The Pentagon has been secretly backing a U.S. Special Operations program to build elite units to fight “terrorism” in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali, the New York Times revealed Monday.
The program was launched last year and is backed by millions of dollars in classified Pentagon funds. U.S. military trainers, including members of the Green Berets and Delta Force, are working with African “commandos” to “build homegrown African counterterrorism teams,” according to the Times.
According to the reporting, $70 million in Pentagon funds is going towards “training, intelligence-gathering equipment and other support” for commandos in Nigeria and Mauritania. And $16 million is going towards commandos in Libya. In Mauritnaia, $29 million has been allotted for “logistics and surveillance equipment in support of the specialized unit.” According to the Times, the program in Mali “has yet to get off the ground as a new civilian government recovers from a military coup last year.”
The U.S. military has for years been increasing its role across the continent of Africa, including the expansion of AFRICOM, drone attacks in Somalia, air strikes and arms shipments to Libya, and more.
Nouakchott – In light of widespread discontent among Mauritanians over the French military intervention in neighboring Mali, the French embassy is taking strict security measures to protect its citizens living in Mauritania.
There is a wide consensus among Mauritanians, regardless of political leanings, against French involvement in Mali, which many view as a return to colonialism.
This sentiment found expression in a fatwa, or religious edict, issued by 39 clerics and imams forbidding the Mauritanian government and people from cooperating with the invading countries.
The fatwa said that France’s real objective is to occupy northern Mali and that the intervention is “the continuation of an ongoing colonial campaign that has targeted many Muslim countries, from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia.”
Most of the country’s political parties agree with the clergy’s position, including the ruling Republican Party for Democracy and Renewal.
One of its leading members, Mohammad Ould Mham, denounced the French war, saying that it would have been better for Paris “to gather all the Malian parties around the negotiating table – only dialogue can avert a war in Mali and the region.”
Opposition party leaders such as Ahmed Ould Daddah also rejected French intervention in Mali, warning that Mauritanian participation in the war will have dangerous consequences for the country’s military. He added that Mali and Mauritania have historical and religious ties, as well as common interests which “the government has frittered away.”
Leftist opposition leader Mohammad Ould Mawloud also rejected the war against Mali, expressing concern that “Mauritania will be exposed to danger, particularly the eastern and southern provinces.”
The Mauritanian Party of Union and Change claimed that it was French colonialism that created the problem in northern Mali in the first place and now it has returned to ignite a war, the consequences of which no one can predict.
Two socialist-leaning opposition parties singled out France’s ruling Socialist Party for criticism, accusing it of being under the influence of Zionism.
In a joint statement, the parties pointed out French President François Hollande’s contradictory policies of supporting radical Islamist groups in Syria – not to mention allying Paris with the reactionary Islamist regimes of the Gulf – while at the same time waging war against them in Mali.
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From the Archives
It Was Not a Mistake
By RON JACOBS | CounterPunch | January 15, 2013
On January 15, 1973 Richard Nixon announced a halt to offensive operations by US forces in Vietnam. Twelve days later a peace agreement was signed in Paris between the United States, northern Vietnam, the US client regime in Saigon, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of southern Vietnam. This agreement called for an immediate ceasefire and called for the Vietnamese to negotiate a political settlement regarding the fate of southern Vietnam.
The January 27th agreement was the same as one that Saigon had refused to sign three months earlier. The interlude between the two dates saw some of the heaviest bombing of the entire conflict by the United States Air Force (USAF). I vividly recall listening to the news broadcasts on Armed Forces Radio and watching the German telecasts reporting the bombing. Cynically called Operation Linebacker II by the Nixon administration, it is estimated that this particular round of carpet bombing killed more than 1600 northern Vietnamese civilians, including over 200 at Hanoi’s Bach Mai hospital alone. I personally attended two protests in Frankfurt am Main against the so-called Christmas bombings. Similar protests occurred around the world.
The peace agreement did not stop the war. It did provide Nixon and Kissinger with a way to complete their policy of Vietnamization. … continue
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