to oust the libyan goverment, it was the French imperialist that created the Algerian islamist Groups and OPENLY SUPPORT them throughout the 60's till early 2000 when most trooped to afghanistan to fight, it was the the imperialist Europeans that are NOW supporting the Syrian Islamist Extremists that are now carrying out atrocities all over Syria, it was the imperialist Britain and American Violence towards the Somalians that gave birth to Al Shaabab, It was the imperialist interest of Britain to support the babaric, unprogressive but easily exploitable Northern Hausa-Fulani Monarchs that kept nigeria from attaining a working democracy, these autocratic extremist that does not believe in the opinion of the majority but only that of their Prophet and will enforce it on people with terror are nothing but the residual effects of those Imperialistic policies of Britain on Nigeria. Do you want me to keep going ?
People who knew nothing of their history should keep their mouths shut and learn.


Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by okosodo: 7:17pm On Jan 23, 2013
@thoth, upon everything you said, who is at the fore front of world wide terror?
Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by AfroBlue(m): 7:55pm On Jan 23, 2013
okosodo: @thoth, upon everything you said, who is at the fore front of world wide terror?

do you have a minute or two to read and digest this article?



The so-called "clash of civilizations" we read about on the corporate media is really a war between banking systems, with the private central bankers forcing themselves onto the rest of the world, no matter how many millions must die for it. Indeed the constant hatemongering against Muslims lies in a simple fact. Like the ancient Christians (prior to the Knights Templars private banking system) , Muslims forbid usury, or the lending of money at interest. And that is the reason our government and media insist they must be killed or converted. They refuse to submit to currencies issued at interest. They refuse to be debt slaves.
Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by thoth: 9:55pm On Jan 23, 2013
okosodo: @thoth, upon everything you said, who is at the fore front of world wide terror?
It used to be Britain but now...
The USA is the world number one terrorist nation.
Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by cap28: 10:34pm On Jan 23, 2013

New Scramble for Africa: Imperialism Plans “Decades of War”

By Bill Van Auken
Global Research, January 23, 2013
World Socialist Web Site
Region: sub-Saharan Africa
Theme: US NATO War Agenda

The French intervention in Mali, followed by the bloody siege in Algeria, represents a turning point in what has emerged as a new imperialist scramble for Africa. With these events, following on the heels of the US-NATO war for regime-change in Libya and the Washington-backed sectarian civil war in Syria, mankind is witnessing a convulsive drive by the major powers to re-divide the world, its territories, markets and resources.

There is every reason to believe that this campaign to re-colonize much of the planet will be even bloodier and more oppressive than the original colonization of Africa.

As in the Libyan war, France has taken the lead in unleashing fighter bombers and deploying its dogs of war, the French Foreign Legion, in Mali. However, the other major imperialist powers have made it clear that they will not remain on the sidelines.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that the UK will “work with others to close down the ungoverned space” in northwest Africa “with all the means that we have.” Terming the developments in Mali and neighboring countries a “global threat,” Cameron declared they would “require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months.”

The Obama administration initially adopted a cautious approach to the Mali events, no doubt out of concern that it could end up helping an imperialist competitor and undercut its own predatory aims in Africa. However, with the Algerian hostage crisis, which claimed the lives of at least 80 people, including three Americans, Washington has made it clear it intends to intervene aggressively.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta commented last Friday: “We have a responsibility to go after Al Qaeda wherever they are. And we’ve gone after them in the FATA (Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas). We’re going after them in Yemen and Somalia. And we have a responsibility to make sure that Al Qaeda does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali.”

The message was unmistakable. Mali and the region are to be turned into a new front in the global US killing spree, to be carried out in the first instance with Predator drones and Hellfire missiles.

The US has also announced that it is sending US Special Forces troops as “trainers” and “advisors” to the six countries—Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Ghana—which are to provide the troops for an African force being cobbled together by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a proxy for imperialist intervention. It will also provide aircraft to deliver them to Mali.

So much for Obama’s inauguration rhetoric. “A decade of war is now ending,” he declared Monday, just a day after Cameron’s warning that decades of war in Africa have only just begun.

We have entered a period when each new war only begets the next: Libya, Syria and now Mali in the space of less than two years.

The connection between them is rarely recognized in the media, which breathlessly reports each new crisis, from the fighting in Mali to the hostage drama at the gas complex in Algeria, as if it were a senseless outrage explicable only as part of the unfolding battle between good and evil known as the global war on terrorism.

The word “blowback” is not to be uttered in the polite company of network news. Yet this is precisely what is involved. The US-NATO war for regime-change in Libya destabilized the entire region. It had the effect of sending Tuaregs, many of whom who had served in Gaddafi’s security forces, fleeing back into Mali under conditions in which Libya’s NATO-backed “revolutionaries” were hunting down and murdering people with black skins.

The Tuaregs, a nomadic people of the Sahel, the region on the edge of the Sahara desert, are to be found in northern Mali as well as Niger, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Burkina Faso.

In Mali, oppression and neglect by the central government led to four major revolts since independence in 1960. Similar revolts took place in neighboring Niger. The arrival of Tuaregs from Libya, together with large quantities of Libyan weapons, triggered the latest revolt, which was swelled by the wholesale defection of Tuareg troops and officers from the Mali army.

The secular Tuareg nationalists, however, were quickly supplanted by better armed and funded Islamist forces. Immensely strengthened by the US-NATO war in Libya, where they were armed and backed by Washington as proxy ground forces against Gaddafi, they are now being similarly armed and funded as shock troops in the war for regime-change in Syria. It has become impossible to understand US policy in the Middle East and Africa without recognizing that Washington operates in a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda-linked forces.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the new “war on terror” bogey man, is, like its predecessor in Afghanistan, a Frankenstein monster of Western imperialism. It emerged from forces that had traveled to Afghanistan with US support to fight the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul in the 1980s, and then returned home to fight the bloody Algerian civil war of the 1990s, when US and French imperialism backed the Algerian military in seizing power to prevent the election of the Islamic Salvation Front. In the repression that followed, over 100,000 Algerians were killed.

The Algerian government has charged that AQIM, like the US-backed “rebels” in Syria, is funded by Washington’s key ally, the Gulf sheikdom of Qatar. And before the present conflict, it was well known that AQIM and similar groups enjoyed the tacit approval of Mali’s US and French-backed central government, which saw the Islamists as a useful counterweight to the Tuaregs.

Now we are asked to believe that this same force has become a “global” threat that may at any moment attack “the homeland.”

The escalating war in Africa is neither about terror nor Al Qaeda. Time magazine succinctly outlined the real motives in Mali: “The dangers expand elsewhere, with huge oil reserves attracting Western companies to set up production across the vast Sahel. South of Algeria and Mali sits Niger, a dirt-poor desert country with the world’s fourth largest output of uranium, which supplies France’s crucial network of nuclear-power stations. East of Algeria is Libya, where a number of Western companies exploit some of Africa’s biggest oil reserves.”

US imperialism and the European powers that formerly colonized Africa are determined to lay hold of these resources. Having been supplanted by China as Africa’s single largest trading partner, and badly trailing Beijing in terms of growth in foreign direct investment, Washington and the European powers are turning to military intervention as a means of offsetting economic decline.

As with the inter-imperialist rivalries generated by the scramble for Africa over a century ago, the present conflicts over domination of the continent point toward the eruption of a new world war.[/b]

Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by AfroBlue(m): 5:23pm On Jan 24, 2013
[b]Imperialists started the latest African invasion without being on the $ame page.

Mali Exposes Flaws in West's Security Plans

By ADAM ENTOUS and JULIAN E. BARNES in Washington and DREW HINSHAW in Bamako, Mali

After France rushed in to Mali to confront al Qaeda affiliates, it had trouble lining up help from allies. French fighters take up positions Wednesday.

France's attack on Islamic extremists in Mali this month is exposing major strains in the Western world's security strategy.

As the French assault gained steam in West Africa, France sought help from its allies—only to find that the U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization states either weren't ready or couldn't offer much. Canada and the U.K. quickly ponied up three cargo planes, two of which broke down en route.

By far the biggest breakdown, however, played out between the U.S. and France, as Washington sent what Paris saw as mixed messages about U.S. levels of commitment to taking on an al Qaeda affiliate in Mali before and after the French attack began.

French officials involved in planning the Mali campaign say they had expected quick, robust U.S. military support based on comments by Pentagon officials in a series of private meetings, including one last October in Paris about how to tame violence in North and West Africa. According to French officials in attendance, the message that day from Michael Sheehan, the Pentagon's point man for special operations, seemed clear: Stop the group known as AQIM—al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—and its allies from creating a desert safe haven.

NATO officials at the meetings also say U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's message to France and other allies on the sidelines of a NATO summit last fall was that the Pentagon would do "whatever it takes" to help with an intervention in Mali against AQIM.

Senior U.S. defense officials dispute those accounts, saying Washington's messages to France may have been "lost in translation." During the meetings, the U.S. officials said, neither Mr. Panetta nor Mr. Sheehan directly urged France to use force and didn't promise specific support.

Speaking Wednesday before a congressional hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "We are in for a struggle, but it is a necessary struggle. We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven," though she offered few specifics. "We've got to have a better strategy," she said.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the White House wants to speed the transition from the current French campaign to one led by African forces, "so that it's sustainable over the long term."

In talks with the French and others, Mr. Sheehan and others have specifically pushed for an African-led response against AQIM, U.S. officials said. Aides to Mr. Panetta said his comments were meant to convey general U.S. support for the aims of the French in Mali.

Another senior U.S. official defended Washington's level of support for the French, calling it a "tough love" approach. The message to France and other European allies, this official said, was that Washington won't foot the bill as global policeman at a time when European powers are cutting defense investments.

Moreover, U.S. defense officials said France shouldn't be surprised by the American response given the unilateral nature of the operation they launched. "We weren't consulted. We were informed when they went in. This isn't a combined operation," the senior U.S. defense official said.

French officials say they consulted their American counterparts. One senior French official sized up the feeling in Paris after the White House balked at Paris's request for air tankers to refuel French fighters over Mali. "We are doing the job without you," the official said.

The White House did agree, however, to provide several cargo planes for a few weeks. It initially asked France to reimburse the costs, though the U.S. later backed down on that. The White House is still considering providing air tankers for refueling, officials say, as well as more advanced surveillance aircraft that could aid French targeting.

For months, the world's major powers have been hammering out plans for action against terrorist threats from Africa—concerns amplified in recent days by a terror attack in Algeria that left at least 37 hostages dead. But the West's global security apparatus is showing strains. The war-weary U.S. is reluctant to intervene, while other countries, particularly in debt-ridden Europe, are less able to do so.

The tension is a dramatic example of a growing trans-Atlantic disconnect. On the one hand, the U.S. complains about European allies' unwillingness to spend on defense, citing Libya in 2011 when, lacking adequate ammunition supplies, drones and tankers, they turned to Washington. Meanwhile, some allies complain that U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere is driven by American interests and priorities.

France launched its Mali offensive on Jan. 11. Within a week, Paris flew about 2,000 soldiers to its former colony with a mission: reclaim two tiny farming towns that al Qaeda and its allies in Mali had swarmed days earlier. By the 10th day, Paris had expanded that mission to include land assaults on towns nestled in the prickly desert occupied by Islamist gunmen.

Logistical problems arose quickly. France made urgent requests for cargo planes, air refueling tankers and a surge of sophisticated American surveillance aircraft to monitor rebel communications and movements. As the U.S. deliberated over how to respond, Britain offered the temporary use of two C-17 cargo planes. One of the planes experienced mechanical problems and was grounded in France, British officials said.

The Canadian Royal Air Force contributed one of its C-17s, for an initial period of one week, but it suffered a "generator issue" and was also grounded, according to a spokesman for Canada's Minister of National Defence. Officials say the U.K. and Canada quickly found other planes to replace the ones that broke down. Denmark and Belgium are also providing help with transport, French officials say.

On Jan. 14, the mission's fourth day, a French detachment arrived in Bamako, Mali's capital, without mosquito nets and spent four nights battling the swarming pests. Cargo space is limited, French officials said, and some things were overlooked initially because of the rushed nature of the operation. The French also shipped bottled water to Mali before soldiers finally found a vendor in Bamako.

Skeptical of the need for a big U.S. role, the White House so far has authorized the Air Force to ferry a mechanized infantry battalion of about 800 French troops to Bamako. The U.S. hasn't responded to the request for air refueling tankers needed by the French air force to keep up the pace of attack sorties in support of ground troops.

The U.S. and France have long shared intelligence with each other, and both sides say that cooperation has increased in recent weeks, although the French are pushing for more. U.S. military surveillance planes have been flying over Mali collecting intelligence for months and at least some of that information is being shared with the French.

Within the U.S. there are divisions among policy makers at the Pentagon, White House and State Department over the extent of the threat posed by AQIM and how the U.S. should respond. At the Pentagon, anti-AQIM hawks including Mr. Panetta, the outgoing defense secretary, want to go after the terror group's leaders, defense officials say.

At the White House, top policy makers are more cautious. They see AQIM as a lesser threat to the U.S. than other groups, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in Yemen. They tend to favor a strategy that relies heavily on building up the capabilities of African armies to take on the threat themselves, aided by U.S. intelligence and training.

The prospect of a new terror war in Africa would clash with a key message of President Barack Obama's inaugural address. In his Monday speech, he said a decade of military conflict was ending and that "enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."

Mr. Obama has expanded U.S. drone campaigns against al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen. But many aides favor limits on U.S. lethal action that would allow the targeting of only AQIM leaders who intelligence agencies conclude are plotting attacks directly against the U.S., rather than a broader campaign like France's, administration officials said. They acknowledge this could change if there were new attacks like the siege this month at an Algerian natural-gas complex that left three Americans dead.

U.S. defense officials note that, unlike other global al Qaeda affiliates, AQIM can't mount attacks directly on the U.S. But a senior defense official said that may only be a matter of time. "They are direct threat to France, Spain, Western Europe, the U.K. It doesn't take long for them to be a threat beyond that," the official said. "There is going to be a fight that goes on. We have to win."

A senior U.S. official also said the French should have known that "when you start using military force, those are presidential decisions, not DOD decisions," referring to the Department of Defense. Obama administration officials who question the need for more U.S. involvement in Mali say France has unique advantages operating there. Mali is a former French colony, and France has extensive intelligence networks there as well as long-standing military-to-military relations.

The French perception of mixed U.S. messages was compounded by what they view as other perceived slights. For instance, the White House nixed plans for a day trip by Mr. Panetta to Paris this past Sunday, NATO officials said, as part of a tour of other European capitals. Officials worried the visit might raise expectations about Washington's level of military support in Mali at a time the White House is trying to extricate the U.S. from the war in Afghanistan, NATO officials said.

French options for help from European allies or NATO are limited because of budget woes across the continent. "The allies will do their best, but they are keeping support minimal at the moment because of the many questions of how long the mission will be and how deep it goes. It is a very complex crisis," said Heather Conley, the Europe Program Director for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

NATO is giving only limited help because of the "political, psychological trauma of Afghanistan," she added. "There is reluctance to go into a conflict without a clear exit strategy."

Since the financial crisis hit in 2009, European governments have cut military spending by roughly 10% annually overall. French military spending has held up better than other countries in the bloc, declining less than 7% in total from 2009 to 2011, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

French military capabilities, however, are uneven. The country has developed advanced fighter planes. But its air refueling tankers are old and, in some cases, in disrepair, hence the request for U.S. help. Washington's reluctance has prompted the French to appeal to other allies, including the Canadians, this time for air tankers, NATO officials said.

France's airlift capacity is also severely limited. To supplement France's limited supply of transport aircraft, Paris is renting cargo planes from companies in Russia and Ukraine. French officials attributed the allies' lagging response to the sudden nature of the French operation, acknowledging it takes time to get government authorization for deployments.

In the 2011 NATO air campaign against Libya that ousted Moammar Gadhafi from power, the mission relied heavily on the U.S. for refueling planes and armed drones. That effort was supported by European countries including France. But Libya was a relatively easy lift, compared with Mali. The front line was basically Europe's backyard—a short flight across the Mediterranean from bases in Italy, Germany and Spain.

Getting to Mali is trickier. The vast nation is landlocked, its capital days of travel time from the nearest port. Reaching Timbuktu is famously difficult: the desert heart of al Qaeda's insurgency is protected by hundreds of miles of rocks and dunes in every direction. It took a recent convoy of French forces three days to get to Bamako from the closest major port in the Ivory Coast.

Alternatives under review include Mali's railroad, which France already built once—in 1924—and today would need to rebuild. There is also the twisted, muddy Niger River, which the French floated down to conquer Mali in the first place, fighting on foot and on horseback, 130 years ago.

The logistical bottlenecks are mounting as African armies prepare to deploy up to 5,000 troops under a United Nations mandate to reinforce the French. Last week, the tiny country of Togo dispatched 145 troops. It took two days and four separate flights for the troops to arrive, because they needed to borrow the president's jet, which seats only 45. "They're 145 here, but they don't have a vehicle," said a French major in Mali, who identified himself only by his first name, Eric, per French army protocol.

On the back lot of Bamako's airport, France is struggling to build a war machine capable of liberating a country twice its area. "It's not worth the trouble to bring in planes full of troops if they don't have food, water, mosquito nets, all that," said another French major, who identified himself by his first name, Renaud.

One recent Thursday in Bamako, 400 French soldiers walked off a plane, but a French major who identified himself as Didier said there were only 100 open beds. So the French dispatched a delegation to Bamako with cash to buy 300 mattresses.

—Daniel Michaels in Brussels, Alistair MacDonald in Toronto and Cassell Bryan-Low in London contributed to this article.

A version of this article appeared January 24, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Mali Exposes Flaws in West's Security Plans.


Mali Invasion Shows That “Adieu” Does Not Always Mean
Tue, 01/22/2013 - 15:54 — Mark P. Fanche

by Mark P. Fancher

Whether rightists or “socialists,” all French governments believe in their inalienable right to dominate Africa. French troops are on the move in Mali and the Central African Republic, and not long ago overthrew the regime in Ivory Coast. If the colonial era has passed, somebody ought to tell Paris – and French-speaking Africans – the news.

Mali Invasion Shows That “Adieu” Does Not Always Mean “We’re Gone”

by Mark P. Fancher

“Decades of indoctrination and French cultural domination left an indelible imprint on the colonies.”

Recent military raids into Mali may seem like they came from nowhere, but France has never really been able to let go of its former colonial possessions. Like a bad case of athlete’s foot the “mother country” just keeps coming back, and Mali is now hosting a visit.

The French military presence in Mali may now raise a few eyebrows, but there was a time when the French domination of vast territories in Africa was taken for granted. Other European countries had African colonial possessions as well, but they often managed them in a clumsy, violent manner that portended the inevitability of resistance, and ultimately independence. Not so the French. For them, colonialism was handled with style and finesse. Historian Walter Rodney wrote:

“In 1935, a team of British educationalists visited French Africa, and they admitted with a mixture of jealousy and admiration that France had succeeded in creating an elite of Africans in the image of Frenchmen – an elite that was helping to perpetuate French colonial rule.”

So confident were the French in the undying loyalty of their African subjects that in 1958 as independence fever was sweeping the continent, French leader Charles De Gaulle offered France’s African colonies a referendum. They had the option of voting in favor of a “French community” made up of France and its African colonies; or they could vote for complete independence. Guinea voted to go it alone. France was shocked, and it withdrew from Guinea in a huff, destroying the country’s infrastructure in the process.

“France had succeeded in creating an elite of Africans in the image of Frenchmen.”

Mali and other French colonies were to join Guinea in independence in 1960, but decades of indoctrination and French cultural domination left an indelible imprint on the colonies, and these territories often proved to be fertile grounds for the growth of neo-colonialism. Even though the African countries had “flag independence” and France appeared to maintain an arms-length relationship, it was an arrangement that preserved France’s advantage. Hugh Schofield of BBC News characterized it as: “…a devil’s bargain: you stay tame and send us your minerals, and when we need it, under-the-counter cash. In return, from time-to-time, we will send French troops to save your presidential mightiness from the mob.”

It is ironic that although it is France that has intervened in Mali, it is also France that has nevertheless come to be regarded in some quarters as a moderating influence in the world as compared to the U.S., which has gained a reputation for reckless cowboy militarism. This is due in part to the fact that it was France that declined to become a member of the “coalition of the willing” during the invasion of Iraq, earning threats by angry U.S. politicians to re-name French fries “freedom fries.” But not much later France’s willingness to act ruthlessly was betrayed by its enthusiastic partnership with the U.S. in the kidnapping of President Jean Bertrand Aristide from Haiti because of his refusal to function as a neo-colonial stooge.

“The continuing success of the insurrection in northern Mali was apparently too much for the supposedly progressive French president.”

Notwithstanding France’s colonial and neo-colonial record, Schofield suggests that there has been a change in perspective. “And now we have [French President] Francois Hollande, who as a good socialist has drunk deeply of the anti-colonialist potion and genuinely feels embarrassed about much of France’s past involvement on the [African] continent.” Schofield goes on to say of Hollande: “…now we have a socialist leader, a man who has promised to keep downsizing the military commitment in Africa…” However, the continuing success of the insurrection in northern Mali by what are claimed to be a mix of Tuareg secessionists and purported Islamic extremists was apparently too much for the supposedly progressive French president and he responded with air strikes and more than 1,400 troops on the ground.

The debate over whether a military intervention was necessary to address the Mali crisis will continue. An even more significant question however is why France and other western countries believe that it is their duty to make these decisions for Africa. The obvious answer is that Africa’s oil and minerals are vital to western economies and the western countries will do whatever is necessary to preserve access to these resources. But in the process they are increasingly engaged in ridiculous efforts at public deception and self-delusion. France talks the talk of progressive non-intervention, but walks the walk of the paternalistic colonizer. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) deploys thousands of troops to Africa, but in its efforts to claim that it is not engaged in military occupation, it locates its headquarters in Germany and bases its African “rapid reaction force” in Colorado.

For Africa’s sake, it might be best for France, the U.S. and others to abandon the charade and simply admit that they will continue their efforts to call the shots in Africa. That might at least awaken those gullible Africans who never understood that when the colonizers said goodbye more than fifty years ago, it didn’t mean they were gone.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently about armed conflicts in Africa. He can be contacted at mfancher@comcast.net.

Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by panafrican(m): 6:16pm On Jan 24, 2013
sad Create instability in a country, let the situation rot to its apex then intervene as the The Savior.
It is a classial tactic France is using in Mali, after supporting Azawad. Today French flags are everywhere in the streets of Bamako, Mali.
Re: Imperialist Powers Escalate War In Mali by TerryCarr(m): 9:02pm On Jan 24, 2013
and what were African nation gonna do? not much. Mali asked for Frances help and they got it

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