The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

France to Buy U.S. Drones for Mali Operation

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Two of America’s medium-altitude Reaper drones will be sold to France as backup for the country’s operations against Islamist rebels in Mali.

The news comes from the ‘Air et Cosmos’ specialist magazine, which reported online that a deal had been reached between France and the United States for the sale of two non-armed MQ-9 units.

The French air force had already deployed a European-made Harfang drone to Mali, with the country now wishing to acquire more modern models quickly, although any purchase of the US Reapers directly from the manufacturer (as was done with Harfang) is expected to delay delivery by seven months.

Related: Europe presses US on drones – not to cease, but to share

(via robotmonastery-deactivated)

Chad’s army has no ability to face the kind of guerrilla fighting that is emerging in northern Mali. Our soldiers are going to return to Chad. They have accomplished their mission

Chadian President Idriss Deby

Chad to pull its troops from war-torn Mali

Enter the UN: UN ‘considers’ peacekeeper deployment in Mali (with a ‘parallel’ fighting force similar to Côte d’Ivoire in the early aughts - I’ll leave it to you to research how well that turned out).

Mali: Players Increasingly Thinking Long-Term

No need to read the link above - it’s essentially a noncontextual “view from nowhere” piece by a former State department official. I’m just posting the headline to draw attention to the permanent nature of the conflict in Mali, itself a direct result of blowback from the “humanitarian” intervention in Libya.

The interventions in the Sahel aren’t really about Mali, and even less about any concern for the people living there - more about western hegemony and resource control in north and western Africa - a foot in the door if you will.

From almost a year ago, Joe Penny:

France and the US seem to be pursuing a policy that creates the very problem it is intended to thwart. Ansar Dine and MUJWA, the two dominant groups in the north who have aligned themselves with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have shown very little interest in harming Western interests, other than kidnappings for ransom. Their goals are domestic; they call for Mali to become an Islamic state. Al-Qaeda’s operations in the region amount to little more than criminal gang activity and consider Western nations secondary targets to more immediate ones like Mauritania and Algeria. Yet they are labeled security threats to the West and thus need to be bombed.

Upon bombing, the West becomes enemy number one and disaffected groups begin to seriously attack France and the US. Washington and Paris are then back to square one. The security threats have become real and then require a military response, completing the cycle of counter-intuitive diplomatic question-begging. How do we know they’re terrorists? They wanted to fight us after we bombed them.

and:

[P]ainfully few commentators writing about a future offensive in Mali acknowledge that the present conflict was enabled by fallout from another Western intervention; even fewer contemplate the potential regional fallout from an intervention in Mali. For many journalists and Sahel ‘experts,’ the best response to a jihadist rebellion and state failure that resulted from a NATO intervention is another NATO intervention. Those who advocate supplementing a NATO-funded ECOWAS force with airstrikes ignore more than two decades of failed interventions because they are entrenched in the War on Terror’s circular logic—a logic that can only act in brute force. By doing so, they are propagating a legacy of violent Western domination over the Third World.

John Pilger reports on the military buildup:

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

The invasion has almost nothing to do with “Islamism”, and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine.

As in the Cold War, a division of labour requires that Western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a “menacing arc” of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus “red menace” of a worldwide communist conspiracy.

Reminiscent of the “scramble for Africa” in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments.

Last year, Africom staged Operation African Endeavor, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

And don’t forget, “With a shiny new drone base in Niger and a magical, law-erasing Terrorist designation, the Obama administration is ready to start killing people in Mali and elsewhere in West Africa,” expanding the reach of the robot death squad beyond the bases the U.S. already has in Djibouti and Ethiopia.

The (re)colonization of Africa is just getting (re)started.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar Killed? Chad Army Claims Algeria Hostage Planner Dead In Mali

And probably unrelated:

Mokhtar Belmokthar Could Be Added To Secret ‘Kill’ List, Move Driven By Senior Obama Officials from AP, February 9th.

and

U.S. sends troops to Niger for drone missions: President Obama says the 100-troop deployment will help France in its effort to drive militants out of northern Mali from the LA Times, February 22nd

Mali: Why the hardest part is yet to come | War in Context

Retaking the north was the easy part. Now Mali faces guerrilla attacks, reportedly increasing cooperation between rebel groups, ‘the Tuareg problem’, and a divided government.

Early on during the French intervention which began in January 2013, many journalists in the international press were quick to note that Islamist militants had just “melted away” into the vast desert regions of northern Mali. As French jets attacked key strongholds, hundreds of Islamist fighters prepared convoys, which would escort leaders, weapons and fighters away from major towns.

Eye witness accounts confirmed suspicions that the militants’ departure was “orderly” and well-prepared. Their planned withdrawal may indicate their clear intention to redefine the nature of the conflict in Mali on their terms. Indeed, in a document allegedly left behind by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Timbuktu, a senior commander admits that an international intervention would exceed the group’s capability and that they ought therefore to retreat to their “rear bases” for the time being.

Recent events have also shown that local and international troops should prepare for increased resistance and a protracted campaign. [++]

Harsh Censorship in French Invasion of Mali | Jason Ditz

Noticed a conspicuous lack of specificity in the reports on the French invasion of northern Mali? It’s not an accident, but rather part of a deliberate French military strategy.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement today faulting France for imposition of its “zero image of the war front” goal, keeping private journalists from covering most of the invaded African nation and confining most of the foreign reporters to the capital city.

Even there, coverage is difficult and downright dangerous, as the Malian junta summarily detains journalists regularly, often confiscating their equipment and beating them if their reports are seen as unsympathetic to the regime.

It took a solid week of war before France even considered allowing “embedded journalists” into the northern two-thirds of the nation, and those journalists are exclusively from French state media, limiting their objectivity.

French troops have been quick to limit even that access, with reporters allowed into the conquered city of Gao only to be forcibly removed in an “emergency evacuation” when rebels ambushed troops and launched a suicide bombing on the city’s outskirts.

Mali troops attack rival red beret camp in Bamako | War in Context

The Guardian reports: Fierce fighting between rival army factions broke out in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday, in an ominous sign of the military’s weakness and amid further attacks from Islamist rebels.

At least one person was killed and five injured when forces loyal to Mali’s unelected government stormed the camp of the “red beret” presidential guard. Residents fled in panic as heavy gunfire echoed from the Djikoroni-Para paratrooper base on the Niger river.

Witnesses reported smoke rising from the base. The “red berets” are loyal to Mali’s former democratic president Amadou Toumani Touré, who was deposed in a coup last March. The elite paratroopers refused to be redeployed to the north of the country, where French and Malian soldiers have been battling Islamist rebels.

Troops loyal to Mali’s new government – led by interim prime minister Dioncounda Traoré – encircled the base with armoured vehicles early on Friday, witnesses said. The soldiers opened fire on women and children who had gathered near the camp gates, killing one and injuring two children, it was reported.

“Since 6am the soldiers arrived in armored cars and pickup trucks, all of them armed to the teeth to attack our base. The women and children tried to stop them from entering the camp. They shot tear gas at us and started shooting volleys in the air,” Batoma Dicko, a woman who lives in the military camp, told Reuters. The camp includes housing for military families. Doctors said that the dead man, in his 20s, was shot in the face.

The incident bodes badly for Mali’s future after French forces pull out. France and Malian troops have succeeded in swiftly recapturing the northern towns of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, seized last year by al-Qaida allied jihadist fighters. France’s defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, indicated earlier this week that he wants to reduce France’s military presence in Mali, and hand over “in a few weeks” to an African contingent.

The Mali Blowback: More to Come? | Stephen Zunes

The French-led military offensive in its former colony of Mali has pushed back radical Islamists and allied militias from some of the country’s northern cities, freeing the local population from repressive Taliban-style totalitarian rule. The United States has backed the French military effort by transporting French troops and equipment and providing reconnaissance through its satellites and drones. However, despite these initial victories, it raises concerns as to what unforeseen consequences may lay down the road.

Indeed, it was such Western intervention—also ostensibly on humanitarian grounds—that was largely responsible for the Malian crisis in the first place.

The 2011 NATO military intervention in Libya effort went well beyond the UN Security Council mandate to protect civilian lives, as the French, British and U.S. air forces—along with ground support by the Saudi and Qatari dictatorships—essentially allied themselves with the rebel armies. The African Union—while highly-critical of Qaddafi’s repression—condemned the intervention, fearing that the resulting chaos would result in the Libya’s vast storehouse of arms might fueling local and regional conflicts elsewhere in Africa and destabilize the region.

This is exactly what happened. [continue]

The untold US invasion of Africa | John Pilger

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

The invasion has almost nothing to do with “Islamism”, and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine.

As in the Cold War, a division of labour requires that Western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a “menacing arc” of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus “red menace” of a worldwide communist conspiracy.

Reminiscent of the “scramble for Africa” in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments.

Last year, Africom staged Operation African Endeavor, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing. [continue]

Meeting and Greeting the Crusaders in Africa | Glen Ford

These days the so-called scramble for Africa runs through Mali, and in two directions. As the British, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Belgians and the Danish follow the French into northwest Africa, the Africans rush up to meet them, as if these white people were old friends coming to visit, again. Cargo planes ferry French fighters and equipment into the Mali desert, where they search for jihadists – Muslim fighters that are politically indistinguishable from the ones the Europeans and the Americans backed in Libya, and are now arming, in Syria.

If the Mali operation takes much longer – which it certainly will – the United States will assume much of the airlift duties, since no other nation in the world has the capacity to resupply a long war on the African continent. Cracking northern Africa wide open is a job for a superpower – which is fine with the Americans. Don Yamamoto, the deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was hanging around the African Union meeting in Ethiopia, where African officials were handing out orders and directives to other Africans, as if they were actually in charge of something. Yamamoto predicted that “it could take several years” for the Mali mission to completed. “This is only the first phase,” he said. So, what is that mission? Will it take the combined forces of the United States, France, much of the rest of NATO, and of soldiers from all over Africa to defeat, at most, a few thousand jihadists in a treeless desert? Do the Europeans and the Americans really have to stay so long?

Oh yes, said deputy secretary Yamamoto. He claims, “A lot of the rebel groups that are now fighting in the region were under Gaddafi’s troops.” Ah, so that’s how the U.S. will tell the story.

It’s true that many Tuareg nationalists seeking independence for their homeland in northern Mali worked with Gaddafi’s security forces, and emerged from Libya heavily armed. But, no sooner had the secular Tuareg rebellion begun than it was overwhelmed by Muslim fundamentalists – jihadists who were Gaddafi’s sworn enemies. The jihadists, many of them foreigners, could be run out of the cities of Mali and militarily contained with little effort. But, the Tuaregs live there, and always have. It is, therefore, necessary for the United States to claim that the entire Tuareg people – several million of them – are infested with jihadism, and that this will require a long-term Euro-American presence in Mali and the region. [++]

Mission creep on speed: British intervention in Mali and West Africa | Counterfire

This is mission creep on speed.

Two weeks ago we were told Britain would have no combat role in Mali and we would send just two transport planes. Now we are told the government is sending 350 British military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces.

Prime Minister David Cameron is “keen” for Britain to get more involved in war on a new continent. He sent national security advisor Sir Kim Darroch to Paris to discuss what help Britain could provide. He has personally phoned French Prime Minister Hollande to offer more help and he is “keen to continue to provide further assistance”.

The British government says it is prepared to send a “sizeable amount” of troops to provide military assistance to France. This is how major wars begin. In the early 1960s, the United States started with a few “special advisors”  in Vietnam. More than a decade later it left defeated, with over 50,000 American troops and at least two million Vietnamese killed.

Forgetting historical example is one thing. Ignoring the last few years is extraordinary. The disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and the attack on Libya — were presented as humanitarian operations, complete with images of cheering local populations greeting western intervention — soon replaced by the devastation of the countries and huge death toll for the people they were meant to “liberate”.

The spread of the “war on terror” to the Sahel region in Africa is a result of the chaos created by the Libyan intervention. It is also driven by the same motivations as previous wars, the desire to control vital energy reserves and other mineral resources. The region contains some of Europe’s most important energy sources.

The Mali intervention will end with the same results: destruction, loss of life and deep anger against the west.

How long before the presence of thousands of western troops in their old colonial stomping grounds inflames new violence and resistance?

British troops to be sent to Mali as general warns of guerilla warfare

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

It is believed that more than 200 troops could be sent to assist France in its conflict with Al Qaeda militants in the North African country.

All the troops will perform non-combat roles and it is understood that an EU training mission is likely to see “tens” of troops sent in a “support” role.

David Cameron told French President Francois Hollande at the weekend that Britain is “keen” to help Paris with its military operation to oust Islamist militants in northern Mali.

The Prime Minister has said the UK is ready to offer logistical, intelligence and surveillance help to France but has ruled out a combat role for British personnel.

The RAF has already provided two heavy-lift C-17 transport planes and a Sentinel surveillance aircraft to assist France’s operation.

Former head of the Army General Sir Mike Jackson has backed the Government’s position but warned that nations involved may face a “protracted guerrilla warfare”.

French invasion? Check. U.S. drone base? Check. Brit troop deployment? Check. Welcome to recolonization 2013 style.

(via canadian-communist)

[It] is important to remember that [UNSC] resolution 2085 focused primarily on advancing political negotiations and establishing a process of dialogue and reconciliation, in addition to military deployment. It is clear that the French operation, justified as an ‘emergency situation,’ gives de facto priority to the management of the crisis by force, and relegates the prospects of a politically negotiated solution to the background. The complexity of the situation in northern Mali, and the imbrication of various interests tied to claims of Tuareg and Islamist groups have been reduced to a simple opposition between France and the “terrorists,” with whom no negotiation is possible.

Nicolas Bourgeois, Mali in Focus, Part Three: A Dangerous Show of Force from a Former Colonial Power

Jadaliyya posted three great background pieces on the Mali biz. I highly recommend reading all of them.

Parts 1 and 2:

Mali in Focus, Part One: The Jihadist Offensive Revisited
Mali in Focus, Part Two: A War That Threatens the Entire Region