U.S. Military increases involvement in African conflict

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 30, 2013

As confessed last week by Hillary Clinton, the world can expect the United States to continue balkanizing sensible regions of the planet indefinitely. With major combat operations ending in the Middle East, recently growing economic and political tension in Africa opened the door for the U.S. to launch another operation in a supposed effort to curb the spread of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in that continent.

Now, the United States reached an agreement with the Government of Niger for immediate installation in that country of a drone base, which will be used to ‘support’ France’s military operation in Mali, which means the beginning of a greater U.S. military involvement in the fight in North Africa.

With this agreement, the Pentagon will start reconnaissance flights over Malian territory and deploy any number any number of troops anywhere in Mali or even neighboring countries. It is possible that, at a later stage, the drones could be used to directly attack the groups identified as enemies, as is being done in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, where the U.S., almost on a daily basis, murders men, women and children are thought to be members of terrorist organizations or who are deemed as collateral damage — as the military says.

The U.S. military presence in Niger, whose scope has not been officially confirmed in Washington, represents a significant shift in the so-called war against terrorism, so far concentrated in the Middle East and Asia. The steps taken by the Pentagon now open a new front in Africa. So far, the U.S. only had one official base in the small state of Djibouti, where the military stations about 2,000 soldiers and from where it launches attacks over Yemeni territory.

This base, however, is too far away for operations in ​​Mali, Algeria, Libya and Mauritania, where the U.S. Al-Qaeda affiliated groups concentrate their forces.

The agreement with Niger, which was confirmed by official sources in the country, will allow the U.S. to have military installations in the desert area of ​​Agadez, in northern Niger, near the borders with Mali and Algeria.

“Niger has given the green light for the use of its territory for collecting surveillance to improve data collection of Islamist movements,” said a source quoted by Reuters. Other U.S. media say that the U.S. is negotiating a similar agreement with Burkina Faso, on the southern border of Mali, and that the permanent presence of drones could be extended even to Algeria, a country with which Washington maintains good relations and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited last October to discuss the security situation and the supposed extremist threat.

The African command of U.S. armed forces (Africom) based in Germany, has refused to comment on this information, on strategic issues  and negotiations or possible agreements with any of the aforementioned countries. However, it is confirmed that General Carter Ham, visited Niger this month to negotiate the agreement.

The military penetration of Africa, though cautious and limited for now, is complex and risky. The U.S. is now engaged in a region where it does not have much experience and will fight against an enemy that has as many branches as the United States can use to destabilize governments all over the world. Any unexpected setback, as a direct Islamist attack against U.S. interests at home or abroad could accelerate a crisis of various magnitudes. Perhaps that is what the American government is looking for: a stronger reason to immerse itself in Africa.

The strategy being used in Africa certainly mirrors the pattern of military involvement that Barack Obama favors since he arrived to the White House. Incredulous on the effectiveness of large ground operations, the Government favors limited missions and precise in its objectives, such as the attack on Libya. Moreover, the danger that terrorist expansion in Africa represents has been recognized in recent days even by President Clinton and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The U.S., a full supporter of the incursion of France in Mali, aims to coordinate its own deployment with the French Government. At the end of last week, Obama spoke by telephone with Francois Hollande, and the defense secretary, Leon Panetta and the French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

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French government ‘begs’ for a terrorist attack

Alleged jihadist terrorist group threatens France after Hollande orders invasion of Mali

By LUIS MIRANDA MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 15, 2013

The ‘most urgent’ problem for France has been solved, it seems, after French troops invaded Mali last Friday. In another example of Western interventionism, France followed American steps in other African countries by putting boots on the ground to supposedly help liberate Mali from the advance of terrorists.

With its military intervention, Hollande apparently stopped an offensive led by three alleged radical groups while legitimizing their future attacks in the African country and on the French mainland. The former French colony is now ripe to become another Afghanistan in the heart of Africa.

A suspected North African branch of Al Qaeda (AQIM), the Tuareg, mobilized to northern Mali, which it allegedly controls since March. Seventy two hours after the French landed, the group moved south on two different axes to regroup in Segou.

France’s bombings were determined to stop a supposed take over led by the Tuareg. France intended to stop its advance to help the weak Mali Army to recover. The French fire spread north to, for example, Gao a city of 90,000 inhabitants, the largest Islamist jihadist power center, to destroy the bases.

The French operation seeks to create a sort of buffer zone in southern Mali protected from the ravages of the North. By sending hundreds of troops to Bamako, is an attempt by Hollande to supposedly hold on to one  of the weakest “democratic institutions in Africa”. The dissension of its political and the coup led by its military in March weakened the country even more.

“The operation will last long enough,” Hollande said on Friday, which means that the French must remain there for months, at least until they start the reconquest of the north.

More Bombardments, more troops

French President François Hollande, announced Tuesday morning that he will reinforce the French military operation in Mali, pending the arrival of troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that fight against Islamist rebels for the control of the north African country since last March.

The UN backed military intervention again called for a political solution and for national reconciliation to resolve the conflict, which the UN says has left 150,000 refugees in neighboring countries like Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, as well as 230,000 people displaced inland.

“Currently, there are 750 men and the number will increase so we can make room for African soldiers as quickly as possible,” said Hollande during his visit to a French naval base in Abu Dhabi. This figure will reach 2,500 soldiers, according to sources close to the French government.

Hollande, who believes that the deployment of African troops will still take “a long time” stated that “new attacks have reached their goals tonight.” According to a Malian military source quoted by AFP, the French air force has bombed the town of Diabali today, a place that the Salafists had taken over just 48 hours ago.

Without an open declaration of war, French war planes pounded Diabali, which is located 400 kilometers from the capital, Bamako. At least five people died and several other were injured in the attack, ” Hollande said. A local resident said he saw armed rebels fleeing the city.

Another Malian military source said, that jihadi fighters are still in Diabali and that several have kidnapped local politician as bargaining chips. The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who travels with Hollande, said he was confident that the Gulf states support the action of the African troops to fight Islamist Ansar Dine, the North African branch of Al Qaeda (AQIM ) and the Movement for the Union of Jihadism in West Africa (MUYAO), who supposedly control northern Mali.

U.S. to assist France in its reconquering of Mali

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, said Monday that his country will provide “limited logistical support” and intelligence to the French Government in its military invasion in Mali.

“I’ve talked to the French Defense Minister,” said Panetta. Our aid will provide limited logistical and intelligence support where possible to assist them in their effort,” Panetta told reporters on the plane that took him to Lisbon.

Meanwhile, neither Panetta nor the State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, confirmed that the Obama administration has granted telecommunications and transportation assistance to France, said French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius.

However, Panetta admitted that the Pentagon considers sending transport planes to carry French troops or military equipment. “There are some areas where airlift will be used to assist the operation,” he said.

The Defense Secretary did not say whether U.S. drones will be sent to Mali, as requested by the Government of François Hollande. “I will not go into details about the assistance beyond saying that we will assist in the area of ​​intelligence,” he reiterated. That of course means the U.S. will indeed send drones for intelligence gathering at the very least, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the drones are also used to strike targets as the U.S. did in Pakistan and Afghanistan throughout 2012.

“We have a responsibility to pursue Al Qaeda wherever they are,” said Panetta. “We’re chasing them in Yemen and Somalia, and we have a responsibility to ensure that al Qaeda does not establish a base of operations in North Africa, in Mali.” Panetta, who last year announced he takes military orders from NATO, not from the U.S. Congress did not consult American representatives in Washington about this new intervention in Mali.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) “may have no specific plans to attack the United States and Europe, but that is a goal that they still have over all and that is why we must take steps now,” he added. As it has been publicly revealed by Hillary Clinton, al-Qaeda is a terrorist group created by the United States back in the 1970s to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. government trained and financed al-Qaeda to carry out its dirty deeds all over the Middle East and now in Africa.

Al-Qaeda is the gift that keeps on giving for the United States. It was used as an excuse to attack Libya and later praised for its murderous campaign in Syria, where the U.S. recognizes the rebel opposition groups as ‘heroes’ for attacking innocent civilians while they try to destabilize the Assad regime. Now, Panetta warns that the American intervention in Mali is a preventive move to impede al-Qaeda related groups from establishing their bases on Mali.

Back in 2001, al-Qaeda was blamed by the Bush administration for the 9/11 attacks, which prompted the invasion of Afghanistan.

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