“The current insecurity in Mali is a direct result of the US military presence…and why Africans must be more forthright in opposing the expansion of the US Africa Command.” France plays a special role in this escalation, as she maneuvers to hold on to her African holdings. The U.S. and France trained and financed the same jihadists they are now fighting.
Imminent threat is a term used in international law to justify a preemptive military strike. This concept of imminent threat had been articulated prior to the war against the people of Iraq by the George W. Bush Administration when the peoples of the world were bombarded with information that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Ten years after the destruction of Iraq with millions killed or displaced, we now know that the case for war had been presented with dubious evidence. Today, there is a new propaganda war, that Jihadists across the Sahel pose an imminent threat to the United States. Recently, U.S. Senator Christopher Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated in Bamako, Mali, that al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) posed a “‘very real threat’ to Africa, the United States and the wider world.”
Who or what is this AQIM? What are its origins? What are their sources of sustenance, finance and logistics?
These questions are not raised when the hype about imminent threat is being bandied about in the media. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have been prolific in carrying stories about the new threats of terrorism from Africa. Those who do not know about Africa would be carried away by these incessant stories about terrorism in the Sahel, Al Queda in the Horn of Africa and the spread of Islamic terrorists across the length and breadth of Africa.
This idea that AQIM was on the verge of taking over Mali and West Africa had been promoted by France to justify the military intervention under the banner of Operation Serval. France had dispatched approximately 4000 troops to repel Jihadists who had taken over Northern Mali. After these Jihadists seized a number of towns and desecrated important cultural centers, international opinion was sufficiently outraged to mute criticisms of the French intervention. Progressive African opinion was divided over this invasion of Mali as France promoted the idea through a massive propaganda and disinformation campaign that it was “invited” by the government of Mali. Furthermore, select pictures of Malian citizens celebrating the routing of the Jihadists from towns that had been seized since January 12 gave legitimacy to the idea that Africans welcomed the French military intervention. After this “successful” intervention, western media outlets are replete with stories that it is the alliance between France and her allies along with the United States that can protect this region of Africa (from Mauritania to Sudan) from being overrun by terrorists. I will argue in this submission that the French intervention is also part of a wider struggle within the Western world and within the foreign policy establishment in Washington.
[...] Beyond the Imminent Threat
Ten years after the war in Iraq and two years after the NATO intervention in Libya, the western media is again preparing citizens of the West for an escalation of military destabilization of Africa. Since last November, there has not been a week when the western media did not carry a story about how AQIM threatens the west. From these reports, carried especially in the Washington Post and the New York Times, one may be forgiven if one forgets that there is another dynamic at work in Africa, that of a new force of economic dynamism across the continent.
The recent report about the location of US surveillance drones in Niger was another instance of hyping the so-called terror threat from Africa. The reporting in the New York Times on “U.S. Weighs Base for Spy Drones in North Africa” was part of a wider ongoing debate within the Administration about the future of the US military budget. The New York Times is part of this debate and is on the side of those who want to see the maintenance of the high military budget. In the past 50 years there has not been a major war or deployment of US military force that the New York Times opposed. This organization supported the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now the expansion of western military intervention in North Africa. The reporting in my opinion is part of the effort to promote the idea that Africa is a hotbed of terrorist activity and that the rag tag groups that are called jihadists are a threat to the United States.
This is patently false.
Full argument presented here - libya360.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/mali-f
AQIM split off from Algerian GIA terrorist group purportedly disagreeing with its brutality (seen in Libya's Az Zawiyah, blamed on Gaddafi prior to NATO's destruction of Libya). AQIM's main activities before joining the Libya destruction hordes were kidnapping for ransom and drug running for the CIA. These activities continued thru the Libya destruction and after and are currently seen in Syria and Mali.
Be Careful: Russia is Back to Stay in the Middle East by Felix Imonti
Russia is back. President Vladimir Putin wants the world to acknowledge that Russia remains a global power. He is making his stand in Syria.
The Soviet Union acquired the Tardus Naval Port in Syria in 1971 without any real purpose for it. With their ships welcomed in Algeria, Cuba or Vietnam, Tardus was too insignificant to be developed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the funds to spend on the base and no reason to invest in it.
[...] What Russia lost through the anti-Al-Assad alliance was the possibility to control the natural gas market across Europe and the means to shape events on the continent. In July 2011, Iran, Iraq, and Syria agreed to build a gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field in Iran to Lebanon and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The pipeline that would have been managed by Gazprom would have carried 110 million cubic meters of gas. About a quarter of the gas would be consumed by the transit countries, leaving seventy or so million cubic meters to be sold to Europe.
Violence in Iraq and the Syrian civil war has ended any hope that the pipeline will be built, but not all hope is lost. One possibility is for Al-Assad to withdraw to the traditional Aliwite coastal enclave to begin the partitioning of Syria into three or more separate zones, Aliwite, Kurdish, and Sunni. Al-Assad’s grandfather in 1936 had asked the French administrators of the Syrian mandate to create a separate Aliwite territory in order to avoid just this type of ethnic violence.
What the French would not do circumstance may force the grandson to accept as his only choice to survive. His one hundred thousand heavily armed troops would be able to defend the enclave.
The four or five million Aliwites, Christians, and Druze would have agricultural land, water, a deep water port and an international airport. Very importantly, they would have the still undeveloped natural gas offshore fields that extend from Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The Aliwite Republic could be energy self-sufficient and even an exporter. Of course, Russia’s Gazprom in which Putin has a vital interest would get a privileged position in the development of the resource.
In an last effort to bring the nearly two year long civil war to an end, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syrian president Bashar al-Assad at the end of December to start talks with the Syrian opposition in line with the agreements for a cease fire that was reached in Geneva on 30 June. The Russians have also extended the invitation to the Syrian opposition National Coalition head, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib. The National Coalition refuses to negotiate with Al-Assad and Al-Assad will not relinquish power voluntarily.
The hardened positions of both sides leaves little hope for a negotiated settlement; and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has made it clear that only by an agreement among the Syrians will Russia accept the removal of Al-Assad. Neither do they see a settlement through a battlefield victory which leaves only a partitioning that will allow the civil war to just wind down as all sides are exhausted.
[...] Putin is certain that he is holding the winning hand in this very high stakes poker game. An offshore naval task force, the presence of Russian air defense forces, an electronic intelligence center in latakia, and the port facilities at Tardus will guarantee the independence of the enclave. As the supplier of sixty percent of Turkey’s natural gas, Moscow does have leverage that Ankara will not be able to ignore; and Ankara well knows that gas is one of Putin’s diplomatic weapons.
When the Turks and U.S see that there is little chance of removing Al-Assad, they will have no option other than to negotiate a settlement with him; and that would involve Russia as the protector and the mediator. That would establish Russia’s revived standing as a Mediterranean power; and Putin could declare confidently that “Russia is back.” After that, the Russians will be free to focus upon their real interests in the region.
And what is Russia’s real interest? Of course, it is oil and gas and the power that control of them can bring.
Full essay http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Be-Careful-Russia-is-Back-to-Stay-in-the-Middle-East.html