And the US is sending very mixed messages. Secretary of Defense Gates has said that al Qaeda is establishing a foothold in North Africa. AlthoughPrincipal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ryan Henry, who toured Africa on behalf of Africom, denied that Africom is intended to serve as a counter to terrorism, but also spoke of the growth of terrrorism in North Africa. The words terrorism and al Qaeda are also problematical when used by the Bush administration, anyone Bush/Cheney see as an enemy is al Qaeda, regardless of actual ties to al Qaeda.
And the Voice of America reports:
The officials say the command’s goals will include helping to prevent terrorists from establishing bases in Africa, and helping Africans avoid local conflicts before they start.
Certainly the Africa Command, in rare mentions in the US media, is being sold in the US as part of a counter terror initiative.
Meanwhile The Economist reports that “Unimaginable in many parts of the world, there is keen competition among African countries to host AFRICOM‘s new headquarters.” This is certainly the opposite of most of what I read in any African media. Mostly I read they cannot find a country willing to host Africom HQ, with the exception of Liberia. Ryan toured throughout Africa. West African countries, and North African countries, all turned down hosting Africom.
As digby says:
Like so much of Washington reporting, you have to sift through the runes to decipher what these two articles are actually telling us. I’m guessing that we are once again dealing with a battle of the intelligence agencies. . . . It’s up to the reader to decide what is true. (emphasis mine)
. . .
There is good reason to be suspicious that they are hyping the Iraq terrorist threat at a time when the congress is getting serious about reining them in. (We know they like to “introduce product” according to a political timetable.) With their track record of dishonestly conflating the terrorist threat with Iraq (as well as crying wolf dozens of times over the years here in the homeland) it’s completely fair to take into account that foreign policies based on the Bush administration’s “threat assessments” haven’t exactly worked out very well. A second, third and fourth outside opinion should always be required from these people.
Any government dealing with Bush/Cheney should keep this in mind.