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by CTuttle

Return to Azawad or Zero Dark Mali

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“Goddamn it, we told you so.” Or so, the Grey Lady had recently reported…

Jihadists’ Surge in North Africa Reveals Grim Side of Arab Spring

As the uprising closed in around him, the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi warned that if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa. “Bin Laden’s people would come to impose ransoms by land and sea,” he told reporters. “We will go back to the time of Redbeard, of pirates, of Ottomans imposing ransoms on boats.”

In recent days, that unhinged prophecy has acquired a grim new currency. In Mali, French paratroopers arrived this month to battle an advancing force of jihadi fighters who already control an area twice the size of Germany. In Algeria, a one-eyed Islamist bandit organized the brazen takeover of an international gas facility, taking hostages that included more than 40 Americans and Europeans…

…The mayhem in this vast desert region has many roots, but it is also a sobering reminder that the euphoric toppling of dictators in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt has come at a price.

“It’s one of the darker sides of the Arab uprisings,” said Robert Malley. “Their peaceful nature may have damaged Al Qaeda and its allies ideologically, but logistically, in terms of the new porousness of borders, the expansion of ungoverned areas, the proliferation of weapons, the disorganization of police and security services in all these countries — it’s been a real boon to jihadists.”

… Yet Colonel Qaddafi’s fall was only the tipping point, some analysts say, in a region where chaos has been on the rise for years, and men who fight under the banner of jihad have built up enormous reserves of cash through smuggling and other criminal activities. If the rhetoric of the Islamic militants now fighting across North Africa is about holy war, the reality is often closer to a battle among competing gangsters in a region where government authority has long been paper-thin…

The Grey Lady goes on to name Mokhtar Belmokhtar, as the main purveyor of strife in the Sahel…!

But, Pepe Escobar, quickly shredded that nonsense…

Zero Dark Mali

…Timing – as in the expansion of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) – is everything. Carefully choreographed Libyan blowback in the Sahel could not be a better replacement for NATO raising a monster white flag in Afghanistan. There’s no Goooooood morning, Kabul! anymore; there’s just the sorry countdown to see the last NATO helicopter leaving Bagram – Saigon 1975-style…

I’m your bogeyman, turn me on

Inevitably, that most convenient of bogeymen – al-Qaeda – is once again back in fashion, the whole nebula of Salafi-jihadi groups and sub-groups promoted by the French-Anglo-American triad as the root of all evil in Northern Africa (but not in Libya, where they were exalted as “freedom fighters”).

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of the founding members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is for all practical purposes an easily digestible Osama bin Laden remix. Belmokhtar was a classic “Arab Afghan” – part of that multinational legion trained by the ISI/CIA axis to fight the Soviets in 1980s Afghanistan. When he was back in Algeria in 1993 he joined the local jihad, as part of the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

AQIM since 2007 was very close to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), whose fighters were also trained in Afghanistan by ISI/CIA. And all the time LIFG was always conveniently manipulated by the CIA and MI6 against Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

After the targeted assassination of Gaddafi, AQIM was duly weaponized by LIFG, and even presented with scores of jihadis. Thus, unsurprisingly, there were plenty of LIFG fighters involved in the In Amenas raid. On top of it AQIM is also very close to the al-Nusra Front in Syria, which Washington branded as a terrorist organization (but not the eternally bickering “coalition” which wants to topple Bashar al-Assad).

The key point is that Qatar is financing all these people – AQIM, the splinter MUJAO, Belmokhtar’s brigades and the Salafist Ansar Ed-Dine, a bunch of Wahhabi takfiris who have absolutely nothing to do with tolerant Mali culture…

To be sure… Mali, France, and chickens – As in: come home to roost…!

Let’s delve ever further…

How Washington helped foster the Islamist uprising in Mali

…While the media have provided abundant descriptive coverage of the course of events and atrocities committed in Azawad since the outbreak in January of what was ostensibly just another Tuareg rebellion, some pretty basic questions have not been addressed. No journalist has asked, or at least answered satisfactorily, how this latest Tuareg rebellion was hijacked, almost as soon as it started, by a few hundred Islamist extremists.

In short, the world’s media have failed to explain the situation in Azawad. That is because the real story of what has been going on there borders on the incredible, taking us deep into the murky reaches of Western intelligence and its hook-up with Algeria’s secret service.

Azawad’s current nightmare is generally explained as the unintended outcome of the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar al-Qadafi. That is true in so far as his downfall precipitated the return to the Sahel (Niger and Mali) of thousands of angry, disillusioned and well-armed Tuareg fighters who had gone to seek their metaphorical fortunes by serving the Qadafi regime. But this was merely the last straw in a decade of increasing exploitation, repression and marginalization that has underpinned an ongoing cycle of Tuareg protest, unrest and rebellion. In that respect, Libya was the catalyst for the Azawad rebellion, not its underlying cause. Rather, the catastrophe now being played out in Mali is the inevitable outcome of the way in which the Global War On Terror has been inserted into the Sahara-Sahel by the US, in concert with Algerian intelligence operatives, since 2002…

It’s funny how our current AFRICOM CinC, Gen. Ham, bemoans the civilian carnage, however belatedly…

Gen. Ham: US Failed to Train Mali Troops in Ethics – US Never Taught Troops Not to Execute Civilians

…Gen. Ham says that the US provided considerable training but focused “almost exclusively” on tactics and technical matters, without spending enough time teaching troops that they shouldn’t massacre civilians.

Rights groups have repeatedly reported that Malian troops have captured and summarily executed civilians in frontier cities, targeting ethnicities which are accused of being pro-rebel and capturing anyone without ID cards as “infiltrators.”

Mali’s Justice Minister had cited the US military’s own tortures and executions when presented with evidence last week, saying “no army in the world is perfect.“

The French are certainly not perfect:
Revealed: how French raid killed 12 Malian villagers…

Now, if you’re still not convinced, Andy Morgan wrote a book on the AQIM… Guns, cigarettes & Salafi dreams: the roots of AQIM…!

Folks, let’s look at some more real facts…

Africa pushed aside in Mali peace effort

…If only the French had backed an African-led resolution to the conflict, their soldiers wouldn’t be waging war on the ground today.

French jets are zipping past northern Mali, bombing the region and with it, a participatory framework that had thus far allowed African states to troubleshoot what is first and foremost a regional political crisis. France’s aerial assault and imminent deployment of ground troops is a volte face from its original plan to offer “logistical aid” to African peacekeepers in Mali. For all of French President François Hollande’s promises to treat Africa as a partner and friend, his government’s military intervention in the Sahel is proof that Françafrique is alive and well…

…The military intervention in Mali is France’s desperate attempt to rejuvenate its waning clout in the Sahel, an area that Paris considers to be within its “sphere of influence.” Mr. Hollande could have harvested the many chances that came his way to not only engage this crisis, but also promote African-led conflict resolution. France now bombs Mali knowing that its actions will be met with no resistance — and maybe even support — among other permanent members of the UN Security Council. African states, playing catch-up, need to support the intervention or struggle to stay relevant in this conflict. The collateral damage from all this remains the same: local or regional armed forces stay ill-equipped to tackle such crises without training or financial support; UN peacekeepers continue to play second fiddle as they are delegated to clean up the trail of destruction left in the wake of this assault; militarised alliances like NATO strengthen their grip as the world’s policemen. As in the past, the cure to Africa’s ungovernable malaises will come from foreign shores. Which is another way of saying that there will actually be no cure?

My, my, what a Wicked Web we’ve woven…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: It Is All About Israel, The Grand Waffle, Pepe Escobar, And, Mali

7:21 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Philip Giraldi wrote recently…

It Is All About Israel

…While applauding the efforts of many Americans to pull out the stops in support the Hagel nomination, I would nevertheless argue that the attempt to identify some kind of rainbow coalition in the opposition to Hagel is pretty much a canard. It really is all about Israel, at least in the minds of most of those who seriously are seeking to block the nomination. Consider for a second whether Hagel would be facing any serious opposition at all if it were not for the claim that he is anti-Israel and not predisposed to use force against Iran. And bear in mind that Iran is really a subset of the Israel issue since it is Benjamin Netanyahu who is driving the belligerency even though the Iranians do not actually threaten the United States in any serious way…

…And for those who still doubt that it is all about Israel, I would suggest a little history lesson. In 2004 Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, admitted that the Iraq war was fought to protect Israel, which he described as “the threat that dare not speak its name.” He meant that if there had not been the connivance of the Pentagon’s friends of Israel in creating a false weapons of mass destruction narrative coupled with the fulsome support of the Lobby a war on behalf of Israel would never have been endorsed by the American people. And it is also useful to review what happened to the last brave soul who dared to put American interests ahead of those of Israel. That was Chas Freeman who was proposed as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council during President Obama’s first term in 2009. Freeman had an exemplary record as a public servant and was known to be an independent thinker willing to reconsider and challenge orthodox policies. Freeman had served as Ambassador to China and Saudi Arabia and was regarded as something of an Arabist, which immediately made him suspect to the usual crowd in congress and the media. For that he was immediately attacked by Israel’s friends, in what was described as a “thunderous, coordinated assault.” The critics frequently pretended that they were actually opposing Freeman’s views on China and his close personal ties to the Saudis, just as Hagel is now being falsely pilloried because he lacks management experience and because his wartime service in Vietnam will color his judgments. But no one was really fooled regarding Chas Freeman – it was all about Israel. Freeman, realizing that the debate over his views would become a distraction, asked that his name be withdrawn…

Speaking of Chas Freeman, as Jim Lobe reported…


“Grand Waffle” in the Middle East

…The definitive failure of the decades-long American-sponsored “peace process” between Israelis, Palestinians, and other Arabs adds greatly to the uncertainty. Whether it yielded peace or not, the “peace process” made the United States the apparently indispensable partner for both Israel and the Arabs. It served dual political purposes. It enabled Arab governments to persuade their publics that maintaining good relations with the United States did not imply selling out Arab or Islamic interests in Palestine, and it supported the U.S. strategic objective of achieving acceptance for a Jewish state by the other states and peoples of the Middle East. Washington’s abandonment of this diplomacy was a boon to Israeli territorial expansion but a disaster for American influence in the region, including in Israel.

Over the years, America protected Israel from international rebuke and punishment. Its stated purpose was the preservation of prospects for a negotiated “two-state solution” that could bring security and peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike. A decade ago, every member of both the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation endorsed this objective and pledged normalization with Israel if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations succeeded. In response, Israel spun out its talks with the Palestinians while working hard to preclude their self-determination. It has now succeeded in doing so.

There has been no American-led peace process worthy of the name for nearly two decades. There is no prospect of such a process resuming. No one in the international community now accepts the pretense of a “peace process” as an excuse for American protection of Israel. Eleven years on, the Arab and Islamic peace offer has exceeded its shelf life. On the Israel-Palestine issue, American diplomacy has been running on fumes for some time. It is now totally out of gas and universally perceived to be going nowhere…

Of course, I had stuck a fork in the Peace Farce’s carcass a looong time ago…!

Now, I’ve been a long-time fan of Pepe’s and often cited his articles at the AsiaTimes, and/or, posted many of his interviews on Press TV, Real News, RT, etc…! So, I was pleasantly surprised to see another of my ‘Heroes’ citing Pepe…

Escobar on the Mali War

“The Tuareg-led NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), via one of its leaders, now says it’s “ready to help” the former colonial power, billing itself as more knowledgeable about the culture and the terrain than future intervening forces from the CEDEAO (the acronym in French for the Economic Community of Western African States). Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based “observatory”, hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and – oui, monsieur – France itself.” Pepe Escobar

—————————

An excellent and informative article. I do not subscribe to the “knee jerk” Chomskyite economic determiist motivation that Escobar ascribes to the US and France, but, other than that, this is really “good stuff.” He also raises the question of why these particular Islamist revolutionaries are treated to a taste of the club while those in Syria are the heroes of Western elites. The answer is simple. Mali is far from Israel and the Israeli government foolishly wants Assad gone. pl

Now, I happen to disagree with the good Col’s dismissal of Pepe’s Chomskyite Economic Determinist motivation, simply because he’s been dead right…! You be the judge from this recent lengthy interview…

Btw, what’s up with all these Mystery flights of late…?

On a final note, The Wapoo is finally catching up on Libya…

Algerian hostage crisis throws spotlight on spillover of Libyan war

The hostage standoff at an Algerian gas field has thrown a fresh spotlight on the spillover unleashed by the 2011 war that toppled Moammar Gaddafi in Libya.

Experts say the vast quantities of weapons and fighters that streamed out of Gaddafi’s arsenals may have served as a catalyst for the region’s expanding crisis.

But the bold move on the gas complex near the Libyan border this week, coupled with the swift military successes of militants in Mali, have also raised questions about NATO’s handling of Libyan arsenals, as well as the country’s borders, during the eight-month revolution, in which the alliance assisted Libya’s rebel forces.

Some experts say that NATO forces and the U.S. government were so consumed by the threat of surface-to-air missiles in the wake of Gaddafi’s fall that they failed to halt the proliferation of the ordinary high-caliber weapons that may now be fueling Mali’s Islamist insurgency and could carry drastic implications for a region already reeling from lawlessness and a growing al-Qaeda threat. Some of those weapons have already reached Syria and the Gaza Strip…

What brilliant, f*cking Geniuses, eh…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Israel ‘Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’, ‘Institute for Scary Iran Stories’, And, Mali

6:35 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

“The modern liberal state … often uses deception to gain its ends — not so much deception of the foreign enemy, but of its own citizens,who have been taught to trust their leaders.” – Howard Zinn

In all my years of blogging, my sole regret is my inability to piece together more than two paragraphs, in any literary fashion, like most are able to…!

So, please allow me the luxury to blend together some of my old scribblings with some of the latest ‘News’ out of the MENA

Obama Privately Says Israel ‘Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’

“When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry,” Goldberg writes. “He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.”

As I wrote way back when…‘Israel’s mentality is a barrier to Mideast peace’

Btw, don’t you find this mighty hypocritical of Bibi…? Obama Comments ‘Gross Interference’ in Elections…

Moving along, FDL Alum Jim White penned another awesome post today, and spelt it all out…

Albright Follows Warrick Into Full Neocon Mode, Presents Iran Sanction Manifesto

…It now is clear that the article from Warrick was meant to prepare the ground for the unveiling, one week later, of David Albright’s new working group developed precisely for the purpose of furthering the neocon position on Iran sanctions. By taking on additional policy members in this working group, Albright is now branching out from his usual area of commentary on technical issues (where Moon of Alabama has dubbed his Institute for Science and International Security the “Institute for Scary Iran Stories“) all the way into policy and now promotes the full neocon position that Iran is dangerously close to having a nuclear weapon and therefore sanctions must be ratcheted up further.

As Jim Lobe wrote today… New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran…

As I had once opined…The Road to Tyranny And Real Men go to Tehran…

Even Jimmy Carter had sounded the alarm awhile back on our failed FP…Carter: ‘Oppose Unnecessary Wars, Preemptive Strikes, And, Embargoes’ And, Obama Imposes Another Round of Sanctions on Syria/Iran…

Moving along to Mali…

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