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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…!


by CTuttle

What Really Happened To Richard Engel?

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Folks, I smell a Rat…! But, first, let’s quickly dispense with some of the nonsense swirling about Syria…

The Assad government is not “falling.”

…Yes, the demise of the Syrian government exists mainly in the “minds” of a couple of vendu think-tank analysts in Washington, the corporate media bandwagon, and the enfants terribles Wilsonians now riding high in the Obama Administration. The attempt is being made to simply BS Assad out of power. Obama is now functioning fully as the reincarnated Lincoln and sees himsef as “clothed in a great power.” Well, pilgrim, he has placed the US in the position of an alliance with an AQ affiliate (al-nusra). The Syrians that he recognised as government are demanding that he stop condemning their AQ ally and are coming to Washington to tell him and the Wilsonians that he must de-list al-nusra as a terrorist group.

Group Think and the desire to be loved by colleagues and the powerful account for a lot of the intellectual irresponsibility on display but it is also the fact that many of those “running their mouths” over Syria are simply ignorant, callow creatures created by ten years of war and the super-abundance of government money that allowed the hiring of the pitifully under experienced.

The only real question in my mind is whether or not Syria actually wasted a few SSMs last week. Let’s see some evidence, some wreckage, statements by Clapper about heat signatures at launch, something.

The civil war appears to be a stalemate. Having painted himself into a corner BHO will eventually have to opt for intervention of some kind. pl

Now, it would seem that even ex-FDLer, Spencer Ackerman has been sucked into the proverbial Media vortex…

Islamic Extremists Rescue NBC Reporter Held in Syria

…Securing Engel’s freedom is a particularly unexpected turn for Ahrar al-Sham, which the Associated Press describes as “Islamic fundamentalist brigade home to many foreign jihadis.” A recently revamped rebel command structure excluded the group, along with the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, seemingly to secure Western backing. Such groups are given to criticizing the U.S. — not for intervening in Syria, but for not intervening enough in Syria, and being prissy about the company it keeps.

Ahrar al-Sham might give Westerners pause. But Danger Room pal Matt Fanning, a Fort Worth-based IT consultant who closely tracks Syrian rebel groups, says the jihadist organization is one of the most effective and the most media-savvy of the rebel coalition. Their weapons of choice include roadside bombs and car bombs, tactics that “clearly came from Iraq,” Fanning says.

Ahrar al-Sham is also one of the most prolific Syrian jihadi groups on YouTube. Ahrar al-Sham takes video cameras along on raids — to capture giant explosions for upload — and doesn’t mind displaying maps of its operations against Assad’s forces. “Sham also releases probably three to five videos a day where Nusra is good for about one to three a week,” Fanning says.

But Ahrar al-Sham’s ideology is no less extreme. It’s issued religious edicts against the ruling Alawite minority and has been criticized for rounding up Shias as hostages. “I agree with al-Qaida on certain things and disagree on others,” one Ahrar al-Sham fighter, a veteran of al-Qaida in Iraq, told The New York Times in July. His nuanced view of suicide bombing: OK against government troops, not OK against civilians…

Basically, Spencer, fails to see the forest through the trees…!

Now, b at MOA, asked some very penetrating questions of Richard’s abduction…

Another Indication That Richard Engel’s Kidnapping Story Stinks

… There is now new evidence that this was indeed a fake event and that, whatever Richard Engel may believe, he and the people with him (which included one ever unnamed “British engineer” who is more likely some special operations guy) were not in the hands of Shabiha but in the hand of well known experienced video fakers.

Early this year we have looked at the roles of citizen journalists from Syria. One was Khaled Abu Salah who faked and uploaded many videos of Syrian government atrocities, one day playing nearly dead while playing very well and enraged just few days later. The other fake journalist was one “Danny” who presented his fake videos with Anderson Cooper on CNN. {…}

Now here is a video, uploaded yesterday, in which the fake citizen journalist Khaled Abu Salah interviews the just freed Richard Engel the evening before Engel returns from Syria to Turkey.

How come that this known serial producer of fake videos is involved in a murky kidnapping case that looks like a propaganda set up for “western” media consumption?


-Who smuggled Richard Engel into Syria? Was it Avaaz?
-Did “Danny” and Khaled Abu Salah knew that he was coming?
-Did they prepare the kidnapping and the liberation of Richard Engel?

Some of the answers may be found if Richard Engel explains how he came to meet Khaled Abu Salah for this interview. Engel should urgently answer that question.

The Grey Lady’s Robert Mackay pointed out much of the Agitprop being generated… As Last Member of NBC Team Escapes Syria, More Details on Hostage Drama Emerge… Yesterday, he did a great job in exposing the real disparities in reports from Syria… Accounts of a Siege in Syria Differ on Rebel YouTube Channels and British Television…! Fancy that, eh…?

Btw, I’ve highlighted much of these shenangians in play, before… The Syrian Morass…


by CTuttle

Iranian Redux, Part Deux

4:08 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

A plea for sanity cries out…

…So, let’s be realistic here. Iran is a low-level problem and is in some ways helpful to Obama’s goals of getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan and leaving stable regimes behind (Tehran loves both Nouri al-Maliki and Hamid Karzai). We should be talking to it and bargaining with it over its enrichment activities, to make them more transparent, or to give them an incentive to abandon them a la Brazil, Argentina and South Africa. It is unlikely that China will permit an immediate ratcheting up of sanctions in any case. Iran would be better off coming in from the cold and having its natural gas developed, and someday its leaders may see that.

We should call Iran out for its repression and demand release of prisoners of conscience, even as we talk to the regime about bilateral issues, just as we did with the Poles or Soviets. But we should not heavy-handedly intervene in its domestic dispute. The US helped overthrow two Iranian governments (1941 with Britain and the USSR, and 1953) in the 20th century and bears some guilt for messing the place up. Let us treat Iranians like adults, engaging them even as we allow them to make their own destiny. And let us once and for all try to get past the Great American Dr. Strangelove Complex. Contrary to what Alan Kuperman thinks, the Iranians are not actually polluting our precious bodily fluids, and no Texans need to ride a bomb down on Natanz waving a ten-gallon hat.


That was the summation of Juan’s brilliant response to this classic Grey Lady, Judy Miller-esque attack on Iran…

A one-two punch below the waist…


Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels

OK…! Prove it…! *gah*


There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran

And the answer is…?

…cue up the Beach Boys…

Bomb, bomb, Iran…!

As Juan said…

The ‘sinister tunnel’ argument comes just after media mogul and arch-warmonger Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London published a story based on obviously altered and forged documents claiming Iran was working on a ‘nuclear trigger’ for a bomb. Can you say, ‘Niger yellowcake,’ children? Thanks to Gareth Porter for exploding this fraud. See his piece on the way US intelligence community dismissed the document as fraudulent, and his more recent evidence for tampering with the text.

I chuckled when I read that… I seem to recall asking that very question when I posted about Porter’s excellent reporting…!

More common sense from Juan…

…Not only would Iran not give Hizbullah or Hamas a nuclear weapon, but there would be no point in doing so. Both have a problem with Israel, but a nuke set off in the Mideast would kill as many Arabs as Israelis and would poison their own territory and people with the fallout. Hamas has a consistent policy of not attacking US targets. Were either to deploy an Iranian-made bomb against a Western country, it seems obvious that Tehran would be nuked in retaliation. The principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which has never been breached, would operate to restrain Iran from acting so foolishly.

D’oh… What a foreign concept…!

C’mon, Folks…! Saner minds need to prevail…!

Let’s see if the ‘Green Movement’ can change the current regime, but, for God’s sake, don’t bomb and radicalize the populace against either the US or Israel…!

(crossposted at Relaxed Politics)