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: https://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.

Alassane Ouattara is the current President of Ivory Coast, selected by France and the United States on behalf of the international community, and with the assistance of U.N. mission chief to Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi, they declared Ouattara the winner of the November 2010 Ivoirian presidential election in 2011. Ouattara spent much of his career at the IMF, including serving as Deputy Managing Director of the IMF from 1994-1999.

A popular photocartoon of Ouattara as Sarkozy's puppet. I think it is appropriate here.

On Feb. 17 we heard that Alassane Ouattara Is the new Chairman Of ECOWAS. In his acceptance speech he concentrated on security issues, which works well with the the priorities of France, the US, and NATO.

The Ivorian president was elected for a single-year tenure at the 40th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS concluded in Abuja on Friday.

Quattara said in his acceptance speech that his administration would define common policy and combine resources to fight terrorism, piracy, banditry and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region.

The Ivorian president also said that he would ensure the modernisation of ECOMOG to tackle security challenges.

He thanked his immediate predecessor, Jonathan, for his efforts in piloting ECOWAS in the resolution of the Ivorian political crisis and consolidation of peace and stability in other member- states.

The next summit of ECOWAS has been fixed for the Ivorian Capital, Yamussoukrou, on a date to be announced by the chairman.

At Nairaland, where the comments can be interesting, in comment #5 here, Danka7777 wrote:

Quattara – a known former IMF executive, this guy that was hand picked by the western countries to rule Ivory Coast. We are finished. Nigerians reading this, don’t take my words at face value, go and do your own research on why former President of Ivory Coast, Gbagbo was hunted and ousted from power. This guy was trying to untie Ivory Coast from the shackles of colonial France, in other words, he was trying to untie Ivorian currency from french currency. … essentially what this means is that the former colonial master(France) still controls the currency value of Ivory Coast. Gbagbo was hunted because he VOWED to untie Ivory Coast from the shackles of colonial slavery. They tell you in the mainstream media that Quattara won? Lets put this in context: how did he win? Who decides on who won elections? What constitutional body has absolute and final say on election malpractices? Is it the supreme court or electoral body? My judgement tells me its the Supreme court and most of you will agree. Who decided the election of President Goodluck Jonathan vs. Buhari few weeks ago and in the past elections, was it Supreme court or Electoral body(INEC)? Of course it was the Nigerian Supreme court. Who decided the election of Bush vs. Gore in 2000? United Supreme court did. Now, conversely, when the Ivorian Supreme court ruled that Gbagbo was the winner of the election in Ivory Coast, the western world said, No! no! no! … Who did these people think they are fooling? Like we are babies and can’t think for our selves.

IMF policies, particularly the market theology inspired SAPs, structural adjustment programs, have been responsible for the death and suffering of hundreds and thousands of people and the dismantling and destruction of vital institutions of government in many developing countries around the world. The IMF is the tool of bankers, with a banker’s view of the world. Currently we can see how harmful that can be in Greece.

I think it is important to consider this in the light of recent studies and information about the nature of global finance.

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Sugihara says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

I don’t believe much in conspiracies, eventually people talk. The more people that know a secret, the less likely it is to stay a secret. Common interests are a different matter. Individuals and groups can organize and act as powerful forces to protect their own interests without the need to conspire.

As a long term employee and official of the IMF, Ouattara is a part of the global financial structure and likely to work for its interests above the interests of Ivory Coast, West Africa, or the continent of Africa. To date he has shown no sign that his allegiances are with Ivory Coast or with Africa above the IMF, Sarkozy, France, and the bankers.

Chatham House hosted a discussion in January, Nigeria in 2012: Crises and Reforms. In it Garba Sani gave a brief history of Boko Harum that is one of the best I have seen.

View of Zuma rock from Madalla market, taken October 2008, photo from Christian Blanchard on Flickr. Madalla was a site of the 2011 Christmas day bombings by Boko Haram.

Garba Sani:

Garba took a narrower and more focussed perspective analysing the issues facing Northern Nigeria and the role of Boko Haram. From the perspective of Northern Nigerians, ever since the days of colonialism Western style education and Christianity have been imposed upon them as a package from the south. The response to this has been a resistance to Western education and the Western way of life. However, this is not simply a cultural sentiment. The civil servants and politicians produced by this system are seen conspicuously wasting money. Poor Nigerians see their politicians flying abroad, shopping in Dubai, and sending their children to expensive Western schools. Consequently people feel that the leadership is devoid of justice, and when they call for the establishment of Sharia law it is not about religious piety but reflects a desire for a more just system.

The resentment fostered among the youth of Northern Nigeria is where Boko Haram has its beginnings. Whilst Boko Haram started as a non-violent breakaway group, persecution and aggressive crack-downs from the security services brought a violent response. Boko Haram was at first a small and controllable problem, but the issue escalated in 2009 after heavy crackdowns were ordered by President Yar’Adua. The crackdown was brutal and disproportionate; around 700 innocent people were killed, some of them publicly executed on suspicions that they were member of Boko Haram.

Following the killing of their leader the movement went underground but emerged a year later with renewed attacks. Even at this point the situation was controllable, yet the government response was again heavy-handed. Local people felt more intimidated by the soldiers deployed to fight Boko Haram than they did by Boko Haram itself. This sentiment was compounded by the violent and indiscriminate responses of the security forces, which frequently caused the destruction of property and the loss of innocent lives. It is quite possible that the Boko Haram situation may have been encouraged by the Federal Government to undermine the North. The fact that the government refuses to negotiate with the group fuels these suspicions.

With regard to international actors and what helpful role they may play, the main problem is that internationally the current situation in Nigeria is seen very simplistically. It would be helpful for international actors to instead look at the problem from a local perspective. For example, calls for Sharia law and Jihad are exaggerated in the Western discourse. There is also no affiliation between Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. Rather, the statements made by Boko Haram’s leaders reflect local grievances and in this sense there is some sympathy for the group in the North. That said, Boko Haram is not representative of Islam and has been condemned by Muslims in northern Nigeria. Both the international community and the federal government should
proceed with caution – they need to understand the local nature of the problem. A good start would be to consult diasporas from the northern communities.

Following a policy of wherever there is oil we must engage terrorists, the US Dept. of Homeland Security has just issued a report that examines the threat of Boko Haram predictably simplistically.
Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the US Homeland PDF.

The shorter version of this report is: We don’t know anything about Boko Haram but even without any evidence we think they are collaborating with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al Shabaab in Somalia. This creates a huge threat to the United States. Therefore we need to crank up a massive military and diplomatic response.

Keep in mind that the US is constantly looking for terrorists to feed the anti-terrorism industry. US corporations need terrorists to justify selling their anti-terrorist products. More terrorists equals more sales. And the US Africa Command needs terrorists to justify its ongoing security activities all around the continent.

The US report does recommend consulting with the Nigerian diaspora. However judging by experience to date with expat Muslim communities in the US, and particularly the Somali community in Minnesota, consulting with the diaspora consists of spying and intimidation rather than actually listening to what the diaspora has to say.

The African Partnership station is mentioned in the report, and right on cue, the African Partnership station is back visiting Nigeria. You can view pictures of APS activities at AFRICOM Along the Coasts and In the Creeks.

The suspect in the Madalla bombing was captured by the Nigerian authorities, and then “mysteriously” escaped. As Teju Cole put it in one of his eloquently understated tweets:

@tejucole
The Madalla bombing mastermind, arrested in a state governor’s lodge, coincidentally, has escaped from jail, quite by chance.
19 Jan (2012)

This escape proved such an embarrassment that Nigeria has recaptured the suspect Kabiru Abubakar Umar Dikko, who is also known as Kabiru Sokoto. Getting caught came as a shock to Kabiru Sokoto who is quoted:

The source quoted Sokoto saying in an emotional tone: “For instance, I never for once believed I could be arrested.

“I thought I was invincible. But now I’ve realised that if I could be arrested; if Abdullahi Damasak, the spiritual adviser, could disappear (arrested), then it’s a matter of time before everyone is caught.”

Sokoto is now said to be cooperating and providing a great deal of information which is being compared to the information provided by Abdul Qaqa, captured separately, who is being interrogated about the money trail:

It would be recalled that Monday, one other chieftains of the sect, Abdul Qaqa said the group engaged in criminal activities, breaking banks and seeking for money from every available illicit sources.

He spoke on the exploits of the dreaded body and stated that though they agreed to split such monies into five, “nobody dared ask how the money was spent and nobody dared ask questions for fear of death”.

Sokoto said the members feared the leadership of the group more than the security agencies.

Sokoto is said to have provided details of the sponsors of the sect who comprise mainly politicians, traditional rulers and some influential business men.

“The man is co-operating well with us. He has said a lot, though some of the revelations he made are chilling and nerve racking. He has named some top personalities in the society as their sponsors.

“He has also named some of the bank managers who have been facilitating them to make some transactions and how they bring in their deadly weapons, including the explosives they use in their bombings.

“We have put some construction companies on surveillance and we shall screen the permits they obtained for dynamites and explosives and we shall cross-match these with the activities they had to carry out for which they applied for such explosives,”

At the moment Nigeria appears on the right track regarding Boko Haram. It is important for genuine security that Nigeria handle this internally. The more the CIA and US military Special Operations go beetling around playing at counterinsurgency, the more damage they will do to Nigeria and Nigerians.

Nigeria needs to find some way of addressing corruption, and needs to avoid heavy crackdowns on the innocent. The Occupy Nigeria protests in response to the sudden removal of the fuel subsidy may have given Nigeria a nudge in the direction of trying to do something about corruption. The Nigerian police have been trying to upgrade their image. So far that does not seem to include modifying police behavior. I haven’t read anything that indicates people believe they can trust the police more than before. Teju Cole addresses this with another relevant tweet.

@tejucole
To ensure that Nigerians see the police force in a new way, Inspector General Abubakar announced a redesign in police uniforms.
15 Feb (2012)

Kano from Dala Hill, November 2005. Recently Kano has suffered several bomb attacks by Boko Haram

[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.

RT is featuring a documentary about oil in Nigeria called Blood of Nigeria, directed by Philippe Lespinasse. It is well done and worth a look. RT is showing it in two parts. They will be consecutive on the schedule, but there may be other programs in between, and the RT schedule does not indicate which is part 1 and which is part 2. You can see the scheduled times here: Blood of Nigeria, and you can check the program schedule in Moscow time. If you don’t get RT, you can watch it in their streaming video feed at the scheduled broadcast times.

The Niger Delta, one of the 10 most important wetland and coastal marine ecosystems in the world, has experienced an average of one oil spill per day, collectively the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill per year, for five decades, 50 years.

Blood of Nigeria film crew travelling on the oil covered water in the Niger Delta. The oil covers the water and nothing lives beneath it.

You can watch the film online narrated in French at Le sang de Nigéria. The full film is about 53 minutes long. You will find more information and another link to the film here.

Dead mangrove in the Niger Delta, suffocated by oil. These wetlands are part of the lungs of our planet.


The approach to an informal oil refinery in the Niger Delta

An FPSO, Floating Production Storage and Offloading, an offshore oil & gas industry vessel, glittering in the sea off the coast of the Niger Delta

After 50 years of massive oil spills the Niger Delta is a Laboratory For Oil Spills In Coastal Wetlands. Even so, no one is studying it, and attempts to study it are prevented.

For a quick and clear explanation of why Nigeria erupted in protests when the fuel subsidy was removed, see Naijablog.
Here is a brief excerpt:

“… the lived reality of citizens of the Nigerian state is that it provides little or no security, no infrastructure, no education and no employment opportunities (apart from mostly McJobs in the civil service). Everywhere in Nigeria, the basic elements of civilised existence have to be taken care of house-by-house, compound-by-compound. You must sink your own borehole for water, buy, install and fuel a generator for power, hire security guards to keep the wolves from the door, pay school fees to ensure your kids get a half-decent education because the public school system is in perpetual meltdown. And to earn enough money to get through the day, you must hustle.

For the past few decades, cheap fuel has therefore been the only form of social contract between ordinary Nigerians and the state and the principle lever to control inflation during times of rising oil prices. With most Nigerians subsisting on US$2 or less, subsidised fuel has also been a survival mechanism, making life only just bearable.

As it is, most Nigerians are poor, and will simply not be able to survive with any comfort on US$2 a day and a doubling of living costs.”

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.

At the end of November 2011 there were panicky headlines saying Ivory Coast Claims Ghana’s Oil Fields. This was not the first time. The claim had been published much earlier in the year and on examination it appeared more alarmist than serious at that time.

Map of Dzata oil field off Cape Three Points Ghana and Ghana offshore oil.

The more recent November reports in the newspapers were based on actions and claims made by Ivory Coast at the 18th Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town between Nov. 2-4, and reported in Africa Energy Intelligence #663 in November. Africa Energy Intelligence requires a subscription. The report was repeated in Connectionivoirienne.net.

What follows is a google translation that includes the information from Africa Energy Intelligence N°663:

The oil war between Ghana and the Ivory Coast will she be?
Posted by The Editor · Connectionivoirienne.net
November 10, 2011 at 22:30

Tension mounts for the control of the offshore –

Read for yourself in the Intelligent d’Abidjan –

The 18th edition of the Africa Oil Week in Cape Town (from 2 to 4 November was an opportunity for the director of oil from Ivory Coast, Ibrahim Diaby, and the CEO of Petroc, Daniel Gnangni to present the new map of oil blocks in the country. A notable change has been introduced: five new licenses, ranging from CI 540 to 544, were drawn to the east of the Ivorian waters. These boundaries are superimposed on several blocks in Ghana, including Deepwater Tano, where Tullow Oil has made significant discoveries in 2008 and 2009, with Tweneboa and Enyenra. These two fields are already in a phase of development. Ghanaian ministers, including that of justice, march in Abidjan since September to try to clear the record. A document from the Ministry of Petroleum and Petroc was sent in early October to fourteen opéraeurs in territorial waters and the main Ivorian embassy to explain the position of the country. Requested by Africa Energy Intelligence, executives Ivorian Ministry of Energy indicate that for several decades, Côte d’Ivoire Ghana tries to associate the delimitation of the maritime boundary, but no agreement has never been reached. In Abidjan, Accra took advantage of the political crisis that has prevailed in Côte d’Ivoire since 2002 to allocate blocks in the disputed area of ​​the offshore, particularly in Tullow. After trying to open talks, the president Alassane Ouattara now wants to force his neighbor to negotiate as soon as possible, that is to say, before Tweneboa and Enyenra come into production. Source: Africa Energy Intelligence

In the reports that came out the beginning of March, the oil companies dismissed the Ivory Coast claims.

Dzata 1 oil well is within Ghana’s boundary – Vanco Oil


The Chief Operating Officer of Vanco Limited, J.L Mitchell, operators of the Dzata- 1 Well, located offshore Ghana, in the Tano basin of the Cape three points Deep Water Block, has told Citi News that their block is well within the maritime boundaries of Ghana.

According to him, Vanco has no concern at all over reports that neighboring Ivory Coast is making claims for some parts of Ghana’s maritime Boundary.

… the Dzata Well is over 200 kilometers away from Ghana’s maritime boundary with cote-d’Ivoire.

“It’s very far; 200 kilometres away from the maritime boundaries and it doesn’t affect us one way or the other…It is well within the Ghanaian maritime boundary,” he said.

Jubilee field is the closest oil field to the Ivoirian border, and it is still 60 miles east of that border.

My conclusion then was that if the oil companies were not worried, there was no reason to worry. They would have determined these issues for themselves, to secure their investment before drilling.

More recently, in November it sounded as if the oil companies might be saying something different.

Ivory Coast Claims Ghana’s Oil Fields November 30 2011


Texas-based oil explorer, Kosmos Energy has expressed fears about the development. The oil producer says the future of a portion of its license in the Deepwater Tano Block is uncertain as the issue remains unresolved. Kosmos fears that if changes are made to the maritime boundary demarcation between Ghana and Ivory Coast, it may lose some of its license. It has 18% stake in the Deepwater Tano block in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Dzata-1 well and the Deepwater Tano fall within the same boundary. Currently Ghana is the rightful owner of the area, but Ivory Coast has petitioned the United Nations to demarcate the Ivorian territorial maritime boundary with Ghana. Even though the two countries met in April 2010 for negotiations on the matter, Kosmos says the results of the meeting were not announced and the issue remains unresolved at present.

“Uncertainty remains with regard to the outcome of the boundary demarcation between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and we do not know if the maritime boundary will change, therefore affecting our rights to explore and develop our discoveries or prospects within such areas”, the Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Group (BX) backed company said in a filing form to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on April 25, 2011.

I wondered if the oil companies were leaning on Ghana in order to extract more profit. And I wondered if the US government might be behind that as well. As the wikileaks have shown us, most US diplomacy seeks to advantage US corporations. I was also certain Sarkozy was supporting Ouattara’s attempts to claim Ghana’s oil.

Sarkozy and Ouattara puppet

In looking for more news of the oil and border issue I found nothing new. So I checked the financial news associated with the oil companies going back through 2011, Tullow and Kosmos.

Barclays upgraded Kosmos in December 2011.
Ghana Jubilee oilfield partners buy FPSO vessel in January 2012.
Tullow aims for 120,000 bpd from Ghana early 2012 in December 2011.
These were the recent financial stories concerning Ghana, no worries here about boundary disputes with Ivory Coast. If the border dispute was a threat to the companies, it would show up in the financial news. The fact that there is no mention of the border issue leads me to think it is mostly a non-issue. At this point I believe Ouattara would like to stir up trouble in Ghana for President Mills (Ouattara holds a grudge for his perception of post election events) and both he and Sarkozy are greedy for oil. But Ghana does not really have much to worry about on this score. There is not that much to dispute about the border that will cause any problems with oil companies and oil licenses, though the border agreements do need to be finalized.

oil

All target regimes have one crime in common: Using their national resources to develop modern secular states – independent of imperial dictates.”

This is a pattern the west, the US, EU, and NATO have pursued in the Middle East in cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC. The US/EU/NATO coalition is extending brutal colonial attentions into Africa again.

All the target regimes of the US/EU/NATO/GCC aggression for “humanitarian intervention” and “democracy” share this characteristic, they were governing themselves independent of imperial dictates. This made and makes them ripe for “humanitarian” intervention. The same pattern in the Middle East is extending into Africa.

Freedom bombs

James Petras describes the pattern clearly and unmistakably in his essay The Washington – “Moderate Islam” Alliance: Containing Rebellion Defending Empire.

“Moderate” Islamists have become the Empire’s ‘contraceptive of choice’ against any chance the massive Arab peoples’ revolt might give birth to substantive egalitarian social changes and bring those brutal pro- western officials, responsible for so many crimes against humanity, to justice.

The West and their client officials in the military and police have agreed to a kind of “power-sharing’ with the moderate/respectable (read ‘reactionary’) Islamist parties. The Islamists would be responsible for imposing orthodox economic policies and re-establishing ‘order’ (i.e. bolstering the existing one) in partnership with pro-multinational bank economists and pro US-EU generals and security officials. In exchange the Islamists could take certain ministries, appoint their members, finance electoral clientele among the poor and push their ‘moderate’ religious, social and cultural agenda. Basically, the elected Islamists would replace the old corrupt dictatorial regimes in running the state and signing off on more free trade agreements with the EU. Their role would keep the leftists, nationalists and populists out of power and from gaining mass support. Their job would substitute spiritual solace and “inner worth” via Islam in place of redistributing land, income and power from the elite, including the foreign multi-nationals to the peasants, workers, unemployed and exploited low-paid employees.

The US and EU have openly unleashed their fundamentalists allies in order to destroy independent adversaries in the name of “democracy” and ‘humanitarian intervention’, a laughable claim in light of decade long colonial wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. All target regimes have one crime in common: Using their national resources to develop modern secular states – independent of imperial dictates.

As with European empires in the past, the modern Western imperial countries have relied on retrograde religious parties and leaders to collaborate and serve their economic and military interests and to provide mercenaries for imperial armies to savage any anti-imperialist social revolutionaries. In that sense US and European rulers are neither ‘pro nor anti’ Islam, it all depends on their national and class position. Islamists who collaborate with Empire are “moderate” allies and if they attack an anti-imperialist regime, they become ‘freedom fighters’. On the other hand, they become “terrorists” or “fundamentalists” when they oppose imperial occupation, pillage or colonial settlements.

Needless to say, wherever US imperialism faces leftists or secular, modernizing anti-imperialist regimes, Washington turns to retrograde Islamic leaders willing and able to destroy the progressive regime in return for imperialist support. Such coalitions are built mainly around fundamentalist and moderate Islamist opposition to secular, class- based politics allied with the Empire’s hostility to any anti-imperialist challenge to its domination.

The same ‘coalition’ of Islamists and the Empire has been glaringly obvious during the NATO assault on Libya and continues against Syria: The Muslims provide the shock troops on the ground; NATO provides the aerial bombing, funds, arms, sanctions, embargoes and propaganda.

What determines whether the US Empire will have a collaborative or conflict-ridden relation with Islam depends on the specific political context. The US allies with Islamists when faced with nationalist, leftist and secular democratic regimes and movements, especially where their optimal choice, a military-neo-liberal alternative is relatively weak. However, faced with a nationalist, anti-colonial Islamist regime (as is the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran), Washington will side with pro-western liberals, dissident Muslim clerics, pliable tribal chiefs, separatist ethnic minorities and pro-Western generals.”

The war on terror is particularly useful here. Terrorism is a tactic, it has no particular ideology. So it is easy to label any inconvenient opposition, any anti-colonial or anti-imperial movement as terrorists. It is then easy, almost a duty, to make war on them.

“Islamist parties are approached by the Empire’s policy elites only when they have a mass following and can therefore weaken any popular, nationalist insurgency. Mass-based Islamist parties serve the empire by providing “legitimacy”, by winning elections and by giving a veneer of respectability to the pro-imperial military and police apparatus retained in place from the overthrown client state dictatorships.

The Islamist parties compete at the “grass roots” with the leftists. They build up a clientele of supporters among the poor in the countryside and urban slums through organized charity and basic social services administered at the mosques and humanitarian religious foundations. Because they reject class struggle and are intensely hostile to the left (with its secular, pro-feminist and working-class agenda), they have been ‘half-tolerated’ by the dictatorship, while the leftist activists are routinely murdered. Subsequently, with the overthrow of the dictatorship, the Islamists emerge intact with the strongest national organizational network as the country’s ‘natural leaders’ from the religious-bazaar merchant political elite. Their leaders offer to serve the empire and its traditional native military collaborators in exchange for a ‘slice of power’, especially over morality, culture, religion and households (women), in other words, the “micro-society”.’

The French have been particularly explicit in their imperial intentions regarding the Middle East and Africa:
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology by Pierre Lévy, he quotes a 2007 speech by Sarkozy:

Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … 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.”

Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time 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.”

The Pentagon has been diligent in shoring up repressive regimes and helping to repress any democratic movements.

As the Arab Spring blossomed … 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. …

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 process of imperial “humanitarian” intervention and “democratization” is outlined even more succinctly in this:

Introduction to Democracy

Phase 1) Bring false Accusations against Government
Phase 2) Bomb country to rubble
Phase 3) Install your own Government
Phase 4) Loan the money for the “rebuilding” contract
Phase 5) Win all the contracts
Phase 6) Heavily in debt the country
Phase 7) Impose SAP’s through the IMF
Phase 8) Buy all national assets for pennies
Phase 9) Send foreign “AID”
Phase 10) Demand foreign “AID” procure only western products
Phase 11) Convince the world the country failed because the people are uncivilized

Independence, that crime against imperialism, can be successfully defeated!

An illustration to start the year from the brilliant Somali cartoonist Amin Amir.

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Most readers here will recognize this guy. Most have seen him many times in many places.

He can be found throughout the continent and throughout the world. We need to be careful we don’t see him in the mirror. Too many of our leaders see him there, but don’t appear to recognize him.

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

The dumbest war ever continues.

When we thought Dubya had waged enough dumb wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have kenya army with 2,000 infrantry invading a lawless somalia with apparently no plan; no objective;no real mandate from constitution or international law; no real support from international bodies; no support from somalis; no nothing. Just a shadowy suspicious dumb “war”. RV Pundit

The competition for the dumbest war ever is fierce, but the Kenyan invasion of Somalia is certainly in the running. The problem is, if they “win” what then? Who governs Somalia? And how?

As a headline in the East African put it: Kenya’s headache: Al Shabaab goes, then what?

Cartoon by Amin Amir of Kenyan troops trying to figure out the way forward in Somalia.

Kenya’s troops are untested and it isn’t clear if they are prepared for a long-term occupation requiring counterinsurgency skills — a scenario that ended U.S. and Ethiopian interventions during Somalia’s 20-year-old civil war. The Somalia operation is Kenya’s biggest foreign military commitment since independence in 1963. (Garowe online)

According to the same article the French are continuing their imperial military adventuring in Somalia:

Kenya on Sunday said that France’s navy bombed a town in Somalia near a stronghold of al-Shabab, the first confirmation that a Western military force is involved in the latest push against the Islamist militia.

Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said the French navy bombed the town of Kuday near the southern al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo on Saturday night. A Nairobi-based diplomat told The Associated Press last week that France was carrying out military attacks in Somalia; French officials in Paris denied French forces were carrying out any attacks.

The Ethiopians have returned: Ethiopian troops cross into Somalia

And the Israelis are getting involved: Israeli terror drones kill 17 in Somalia Thu Nov 24, 2011

This invasion certainly looks like the Kenyans are going into Somalia as US proxies. Although the article says this:

U.S. officials told AP last week that the United States had been pressuring Kenya to “do something” in response to a string of security incidents along the Kenya-Somalia border, but that Kenya’s invasion of Somalia took the U.S. by surprise.

I think I’ll maintain some skepticism about the US being surprised.

The same US/Anglo/French imperialists that used NATO and the UN to destroy Libya are at work on Somalia and Kenya. The Brits are staging their own commando raids into Somalia. British commandos raided into Somalia to snatch a clan leader for discussions. The Brits also claim Somalia is training UK born terrorists. The Chinese are meddling in Somalia as well.

The US has taken the opportunity created by the Kenyan invasion to practice the use of its assassination drones. There has been about one strike per day since the Kenyan invasion began on October 16. I am listing them here: Bombing The Starving For Target Practice In Somalia

From On Kenya’s war against Al-Shabaab by Abena Afia:

The invasion has already helped to revive Shabaab’s fading appeal, enabling them to appear as genuine freedom fighters to Somalis. Press statements released by the extremist group display a distinct and deliberate departure from their usual fundamentalist rhetoric, employing a more nationalistic approach that has earned them a growing support. Unanimity on their call could establish the ascent of Shabaab domination.

Somalis have resisted occupation from previous foreign interventions, the US in 1992 and Ethiopia in 2006, ending in humiliating withdrawals. Provisions in the road map would have allowed Kenya to hold a significant stake in Somali resources. If Somalia was occupied and annexed by Kenya, tourism and business would again flourish. The decision to resurrect Somalia’s territorial claims caused anxiety to its neighbours.

Deals long exist between Kenya and multinational petroleum companies for offshore exploration blocks; of particular interest is block L5, thought to have the highest concentration of oil. Pursuit of this part of the block lying within the perimeters of Somali territorial waters is illegal.

In accordance with Article 10 of Somali Law No. 37 Territorial Sea and Ports (1972), Somalia has the right to territorial waters of 200 nautical miles (nm) and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nm provided in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It seems of little coincidence then that an invasion has taken place following the fall of the roadmap, reinforcement of Somali law and protection of its sea.

… Kenya has not sought permission to enter and war crimes increase each day that they remain. Somalis already in a desperate situation continue to suffer.

Somalia, a current hotspot for international interest owing to its East African coastal location, oil explorations and other ‘free for all’ attractions such as illegal fishing and lucrative international piracy activity, now hosts Blackwater and Saracen mercenaries who have built base in Puntland. The unsettling presence of such ‘private security firms’ could see the orchestration of Somalia’s current internal war handled and controlled by more lawless but “professional” killers, whose interests do not coincide with those of Somalis.

The calamity engulfing Somalia is often blamed on an inability to manage its own country but active aggressors play a major role in its stagnation and underdevelopment.

Meanwhile, there is another pressing issue in Kenya that everyone is ignoring. Somalia is not an ideal breeding ground for terrorists. There is little infrastructure and strangers stand out. Kenya on the other hand does provide an ideal breeding ground for terrorists:

Kenya: Perfect breeding ground for Al-Shabaab terrorists by Rasna Warah

Kenya is a perfect breeding ground for terrorists and suicide bombers because it has the two ingredients that make recruitment to terrorist organisations so attractive – a high unemployment rate among youth and widespread corruption.

Impressionable and unemployed youth who have nothing much to look forward to can be easily lured to become terrorists, if presented with incentives such as money or a better afterlife.

Jobless, dejected and disillusioned youth may find the idea of becoming a martyr to a cause attractive. Some may become terrorists just for adventure.

Corruption ensures that would-be terrorists escape the security dragnet easily. I wonder how many Al-Shabaab have got away scot-free at police checks and border posts by parting with as little as Sh200.

Corruption, incompetence and lack of respect for ordinary citizens are the conditions under which terrorism thrives.

In addition to the corruption and high youth unemployment, Kenya has a third feature making it a welcoming environment for terrorists. Kenya has a diverse population and many urban environments into which people can blend or disappear far more easily than in Somalia.

William Oeri | NATION Kenyan troops heading to Amuma border entry point to flush out al Shabaab militants. The army captured a pirates haven of Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia on October 20, 2011 and were advancing towards the al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayu.

Regarding the coverage of the war, Henry Makori writes: Kenya’s media in bed with the military

These are the daily media images of the Kenyan war in Somalia. A clean war. Not a drop of blood. There have been frequent reports of killings of al-Shabaab militiamen and bombing of their bases. But no one has seen any images of the ‘frontline gains’ as NTV once described the army’s progress.

The headlines on TV and in the newspapers have been entirely celebratory since the fighting began on 16 October 2011 – except on those days when suspected retaliatory grenade attacks rocked Nairobi; the media has played down subsequent grenade attacks in other parts of the country.

Some observers believe Kenya decided to enter Somalia after a plan to create a new state (Azania) in the south of the country to act as a buffer between Kenya and al-Shabaab-controlled areas failed. The question that has not been openly asked – or answered in the military and political briefings – is why Kenya decided to pursue al-Shabaab inside Somalia and not the other militias inside other neighbouring countries which have for years attacked, killed and robbed Kenyans living near the national borders.

The invasion was said to be in response to the kidnapping of some Western tourists by al-Shabaab. But the militia group never claimed responsibility for those kidnappings, but actually denied the allegations.

One could get an idea of what is going on at the ‘frontline’ by speaking to reporters who have been there. Patrick Injendi, a journalist with Citizen TV, spent three weeks with the soldiers. The media has been reporting that the Kenyan army has ‘captured’ or ‘liberated’ town after town in Somalia apparently with little resistance from al shabaab as the soldiers make their way to the militia’s stronghold in the port city of Kismayu. But Injendi says the only ‘towns’ he ever saw were settlements with two or three buildings.

How do the reporters get their ‘frontline’ stories? ‘There is no freedom of movement’, Injendi says. ‘You couldn’t just wake up and decide you were going to look for news in a certain place. You must be accompanied by soldiers for security.’ That means the media reports are merely what the soldiers tell the reporters.

What about Somali civilians killed in the bombings? How many are they so far? No numbers have been published, or even the mention of civilian deaths.

The vice-chair of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, Hassan Omar says the anger may not be reported in the Kenyan media but it is there, boiling in blogs run by Somalis. … ‘There is a lot of anger there. Don’t ever underestimate it because of the fact that it is not reaching the Kenyan media.’

Because of civilian casualties, says Omar, the Kenyan army could end up facing charges of war crimes.

Radio journalist Kassim Mohammed who has reported on Somalia … ‘The Kenyan media has failed in reporting this war. On the other hand, the Somali media has done very well: they question, they criticise a lot of the things going on.

there is no doubt that the truth about what is exactly happening will eventually come to light. Trouble is, immense damage would already have been done.

With no real plan and no truthful reporting in Kenya, there is a lot of supportive evidence to RV Pundit’s observation that this is the dumbest war ever.

The petition below has my heartfelt support. EPAs have nearly destroyed Ghana’s poultry industry (and a great many more economic sectors) and severely damaged our family farming efforts. The EU dumps frozen chicken parts on Ghana and West Africa that are subsidized to sell below what it costs to produce them. Frozen chicken parts are not as tasty or as healthy as locally grown chicken, but they are cheaper, and the Ghana poultry farmers can’t compete. Only a few times a year, generally on holidays when people want something really good, will they splurge and buy chickens grown locally.

As it says in the petition below:

The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs.
we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation … has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

As another press release from Third World Network Africa points out:

The other change [since 2002] is in the shifting centre of gravity of the global economy from regions like Europe to East Asia. Our contention is that the IEPA must be abandoned. It is a threat to the re-positioning of the national economy and to regional integration in ECOWAS.

The full text of the petition is below the graphic. The distinguished groups who sponsor and sign it are listed at the end, all members of the EJN, Economic Justice Network of Ghana.

Handshake wrapped in money, who gets the money?

PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Written by members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)
Monday, 28 November 2011 14:29

GHANA CANNOT RIDE TWO HORSES – PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EU) WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ON 28TH NOVEMBER 2011

1.0 Preamble

As Ghana hosts the ECOWAS Ministerial Monitoring Committee Meeting (MMC) from the 28 -30th November 2011, the preservation of the coherence of our Economic Community and the future of West Africa’s Regional Integration hangs in the balance. The so-called Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) West Africa is currently negotiating with the European Union (EU) has already caused costly divisions in ECOWAS.

The EPA has created at least 3 contradictory trade regimes in a region that is supposed to have a single unified trade regime. LDCs in West Africa currently trade with the EU under the non-reciprocal Everything But Arms regime; as a non-LDC, Nigeria trades under what is known under the EU GSP; and Cote d’Ivoire has a bilateral EPA with the EU under which it is exempt on a small range of taxes imposed on Nigerian exports to the EU, BUT in exchange for exempting 81% of all imports from EU into Cote d’Ivoire from any tariff whatsoever.

The EU is our biggest trading partner and impacts our economies for better or for worse. Goods coming into West Africa from the EU will come in at 3 different tariff regimes and costs. What then will happen to the flow of these goods from each of these three sets of countries into each other as well as all other goods trade that exists between them? It is not difficult to imagine the trade bans, blockades and wars that will escalate within the region. This is the state of affairs that exists in West Africa as the MMC convenes in Accra today. The implications for ECOWAS are simply staggering.

But in can get much worse. In addition to these three trade regimes Ghana is on the brink of finalising and making PERMANENT its own INTERIM EPA which it undertook as a temporary measure three years ago. The Ghana IEPA has only slightly better terms in the scope of free entry it allows imports from Europe. Thus, Ghana will join Cote d’Ivoire in offering EU imports the most liberal, widest and therefore potentially most damaging market access. Meanwhile Ghana’s terms are not identical to that offered by Cote d’Ivoire. In effect, the Government of Ghana would have created a FOURTH trade regime in West Africa. How can anyone seriously claim that this is and will remain in the national interest of Ghana? If taken any further, Ghana’s unilateral stance will be a disaster for herself and for the region she is permanently tied to!

However this need not happen if Ghana and sister West African governments show vision and leadership and put the defence of ECOWAS’ integrity today and its progressive development tomorrow as the central common priority and shared destiny.

The current MMC which gets underway in Accra this morning and the outcomes it produces will accelerate ECOWAS fracture or consolidate and enhance its future.

2.0 Issues in the EPA and Our Position:

1. The threats by Ghana Government to sign and ratify the interim EPA initialed in 2007 will destroy efforts over the years to integrate as one region. Ghana’s Interim EPAs eliminates tariffs on above 80% of EU trade goods but the collective ECOWAS EPA is currently offering much less than that. ECOWAS is now considering 70% offer, we think this is already too high and too dangerous for our economies! But the EU still rejects the (excessive) 70% offer. The EU is intransigent to the ECOWAS position because once it has the 80%-plus benchmark from Ghana (and Cote d’Ivoire) it knows West Africa’s common stance has been greatly weakened. The EU’s ruthlessness, divisive and bullying stance in the EPAs has been officially acknowledged and condemned by African governments, including Ghana. But the example and fact of Ghana’s IEPA gives the EU clear evidence and encourages its confidence that if it remains just as ruthless for long enough other West African governments will crack. Today, it is Ghana’s position that is in the balance. The Ghana IEPA is a Trojan horse. We demand the Ghana IEPA be suspended immediately and Government commits fully and unconditionally to the collective ECOWAS EPA process, including the immediate issue of the collective position on the scope of Market Access.

2. ECOWAS must take a collective stance which, among others, compensates non-LDC members like Ghana for the costs in extra tariffs that their exports to the EU market will attract if they abandon the IEPA. Credible estimates indicate that the three non-LDCs in West Africa will incur additional tariffs on their exports into EU of about €132million if they trade without an EPA. Ghana’s direct share of these losses will be about €37 million euro. The economy, total global trade and the livelihoods of the overwhelming majority of 25 million Ghanaians cannot be sacrificed for a paltry tax bill of 37 million euro. West Africa’s development and its future cannot be sold for 132 million euro. ECOWAS must immediately create a REGIONAL SOLIDARITY FUND to absorb these losses. Ghana must signal her complete commitment to promoting this Regional Solidarity Fund rather than its ‘national interest’ in the IEPA. It must also reject the attacks the EU is making on the ECOWAS levy in the EPA negotiations, as this is the kind of mechanism needed to create the solidarity fund.

3. Beyond the immediate threat of extra tariffs on exports to Europe from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria (the non-LDC countries in ECOWAS), it must be made clear that ALL West African countries will incur massive fiscal losses from the EPAs. It is worth reminder that the 13 West African LDCs currently export everything but arms duty-free, quota-free to the EU market. But they are currently entitled to impose tariffs on all EU imports. Revenue from trade tariffs are the lifeblood for these and other least developed as well as vulnerable lower income developing countries. Ghana alone stands to lose $194 million (UNECA, 2005). Under the EPA even the LDCs have to grant EU imports free entry and lose the associated revenues from tariffs. This will be ‘in exchange’ for something they ALREADY HAVE (and have for free), i.e. duty-free quota-free access to EU markets for all exports apart from arms.

Further, the EU’s position on various aspects of the EPAs, e.g. standstill on introduction of new tariffs and taxes or increase in existing ones; restrictions on the use of export taxes and quantitative restrictions; the MFN, non-execution clause and others, collectively termed ‘contentious issues’ in the negotiations, will divert trade within West Africa as well as West African trade with other, non-EU countries and regions to their gain but to our loss. They will also undermine the Region’s efforts to industrialize and its ability to move up the industrial value chain. As a result, the region will remain a perpetual supplier of raw materials, with all the adverse implications that this entails. Any regional EPA must remove these EU impositions and narrow the scope of threat or damage to ECOWAS. Suspending Ghana’s IEPA and the provisions it contains on these issues will enhance ECOWAS ability to review and strengthen its collective positions.

1[4]. The EU’s demands and pressure in areas that go beyond tariffs and World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments – such as Financial Services, Public Procurement, Investment, Health, Raw Materials, Natural Resources and Intellectual Property – pose even greater threats and are of more strategic importance to Ghana’s (as well as West Africa’s) economic transformation, industrialization and overall development. In the case of Services, internal trade within West Africa is even bigger and more dynamic than trade in goods within the region. But West Africa is hardly in a position to export services to the EU. Officials claim that negotiating and including services (as well as the other WTO-plus, Trade-Related Issues like Procurement. Investment and Intellectual Property) will create a predictable environment for EU trade and investment in West Africa. We have already had increasingly free trade in goods with the EU and others for more than 30 years. There is one predictable outcome we already know – EU companies will dominate in these areas, our already low existing capacity will be weakened even further, including our foothold in the growth areas of trade in services and in manufactures within West Africa. Any EPA must be a goods-only agreement and must exclude Services and the so-called Trade related Issues.

5. While ECOWAS has bent over backwards to accommodate EU demands, her ‘partner’ remains inflexible, unyielding or worse. In fact the EU has consistently flouted and retracted on commitments it has previously made. A most telling example is in the area of EU responsibility to finance fiscal losses West African countries will incur as a result of entering into EPAs. Another is the subterfuge the EU has shown in respect of providing ADDITIONAL funding for the EPA Development Programme (or ‘PAPED’). The EU has watered down and reversed commitments and has engaged in patent falsehoods, recycling existing European Development Fund commitments as ‘new and additional funding’. By foul and other means the EU continues to show beyond all reasonable doubt that its interests in the EPAs have little or nothing to do with ECOWAS development or regional integration aspirations, but everything to do with securing preferential advantages in West African economies and markets against all comers – including our own domestic and regional producers and our development needs. ECOWAS must insist and secure binding and unequivocal EU compensation, adjustment and development commitments as a pre-condition for any EPA.

6. But Ghana and West Africa must also prioritize the diversification of their trade away from the EU, as well as our own developmental regionally integrated production capacities, investments and markets. The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs. In Europe today, the corporate monopolies in the financial services sector in particular are holding all working people in Europe and whole economies to ransom. Meanwhile as current trends show, many more prospects exits for production partnerships, trade, investment and economic development with emerging regions in the global South. Locking in our entire trade, investment and development finance policies by giving EU privileges no one else has, not even our own companies and citizens, is not a forward looking policy. Today we are unable to share in windfall profits of mining companies because we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

3.0 Conclusion

As Ghanaian organisations and citizens we call on the Government of Ghana to live up to the nation’s role and responsibility to ECOWAS and Africa’s unity and to our self-determination in charting and realising our developmental transformation. Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation has not brought us any closer to this. Rather it has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

Ghana must pull back from the brink of a unilateralism that will put another nail in the coffin of development in our country and in our region. It must suspend its bilateral EPA and fully and unconditionally return to the fold of the collective regional EPA process. Ghana cannot ride two horses at once. Two horses going in different and opposite direction will tear the rider apart and trample her underfoot.

Sister ECOWAS Trade Ministers and Governments must also play their part that we ride together towards the same destination and destiny for our collective mutual protection and benefit. The ECOWAS MMC must define a collective solution that addresses any losses that Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and other countries will face in the absence of their interim EPAs. This is the most immediate means to consolidate ECOWAS in the EPA process and in our deep common interests that go way beyond extra taxes that we will have to pay on a very small proportion of our exports to Europe.

Accra, 28th November 2011. Signed by the ff Organizations:
GHANA TRADE UNION CONGRESS,
GHANA TRADE AND LIVELIHOODS COALITION,
ISODEC,
THIRD WORLD NETWORK-AFRICA,
ABIBIMAN FOUNDATION,
ACTION AID GHANA,
GAWU,
SEND FOUNDATION,
FOODSPAN
– all members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)

h/t to E.K Bensah for bringing this to my attention:
Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr.
Communications Officer (Web Journalist)
COMMUNICATIONS UNIT
Third World Network– Africa
9, Ollenu Street East Legon
P.O.Box AN 19452
Accra-Ghana

“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