Africa command


“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”
WP

This has been the essence of US foreign policy as it is actually practiced for the past several decades. It has escalated over time, particularly in the 1980s under Reagan, and with the proliferation of pointless wars this century begun by Bush and expanded under Obama. I say pointless, because although there may have been objectives, they were not related to the means used to achieve them, or to the eventual outcomes, in any coherent way. The US has tried to solve political problems with the brute force of military power. US foreign policy appears divorced from the realities of who what when where and why the US is conducting its policy. The result has been destruction without achievement. US policy in Africa continues this pattern. The destruction of Libya is the most aggressive recent example.

AFRICOM – a map of US military presence in Africa, countries where the U.S. has recently, as of spring 2013, conducted exercises, operations, or has bases in Africa.

Map of known US military locations in Africa.

Map of known US military locations in Africa.

The interactive version of the above map courtesy of John Reed in Foreign Policy.

You can see another map with more information about the drone base locations here. The map of what we know is shown below, but US drone activities are so shrouded in secrecy, this map only provides a small part of the story.

Known U.S. drone and surveillance flight bases in Africa February 2013

Known U.S. drone and surveillance flight bases in Africa February 2013

Go to the link to see more details of the specific bases from satellite maps.

U.S. military presence in Africa. Here are more details about US military bases and activities pinpointed in the maps above.

Morocco
Last month, about 1,200 U.S. Marines, sailors and airmen participated in African Lion ’13 where they drove 250 tons worth of vehicles and equipment on a 300 mile convoy and practiced low-level flying and aerial refueling.

Mali
U.S. troops are aiding the French fight against Islamist rebels here.

Niger
The northwest ramp of the airport at Niamey, Niger is the possible site of a U.S. drone base. About 100 U.S. troops have been deployed to Niger to set up a drone base to support a French-led military operation against al-Qaeda in neighboring Mali.

Burkina Faso
A special ramp at Ouagadougou’s airport is reportedly a hub for U.S. military surveillance planes operating in the region. The United States flies PC-12 surveillance aircraft from here north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara.

Cape Verde
U.S. coast guardsmen and sailors from the Navy and the Royal Navy helped sailors from Cape Verde’s navy conduct maritime law enforcement operations. The Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll and a Cape Verdean patrol boat conducted joint operations

Mauritania
In February and March, more than 1,000 troops from African countries and the U.S. participated in Flintlock 13. Flintlock is an annual special operations exercise held in the region. In April, U.S. Army medical troops trained Mauritanian medical personnel the latest in suture-less cataract surgery techniques during exercise MEDRETE 13-2.

Senegal
In March, the U.S., five European countries and eight African nations participated in exercise Saharan Express 2013 aimed at developing anti-piracy skills here.

South Sudan
The South Sudanese village of Nizara is the possible site of a new U.S. drone base. The U.S. military has been in talks with South Sudan about basing surveillance planes here. U.S. special operations troops are also here helping to hunt Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Kenya
An airstrip under construction near Lamu in coastal Kenya is reportedly home to a new U.S. drone base. More than 100 U.S. commandos and other personnel are based at a Kenyan military installation

Tanzania
In February, U.S. special operations troops co-hosted a conference for special ops forces from east Africa.

Djibouti
Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti is home to roughly 2,000 U.S. troops and serves as the major U.S. base in Africa. The U.S. military targets al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from this key base.

Uganda
Entebbe airport is apparently home to U.S. drone operations. U.S. special operations troops are also here helping to hunt Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. The United States flies PC-12 surveillance aircraft from here over territory used by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Ethiopia
Arba Minch, Ethiopia is reportedly home to a U.S. drone base. The United States flies Reaper drones from here over Somalia.

Seychelles
The U.S. has a drone base at the airport on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles. The U.S. military flies Reaper drones over East Africa from this island base.

Cameroon
U.S. Navy and Air Force troops provided medical treatment to more than 1,300 people here over five days in early April under the aegis of the U.S. Navy’s Africa Partnership Station. Around the same time, U.S. special operations forces were teaching Cameroonian troops ground combat techniques.

Central African Republic
U.S. special operations troops are here helping to hunt down Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
A two-man “travelling contact team” from the U.S. Army “recently” ran a three week course training 29 local troops in basic intelligence techniques. U.S. special operations troops are also here helping to hunt Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Nigeria
Last week, U.S. milirary medical personnel and staff at the Nigerian navy hospital in Lagos exchanged “best practices” for treating trauma casualties.

Liberia
A two-man “Travelling Contact Team” from U.S. Army Africa’s Inspector General’s office went to Monrovia to help the Liberian military stand up its own inspector general cadre.

Drones are now the preferred instrument of policy in the mammoth portion of US foreign policy that is run by the Pentagon and the CIA. They are also designed for domestic surveillance and control within the US. And many new varieties of drone are being introduced or are under development. This includes drones that can land and take off from carriers, sea going drones on the surface and under water, and tiny drones the size of an insect. Some are pictured below.

X-47B drone taking off from carrier deck

X-47B drone taking off from carrier deck

The Navy plans to use unmanned surface vessels to patrol harbors and, when armed with missiles or a .50-caliber machine gun, to protect ships

The Navy plans to use unmanned surface vessels to patrol harbors and, when armed with missiles or a .50-caliber machine gun, to protect ships

In one of the more unbeliable developments of the technology, the United States Air Force recently released a video showing their progress on development of tiny insect sized drones or what they are calling Micro Air Vehicles. These Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill. And these drones can be out on missions for days at a time laying in wait, gathering energy from power lines or the sun. In the video seen above, the Air Force shows how these drones would be able to follow a target inside a building.

See the full article and video: U.S. Air Force Developing Swarms of Tiny Insect Sized Drones

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles can hover, crawl, and even kill.

From the beginning drones have been a tool of political assassination.

The first CIA targeted killing by a US killer drone was a political assassination:

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

You can see the drone attacks and who they have been killing in Pakistan in this infographic:
Out of sight out of mind
And we really don’t know who is being killed and why. Obama and Co. keep telling us it is al Qaeda, but that is not who we see is dying when information does get out. Terrorist is even more convenient than the cold war communist as a name to demonize opposition as enemy. Anyone in the world can be called a terrorist. It is particularly useful to use it on political opponents, justifying almost any action against them.

As Senator Feinstein said:

… it’s a perfect assassination weapon. It can see from 17,000 to 20,000 feet up in the air, it is very precise, it can knock out a room in a building if it’s armed, it’s a very dangerous weapon.

And see my earlier post: Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies.

US policy continues to blunder along in military recolonizing mode. AFRICOM looks for partners in African countries to act on its behalf, using proxies and drones to do its dirty work. This mostly results in US support for anti-democratic leadership, people who are willing to sell their countries out from under the feet of their fellow citizens. And when a leader pops up in any country who may actually want to work with fellow citizens to determine what they want, regardless of what the US wants, there will be plenty of drones to monitor and dispose of the problem. Its a perfect assassination weapon.

US Africa policy:

“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass. Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”

The French left as well as the the right have dreams of imperial expansion.  A number of NATO participants share a vision of the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, an internal sea, surrounded by Europe.  The dream is to extend Europe around the entire coast of the Mediterranean and over North Africa.  The French decision to send troops to Mali must be considered in this context. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the leaders of the French Socialist party expressed this vision:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn … expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South …  and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology

Sarkozy spoke of this in 2007.

On that occasion, he glorified “the shattered dream of Charlemagne and of the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, . . .” Thereupon continued Nicolas Sarkozy: “Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization.” He went on to conclude: “I want to be the president of a France which will bring the Mediterranean into the process of its reunification (sic!) after twelve centuries of division and painful conflicts (. . .). America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow? While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

And as Boubacar Boris Diop points out about the current conflict in Mali:

Whether we like it or not, the Arab Spring is completely detaching north Africa from the rest of the continent, and in some respects, the “new border” is northern Mali. This is a clear and coherent strategy that the west is in the process of implementing.

Between 1960 and 2005, France launched 46 military operations in its former colonies in Africa“. Since then the total number of military interventions has grown. The pattern continues, most notably with the assault and seizure of Gbagbo in Ivory Coast and the installation of Ouattara as President there, and the current operation in Mali.  The current French intervention is called operation Serval, after the species of cat, but has been nicknamed operation hissyfit by some. The US has engaged in military training in Mali since 2003, but it does not seem to have helped Mali’s army much. So far the only accomplishment of US training has been to train Captain Sonogo, who then made a coup in Bamako which weakened the country and helped enable the Islamists to take over in northern Mali.

Map of conflict in Mali, Jan 14, 2013

Map of conflict in Mali, Jan 14, 2013

MOPTI, MALI -- A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. This is one of a lengthy series of US training programs for Mali's military. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

MOPTI, MALI — A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. The US has announced plans to renew military aid and training in Mali. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

Areva Mining operations in  Niger, source of most of the uranium for France's nuclear power industry

Areva uranium mining operations in Niger

Bruce Whitehouse provides valuable background to the present political situation in Mali. He describes how Mali’s democracy had been hollowed out over time, and that the majority of the people in Bamako supported the coup when it occurred in March 2012.  Most people saw the government as corrupt.

Touré’s ‘rule by consensus’ became a euphemism for the suppression of political debate and a trend towards absolutism. Checks and balances existed only on paper. Journalists were afraid to challenge the president’s agenda, especially after five of their colleagues were arrested in 2007.

He also informs us that the conflict in Mali is not strictly speaking a civil war.  Mali is being invaded from the north as well as from the south.  Much of the funding for the salafist jihadi militias comes from the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC (nicknamed the Gulf Counter-revolutionary Club by Pepe Escobar.)  The GCC works closely with NATO.  As @IfyOtuya said on Twitter “It is this same GCC-West petro tyranny hegemony that runs colonialism in North, East and West Africa.”

Whitehouse continues:

Moreover, I’m not sure how accurate it is to call the forces fighting against the French “Malian rebels” or to describe the conflict as a “civil war“–the command structures of AQIM and MOJWA in particular are dominated by Algerians and Mauritanians. Malians widely perceive these groups as foreign invaders, motivated by racism and greed as well as a perverted, even ignorant view of their faith.

We cannot say that the war in Mali is primarily about natural resources, Western meddling, or religion. We can say, however, that it is a direct consequence of state failure, which as I have argued elsewhere came about largely due to factors internal to Mali. My experience as an anthropologist has made me suspicious of reductionist theories and grand narratives of history, from Marxism to dependency theory to modernization theory. The notion that what’s today playing out in Mali is the product of a “great game” between major powers ignores the realities on the ground there.

It is not a product of a great game, but the near collapse of Mali’s governance provides an enticing playing field for the gamers.  France, the UK, and US, and other NATO countries are happy to engage with the conflict in Mali one way or another. Their motives are all about resources and geopolitical fantasies, taking advantage of state failure, the chaos, and Mali’s weakness, to advance their national and corporate interests. They are unlikely to be able to control the results.  The people of Mali are not simple pawns to be moved around at the direction of outsiders.  Imperialists may think they are playing the great game.  In the long run things are most unlikely to turn out as they desire or expect, especially when so many of their expectations are based on ignorance of country, people, and history.  Unfortunately,  far too many lives will be wasted and destroyed in the process.   Captain Sonogo’s coup is an excellent example of unexpected consequences.  It was an unexpected result of the realities on the ground in Mali, partially enabled by Captain Sonogo’s IMET training and ties with AFRICOM.

Bruce Whitehouse writes about Understanding Mali’s “Tuareg problem”. It is far more complex than you will hear in most accounts. He makes several points, please see the article for more explanation of each of these points:

Even in northern Mali, the people we call “the Tuareg” are a minority.
Most of the people we call “the Tuareg” are black.
The people we call “the Tuareg” are not united on anything, least of all separatism.
The people we call “the Tuareg” have not been excluded from Mali’s government.
Innocent civilians identified as “Tuareg” have been abused and murdered.
The label of historically oppressed minority does not easily fit the people we call “the Tuareg.”

He concludes with:

I’m no expert on the Tuareg or northern Mali in general, and I don’t claim to offer any solutions. But I know three things. One, whatever the “Tuareg problem” is, an independent or autonomous state for “the Tuareg” is unlikely to solve it. Two, simplistic categories used to describe these people and their relations with neighboring groups actually keep us from understanding, let alone preventing, the race-based injustices that have occurred in Mali and throughout the region. And three, until Malians of all backgrounds can meet for open dialogue about the crimes they have endured — and carried out — they will continue talking past each other, and their divergent views of their common history will only grow further apart.

This does not look like a problem that war is likely to solve. It is, as with so many governance problems in Africa and globally, a political problem that is being treated to a military solution that cannot solve, or even address, the real issues.

Gregory Mann writes that the invasion was necessary against a formidable enemy. He writes that the intervention was popular and at the request of Mali:

This is not a neo-colonial offensive. The argument that it is might be comfortable and familiar, but it is bogus and ill-informed. France intervened following a direct request for help from Mali’s interim President, Dioncounda Traore. Most Malians celebrated the arrival of French troops, as Bruce Whitehouse and Fabien Offner have demonstrated. Every Malian I’ve talked to agrees with that sentiment.

In contrast, the French client state Central African Republic asked for French intervention this year as rebels neared its capitol, but the French declined to intervene despite the precarious position of the CAR government and the proximity of rebels to the capitol.  The French jumped into Mali, but avoided involvement in the CAR.

It is very difficult to get accurate information on what is going on now in Mali. Bamako is rife with rumors. And the French are carefully controlling any coverage of their military movements and actions.  Reporters are kept far away from any action.  Bruce Whitehouse is an excellent source of information and commentary on Mali, particularly the capitol, Bamako.  He writes “These days You can believe whatever you want and find reporting to back you up.

A young child runs through a deserted side street in Gao, northern Mali, on Jan. 28, 2013, the day after French and Malian troops secured a strategic bridge and the airport.

A young child runs through a deserted side street in Gao, northern Mali, on Jan. 28, 2013, the day after French and Malian troops secured a strategic bridge and the airport.

Pepe Escobar describes some of the geopolitical features of the conflict in Mali.

It’s now official – coming from the mouth of the lion, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, and duly posted at the AFRICOM site, the Pentagon’s weaponized African branch. Exit “historical” al-Qaeda, holed up somewhere in the Waziristans, in the Pakistani tribal areas; enter al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In Dempsey’s words, AQIM “is a threat not only to the country of Mali, but the region, and if… left unaddressed, could in fact become a global threat.”

With Mali now elevated to the status of a “threat” to the whole world, GWOT [Global War On Terror] is proven to be really open-ended. The Pentagon doesn’t do irony; when, in the early 2000s, armchair warriors coined the expression “The Long War”, they really meant it.

Follow the gold. A host of nations have gold bullion deposited at the New York Federal Reserve. They include, crucially, Germany. Recently, Berlin started asking to get back its physical gold back – 374 ton from the Bank of France and 300 tons out of 1,500 tons from the New York Federal Reserve.

So guess what the French and the Americans essentially said: We ain’t got no gold! Well, at least right now. It will take five years for the German gold in France to be returned, and no less than seven years for the stash at the New York Federal Reserve. Bottom line: both Paris and Washington/New York have to come up with real physical gold any way they can.

That’s where Mali fits in – beautifully. Mali – along with Ghana – accounts for up to 8% of global gold production. So if you’re desperate for the genuine article – physical gold – you’ve got to control Mali. Imagine all that gold falling into the hands of… China.
Now follow the uranium. As everyone who was glued to the Niger yellowcake saga prior to the invasion of Iraq knows, Niger is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium. Its biggest customer is – surprise! – France; half of France’s electricity comes from nuclear energy. The uranium mines in Niger happen to be concentrated in the northwest of the country, on the western range of the Air mountains, very close to the Mali border and one of the regions being bombed by the French.

The uranium issue is intimately connected with successive Tuareg rebellions; one must remember that, for the Tuaregs, there are no borders in the Sahel. All recent Tuareg rebellions in Niger happened in uranium country – in Agadez province, near the Mali border. So, from the point of view of French interests, imagine the possibility of the Tuaregs gaining control of those uranium mines – and starting to do deals with… China. Beijing, after all, is already present in the region.

All this crucial geostrategic power play – the “West” fighting China in Africa, with AFRICOM giving a hand to warlord Hollande while taking the Long War perspective – actually supersedes the blowback syndrome. It’s unthinkable that British, French and American intelligence did not foresee the blowback ramifications from NATO’s “humanitarian war” in Libya. NATO was intimately allied with Salafis and Salafi-jihadis – temporarily reconverted into “freedom fighters”. They knew Mali – and the whole Sahel – would subsequently be awash in weapons.

No, the expansion of GWOT to the Sahara/Sahel happened by design. GWOT is the gift that keeps on giving; what could possibly top a new war theatre to the French-Anglo-American industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex?

Well-wishers gather to greet French President Francois Hollande during his two-hour-long visit to Timbuktu, Feb. 2, 2013.

Well-wishers gather to greet French President Francois Hollande during his two-hour-long visit to Timbuktu, Feb. 2, 2013.

Boubacar Boris Diop, Senegalese writer and intellectual, has reservations and grave doubts about the French intervention in Mali. He was interviewed by Souleymane Ndiaye for the Senegalese paper Le Pays au Quotidien. From the translation in The Guardian:

it is, in fact, a stroke of genius on the part of Paris that France can be depicted as an enemy of the “villains”. I use this word deliberately because international politics often reminds me of a Hollywood movie in which the whole plot depends on us being conditioned to be on the side of the good guys. When you learn that narco-terrorists occupy two-thirds of Mali, and that they destroy mosques and the tombs of saints, set fire to the Ahmed Baba Library and cut off people’s hands, your first impulse is to approve of those trying to help innocents out of harm’s way.

After Qaddafi was killed, under appalling circumstances, the French government believed the time had come to entrust the outsourcing of war against AQIM [al-Qaida in the Maghreb] and MUJAO [Movement for Unity and Jihad in west Africa] to the Tuareg rebellion. As Ibrahima Sene recently pointed out in his response to Samir Amin, Paris and Washington then decided to help the Tuareg in Libya return, heavily armed, to Mali – but, more interestingly, not to Niger, where they did not want to take any risk because of Areva [uranium mines]. The Tuareg were delighted to finally realise their dream of independence through the new state of Azawad, an ally of the west.

Some French media were then asked to “sell” the project of the “blue men of the desert” who were willing and ready to go to war against Mali. Just take a look in the archives of France 24 and RFI … France clearly occupies the role of a pyromaniac firefighter. Everything suggests that the French will defeat the jihadists, but this victory will cost the Malians their government and their honour.

BBD: I just want to say that this is the end of independence for Mali for a long time, and for its relative territorial homogeneity. It would be naive to imagine that, after having worked so hard to liberate the north, France will hand over the keys of the country to Dioncounda Traore and to the Malians and be satisfied with effusive farewells. No, the world does not work that way. France has put itself in a good position in the race for the prodigious natural resources of the Sahara, and it would be hard to imagine that the French will just drop the Tuareg rebellion, which has always been their trump card. There is an episode in this war that has gone unnoticed, yet deserves some consideration: the capture of Kidal. We initially conceded that Kidal was “captured” by the MNLA, which no longer has any military presence, and a few days later, on January 29th, French troops entered the town alone, not allowing Malian forces to accompany them. Iyad Ag Ghali, head of Ansar Dine, discredited by his affiliation with AQIM and MUJAO, is already almost out of the game and his “moderate” rival, Alghabasse Ag Intalla, head of MIA (Islamic Movement of Azawd) is in the best position to find common ground with Paris. As a matter of fact, after this military debacle, the Tuareg separatists are going to have political control over the north, something they have never had before. It’s a great paradox, but it is in the interest of the west that Mali has no hold over the northern part of it’s country. Traoré is already being pressured to negotiate with the moderate Tuareg backed by Paris, and it is unlikely that we are going to see a president as weakened as Dioncounda trying to resist Hollande. Whether we like it or not, the Arab Spring is completely detaching north Africa from the rest of the continent, and in some respects, the “new border” is northern Mali. This is a clear and coherent strategy that the west is in the process of implementing.

SN: What did you think when you saw young Malians waving French flags?

BBD: Some say it has been fabricated. I don’t agree. I think these pictures reveal the immense relief that the Malians feel. They are particularly disturbing images, and this is why should have the guts to confront them. The real question is not so much what we, as African intellectuals and politicians, should think of the French. More importantly, the question is how is it that our people are left in such a state of abandonment? The question that these images really raise for us is how is it that the French troops who occupied Mali for centuries as barbaric colonisers have come back 50 years later to be greeted as liberators? Does this not leave us seriously perplexed? What is Malian independence really worth?

The outpouring of affection towards French soldiers is from the heart, but it is temporary. The real aims of the war will become clearer for Malians, and time will not be on the French’s side. Benign foreign forces don’t exist anywhere.

it must be extremely hard these days to be in the Malian military. Here is a national army fighting in its own country, and its soldiers’ deaths do not even count, unlike that of the French helicopter pilot, Damien Boiteux, who was shot on the first day of fighting. All these humiliations will show Mali that a certain democratic comedy, aimed at pleasing foreign backers, is meaningless. Mali is a case study, cited everywhere as an example. Very little is needed for the country to collapse. We already see the mechanisms of exclusion in the works, and these create more and more murderers: All Tuaregs and Arabs will come to be seen as accomplices of jihadists or of the Tuareg separatist movement. Already aware of this danger, intellectuals like Aminata Dramane Traoré of Mali have repeatedly sounded the alarm in recent months, but nobody wants to listen. Relations between the different communities in Mali have always been fragile, and the threat of racial hostilities has never been as grave.

the procrastination of the African states has been rightly criticised, but you have to understand that it is ultimately suicidal for them to engage in a complex war with their bare hands. Yet this is precisely the criticism we can dole out to our countries: A failure to have the means to defends ourselves, collectively or individually.

Dan Glazebrook writes in The West’s War Against African Development Continues

… it is the West that is reliant on African handouts. …

Gold and uranium are the handouts of particular interest in Mali, Algeria’s oil and independence are also of interest.

As long as Gaddafi was in power [in Libya]  and heading up a powerful and effective regional security system, Salafist militias in North Africa could not be used as a ‘threatening menace’ justifying Western invasion and occupation to save the helpless natives. By actually achieving what the West claim to want (but everywhere fail to achieve) – the neutralization of ‘Islamist terrorism’ – Libya had stripped the imperialists of a key pretext for their war against Africa. At the same time, they had prevented the militias from fulfilling their other historical function for the West – as a proxy force to destabilize independent secular states (fully documented in Mark Curtis’ excellent Secret Affairs). The West had supported Salafi death squads in campaigns to destabilize the USSR and Yugoslavia highly successfully, and would do so again against Libya and Syria

With NATO’s redrawing of Libya as a failed state, this security system has fallen apart. Not only have the Salafi militias been provided with the latest hi-tech military equipment by NATO, they have been given free reign to loot the Libyan government’s armouries, and provided with a safe haven from which to organize attacks across the region. Border security has collapsed, with the apparent connivance of the new Libyan government and its NATO sponsors, as this damning report from global intelligence firm Jamestown Foundation notes …

The most obvious victim of this destabilization has been Mali.

As Escobar points out above, the flood of arms and militias out of Libya were foreseen by Western intelligence.    Algeria is rich in oil and borders the Mediterranean, another target in the Long War as well as a target of those who envision the Mediterranean as a European internal sea with Europe extending over North Africa.  The “French-Anglo-American industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex” do very nicely by continuing the GWOT.   Glazebrook continues:

…  disaster zones can be tolerated; strong, independent states cannot.

It is, therefore, perceived to be in the strategic interests of Western energy security to see Algeria turned into a failed state, just as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have been. With this in mind, it is clear to see how the apparently contradictory policy of arming the Salafist militias one minute (in Libya) and bombing them the next (in Mali) does in fact make sense. The French bombing mission aims, in its own words, at the “total reconquest” of Mali, which in practice means driving the rebels gradually Northwards through the country – in other words, straight into Algeria.

…   Like a classic mafia protection racket, the West makes its protection ‘necessary’ by unleashing the very forces from which people require protection. Now France is occupying Mali, the US are establishing a new drone base in Niger and David Cameron is talking about his commitment to a new ‘war on terror’ spanning six countries, and likely to last decades.

Bill Van Auken writes:

Both Paris and Washington have justified their military incursions into the African continent in the name of defeating Al Qaeda and associated organizations in Africa. British Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in last month, warning that the prosecution of this war in Africa could span “decades.”

The glaring contradiction between this pretext for war in Africa’s Sahel region and the line-up of these imperialist powers behind Al Qaeda-linked militias in the sectarian-based war to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria is passed over in silence by the media and the political establishments in all three countries.

Behind the incoherence of the pretexts for imperialist intervention, the real forces driving it are clear. Washington finds itself being economically eclipsed in Africa by China, which has emerged as the continent’s leading trade partner. Increasingly in competition over strategic resources—West Africa is soon expected to account for 25 percent of US petroleum imports—US imperialism is relying on its residual military superiority to combat this economic challenge.

In the prosecution of this predatory strategy, Al Qaeda serves a dual purpose—providing shock troops for the toppling of regimes seen as obstacles to US hegemony, and serving as a pretext for other interventions carried out in the name of combating “terrorism” and “extremism.”

A Malian man dressed in green walks between green doors of closed shops in Gao, Feb. 5, 2013.

A Malian man dressed in green walks between green doors of closed shops in Gao, Feb. 5, 2013.

In Foreign Policy Gordon Adams describes a Continental Shift in US policy towards Africa.

U.S. engagement in Africa is shifting from a focus on governance, health, and development to a deepening military engagement. And while the Pentagon portrays this expanding military engagement as a way to empower Africans, it is actually building security relationships that could backfire, harming our long-term foreign policy interests.

A focus on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations has driven this engagement forward …

[T]he U.S. plans its security assistance programs in a strategy and policy void and, with a focus on “security” but not “governance,” they are largely implemented to meet the bureaucratic, regional, and program priorities of the Defense Department, in this case, Africom. The choice of countries, programs, and individuals to receive support in Africa is driven largely by the military — the regional combatant commander, the military services, and DOD policy officials.
U.S. security assistance, especially after Iraq and Afghanistan, does put “security” first and “governance” second, which is characteristic of these Africa programs.  …  The downside is that by putting security first …  too many [African countries] will end up insecure in another way: hostage to a strongly developed military-paramilitary-gendarme-police force which is the only effective form of political power. As the Perry report said in its subdued way: “In many countries, whether intended or not, the U.S. is choosing sides in the partner nation’s political process when it provides assistance to security forces.”

Gordon Adams is describing what I and others have been writing about since 2007 and before.  The US choice to invest the  money and attention it devotes to Africa on military development is to choose sides in the political process of the nations it engages.  Africans want to move away from military governments.   US national interests are not being served when the Department of Defense, DoD, bureaucratic, regional, and program priorities drive national foreign policy.  The US military remains on the wrong side of history in Africa.   There is a long US history of military assistance and covert intervention in Africa throughout the cold war and particularly in the lengthy US support for apartheid.  In the course of those conflicts the US was party to the introduction of state sponsored terrorism into African conflicts.  The US has been party to coups and assassinations against the most progressive and visionary of Africa’s leaders, including Nkrumah, Lumumba, and Sankara.  US support for Savimbi and manipulation of the electoral process precipitated an extra decade of war in Angola. The US installed and maintained Mobutu in Congo, DRC, for decades of theft and misrule.  The US arms and supports Rwanda and Uganda as they loot the Eastern Congo.   It would behoove US long term interests in Africa to avoid looking like the leader among those who would recolonize the African continent. Mali’s current fractures make it vulnerable to military opportunism. France, the UK, and US (fukus) along with NATO and the GCC, are engaged in a short sighted Long War of neocolonialism.

Two items came out this past week that are intimately related, although probably not intentionally linked. Foreign Policy and The Fund For Peace released their annual Index of Failed States. Africa Ia A Country calls them out, it is a failed index.

We at Africa Is a Country think Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace should either radically rethink the Failed States Index, which they publish in collaboration each year, or abandon it altogether. We just can’t take it seriously: It’s a failed index.

Foreign Policy’s 2012 Failed States Index, note the color key and the continent of Africa.

This year, pro forma, almost the entire African continent shows up on the Failed States map in the guiltiest shade of red. The accusation is that with a handful of exceptions, African states are failing in 2012. But what does this tell us? What does it actually mean? Frankly, we have no idea. The index is so flawed in its conception, so incoherent in its structuring criteria, and so misleading in its presentation that from the perspective of those who live or work in those places condemned as failures, it’s difficult to receive the ranking as anything more than a predictable annual canard issued from Washington, D.C. against non-Western — and particularly African — nations.

The problem is that there are any number of reasons why the Fund for Peace might decide that a state is failing. The Washington-based think tank has a methodology of sorts, but Foreign Policy insists on making the list accessible primarily through a series of “Postcards from Hell.” Flipping through the slide show, it’s impossible to shrug off the suspicion that the whole affair is a sloppy cocktail of cultural bigotries and liberal-democratic commonplaces — a faux-empirical sham that packs quite a nasty racialized aftertaste. How do we know if a state is failing or not? Old chestnuts like the rule of law are certainly considered, but also in play are things like economic growth, economic “success,” poverty, inequality, corruption, nonstate violence, state violence, human rights abuses, body counts, terrorism, health care, “fragility,” political dissent, social divisions, and levels of authoritarianism. And yes, we’ll be indexing all of those at once, and more.

The golden principle by which this muddle is to be marshaled oh-so-objectively into a grand spectrum of state failure coefficients is apparently the idea of “stability.” But is it really?

Stability is where the other item falls into place. William Easterly published the a new ad from the Marine Corps, calling it The Worst Promotional Aid Video of All Time

Courtesy of the Marines, ad during the Euro Cup final paid for with your taxpayer dollars, “Moving towards the sounds of chaos”.

“We are the first to move towards the sounds of tyranny, injustice, and despair” (image of helicopter gunship carrying boxes labelled “aid”)

The target audience of the commercial included vast numbers of people from the majority of the world whose states the Index labels failed or failing.

This is aid at gunpoint, it is also called stability operations, the reason the US Africa Command was created. The notion of stability is meant to be incoherent. It needs to be redefined for each country whose resources the US wants to acquire. Stability operations are needed to quell and control any groups or individuals who may stand in the way of perceived US interests, including acting against legally constituted governments.

Military aid and questionable trade are the twin pillars of US involvement in Africa. Imperial acquisition masquerades as humanitarian aid and manifests as the militarization of the continent through the US Africa Command, AFRICOM. Of course AFRICOM’s fact sheet speaks about working with military partners. These partners are intended to be proxies or surrogates that will provide stability without accountability for corporate interests to extract resources.

Below are stills from the commercial. The invasion pictured is exactly what the US is training itself and its intended African proxies to do along the coasts and in the creeks of the entire continent.

View of coastal military “aid” invasion from helicopter gunship

By sea, by air, military invasion to apply “aid”

Charging through to surf

By land, by sea, by air, bringing “aid” with very big guns

Boxes of Aid, filled with who knows what

Military vehicles carrying boxes marked Aid

View from a helicopter gunship carrying a box marked Aid

The invading forces deliver the Aid at gunpoint

Polling in 2010 revealed something about US citizens’ understanding of the country’s budget. Although 1% of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid, when asked, American’s median response was to say 25% of the budget goes to foreign aid. One may deduce the reason for the discrepancy between the reality and the perception of aid is that many Americans think their military activity around the world is aid. The Marines commercial is certainly intended to reinforce that view.

Stability operations are intended to stabilize a country, not to make it more democratic, not to make its government more accountable, but to make it easier and more efficient for corporations to extract the resources they want from a country. Instead of being self governed, countries are subjected to military occupation with unaccountable NGOs supposedly doing the service work of government. Failed states may be more desirable to deal with than states with democratic or somewhat representative government. Those states must answer to their own people, not US or international corporations. The US has been trying to label Nigeria a failed state for more than a decade. The kind of “humanitarian” invasion so vividly depicted in the commercial (although there is no blood in the commercial) is quite likely to bring, or increase, tyranny, injustice, and despair to the countries it targets.

The US Africa Command puts heavy emphasis on fighting terrorism. But a terrorist may be anyone acting against US perception of its self interest, frequently those called terrorists are just political opposition. You can see this at work in the Index of Failed States.

Foreign Policy explains to its readers that Malawi (No. 36 on this year’s index) is to be considered a failed state on account of the 19 people killed by police during popular protests against Bingu wa Mutharika’s government a year ago. Yet such dissent is evidence of the strength of Malawian civil society and the determination of ordinary Malawians not to get screwed by their government. Malawi is undoubtedly better off for these protests, not worse. What makes the country’s listing as a failed state look even sillier is that Malawi recently endured a blissfully peaceful transition of power following Mutharika’s sudden death, with constitutional guidelines scrupulously adhered to despite the vested interests of many of the country’s ruling class.

… So how exactly can a democratic country like, say, Nigeria ever hope to satisfy the whimsical judgment of Foreign Policy magazine? The Occupy Nigeria movement that demonstrated against corruption and the removal of the country’s fuel subsidy in January was a peaceful mass movement that achieved major gains for working people. It was a thoroughly global protest, with Nigerians in the diaspora taking to the streets of Brussels, London, New York, and Washington, D.C., to demand better governance in Nigeria. Yet these protests are listed on the country’s “postcard” alongside terrorist attacks by Boko Haram as equal evidence of Nigeria’s “hellishness.” For some reason, the postcard neglects to mention the extraordinary spectacle of protesters in Nigerian cities standing guard outside each other’s places of worship — Muslims outside churches, Christians at the doors of mosques — so that each group could pray without fear of further bombings.

Many of the Postcards from Hell, in fact, simply show popular protests taking place, as though dissent and social demonstrations are themselves signs of state failure. What kind of half-baked political theory is this? Maybe protests are bad for business and troublesome, but for whom exactly? And are we ranking the state or the society? Or both at once?

The Postcards from Hell also insist that there are no white people in this year’s story of state failure …

There will never be a Postcard from Hell that bears a picture of an American street. But what if there were? What would go on there?

Perhaps the picture could be of the moment last year when a police officer seized a U.C.-Berkeley college professor by the hair and flung her to the ground.

One thing is certain, Foreign Policy and The Fund for Peace are enabling the lie that military intervention is humanitarian aid, particularly in resource rich Africa. They reinforce the notion that poor people are dangerous people. In doing so they are actively working against development in Africa and against the best interests of African people. They help justify the poisonously destructive picture of aid painted by the Marine Corps commercial.

Added July 5

What we see in the Marine Corps ad is a Marine Air Ground Task Force. In 2010 the US Africa Command began developing MAGTF units for use in Africa.

Marine air ground task force, MAGTF (click to enlarge enough to read text)

“MAGTF’s are readily available, self-sustaining, combined arms warfighting organizations,” the Marines’ Web site explains, noting among other things that such task forces are equipped to move forces into crisis areas without revealing their exact destination or intentions and project combat power at night and under adverse weather.

These are warfighting units designed to project US power and defend US interests.

Who would need to give permission for these strike forces to strike? What would constitute a legal and appropriate use of these forces? Suppose the US government, or US based corporations do not like the policies of a certain African government? Would that government be subject to attack? Or suppose the US government or US based corporations are very happy with a particular government but that government is highly unpopular with its own people. Will the US strike against the opposition? Would it strike against political demonstrations? What would make such a strike legitimate? I can’t think of any good answers to these questions, but they must be answered, and in fact will be answered, in deed and by default, if not with diplomacy. The message the US is sending is that it feels entitled to take what it wants, wherever it wants, by force. This is the basic message of colonialism.

William Easterly, @bill_easterly, had several relevant tweets today. He sums it up most succinctly:

“Failed State” means “state which somebody is advocating invading.” bit.ly/NoNhiD

And adds:

“Failed State” is conveniently vague for Great Powers that want to intervene in their own interests

1 Term justifies Drug War MexicoColombia and War on Terror IraqAfghanistanYemenPakistanSomalia

He pointed out the flaws in the term “failed state” over two years ago:

Top 5 reasons why “failed state” is a failed concept

1) “State failure” is leading to confused policy making.

For example, it is causing the military to attempt overly ambitious nation-building and development to approach counter-terrorism, under the unproven assumption that “failed states” produce terrorism.

2) “State failure” has failed to produce any useful academic research in economics

3) “State failure” has no coherent definition.

4) The only possible meaningful definition adds nothing new to our understanding of state behavior, and is not really measurable.

5)  “State failure” appeared for political reasons.

You can read more explanation and detail and view diagrams tracking the term at the link. His initial tweet on the subject today still sums it up.

“Failed State” means “state which somebody is advocating invading.”

The coup in Mali appears to be over, and President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso is leading talks on how to organize and move forward.

“Former parliament speaker Dioncounda Traoré was sworn in on Thursday as interim president after Amadou Toumani Touré resigned under the 6 April agreement.

The 70-year-old mathematician turned politician is expected to name a prime minister soon, and to organise elections within 40 days.

He has threatened “total war” against the northern rebels, who seized a vast swathe of territory amid the disarray that followed the 22 March coup, which the mutineers justified by accusing Touré’s government of mishandling the Tuareg rebellion.”

The following interview with Andy Morgan from March 27 provides knowledge, history, and insight regarding what is going on with the Tuareg uprising in Mali.

“Q: Could you give us the general picture of what is going on in Mali at the moment?
A: The Tuaregs have been fighting an insurgency against the central power in Mali since the late 1950s but in terms of open fighting, since 1963. So this is a very old story. What we are seeing is the latest chapter, but a chapter with a great many differences. The Tuaregs this time are better equipped, better trained and better led than they ever have been before and as a result they have been able to clinch a series of military victories which have given them control of the northern half of Mali …

Q: What about the AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)? Does this group exist and are there any links with the MNLA as some have suggested?
A: No Tuareg has ever killed or maimed another human being in the name of religion – certainly not in the last sixty years. I say that just to make clear that there is no cultural affinity between the Tuareg and AQIM. There is no question that AQIM does actually exist, this has been verified, but the more difficult question is who are its friends and enemies? They carry out kidnappings and have murdered people, including soldiers and policemen and have carried out suicide attacks. But there is a great deal of conjecture about this whole issue. What does certainly happen is that many western African and North African governments use Al Qaeda to discredit political or independence and autonomy movements.”

Here is the map of Mali from near the end of March.

Map of Mali with the MNLA claims and positions as of March 28, 2012, before the MNLA captured Timbuktu

An excerpt from The Causes of the Uprising in Northern Mali by Andy Morgan:

“Iyad Ag Ghali, Ansar Eddine and Mali-AQIM collusion theory

Iyad’s creation of Ansar Eddine and his reported ties with a certain Abou Abdelkarim aka Le Targui, one of the minor AQIM leaders operating in the southern desert, have opened the flood gates to national and international speculation about the possible links between the Tuareg rebel movement and Islamic terrorists, a link that the Malian government is all to keen to stoke and publicise in order to discredit the movement. As his name indicates, Abdelkarim le Targui is supposedly a Tuareg, a native of the Tinzawaten region and the erstwhile preacher at the mosque in In Khalil, a remote and fairly lawless border town in the far north east of Mali. He is reportedly a subordinate of the thuggish emir Abou Zeid, and leader of his own small katiba called Al Ansar which was responsible for kidnapping the septuagenarian French humanitarian worker Michel Germaneau in 2010. According to an announcement by Abdelmalik Droukdel, until recently the supreme leader of AQIM, which was posted up on the AQIM website, Abdelkarim Le Targui was also responsible for murdering Germaneau in cold blood as well as negotiation major drug deals on behalf of AQIM with the representatives of a Colombian drugs cartel in Guinea-Bissau. Not the kind of person you should be associating with if you want to present yourself as a legitimate political organisation.

Iyad’s association with Abdelkarim Le Targui is vague and conjectural. Some Tuareg even argue that far from being a true targui, Abdelkarim is an Algerian Arab, like all the other AQIM leaders in the southern desert. Nonetheless this link, together with the perceived religious extremism of Iyad and his Ansar Eddine movement, has spawned a smear campaign in Bamako which aims to convince the world that the MNLA are in cahoots with AQIM. The AFP reporter in Bamako even claimed that Abou Zeid took part in a recent MNLA attack on the army in the village of Aguel’hoc north of Kidal. Nothing is more poisonous to the international image of the Tuareg cause than this taint of fundamentalism and AQIM, not even the Gaddafi links.

There are several reasons why that taint is wholly unjustified. The first is that since the inception of the MNA and MNLA movements, one of their loudest, most cherished and oft repeated aims is to rid their homeland of AQIM, an organisation which they consider to be one of Mali’s most effective weapons in its fight against their cause. “AQIM was parachuted in and installed in our territory by the Malian government,” declares Hama Ag Sid’Ahmed, with total conviction. “It was the initiative of certain drugs barons, who are advisors to the President, in the shadows of the Koulouba Palace [The Presidential palace in Bamako]. They brought them into the Timbuktu region and then to Kidal. In return for the release of the 32 hostages in 2003, a pact of non-aggression was signed between Bamako and Al Qaeda, who then progressively occupied this territory. Those contacts became permanent and it’s clear that since then all the operations led by the terrorist groups have originated in Mali, and the terrorist have always fallen back to Mali. It’s their safe haven. Everyone knows that the terrorists are in communication with military leaders, and that politicians from Bamako meet the terrorist emirs quite regularly.”

Far fetched? Maybe. Like Professor Jeremy Keenan’s controversial theory that AQIM are a creation of the Algerian DRS, the Mali-AQIM collusion theory remains conjectural. But the circumstantial evidence that links a cabal of Malian army and secret service operatives, usually Arabs from the north of the country close to the upper echelons of Mali’s political and military hierarchy, to the huge drug smuggling operations that have blighted the stability of the northern deserts in recent years and to AQIM is very strong. It’s hardly a secret anymore that a consensus exists among US, French and Algerian diplomats in the region that Mali has been long on words but short on action in its dealings with AQIM since 2006. The frustration with Mali’s lack of firm resolve and decisive action in this regard, despite the millions of dollars in aid that it has received from the US and France specifically for the purpose of fighting terrorists on its soil, has been growing exponentially in the embassies and foreign ministries of the world powers. Apart from one clash with AQIM in the desert north of Timbuktu back in 2006, there have hardly been any confirmed reports of the Malian army doing any damage to AQIM at all. In fact, the most determined opposition that AQIM has encountered during its five year campaign of terror in Mali has been at the hands of the ADC, the Tuareg rebel movement launched in 2006, who skirmished with the terrorists several times between 2006 and 2009, with lives lost on both sides. And now that the entire might of the Malian army has been thrown against the Tuareg uprising with such devastating force, including fighter jets, tanks, armoured vehicles, missiles of every stamp and thousands of troops, it’s little wonder that Tuaregs, diplomats, analysts and commentators are feeling a tad cynical about Mali’s repeated assertions in recent years that they’ve never had the military wherewithal to deal with the AQIM threat.

A senior Malian politician once had the temerity to declare in a private meeting at the US Embassy in Bamako that the presence of AQIM in the north east of the country was a good thing, as long as it meant that the Tuareg rebel movement wasted its resources and time trying to combat it. At another meeting, the new Algerian ambassador informed his US counterpart that he suspected collusion between Mali and the terrorists. He cited the then recent case of a joint Algerian-Malian operation to attack an AQIM base that had failed because the AQIM katiba in question had been tipped off in advance. All these frankly startling revelations are contained in the US Embassy cables leaked by Bradley Manning and Wikileaks. In fact, there is no better way to understand what really went on in the northern deserts of Mali between 2006 and early 2010 than to read those US Embassy cables. The level of intelligence, analysis and research contained in them is often of the highest order. And yes, they do reveal that the US Embassy has also suspected Mali of at best tolerating and at worst colluding with AQIM at one time or another.

If the implantation of AQIM on Tuareg soil was part of a deliberate Malian strategy, then it has been extraordinarily effective. The main campaign of AQIM kidnapping and extortion began in March 2008 (interestingly there had been a five year hiatus since the 2003 hostage incident), just when relations between Mali, the ADC and Ag Bahanga were reaching their nadir. Since that time AQIM has knocked the Tuareg rebellion squarely off the front page, both national and internationally. Until January 17 of this year that is. The presence of AQIM in Mali put the country in the front line of the USA’s global war on terror, giving it kudos and a receptive ear in Washington whilst justifying the huge amounts of money, training and equipment that America lavished on Mali in the context of its Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Programme (TSCTP) and Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI). It has also emptied the north of foreign journalists, foreign observers, foreign NGO workers, foreign tourists and foreigners in general, whose presence could have been inconvenient for certain shady army or secret service (DGSE) operations, especially those linked with the drug trade. Most of all, AQIM have simply throttled the region and deprived its Tuareg population of any hope of building a viable future and developing a strong economy. In short, AQIM has crippled Tuareg society in Mali’s north east. No wonder MNLA have vowed to rid their land of Al Qaeda.

And yet Iyad Ag Ghali’s Ansar Eddine movement continues to sow the seeds of doubt and Mali’s propaganda machine continues to milk any possible connection between the MNLA, Iyad and AQIM for all its worth. Apparently Iyad tried to sell his plan for an Islamic inspired movement to the Ifoghas meeting in Abeibara by promising that his political approach would be no different to that of the moderate Islamic parties that have come to power following the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. There also happens to be another Islamic organisation in Mali with the name Ansar Dine. It has a vast following amongst southern Malians, who flock to football stadiums in their thousands to hear the preachings of the movement’s leader, Cherif Ousmane Madani Haidara. Ansar Dine preaches tolerance, democracy and social morality inspired by faith in the teachings of The Prophet. It is also an ardent critic of government corruption and incompetence. Perhaps Iyad sees his movement as a Tamasheq off shoot of the bigger Ansar Dine. Who knows? “What’s very important is that all the religious leaders of the Adagh des Iforas have categorically rejected this foreign Salafist culture that has been planted in their midst,” Hama Ag Sid’Ahmed declares with emphasis. “I know that Iyad is an important person in the region and I know that he’s involved in religious matters. But I cannot believe that he would completely abandon the tolerance that is part of our Tuareg culture. Not for one second. Maybe Iyad and others realise that AQIM has a hold on some of our young people, and they’re trying to present a different message about Islam that might possibly win back all those that the Salafists have co-opted into their ranks.”’

There is also this article that is worth noting:
Terrorism In The Sahara And Sahel: A ‘False Flag’ In The War On Terror? – by Richard Trillo

“Some Sahara analysts believe that AQIM, which was formed in 2007, is a false flag organisation. In this scenario, many of AQIM’s members may be genuine Islamic ideologues from Algeria, with a background in the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) that were formed after the cancellation of Algeria’s 1991 elections in which the Islamic Salvation Front won a sweeping victory. The activities of these AQIM ground troops, however, are said to be coordinated by none other than the Algerian intelligence service itself, in a strategy aimed at justifying the country’s authoritarian government, procuring arms and drawing their American military partners into the region in the “Global War on Terror” (there is a significant American military presence in the Sahel, notably a large US training base at Gao, in Mali).”

And a comment to the article says:

“I was in Mauritania spring 2009. On June 25 (2009, not 2010) Christopher Leggett, a husband and father of four, was shot multiple times. Leggett was an American aid worker teaching computer classes. At the time AQIM issued statement: “Two knights of the Islamic Maghreb killed Christopher Leggett for his Chistianizing activities”. Soon after more than 100 Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated to Senegal. (The Peace Corp had worked in Mauritania 40+ yrs)
In Novemeber 2009 AQIM also kidnapped three Spanish aid workers in Mauritania…

Agree, the operations of AQIM appear focused on running blackmarket opperations (smuggling, drugs, money-laundering & protection rackets). It appears to me AQIM does not want witnesses, foreign observers, especially those trusted by locals. Leggett and the three Spanish aid workers were neither political targets nor ransom targets (corporate engineers/execs).

AQIM violence not only drove off tourists, but also aid workers… which may have been their objective.”

Outsiders who are trusted by local residents might bring back reports of what is really happening. Those with a political agenda might want the outside to know of their deeds when they are effective. They may have less to hide. Those with a criminal agenda might want to prevent any whiff of real information from reaching the wider world. They may have much more to hide.

Here is more from the interview with Andy Morgan in Global Dispatches on the subject of Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion.

“From about October 2011 onwards, they basically started preparing the uprising, with long meetings out in the desert where they indulged in a great deal of soul searching about what had gone wrong in previous uprisings, so as to get it right this time. What happened is that they entered into an alliance with a much younger group of Tuaregs, you might say young intellectuals, very Internet savvy young Tuaregs, who set up the National Movement of Azawad, the MNA at the end of 2010. They eventually merged with the MNLA. This was an important move as one of the aspects that was deemed to be lacking in previous uprisings was good communications with the international media, and with the world at large.

Q: When we talk about Tuaregs we are talking about many different tribes, spread over different countries. Some say the MNLA is just a small group of a few thousand fighters. What sort of support does the MNLA have from Tuaregs as a whole?
A: There are roughly 1.5 million Tuaregs, although an accurate census does not exist. They are spread out over 5 countries: Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger and Burkina Faso. They have a very complex clan and tribal structure, at the top of which you have 5 large confederations which are then broken down into tribes, then clans and families etc. It’s very complex. They don’t all see eye-to-eye and historically they have fought against each other, sometimes very bitterly. The idea of a Tuareg identity is a relatively recent phenomenon. Up till about 50 years ago, they did not see themselves as a unified people, they saw themselves as different families, tribes and clans – nomads from different parts of the desert who often fought against each other.

Q: So who are the MNLA?
A: The MNLA are basically led by Tuaregs from the north-east of Mali, especially by two particular clans, called the Iforas and Idnan. The Iforas are the traditional rulers of north-eastern Mali. The Idnan are also a traditional warrior clan, bearing in mind that their society is very hierarchical and each clan had its different role. All of these old structures have been modified and deconstructed over the last one hundred years, but basically these two groups, the Iforas and the Idnan, are very much at the head of the MNLA. Support for the MNLA amongst Tuaregs is quite broad, partly as a result of the MNA’s propaganda and certainly before this latest conflict happened, I got the feeling from talking to various friends, that a lot of Tuaregs felt that at last they had a rebel organisation that was worthy of their cause. However they do not represent all Tuaregs by any means, and even less, all the people living in the north of Mali, where there are quite a number of different ethnicities apart from the Tuareg, including Arabs, Songhai and Peulh. All I can say is that it’s been along time since a rebel movement has enjoyed the level of support that the MNLA have, but this support is by no means universal.

Q: Is there any internal opposition?
A: There is one group that is seemingly opposed to the MNLA and they are called the Inghad. They are the former subordinate or ‘vassal’ class in the old hierarchical structure, subordinate to the more noble Idnan and Iforas Tuaregs. Many of the Inghad were in favour of the Tuareg lands becoming part of the Republic of Mali, as the socialist principles upon which the Malian Republic was built meant that they were freed from their subservient status in Tuareg society. One of the most frequently touted names in this conflict is a Tuareg military commander called Colonel al-Hajj Gamou. He has been the Malian army’s champion in the north-east for quite a number of years and he is an Inghad, from one of these vassal tribes. Ag Gamou has been built up as the defender of the Malian cause in the north. Apart from the Libyan Tuareg presence in the MNLA, there have also been a lot of desertions to the MNLA from the Malian army since December, as the Malian army did comprise a large number of Tuaregs. The actual number of people in the MNLA is difficult to gauge but I am sure that the numbers are growing.

Q: What are the aims of the MNLA?
A: They want a country of their own, a country called Azawad, which will comprise the three northernmost provinces or regions of present-day Mali – Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. There has long been a debate within Tuareg society about what they want; autonomy within a federalist Malian structure or a completely independent state. After the last big rebellion in the early 1990s, when the suffering among the civilian population was quite extreme, many Tuaregs fell back to a more conciliatory position, saying that they did not want an independent country but wanted their rights; cultural rights and economic rights. This position has hardened in recent years to the point where the MNLA want absolute independence for Azawad, the long-dreamed-of Tuareg state.

By saying that they are only interested in Mali, the MNLA are trying to limit the fear and concern of neighbouring states that a Tuareg uprising in Mali will lead to Tuareg uprisings elsewhere in all the 5 other countries where Tuareg are present.

Morgan continues to describe in more detail why the nearby countries are extremely nervous about the situation. He speaks about the reasons for the coup, and the very real grievances the Malian military had against their government. He discusses the origin and nature of Ansar al Din, and the links and frictions between it and the MNLA, and the AQIM. Morgan describes how AQIM’s kidnapping and drug running destroyed tourism and related business in northern Mali. This led to bad feelings towards AQIM. Morgan discusses how during peaceful times, Malians and the Tuareg generally get along pretty well. And he discusses the tensions between Mali and Mauritania.

Ansar al Din probably caused Alexandra at Libya360 to write:

“I have been expressing concern for Tuareg for several months. My research uncovered two parallel movements. One, a genuine uprising of the Tuareg. The other, an imperialist-backed initiative aimed and manufacturing consent for the takeover of another African nation and the genocide of the Tuareg.

The US and the French have had their Special Operations forces in northern Mali and neighboring countries for most of this century, and the French long before that. The French have been particularly active in Niger. The US has used this time to create a decade of lies in order to establish the GWOT in the Sahara and give some legitimacy to AQIM in order to justify anti-terrorism.”

Moeen Raoof writes:

“The conflict in Libya has had a devastating effect in Niger and Mali where the nomadic Tuareg peoples in the Sahara Desert regions of northern Niger and Mali and southern Libya have been involved in a spate of kidnappings and armed uprisings known as the ‘Tuareg rebellion’. This is especially dangerous for northern Niger in and around the town of Arlit, an industrial town located in the Agadez region, where uranium is mined by French companies in two large uranium mines (Arlit and Akouta).

Put simply, this is about Uranium to be found in the Tuareg areas of Mali, Niger and Libya, the next step will be UN/ECOWAS/NATO Peace-keepers, Military intervention and killing of thousands of Tuaregs.”

Not only is uranium an issue, oil is in the picture as well. As Andy Morgan puts it:

“Q: What about oil and gas? Is the area strategic in terms of its mineral resources?
A: Yes, one thing that has been happening in the last 5 years is that northern Mali has been explored, and parcelled off as lots for oil drilling. Those lots have already been sold off – and I should say this is where things get very murky and where some serious investigative journalism needs to be done. Total, the French oil company, were involved in the exploration, as were the Qatar Petroleum Company. As we know, both Qatar and France were heavily involved in the overthrow of Gaddafi and many Malian commentators see a conspiracy theory in which France (remembering that France and the Tuaregs did try and set up a Tuareg state back in the ’50s prior to Malian independence which was quashed by the FLN in Algeria and the leaders of independent Mali) have always rued the fact that they lost all their colonies and access to the rich minerals in northern Mali. So many Malians see the Tuareg rebellion as being engineered by the French.”

Energypedia provides an outline of Mali’s oil blocks, and this piece of information from October 2011:

“Algerian state energy group Sonatrach will start long-awaited drilling for oil in Mali’s section of the Taoudeni Basin by mid-2012, the company’s managing director said on Malian state radio. Sonatrach signed a deal for oil exploration in Mali in 2007, but progress has been slow in the basin, which straddles Mali, Algeria and Mauritania. The area is overrun by gunmen, some of whom are linked to al Qaeda”

The Taoudeni Basin in Mali, which extends far into Mauritania, and somewhat into Algeria, is thought to be the location of significant reserves of oil.

There is an interview with a spokesman for the MNLA from March 28 at Afrik.com
MNLA : « L’indépendance ne se donne pas, elle se mérite, google translation here. Mossa Ag Attach, communications officer for the MNLA tells us in the interview that the MNLA is determined to control (free) the three northern cities, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu. He indicates the MNLA is happy to negotiate so long as the government of Mali will respect Azawad independence. You can check for more from the source at the MNLA website.

The international community is hyping the threat of terror, linking it to the Tuareg victories in the north of Mali. But if Mali’s army and political elite have been a more active partners and participants with AQIM’s drug smuggling and criminal endeavors, the Tuareg may make life more difficult for AQIM, and cost some big people money. Also, how does the quest for oil and uranium interact with AQIM’s criminal endeavors?

The north of Mali is hostile and unfamiliar to soldiers from the south. ECOWAS has spoken of sending troups, but getting actual troop commitments is chancy, and no way guaranteed.

If the upper echelons of Mali’s army and political elite are allied with AQIM, and the US knows this, then all the train and equip is another example of the US knowingly partnering with the perpetrators, and actively concealing the truth. What is the goal of such a policy?

 
 
 

Be sure to read the entire article, The Causes of the Uprising in Northern Mali by Andy Morgan. I only included a small portion here. He covers many more aspects of the recent history and the present situation.
Check the interview as well Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion.
 
Earlier posts relevant to this topic:
Inherent contradictions of AFRICOM – lies and illusions
US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali
Lied Into the War On Terror In the Sahara
New York Times catapults the propganda for AFRICOM
Obama’s African Rifles – Partners/Surrogates/Proxies
Supplying Arms and Military Training – The US Gift to Africa

h/t David/Daoud
h/t Joerg Tiedjen
for informative links

AFRICOM’s train and equip undoubtedly helped facilitate the coup in Mali. Train and equip was a contributing cause. Just the fact that the coup leader, Captain Sanogo received US training and attended the infamous coup school in the US at Fort Benning makes this an issue. Whether train and equip played a large part or a tiny part in the coup is hard to say at this point, but it certainly played a part. US train and equip has a long and ugly history in Africa, and in Latin America. However, Pentagon apologist Wendy Sherman alleges that train and equip is the cure to events such as the coup in Mali, not the cause.

From: Seizing opportunities from a transforming Africa (III)
Thursday, 05 April 2012
Wendy R. Sherman

“In West Africa, African peacekeepers contributed importantly to the rebuilding of the war-torn countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. But as we have seen most recently in Mali, militaries can threaten decades of democratic gains. That is why a critical component of our engagement with Africa is to help African countries develop professional militaries to provide for the national defense of sovereign states and the safety of the populace while respecting civilian authority. Likewise, we support the creation of effective coast guards and maritime security forces to enforce exclusive economic zones and cut down on illegal fishing, as well as professional border security forces to cut down on illicit trafficking.”

A U.S. Special Forces soldier instructs Malian troops in counterterrorism tactics through a translator (right, in black turban) on the outskirts of Timbuktu in 2008. Photographs by Justin Bishop.

The author of these remarks is Wendy Sherman, is an apologist for the Pentagon and a corporate shill, or, as described on her Worldwide Speakers page:

Ambassador Sherman was recently named to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board, where she is tasked with advising the Secretary of Defense on matters of defense policy. In 2008, she was appointed by Congressional Leadership to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. A seasoned strategist and organizer, she is skilled at engaging stakeholders and building broad coalitions. Ambassador Sherman serves as a frequent analyst in major news outlets, providing unparalleled insight and perspective on today’s most complex issues.

Don’t forget:

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:

The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question.

This ruinous history, just from the train and equip in Liberia alone, is still playing out.  When Ivory Coast fell into conflict following the most recent presidential election, former soldiers from the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars of the 90s headed to Ivory Coast looking for work in what appeared to be a coming civil war. 

When you invest all your attention and resources in the military sector, the message you send is that the military sector is best qualified to run things.  And US investment in Africa is almost entirely military.   I’m sure Ambassador Sherman would point with pride to programs such as AGOA, or some of the agricultural programs, which mostly benefit US corporations, and harm, or potentially cause great harm, for Africa.

I do not think AFRICOM’s train and equip was the main cause of Mali’s coup.  I don’t know, and have no particular reason to believe there was any US instigation in the coup, although it is possible.  Malians, and Mali’s military had many reasons to be angry with their government.   

From Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion:

Q: What are their grievances?
A: The conduct of the war against the MNLA has in their eyes [Mali's soldiers] been a thing of shame. They feel the army is underfunded, undersupplied and there are stories of soldiers almost dying of hunger because of not getting enough food. There was also supposedly a massacre of Malian soldiers in a village north of Kidal called Aguel’hoc, which the Malians claim was perpetrated by AQIM (Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb) but the jury is out on what actually happened. But in Bamako, people certainly believe that the soldiers were badly treated and brutally murdered in Aguel’hoc. The Malian army also suffered some serious defeats a couple of weeks ago, in Tessalit, which is up near the Algerian border. The MNLA captured a lot of soldiers, and the head of the MNLA, Mohamed Ag Najm, in an interview with El Watan, the Algerian newspaper, said that the MNLA had tried to hand back the soldiers to the Malian authorities but that Mali did not seem to want them. So there is also the feeling that the soldiers are being abandoned. There is a lot of anger and this anger has clearly boiled over. The big question is “Who is behind this putsch?” The leader of this little junta, Captain Sanogo, is a complete unknown, although he has fought on the frontline and has experience of the north-east. Whenever he and his junta make declarations on the TV, it is clear that there are no senior officers involved in this coup at all – no-one above the rank of captain. I think it is generally accepted that when there is a military coup in an former French colony, the French army have got something to do with it, or at least some prior knowledge, as the links between the armies in Mali and Senegal for example and the French army are very close. Most senior Malian officers will have been trained in French military academies. It is possible that this coup may be the exception and that it is being led by a group of fairly young junior soldiers who are clearly very angry. It looks like they have taken over but it is not clear if the rest of the army has gone over with them. The jury is completely out on this, we will see how this situation develops.

Whatever the relationship between the coup makers and AFRICOM, key players have received US training.

When Ambassador Sherman says:

But as we have seen most recently in Mali, militaries can threaten decades of democratic gains. That is why a critical component of our engagement with Africa is to help African countries develop professional militaries … while respecting civilian authority

She is claiming a cause of the problem is the cure for the problem. It is hard to say whether the most appropriate response to that claim is apoplectic outrage or gales of laughter.

Although the timing and nature of the coup in Mali is surprising, that a coup occurred is not surprising. Mali’s GDP is around $9 billion. The annual US $167 million in military train and equip investment is a huge sum in relation to Mali’s GDP. The overwhelming emphasis on military training, arms transfers, and military assistance, is an incitement to create military governments wherever it occurs. The message is that the military knows how to run things, and you need the military to get things done. It would require robust and independent civilian institutions to counter that. Few developing countries enjoy that luxury. Mali was in a better position to maintain a civilian democratic government than most. The US may have had no direct involvement in the coup, or there may have been some knowledge, possibly even encouragement from US sources. I would hope that is not true, but there are plenty of unfortunate precedents. And Captain Sanogo has received a lot of US training, including at the coup school at Ft. Benning.

The following are more pictures of US train and equip activities in Mali, from 2009-2011.

GAO, Mali - A U.S. Navy SEAL advisor watches a Malian special operations vehicle unit run through immediate action drills for counter-terrorism missions during training February 26, 2010, near Gao, Mali. The Special Operations Command - Africa SEAL team spent several weeks in Mali working with a Malian special operations unit on advanced counter-terrorism skills training. Military training engagements such as this one are geared to build upon previously established relationships and help African partner nations develop capacities, achieve regional cooperation and improve security. These capacity-development events support the regional interagency objectives of the U.S. State Department's Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership program and the Department of Defense's Operation Enduring Freedom (Trans-Sahara). (Photo by Max R. Blumenfeld, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara)

MI Professional Course, Bamako, Mali, March 2011. Recently, U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) intelligence assets extended a helping hand to their African continent counterparts in Bamako, Mali. 18 students from various African nations took part in a Military Intelligence Professional Course (MIPC) recently. The six-week course was conducted in French and English. This six-week course was the first of two such MPICs slated for this year.

It is worth reviewing this article from 2009:
Counterterrorism’s blindness: Mali and the US
Vijay Prashad

BAMAKO, Mali - A French-speaking U.S. Special Forces NCO advises a Malian military counter-terrorism unit while training on raid tactics recently at a military installation near Bamako, Mali. Advanced counter-terrorism training is provided by U.S. Special Operations Forces under the authorities of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, a State Department-led interagency initiative designed to develop the capabilities of countries in northern and Western Africa. U.S. Special Forces teams provide capacity development training and advisement during more than 30 pre-scheduled military training engagements conducted annually in the Trans-Saharan region. Department of Defense TSCTP activities in the region are planned, coordinated and conducted as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (Trans-Sahara) and are managed by SOCAFRICA's Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. (Photo by JSOTF-TS Public Affairs)

Mali: The Political Crisis – Taking Grievances Seriously by Brian J. Peterson fleshes out the story of what happened far beyond previous accounts.

When the protest movement of Malian women erupted in the town of Kati on January 30, few took notice. The women were mostly “war widows” of Malian soldiers recently killed in fighting against the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).

The women were protesting the lack of government support, in particular the shortage of weapons and food, given to Malian soldiers. And they were enraged to hear reports that their husbands, sons and brothers had been massacred in the most dishonorable way by MNLA forces.

As the movement gained steam, the women began marching on Bamako, burning tires along the 12 km road from Kati, and heading for the presidential palace overlooking the city on the “hill of power.” Within days, the movement evolved into a more broad-based march in Bamako, soon spreading to Segou, the country’s second city.

Thousands of civilian protesters threw up barricades and burned tires, effectively shutting down the capital as President Amadou Toumani Touré desperately tried to restore order. Government security forces were dispatched with tear gas and blank bullets. As we have seen, this was only the beginning. But it provided the initial spark that eventually triggered the mutiny in Kati, which in turn evolved into the coup overthrowing the President.

This has led some to view the coup as “accidental” and “improvised.” But this improvised genesis of the coup still raises questions: to what extent is the junta expressing or reflecting the will of the people in the street? Is there any overlap between the junta’s populist rhetoric and the grievances of ordinary urban and rural Malians? Indeed, in assessing the crisis of Mali’s democracy, the world community must seriously address Malian popular grievances. And the main grievances I have in mind are ones that reach beyond dissatisfaction with the Malian government’s mishandling of the anti-separatist wars in the north.

… much has been said about the unintended consequences and spillover of the Libyan wars into the Sahel zone. Arms and mercenaries have flowed into northern Mali in the wake of Qaddafi’s overthrow, fanning the fires of Tuareg discontent. But these once-proud desert warriors have perennially opposed the state, leading to a series of rebellions against the post-colonial Malian government from the 1960s. Even during the pre-colonial and colonial periods, these nomadic groups existed largely outside state-spaces. Thus, a fundamental cause continues to be the unresolved tensions in the north, and the inability to convince the Tuareg that belonging to the Malian state is in their interests. Now, more recently, with ample arms, vehicles, and skilled fighters, they have stunned the Malian army with their rapid conquests in the north. At the moment of this writing, they are on the verge of even taking Kidal and Timbuktu. Again, they are mostly separatists, but not monolithically so.

The MNLA wants to carve out an independent nation of Azawad, free from the Bamako-based Malian government, which it views as tyrannical and unresponsive to northern concerns. Another group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) appears primarily concerned with operating its smuggling and kidnapping-for-ransom business. And it should be noted that the MNLA has stated that one of its goals is to defeat AQIM, which has severely damaged the Tuareg economy by virtually ending tourism in the region. The third major group, Ansar Dine seeks to establish northern Mali as an Islamic state based on shar’ia law, according to leader Iyad ag Ghali. His group has been purportedly backed by Saudi Wahhabis. Taken as a whole, the “northern insurgency” has overwhelmed the Malian government and thrown it into a crisis that threatens to deepen and spread beyond its borders.

Back in Bamako the coup leaders saw a political opportunity in the run-up to the April 29 elections. While it is impossible at this stage to impute particular motives or intentions, we know of the military’s dissatisfactions as expressed by the newly formed National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR). Furthermore, their stated and perceived intentions will be evolving in response to forces on the ground. Echoing the grievances of the women protesters, they state that they overthrew the government because of its “incompetence.” We’ve heard their rhetoric about defending democracy, fighting “terrorism,” restoring effective governance and such. And we’ve also been forced to contemplate the junta’s statements about returning to democracy once the country has been “unified” and “no longer threatened.” All of this is fairly familiar boilerplate reminiscent of African leaders, such as Mobutu and others who since the 1960s spoke of national unity while remaining clients of former colonial rulers or Cold War powers. In this light, U.S.-trained Capt. Amadou Sanogo, the head of the putschists, has neglected to count the presence of U.S. counter-terrorism forces, neoliberal economic policies or Franco-African neocolonial relationships as threats to “national unity” or “territorial integrity” alongside corruption, state paralysis and the northern insurgency.

The US seems primed to conflate MNLA with AQIM. This is a major mistake and needs to be countered and avoided. The US needs to listen to the local people, the people they call partners, but do not listen to and do not consult except those that have been trained by the US and say what the US wants to hear.

Mali is entering a season of food shortages, and Malians have reason to be dissatisfied with their democracy.

beyond environmental and agricultural vicissitudes, there is a widespread sense in Bamako that democracy has not been working for ordinary Malians. More educated urban-dwellers have grown impatient with the lack of economic opportunities, and the slow pace of improvements in education and the judicial system. Many have adopted jaded views of democratic institutions and commonly bemoan the corruption, nepotism, and patrimonialism associated with the Touré government. As one young migrant worker in Bamako said to me: “What is democracy? Democracy is about theft from the people. It is about SUVs hitting children on the road and never going to jail.” Or more broadly, as the Malian writer Moussa Konaté recently observed, it has meant the replacement of the military regime of Moussa Traoré by the mafia-like clique of ATT “for whom personal interests are above public interest.” Elections have become empty exercises and “parodies of democracy,” in which votes are purchased and governing elites are recycled.


To keep his hold on power, Capt. Sanogo has moved quickly to quiet the xenophobia and anti-Tuareg hysteria. In a recent interview, he stated that the “Tuareg people in the north, the Arab people, are our brothers,” while noting that the “door is open” for discussion and resolution of the crisis. This could be intended for a Western audience. But for his stated “total control” over the country to be fully realized he cannot risk Mali slipping further into chaos.

Of course, whether or not the CNRDR stays true to its commitments to democratic institutions and sundry reforms of the state remains to be seen, and depends on whether or not a counter-offensive ever materializes, which at this point is appearing less likely. In the short-term, the coup leaders will seek to clamp down on looting and prove their ability to govern. If not, expect a quick and furious civilian backlash. Tolerance and cooperation are central values in Malian society, and indeed the mostly bloodless nature of this coup is remarkable. But when their sense of “moral economy,” that is to say their popular notions of justice and fairness at a time of dearth, is threatened, Malians have proven themselves more than capable of mobilizing against tyranny and conditions that they deem intolerable, as seen in 1991. And, in the end, it will be for Malians to decide what they’re willing to tolerate. For outsiders to blindly rally behind the word “democracy,” without acknowledging what it means in local contexts, or even how “politics” operate in rural and urban Malian settings, is a disavowal of the risks Malians are willing to take for a better future.

Read the whole thing: Mali: The Political Crisis – Taking Grievances Seriously

Here is some current analysis of the coup in Mali. I’m including excerpts, but each of these articles is well worth a complete read.

Mali:  How Will Coup Impact Peace and Stability? (analysis)
Unfortunate Military Coup an Unnecessary Setback for Democracy
INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES, 24 MARCH 2012

As the first military coup in 2012 taking place 21 years after the democratisation process in Mali, this is certainly a major test for the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in force since February 2012. There is also sufficient grounds for the regional organization Ecowas to firmly condemn the coup and insists on the return of a constitutional order. The statement by Ecowas, condemning the misguided actions of the mutineers and warning that it will not condone any recourse to violence as a means of seeking redress was a major step in the right direction. The next step was a decision by the African Union on the suspension of Mali from continental and regional institutions in line the policy of zero tolerance for any attempt to obtain or maintain power by unconstitutional means. It is about time military coups are eliminated from the political culture of the continent.

Mali:  Is There a Route Back to Democratic Stability? (analysis)
CHATHAM HOUSE, 23 MARCH 2012

The putschists may seek to consolidate their power; but they are isolated. Their attempts to secure the endorsement of senior religious and political figures and the senior officer corps have been rebuffed. The Bamako establishment is well aware of what is at stake, and what the country stands to lose if the overthrow of democracy is confirmed.

Despite the mutineers’ complaints, there is a widespread recognition that the crisis cannot be resolved through military means alone. Some sort of understanding would have to be reached with the MNLA, which has begun to hint that it might be ready to talk. And a new president, with a fresh election mandate, would be better placed than Touré to embark on such a deal. This may be a best case scenario.

There is, of course, also a worst-case option: that the mutineers reject negotiation opportunities, seek to hunt down Touré and then try to resolve the northern crisis through force alone. The consequences of that hardly bear thinking about.

Mali:  Coup Makes Tuareg Rebellion At Its Heart Harder to Resolve (analysis)
AFRICAN ARGUMENTS, 23 MARCH 2012

Yet, that a coup should have occurred so close to the April 29th elections, when Touré was due to step down, is highly significant. It has been suggested that the seizure of power in this way is indicative of a sentiment among sections of the military, and their supporters in civilian society, who believe that politicians are unable to competently resolve the rebellion in the North. If true, then there is more reason to be concerned for Mali in the long-term.

That politicians are unable to competently resolve the rebellion or any other problems is a major part of the message sent by AFRICOM’s train and equip. It may or may not be intentional, but if you only invest in the military you are only preparing for military solutions.

These other articles are worth reading as well.

Mali:  Reversal of Fortunes – A Coup d’état Sets Mali Back
RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE, 24 MARCH 2012

A previous military takeover ushered in democracy. This time around, the soldiers are taking Mali in the opposite direction. read more 

Mali:  Junta Courts Civil Society
INTER PRESS SERVICE, 23 MARCH 2012

Mali:  Rebellion Claims a President
UN INTEGRATED REGIONAL INFORMATION NETWORKS, 22 MARCH 2012

Mali:  African Union Suspends Mali Over Coup
THIS DAY, 24 MARCH 2012

It does look more likely the coup was spontaneous, and there are some positive developments.

Mali: Ecowas to Call for Interim President to Replace Toppled Touré

West African leaders may call for the speaker of Mali’s parliament to become interim president following last week’s military coup, Burkina Faso’s foreign minister has told RFI.

The Ecowas regional bloc is to send a delegation of six heads of state to the country to press for a return to constitutional order and elections.

As part of a “transition in keeping with constitution”, the delegation is considering proposing that national assembly speaker Dioncounda Traoré become president temporarily, Burkinabé foreign minister Djibril Bassolé said in an interview with RFI’s Christophe Boisbouvier.

That would mean deposed leader Amadou Toumani Touré bow out until elections are held.

“If that is the formula that can bring an end to the crisis, why not?” Bassolé said. “And I think that President Amadou Toumani Touré himself would have nothing against it. He has always wanted peace, democracy and stability.”


Thousands of people marched in support of the coup in Bamako on Wednesday, some carrying placards declaring “Down with France” or “Down with the international community”.

Meanwhile, 38 political parties and several civil society groups have set up an alliance to oppose the coup, calling on the military to “engage in dialogue without delay” and organise “regular, credible and transparent elections”.


The military government on Tuesday announced a new constitution that bans its members from standing in elections.

There are mixed signs. Even the supporters of the coup oppose outside interference, but that won’t stop the outside from interfering.

The coup in Mali arises partly from the blowback following the NATO destruction of Libya, part of the counter revolution against the Arab Spring, and from the train and equip activities AFRICOM has been conducting in Mali for much of this century. Train and equip laid the groundwork; the return from the ruins of Libya of militant and well armed Tuareg rebels provided the trigger. I wrote about the AFRICOM threat to Malian democracy back in 2009, US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali. The picture below is just one piece of the ongoing train and equip activities. There are a couple more pictures at the end of this post. Read the earlier post for more detail. When your only significant investment in a country is military train and equip, you are prepping that country for military government.

BAMAKO, Mali - U.S. Army Master Sergeant Robert Price stands with Malian soldiers he helped train as he is congratulated by Malian Minister of Defense Natie Pleah during a Counter Terrorism Train and Equip (CTTE) transfer of equipment ceremony in Bamako, October 20, 2009. Price, a logistics NCO with Special Operations Command Africa's Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara, supervised maintenance and supply accountability training provided to Malian soldiers for tactical vehicles and communications equipment transferred to Malian units. Under the U.S. State Department's Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Program (TSCTP), U.S. Africa Command's Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) Counter Terrorism Train and Equip initiative provided 37 brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser pickup trucks and high-tech communications equipment that will allow Malian military units to move, transport and communicate across vast expanses of open desert in the northern region of the country. In addition, replacement parts, clothing, individual equipment and other supplies will be provided in the next few weeks as part of a U.S. government capacity-building equipment transfer totaling more than $5 million. The CTTE program is designed to develop stronger military-to-military relationships while underscoring U.S. support for partner nation sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. (Photo by Max R. Blumenfeld, JSOTF-TS PAO)

Based on the accounts so far, it appears the coup may not even have been planned, it may have been spontaneous, arising from an argument between the military and the government at a meeting to discuss the handling of the Tuareg rebellion in the north. However, the groundwork for a coup was all in place, including the education of its leader:

Mali’s Tuareg rebels advance as world condemns coup

The green-beret mid-ranking captain, [Captain Amadou Sanogo] who speaks with a raspy voice, also revealed he had spent much time at training programmes in the United States, in Georgia and at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.
He said he was trained under a US scholarship as an English instructor

And from another source:

Sanogo, who said he had received “training from U.S. Marines and intelligence”, said, he would not remain in power but refused to give a timeframe for restoring civilian rule.

The New York Times tells us more about Sanogo’s US education 2004-2012, including at Fort Benning’s Coup School:

Mali and the United States have had close military ties in recent years as part of American counterterrorism programs. According to the State Department, Captain Sanogo attended an English-language instructor course at the Defense Language Institute, a special school for international military students at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex., from August 2004 to February 2005.

Nearly three years later, in December 2007, Captain Sanogo returned to the United States, this time for more English language classes at Lackland before attending the Army’s entry-level course for intelligence officers at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., instruction that he completed in July 2008.

Finally, Captain Sanogo attended the Army’s prestigious infantry officer basic training course at Fort Benning, Ga., from August 2010 to December 2010.

Stars and Stripes gives us more detail on the ongoing train and equip activities with Mali, Leader of Mali coup received officer training from AFRICOM, under U.S.-funded International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, confirmed by the Africa Command and the State Department.

The U.S. military has supported the Mali military extensively over the past decade, and the country has become a significant partner in the U.S. efforts to curb North Africa’s shadowy al-Qaida affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.

In addition to its involvement in the International Military Education and Training program, Mali has also participated in the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, which is intended to strengthen bilateral military ties with the U.S. and supports counterterrorism coordination across the region’s different militaries. Mali also recently hosted U.S. soldiers in a joint logistical exercise named Atlas Accord 12.

“We have regularly had small teams traveling in and out of Mali to conduct specific training that has been requested by the Malian government and military,” said Nicole Dalrymple, a spokeswoman for the Africa Command, known as Africom, in an emailed response to questions.

Most of the world was quick to condemn the coup:

Nigeria, others, deplore coup in Mali

NIGERIA yesterday joined others to condemn “in strong terms” reports that Malian rebel soldiers had taken over control of the country from the democratically elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who expressed displeasure and dismay over the action, described the move as “an apparent setback to the consolidation of democracy in Mali in particular and the African continent in general.”

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for calm and for grievances to be settled democratically. The African Union said it was “deeply concerned by the reprehensible acts currently being perpetrated by some elements of the Malian army”.

The African Union (AU) said the “act of rebellion” was a “significant setback for Mali”.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it was deeply disturbed by the raging mutiny in Mali and has warned mutineers to hands off attempts to take over power via unconstitutional means.

The US may be hedging its bets. From the Washington Post:

The coup is a major setback for Mali, a landlocked nation of 15.4 million which is dirt-poor but fiercely proud of its democratic credentials. The current president, a former parachutist in the army, came to power himself in a 1991 coup. He surprised the world when he handed power to civilians, becoming known as “The Soldier of Democracy.” A decade later, he won the 2002 election and was re-elected in 2007. There was never any question that Toure — known by his initials ATT — would step down at the end of his term next month.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said officials were meeting to discuss whether to cut off the $137 million in annual U.S. assistance.
.

A client military government seems to be the US preferred form of governance for African countries. It will be interesting to see how the US proceeds.

Here are some other stories on the coup:

Coup in Mali, the rats and dogs discussion continues

Tuareg rebels take Mali town, threaten 3 more

African Union Suspends Mali, Hears President Toure Safe

For more background information with particularly informative links, you can read these earlier posts:

US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali

Lied Into the War On Terror In the Sahara

New York Times catapults the propganda for AFRICOM

Inherent contradictions of AFRICOM – lies and illusions

GAO Report On AFRICOM, Where AFRICOM Is Active

Stable and secure in AFRICOM speak does not mean stable and secure for the people of Africa. It means stable and secure for US energy and resource needs and US policy objectives.

MALI - Malian commandos advance with a member of the U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) during training rehearsals May 13, 2009, at a military training area north of Bamako, Mali. Building on specialized skills previously acquired during joint exercises such as Flintlock, which is Special Operations Command-Africa's premier Special Operations Forces exercise in the Trans-Saharan region, the "Warrior-Ambassadors" of the 3rd SFG (A) were continuing their Africa-focused security forces assistance mission to enhance African Partner Nation capabilities to help achieve regional cooperation and security. The 3rd SFG (A) is based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo by Max R. Blumenfeld, JSOTF-TS PAO)

Military training near Bamako, US. Mali, & Senegal 2008

AFRICOM was created for two main reasons, oil and China. I have documented where US officials have stated this at numerous places in this blog. For a more detailed discussion see Understanding AFRICOM: A Contextual Reading of Empire’s New Combatant Command Part I, Part II and Part III.

Kwesi Pratt, editor of the Insight newspaper in Ghana, was one of the few people who caught on to this very early. His question to President Bush regarding oil and Africa was rudely dismissed by Bush. In this century the West intends on taking 3 Cs out of Africa: Crude, China, and Capital.

Uganda People’s Defense Forces and U.S. Soldiers wait for supplies to be dropped from a Ugandan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter during Atlas Drop 11 at Drop Zone White near Olilim, northern Uganda, April 18, 2011. The US military was active in Northern Uganda and bordering countries long before President Obama announced he was sending Special Operations forces there in October 2011. AFRICOM and SOCOM (US Special Operations Command) plan to be there long after Kony and the LRA are a distant memory.

The LRA has been a scourge on Uganda for more than 20 years. When Uganda discovered oil prospects, the US became interested in the LRA. The military option to defeat Kony has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009). Each failed and led to massive reprisals against civilians.

The Acholi religious leaders, representing the regions and people who have suffered most from Kony and the LRA, point out that the only times things have gotten better is when there have been talks and negotiations.

Kony has no known political affiliations, he just likes war and terrorizing. Humanitarian rationalizations have always been the cloak of legitimacy for the ruthless extraction of African resources. We should recognize this by now.

Kony and the LRA operate across the borders in the territories of several countries that are of particular interest to the United States (partial lists of their resources in parentheses) South Sudan (oil, land, water, China) the DRC – Congo (oil, coltan, tin, tungsten, copper, gold, water, timber, China etc.) Uganda (oil, China, source of proxy soldiers, water, land, etc.) Burundi (uranium, rare earth, diamonds, cobalt, copper, land, water) CAR – Central African Republic (diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil). So Kony and the LRA are a very handy target indeed.

It would be excellent for everyone if Kony and the LRA are put out of business. IF (big IF) the US military can put Kony out of business, on its own, that would be a blessing. That is not the real reason the US is there, and the US will not be leaving when Kony is gone.

Museveni used protection from the LRA as a tool against the Acholi and other people of Northern Uganda, some call his methods genocide, they were certainly brutal and pervasive. It was not entirely inconvenient for him to have the LRA in business. The same is true for the United States. Kony and the LRA are very convenient, putting the US military exactly where they want to be.

Kony is a handy cover for the real reasons for US interest in the region, which are all about African resources.

You can see links to more information and documentation in these posts:
Uganda – Stepping On the Mission Creep Accelerator
If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy
or via this search: http://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/?s=lra

Soldiers of the 5th Brigade, 75th Division, California Army Reserve, stand in formation with soldiers from Rwanda and Uganda during exercise Natural Fire 11 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

[T]he United States must employ its soft power to persuade African nations to work with it. The time to do so is now, before China’s inroads in African states become insurmountable. If the United States is to secure its resource needs from Africa in the future, it must be prepared to employ all elements of hard and soft power to meet the demands of future proxy conflict on the continent.

This passage comes from the Recommendations at the end of the paper Bipolarity, Proxy Wars, and the Rise of China (PDF) by Mark O. Yeisley, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF published in Strategic Studies Quarterly. The paper lays out the expectation of increasing proxy war in Africa. He anticipates decades of proxy wars with China on the African continent, using African soldiers, over African resources.

… proxy conflicts are those in which great-power hostilities are expressed through client states rather than between great powers themselves. These proxy conflicts occur between nations that disagree over specific issues but do not wish to engage in direct conflict …

From an earlier discussion comes this definition of proxy war:

Within the military realm, the terms proxy and surrogate are largely interchangeable. … a surrogate force is defined as an organization that serves the needs or interests of a secondary actor—the sponsor—by employing military power in place of the sponsor’s own forces. Implicit within this definition is the requirement for the sponsor to fund, equip, train, or otherwise support the surrogate. (Discussed in Obama’s African Rifles – Partners/Surrogates/Proxies)

Proxy war means real death and real suffering by other than the principal parties. Here is cartoonist Amin Amir on Kenya's war against the Somali people.

In his paper Lt. Col Yeisley describes how the Soviet US bipolar power balance led to proxy war on many continents from the end of WWII until the 1990s. He points out that China is the most likely threat to current American global hegemony, and suggests that proxy wars over resources in Africa are a likely future scenario. He points out that any of the BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, states may become great powers, but China is in the lead on that road at present.

He does not discuss the fact that the new wave of proxy wars in Africa have already begun, with Libya and Somalia being two of the most obvious current examples. These wars are partly maneuvering against China, but are also simply using and exacerbating conflicts to manipulate countries for the use of their resources.

The most likely challenger to US hegemony to emerge, at least in the foreseeable future, is China. Only China is close to possessing sufficient economic might leveraged into military spending and growth to soon rival the United States. It may well become the second great-power state in a new bipolar international regime.

… While direct conflict is indeed a possibility, it remains remote. A more likely outcome is subnational conflict as the United States and China engage in proxy wars over resource access in Africa. These conflicts will place great demands on all US instruments of power as involvement in foreign internal defense, particularly counterinsurgency operations in Africa, trends upward. Bipolarity and renewed proxy conflict will require rethinking of long-term national and military strategies now focused primarily on large-scale interstate wars. This will impact defense acquisition and military doctrine as US strategic focus shifts from conventional conflict to more low-end operations.

Yeisley describes how the Cold War:

… increased the incidence of subnational proxy conflict via two complementary mechanisms. It provided the superpowers a means to achieve geostrategic goals without the risk of nuclear war while also providing groups within client states the means to achieve their goals, through violence if necessary.

What it means is that other people fight and die, real fighting, real death, so that the manipulating powers can compete and acquire without suffering at home.

Yeisley also discusses:

Why did the United States and the USSR engage in Cold War proxy conflict? Realists of the period warned against doing so—involvement in
third-world conflicts was detrimental to US interests and did not enhance the all-important balance of power
.

… impressions of power were just as important as military equality; this resulted in strategies that depended on perceptions of a balance of power as much as the balance itself. Thus, US policy treated any Soviet gains as a threat that had to be countered in a zero-sum realpolitik game.

Cold War proxy conflicts usually took the form of aid provided to either insurgent forces or to those of the state—cash transfers, provision of weapons/technology, and advisory or combat support.

The rising incidence of subnational conflict during the Cold War and its decline in the current era were thus influenced by superpower policy decisions to pursue strategic goals by proxy within client states to avoid the high costs of nuclear war.

From Yeisley’s conclusion:

It is likely China will achieve economic and then military parity with the United States in the next two decades. … But why would China’s rising necessarily lead to geostrategic competition with the United States, and where would this most likely occur? Unlike the Cold War, access to strategic resources rather than ideology would lie at the heart of future US-Sino competition, and the new “great game” will most likely be played in Africa.

Africa is home to a wealth of mineral and energy resources, much of which still remains largely unexploited. Seven African states possess huge endowments of oil, and four of these have equally substantial amounts of natural gas. Africa also enjoys large deposits of bauxite (used to make aluminum), copper, lead, nickel, zinc, and iron ore, all of which are imported and highly desired by China.

Of primary interest is open access to Africa’s significant deposits of oil and other energy resources.

Africa is thus a vital foreign interest for the Chinese and must be for the United States; access to its mineral and petroleum wealth is crucial to the survival of each. Although the US and Chinese economies are tightly interconnected, the nonrenewable nature of these assets means competition will remain a zero-sum game. Nearly all African states have been independent entities for less than 50 years; consolidating robust domestic state institutions and stable governments remains problematic. Studies have shown that weak governments are often prime targets for civil conflicts that prove costly to control. Many African nations possess both strategic resources and weak regimes, making them vulnerable to internal conflict and thus valuable candidates for assistance from China or the United States to help settle their domestic grievances. With access to African resources of vital strategic interest to each side, competition could likely occur by proxy via diplomatic, economic, or military assistance to one (or both) of the parties involved.

The asymmetric nature of future conflict over African resources means defense acquisition must therefore focus on equipping and training military as well as civilian foreign internal defense teams. Both military and civilian doctrine must be altered to allow robust and effective interagency actions to meet the challenges of proxy conflict that will span the continuum of war from security forces assistance, counterinsurgency, information, and combat operations to peace enforcement and postconflict stability efforts.

While the United States should not reduce current preparations for conventional war-fighting dominance, prudence dictates that it also prepares for future proxy conflict management in Africa.

Yeisley’s paper is not a policy document, it is more predictive analysis, as the disclaimer states:

The views and opinions expressed or implied in the SSQ are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government.

The Pentagon is way out in front of this paper. The US Africa Command is already in place and already actively engaged in proxy war on the African continent, in Somalia, in Libya, in the Great Lakes regions, and in a less overt manner in a number of other countries. About a year ago General Hogg from AFRICOM was soliciting Ghana to participate in proxy war in Ivory Coast.

Yeisley tells us that China has 4,000 military personnel in Sudan to protect its interests in energy and mineral investments there; it also owns 40 percent of the Greater Nile Oil Production Company.

Lt. Col. Yeisley’s paper may not be a policy statement, but increased proxy war waged by the United States in Africa is already underway and already US policy.

Both African leaders and opposition groups can see what the United States is doing in both Africa and the Middle East. Many already have a gleam in their eyes aiming to be the next dictator of choice or favored freedom fighters. At the same time many Africans are profoundly offended by the manipulative violence sponsored by the US and its European allies. This was most recently expressed at the African Union summit January 2012, when Jean Ping failed to secure the necessary 2/3 votes to continue as AU Commission Chairperson, even after his opposition withdrew from the contest. Delegates were particularly troubled by his role in the Libya debacle and many saw him as a tool of French policy.

Sudan, its oil, land, and other resources is currently a major target of the interest of the US and its Africa Command. Proxy war is being funded and underway. Regarding South Sudan, Uganda, the Eastern DRC and other countries in the Great Lakes region:

… this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War. (from Obama, the king of Africa)

Sudan has long been the focus of the United States interest. The US promoted the separation of north and south, and pushed forward the referendum that separated the two into two different countries.

President Obama would have you believe that 100 elite U.S. Special Forces soldiers are running around in the African Bush looking for what’s left of the Lord’s Resistance Army. … The real target is South Sudan, where the United States is setting the stage for an African proxy oil war with China. … The Green Berets are in central Africa to coordinate military operations by Washington’s African clients. … The United States and Europe can no longer compete economically with China in Africa, and must now resort to raw force, through African puppet armies.

Reporter Thomas C. Mountain … points out in a recent article that the United States pays the salaries of South Sudan’s army, and also pays the costs of the thousands of United Nations so-called “peacekeepers” who have been sent to South Sudan to help contain the ethnic violence. Those UN peacekeepers are mostly soldiers from Ethiopia, a U.S. client state that, along with Kenya and Uganda, is waging a proxy war under U.S. sponsorship in Somalia. The Ethiopians worked very closely with U.S. Special Forces, right down to the company level, in the 2006 invasion of Somalia.

Now, in the heart of central Africa where South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and the Central African Republic meet – all of them U.S. client states – the U.S. needs its own Special Forces units in place to coordinate its puppet African armies, and to keep all of them focused on the larger mission … to destabilize northern Sudan and China’s oil operations, there. (from Coming Soon: Obama’s Big Move in Central Africa)

Dyncorp had a State Department contract to train the SPLA back in 2007, which may still be in effect or renewed since then. Mountain tells us, the:

US pays the salaries for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, the national army of South Sudan), over $100 million in 2011 alone. Does a country really have independence when a foreign power pays its army’s salaries? Whose orders is the army really going to follow?

And now comes word that the Obama regime presently occupying the White House in the USA is planning on “selling” advanced weaponry to the SPLA. As every day hundreds of children in South Sudan die from lack of clean drinking water, food, shelter and medical care the USA’s answer is to provide jet fighters and bombers, the better to see Sudanese kill Sudanese.

What this is all about is the Sudanese oil fields in the Abeye region, basically right on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. The Sudanese oil fields are the only majority owned and controlled Chinese developed oil fields in Africa.

The “USA/UN” plan is supposed to see up to 10,000 Ethiopian military personnel under cover of a UN “peacekeeper” mandate take up stations around the Abeye oil fields, the better to one day control that oil.

The one thing that should be expected is a continuing “crisis management” policy by the USA in South Sudan, as in create a crisis and then manage the murder and mayhem the better to exploit the wealth of the land, or if necessary, at least deny it to your enemy.

US AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham (in gray camo, next to the man in the light blue shirt) in South Sudan August 26, 2011. South Sudan officially became independent in July 2011.

Mountain also says that:

In mid 2011 South Sudanese officials were reported to have said that the USA had told them they didn’t need oil money to survive, they could depend on western aid. A fore teller of things to come?

This sounds like the message the US was telling African countries immediately post independence in the late 1950s and 1960s, shorter version: Don’t worry, you don’t need to grow your own food or produce your own goods, trust us, we’ll take care of you. We all know how well that worked. Those African leaders who tried to steer a truly independent course faced western hostility, coups, and assassination, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sekou Toure, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara, among others.

The African continent is a big place. There is US interest in proxy conflict in a number of other locations around the continent as well. An ongoing focus of US attention is Nigeria, with its huge oil reserves. The US Department of Homeland Security just declared Nigeria’s insurgent terrorists, Boko Haram, a threat to the US homeland, Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the US Homeland PDF. This opens the way to increased military interference (partnering) in Nigeria and its neighbors.

AFRICA ENDEAVOR 2011 NIGERIA - ABUJA, NIGERIA – Marine Forces Africa’s Sgt. Ryan Kish teaches ECOWAS Combat Forces Signal Squadron soldiers to properly set up and operate a Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite system as part of the train up to US Africa Command’s Africa Endeavor 2011 communications exercise which is taking place simultaneously in Banjul, The Gambia; ECOWAS in Abuja, Niger and the AU in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, 12 July 2011. (AFRICOM photo by Lt. Col. Steven Lamb)

You can view more pictures of AFRICOM activities all around the coasts of Africa in AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

We have seen the devastation to lives, countries and economies that proxy war has created in Africa. In the beginning of this century it looked like Africa might be able to put that behind. Conflicts decreased. There was a surge in conflict in the 1990s, followed by a cessation between 2002 and 2006. With the decrease in violence, African economies began to take off. Chinese investment has been a great help, although one cannot always regard it as benign. African economies are growing a lot faster than either the United States or Europe at present. More war could put a stop to all that.

A 2007 Human Security Brief:

… describes and analyses the extraordinary, but largely unnoticed, positive change in sub-Saharan Africa’s security landscape. After a surge of conflicts in the 1990s, the number of conflicts being waged in the region more than halved between 1999 and 2006; the combat toll dropped by 98 percent.

° There has been a major decline in the scope and intensity of conflicts.
° Refugee numbers have shrunk substantially.
° The share of global humanitarian assistance going to Africa doubled between 1999 and 2006—from 23 percent to 46 percent

Between 2002 and 2006 the number of campaigns of organized violence against civilians fell by two-thirds. (Human security in Africa)

We know the effect of proxy war, of training and equipping client militaries.

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:

The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question.

That train and equip disaster continues to play out. Former fighters who needed jobs, experienced in the brutalities of the Liberian civil war, headed to Ivory Coast after the 2011 elections to work as mercenaries in the conflict there.

Escalating proxy wars in Africa will ultimately damage the United States. Proxy war will cut the United States off from the friends and resources it badly needs. Unfortunately the US does not seem to understand how much it needs friends.

There was a pause after Iran captured a US drone in early December, but Predator Reaper drone strikes have resumed in Somalia. I’ll continue to update the list of drone strikes in this post as more occur.

US Air Force General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper ordinance

Drone photo from James Gordon on flickr where you will find diagrams and more background information.

I have recorded details of the previous drone strikes occurring October 9 through December 2, plus background information here:
Bombing The Starving For Target Practice In Somalia

You’ll find more background on the drone use in Africa in this post:
Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies
 

Drone Strikes in Somalia:

US drone attack kills 38 in Somalia
Fri May 11, 2012

Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters say a US assassination drone attack has left at least 38 people dead and dozens of others wounded in the Horn of Africa state, Press TV reports.

The airstrike is said to have taken place in Somalia’s southwestern district of Badade, a Press TV correspondent reported

US drone strike kills 22 in Somalia
Fri Apr 27, 2012

A US assassination drone has pounded Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, killing at least 22 people in the attack, Press TV reports.

The attack was carried out on Friday when the unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles at an area near Gedo’s Dhobley town.

Authorities say dozens of people have been wounded in the airstrike

US drone raid kills 31 in Somalia
Tue Apr 17, 2012

At least 31 people have been killed in the latest attack by two US assassination drones near Somalia’s southern town of Afmadow, Press TV reports.

Abdishakur Ahmed Madoobe, a Somali military official, confirmed the attack, adding that the aerial strike took place on Monday.

US terror drones kill 35 in Somalia
Sat Apr 14, 2012

At least 35 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in a missile attack by two US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The casualties come after an unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab training bases located between the country’s capital city of Mogadishu and its neighboring city Afgoye on Thursday.

Captain Mohamed Haruun, a military official from the Halane military base, confirmed the attack, saying two US assassination drones were sent from the base late at night.

Haruun added that dozens of Somali troops were later deployed to seize the control of the damaged bases to from al-Shabab fighters.

US drone crashes in central Somalia  Tue Apr 3, 2012

An American assassination drone has crashed in Somalia’s central province of Galgaduud, causing a “massive explosion,” Press TV reports.

Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu says the unmanned aircraft went down near El-Bur town early Tuesday and caused “a massive explosion.”

The US military uses drones in several Muslim countries including Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though they have mostly resulted in civilian casualties.

El Bur has been serving as a key command and control base for al-Shabab fighters in the region for the past three years.

Residents of El-Bur told Press TV that hundreds of al-Shabab fighters left the town March 24.

US terror drone kills 18 in southern Somalia Saturday March 31, 2012

At least 18 people have been killed and a dozen others injured in an attack by US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The causalities come after an unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab positions in the Daynile District in west Mogadishu on Saturday.

Hussein Mohamed Uraag, a Somali military official, confirmed the attack, saying the aerial strike happened early in the morning.

The US military uses remote-controlled drones in Somalia to carry out reconnaissance operations and targeted killings.

US terror drone kills 30 in southern Somalia Tue Mar 13, 2012

At least 30 people have been killed and a dozen injured in an attack by US assassination drones in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.

The unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at al-Shabab positions in the Dayniile district of south Mogadishu on Tuesday.

Sheik Ibrahim Jaabar, a senior al-Shabab official, confirmed the attack, saying the aerial strike caused major damage to the group’s positions.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia’s Hobyo seaport Wed Mar 7, 2012

Another US assassination drone has crashed in Mudug region near Somalia’s seaport city of Hobyo, Press TV reports.

A Somali officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that the US spy drone had flown from nearby USS Taylor warship.

This is while the main objective of USS Taylor warship which headed towards Somalia from the Suez canal is to hunt kidnappers who abducted US citizens in Somalia’s Puntland Region.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia Mon Mar 5, 2012

Another US assassination drone has crashed near Central Somalia’s Mudug Province, Press TV reports.

According to local witnesses, the US drone crashed in the sea near the town of Harardheere.

The incident took place as the USS Taylor warship was reportedly heading towards the African nation from the Suez Canal.

The town of Harardheere has become notorious for being a pirate base in war-torn Somalia.

Recently, the US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

Scores killed in US drone attack in Somalia Feb. 29, 2012

A US assassination drone has killed scores of people in an attack on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Press TV reports.

Also on Tuesday night, the unmanned American spy planes attacked a number of targets in southern Mogadishu.

In another incident a US spy drone crashed near Halane military base in southern Mogadishu.

Somali officials confirmed that the US drone crashed on Wednesday in the southern part of the capital.

US terror drone crashes in Somalia
Sat Feb 4, 2012

A non-UN-sanctioned US assassination drone has crashed into a refugee camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Press TVreports.

Refugees and soldiers in Mogadishu’s Badbado camp say they watched the unmanned aircraft crash into a hut on Friday.

Shortly after the incident, forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) closed down the refugee camp, which is in the Dharkenley district of southern Mogadishu, the Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported.

Somali government officials and African Union forces found the drone after the crash and took it away.

A police officer told the media that the drone was shaped like a small plane.

The US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

A very British execution? Jan 25th 2012, by J.L.

BILAL AL-BERJAWI was British, but no friend of Britain. Lebanese, he grew up in London. He went to Afghanistan to fight as a mujahid. In 2006, he pitched up in Somalia. In recent years he was said to be involved in logistics for the al-Qaeda linked Shabab militia. Last year, he was stripped of his British citizenship. His family deny the allegations. They say Berjawi wanted to appeal the decision but feared any phone call would be tracked and followed by a drone strike.

His fears were not entirely misplaced. Last year he was said to have been injured in an air strike on a Shabab base in south Somalia. His wife, who had been with him in Somalia, returned to Britain. Three days ago, she gave birth at a London hospital. Berjawi took a chance and called her. That telephone call seems to have been traced by British intelligence and the coordinates passed on to the Americans. Within a few hours, three missiles from an American drone were fired at a Shabab checkpoint on the edge of Mogadishu. Berjawi was killed instantly, along with several other Shabab fighters. The Shabab issued their own propaganda. “The martyr received what he wished for and what he went out for, as we consider of him and Allah knows him best, when, in the afternoon today, brother Bilal al-Berjawi was exposed to bombing in an outskirt of Mogadishu from a drone that is believed to be American.” The Shabab spokesperson, Ali Mohamed Rage, promised revenge.

The efficiency of the attack was, in Baobab‘s opinion, offset by its lack of transparency. Questions abound. Who was Berjawi? What threat did he pose? Was the British connection a coincidence or a cool calculation? Did British politicians have any knowledge of the action? And what are the ramifications of drone attacks in Somalia? Will they break the jihadists, or deepen the cult of martyrology that may become evident in suicide bombings across the region?

In mid December a drone crashed in the Seychelles: U.S. military drone crashes in Seychelles

US terror drone, Kenya strike Somalia Fri Jan 6, 2012

At least 30 people have been killed after a US assassination drone launched an aerial attack on southern Somalia near the Indian Ocean coast as Kenyan fighter aircraft pounded another location in the south, Press TV reports.

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the remotely-controlled aerial vehicle had fired several missiles at the town of Kuda from Kismayo, a strategically important port city on the Somali coast, located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday morning.

They added that 11 houses had also been razed to rubble in the strike.

Somalia is the sixth country, where the United States has used drones to launch deadly missile strikes. The US military has also employed the aircraft in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.

On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia.

“The US has unarmed and unmanned aircraft at a facility there (Ethiopia) to be used only for surveillance as part of a broad, sustained integrated campaign to counter terrorism,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby.

The confirmation appeared a day after The Washington Post revealed in a report that the US flied ‘armed’ drones from an airfield in Ethiopia’s southern city of Arba Minch.

Meanwhile, Kenyan fighter jets carried out airstrikes on villages in Somalia’s southern region of Gedo.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, the country remains among those generating the highest number of refugees and internally-displaced persons in the world.

Do It Yourself Drones

DIY Drones, for those with some serious curiousity about drones.
This is the home for everything about amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Use the tabs and drop-down menus to navigate the site.
 

Drone Background and History

“The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (originally the Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for use by the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Royal Air Force, and the Italian Air Force. The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the U.S. Air Force to indicate their human ground controllers. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The MQ-9 is a larger and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator (other than loiter time), and it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, far more powerful than the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine. The increase in power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance and cruise at three times the speed of the MQ-1. The aircraft is always monitored or controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS) and weapons employment is always commanded by the flight crew.

In 2008 the New York Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing began the transition from F-16 piloted fighters to MQ-9 Reapers, becoming the first fighter squadron conversion to an all-UCAV attack squadron.As of March 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.

Then U.S. Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley said, We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.

DevelopmentWith the success of the MQ-1 in combat, General Atomics anticipated the Air Force’s desire for an upgraded aircraft and, using its own funds, set about redesigning Predator.

Prototype Predator B”General Atomics began development of the Reaper with the “Predator B-001, a proof-of-concept aircraft, which first flew on 2 February 2001. The B-001 was powered by an Allied Signal Garrett AiResearch TPE-331-10T turboprop engine with 950 shp (712 kW). It had an airframe that was based on the standard Predator airframe, except with an enlarged fuselage and the wings were lengthened from 48 feet (14.6 m) to 66 feet (20 m). The B-001 had a speed of 220 knots (390 km/h) and could carry a payload of 750 pounds (340 kilograms) to an altitude of 50,000 feet (15.2 kilometers) with an endurance of 30 hours.

The company refined the design, taking it in two separate directions. The first was a jet-powered version; Predator B-002 was fitted with a Williams FJ44-2A turbofan engine with 10.2 kN (2,300 lbf, 1,040 kgf) thrust. It had payload capacity of 475 pounds (215 kilograms), a ceiling of 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) and endurance of 12 hours. The U.S. Air Force ordered two airframes for evaluation, delivered in 2007. The first two airframes delivered with prototypes B-001 and B-002 (now in the USAF museum at Wright-Patterson AFB). B-002 was originally equipped with the FJ-44 engine but it was removed and a TPE-331-10T was installed so that the USAF could take delivery of two aircraft in the same configuration.

The second direction the design took was the Predator B-003, referred to by GA as the Altair, which has a new airframe with an 84-foot (25.6 m) wingspan and a takeoff weight of about 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg). Like the Predator B-001, it is powered by a TP-331-10T turboprop. This variant has a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg), a maximum ceiling of 52,000 feet (15.8 km), and an endurance of 36 hours.

Version for U.S. Air Force
First MQ-9 arrives at Creech AFB, March 2007.In October 2001, the U.S. Air Force signed a contract with GA to purchase an initial pair of Predator B-003s for evaluation, with follow-up orders for production machines. The first test MQ-9s were delivered to the Air Force in 2002. The name Altair did not follow the aircraft into testing, with the Air Force continuing to refer to the system as “Predator B” until it was renamed Reaper (Altair instead became the designation for the unarmed NASA version); this is confusing, however, as the manufacturer uses the term to refer to the smaller B-001 prototype.

Operators, stationed at bases such as Creech Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, can hunt for targets and observe terrain using a number of sensors, including a thermal camera. One estimate has the on-board camera able to read a license plate from two miles (3 km) away. An operator’s command takes 1.2 seconds to reach the drone via a satellite link. The MQ-9 is fitted with six stores pylons. The inner stores pylons can carry a maximum of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) each and allow carriage of external fuel tanks. The mid-wing stores pylons can carry a maximum of 600 pounds (270 kilograms) each, while the outer stores pylons can carry a maximum of 200 pounds (90 kilograms) each. An MQ-9 with two 1,000 pound (450 kilogram) external fuel tanks and a thousand pounds of munitions has an endurance of 42 hours.

The Reaper has an endurance of 14 hours when fully loaded with munitions. The MQ-9 carries a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb, the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and recently, the GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). Tests are underway to allow for the addition of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.
The Air Force believes that the Predator B will give the service an improved “deadly persistence” capability, with the RPV flying over a combat area night and day waiting for a target to present itself. In this role an armed RPV neatly complements piloted strike aircraft. A piloted strike aircraft can be used to drop larger quantities of ordnance on a target while a cheaper RPV can be kept in operation almost continuously, with ground controllers working in shifts, carrying a lighter ordnance load to destroy targets. In March, 2011 U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that, while manned aircraft are needed, the Air Force must recognize “the enormous strategic and cultural implications of the vast expansion in remotely piloted vehicles” that already play a major role over Afghanistan and Iraq. “The view still lingers in some corners that, once I depart as secretary and once U.S. forces draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan in accordance with the president’s and NATO’s strategy, things can get back to what some consider to be real Air Force normal, he said. “This must not happen. Even as it buys new manned fighters and bombers, the Air Force must give equal weight to unmanned drones and “the service’s important role in the cyber and space domains.
By October 2007 the U.S. Air Force owned nine Reapers, and by December 2010 owned 57 with plans to buy another 272, for a total buy of 329 Reapers. On 18 May 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a certificate of authorization that allows the MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft to fly in U.S. civilian airspace to search for survivors of disasters. Requests had been made in 2005 for the aircraft to be used in search and rescue operations following Hurricane Katrina but, because there was no FAA authorization in place at the time, the planes were not used.

In September 2007, the MQ-9 deployed into Iraq at Balad, the largest U.S. air base in Iraq. On 28 October 2007 the Air Force Times reported an MQ-9 had achieved its first “kill”, firing a Hellfire missile against “Afghanistan insurgents in the Deh Rawood region of the mountainous Oruzgan province. The strike was ‘successful’,” the United States Central Command Air Forces said.

Critics have stated that the USAF’s insistence on qualified pilots flying RPVs is a bottleneck to expanding their deployment. Air Force Major General William Rew stated on 5 August 2008, For the way we fly them right now”—fully integrated into air operations and often flying missions alongside manned aircraft—”we want pilots to fly them. This may be exacerbating losses of Air Force aircraft, in comparison with US Army operations.
The typical MQ-9 system consists of multiple aircraft, ground control station, communications equipment and links, maintenance spares, and military (or contractor) personnel. The crew consists of a pilot and sensor operator. To meet combat requirements, the MQ-9 tailors its capabilities using mission kits of various combinations of weapons and sensors payloads. The Raytheon AN/AAS-52 multi-spectral targeting sensor suite includes a color/monochrome daylight TV, infrared, and image-intensified TV with laser rangefinder/target designator to designate targets for laser guided munitions. The Synthetic Aperture Radar system enables GBU-38 JDAM targeting, is capable of very fine resolution in both spotlight and strip modes, and has ground moving target indicator capability.

DesignThe typical MQ-9 system is composed of multiple aircraft, ground-control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews. The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 260 knots (300 miles per hour) and a cruising speed of 150-170 knots. With a 66 foot wingspan, and a maximum payload of 3800 lbs, the MQ-9 can be armed with a variety of weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and 500-lb laser-guided bomb units. The 3200 nm range of the MQ-9, and its 50,000 ft operational altitude, make it especially useful for long-term loitering operations, both for surveillance and support of ground troops.

Operational history U.S. Air Force
MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan in 2007On 1 May 2007, the 432d Wing of the U.S. Air Force was activated to operate MQ-9 Reaper as well as MQ-1 Predator UAVs at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The pilots first flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2007. In October 2007 the USAF was flying operational missions in Afghanistan.[14] As of 6 March 2008, according to USAF Lieutenant General Gary North, the Reaper has attacked 16 targets in Afghanistan using 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and Hellfire missiles. On 4 February 2008 the MQ-9 dropped a bomb on a truck carrying an insurgent mortar and team near Kandahar.

On 17 July 2008, the Air Force began flying Reaper missions within Iraq from Balad Air Base. It was reported on August 11, 2008 that the 174th Fighter Wing of the USAF will consist entirely of Reapers. By March 2009 the U.S. Air Force had 28 operational Reapers.

On 13 September 2009, an MQ-9 was flying a combat mission over Afghanistan when positive control of the aircraft was lost resulting in the drone flying out of control towards the Afghan border with Tajikistan. An F-15E Strike Eagle was sent to destroy it; the Reaper’s engine was disabled with an AIM-9 missile. The satellite link with the vehicle was restored immediately after, leaving the operator no option other than to steer it into a mountainside along with its ordnance. It was the first time a US drone was destroyed intentionally by allied forces.

Beginning in September 2009, Reapers were deployed by the Africa Command to The Seychelles for use in Indian Ocean anti-piracy patrols.

As of July 2010, 38 Predators and Reapers have been lost during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, with another 9 crashing during training operations in the U.S. The U.S. Air Force conducted more than 33,000 close-air-support- mission flights in 2010, an increase of more than 20 percent compared with 2009. As of March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force had 48 Predator and Reaper combat air patrols flying in Iraq and Afghanistan compared with 18 in 2007.

As of March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.
In October 2011 the U.S. Air Force began operating Reapers out of Arba Minch in Ethiopia. It has been reported that these shall be used for surveillance only operations over Somalia.

NASA had initially expressed some interest in a production version of the B-002 turbofan-powered variant,[12] but instead has leased an unarmed version of the Reaper, which carries the GA-ASI company name “Altair”. Altair is one of the first 3 “Predator-B” airframes. The other 2 airframes, known as “Predator-B 001″ and “Predator-B 002″, had a maximum gross weight of 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg). Altair differs from these models in that it has an 86-foot (26 m) long wingspan (20 feet greater than early and current MQ-9s). The Altair has enhanced avionics systems to better enable it to fly in FAA-controlled civil airspace and demonstrate “over-the-horizon” command and control capability from a ground station. These aircraft are used by NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise as part of the NASA ERAST Program to perform on-location science missions.

In November 2006, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center obtained an MQ-9 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The aircraft has been named Ikhana and its main goal is the Suborbital Science Program within the Science Mission Directorate. NASA also acquired a ground control station in a mobile trailer. This aircraft was used extensively to survey the Southern California wildfires in 2007. The data was used to deploy firefighters to areas of the highest need.

The California Office of Emergency Services requested NASA support for the Esperanza Fire, and in under 24 hours the General Atomics Altair (NASA variant of the Predator B) was launched on a 16 hour mission to map the perimeter of the fire. The Altair had just returned from a test mission a day before the Esperanza Fire started. The fire mapping research is a joint project with NASA and the US Forest Service.

US Homeland Security
UAV Operators at Joint Base Balad (LSA Anaconda), Iraq, April 20, 2005The United States Department of Homeland Security initially ordered one Reaper for border patrol duty, referred to as MQ-9 CBP-101. It began operations 4 October 2005, but on 25 April 2006, this aircraft crashed in the Arizona desert. The NTSB determined (Record Identification: CHI06MA121) that the cause of the crash was most likely a pilot error by the aircraft’s ground-based pilot in the use of a checklist. During its operational period, the aircraft flew 959 hours on patrol and had a part in 2,309 arrests. It also contributed to the seizure of four vehicles and 8,267 pounds (3,750 kg) of marijuana.[40] Because of these successes, a second Reaper, called CBP-104 (initially referred to as “CBP-102″), was delivered in September 2006, and commenced limited border protection operations on 18 October 2006. The program was further expanded on 16 February 2009, including Canadian border patrols where US officials were concerned about the exploitation of the border by drug smugglers, migrants and terrorists.

The CBP-101 was equipped with the Lynx SAR, AX-15 payload, ARC-210 radios, and other sensors and communications equipment; CBP-104 was enhanced with Ku band satellite command and control link and MTS-A EO/IR sensors.

The President’s FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental budget request added $45 million for the Reaper program, and the FY 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill adds an additional $20 million. In October 2006, GA-ASI announced a $33.9 million contract to supply two more Reaper systems by Fall 2007.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has six operational MQ-9s. In 2009, one was based in North Dakota, at the UAS Operations Center in Grand Forks, four in Arizona, at the UAS Operations Center in Sierra Vista and one based at Fort Drum, New York. The aircraft are equipped with GA-ASI’s Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (Lynx SAR info/web page) and Raytheon’s MTS-B ElectroOptical/Infrared sensors.

On 25 April 2006, an MQ-9 operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection crashed near Nogales, Arizona. The pilot, remotely operating the vehicle from Sierra Vista Municipal Airport, reported a momentary lockup of the displays on the primary control console. The pilot switched control to a secondary console, and in doing so inadvertently shut down the vehicle’s engine, causing it to descend out of reach of communications and ultimately crash.

TestbedThe Reaper is being used as a testbed for Gorgon Stare, a wide-area surveillance sensor system.

Non-US use[edit] AustraliaIn September 2006, the General Atomics Mariner demonstrator aircraft was operated by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in an exercise designed to evaluate the aircraft’s ability to aid in efforts to stem illegal fishing, drug running and illegal immigration. The Mariner operated from RAAF bases Edinburgh, South Australia and Learmonth, Western Australia in conjunction with a Royal Australian Navy Armidale class patrol boat, the Joint Offshore Protection Command and the Pilbara Regiment.

United KingdomOn 27 September 2006, the U.S. Congress was notified by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency that the United Kingdom was seeking to purchase a pair of MQ-9 Reapers. They are operated by No. 39 Squadron RAF from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.[49] A third MQ-9 was in the process of being purchased by the RAF in 2007.[49] In December 2010, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that it would increase its fleet of Reapers to 10.

On 9 November 2007, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that its MQ-9 Reapers had begun operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban. In April 2008, following the crash of one of the UK’s two Reapers, British special forces were sent to recover sensitive material from the wreckage before it was blown up to prevent the enemy from obtaining it.

Germany
Germany has made a request to purchase five Reapers and four ground control stations, plus related support material and training. The request, being made through the Foreign Military Sales process, was presented to Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on 1 August 2008 and is valued at US$205 million. However, Germany did not go through with this procurement for the time being and decided to lease the IAI Heron offered by IAI and Rheinmetall instead, initially for the duration of one year, representing a stop-gap measure before a long-term decision on a MALE-system is being made.
On August 1, 2008, Italy submitted a FMS request through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for four aircraft, four ground stations and five years of maintenance support, all valued at US$330 million. Italy ordered two more aircraft in November, 2009.

Variants
Naval versionGeneral Atomics designed a naval version of the Reaper, named the “Mariner”, for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program requirements. The design would have an increased fuel capacity in order to have an endurance of up to 49 hours. Proposed variations on the ultimate design included one designed for carrier operations with folding wings for carrier storage, shorter and more rugged landing gear, an arresting hook, cut-down or eliminated ventral flight surfaces and six stores pylons with a total load of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms).
The US Customs and Border Protection has ordered a “Maritime Variant” of the MQ-9.”

________

MQ Reaper drone background and history from James Gordon on flickr, where you will find photos, diagrams, and history of this and other UAVs.

The National Post’s Richard Johnson takes a look at the scale of America’s military bases across the globe. This is a huge graphic, you’ll have to click it more than once to get it big enough to read. There is a lot to learn from reading and studying it. It reminds me of the vampire squid.

Mapping the reach of military empire, between 800-1000 bases


** Central Intelligence Agency locations are a mixture of drone bases and rendition centers

Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations (link)

And from The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War by Prof. Peter Dale Scott:

” … the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski

I have published the following graphics before, but they are worth contemplating in view of the information above.

Who really spends the most on their armed forces?

The following graphics are by David McCandless. The originals are at The Guardian DataBlog.

Which country has the biggest military budget per year?

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The US military budget in context

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GDPs of major nations as combined earnings of US states

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Big spenders, yearly military budget as % of GDP

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Active forces - who has the most soldiers?

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Active forces - the number of soldiers per 100,000 people

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Total armed forces - the number of soldiers, reservists, and paramilitary per 100,000 people

Bases occupy the seas as well as the continents. The following is also a very large graphic picturing a lot of information.

Seabase Overview - Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

You can read more about what is going on at Seabase Diplomacy.

You can view pictures of seabasing in action around the coasts of Africa at AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

Full Spectrum Dominance, read what it means in the US, Africa, and globally.

updated 1/2/2012

“Somalia is a counterterrorism planner`s dream … It`s far, far harder to do counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in Somalia” (NYT)

Anyone who thinks the US is “surgically striking” only hardcore badguys in Somalia is living in a western corporate media induced dream world. The US is practicing and expanding its use of robot drones, practicing on real people, real lives, real deaths, real maiming. The Somali people have no one to stand up for them, which leaves them open to being abused and experimented on in this way. The US and its proxies, in this case mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi, allege they are representing Somali interests. Yet they are the ones inflicting the most harm on Somalis.

Somalia surrounded by predators as illustrated by talented cartoonist Amin Amir of aminarts.com

Somalia is experiencing a severe famine. It’s government is a creation of the US and the western “international community”, and is so weak that it barely exists. Most members of the government live outside Somalia, hardly a representative government. Listed below is the sort of “aid” the US is providing.

“We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.” (U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley)

Drones: Predator MQ-9 Reaper

There are drone bases in Djibouti, the Seychelles and in Ethiopia, and more are planned. These may not be an HQ, but they are AFRICOM bases in Africa.

What follows is a list of killer drone strikes and drone crashes in Somalia. There are a lot of crashes, Either some drones are being brought down, or they are still an unreliable technology, or both.

December 8 2011: The Iranians captured a US spy drone announced on December 4, and put it on display in Iran on December 8. There is no record of any drone strikes in Somalia since the one below on December 2. I’ll watch to see how this continues.  So far the strikes on Somalia seem to have stopped, or at least paused.   This is also interesting:  US Keeps Losing Control Of Its Drones, regarding another drone that came down in the Seychelles.

Funny how these drones keep experiencing failures in areas where they’re engaging in a covert war …

One of the Air Force’s premier drones crashed Tuesday morning in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean archipelago that serves as a base for anti-piracy operations, as well as U.S. surveillance missions over Somalia.

Prior to the downing of the spy drone in Iran, these are the drone strikes in Somalia.  These strikes occurred more recently than the original posting date of this article:

US terror drones kill 24 in Somalia Fri Dec 2, 2011

At least 24 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia, near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
Abdi Hirsi, a Somali military officer, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, on Friday morning.
He added that dozens of people were also injured in the strikes.

US terror drones kill 11 more in Somalia Thu Dec 1, 2011

At least 11 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday morning.
They added that over 50 people were also injured in the strikes.

US drone raid kills 9 Somali civilians Wed Nov 30, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least 9 civilians and left 28 others wounded in south Somalia, Press TV reports.
According to witnesses, the terror attack took place near the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, informed sources at the southern border town of Dhobley have confirmed that more than 700 Kenyan forces that had entered Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants are retreating towards the Kenyan territory following threats of retaliation.
Last month, Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants, who have been accused of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory. Al-Shabab has denied any involvement in such incidents.
Additionally on Sunday, United Nations Political Office for Somalia met with the country’s civil society and rights groups in a bid to solve the decades-long crisis in the war-torn nation.

US terror drone kills 18 in Somalia Mon Nov 28, 2011

A US assassination drone has killed at least 18 al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, injuring dozens more, Press TV reports.
According to a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officer, the incident occurred in an al-Shabab training camp in the town of Badade.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia has met with the country’s civil society and rights groups in a bid to solve the war-torn nation’s crisis.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia remains among the ones generating the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world.

US terror drones kill 39 more in Somalia Sun Nov 27, 2011

At least 39 people have been killed after US assassination drones launch aerial attacks on southern Somalia near the Indian Ocean coast, Press TV has reported.
Dozens of others were also injured after the remotely-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles, Somali tribal elders told Press TV on Saturday evening.
The incident took place on the outskirts of Kismayo — a strategically important port city on the Somali coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the country’s capital Mogadishu.

The following strikes were recorded in this original article:

US drone attacks kill 21 in Somalia Fri Nov 25, 2011

At least 21 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday morning.
They added that 21 people were killed and scores of others injured in the drone attacks.
The aerial attacks followed US terror drone strikes against the same area on Thursday evening.
Witnesses told Press TV that at least 14 people were killed and 37 others injured in the strikes.

US terror drones kill 14 more in Somalia Fri Nov 25, 2011
This is the Thursday evening Thanksgiving Day strike mentioned above.

At least 14 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday evening.
They added that 37 people were also injured in the strikes.

This report shows the Israelis are getting in a bit of targeted robot killing practice too.
Israeli terror drones kill 17 in Somalia Thu Nov 24, 2011

At least 17 people have been killed after Israeli assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali military officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at the town of Kuda along the coast from Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Thursday morning.
They added that more than 60 others were also injured in the strikes.
Israel has reportedly deployed five unmanned aerial vehicles in a Kenyan military base near the border with neighboring Somalia, and has also passed a considerable amount of heavy weapons to Kenya. The Israeli regime has even sent thirteen trainers to Kenya to provide the Kenyan army with technical training or assistance related to Nairobi’s military operations in war-torn Somalia.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga recently requested Tel Aviv’s assistance in carrying out intensified offensives inside Somalia.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, in response to the request, has vowed to aid Kenya with whatever it needs in its fight against al-Shabab fighters.
Hundreds of families have been fleeing towns in southern Somalia in the wake of Kenyan military’s aerial strikes.
Residents in Kismayo as well as in Buale, Jilib, and Afmadow towns have been leaving their homes over the past weeks for fear of their lives.
Last month, Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants, which it accuses of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory. Al-Shabab has denied involvement.
Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed has said his UN-backed transitional government was opposed to the military incursion, which is reportedly being contributed to by the US and France.

US drone raid kills 7 in Somalia Wed Nov 23, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least seven civilians and injured several others in Somalia, Press TV reports.
The US drone carried out the assassination attacks Wednesday morning in Hiiraan region near Kalaberka of central Somalia.
The US has expanded the number of its aerial assassination attacks by unmanned remote-controlled aircraft in Somalia. Consequently, many civilians have fallen victim to the non-UN-sanctioned assaults.

US spy drone crashes in Somalia Mon Nov 21, 2011

An American remote-controlled reconnaissance drone went down on the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Monday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
They added that that the remains of the spy drone were collected by al-Shabab fighters.

US terror drone kills 25 Somalis Sun Nov 20, 2011

The attack took place near Bardera city in the southern Gedo region of the African nation, leaving many others injured.
The incident follows an attack last night, which also left at least 18 others dead and tens of others wounded between Kismayo and Afmadow

US terror drones kill 46 more in Somalia Fri Nov 18, 2011

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles on the outskirts of Afmadow city, which is situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu, on Friday.
They said that 15 people were killed and several others wounded in the strikes.
The aerial attacks came as US assassination drones had struck Balanbale district in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud earlier in the day.

US terror drones kill 13 in south Somalia Thu Nov 17, 2011

Somali tribal elders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, on Thursday.
They added that dozens of people were also injured in the strikes.
The aerial attacks came as US assassination drones had struck Buzar village a day earlier. At least 26 people were killed and dozens more were also wounded in Wednesday’s drone attacks.

US drone crashes in central Somalia Thu Nov 17, 2011

The remote-controlled aerial vehicle went down on the outskirts of Feer town, which is located in Somalia’s central region of Middle Shabelle, on Thursday.
A Somali military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that 15 people were injured in the incident.
Local residents also said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire

US terror drones kill 35 more in Somalia Wed Nov 16, 2011

A Somali military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Wednesday morning.
He added that dozens of people were also injured in the attacks

US drone strike kills 17 in Somalia Tue Nov 15, 2011

The attack occurred in a civilian region near the town of Dhobley in southern Somalia on Tuesday.

US terror drones kill 36 more in Somalia Sat Nov 12, 2011.

At least 36 people have been killed after US assassination drones launched aerial attacks in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Somali tribal elders, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Haawina village, which is located in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia, on Saturday evening.
dozens of people were also injured in the attacks, the tribal elders added.
Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used assassination drones.
The US military has also used drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.
On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia.

US terror drones kill 146 in two days Fri Nov 11, 2011

Seventy-nine more people have been killed in US assassination drone attacks in southern Somalia, bringing the death toll to 146 over the past two days, Press TV reported.
The US military launched terror drone attacks on Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday. At least 79 people were killed and several others were injured in the strikes.
The aerial attacks followed US terror drone strikes against Afmadow city, which is situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu.
Witnesses told Press TV that at least 29 people were killed and 43 others were also injured in the aerial assassination attacks.
Meanwhile, at least 38 people were killed and over 66 others were wounded after US remote-controlled terror drones launched attacks on Tabataa town, which is located in the southern Lower Juba region of Somalia.

2 US terror drones crash in Somalia Fri Nov 11, 2011

Two US military assassination drones have crashed separately in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
One of the American remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles went down on the outskirts of Dhoobley town, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kenyan border and about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, on Thursday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Later in the day, another US terror drone reportedly crashed near Dhoobley town. Locals said they had witnessed the aircraft crashing in outskirts of the town.

US terror drone raid kills 6 in Somalia Wed Nov 9, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least six civilians and injured several others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The terror drone raid was carried out Wednesday morning near Kismayo in southern Somalia, leaving six people dead and 70 women and girls that were fleeing the area toward Kismayo wounded.
The US has expanded the number of its aerial assassination attacks by unmanned remote-controlled aircraft in Somalia, which is suffering a disastrous famine.
Consequently, many civilians have fallen victim to the non-UN-sanctioned assassination assaults.

US, Kenya airstrikes kill 64 in Somalia Sun Nov 6, 2011

US assassination drone attacks and Kenya airstrikes have claimed the lives of at least 64 people in southern Somalia, as violence continues to intensify in the war-torn African nation, Press TV reports.
A US drone strike killed at least 29 civilians near the town of Hoosingow in Jubbada Hoose district, while Kenya jet fighters bombed an area near the town of Afmadow, killing at least 35 al-Shabab fighters.
Witnesses say dozens of civilians were injured in both attacks.
The incident comes hours after an earlier US assassination drone attack on the town of Kuda along the coast of Kismayo, which left at least 24 Somalis dead.
The US has deployed bombing and intelligence drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most such attacks have resulted in civilian casualties.
These attacks are authorized by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Meanwhile, tension has been growing between the Somali government backed by Kenyan troops and al-Shabab fighters since they engaged in fierce battle over control of towns in south Somalia.

US terror drones kill 24 more in Somalia Sun Nov 6, 2011

At least 24 Somalis have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
The remotely-controlled drones launched an aerial attack on the town of Kuda along the coast of Kismayo, a strategically-important port city located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu on Saturday evening.
The attack followed two similar US assassination strikes against Bardera city and Burdhubo town in the southern Gedo region. At least 75 people were killed and over 80 others wounded in the two strikes.

US drone attacks kill dozens in Somalia Sat Nov 5, 2011

Two US assassination drone attacks have left at least 75 people dead and about 80 others wounded in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The first strike happened in the southern city of Bardera on Saturday, killing nearly 45 people, witnesses said.
In the second attack, more than 30 people were killed in Burdhubo town, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Nearly 80 civilians were also injured in the attacks.
Hundreds of Somali troops entered Bardera city following the US assassination drone strike.

US terror drones kill 38 more Somalis Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 38 Somali civilians have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Ethiopia, Press TV reports.
Two US terror drones carried out airstrikes in Qeydar and Marodile towns near Somalia-Ethiopia borders on Wednesday, killing 38 people and injuring 74 others.
The aerial attacks come few days after the prominent US daily Washington Post revealed in a report that the US flies “armed” drones from a secret airfield in Ethiopia’s southern city of Arba Minch.
The US Air Force has spent millions of dollars to improve the airfield in Ethiopia to accommodate a fleet of Reaper drones that carry Hellfire missiles and precision-guided bombs, the report said.
A day after the report was published, the Americans admitted to flying unmanned aerial vehicles from Ethiopia, claiming that the assassination drones merely conduct surveillance missions in the Horn of Africa.
Although the United States has tried to downplay its military and intelligence presence in the Horn of Africa region, the US military has carried out numerous terror drone strikes in Somalia in the past few months, killing hundreds of people, most of them civilians.
Somalia is the sixth country where the US military has engaged in unauthorized aerial bombing campaigns through the use of its remote-controlled aircraft.
The United States has also deployed its assassination drones for aerial attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.
Washington claims the airstrikes target anti-American militants, though a far greater number of victims of such attacks have been civilians.

US terror drones kill 41 more in Somalia Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 41 people have been killed in a US assassination drone attack near the country’s border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
The US remote-controlled drones launched an aerial attack on the outskirts of Hoomboy town, which is situated in Somalia’s southern region of the Middle Juba.
The aerial attack followed a US assassination strike against Jamame town in Somalia’s southern Jubbada Hoose region earlier on Thursday. At least 28 people were killed and dozens more were wounded.

US drone attack kills 28 in south Somalia Thu Nov 3, 2011

At least 28 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched an aerial attack in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Jamame town, which is situated in Somalia’s southern region of Jubbada Hoose.
They added that dozens more people were also injured in the strike.

US drone strikes kill 38 in Somalia Wed Nov 2, 2011

At least 38 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched aerial attacks in central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Qeydar and Marodile villages, which are situated between Guriceel and Balanbale districts in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud.
Somali tribal elders said that more than 74 people were also injured in the strikes.
Earlier in the day, 20 people were killed and 60 others were injured after a US drone struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used remote-controlled drone aircraft to launch deadly missile strikes.

US drone strikes kill 38 in Somalia Wed Nov 2, 2011

At least 38 people have been killed after US remote-controlled drones launched aerial attacks in central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, Press TV reported.
Witnesses told Press TV that the unmanned aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Qeydar and Marodile villages, which are situated between Guriceel and Balanbale districts in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud.
Somali tribal elders said that more than 74 people were also injured in the strikes.
Earlier in the day, 20 people were killed and 60 others were injured after a US drone struck the outskirts of Kismayo, a strategically important port city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

US drone attack kill 20 Somalis Wed Nov 2, 2011

A US drone attack has killed 20 civilians and injured 60 others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The US assassination drone carried out the attacks on Wednesday morning on the outskirts of Kismayo city, leaving 20 people dead and 60 others, mostly women and children, injured.
Somali security sources have also told Press TV that another drone attack in Kismayo killed dozens of al-Shabab fighters.

US drone strike kills eight in Somalia Tue Nov 1, 2011

At least eight people have been killed and several others have been wounded in a US assassination drone attack in Somalia, Press TV reports.
Witnesses said the strike happened in Mussa Haji district of south Kismayo town on Tuesday, a Press TV correspondent said.

US drone kills 28 in south Somalia Sun Oct 30, 2011

Another attack by a US assassination drone has claimed the lives of at least 28 civilians, while injuring dozens of others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
The incident took place in the town of Gilib, 350 kilometers south of Mogadishu, a Press TV correspondent reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, other US drones also crashed near the Balet Weyne Town in Hiiraan. Further details have not been released yet.

US terror drone kills 21 in Somalia Sun Oct 30, 2011

A US assassination drone attack has killed at least 21 civilians and injured several others in southern Somalia, Press TVreports.
The US drone carried out attacks Sunday morning near Kismayo city in southern Somalia, leaving 21 people dead and 67 others wounded.

US drone crashes in south Somalia. Sun Oct 30, 2011

An unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the US military has crashed in southern Somalia near the Horn of African country’s border with Kenya, Press TV has reported.
The remotely-controlled aircraft went down on the outskirts of Kalaberka town, which is located in Somalia’s south-central region of Hiiran, on Saturday.
Local residents said that they heard a massive explosion after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Earlier on Saturday, 16 civilians were killed and 19 others injured after one such drone fired several missiles at Kulbiyow village in the Lower Juba region in the south of the country.

US drone strike kills 49 in Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

An unmanned US drone strike has killed at least 49 people in famine-stricken in southern Somalia, while injuring at least 68 others, Press TV reported.
According to Somali military officials, the attack took place near the town of Bilis Qooqani hours ago, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.
Washington claims the airstrikes target militants, though most such attacks have resulted in civilian casualties in Somalia.
The developments come as witnesses say hundreds of Somali families are fleeing from the troubled area.
Drone strikes in Somalia make the lawless state the sixth country where the US military has used remote-controlled aircraft to conduct such lethal strikes.

US strike kills 11 civilians in Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

The Saturday attack took place near Hoosingow district in the south of the country, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Meanwhile, another US drone also crashed near Bilis Qooqani town located in the south of the country, leaving three people injured.

Two US drones crash in south Somalia Sat Oct 22, 2011

A Somali military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the remote-controlled drones went down in close proximity to Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, late on Saturday.
He added that he heard massive explosions after the aircraft crashed and caught fire.
Earlier in the day, 49 people were killed and 68 others were injured after a US drone fired several missiles that landed on the outskirts of Bilis Qooqaani town

US drone attacks kill 26 in Somalia Thu Oct 20, 2011

Somali military officers said a US drone carried out attacks Thursday morning near the Taabto and Bilis Qooqani districts in southern Somalia, resulting in the casualties.
Meanwhile, Somali troops have said that they have collected the remains of two US drones that crashed near Bilis Qooqani within the last 24 hours.
On Wednesday, at least 46 people were killed after a US drone struck a city in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border.
The unmanned aircraft fired several missiles into the outskirts of Kismayo, a port and capital of the Lower Juba region located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
Thousands of local residents are fleeing Kismayo city in face of the American UAV attacks, as the Somali people are already struggling with famine in their country.
Earlier on Wednesday, 18 civilians were killed and 37 others wounded in another US drone strike on Musa Haji district in southern Somalia.

27 Somalis killed in US drone strike Mon Oct 17, 2011

Dozens of civilians were also injured after an American strike on the port town of Kismayo, about 500 kilometers south of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday, witnesses told Press TV.
A similar airstrike killed over a dozen people in another southern region on Saturday.

Two US drones crash in south Somalia Wed Oct 12, 2011

Two unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the US military have crashed in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya, Press TV reports.
A Somali government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the American remote-controlled drones went down in close proximity to Dhoobley town, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Kenyan border and about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, late on Tuesday.
He added that the remains of the aircraft were retrieved by Somali government forces.

Three US drones crash in Somalia Sun Oct 9, 2011

Three unmanned US drones have crashed in the southern region of Somalia

h/t Pruning Shears who found and has been listing these reports from Press TV.

Whether we want more drones and more people killed by drones is becoming irrelevant. The CIA has promised and created a drone hunter killer career track. So drone killing will only continue and expand. People are being maimed and killed to feed the growing bureaucracy and the corporate drone manufacturers. Since Somalia is a counterterrorism planners dream, the people of Somalia will continue to pay for this program with their lives. US taxpayers will continue to pay in dollars in order to rain torture and death on Somali families.

Whether hunter-killer drones are effective or necessary is not what is driving their expanded use.

CIA’s Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs

[The CIA's] mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analysing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.

… CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment.

The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it [the CIA] had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war.

The shift in the CIA mission’s has been reflected in the spectacular growth of its Counter-terrorism Center (CTC) from 300 employees in September 2001 to about 2,000 people today – 10 percent of the agency’s entire workforce, according to the Post report.


… In 2005, the agency had created a career track in targeting for the drone programme for analysts in the intelligence directorate, the Sep. 2 Post article revealed.

That decision meant that analysts who chose to specialise in targeting for CIA drone operations were promised that they could stay within that specialty and get promotions throughout their careers. Thus the agency had made far-reaching commitments to its own staff in the expectation that the drone war would grow far beyond the three strikes a year and that it would continue indefinitely.

By 2007, the agency realised that, in order to keep those commitments, it had to get the White House to change the rules by relaxing existing restrictions on drone strikes.

That’s when Hayden began lobbying President George W. Bush to dispense with the constraints limiting the targeting for drone attacks, according to the account in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book “The Inheritance”. Hayden asked for permission to carry out strikes against houses or cars merely on the basis of behaviour that matched a “pattern of life” associated with Al-Qaeda or other groups.

… Leon Panetta, Obama’s new CIA director, was firmly committed to the drone war. He continued to present it to the public as a strategy to destroy Al-Qaeda, even though he knew the CIA was now striking mainly Afghan Taliban and their allies, not Al-Qaeda.

In his first press conference on Feb. 25, 2009, Panetta, in an indirect but obvious reference to the drone strikes, said that the effort to destabilise Al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership “have been successful”.

Under Panetta, the rate of drone strikes continued throughout 2009 at the same accelerated pace as in the second half of 2008. And in 2010 the number of strikes more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 118.

The CIA finally had the major drone campaign it had originally anticipated.

Two years ago, Petraeus appeared to take a somewhat skeptical view of drone strikes in Pakistan. In a secret assessment as CENTCOM commander on May 27, 2009, which was leaked to the Washington Post, Petraeus warned that drone strikes were fueling anti-U.S. sentiments in Pakistan.

Now, however, Petraeus’s personal view of the drone war may no longer be relevant. The CIA’s institutional interests in continuing the drone war may have become so commanding that no director could afford to override those interests on the basis of his own analysis of how the drone strikes affect U.S. interests.

If the US were actually practicing counter terrorism, it might try to avoid giving people so many reasons to become terrorists.

For more discussion of drones and the legalities involved, see my earlier post: Political Assassin Robots Flying In African Skies

For background on the base in the Seychelles see Building A US Military Base In The Seychelles

Why is Obama sending troops to Uganda?

“Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. … this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

… Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. …

Uganda may hold … part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. …Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history.”

In fact US military trainers and advisors in Uganda is nothing new. They have been there partnering with Museveni and the UPDF since AFRICOM was formed and before. Below is one picture from 2009, and two from earlier this year, 2011. In October 2010, a year ago, AFRICOM asked for bids for non-personnel services to build a Special Ops base camp in Uganda (google cached version link) in an “austere environment”. The intention to send US soldiers to Uganda did not just happen, it has been underway for a number of years.

Whether or not they catch Kony, it will be a handy bit of on the job training for continued operations in Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC. For civilians living in the region this escalates the threat of violence they face every day. Every attempt to capture or kill Kony has failed, and led to murderous rampages.

The most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries. The militarized US foreign policy, employing military training and partnering, makes this threat exponentially worse.

CAMP KASENYI, Uganda – Staff Sergeant Andre Amantine of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, salutes Sergeant First Class Cary Adams-course Sergeant Major, during a 15-week Counter Terrorism Course, June 16, 2009, at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda. More than 100 Ugandan soldiers graduated from this CJTF-HOA-supported course, which covered topics such as individual movement techniques, troop landing procedures, land navigation, first aid, identifying improvised explosive devises, and more. (Photo by Master Sergeant Loren Bonser)

SOROTI, Uganda – Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion train on setting up a drop zone with U.S. soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, Georgia National Guard, at Drop Zone Red near Kapelebyong, Uganda, during Atlas Drop 11, April 14, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Brock Jones)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Drake, right, participates in platoon movement exercises, June 6, 2011, while members of the Ugandan People's Defence Force observe and give direction during an Advanced Combat Training course in Jinja. Drake visited four countries in the Horn of Africa with other cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy to participate in a cultural and military exchange to share best practices and understand regional affairs. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Wilson)

Pepe Escobar, quoted above, provides a comprehensive summary:

Obama, the king of Africa

“Anyone may be excused to see Uganda as Libya upside down – because that’s exactly what it is; the dictator in this case gets a good guy billing – one of “our bastards” – while the “rebels” have a pact with the devil. But is that all there is?

I got an urge to surge
The reality in Uganda is an absolute, murderous mess. As much as the LRA “rebels”, Museveni’s government (helped by Washington) has also perpetrated horrendous massacres against civilians. Kony may even be an amateur compared to Museveni – a sort of dictator for life who has just supervised the displacement and mass murder of at least 20,000 Ugandans on behalf of British corporations. Additionally, Museveni basically stole the Ugandan elections early this year.

Obama’s Uganda surge should be seen as a crucial exchange of favors with Museveni – who has sent thousands of Ugandan troops to the African Union (AU) force that is fighting the hardcore Islamist al-Shabaab in Somalia. So while Uganda fights a proxy war for the US in Somalia, Washington helps the dictator to get rid of the LRA “rebels”. No wonder the Pentagon is quite fond of Uganda; Museveni recently got $45 million in equipment, including four small drones.

The LRA – a ragged bunch of hardcore Christian fundamentalists – is based in northern Uganda but spread out between four countries, including the new South Sudan and Congo, in Central Africa. They carry no heavy weapons. They don’t stand a chance of destabilizing the Ugandan government – much less being a “national security” threat to the US. Bogeyman Kony may be in hiding somewhere along the immense Sudan-Congo border, with no more than 400 warriors left.

Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. So far, for Northern Sudan the LRA has been a convenient, weaponized firewall against Western puppet Museveni. But most of all, this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

Any student of realpolitik knows the US doesn’t do “humanitarian” interventions per se. Africom’s surge parallels the real name of the game; precious minerals – and mining. Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. Many among these are ultra-precious rare earth – of which China exercises a virtual monopoly.

The mineral rush in Africa is already one of the great resource wars of the 21st century.China is ahead, followed by companies from India, Australia, South Africa and Russia (which, for instance, has set up a fresh gold refinery in Kampala). The West is lagging behind. The name of the game for the US and the Europeans is to pull no punches to undermine China’s myriad commercial deals all across Africa.

Then there’s the inescapable Pipelineistan angle. Uganda may hold “several billion barrels of oil”, according to Heritage Oil’s Paul Atherton, part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. That implies the construction of a $1.5 billion, 1,200 kilometer long pipeline to Kampala and the coast of Kenya. Then there’s another pipeline from “liberated” South Sudan. Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

Obama, the King of Africa
The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history. Now, the “advisers” are even expected to fan out from Uganda to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And it’s not even the first time this happens. George W Bush tried the same thing in 2008. It ended in unmitigated disaster because of – what else is new – corruption inside the Ugandan army. Kony was tipped off and escaped hours before an attack on his camp.

The official Washington spin hammers the fact that the LRA has “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children”. Now compare it … to the thunderous silence of the Obama White House as racist eastern Libya “rebels” round up, harass, torture and even snuff out sub-Saharan Africans.

Africa has been fighting like forever against multiple strands of the great white genocidal slave master, aided and abetted by multiple strands of the subservient black dictator/kleptocrat – just to be presented in the early 21st century with an American president of direct African descent who has nothing better to offer than special forces, drones, a militarization surge and hypocrisy-laced “humanitarian” intervention.”

Escobar points out that Museveni’s UPDF has been responsible for a multitude of deaths, violence, and brutalities against Ugandans. As Escobar says, it is Libya upside down, this time the US supports the brutal dictator against the so called rebels. In addition to brutalities in Uganda, Museveni and Ugandan sponsored militias share responsibility for brutal war crimes in the Congo.

 

 

 

P. Okema Otika writes about Museveni’s crimes against Ugandans. 
Museveni and Kony Both Should Face War Crimes Tribunal

“To anyone who is unfamiliar with the war in Northern Uganda that started in 1986 when Museveni had just come to power, Museveni’s quest to prosecute Kony might sound like a sound idea coming from a responsible person. However, to those who have suffered through the years and experienced atrocities perpetrated by both the rebels and the Ugandan army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), Museveni is just as criminal as the Kony he is trying to prosecute.

Since 1986, Museveni’s army has been known to commit some of the worst atrocities on the ethnic Acholi people who occupy the regions of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader. The UPDF, also formerly known as the National Resistance Army (NRA) became infamous for burning civilians alive in huts, killings, and the rapes of both women and men in what the Acholi called tek gungu. Tek Gungu referred to rape of men and women by Museveni’s soldiers who would force a man or woman to kneel down (gungu) before the rape is committed against the male or female victim. These rape incidents have been documented by Human Rights Watch and yet remain ignored by most so-called mainstream media. Museveni, despite his army’s atrocities remains a Western “darling.”

By 1990, Museveni had accomplished most of what he wanted; leaving tens of thousands of Acholi dead and thousands languishing in Luzira prison for alleged treason. All these are well documented and still remain fresh in the minds of the Acholi who had trusted Museveni and thought he would treat them as citizens of Uganda rather than his adversaries.

As if his terror was not enough, in 1996 Museveni declared a presidential order that stipulated that all local Acholi living in their homes in the villages be forcefully moved into concentration camps to be surrounded by government troops ostensibly to guard them against LRA rebels’ atrocities. Where else in the world but in Africa would the international community today stand for such gross violation of human rights?

Museveni’s troops immediately started beating up locals to run to the camps. They burnt down crops and houses of the locals so that they would not go back to their homes. The result was the creation of communal homelessness for over 500,000 people who up to now have no permanent home, and live in some of the worse human conditions in the world. Although Museveni prefers to call the camps “Protected Camps,” the locals who live there know it as a concentration camp in which terror reigns and individual freedoms don’t exist.

Government soldiers claiming to be guarding these camps are well known for their atrocities on the hapless civilians.They rape the women and have contributed to the increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS — now the highest in that region.

These are just few recorded incidents and yet the majority remained unreported. Similarly, the government is indiscriminately using its Helicopter Gunship and night-guided vision technology to try to spot and kill the LRA rebels. However, the majority of the unfortunate victims are innocent civilians.”

It needs to be repeated, the most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries.

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire provides additional Ugandan perspective. She tells us both the CAR and DRC have asked Uganda’s UPDF to leave their countries. I am curious how that fits in with the renewed military initiative coming from the United States. The US has entered into agreements regarding the search for Kony with South Sudan, the CAR and the DRC.

Obama’s troops in Central Africa to fight LRA; will they deliver?

“Many Ugandans, through various social networks, have expressed skepticism over the 100 combat troops the US deployed to Uganda

The CAR government in December 2010 had asked the UPDF to leave but they are still present in one area. A friend who works in CAR once told me that when they were asking CAR civilians which militia groups are involved in the conflict, some wrote UPDF. This is because the ordinary people on the ground just see people in UPDF uniforms and have no clue who they are and what they are there to do.

The DRC government asked UPDF to leave, at first by May this year but later asked for a calendar showing their withdrawal. I have not heard of the details of this withdraw plan. In some incidents the Congolese Army, which has its own structural problems had clashes with UPDF in DRC which were largely unreported in the media.

One UPDF soldier who has been based in CAR told me early this year that fighting LRA was very difficult because “you have to do surveillance on a jungle bigger than the size of Uganda.”

A researcher in one of the few agencies that still work in Dungu told me that because of the wide area of operation of LRA we must recognize that “military intelligence is more important that military power. Aerial surveillance and ‘human’ intelligence is crucial” if LRA is to be dealt with. And as far we have seen over the years all the four government involved in the fight for LRA have not shown us they are capable of doing the needed surveillance work.

So the question is will this US deployment deliver?

What can 100 combat troops do? Will they deliver several other botched attacks or will they help end the conflict? Well at the end of the day, regional governments must be more willing and give LRA more attention than they have done in the last three years. DRC, South Sudan and CAR must work faster to pacify the lawless regions that have made it easy for LRA to operate for this long. Also the past has shown that focusing only on military intervention will not easily bring back rebels who were forced to carry out all these crimes in the first place.

Those who worry about foreign intervention must equally worry about the deaths and human rights violations that millions of people in the three countries face daily.

The worry is not that the Americans are here -because they have been here for some time. The question is, are they capable of delivering in a short time without staying in the region too long. If the American forces stay in the region too long this will have implications as the suspicions about their interest in oil in Uganda, South Sudan and DRC is already ripe.”

I have written about the Botched raid at the end of 2008 in greater detail: Stability operations cause 900 civilian deaths, 100,000 displaced, miss target. There was an earlier attempt to get Kony with US backing:

Hard Target

“The hunt for joseph kony has been marked by one spectacular failure after another. In 2006, in an unprecedented move, the United Nations mounted a covert operation to capture or kill him. A squad of U.S.-trained Guatemalan Special Ops soldiers set out into Congo’s Garamba National Park, a longtime LRA refuge and the scene of last year’s Operation Lightning Thunder. Trained in jungle warfare and accustomed to surviving in the bush for long stretches, the Guatemalans were equipped with M-16s and the latest special-operations technology. But they were no match for Kony and his child warriors. Makassa recalls the day the Guatemalans appeared. He had left Garamba park briefly to pick up food and supplies in southern Sudan, just across the border. On his way back he got a call: “The situation is bad. Unknown soldiers came to fight us. Hurry up and help us.” The caller described the unknown soldiers as muzungu—a Swahili word meaning “white man.”

By the time Makassa reached the scene, the battle was over. Five LRA soldiers had been killed. But not one of the Guatemalans had survived. The LRA fighters slaughtered them all and, according to one account, beheaded the commander. Some reports put the U.N. dead at eight; others say as many as 40 counterinsurgency troops may have died that morning. The LRA left the corpses in the jungle but took the weapons—including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

Kony was in southern Sudan at the time, far from the battle. Makassa called him with the news. “Kony was very happy,” Makassa recalls. “Kony likes fighting, he likes war.’”

DefenseTech writes: U.S. Sending “Combat Equipped” Troops to Africa

“In addition to Uganda, U.S. forces have permission from South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to operate on their territory while helping to hunt down the LRA.

The troops are likely special operations forces and their low numbers reflect the U.S.’ desire to avoid the appearance of neo-colonialism on the continent. The Pentagon routinely deploys forces to Africa to train local militaries … They’re usually sent in small numbers and are special ops troops, often dressed as civilians, who are trained in local languages and customs. Don’t forget all the combat equipped troops who live at Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti. Still, it’s very rare to hear about U.S. forces actively hunting bad guys in Africa. Even when we go after pirates and terrorists in Somalia we usually do it with AC-130 gunships and UAVs. If Americans to hit the ground its usually for the few minutes or hours it takes to kill or capture one of these guys.

In this case, the troops will be directly assisting with a manhunt despite the fact that the White House says they won’t be “engaging” in combat with LRA forces, unless of course, the LRA forces shoot first.”

From military.com news: US Sending Troops to Africa to Battle Insurgency

“The deployment drew support from Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican who has visited the region.

“I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa,” he said in a statement. “I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children, and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight.”

But Obama’s letter stressed the limited nature of the deployment.

“Our forces will provide information, advice and assistance to select partner nation forces,” it said. “Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will … not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

In the comments sgtjmackinjersey writes about how Kony and the LRA really don’t have a political agenda:

“sgtjmackinjersey Oct 15, 2011 12:54:41 AM

… Robert Gersony, in a report funded by United States Embassy in Kampala in 1997, concluded that “the LRA has no political program or ideology, at least none that the local population has heard or can understand.”[31] The International Crisis Group has stated that “the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this.”[32] IRIN comments that “the LRA remains one of the least understood rebel movements in the world, and its ideology, as far as it has one, is difficult to understand.”[26] UPDF Lt. Col. Shaban Bantariza has said that “you can’t tell whether they want political power. Its only aim is to terrorize and brutalize the civilian population and to loot their homes.””

James Inhofe has been one of the primary enablers of Museveni’s military excesses. As a senator, Inhofe is responsible for the US giving Museveni the dictator enormous amounts of US taxpayer money. Inhofe is a member of the religious cult The Family, which preaches, among other unchristian and undemocratic ideas, that men in positions of power are powerful because God wants them to have power. In other words, might makes right. Might makes right also appears to be the driving ideology of US foreign policy these days, perhaps the Obama doctrine at home and abroad.

AFRICOM has been wooing African journalists from a number of countries. It invited a number of Ugandan journalists to Stuttgart where General Hamm gave this interview which discussed Somalia and the issue of Kony and the LRA.

From Uganda’s Daily Monitor, and interview with General Hamm by Gerald Bareebe.

“After the passage of counter LRA legislation by the US Congress, the US has been helping UPDF with intelligence information regarding the whereabouts of Joseph Kony. How far have you gone with the hunt for Kony?

It’s not going as well as we hope it should be. There are some small successes but there are also some setbacks. So we have a lot of work yet to do in this regard. As you know, this is a hunt for one man with a small number of his followers in a very extensive geographic area. So it’s kind of tough.

It requires very precise information which can be provided by people from his area of operation or from his camp. Ugandans, the Congolese and others may be able to capture him, though the process may be longer than we may want. The US is committed to this because of the horrific atrocities Kony and his groups have committed.

I am encouraged by the commitment of Uganda and Congo to end this. The US role is to be supportive to the three primary countries involved in this and will facilitate the sharing of information by the parties. The USA will not have a leading role on the ground. Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan have recognised that USA will support them to do this.

We have been training a battalion in Eastern Congo for this. It’s a very important mission for us. But we see the US doing a supporting role than a leading role. In my personal view, Kony cannot be brought to justice faster enough.

If anybody had a doubt that there is a real evil in our world, all they have to do is to look at what Joseph Kony has done and they will find out that evil exists in the name of Joseph Kony. The most important thing is that Kony has to be stopped. The preferred way to do this is to capture him and bring him to justice. There are those who would say that he should be killed. In my view he should be captured and be brought to justice but, if in the pursuit of that he is killed, I am not one who would shed many tears.”

I doubt General Hamm will shed any tears for the civilians killed either. They are just unfortunate collateral damage. The US is partnering with people who have caused enormous suffering in the region.  All the military organizations included are implicated in war crimes, particularly in the eastern Congo.  There is no reason to suppose things will improve.  There is no accountability built in to this action.   Kony is said to have made some friends in the region. There is also corruption always present. In 2008 Kony was tipped off by someone who knew about Operation Lightning Thunder.

And from comment #6 at MoA by b real

“public announcements like this cover operations already in progress that will eventually draw media attention at some point, esp considering uganda’s burgeoning oil industry. considering the last u.s. effort to kill kony failed so spectacularly, the military is re-adapting its existing policies of majority reliance on proxy, surrogate & merc forces in pursuing its own interests across africa. whereas only a handful of boots on the ground to assist in operations is proving ineffective in realizing larger objectives (namely resource “stabilization” and/or removal of resistance to political and commercial designs), utilization of more boots on the ground in actual fighting capacity appears to be the future. this correlates w/ africom getting a boot-in-the-door and the inevitable scope/mission creep that inevitably follows. for instance, as i said in another thread, don’t be surprised to see u.s. boots on the ground waging battle in somalia.

maybe 1,000 villagers were killed in the 2009 campaign – expect a higher body count from this next one”

The Acholi religous leaders feel the same about the military approach. Military attacks and reprisals only result in more bloodshed.

Response of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) to the ” Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″

“Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Kitgum Office, Plot 121 Uhuru Drive, P.O. Box 185, Kitgum, Uganda
Pader Office, 1st Street, P.O. Box 50, Pader, Uganda
Gulu Office, Plot 16 Olya Road, P.O. Box 104, Gulu,Uganda
21st June 2009

For over two decades, war between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) has ravaged the region of north and northeastern Uganda causing great suffering among the civilian population. Over the last number of years, the conflict has unfortunately spread to the Southern Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic. While several methods have been employed to bring and end to the conflict, all have failed to reach their goal of realizing peace.

To address this issue the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″ was introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 19th, 2009, detailing the way in which the United States wishes to engage with the conflict.

We the Acholi Religious Leaders Initiative (ARLPI) who have been tirelessly working to bring about sustainable peace and reconciliation throughout the region, wish to express our gratitude for the continued interest and support the U.S. has shown towards ending the suffering of those affected. Their support to initiatives such as the Juba Peace talks and the provision of humanitarian aid during the course of the conflict has not gone unnoticed. Such contributions have significantly improved the conditions in the region.

Of particular concern of bill however is Section 4: Requirement of a Regional Strategy for Disarming the LRA. This section implies that a military offensive may be immanent. The military option has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009).

Experience shows that despite such attempts to end the conflict, only dialogue can be attributed to the relative calm experienced in Northern Uganda since July of 2006 Military strategies launched against the LRA have time and again led to severe reprisal attacks on the innocent civilian community as illustrated by the recent 900 civilian deaths during Operation Lightning Thunder.

Not only has the cost of the military option been expensive regarding the loss of human life, the financial implications of war are also immense. The large sums of money required to carry out war drain the resources needed to bring about development and reconstruction of affected areas.

In conclusion, we applaud the commitment of the bill to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence.

Sincerely,

Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Al Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil
Rt. Rev. Bishop Nelson Onono
Rt. Rev. Bishop Benjamin Ojwang
Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II
Fr. Julius Orach
Bishop Sabino Odoki”

Here is the text of President Obama’s announcement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 14, 2011
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
October 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men,women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord’s ResistanceArmy Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability. In furtherance of the Congress’s stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa. On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda. During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100. These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA. Our forces will provide information,advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces. Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the CentralAfrican Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The support provided by U.S. forces will enhance regional efforts against the LRA. However, although the U.S. forces arecombat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense. All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safetyof U.S. military personnel during their deployment. I have directed this deployment, which is in the nationalsecurity and foreign policy interests of the United States,pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreignrelations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congressfully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (PublicLaw 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA

To conclude, this bit of hiphop poetry from FURF1387 in the comments at the military.com article quoted above, is right on the mark:

FURF1387
Oct 15, 2011 10:35:44 AM
“100 here….100 there….100 a day to keep the barbarians at bay….100 a day reinforcing legions far away…the Republic at home begins to sway…unity oozes day by day…citizens won’t labor without circus & play…besides outsiders do the dirty work for much less pay… the empire spreads and melts away…AH, but that’s all a story from some ancient day…in some ol’ galaxy, far, far away…no need to fear…100 away..100 a day…100 there…100 HERE…no longer.”

 

________
________

 

Added February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
DOD To Equip Uganda Forces In Bid To Destroy Rebel Forces

U.S. Africa Command is set to begin a new security assistance program in East Africa that aims to bolster the ability of Uganda’s military to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group that for more than 20 years has terrorized civilians.

Congress has lifted a hold it placed earlier this month on a Defense Department proposal to begin a new program to provide Ugandan defense forces with counterterrorism training and equipment, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory.

The project, part of a second batch of so-called Section 1206 security assistance programs drawn up by the Defense and State departments, is designed to “provide communications and intelligence training as well as communications and engineering equipment to improve Uganda’s ability to remove LRA leadership and fighters from the battlefield,” according to Gregory. The project has a price tag of $4.4 million, he said.

During testimony before Congress this spring, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of AFRICOM, singled out the Lord’s Resistance Army as a “scourge” and an example of a transnational extremist threat to security on the continent. “In order for Africa Command to reduce threats to our citizens and interests, both abroad and at home, we need to contribute to operations, programs and activities that help African states provide for their own security in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and international norms,” Ham told the House Armed Services Committee on April 5.

In May 2010, the President Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which required that the executive branch draw up a strategy to support multilateral efforts to protect civilians from the LRA, to apprehend or remove the LRA leader Joseph Kony, and to disarm and demobilize LRA fighters.

On Nov. 24, 2010, Obama transmitted the strategy to lawmakers with a letter explaining that it would guide “U.S. support across the region to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.” The strategy consists of four objectives, one of which is to “apprehend or remove from the battlefield Joseph Kony and senior commanders.”

A State Department assessment on Uganda calls the Lord’s Resistance Army, which aims to overthrow the East African country’s government, “vicious and cult-like.” Between 1986 and 2006 the group is believed to have kidnapped thousands of children to serve as soldiers and slaves, according to the State Department. Its primary targets are civilians, especially women and children, according to a Congressional Research Service report. “Human rights abuses committed by the LRA include murder, mutilation, abduction of young women for sexual servitude, and kidnapping of children to become rebel fighters,” according to the State Department.

In 2005, the Ugandan forces drove the LRA out of the country. Since then, the rebel group has operated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic and is responsible for displacing nearly 2 million people, according to the State Department. For more than two years the governments of Uganda, Congo and Southern Sudan have waged joint military operations against the LRA in northeastern Congo.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon was cleared by Congress to spend as much as $123.3 million on similar projects in Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda, Burundi, Oman, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines (DefenseAlert, July 19).

Those projects, along with the new Uganda security assistance effort and a first batch of 1206 efforts to enhance the capabilities of Eastern European nations preparing to deploy to Afghanistan begun in April, require $159.3 million, comprising nearly half of the available funds for such programs — which are very popular with combatant commanders — in this fiscal year.

The FY-11 Defense Authorization Act granted $350 million for Section 1206 projects, including $75 million for stability operations. Congress, which first authorized Section 1206 projects in FY-06, permits spending on these programs for two purposes: to enhance partner nations’ counterterrorism and stability operations and bolster foreign maritime security forces for counterterrorism. — Jason Sherman

Two articles sum up NATO’s accomplishments in Libya. NATO has instigated race war, and has so damaged the infrastructure of an independent economically successful developing country that it has created a failed (or soon to fail) state for the profit of NATO countries:

NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya by Glen Ford
and
NATO’s War on Libya is an Attack on African Development by Dan Glazebrook

Tripoli Street in Misrata, photographed in 2007 and again in 2011. There is nothing freedom loving or humanitarian about what happened here.

From NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya:

The western media find it more difficult to deny a pattern of murderous ethnic cleansing by the racist Libyan rebels they have treated as saints and heroes for the past six months. Thousands of black Libyans and sub-Saharan immigrants have been murdered by NATO-financed, heavily Islamist fighters who, as African Union chairman Jean Ping says, seem to “confuse black people with mercenaries.” In truth, the Libyan rebels are no more confused about the identity of their victims than South Carolina lynch mobs or German Nazis; they’re racist killers, pure and simple.

… now that the imperial mission is no longer seen to be at jeopardy – the corporate media are at last willing to acknowledge the racial aspects of the Libyan conflict. As long as the outcome remained uncertain, western correspondents, who had swarmed the rebels like shameless paparazzi since the armed outbreak began in Benghazi in late February, pretended not to notice that their heroes were behaving like rampaging Ku Klux Klansmen.

African media were alive with reports from the 1.5 million Black immigrant workers in Libya of mass killings, gruesome public lynchings, savage burnings, and organized rapes


As honorary (or acting) whites, the rebels were entitled to understanding and empathy, even as it became undeniable that their mission was ethnic cleansing, through terror and on-the-spot executions of darker-skinned people, including fellow Libyans. From the early days of the rebellion to the present, western media attempts to justify rebel anti-black bigotry and brutishness as a natural reaction to Gaddafi’s use of sub-Saharans as mercenaries. The black mercenary is deployed as the great justifier for rebel racism, just as the ubiquitous black rapists of the American South were what supposedly drove whites to “excesses” of violence. Of course, rapes of southern (or northern) white women by blacks were exceedingly rare, and genuine black mercenaries were not in evidence at all in eastern Libya, according to international investigators. But the idiots of CNN et al still endlessly chatter about black mercs, to put into “context” the horrors perpetrated on blacks in Tripoli under rebel occupation: … daily disappearances and kidnappings of blacks trapped in city neighborhoods; Arab gangs invading African worker encampments bent on raping women; hundreds of black Africans held incommunicado as suspected mercenaries, hundreds more acknowledged immigrant workers imprisoned, even as low level Arab Gaddafi supporters are set free.

Six months of the most intense western media attention – don’t dare call it “reporting” – have succeeded in transforming a purely theoretical, factually nonexistent government military massacre in Benghazi into a cause for actual mass murder of Libyan soldiers and civilians, destruction of the national infrastructure, and regime change. Whether the rebels, who are heavily weighted with jihadis, realize it or not, their country is on the path to become an international protectorate – a kind of Haiti-hood.

Racial pogroms, massacres and ethnic cleansing are on Libya’s immediate agenda, thanks to the civilizing influence of NATO, AFRICOM, and the First Black President of the U.S.A.

Dan Glazebrook provides a clear tight summary of western dependence on Africa, and how Libya is part of the continuing story. Centuries of economic development in the west have been financed and made possible by the labor and resources of Africa.

From NATO’s War on Libya is an Attack on African Development

African labour and resources- as any decent economic historian will tell you – has been key to global economic growth for centuries.

When the Europeans discovered America five hundred years ago, their economic system went viral. Increasingly, European powers realised that the balance of power at home would be dictated by the strength they were able to draw from their colonies abroad. Imperialism (aka capitalism) has been the fundamental hallmark of the world’s economic structure ever since.

The slave trade was devastating for African economies, which were rarely able to withstand the population collapse; but the capital it created for plantation owners in the Caribbean laid the foundations for Europe’s industrial revolution. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as more and more precious materials were found in Africa (especially tin, rubber, gold and silver), the theft of land and resources ultimately resulted in the so-called “Scramble for Africa” of the 1870s, when, over the course of a few years, Europeans divided up the entire continent (with the exception of Ethiopia) amongst themselves. By this point, the world’s economy was increasingly becoming an integrated whole, with Africa continuing to provide the basis for European industrial development as Africans were stripped of their land and forced down gold mines and onto rubber plantations.

After the Second World War, the European powers, weakened by years of unremitting industrial slaughter of each another, contrived to adapt colonialism to the new conditions in which they found themselves. As liberation movements grew in strength, the European powers confronted a new economic reality – the cost of subduing the ‘restless natives’ was starting to near the level of wealth they were able to extract from them.

Their favoured solution was what Kwame Nkrumah termed ‘neo-colonialism’ – handing over the formal attributes of political sovereignty to a trusted bunch of hand-picked cronies who would allow the economic exploitation of their countries to continue unabated. In other words, adapting colonialism so that Africans themselves were forced to shoulder the burden and cost of policing their own populations.

In practice, it wasn’t that simple. All across Asia, Africa and Latin America, mass movements began to demand control of their own resources, and in many places, these movements managed to gain power – sometimes through guerrilla struggle, sometimes through the ballot box. This led to vicious wars by the European powers – now under the leadership of their upstart protege, the USA – to destroy such movements. This struggle, not the so-called “Cold War”, is what defined the history of post-war international relations.

So far, neo-colonialism has largely been a successful project for the Europeans and the US. Africa’s role as provider of cheap, often slave, labour and minerals has largely continued unabated. Poverty and disunity have been the essential ingredients that have allowed this exploitation to continue. However both are now under serious threat.

Chinese investment in Africa over the past ten years has been building up African industry and infrastructure in a way that may begin to seriously tackle the continent’s poverty. …

To prevent this ‘threat of African development’, the Europeans and the USA have responded in the only way they know how – militarily. Four years ago, the US set up a new “command and control centre” for the military subjugation of the Africa, called AFRICOM. The problem for the US was that no African country wanted to host them; indeed, until very recently, Africa was unique in being the only continent in the world without a US military base. And this fact is in no small part, thanks to the efforts of the Libyan government.

Gaddafi had been actively working to scupper AFRICOM. …

Perhaps even more worrying for US and European domination of the continent were the huge resources that Gaddafi was channelling into African development. …

NATO’s war is aimed at ending Libya’s trajectory as a socialist, anti-imperialist, pan-Africanist nation in the forefront of moves to srengthen African unity and independence. The rebels have made clear their virulent racism from the very start of their insurrection, rounding up or executing thousands of black African workers and students. All the African development funds for the projects described above have been ‘frozen’ by the NATO countries and are to be handed over to their hand-picked buddies in the NTC to spend instead on weapons to facilitate their war.

For Africa, the war is far from over
.The African continent must recognise that NATO’s lashing out is a sign of desperation, of impotence, of its inability to stop the inevitable rise of Africa on the world stage. Africa must learn the lessons from Libya, continue the drive towards pan-African unity, and continue to resist AFRICOM. Plenty of Libyans will still be with them when they do so.

The NATO destroyers, calling themselves the Friends of Libya, are getting busy divvying up the spoils:

“Friends of Libya” meet in Paris for imperialist carve-up by Bill Van Auken, Sept 2, 2011.

The “Friends of Libya” conference held in Paris Thursday signaled the beginning of the imperialist carve-up of the oil-rich North African country.

Jointly chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the conference included participation by those countries which provided the fire-power under the umbrella of NATO and using a United Nations resolution as a cover to bring down the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in a six-month war for “regime change.” These include the US, France, Britain, Italy and Qatar. All of them are jockeying to reap the greatest possible return on their “investment” of bombs and missiles that have claimed thousands of lives and left much of Libya’s infrastructure in ruins.

Also attending will be Germany, Russia, China, India and Brazil, which abstained on the UN Security Council resolution utilized as a legal fig leaf for the colonial-style war. These countries all fear that their significant investments and deals in Libya will be lost to the intervening Western powers.

In all, the conference included 31 heads of state, 11 foreign ministers and the leaders of the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League, along with the chief figures in the NTC, Justafa Abdul-Jalil, who until February was Gaddafi’s justice minister, and Mahmoud Jibril, a free-market economist who was the Gaddafi regime’s point man on attracting foreign investment.

Meanwhile, reports of massacres and atrocities carried out by the guardians of the new “democratic Libya” continue to mount, many of them directed against the large numbers of sub-Saharan African migrant workers who have been killed, abused and detained solely on the basis of the color of their skin.

The “friends” came to Paris not to discuss aid to Libya, but rather
the lifting of economic sanctions imposed under the Gaddafi regime and the unfreezing of Libyan assets in foreign banks, measures designed to get money and resources flowing out of the North African country


Quoting an earlier statement of Sarkozy insisting that France was acting in accordance with a “universal conscience” simply to “protect the civilian population,” Liberation comments: “Be that as it may, the French oil corporations might benefit amply from the military campaign.”

Spelling out that France considered its part in the war an investment that would be rewarded with Libyan oil wealth

Libya’s oil reserves are the largest in Africa, estimated at 44 billion barrels. Before the war, Libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels of oil a day. France was its second biggest market, second only to Italy, with over 15 percent of its imports coming from Libyan oilfields.

France’s aggressive pursuit of the spoils of the Libyan war has given rise to evident tensions with its European NATO allies.

Media commentary in both Italy and Britain has been dominated by warnings that France is stealing a march on Italian and British oil and business interests with its drive to be the first to go to war as well as first to recognize the NTC and reopen its embassy in Tripoli.


The countries that stand to lose the most are Russia and China, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote and criticized NATO’s use of the UN resolution as a pretext for regime change.

Moscow hastily recognized the NTC on the eve of the conference in a transparent bid to protect its economic interests. The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement insisting that it expected “all previously agreed treaties and other mutual obligations will be implemented in good faith.”


Beijing … said it accepted the council’s “significant position and role” and sent a vice foreign minister to the Paris conference. The official People’s Daily carried an article Thursday warning “Western powers … not to turn the Paris conference into “another Versailles [referring to the colonial carve-up that followed World War I], with Western powers scrambling to promote their interests in a war-torn country.”

The article described China as “a long-term constructive player” in Libya, working on some 50 projects worth $18.8 billion and with 35,000 Chinese workers on the ground before the war began.

One of the strategic objectives of US imperialism and its Western European counterparts was precisely to counter growing Chinese influence in Libya and Africa generally, as well as Russia’s ambitions, which included talks with the Gaddafi government on acquiring a Mediterranean port for its navy in Benghazi.

The “Friends of Libya” conference was held on the 42nd anniversary of the coup by Gaddafi’s Free Officers Movement that overthrew the Western-backed regime of King Idris on September 1, 1969. The anniversary was noted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in their remarks. No doubt Washington and the other imperialist powers see more than a coincidence in the anniversary as they endeavor to return Libya to the status of semi-colony, under the thumb of the energy conglomerates and the direct military control of the US and NATO
.

Meanwhile,

US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, … the highest American official to visit Libya, praised the new regime, dismissed concerns about Islamist influence in the NTC and declared US “commitment to supporting the Libyan people as they chart their country’s future.”

Feltman’s cynical reference to the Libyan people determining their own path is belied by the neo-colonial character of NATO’s intervention and the NTC’s complete dependence on the Western powers—militarily, politically and economically. Like the other major powers making tracks to Tripoli, the US is primarily concerned about establishing a strategic outpost in North Africa and securing dominance over the country’s oil reserves.

The fragility of the new NATO-backed regime was underscored by its announcement yesterday that it would remain in Benghazi until after the seizure of the remaining pro-Gaddafi strongholds. The decision will delay the implementation of the NTC’s “roadmap,” which outlines plans for a new constitution and elections over a 20-month period, allowing the NTC more time to consolidate its grip on power.

The NTC, which is an unstable coalition of former top Gaddafi officials, CIA assets and Islamist tendencies, is already confronting divisions in its ranks.

Addressing a meeting in Misrata on Monday, Jibril gave the green light for further reprisals …
The espousal of vigilantism by the man likely to be the next prime minister is the sharpest indication of the draconian measures that the NATO-installed regime will employ to deal with any political opposition.

Things do not look good for Libya, a divided country, with little to offer it any promise of unity. It is now engaging in a race war that will further weaken it internally and externally. And race is hardly the only division. NATO imperial sponsors do not want a unified government that will stand up for the Libyan people. What they want is a failed state with a weak and powerless government, with unaccountable NGOs performing some rudimentary functions of government, and serial humanitarian disasters, very much in the manner of Haiti. They will be able to tut-tut about how weak, corrupt, and ineffective the Libyans are. That way the imperial powers can extract the resources with minimal responsibility or accountability to the Libyan people. The Qaeda linked Islamists in Benghazi will only assist the imperial narrative, requiring an AFRICOM base, constant fearmongering, and ongoing massive counter terrorist activities. Libya looks destined to be another state failed by imperial powers for imperial profit.

Added September 16:

Pepe Escobar observes, following the visit of Sarkozy and Cameron to Libya. For their photop in Benghazi “they went straight to the site at which the rebels publicly beheaded an alleged pro-Gaddafi “mercenary” only weeks before”:

[Sarkozy] felt the need to tell an unsuspecting world, “What we did was for humanitarian reasons. There was no hidden agenda.”

But just in case – and with Tripoli’s top two hotels swarming with multilingual contractors/vultures – the chairman of the dodgy Transitional National Council (TNC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, had to spell out the agenda: “allies and friends” would “have priority within a framework of transparency” in sharing the loot. So many juicy oil and gas (and water and uranium and reconstruction) contracts to bag, so little time.

NATO in Libya conquered essentially a strip of highway peppered with a few cities by the Mediterranean. Nobody knows what’s really going on in the desert. NATO’s real agenda is to wait and see while Gaddafi and his forces regroup and rearm in Niger and southern Algeria, and start a real guerrilla. That will be the perfect excuse for NATO to stay – like in Afghanistan.

There’s also the not small matter of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sub-Saharan Africans either harassed or massacred by the “NATO rebels” – something that guarantees large swathes of Africa actively backing Gaddafi.

There’s no evidence the TNC has the strength to disarm the current, already Iraqi-style, militia hell in Tripoli and beyond. If the TNC won’t do it, NATO will happily oblige. In this case, bets are on Libya turning not into Afghanistan 2.0 or Iraq 2.0, but Somalia 2.0.

Horace Campbell has written a brilliant piece of history and analysis of NATO and Libya, Global NATO and the recolonisation of Africa. He tells us:

This intervention clarified for many African military forces that their alliance with the United States and France will not spare them when it is in the interest of the NATO forces to dispense with former allies.

But the crux of the matter of the relationship between Africa and Libya can now be seen in the killing of Africans in Libya on the grounds that they were and are mercenaries. These racist actions by the so-called ‘rebels’ were reported from the start of this ‘humanitarian’ intervention

The African Union has condemned the racist attacks and maintained that political negotiations are still necessary. Jean Ping, chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, decried the attacks on black Africans and reiterated the reasons why the African Union wanted to see an inclusive government in Libya. Jean Ping declared, the ‘Blacks are being killed. Blacks are having their throats slit. Blacks are accused of being mercenaries. Do you think it’s normal in a country that’s a third black that blacks are confused with mercenaries?’

Ping continued, ‘There are mercenaries in Libya, many of them are black, but there are not only blacks and not all blacks there are mercenaries. Sometimes, when they are white, they call them “technical advisors”.’

This reminder, that Libya is in Africa and that a third of the country is black is for those forces who are celebrating the success of a NATO mission to protect Africans which has ended up killing Africans. Africans do not consider the NATO mission a success. In fact, this has been a disaster for peace and reconstruction in Africa. The Russians and Chinese do not consider this operation a success but the leaders of Africa and the leaders of the BRICS societies have awoken too late to the new form of imperial intervention using Global NATO.

The one positive impact of this new imperial adventure is to send alarm bells among all of the military forces in Africa aligned to the West. The other impact is to alert the popular forces to the reality that governments with big armies are literally ‘paper tigers.’ Proper organising, political education, and disciplined activity by the working people can shift the international balance of power and rid Africa of other long serving despots. There is a new scramble for Africa and the progressive forces will have to learn the lessons from the new multilateral imperial interventions that are now being planned by Global NATO.


Global NATO has awakened many leaders to the reality of the ways in which third parties and private military forces will be used to invade Africa. Even the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has had to speak out forcefully against NATO in Libya. While these leaders are speaking, the rank and file in Africa are paying attention to the fact that France, Britain and the USA will go to all lengths to invade Africa in the new scramble for resources. General Carter Ham of AFRICOM has already travelled to Nigeria to enact the drama on the stage that had been set up by former US ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell who predicted that Nigeria will break up within 16 years. General Carter Ham urged partnership between the government of Nigeria and AFRICOM knowing full well that such a partnership would be to fulfil the wishes of those who do not want to see the unity and peace of Nigeria and Africa.

China, Russia, Brazil and India will have to make a choice. They will either be integrated into the spoils of the current scramble for land, oil water and seeds or will join with the people of Africa to democratise the United Nations and support the forces of peace and reconstruction. China has sent one signal by becoming the principal paymaster for Europe becoming the stopgap for the crisis in the Eurozone.

Campbell says much more and the entire article is key to understanding what is going on and what may follow:
Global NATO and the recolonisation of Africa.

__________

Added October 20, 2011

Here is a picture of Sirte now, not much R2P involved here, unless it is the Right 2 Plunder.

Sirte in October 2011, damage from the NATO sponsored assault

As this comment, 6, put it:

Lybians can say good bye to health care, free studies, marriage stipends, etc. Westerners like to say that was all paid for by oil revenues, which is in part true, they sure help, but contrast with Saudi, Venezuela or Nigeria. Lybia under Khadafi had a functioning central bank and had no (or almost no) sovereign debt. None of its citizens / municipalities / local entities had significant debts of any kind, and ‘never’ to foreign entities. (Compare with Iceland or Greece..) I guess Austerity measures had to be implemented at bomb and gun point…

And Pepe Escobar was scathing following the death of Gaddafi:

The US power grab in Africa

A few hundred soldiers and no less than 80,000 civilians have been bombed for weeks by NATO and the former “rebels”. Only 20,000 civilians have managed to escape. There’s no food left. Water and electricity have been cut off. Hospitals are idle. The city – under siege – is in ruins. Sirte imams have issued a fatwa (decree) allowing survivors to eat cats and dogs.

What Gaddafi never did to Benghazi – and there’s no evidence he might have – the TNC is doing to Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town. … Sirte is being destroyed in order to “save it”. Sirte, the new Fallujah, is brought to you by NATO rebels. R2P, RIP.

Unified Protector, Odyssey Dawn and all other metaphors Homeric or otherwise for the Africom/NATO 40,000-plus bombing of Libya have yielded the desired result; the destruction of the Libyan state (and much of the country’s infrastructure, to the delight of disaster capitalism vultures). It also delivered the lethal unintended consequence of those anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists – a supremely convincing reason for the “war on terror” in northern Africa to become eternal.

Washington couldn’t care less about R2P; as the Libyan Clinton hop shows, the only thing that matters is the excuse to “securitize” Libya’s arsenal – the perfect cover story for US contractors and Anglo-French intel ops to take over Libyan military bases.

The iron rule is that “free” Libya should be under the control of the “liberators”. Tell that to the “irregular militias”, not to mention the Abdelhakim Belhaj gang and his al-Qaeda assets now in military control of Tripoli.

The big picture remains the Pentagon’s Africom spreading its militarized tentacles against the lure of Chinese soft power in Africa, which goes something like this: in exchange for oil and minerals, we build anything you want, and we don’t try to sell you “democracy for dummies”.

The Bush administration woke up to this “threat” a bit too late – at Africom’s birth in 2008. Under the Obama administration, the mood is total panic. For Petraeus, the only thing that matters is “the long war” on steroids – from boots on the ground to armies of drones; and who are the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department to disagree?

In Libya, the objective is to occupy an absolutely strategic crossroads between the Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Middle East, with the added (nostalgic?) benefit of the West – as in Paris, London and Washington – finally getting to hold military bases as when King Idris was in power (1951 to 1969). As a whole, control must be established over northern Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and – more problematically – the Horn of Africa.

The trillion-dollar question ahead is how China – which plots strategic moves years in advance – is going to react.

AFRICOM continues constantly expanding seabasing and riverine warfare activities, continuing efforts to monitor and control African nations and African resources for the benefit of the US and the West.

I’ve collected together a number of photos of seabasing and riverine warfare exercises from the last 12 months. You can see how AFRICOM is busily engaged around the entire coastline of the continent, and inland on the rivers.

MOMBASA, Kenya - The guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) arrives in Mombasa to take part in a training

DAKAR, Senegal - High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) makes a stop for refueling on its way to Ghana, June 26, 2011. Swift is currently taking part in Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

AGADIR, Morocco - U.S. Naval Ship Pililaau ports at Agadir, Morocco recently as part of exercise African Lion 2011. The largest exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, African Lion is a joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise that is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures. The exercise is scheduled to conclude June 18.

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - A group of service members from the U.S. and Senegalese Marine Corps and Nigerian Navy search for targets during a live-fire shoot on the river in Toubakouta, Senegal April 23, 2011. Approximately 45 U.S. marines and sailors, along with about 100 Senegalese commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service troops are participating in Africa Partnership Station 2011, a U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations' maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS 11 with a security assistance force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps Forces Africa photo by Master Sergeant Grady Fontana)

DOUALA, Cameroon - Cameroonian Navy visit, board, search, and seizure teams approach USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) during the multi-national training exercise Obangame Express 2011 as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, March 21, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo - A Democratic Republic of Congo Navy boat accompanies Exercise Kwanza review participants on a cruise of the Congo River in October 2010. Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held the exercise in order to validate Central African Multinational Force to African Union (AU) standards. The force is one of five brigade-size elements that make up the AU's Africa Standby Force--created to respond to crises on the African continent. (U.S. Army photo by Major George K. Allen Jr.)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Sergeant Austin Sabin maneuvers a fire team of Senegalese commandos through a final military operation in urban terrain exercise at the end of a three week partnered evolution in Toubakouta, Senegal, recently. The partnership was an Africa Partnership Station 2011 initiative, in which the Marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, APS-11 exchanged concepts and cultures with Senegalese commandos. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Timothy L. Solano)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Commando marines with Senegal's Company Fusiliers Marine Commando unit patrol the hot dusty trail in army base center training tactics zone 3, in Toubakouta, Sengegal, during Africa Partnership Station 2011. These Senegalese marines are participating in Africa Partnership Station 2011, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations' maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS 11 with a security assistance force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps Forces, Africa photo by Master Sergeant Grady Fontana)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal - Staff Sergeant Shaun Grant and Gunnery Sergeant Michael Connors exit the water after finishing the Senegalese water obstacle course in the Sadoum River April 24, 2011. This exercise was one of many that the marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011 have engaged in during the APS-11 partnered military-to-military exchange. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Timothy L. Solano)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal- U.S. Marines, Senegalese Commandos and members of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service lay in the prone position during a beach raid exercise launched from rubber raid craft, recently. The raid formation once on the beach is designed to provide 360 degrees of security. (Photo by Lance Corporal Timothy Solano)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA -- Sailors assigned to the deck department aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15) prepare for a replenishment at sea March 10, 2011, with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) and the Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Ponce is part of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)

LOME TOGO, Togo - Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) man the rails during a port visit to Lome, Togo, February 1, 2011. The port visit marks the start of the fifth iteration of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.(U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant junior grade Lorna Mae Devera)

PEMBA ISLAND, Tanzania - U.S. Navy Lieutenant Clint Phillips (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruce Edmunds (2nd from left), Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) 115, wade through shallow water on their way to Fundo Island, a small islet that is part of Pemba Island, September 14, 2010. The Little Creek, Virginia-based MCAT 115 is deployed to Tanzania as part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. Maritime Civil Affairs Teams are deployed worldwide to assess partner-nation infrastructure and enhance capacity. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Laird)

ARTA BEACH, Djibouti - The first group of Navy FY-11 Chief Petty Officer selectees awaits instruction to begin their first waterborne obstacle during a water survival course at the French Foreign Legion's Combat Training Center September 6, 2010. The selectees from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completed the course as part of the team building portion of the induction season. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Frank Montellano)

USCGC MOHAWK, At Sea - Petty Officer 3rd Class Antonio Seisdedos fires a .50 Caliber Machine Gun during a gunnery exercise off the coast of Senegal on August 29, 2010, during African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) is currently conducting a 10-day underway period in Senegal's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in support of the AMLEP program. AMLEP enables African partners to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through real-world combined law enforcement operations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

GULF OF GUINEA - A Togolese defender-class patrol boat comes alongside the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) as part of visit, board, search and seizure training with U.S. and Togolese Sailors during Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, February 8, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative to improve maritime safety and security in Africa training and collaborative activities. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Sean J. McMahon)

LUANDA, Angola - An Angolan visit, board, search and seizure team watches during a tactics demonstration given by U.S. Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), March 30, 2011. Robert G. Bradley, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Florida, and is on a scheduled deployment to west and central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

INDIAN OCEAN - French navy La Fayette-class frigate, FS Guepratte (F714) prepares to come alongside USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) as part of a "leap frog" exercise simulating an underway replenishment during Africa Partnership Station (APS) East deployment, March 14, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class William Jamieson)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Nigerian special operations sailors and U.S. sailors conduct visit, board, search and seizure training at the Joint Maritime Special Operations Training Command as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West in Lagos, April 13, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Rear Admiral Kenneth J. Norton, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa deputy chief of staff for strategy, resources and plans, along with other U.S. Navy personnel, ride with a Nigerian visit, board, search and seizure team during Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, August 8, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

POINTE NOIRE, Republic of the Congo - Congolese sailors participate in a boarding team operations course hosted by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011 July 26, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal-Corporal Brandon Blackmon of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011, provides front security for the Marines and Senegalese Commandos of a combat rubber raiding craft as they conduct a beach assault training exercise, recently. The inter-military assault teams were created during the APS 2011 security cooperation partnership, in which U.S. Marines, Senegal Commandos and Nigerian Special Service Group troops train alongside one another to compare military and cultural perspectives. (Photo by Lance Corporal Timothy Solano)

DOUALA, Cameroon - A Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion boat patrols the Cameroon coastal waters after the multi-national training exercise Obangame Express 2011, part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, March 23, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

LAGOS, Nigeria - Sailors from High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) look at a fishing boat during a community relations project at a local village as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

USCGC MOHAWK, At Sea - Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Lowry (right) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn Cooper (left) guide a Senegalese fishing vessel away from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) on September 3, 2010. Mohawk is currently conducting operations in Senegal's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in support of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) program. AMLEP enables African partners to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through real-world combined law enforcement operations. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

ATLANTIC OCEAN - A Cape Verdean visit board, search and seizure team circles the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), during exercise Saharan Express off the coast of Cape Verde April 27, 2011. Saharan Express is a counter narcotics and proliferation exercise that is part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security cooperation initiative designed to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood)

The US Africa Command has been busy all around and throughout the continent. I thought I would put together some of the pictures, so people could get a more visual idea of what is going on.

U.S. Navy EOD1 John C. Richards, Master EOD technician assigned to the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eleven (EODMU-11) gives the range control safety brief April 28th 2011, prior to range training in Namibia. From the August 2011 issue of All Hands magazine of the US Navy.

The last time this blog visited EODMU-11 was when they were investigating AFRICOM’s Lake Victoria Secret. These three photos featuring EODMU-11 in Namibia came from the US Navy magazine All Hands. h/t Roger Pociask

Namibian Defense Force (NDF) Sergeant Eugene M. Salionga, explosive ordnance technician student, attaches a non-electric blasting cap to the detonation priming loop April 28 as U.S. Navy Chief Explosive Ordnance TechnicianChief Petty Offcer Justin Berlien, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit11 (EODMU-11), Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, looks on. (Photo by MC2(EXW) Todd Frantom)

Namibia Defense Forces Warrant Officer Mashatu Jonas, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, initiates a demolition shot April 28 during the practical application phase of demolition initiation procedures in Namibia.

SEKONDI, Ghana - Ghanaian sailors practice security maneuvers during a tactical combat casualty care course at Sekondi Naval Base, August 17, 2011. The course is being taught in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. APS is an international security initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Carver)

POINTE NOIRE, Republic of the Congo (July 26, 2011) Congolese sailors participate in a boarding team operations course hosted by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) as part of Africa Partnership Station 2011. Africa Partnership Station is an international security cooperation initiative intended to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Carver/Released)

Added December 31:

The US Navy’s September 2011 issue (large PDF) of All Hands Magazine featured the Navy’s new emphasis on riverine warfare on the cover and with an article. The article describes training exercises in the Chesapeake Bay along the coast of Virginia.

Cover and feature article of All Hands Magazine September 2011.

One way in which the Navy’s deployment of security forces has shifted is the use of its riverine patrol teams. The focus now is bridging the gap between the brown-water (river) and blue-water (open ocean) patrol. The Navy’s newest, state-of-the-art boat, the Riverine Command Boat (RCB), is pushing further into green-water (coastal) zones to achieve that goal.

The RCB is a unique incarnation of the riverine mission, attached to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Riverine Group 1, Riverine Squadron 2, Detachment 2 (RIVRON 2 DET 2) located on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. At the core, the Riverine Force is a combat-arms force that performs point-defense, fire-support and interdiction operations along coastal and inland waterways to defeat enemies and support U.S. naval and coalition forces.

The RCB is a lethal supplement to their already menacing arsenal, giving riverine squadrons the ability to travel not only in rivers, but also out to bays and coastal regions, expanding the capabilities of command and control and the riverine squadrons’ maritime security reach.

“With the addition of the RCB platform we are now able to potentially stop any threat

Riverine Command Boat fires the .50 caliber gun in reaction to simulated enemy forces on shore.

The craft has proven the ability to operate in between blue and brown water, referred to by coastal security vessels as green water …

“We’re a double threat,” said Gunner’s Mate Seaman Adam Heredia. “Although we work in the coastal environment conducting escorts, security, surveillance, and anti-piracy, we can still operate in a traditional riverine environment.”

The crew aboard a Riverine Command Boat retrieve the crew of a small rigid hull inflatable boat during a night exercise along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay

Sailors attached to to RIVRON 2 DET 2, role play as “enemy forces” firing simulated rounds toward Riverine Command Boat craft off the coast during a night training evolution.

Riverine Command Boat gives Riverine squadrons the ability to travel not only in rivers, but also out to bays and coastal regions, expanding the capabilities of command and control and the Riverine squadrons’ maritime security reach with un-matched fire power

The RCB is equipped with an array of weapons that are sure to deter any potential foes. The arsenal includes a 7.62-caliber M240B machine gun, an electric motor-driven Gatling gun which fires 2,000 rounds per minute, a Mark-19 automatic grenade launcher, twin .50-caliber machine guns, an additional M2 .50-caliber machine gun and a remote-operated, .50-caliber gun.

With its versatility, the RCB serves as the primary boat in combat or patrolling missions. It can serve as a combat information center, and can even be configured as an ambulance boat. It is designed to land on a variety of shorelines, including solid rock, and to drop off and extract personnel from any area.

The Navy’s newest state-ofthe-art boat, the Riverine Command Boat, posts a force protection watch off the coast during a night training evolution.

These exercises are all part of the activities pictured above around the coasts and creeks of Africa. The “enemies” in Africa will be Africans. Many of these “enemies” will be pan-Africanists and local patriots who do not want their countries run as resource troughs for US corporations.

There are many lessons Africa should learn from the Pentagon’s counter revolution against the Arab Spring. Keep in mind that America talks about democracy, but the Pentagon is actively working against democracy in numerous places around the world. It has been particularly active in Africa.

As the Arab Spring blossomed and President Barack Obama hesitated about whether to speak out in favor of protesters seeking democratic change in the Greater Middle East, the Pentagon acted decisively. It forged ever deeper ties with some of the most repressive regimes in the region, building up military bases and brokering weapons sales and transfers to despots from Bahrain to Yemen.

As state security forces across the region cracked down on democratic dissent, the Pentagon also repeatedly dispatched American troops on training missions to allied militaries there. During more than 40 such operations with names like Eager Lion and Friendship Two that sometimes lasted for weeks or months at a time, they taught Middle Eastern security forces the finer points
of counter-insurgency, small unit tactics, intelligence gathering, and information operations skills crucial to defeating popular uprisings
.

These recurrent joint-training exercises, seldom reported in the media and rarely mentioned outside the military, constitute the core of an elaborate, longstanding system that binds the Pentagon to the militaries of repressive regimes across the Middle East. Although the Pentagon shrouds these exercises in secrecy, refusing to answer basic questions about their scale, scope, or cost, an investigation by TomDispatch reveals the outlines of a region-wide training program whose ambitions are large and wholly at odds with Washington’s professed aims of supporting democratic reforms in the Greater Middle East.

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Pentagon’s regional military headquarters that oversees operations in Africa, has planned 13 such major joint-training exercises in 2011 alone from Uganda to South Africa, Senegal to Ghana, including African Lion.

The military also refused to comment on exercises scheduled for 2012. There is nonetheless good reason to believe that their number will rise as regional autocrats look to beat back the forces of change

This spring, as Operation African Lion proceeded and battered Moroccan protesters nursed their wounds, Obama asserted that the “United States opposes the use of violence and repression

(Nick Turse: Did Pentagon help strangle the Arab Spring ?)

AFRICOMs exercises throughout the African continent have grown in number and size every year. In countries where AFRICOM has been most aggressive, it has been consistent in working in the interests of repressive regimes and against the interests of democracy in the same way CENTCOM has been doing throughout the Middle East. The main source of terrorism in Africa is the threat African militaries pose to African people. AFRICOM trains, supports, and expands that threat.

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