How biased are the US media, really? This is a frequently asked question. The answer is – they are biased very much and they know how to instill the vision of things in a quiet and unobtrusive way. Here is an example to prove the point.
«Defense Secretary Mattis Arrives at Only US Base in Africa» reads the Voice of America’s headline on April 23. «Only US Base in Africa»? It’s hard to believe one’s eyes but that’s what it says. This is a good example of what is called «inaccurate reporting», to put it mildly. Probably, some people will call it outright distortion because anyone who knows the first thing about military matters knows it has nothing to do with reality.
Suffice it to take a cursory look at the US military presence on the continent. Guess who is spending $100 million to build a new drone base in Niger? What about a “cooperative security location” in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, which provides surveillance and intelligence over the entire Sahel?
In recent years, the US Army has rolled out an extensive network of over 60 outposts and access points in at least 34 African countries – more than 60 percent of the nations on the continent. To compare, the US has only 50 diplomatic missions in Africa.
In his 2015 article for TomDispatch.com, Nick Turse, disclosed the existence of an «America’s empire» comprising dozens of US military installations in Africa, besides Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. These numerous cooperative security locations (CSLs), forward operating locations (FOLs) and other outposts have been built by the US in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. The US military also has had access to locations in Algeria, Botswana, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Zambia and other countries.
According to a rough guide of foreign bases in Africa, the US military uses Garoua airport in northern Cameroon as a drone base for operations in northeastern Nigeria. It houses Predator drones and some 300 US soldiers. Predator and Reaper drones are based in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad. In Kenia, the military uses Camp Simba in Manda Bay as a base for naval personnel and Green Berets. It also houses armed drones for operations in Somalia and Yemen. In Niger, the American armed forces use Agadez, capable of handling large transport aircraft and armed Reaper drones. The base covers the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. US special operations forces (SOF) use compounds in Kismayo and Baledogle in Somalia. A drone base is operated on the island of Victoria, the Seychelles. PC-12 surveillance aircraft operate from Entebbe airport, Uganda.
At least 1,700 special operations forces (SOF) are deployed across 33 African nations at any given time supported by planes and drones. In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the US Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all US SOF – Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them deployed abroad were sent to Africa. They utilize nearly 20 different programs and activities – from training exercises to security cooperation engagements – these included Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, among others.
Drone warfare is a special case as the vehicles are carrying out combat missions in peacetime. The full scope of the US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) program has long been shrouded from view. Only sketchy details emerge off and on about individual drone strikes. The US African Unified Command (AFRICOM) is known to operate at least nine UAV bases in Africa located in Djibouti, the Seychelles, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
Housing 4,000 military and civilian personnel, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, is the hub of a network of American drone bases in Africa. It is used for aerial strikes at insurgents in Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, as well as exercising control over the Bab-el-Mandeb strait – a strategic maritime waterway linking the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea. In 2014, America signed a new 20-year lease on the base with the Djiboutian government, and committed over $1.4 billion to modernize and expand the facility in the years to come.
Unlike other installations, the Djibouti base is called a permanent facility. Not the only facility on the continent but the only «permanent» base. The US military uses the terms Main Operating Base (MOB), Forward Operating Site (FOS) and Cooperative Security Location (CSL). Camp Lemonnier is a MOB. The difference is the size of the presence and the scale of operations a facility is designed for. The terms used do not change the essence – the US uses a vast array of military installations in Africa and the presence keeps on growing. Temporary and permanent facilities are hard to distinguish – you sign an agreement and operate a facility as long as you need it. It’s just a play of words without any effect on substance. For instance, US forces are reported to be deployed in Europe on «rotational basis» or temporarily under the pretext of participation in exercises. Every army unit has an operational cycle, which inevitably includes various stages in training. From time to time, they leave home bases and rotate, moving from one location to another. All military career paths presuppose rotation. Using this or that term does not change the reality – US forces are constantly stationed near Russia’s borders on whatever «basis» it takes place.
It’s not only the increasing number military facilities in Africa and elsewhere. The Donald Trump administration is considering a military proposal that would designate various undeclared battlefields worldwide to be «temporary areas of active hostility». If approved, the measure would give military commanders the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns against enemy forces for up to six months that they possess in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. No top level permission will be required anymore. The authority could be pre-delegated to Defense Secretary James Mattis on extremely sensitive operations. It could be pushed down all the way down to the head of the Joint Special Operations Command for raids or drone strikes against pre-approved targets. If a high-value target is spotted, a force can move into action without wasting time.
How all these activities jibe with the pre-election promise «A Trump administration will never ever put the interest of a foreign country before the interest of our country. From now on, it’s going to be America first» is an open question. Looks like the whole «black continent» has become an area of vital interests for the United States. But reading the media headlines one gets the impression that it’s just «one base» on the huge continent. Not a big thing from point of view of expenditure and the extent of dangerous involvement in faraway conflicts that have no relation whatsoever to the national security, a reader may say. The lesson is – take what the media tell you with a grain of salt, never at face value. It would stand everyone in good stead.
Coming on the heels of the terrorist attack in Paris, the mass shooting and siege at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital of the African nation of Mali, is still further evidence of the escalation of terrorism throughout the world. While there has already been much written about the incident in both western and non-western media, one critical angle on this story has been entirely ignored: the motive.
For although it is true that most people think of terrorism as entirely ideologically driven, with motives being religious or cultural, it is equally true that much of what gets defined as “terrorism” is in fact politically motivated violence that is intended to send a message to the targeted group or nation. So it seems that the attack in Mali could very well have been just such an action as news of the victims has raised very serious questions about just what the motive for this heinous crime might have been.
International media have now confirmed that at least nine of the 27 killed in the attack were Chinese and Russian. While this alone would indeed be curious, it is the identities and positions of those killed that is particularly striking. The three Chinese victims were important figures in China’s China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), while the Russians were employees of Russian airline Volga-Dnepr. That it was these individuals who were killed at the very outset of the attack suggests that they were the likely targets of what could perhaps rightly be called a terrorist assassination operation.
But why these men? And why now? To answer these questions, one must have an understanding of the roles of both these companies in Mali and, at the larger level, the activities of China and Russia in Mali. Moreover, the targeted killing should be seen in light of the growing assertiveness of both countries against terrorism in Syria and internationally. Considering the strategic partnership between the two countries – a partnership that is expanding seemingly every day – it seems that the fight against terrorism has become yet another point of convergence between Moscow and Beijing. In addition, it must be recalled that both countries have had their share of terror attacks in recent years, with each having made counter-terrorism a central element in their national security strategies, as well as their foreign policy.
And so, given these basic facts, it becomes clear that the attack in Mali was no random act of terrorism, but a carefully planned and executed operation designed to send a clear message to Russia and China.
The Attack, the Victims, and the Significance
On Friday November 20, 2015 a team of reportedly “heavily armed and well-trained gunmen” attacked a well known international hotel in Bamako, Mali. While the initial reports were somewhat sketchy and contradictory, in the days since the attack and siege that followed, new details have emerged that are undeniably worrying as they provide a potential motive for the terrorists.
It is has since been announced that three Chinese nationals were killed at the outset of the attack: Zhou Tianxiang, Wang Xuanshang, and Chang Xuehui. Aside from the obviously tragic fact that these men were murdered in cold blood, one must examine carefully who they were in order to get a full sense of the importance of their killings. Mr. Zhou was the General Manager of the China Railway Construction Corporation’s (CRCC) international group, Mr. Wang was the Deputy General Manager of CRCC’s international group, and Mr. Chang was General Manager of the CRCC’s West Africa division. The significance should become immediately apparent as these men were the principal liaisons between Beijing and the Malian government in the major railway investments that China has made in Mali. With railway construction being one of the key infrastructure and economic development programs in landlocked Mali, the deaths of these three Chinese nationals is clearly both a symbolic and very tangible attack on China’s partnership with Mali.
In late 2014, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita traveled to China to attend the World Economic Forum in Tianjin. On the sidelines of the forum the Malian president sealed a number of critical development deals with the Chinese government, the most high-profile of which were railway construction and improvement agreements. Chief among the projects is the construction of an $8 billion, 900km railway linking Mali’s capital of Bamako with the Atlantic port and capital of neighboring Guinea, Conakry. The project, seen by many experts as essential for bringing Malian mineral wealth to world markets, is critical to the economic development of the country. Additionally, CRCC was also tapped to renovate the railway connecting Bamako with Senegal’s capital of Dakar, with the project carrying a price tag of nearly $1.5 billion.
These two projects alone were worth nearly $10 billion, while a number of other projects, including road construction throughout the conflict-ridden north of the country, as well as construction of a much needed new bridge in gridlock-plagued Bamako, brought the cumulative worth of the Chinese investments to near (or above) the total GDP for Mali ($12 billion in 2014). Such massive investments in the country were obviously of great significance to the Malian government both because of their economically transformative qualities, and also because they had solidified China as perhaps the single most dominant investor in Mali, a country long since under the post-colonial economic yoke of France, and military yoke of the United States.
It seems highly implausible, to say the least, that a random terror attack solely interested in killing as many civilians as possible would have as its first three victims these three men, perhaps three of the most important men in the country at the time. But the implausible coincidences don’t stop there.
Among the dead are also six Russians, all of whom are said to have been employees of the Russian commercial cargo airline Volga-Dnepr. While at first glance it may seem irrelevant that the Russian victims worked for an airline, it is in fact very telling as it indicates a similar motive to the killing of the Chinese nationals; specifically, Volga-Dnepr is, according to its Wikipedia page, “a world leader in the global market for the movement of oversize, unique and heavy air cargo…[It] serves governmental and commercial organizations, including leading global businesses in the oil and gas, energy, aerospace, agriculture and telecommunications industries as well as the humanitarian and emergency services sectors.” The company has transported everything from gigantic excavators to airplanes, helicopters, mini-factories, and power plants, not to mention heavy machines used in energy extraction.
This fact is significant because it is quite likely, indeed probable, that the airline has been transporting much of the heavy, oversized equipment being used by the Chinese and other developers throughout the country. In effect, the Russian crew was part of the ongoing economic development and foreign investment in the country. And so, their killing, like that of the CRCC executives, is a symbolic strike against Chinese and Russian investment in the country. And perhaps even more importantly, the attack was a symbolic attack upon the very nature of Sino-Russian collaboration and partnership, especially in the context of economic development in Africa and the Global South.
It would be worthwhile to add that Volga-Dnepr has also been involved in military transport services for NATO and the US until at least the beginning of the Ukraine conflict and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Whether this fact has any bearing on the employees being targeted, that would be pure conjecture. Suffice to say though that Volga-Dnepr was no ordinary airline, but one that was integral to the entire economic development initiative in Mali. And this is really the key point: China and Russia are development partners for the former French colonial possession and US puppet state.
China, Russia, and Mali’s Future
China and, to a lesser extent, Russia have become major trading and development partners for Mali in recent years. Aside from the lucrative railroad and road construction projects mentioned above, China has expanded its partnerships with Mali in many other areas. For instance, in 2014 China gifted Mali a grant of 18 billion CFA (nearly $30 million) and an interest-free loan of 8 billion CFA (nearly $13 million). Additionally, China established a program that offers 600 scholarships to Malian students over the 2015-2017 period. Also, the Chinese government announced the construction of a training and educational center focused on engineering and the construction industry, as well as the completion of the Agricultural Technical Center in the city of Baguineda in Southern Mali, not far from the capital and population center of Bamako.
Of course, these sorts of Chinese offerings are only the tip of the iceberg as Beijing has also expanded its contracts with Mali in the transportation, construction, energy, mining, and other important sectors, including an agreement for China to construct at least 24,000 affordable housing units, making ownership of a decent home possible for many who would otherwise never have such an opportunity. Going further, as African Leadership Magazine reported in 2014:
Mali also relies on China to invest in new power plants to break the electricity crisis that is affecting the country. This is supposed to make available cheaper electricity for the industrial development…A hydroelectric dam will be built in the area of Dire in the North of the country; a hybrid power plant in Kidal in the North-East and another one in Timbuktu, which is in the North as well. Solar power plants will also be created in other parts of the country and all those infrastructures will be connected to the national grid of electricity… A factory of medicine production that is being constructed in the outskirts of the capital will be enlarged to be the largest in West Africa… More than 95 percent of the factory has been completed and it will be operating on January, 2015…Chinese banks that are not yet present in Mali are supposed to contribute to create small-scaled companies and industries.
To be sure, China is not offering such deals to Mali solely out of altruism and in the spirit of generosity; naturally China expects to enrich itself and ensure access to raw materials, resources, and markets in Mali now and in the future. This is the sort of “win-win” partnership forever being touted by China as the cornerstone of its aid and investment throughout Africa. Indeed, in many ways, Mali is a prime example of just how China operates on the continent. Rather than a purely exploitative investment model (the IMF and World Bank examples come to mind), China is engaging in true partnership. And, contrary to what many have argued (that China is merely a rival imperialist power in Africa), China’s activities in Africa are by and large productive for the whole of the countries where China invests, a few egregious bad examples aside.
China is a friend of Africa, and it has demonstrated that repeatedly throughout the last decade. And perhaps it is just this sort of friendship that was under attack in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako.
Likewise Russia has been engaged in Mali, though certainly nowhere near the extent that China has. Russia was one of the principal contributors to the humanitarian relief effort in Mali after the 2012 coup and subsequent war against terror groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Russia provided much needed food, clothing, and basic medical aid, while also supplying more advanced, and essential, medical equipment to Malian hospitals desperately trying to cope with the flood of wounded and displaced people.
Additionally, Moscow became one of the major suppliers of weapons and other military materiel to Mali’s government in its war against terrorism in 2013. According Business Insider in 2013, Anatoly Isaikin, head of Russia’s state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, “revealed that Moscow had recent military contacts with the government of Mali… He said small amounts of light weapons were already being delivered to Mali and that new sales were under discussion. ‘We have delivered firearms. Literally two weeks ago another consignment was sent. These are completely legal deliveries… We are in talks about sending more, in small quantities.’”
Finally, Mali has a longstanding cultural connection with Russia through the Soviet Union’s sponsorship of thousands of Malian students who studied in Soviet universities from the early 1960s through the 1980s. As Yevgeny Korendyasov of the Center for Russian-African Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences explained, “We have had very close ties to Mali throughout recent history… Though overall financial estimates of Soviet aid received by Mali are hard to come by, Moscow’s involvement with the country was all-encompassing.” Indeed, the Soviets educated Malian officials and intelligentsia, as well as their children, developed local infrastructure, and mapped the country’s abundant natural resources. Such long-standing ties, moribund though they may seem today, still have a lasting legacy in the country.
While the world has been transfixed by terrorism from the downing of the Russian airliner in Egypt, to the inhuman attacks in Paris and Beirut, not nearly enough attention has been paid to the attack in Mali. Perhaps one of the reasons the episode has not gotten the necessary scrutiny and investigation is the seemingly endless series of terror attacks that have transfixed news consumers worldwide. Perhaps it is simply good old fashioned racism that sees Africa as little more than a collection of chaotic states constantly in conflict, with violence and death being the norm.
Or maybe the real reason almost no one has shined a light on this episode is because of the global implications of the killings, and the obvious message they sent. While media organizations seem to have deliberately ignored the implication of the attacks of November 20th in Mali, one can rest assured that Beijing and Moscow got the message loud and clear. And one can also rest assured that the Chinese and Russians are well aware of the true motives of the attack. The question remains: how will these countries respond?
Eric Draitser, an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, is the founder of StopImperialism.org.
In response to the tragic Paris events of November 13, Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan warned that “ISIL is planning additional attacks… It is clear to me that ISIL has an external agenda, that they are determined to carry out these types of attacks.” (Quoted in Daily Telegraph, November 16, 2015)
Five days later following the CIA Chief’s premonition, the Bamako Radisson Hotel Blu in Mali’s capital was the object of a terrorist attack, resulting in 21 people dead. Following the attack and the taking of hostages by the terrorists, French and Malian special forces raided the hotel. US. Africa Command (AFRICOM) also confirmed that US special forces were involved.
The Bamako terror operation was allegedly coordinated by Mokhtar Belmokhtar (aka Khaled Abu al-Abbas), leader of an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamist al-Mulathameen (Masked) Brigade, or “Those who Sign with Blood.”
Belmokhtar’s group was created in 2012 in the wake of the war on Libya. His organization has also allegedly been involved in the drug trade, smuggling as well kidnapping operations of foreigners in North Africa. While his whereabouts are said to be known, French intelligence has dubbed Belmokhtar “the uncatchable”.
In June he was reported dead as a result in a U.S. air strike in Libya. His death was subsequently denied.
Based on shaky evidence, The New York Times report below (November 20) concludes that Belmokhtar’s group (together with AQIM) is unequivocally behind the Bamako attacks:
A member of Al Qaeda in Africa confirmed Saturday that the attack Friday on a hotel in Bamako, Mali, had been carried out by a jihadist group loyal to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian operative for Al Qaeda. The Qaeda member, who spoke via an online chat, said that an audio message and a similar written statement in which the group claimed responsibility for the attack were authentic. The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist groups, also confirmed the authenticity of the statement.
The Qaeda member, who refused to be named for his protection, said that Mr. Belmokhtar’s men had collaborated with the Saharan Emirate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, … In the audio recording, the group, known as Al Mourabitoun, says it carried out the operation in conjunction with Al Qaeda’s branch in the Islamic Maghreb.
The recording was released to the Al Jazeera network and simultaneously to Al Akhbar, … The recording states: “We, in the group of the Mourabitoun [Arabic Rebel Group], in cooperation with our brothers in Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, the great desert area, claim responsibility for the hostage-taking operation in the Radisson hotel in Bamako.” (emphasis added)
The SITE Intelligence Group is presented as an “independent” Washington think tank with a mandate of analyzing data pertaining to Al Qaeda affiliated terror organizations. SITE is also on contract with a number of US government agencies and has close links to US intelligence.
SITE has provided no substantive evidence which supports the authenticity of the online audio chat recording, which is considered as a reliable source. The story could have been planted.
Following the audio release, the Western media in chorus immediately pointed to an act of revenge directed against the French Republic in response to France’s 2013 military intervention in Mali, which had been ordered by President Francois Hollande.
“France saved Mali from al-Qaeda but it never broke terror threat”. “France saved northern Mali from al-Qaeda’s brutal rule … But the country is still beholden to outsiders and, as events at the Radisson hotel have demonstrated, acutely vulnerable to the worst of terrorism” (The Independent, November 20, 2015)
Screenshot The Independent, November 20, 2015
In turn, the French Minister of Defense acknowledged –prior to the conduct of a police investigation– that the authors of the attack were “most likely” led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group in association with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
What Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain failed to mention was that both Belmokhtar and AQIM have longstanding links to the CIA, which in turn has a working relationship with France’s General Directorate for External Security, Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE).
Casually ignored by the Western media, the leaders of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) including Belmokhtar were trained and recruited by the CIA in Afghanistan. Acknowledged by the Washington based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR):
Most of AQIM’s major leaders are believed to have trained in Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 war against the Soviets as part of a group of North African volunteers known as “Afghan Arabs” that returned to the region and radicalized Islamist movements in the years that followed. The group is divided into “katibas” or brigades, which are clustered into different and often independent cells.
The group’s top leader, or emir, since 2004 has been Abdelmalek Droukdel, also known as Abou Mossab Abdelwadoud, a trained engineer and explosives expert who has fought in Afghanistan and has roots with the GIA in Algeria. (Council on Foreign Relations, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, cfr.org, undated)
Saudi born terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was recruited in 1979 ironically under the auspices of the CIA. The training, recruitment and indoctrination of Mujahideen launched in 1979 was considered to be “the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA” in response the Soviet Union’s military support of the pro-Communist secular Afghan government of Babrak Kamal.
Al Qaeda in Arabic means “the Base”. What it referred to was the CIA’s “Database” of Mujahideen recruits who were referred to by President Ronald Reagan as “freedom fighters”:
Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that “Al Qaeda” is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. (See Pierre-Henri Bunel, Al Qaeda: The Database, Global Research, November 20, 2005, emphasis added)
Mokhtar Belmokhtar: Post Cold War CIA intelligence asset?
The Council on Foreign Relations erroneously describes “Mokhtar Belmokhtar as the one-eyed veteran of the anti-Soviet Afghan insurgency.” (CFR, op cit, emphasis added). Belmokhtar (born in 1972) did not fight in the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989). He was recruited in 1991 at the age of 19 in the immediate wake of the Cold War.
CIA recruitment continued in the wake of the Cold War. It was in large part directed against the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Republics as well as the Middle East.
The purpose of this later CIA recruitment was to establish a network of “intelligence assets” to be used in the CIA’s post-cold war insurgencies. Leaders of the Chechen Islamist insurgencies were also trained in CIA camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the notorious leader of the Chechen insurrection Ibn al-Khattab (a citizen of Saudi Arabia).
Following his training and recruitment and a two year stint in Afghanistan (1991-1993), Mokhtar Belmokhtar was sent back to Algeria in 1993 at age 21 where he joined the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) (emblem left). The latter was initially part of the so-called Armed Islamic Group (Groupe islamique armé (GIA)) in Algeria which sought to overthrow the secular Algerian Government with a view to installing a theocratic Islamic State.
Supported covertly by the CIA, Belmokhtar fought in Southern Algeria in the civil war opposing Islamist forces and the secular government. He was also instrumental in the integration and merging of “jihadist” forces.
In January 2007, the Armed islamic Group (GIA) which had been prominent in the 1990s, officially changed its name to the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In turn, as of 2007, the newly formed AQIM established a close relationship with the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was directly supported by NATO during the 2011 war on Libya, “providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.” (Tony Cartalucci, The Geopolitical Reordering of Africa: US Covert Support to Al Qaeda in Northern Mali, France “Comes to the Rescue”, Global Research, January 2013).
British SAS Special Forces had also been brought into Libya prior to the onset of the insurrection, acting as military advisers to the LIFG.
In fact, what has unfolded since the war on Libya is the merging of LIFG and AQIM forces. In turn, many of the LIFG operatives have been dispatched to Syria to fight within the ranks of Al Nusrah and the ISIS.
Robert Stephen Ford, US Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008)
It is worth noting that the 2007 restructuring of jihadist forces in Algeria and the Maghreb coincided with the appointment of Robert Stephen Ford as US ambassador to Algeria in August 2006. Ford had been reassigned by the State Department from Baghdad to Algiers. From 2004 to 2006, he worked closely with Ambassador John Negroponte at the US embassy in Baghdad in supporting the creation of both Shia and Sunni death squads in Iraq.
This project consisted in recruiting and training terrorists modelled on the so-called “Salvador Option” which had been applied by the CIA in Central America. Negroponte as we recall played a central role in supporting the Contras terrorists in Nicaragua as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, “The Salvador Option For Syria”: US-NATO Sponsored Death Squads Integrate “Opposition Forces”, Global Research, May 28, 2012)
The 2006 appointment of Robert Stephen Ford to head the US Embassy in Algeria was timely. It coincided with the consolidation of jihadist groups within Algeria and the Maghreb. It preceded the 2011 US-NATO sponsored insurrections in Libya and Syria.
In 2010, Ford was approved by the US Congress as US Ambassador to Syria. He presented his credentials to president Bashar al Assad in January 2011, barely two months prior to the onslaught of the terrorist insurrection in the border city of Daraa in mid-March 2011. Ford played a central role in assisting the channelling of US and allied support to Syrian “opposition” groups including Al Nusrah and the ISIS.
Belmokhtar’s history and involvement in Afghanistan confirms that from the very outset he was an instrument of US intelligence. While, he operates with a certain degree of independence and autonomy in relation to his intelligence sponsors, he and his organization are bona fide CIA “intelligence assets”, which can be used by the CIA as part of a covert agenda.
There are various definitions of an “intelligence asset”. From the standpoint of US intelligence, “assets” linked up to terrorist organizations must not be aware that they are supported and monitored by Western intelligence.
With regard to Al Qaeda, from the outset in 1979, the CIA chose to operate through various front organizations as well as indirectly through its Saudi, Qatari and Pakistani intelligence partners. CIA’s Milton Beardman who played a central role in the Soviet Afghan war confirms that members of Al Qaeda including Osama bin Laden were not aware of the role they were playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): “neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help”(Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Osama bin Laden, Global Research, September 12, 2001):
Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA. (Ibid)
Amply documented, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)and its affiliated groups including the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was serving the interests of the Western military alliance. Confirmed by the Washington Post, June 29, 2011 (See below), France was supplying weapons to the LIFG at the height of NATO’s bombing raids.
AQIM in turn was receiving weapons from the LIFG, which was supported by NATO. Moreover, LIFG mercenaries had integrated AQIM brigades.
According to alleged Terror Mastermind Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who also coordinated the 2013 In Amenas Mali kidnapping operation:
“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world. As for our benefiting from the (Libyan) weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.” http://www.hanford.gov/c.cfm/oci/ci_terrorist.cfm?dossier=174
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is indelibly tied into a Western intelligence agenda. While it is described as ”one of the region’s wealthiest, best-armed militant groups”, financed covertly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. France’s Canard enchaîné revealed (June 2012) that Qatar (a staunch ally of the United States) has been funding various terrorist entities in Mali:
The original report cites a French military intelligence report as indicating that Qatar has provided financial support to all three of the main armed groups in northern Mali: Iyad Ag Ghali’s Ansar Ed-Dine, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA).
The amount of funding given to each of the groups is not mentioned but it mentions that repeated reports from the French DGSE to the Defense Ministry have mentioned Qatar’s support for ‘terrorism’ in northern Mali. (quoted by Jeune Afrique June 2012)
Qatar is a proxy state, a de facto Persian Gulf territory largely controlled by Washington. It hosts a number of Western military and intelligence facilities.
The Emir of Qatar does not finance terrorism without the consent of the CIA.
And with regard to Mali, the CIA coordinates its activities in liaison with its French intelligence partners and counterparts, including la Direction du renseignement militaire (DRM) and the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE).
The implications are obvious and should be carefully understood by Western public opinion. Inasmuch as Belmokhtar and AQIM are “intelligence assets”, both US and French intelligence are (indirectly) behind the Bamako attacks.
Both US and French intelligence are complicit in the State sponsorship of terrorism.
HOLLANDE AND THE ROTHSCHILD BANKSTERS – François Hollande, seen here with David de Rothschild, appointed a Rothschild banker to manage the French ministry of economy in 2014. What does that say about Hollande’s loyalty?
“An act of war was committed by a terrorist army, DAESH [ISIS], a jihadist army, against France… An act of war prepared, planned, from outside, with outside complicity which an investigation will establish.” – French President François Hollande, November 14, 2015
“We need to work to find a political solution. Bashar al-Assad is not the solution, he is the problem.” – French President François Hollande, October 23, 2015
“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way”. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Friday the 13th terror attacks in Paris seem to have accomplished exactly what they were meant to. They have seemingly given the French and the U.S. the right to attack “without mercy” ISIS forces in Syria. While the strikes are supposedly aimed at ISIS, the country taking the pounding is Syria.
There are basically two ways to view the terror attacks in Paris: they were, either, as French President François Hollande says, “an act of war… committed by a terrorist army, DAESH, a jihadist army,” – or they were something else.
The accepted view, promoted by the controlled media and accepted by world leaders, is that they were, exactly as Hollande says, “an act of war” carried out by DAESH (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State). Based on this interpretation, U.S. A-10 Warthogs and French fighter jets have started bombing DAESH targets in Syria.
À quoi bon?
This raises the obvious question, what’s the point? Why would any militia carry out an outrageous terror atrocity against a very powerful nation that is well prepared, willing, and ready to wage war against it as a response?
This is a situation strikingly similar to 9-11, in which the predecessor of DAESH, Al Qaida, supposedly attacked the United States, opening the door for the pre-planned invasion of Afghanistan. How convenient.
We should ask: Do these so-called Islamic groups have a desire to commit mass suicide? With the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle approaching Syria and with American A-10 Warthogs poised on the border ready for destroy anything on the ground, why would any Islamic group give such powerful forces a carte blanche reason to attack?
Is this not just a little too neat?
If you agree that this is too neat, there is the alternative view to be considered. That is that the Paris attacks are something other than what they appear to be and that the desired outcome was achieved by using a fraudulent input. That is to say that the terror attacks in Paris were, in fact, controlled and carried out by a hidden hand that used deception to produce the desired outcome. We are, after all, living in an era of massive deception.
Who might that be?
Given the fact that the fraudulent “War on Terror” is an Israeli construct dating back to the 1970s, the first suspect would have to be Israeli intelligence.
Why would they do that?
To advance the Israeli strategy known as the “War on Terror” – and destroy Syria in the process.
How would they do it?
By creating a cell of extremists who are cultivated and prepared to carry out such acts of violence.
Are there any indications that this is the case?
The fact that the Bataclan theatre was Israeli-owned until September 11, 2015, is one rather obvious clue. There are many others, such as the degree of knowledge held by the planners. For example, how did the terrorists know that the French president would be at the football game? And why did French SWAT teams wait for more than two hours to take action at the theatre?
Is Hollande part of the deception?
He could be, but I would tend to doubt it. Hollande is simply “in the pocket” of the Rothschild family and proved it by waging war in Mali on behalf of the Rothschilds and their gold interests in that poor African nation. In August 2014, Hollande appointed Emmanuel Macron, a Rothschild investment banker to head the French Ministry of Economy.
Hollande is a Rothschild puppet who does what his masters want. At this point they want him to attack Syria.
ROTHSCHILD PUPPET – François Hollande, seen here with Eric de Rothschild, serves the Rothschild family – not the Republic of France.
How does this affect the situation in Syria?
The Paris attacks bring France into the Syrian conflict, although their military actions in Syria are neither legal nor approved by the government of Syria. This increases the weight of the anti-Assad coalition vis-à-vis the Russians, who have been asked to intervene in Syria and are fighting in support of the Assad government.
Sources and Recommended Reading:
“Bashar al-Assad is Problem, Not Solution in Syria: French President Francois Hollande,” NDTV.com, October 23, 2015
“Hollande replaces critic of austerity with Rothschild banker,” EurActiv.com, Reuters, August 27, 2014
“Mali – France Fights for Rothschild Gold,” by Christopher Bollyn, January 19, 2013
Tuareg rebels and the Malian government have vowed to honor a peace deal devolving more power to northern communities
A coalition of Tuareg-led rebels signed a historic peace deal with the Malian government Saturday, after securing more autonomy from Bamako.
“Hand in hand, let us make Mali better, more brotherly, more united than ever,” said President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in an official ceremony in the Malian capital. Cheers erupted in the ceremony when the peace deal was signed by Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, a representative of the predominantly Tuareg militia alliance, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA).
Under the peace deal, the Malian government agreed to allow the formation of democratically elected regional councils in the country’s war-torn north, and dropped arrest warrants for a number of militant leaders. The deal is a far cry from long-standing Tuareg demands for an independent state in the northern desert, but has already been hailed as a major step forward in resolving long standing tensions between the ethnic group and the central government.
A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the deal, but urged both sides to ensure its implementation.
“The ultimate responsibility for peace lies with Mali and the Malians,” they stated.
For decades Mali’s Tuareg minority has complained of marginalization, and accused the government of neglecting them and the country’s far north. The Malian ethnic group has repeatedly revolted against the government, with the latest insurrection taking place amid a 2012 coup in Bamako. For nearly 10 months vast swathes of the north were wrestled from government control.
A French-led military intervention was launched in 2013 amid allegations the uprising had been hijacked by al-Qaida linked militants, leading to the return of government rule in the fractured north. Since then, the region has been mired in instability, with many Tuareg remaining frustrated with the central government.
A version of the peace deal was rejected by Tauregs earlier this year.
One CMA spokesperson, Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, told AFP the peace deal was just the start of a long road towards ensuring the agreement with the government is honored. “We are for peace, but what we want is that the agreement is actually implemented on the ground,” he said.
With everyone’s attention focused on the European elections or President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point or the Ukraine, a story by Eric Schmitt in The New York Times on Tuesday may not have caught your attention. I believe, however, that it provides an insight into some of the major problems of American foreign policy.
What Mr. Schmitt reports is that the U.S. has set up covert programs to train and equip native teams patterned on their instructors, the U.S. Army Delta Force, in several African countries. The program was advocated by Michael A. Sheehan who formerly was in charge of special operations planning in the Department of Defense and is now, according to Mr. Schmitt, holder of the “distinguished chair at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.”
Mr. Schmitt quotes him as saying, “Training indigenous forces to go after threats in their own country is what we need to be doing.” So far allocated to this effort, Mr. Schmitt writes, is $70 million, and the initial efforts will be in Libya, Niger, Mali and Mauritania.
How to do this, according to the senior U.S. officer in Africa, Major General Patrick J. Donahue II, is complex: “You have to make sure of who you’re training. It can’t be the standard, ‘Has the guy been a terrorist or some sort of criminal?’ but also, what are his allegiances? Is he true to the country or is he still bound to his militia?”
So let me comment on these remarks, on the ideas behind the program, its justification and the history of such efforts. I begin with a few bits of history. (Disclosure: I am in the final stages of a book that aims to tell the whole history, but the whole history is of course much too long for this note.)
Without much of the rhetoric of Mr. Sheehan and General Donahue and on a broader scale, we have undertaken similar programs in a number of countries over the last half century. Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Guatemala, Egypt, Iraq, Thailand, Chad, Angola to name just a few. The results do not add up to a success almost anywhere.
Perhaps the worst (at least for America’s reputation) were Chad where the man we trained, equipped and supported, Hissène Habré, is reported to have killed about 40,000 of his fellow citizens. In Indonesia, General Suharto, with our blessing and with the special forces we also had trained and equipped, initially killed about 60,000 and ultimately caused the deaths of perhaps 200,000. In Mexico, the casualties have been smaller, but the graduates of our Special Forces program have become the most powerful drug cartel. They virtually hold the country at ransom.
Even when casualties were not the result, the military forces we helped to create and usually paid for carried out the more subtle mission of destroying public institutions. If our intention is to create stability, the promotion of a powerful military force is often not the way to do it. This is because the result of such emphasis on the military often renders it the only mobile, coherent and centrally directed organization in societies lacking in the balancing forces of an independent judiciary, reasonably open elections, a tradition of civil government and a more or less free press.
Our program in pre-1958 Iraq and in pre-1979 Iran certainly played a crucial role in the extension of authoritarian rule in those countries and in their violent reactions against us.
General Donahue suggests that we need to distinguish among the native soldiers we train and empower those who are “true to the country.” But how? We supported Hissène Habré so long that we must have known every detail of his life. He is now on trial as war criminal. General Suharto has never been charged (nor have those Americans who gave him a “green light”) for his brutal invasion of East Timor. Both probably believed that they met General Donahue’s definition of patriotism.
And in Mali, our carefully trained officers of the Special Forces answered what they thought was both patriotic and religious duty by joining the insurgency against the government we (and we thought they) supported. We have a poor record of defining other peoples’ patriotism.
And, in the interest of more urgent objectives, we have been willing to support and fund almost anyone as long as we think he might be of value. General Manuel Noriega, our man in Panama, went on to spend 22 years in an American prison after we invaded his country and fought the soldiers we had trained.
Indeed, we have a poor record of even knowing who the people we train are. After the Turkish army carried out one of its coups in the 1960s, when I was the member of the Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East, I asked the appropriate branch of the Defense Department who were the new leaders, all of whom had been trained in America, often several times during the years. The answer was that no one knew. Even in army records, they were just Americanized nicknames.
And, more generally, our sensitivity to the aspirations, hopes and fears of other people is notoriously crude or totally lacking. Growing out of the Cold War, we thought of many of them as simply our proxies or our enemies.
Thus, we found Chad not as a place with a certain population but just as a piece of the Libyan puzzle, and today we think of Mali in the same way. Now we are talking of training “carefully selected” Syrian insurgents to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Do we have any sense of what they will overthrow him for?
Beyond these, what might be considered “tactical” issues are “strategic,” legal and even moral considerations. I leave aside the legal and moral issues — such as what justification we have to determine the fate of other peoples — as they do not seem very persuasive among our leaders.
But just focus on the long-term or even middle-term results of the new policy: the most obvious is that we meddle in and take some responsibility for the politics of an array of countries in which we have little direct interest. And often with the obvious danger of a deeper, more expensive and more painful result. We are close to this commitment in Syria.
Less obvious is that our activities, no matter how carefully differentiated, will be seen to add up to an overall policy of militarism, support of oppressive dictatorships, and opposition to popular forces. They also meld into a policy of opposition to the religion of over a billion people, Islam. And they do so at great expense to our expressed desires to enable people everywhere, including at home, to live healthier, safer and decent lives.
I end with a prediction: in practically every country where Mr. Sheehan’s and General Donahue’s program is employed, it will later be seen to have led to a military coup d’etat.
William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.
LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande agreed Friday to beef up the two countries’ cooperation in defense, nuclear energy and climate policy.
Britain and France inked the cooperation deals at the UK-France Summit 2014 held in British royal air force station RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire of southeast England.
The two countries issued a communique setting out plans for joint investment in the procurement of defense equipment, joint training of armed forces and continued development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, an Anglo-French joint military training and operation program.
“Britain and France are natural partners for defense cooperation,” British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said, adding that the agreements reached at the summit would enhance the “interoperability” of British and French forces.
According to the agreements, the two countries are set to launch a two-year-long joint feasibility study program with an investment of 120 million pounds (about 197.4 million U.S. dollars) for a future Anglo-French combat air system.
Britain and France also agreed to invest in Britain’s major nuclear weapons base, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, to carry out safe testing of British and French stockpiles and achieve greater sharing of technical and scientific data for joint research.
The two nations pledged to join hands in tackling security issues, such as terrorism and drug and arms trafficking, in north and west Africa, as well as building on international peacekeeping missions in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.
In addition, the two sides declared their commitment to developing safe nuclear energy, collaborating on new nuclear power stations, combating climate change and pushing for European Commission’s domestic emissions reduction agenda.
“We reiterated our resolve to work together towards achieving an ambitious and legally-binding agreement at the next COP (UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change) in Paris in 2015,” said Edward Davey, British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the country is to expand its military presence in Africa’s Sahel region.
“This redeployment will cover about 3000 troops which we are about to reorganize and re-deploy all over the area,” Le Drian said in an address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
The Sahel spans 5,400 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east.
“I wanted to say all this to you because we think that the intervention in Mali is not enough. We have to go beyond,” he added.
France began a major military intervention in its former colony in January, citing concerns about the growing influence of militants in northern Mali and a rebellion by Tuareg separatists that threatened the French-backed Malian government.
“We have to protect ourselves against different risks, new risks and especially, tomorrow, against the risk of a Libyan chaos,” said the French minister.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has suggested the creation of a peacekeeping force in Mali that would include West African troops already operating in the country. He also said that a “parallel force” must be built to confront Islamist threats.
“Given the anticipated level and nature of the residual threat, there would be a fundamental requirement for a parallel force to operate in Mali alongside the UN mission in order to conduct major combat and counter-terrorism operations,” Ban wrote in his report on Mali.
Such a force could be built on the French troops already active in Mali, some diplomats say.
Once the African nations’ soldiers become a UN peacekeeping force, most of their troops and police would operate in northern Mali, while there would be a “light presence” based in the country’s capital, Bamako, Ban suggested.
“The force would operate under robust rules of engagement, with a mandate to use all necessary means to address threats to the implementation of its mandate, which would include protection of civilians,” he said.
The parallel force proposed by Ban Ki-moon would specifically target Islamist extremists, and could be based in Mali or elsewhere in West Africa. Diplomats expressed hope that the UN Security Council will vote on the peacekeeping proposal in mid-April.
France launched its military intervention in Mali in January to combat Islamist groups that had taken over the north of the country a year ago. The French army succeeded in driving the Islamists out Mali’s main northern cities and into desert and mountain hideouts. Still, Ban’s report said Mali suffered from a “crisis of governance” marked by “endemic corruption,” and a lack of state authority.
The 11,200 African troops converted into peacekeepers could only cover the main towns “assessed to be at highest risk,” Ban explained. The bulk of the contingent would come from a West African force known as AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission to Mali), comprised of armed forces from many African nations and already operational in Mali.
France said it would start withdrawing 4,000 of its troops in late April as part of a handover to the UN-backed African force. French President Francois Hollande has repeatedly vowed that the troops will remain in the region only until a legitimate government can take over.
The Mali intervention has cost France more than 100 million euros so far.
French officials say the country’s forces will remain in Mali until at least July amid reports of a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country caused by the French-led war in the West African nation.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, made the announcement on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this week, an unnamed French diplomat also said that it is unlikely that “the French presence will be over in six months.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on February 6 that the country would begin the withdrawal of its troops from Mali in March.
“We will continue to act in the north… I think that from March, if everything goes according to plan, the number of French troops should decrease,” Fabius said.
France launched its war on Mali on January 11 under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in the country. The war has left thousands of Malians homeless.
The French-led war in Mali has also displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.
On February 1, Amnesty International said “serious human rights breaches” — including the killing of children — were occurring in the French war in Mali.
The rights organization said there was “evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike” carried out by French forces against the local fighters.
A US general nominated to lead the American military’s Africa Command has called for a 15-fold surge in US spying missions in Africa amid reports of Pentagon’s plans to further expand its growing military presence in the continent.
Army General David Rodriguez estimated in a written statement submitted to the US Senate Arms Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Thursday that the American military needs to boost its “intelligence-gathering and spying missions in Africa by nearly 15-fold,” The Washington Post reports Friday.
“I believe additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are necessary to protect American interests and assist our close allies and partners,” said the four-star general who has previously commanded US-led intervention forces in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The recent crises in North Africa demonstrate the volatility of the African security environment,” he added.
Rodrigues further emphasized during the hearing that Africa Command requires additional drones, other spying aircraft and more satellite imagery, adding that the US command currently gets only half of its “stated need” for North Africa and just seven percent of its total “requirements” for the entire continent, the report says.
The surging US military involvement in Africa has emerged despite earlier instructions by the Obama administration for the Pentagon to “pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia,” the daily underlines.
The development comes as the American military has intervened over the past two years in internal conflicts in African nations of Somalia, Libya and Mali, as well as central Africa.
This is while the US Air Force is building its fourth assassination and spying drone base in the poor African state of Niger as American Navy warships are expanding their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa, according to the report.
Despite insistence by US military authorities that they did not have plans to establish bases or move troops to Africa when they created the Africa Command in 2007, the Pentagon has since built a network of “staging bases,” including assassination drone facilities in Ethiopia and the Seychelles, and “a forward operating base for special operations forces in Kenya,” the report notes.
It further adds that the Pentagon has also expanded its military operations and construction at “the only permanent US base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which serves as a hub for ‘counterterrorism missions’ in Somalia and Yemen.”
Now, the daily emphasizes, there is a growing pressure to add even more bases in North and West Africa as the US military is set to build an assassination drone base in the West African country of Niger, which borders Mali, Libya and Nigeria, all nations that the Obama administration claims are threatened by an increasing influx of ‘al-Qaeda-linked’ Muslim militants.
The US Africa Command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany since it was established in 2007. Efforts to move the headquarters to an African country faced hurdles as numerous nations “expressed concern that the Pentagon was seeking to militarize US policy or infringe on their sovereignty,” according to the report.
- At Pentagon, ‘pivot to Asia’ becomes ‘shift to Africa’ (stripes.com)
- US plans military war games with African nations in ‘urgent’ mission (ethiotribune.net)