Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 13, 2013

Hollande's Africa Adventures

The foreign policy of France's president Hollande is confusing. First France supported Islamist in Libya to overthrow the Libyan government. These Islamist then ethnically cleanse the Tuaregs, which had worked for the Libyan army, and pushed them back into their homelands. Those Tuaregs took the Libyan army's weapons and went down to northern Mali to claim their own state.

The government of Mali could not prevent that as its army lacked equipment and support. One army officer, well trained by the United States, overthrew the government but didn't had any good idea of what to do after that had happened. Meanwhile some Algerian Islamists saw a good chance to move their operations away from Algeria where the Algerian military was quite successful in hunting them down. They moved into northern Mali to first support the Tuareg revolt but then to took over themselves.

After having helped the Libyan Islamist to overthrow the Libyan government France went on actively to support Syrian Islamist who try to overthrow the Syrian government.

But then the Islamist in northern Mali decided to take another small town and to thereby converge further south. Now suddenly such Islamist were bad and and had to be pushed back. France decided to send its military to kill these "terrorists".

But there was another problem that had to be cleared up first. Some Islamists in Somalia held a French hostage, an agent of the French secret service DGSE. An attack on Islamists in Mali would probably have had bad consequences for that officer so a urgent rescue operation was planned and executed. As usual for such French rescue missions in Africa that operation was a big failure:

Somali witnesses said on Sunday that at least eight civilians were killed in the disastrous French operation to rescue a kidnapped secret agent but France's defence minister defended the decision to launch the raid.
...
On Saturday, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that one French soldier died and another went missing during the raid, adding that 17 guerrillas were killed.
...
Le Drian said on Sunday that French troops underestimated the Islamist rebels' strength when they launched the overnight operation, which involved some 50 troops and at least five helicopters.

Derow meanwhile told AFP that "people saw (the French commandos) disembark in the fields. The Shebab were alerted that the helicopters had landed and that they let out soldiers, and so they (the Islamists) were able to prepare".
...
"These people were crazy," said another Somalian regarding the French commandos, an employee of a local humanitarian agency who wished to remain anonymous.

"We were told there were about 40 of them against more than 100 heavily armed Shebab fighters. Their mission was impossible and not very professional."

It seems that the Somali Islamists now have two French hostages. The original one plus the soldier that went missing in the botched rescue mission.

Meanwhile the operation in Mali, mostly through air attacks, started with another failure as one of the French helicopters pilots were killed and allegedly three helicopters got damaged in the very first attack.

France is again trying what always fails. Strategic bombing and other air attacks without decent ground support never win a war:

The unnamed Elysee Palace official quoted by AFP said on Sunday that French armed forces had been surprised by the fighting quality of the Islamist militants they were up against.

"What has really struck us is how up-to-date their equipment is, and the way they've been trained to use it..." the official said.

"At the start, we thought they would be just a load of guys with guns driving about in their pick-ups, but the reality is that they are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-armed.

These Ansar Dine folks have been fighting against the Algerian army for decades. They are supported by some of Tuaregs trained in the Libyan army on Libyan army weapons. Did the French think those folks would  just lay down to get killed? Does no one in France remember the guerrilla fighting in Algeria or Dien Bien Puh?
Since the start of the French intervention on Friday, at least 11 Malian soldiers and a French helicopter pilot have been killed.

Human Rights watch believes 10 civilians, including three children, died in Konna as Malian forces fought to recapture the town.

Today France is continuing the bombing attacking Goa and the smaller towns of Lere and Douentza further south.

A few hundred rented soldier from Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Togo are supposed to come in over the next days and will, together with some folks from the Mali army, try to take the actual ground. They will likely get massacred.

Judging from comments on various German forums people in Europe are now confused. Why, they ask, are Islamist in nearby Libya and Syria who try to overthrow their governments "good" and deserve French support, while an Islamist takeover in far away Mali and Somalia is seen as "bad", threatens to create "terrorist states" and needs to be fought?

I am sure that people in France will have the same question. What is Hollande's answer to them?

Posted by b on January 13, 2013 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

Comments

There is no confusion in Machiavellian realpolitics.

Anyone who is on the West side is "good" (even if its brutal dictatorship or Al Qaeda), and if someone is getting in West's way - they are "bad", regardless if they are good, bad or in-between. And if targeted country's people support their leadership - too bad for them, they become "legitimate targets" as well.

As much as Hitler is demonized, he was no worse than many leaders of his or current times.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 13, 2013 12:24:25 PM | 1

Hollande may not actually give this answer, but if he did it would be: When it suits French policy, Islamists are good, when not, they are the enemy!".

The problem lies with French (and Western) policy. It is stupid to think that it is OK to "use" Islamists when convenient, and that it will not strengthen an entity that considers them a mortal enemy.

Posted by: FB Ali | Jan 13, 2013 12:35:06 PM | 2

In idiomatic English, Hollande's flexibility is proverbially known as `running with the hares and hunting with the hounds'.
Hollande is really on just one side, and that's exploitative Western imperialism. But the hunter will eventually become the hunted. Or, as Mr B, said: they are likely to get massacred, along with their rent-a-soldier crew.

Posted by: nakedtothebone | Jan 13, 2013 2:07:14 PM | 3

I think people put too much faith in the European/Western public to challenge their leaders on issues of wars and foreign policies. If anything, they're all wilful accomplices to these crimes, one way or another.

Just today, I was watching TV and saw people protesting in France. For a moment I thought they were protesting Hollande's latest escaped in African. Only to find out they were actually protesting about GAY RIGHTS!!! Yes, Gay rights are much more important to French people now than their shrinking economy on austerity.


Western leaders have come to realize that they can actually get away with this nonsense simply because there's no accountability. The system's rigged!!! Once they're elected into office, the people can go hand. It gets even funnier. David - I want to get involved in all wars - Cameron, has just offered to lend the French 2 planes for their war effort in Mali - how cute? This is coming at a time when the UK's economy is also in the shits. Again, they get away with it because the people are all in a state of mental dudness. Resistance is futile so might as well protest for more GAY RIGHTS, init!!!

This century's seen uncut European/Western hypocrisy on full display. They don't even pretend anymore. lol :D

Posted by: Zico | Jan 13, 2013 2:54:11 PM | 4

"An attack on Islamists in Mali would probably have had bad consequences for that officer so a urgent rescue operation was planned and executed."

The following commentator believes the same:

France not speaking the truth about operations in Somalia: Nii Akuetteh

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/13/283387/france-not-speaking-truth-on-somalia/

"the French must have decided that if they can rescue their hostage from Somalia, they better do it because they knew once they get involved in Mali, their hostage in Somalia might be killed."

He also mentions that the Islamists claim the French hostage is still alive in their hands, while the French government claims he is dead. That I've also seen said in other sources. Strange.

The interview also breaks down the groups attacking and gives some background. The UNSC had OK'd intervention. I've also seen elsewhere that the UK will be helping out with aircraft and logistics and that the USA is planning on some involvement. It's likely the USA, with it's greatly expanded AfrricaCom is already heavily involved in at least at the level of command of the ops and is providing the bulk of the "intelligence". The latter may be why the French had such poor intelligence about what they were up against in Somalia. The USA has it's own dismal famous history at those kinds of missions, in Somalia, and the massive botch up in Iran trying to rescue the embassy staff held there.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13, 2013 2:56:53 PM | 5

4

"Just today, I was watching TV and saw people protesting in France. For a moment I thought they were protesting Hollande's latest escaped in African. Only to find out they were actually protesting about GAY RIGHTS!!! Yes, Gay rights are much more important to French people now than their shrinking economy on austerity."

That is due to the opposition leadership in most of European countries having been corrupted through zionist/paleocon fascist infiltration and influence. The establishment beheaded the opposition, just like was done in the USA decades ago (and continues today). This corrupted leadership steers people towards "harmless" things like gay rights, which don't have any meaningful impression against the establishment policies, and serve to vent the population's frustrations, so population frustration doesn't spill over into something that could effect these fascists, and instead of things like economic justice and antiwar, which actually could effect establishment policies. The corrupted leadership works also to fragment opposition so they do concentrate on these "harmless" single issues, rather than join together to fight the establishment.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13, 2013 3:11:08 PM | 6

This article on Syria is not bad:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/assad-still-confident-that-he-control-syria/2013/01/12/2e24a62e-5d01-11e2-b8b2-0d18a64c8dfa_print.html

**************************************************
But the rebels’ slower progress in recent weeks after a surge of gains late last year appears to lend further validity to Assad’s confidence. The rebel conquest of the Taftanaz airbase in northern Idlib province Friday came only after five months of fierce fighting.

Eroding support for rebels

Elsewhere in the country, the picture is more mixed. In Homs, the rebels are surrounded and pinned down in a few scattered neighborhoods that are becoming increasingly difficult to supply. An offensive launched with much fanfare last month in the province of Hama has fizzled. Battles for control of the suburbs ringing Damascus have swung back and forth for months, claiming thousands of lives without giving either side a clear advantage, offering a glimpse of the prolonged and bloody stalemate that could be in store if the current balance of power prevails indefinitely.
**************************************************

Posted by: KerKaraje | Jan 13, 2013 3:15:33 PM | 7

"We were told there were about 40 of them against more than 100 heavily armed Shebab fighters. Their mission was impossible and not very professional....

At the start, we thought they would be just a load of guys with guns driving about in their pick-ups, but the reality is that they are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-armed."

Need anyone say more? Yet some persist in the fiction that a well-armed citizen's revolt in the US couldn't possibly defeat the US military (as if it is even necessary to fight major engagements with the military to win a revolution). Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Iraqis and the Shebab have shown us that high-tech Western armies can be defeated.

As a former paratrooper, I can tell you that US troops are not all that well-trained, even in so-called "elite" units like the 82d Airborne, and the US in particular always underestimates the abilities of its enemies and overestimates the abilities of its own troops (Rambo syndrome).

Posted by: Sean | Jan 13, 2013 3:57:44 PM | 8

It is clear that with the retreat of the US their is a new colonialist competition on. France is part of that.

Somehow I do not believe the Islamist story. Islamist Touareg does not rhyme.

Touareg are matrilineal, yes matrilineal. Meaning men marry into women's families and inheritance is spread by women. The men veil, not the women. Yes the women are unveiled, whilst men hide their faces.

And the "Islamist leader" is a guy called Iyad Ag Ghaly whose biography Wikipedia describes the following way:

s a Malian Tuareg[4] militant from Mali's Kidal Region.[5] In 1988, Ghaly founded the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.[6] He has been active in the early 1990s Tuareg rebellion against the government of Mali since the 1980s, and has been leader of the Islamist militant group Ansar Dine since 2012...
After the 1996 ceasefire, ag Ghaly normalised relations with the Malian government.[9] In 2003, he was instrumental in negotiating the release of 14 German tourist hostages from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, then called "the Algerian Salafi Group for Call and Combat". WikiLeaks later released a U.S. State Department cable in which the author described Ag Ghaly as a "proverbial bad penny" who always turned up when a Western government had to give money to Tuaregs.[5]
Ag Ghaly was appointed as a member of Mali's diplomatic staff in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, by President Amadou Toumani Touré in 2008.[10] Once "a great fan of cigarettes, booze, and partying",[11] interested in music and poetry, with connections to the Tuareg band Tinariwen, he was proselytised to strict Islam by the Tablighi Jamaat missionary movement.[12] In Saudi Arabia he experienced a "religious re-birth", growing a large beard and meeting with unnamed jihadists.[11] The latter action caused him to be recalled to Bamako.[10]...
Unable to take a leadership role with the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the mainstream Tuareg rebellion,[11] ag Ghaly announced the formation of the Islamist Ansar Dine, which he claimed controlled much of northeastern Mali, in a video statement. Ag Ghaly also stated that his fighters were responsible for a bloody attack on the commune of Aguelhok two months before. He said the group would continue to fight until sharia law was established throughout Mali.[9][11] The announcement created friction with the MNLA, a secular group fighting for Azawad's independence from Mali, including former allies of ag Ghaly who urged him to break his rumoured ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. When ag Ghaly reportedly refused to disavow any association with the al Qaeda offshoot,[9] the MNLA branded him a "criminal" and issued a statement claiming the "theocratic regime" envisioned by ag Ghaly contradicted "the foundations of [Tuareg] culture and civilization".[11] Although ag Ghaly's militants appeared to coordinate with the MNLA in the capture of Kidal, the Associated Press reported that the day after it fell to rebel fighters, Ansar Dine militants removed the colorful flags of Azawad planted by their MNLA comrades-in-arms throughout the city.[13]
Jeremy Keenan, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, stated that the military contribution of ag Ghaly's fighters was slight compared to the much larger MNLA: "What seems to happen is that when they move into a town, the MNLA take out the military base — not that there's much resistance — and Iyad goes into town and puts up his flag and starts bossing everyone around about sharia law."[14] According to Keenan, Ag Ghaly is linked to the Algerian intelligence service.

So in this case it seems the Islamist label is used to delegitimize a national movement and convince the Western public - again - that they have to go to war.

Some straw will break the camel's back.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13, 2013 4:03:31 PM | 9

Watching our "leaders" conduct foreign policy is like watching someone try to put out a forest fire with a flamethrower.

Posted by: gul | Jan 13, 2013 4:14:29 PM | 10

"That appears to be Assad’s strategy — to wreak enough havoc that the rebels can’t win, even if he can’t win, either, a scenario that threatens even greater bloodshed than has gone before, said Fred Hof, a former State Department official"

Pretty much what I'd expect from a State Dept clown. Now remind me who is wreaking havoc again? Is it Assad, or is it the Islamists setting off car bombs, beheading people on video, invading major cities, and looting the population?

Posted by: gul | Jan 13, 2013 4:18:20 PM | 11

little bit of topic, but it is in context of current events.

ROME (AFP) 09/09/2011
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Friday that ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was loved by his people and that the rebellion that toppled him wasn’t a popular uprising.
“This wasn’t a popular uprising,” like in other north African countries “where the wind of freedom begins to blow,” he told young supporters of his People of Freedom party gathered in Rome .
“Powerful men decided to give life to a new era by putting out Gadhafi,” he said.
“This wasn’t a popular uprising because Gadhafi was loved by his people, as I was able to see when I went to Libya .”
Italy is Libya’s former colonial ruler and enjoyed close economic and diplomatic ties with the Gadhafi regime prior to the conflict before joining international efforts against the leader.
He told party supporters that strengthening the country’s position in Libya was “important for oil and gas supplies.” Eni SpA (E), in which the Italian state holds a third share, was previously the main foreign hydrocarbon producer operating in Libya .
In order to maintain that situation Rome recently signed a deal with the new Libyan authorities.

Posted by: neretva'43. | Jan 13, 2013 4:26:05 PM | 12

Somehow I think nothing like that has happened yet in Mali ...

Are there really Islamists there?

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed "great interest in providing security, stability and democracy in the Sahel region in addition to the promotion of peace so as to ensure Malian territorial integrity", Journal du Mali quoted a statement by her spokesman.... MNLA Secretary-General Belal Ag Sharif shared the view. He told El Khabar, "We are ready for negotiations leading to the end of the conflict that devastated the region and is behind the existence of extremist groups and very complex smuggling networks, due to the absence of Azaouads running their region. The conflict destroyed stability and spread to neighbouring countries."

"We do not have any links to al-Qaeda," he said. "Al-Qaeda is an organisation foreign to us in terms of behaviour and religious interpretation of the texts. Personally, I have not seen something called al-Qaeda in the Azaouad region."

"As for Libyan arms, the stores opened with the fall of Kadhafi, as those who wanted to take them took them, and those who wanted to buy them bought them," he continued. "But we did not import any arms, nor do we have the money to buy them at all."

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13, 2013 4:29:54 PM | 13

What AFP did not wanted to translate and publish is this.

Source: www.tg1.rai.it

Journalist who runs the show asked Berlusconi to explain the role of Italy, because "it was an aggression on one sovereign country in which Italy was involved."

Berlusconi has shocked Italian and international community with its answers. So far, the Internet portals and independent medias were the only who report them. This is the first time that something like this can be heard from the mouth of ex PM of one of the most influential country in EU.

Berlusconi said: "In Libya there were no spring, no revolution, people of that country loved Gaddafi. Maybe, there were no freedom in a sense how we see it, but they had bread and shelter and there were free. Decision to military intervene was made by French Gov. French displayed an events in Benghazi as revolution so we would have justification for intervention. Sarkozy was mad at me when I gone to visit to Gaddafi. He saw plenty of banners, 30x15 meters in size, where Gaddafi and I standing together. Sarkozy then said to its deputies that Italy and I grabbed a Libyan oil and gas."

"Sarkozy (Berlucsoni did not call him the President during the show) had issued an order to French Air Force to attack Libya, before common decision had been made in NATO's HQ." The French bombarded Benghazi on its own. Sarkozy had deceived an international community and got permission for aggression, claim Berlusconi.

Journalist Travaglia noted "in spite his statement that Italy won't fire one bullet on Libya, Italy was involved in aggression on Libya" Berlusconi replied "it was not possible to avoid it, and Italy participated in targeted attacks."

Statements of ex-Italian PM are confirmed by reports published in recent months by security services. In one of them is stated that French security services are who killed the President Gadaffi.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 4:32:37 PM | 14

Erdogan threatens Hollande

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/erdogan-demands-explanation-hollandes-link-murdered-kurdish-activists

Posted by: nikon | Jan 13, 2013 4:44:36 PM | 15

But Berlusconi won't tell that his Gov. supplied NATO mercenaries in Benghazi with the weapons from Jadran Express vessel whose final destination at that time was ex Yugoslavia. That ship was confiscated by NATO Navy because it was in violation of UN resolution. Funny this is that previous 18 ships sailed without any problem to it destination of port Koper in Slovenia.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110507/DEFSECT02/105070301/Libyan-Rebels-Say-Italy-Will-Provide-Weapons

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2016516/Enough-weapons-start-win-small-war-missing-Italian-navy-yard.html

Just as the headline says, Enough weapons to start small war.

That weapons was stored in ex NATO attack nuclear submarine base on island La Madallena near Sardinia.

Eventually, the weapons or parts of it ended up in hands of NATO's mercenaries in Syria (some of then I can see it on Youtube clips), and now in Mali, and god know where else.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 5:02:29 PM | 16

ok. Touaregs sit on the French uranium supply in Niger next door to Mali.

So they have to fight "Touareg islamists". Colonialists never change, do they.

"France is the world's largest nuclear power generator: almost 80% of France's electricity is nuclear generated. French nuclear-generated electricity is exported to neighbouring European countries.

France also has a large nuclear weapons arsenal and is dependent on Niger for its uranium supplies.

Niger is the world's third-largest exporter of uranium. Uranium mining in Niger is dominated by Areva, the world's largest nuclear corporation that is part-owned by the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). Areva gets 45% of its uranium from Niger.

Exploration licences to mine uranium have also been granted to mining companies from the US, South Africa, China, Canada and Australia.

The neocolonial secret agreements giving Areva below-market prices mean that very little of the wealth from Niger's uranium remains in the country."

So the fight against Touareg independence has been redefined into fighting Islamists. This here is a Reuters article talking about the Mali intervention against "Islamists" without mentioning the word Touareg once.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13, 2013 5:06:02 PM | 17

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/19/italy-blocks-investigation-arms-cache


"Britain to send aircraft to Mali to assist French fight against rebels"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/12/mali-somalia-france-rebels-islamist-francois-hollande

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 5:09:10 PM | 18

Obviously, all this above tells us that NATO/US strategy in planed well in advance. The cargo from the ship was seized (it was FREE for them) and stored for the planed "revolution(s)" in Libya, Syria, wherever it was going to be needed.

GCC and KSA provided the cash and satellite Thuraya phones. "Advisors and instructors" are paid by cash from mentioned countries. Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists provided manpower, an ideological framework was "sprin and revolution", whatever, or "democracy". Finally, propaganda from al-jazeera and CNN and the rest done what they do every day.

Colonialist/fascists disguised as liberal-democracy marching again.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 5:23:26 PM | 19

More on Iyad ag Ghali

"Iyad ag Ghali made his fortune leading Tuareg rebels against the Malian government in the early 1990s. He was also one of the first Tuaregs to negotiate with their enemy, pushing for the 1996 Peace Talks, where he was the Tuareg representative. He disappeared for a while, presumable running trafficking schemes in the borderless Azawad desert. Due to his secret contacts, he was the point negotiator for foreign governments with AQIM in 2003 and 2008. In 2006, once again he led another Tuareg upheaval against Bamako. The next year he was dispatched as a diplomatic envoy to the Malian consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The location was not a coincidence--Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz University is the brain centre of Islamic fundamentalism, through which al-Azzam, al-Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden passed.

After he was declared a persona non grata by the Saudi government for his Jihadist links, Iyad ag Ghali went back to Mali. Once again, he aimed to lead the last Tuareg insurgency, resulting from the spillover effect of the Libyan war as fighters returned home.

However, this time he failed: the continual switching of sides and the al-Qaeda links diminished his authority among Tuaregs. In order to maintain his power among the rebels, he established the Islamist group Ansar Dine, meaning "Defenders of the Faith". Initially, he backed the Tuaregs of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad against the Malian central government. When they unilaterally declared independence, Iyad ag Ghali, along with al Qaeda-linked groups, repressed their aspirations and seized Azawad strongholds, imposing Sharia law.

Some academics are claiming that this is only a strategy of tension created by the U.S. and a main ally in the Global War on Terror, Algeria. There is a series of Wikileaks cables reporting meetings between U.S. agents and Iyad ag Ghali when he was their informer and negotiator with AQIM and the Tuareg rebels led by Bahanga. However, this theory does not really match the character of Iyad ag Ghali, who has wanted to play the role of supreme leader in Azawad since 1990.

Despite his Jihadist proclaims about Holy War, everybody knows that he has different aims in holding Azawad and its population hostage. Likely, he is just attempting to re-legitimize his authority as the main interlocutor between Tuaregs and international governments, as well as AQIM. In this case, he would also find economic returns. For this reason, an international military intervention would be counter to his interests. Consequently, his strategic advisors suggested he send envoys to Algeria and Burkina Faso for initiating Peace Talks.

This latter choice seems to open the likelihood of Iyad ag Ghali as the chief of the Islamist political party at the negotiation rounds in Bamako. Thus, he rejected his linkage with AQIM, which recently changed leadership, resulting in the Mauritanian group MOJWA (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in Western Africa) becoming the main terrorist power in Azawad.

Although Iyad ag Ghali lost legitimacy among rebels of any side, he holds the balance of power. If he switches sides once again, Tuareg rebel supporters will turn against AQIM and MOJWA. War or peace, once again the stability and the future of Mali rests on Iyad ag Ghali."

Sounds like he did not make it this time. He his reported dead.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13, 2013 6:08:06 PM | 20

Q: What is Hollande's answer to them?

R: "Au reste, après nous, le Déluge..."

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 13, 2013 6:15:37 PM | 21

I've found that between 340.000 - 500.000 marched today against gay marriage.

Half million of people isn't interested in foreign policy, while they Gov. killing and spending country which they probably never heard of? Is this famous "secularism" in French and the Western Europe?

Vatican and Le Pen (read, Racists) are still major player in "civilized" world. They always has been.

Colonizers and racists should to undergo themselves to La mission civilisatrice.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 6:24:21 PM | 22

"Christians of the Levant Accuse France of Plotting to Displace Them"

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/christians-levant-displacement.html

This is what Racist known the best.
Swapping people, territories, drawing maps and boundaries between people and ethnic groups. Classified people as majority and minority, percentage of majority and minority. Sowing hate and discord. Stealing and plundering. Rape and abuse and killing of natives.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 6:34:31 PM | 23

This looks like one of those Keystone Cops episodes in which an Argentinian plane blows a British ship out of the water with a French made flying fish. The settling smoke spells one word: 'hypocrites.'

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 13, 2013 7:28:02 PM | 24

@ nereveta'43 [#23],

off topic.

Q: Swapping people, territories, drawing maps and boundaries between people and ethnic groups.

R: Didn't that happen in Europe after The Great War, when the 'good old boys' gave the world the now defunct Czechoslovakia and such? Have they ever stopped?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 13, 2013 7:32:14 PM | 25

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-20/asma-al-assad-profile/3900816

Asma al-Assad: A hate figure for many

Character assassination is a favorite tool in toolbox of Orientalists and propagandists. This is classic example of carefully crafted a pamphlet of the President Assad’s wife, a pamphlet how to de-humanize her and them. Vocabulary and lexicon used is intended to make, and elevate her and her family to the level of the devil. There is undertone in article, like lamenting her, because she is “A British-educated former investment banker, she cultivated the image of a glamorous yet serious-minded woman with strong Western-inspired values.” Also, “she was an ‘element of light in a country full of shadow zones’".
And when the journalist is “back to reality” for him she is only savages' wife. What's missing here is, she is not “deranged” or “irrational” (she is British citizen) what's usually follows in this type of narrative.
This vicious lies that steam from this text have only one aim – political violence. The author obviously is counting on victory of mercenaries, and playing with idea that she will be an executed. Or, perhaps I did misunderstand him, this is free speech!
“Zayed, angrily comparing Ms Assad to Marie Antoinette or the wife of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, called on the Syrian leader's wife to "make a stand for your own sake, for your own people".
It is no accidental that he is invoking the names of these two women, I guess, we are all know how they ended.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 13, 2013 7:45:24 PM | 26

Actually African leaders better get their act together - European colonialists are back, all of them, like vultures ...

Erdogan in Niger to boost African ties

Erdogan arrived in Niger after visiting Gabon in the first leg of his current African tour. Turkey does not see diamonds in Africa, but rather a common history of friendship and brotherhood, Erdoğan said Monday in Gabon. “The ones who stole Africa’s diamonds, gold, resources and even people, dooming them to starve, will be judged by history,” Erdoğan said during his speech at the Parliament of Gabon in Libreville. By highlighting the significance of Africa for humanitarian heritage, Erdogan emboldened Africans to stand up to those who deprive them of their own resources. He referred to Ottoman culture in his statements, saying it was the symbol of peace and brotherhood in the region at time of its reign, expressing his desire to reincarnate that historical brotherhood among Turkey and Gabon again.

Erdogan is rewriting history. This is Hürriyet writing about the historical Istanbul slave market.

The slave market at Nuruosmaniye was closed down in 1846, but the closure didn’t stop sales.

Circassian women to serve as concubines and blacks were sold elsewhere. Some were available in hans in the Fatih district, while the Circassians were sold in Tophane’s Karabaş area. Slavery was abolished in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century but probably persisted illegally into the first half of the 20th.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13, 2013 8:59:55 PM | 27

26

Surprising the the zionist run, Israel loyal ABC didn't equate Ms. Assad with Eva Braun.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13, 2013 9:11:00 PM | 28

US forces participated in failed French rescue attempt in Somalia: Obama

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/14/283408/us-had-role-in-failed-french-operation/

"The United States says its forces participated in France's failed effort to free a kidnapped French intelligence officer in Somalia."

I had suspected as much. They were probably involved to a larger extent than Obama has claimed.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13, 2013 9:34:31 PM | 29

More info:

Eight Civilians Killed in Botched French Raid on Somalia
Obama: US 'Helped' With French Operation

http://news.antiwar.com/2013/01/13/eight-civilians-killed-in-botched-french-raid-on-somalia/

"Locals are confirming that at least eight civilians were killed in the botched French raid on the Somali town of Bulo Marer, including two women and two children. The raid was aimed at rescuing a French spy named Denis Allex.

French officials say they believe Allex has probably been executed by his captors since the failed raid, but al-Shabaab denied this, saying Allex was still in their custody and that they also captured a French soldier in the attack."

Eight humans being murdered to get back one soulless spook.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13, 2013 9:50:38 PM | 30

@ BOT TAK [#30]

Q: Eight humans being murdered...

R: Are you crazy? 'We' don't label it 'collateral damage' fer nuttin'!

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 13, 2013 10:04:49 PM | 31

"This looks like one of those Keystone Cops episodes in which an Argentinian plane blows a British ship out of the water with a French made flying fish. The settling smoke spells one word: 'hypocrites.'"

Daniel Rich

Daniel, you're firing on all cylinders

Posted by: arthurdecco | Jan 13, 2013 10:35:46 PM | 32

вот так @ 28.

Amen.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 13, 2013 11:13:33 PM | 33

AlJazeerah has an excellent overview over the various groups involved in North Mali.

Making sense of Mali's armed groups

There is little "AlQaeda" and "terrorists" and much Tuareg and other ethnic groups independence movement.

Posted by: b | Jan 14, 2013 4:02:46 AM | 35

yep, the French government could not sell it to the French especially not to the French socialists (who are romantic we learnt on the Kurdish issue) that their government takes part in bombing against Touareg independence.

They are back to the culture of fear.

The nightmare illusion

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 4:54:15 AM | 36

The articles by Andy Morgan are the best informed description of the conflict I could find

Causes of the uprising in Northern Mali

and interview with Andy Morgan explaining the above in more vivid detail

It has got nothing to do with Islamism though probably Saudi Arabia and Quatar pay for cultural influence.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 5:35:39 AM | 37

#9 claims that "Islamist Touareg does not rhyme."

Well, no one says that it does. If you'd been paying attention to news from Mali over the past year, you would know that MUJAO split off from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and that it went on to collaborate with a Tuareg uprising against the government of Bamako. When the objective of the two groups was accomplished (i.e. chasing government authority from the north of the country) the MUJAO then staged a coup against the Tuaregs, defeating them easily.

In NO WAY is the designation of Islamism a cover used to attack a national liberation movement. The MUJAO is very definitely Islamist, as evidenced by its rampant destruction of "idolatrous" shrines in and around Timbuktu, its stoning to death of innocent people for behavioural "crimes" and its amputation of limbs for alleged theft.

Although the French intervention will surely bring even more misery, the Malian people definitely do not want the islamo-nihilists there in their country, and the MUJAO & AQIM leadership is mostly Algerian, not Malian.

Posted by: David Montoute | Jan 14, 2013 8:03:00 AM | 38

Although the French intervention will surely bring even more misery, the Malian people definitely do not want the islamo-nihilists there in their country

Neither do majority of Syrians or Libyans or Somali's

Contributors who make out that they have "sure" information WRT Syria should put the same information to Syrian Perceptive Ziad has a lot of knowledge of what is happening inside, he maybe slightly biased but admits when he is wrong. You get me somebody!

Posted by: hans | Jan 14, 2013 8:32:29 AM | 39

From the interview with Andy Morgan I linked to above

What about the AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)? Does this group exist and are there any links with the MNLA as some have suggested? No Tuareg has ever killed or maimed another human being in the name of religion – certainly not in the last sixty years. I say that just to make clear that there is no cultural affinity between the Tuareg and AQIM. There is no question that AQIM does actually exist, this has been verified, but the more difficult question is who are its friends and enemies? They carry out kidnappings and have murdered people, including soldiers and policemen and have carried out suicide attacks. But there is a great deal of conjecture about this whole issue. What does certainly happen is that many western African and North African governments use Al Qaeda to discredit political or independence and autonomy movements.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 9:22:29 AM | 40

yeah right, that's why touaregs now offer a helping hand to France to get rid of islamists ^^
http://www.romandie.com/news/n/_ALERTE___Mali_les_rebelles_touareg_prets_a_aider_la_France_27140120131513.asp

---------
Mali: les rebelles touareg prêts à aider la France


PARIS - Les rebelles touareg du Mouvement national pour la libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) sont prêts à aider l'armée française à lutter contre les groupes islamistes armés du nord du Mali, en faisant le travail au sol, a déclaré lundi à l'AFP un responsable du MNLA.

Nous soutenons absolument l'intervention aérienne française. Bien sûr nous sommes prêts à aider l'armée française et à faire le travail au sol, a affirmé Moussa Ag Assarid, joint par téléphone à Tinzawatane, dans l'extrême nord du Mali où le MNLA était réuni en congrès ces derniers jours.
--------

Posted by: rototo | Jan 14, 2013 9:37:45 AM | 41

41

I love the posts in French. :)

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Despite intensive aerial bombardments by French warplanes, Islamist insurgents grabbed more territory in Mali on Monday and got much closer to the capital, French and Malian authorities said.

In the latest setback, the al-Qaida-linked extremists overran the garrison village of Diabaly in central Mali, France's defense minister said in Paris. Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday the rebels "took Diabaly after fierce fighting and resistance from the Malian army that couldn't hold them back."

Funny story!

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/french-bomb-jihadists-near-diabaly

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 14, 2013 10:00:37 AM | 42

French military:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVMsOYRM3Jg

Posted by: neretva'43. | Jan 14, 2013 10:16:17 AM | 43

rototo :-))

"Moussa Ag Assarid, né entre 1975 et 1978 dans le désert saharien entre Tombouctou et Gao, est un écrivain, journaliste, conteur et comédien malien touareg. Il a été naturalisé Français en août 2010 tout en conservant la nationalité malienne."

Obviously Touareg are highly intelligent. So the French will be bombing now for the independence of Azawad?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 10:21:18 AM | 44

Look, David Montoute, somehow I cannot imagine the Islamist groups a strong fighting force if they are ethnically and culturally different from native people

This here is a story on MUJAO and somehow it does not sound as if they are convinced Jihadis

The prospect of an imminent military offensive against terrorist strongholds in northern Mali is causing unrest in the ranks of Islamist fighters.

On Thursday (November 8th), the Gao commander of al-Qaeda breakaway group Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) surrendered to authorities in his native Niger.

"These madmen are nothing like the children of God; they're smuggling drugs, they do everything that Islam rejects, and to their minds, blacks are inferior to Arabs or whites," Hicham Bilal told AFP in an exclusive telephone interview from Niamey.

Bilal also lashed out at MUJAO leaders: "They've said that if there's a war, they'll put the black fighters in the front line, like cannon fodder."

He added that his former organisation had "already sent black fighters to encircle Mopti in case of an attack" by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which on Sunday (November 11th) approved a military plan to win back Islamist-held northern Mali.

"Following numerous defections from amongst its ranks, MUJAO has decided to kill anyone trying to desert it in order to escape the war which the Malian authorities are planning against the jihadist invaders, with the support of the international community," said Oumar Diakité of Malian newspaper Le Combat.

"That means that the movement, which is already on high alert and in a desperate situation, is trying all it can to hold onto its recruits," Diakité added.

According to analyst Daha Ould Sidi Ali, "The defection of Bilal Hicham is a heavy blow to MUJAO."

"Not only will it seriously affect morale, but the man has some valuable information about the movement's organisation, military resources and operational strategy," Ould Sidi Ali told Magharebia.

Algerian journalist Kaci Haider confirmed that "the armed groups occupying northern Mali for months now are starting to see defections from among their ranks, with the announcement of an imminent military intervention to dislodge them".

Which makes me wonder who it is that is overrunning these cities just now?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 10:49:47 AM | 45

From the Andy Morgan article posted above:

Iyad’s talk of the benefits of sharia law for the Tuareg nation went down badly at the Abeibara meeting. One female delegate told him that he had a long road to travel before his fundamentalist dreams of a sharia state became true, as he would first have to climb over the bodies of all the dead women of Azawad, not to mention those of the dead men. His ideas were simply unacceptable. Iyad then declared that if that was the decision of the assembled Ifoghas leaders, then he would go off and form his own movement. This he promptly did, calling his new organisation Ansar Eddine. He declared its main aim would be to install sharia law in the Adagh and rehabilitate the primacy of the ulema, the council of religious elders.

If you cannot convince the women I would say you got no chance ...

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 10:56:34 AM | 46

This will morph into a NATO intervention in all but name. French bombers, British military cargo planes...expect the US to start leading from behind shortly.

Chinese investment projects and gold imports to fall by the wayside too no doubt.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Jan 14, 2013 11:57:07 AM | 47

this may have been missed:

Late Dec. 2012, Bozizé, Pres. of the Central African Republic (heavily backed by F in the past, a military type, seized power in 2003), appealed to Hollande for help against ‘rebels’ and was given a stiff, magisterial, brush off, FranceAfrique was over, “France only intervened to support its nationals” he said.

one link in F : http://www.rue89.com/2013/01/12/comment-hollande-sest-mue-en-chef-de-guerre-en-afrique-238539

The USA closed its Embassy in Centrafrique on 28 Dec. 2012 and repatriated all staff.

One of the poorest countries in the world, no idea what is happening there now.

And about a month later - heavy milit. intervention in Mali. Hollande as Big White Chief.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 14, 2013 11:58:56 AM | 48

Gay rights in F.

Gay rights to marriage passed without a whisper in Belgium, Spain and Switzerland. It was just considered ‘normal’, and ‘time.’ France is less homophobic than Spain (more Catholic) or Switzerland (very conservative, protestant, etc.) but the F are now completely manipulated by the media who right away made a wild storm out of this matter, providing oppos for TV time and influence to opponents in fake rigmarole.

Very disappointing, and partly, I must say, Hollande’s fault, as he backtracked on the details, said Mayors would not be forced to marry couples if they did not want, etc. Zapatero, who did not expect to be elected, stuck by his off the cuff promise and made no concessions.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 14, 2013 12:01:18 PM | 49

going over the comments, apparently I won't be taking things too off topic

Some readers here, who also read at my place might enjoy this piece on Syria

Syria: One little Lion & Jabhat Al Nusra, NATO elite forces

From my post-

"Jabhat al Nusra must be considered, because they are, the elite troops of the NATO mercs. Brought in to clean house and to organize the fighters into a more cohesive and deadly fighting machine."

Anything else is spin.

Posted by: Penny | Jan 14, 2013 12:09:36 PM | 50

As for Mali? The same old same old
Islamists 'appear' where the West wishes to be, every time!

Posted by: Penny | Jan 14, 2013 12:10:16 PM | 51

Now the New York Times is at it

According to one senior officer, the Tuareg commanders of three of the four Malian units fighting in the north at the time defected to the insurrection “at the crucial moment,” taking fighters, weapons and scarce equipment with them. He said they were joined by about 1,600 other defectors from within the Malian Army, crippling the government’s hope of resisting the onslaught.

“The aid of the Americans turned out not to be useful,” said another ranking Malian officer, now engaged in combat. “They made the wrong choice,” he said of relying on commanders from a group that had been conducting a 50-year rebellion against the Malian state.

The virtual collapse of the Malian military, including units trained by United States Special Forces, followed by a coup led by an American-trained officer, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, astounded and embarrassed top American military commanders.

I wonder where all the Islamists come from when it is Touareg who are fighting and defecting, and these Touareg are traditionally
a) matrilineal
b) women do not veil, whilst men do veil, and Touareg women do speak their mind in public
and
c) their traditional religion is a mix between Animism and Islam
plus
d) their music is good - check it out

and the 50 year rebellion mentioned above was - guess - nationalist - not Islamist

Now who are the French killing just now?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 12:21:01 PM | 52

51) add Algeria and other suspects ...

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 12:22:42 PM | 53

Arte in June on Azawad:
Non islamist Touareg very much in control

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 1:53:02 PM | 54

It looks like the latest French involvement in Mali has rather worsened the situation for Mali.. News coming out says the Tuaregs have advanced and overrun Malian army positions..see here: (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/french-bomb-jihadists-near-diabaly) and here(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-01-14/french-military-embarrassments-continue-insurgents-grab-more-territory-mali)


I see Hollande as a one term president for France. His incompetence and stupidity knows no bounds. King Sarko was a megalomaniac but at least he was crafty at that.

Apparently the leader of the Tuaregs have dared the French army to come down from the jets and "fight them like men".

Funny thing is, this whole things was unnecessary. Hollande(another Napoleon wannabe) wanted to prove his toughness. It'll all end in tears.

Posted by: Zico | Jan 14, 2013 1:55:16 PM | 55

I think France is really nervous about those Uranian mines in Niger next door - it's Touareg region - France is completely dependent on nuclear energy and they seem to have got some engineers kidnapped.

The Guardian manages to write an article on the French misadventure without mentioning the word Touareg once - they are Islamists for them, a blatant lie.

Al Jazeera, b's Link, insinuates the Malian government could be responsible for Al Qeida in Azawad:

Niger's foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum recently said that AQIM's presence in northern Mali was part of a deal between the group and the deposed President of Mali Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), a deal brokered by ATT's close political associate Iyad Ag Ghali. Hostage ransom money from European governments was allegedly spread around to Malian officials while AQIM was given free rein in Tuareg areas, with a wink and a nod from the Malian Army.

AQIM is currently holding at least nine European hostages in northern Mali.

Which makes it even more questionable what France thinks it is doing.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 2:43:59 PM | 56

Thanks for stopping by to read the link I posted above
It's been updated
Video has come out and it appears we have Special forces present in Syria, via Turkey, aiding in the run on Taftanaz air base.
Along side Jabhat al Nusra- NATO's elite Islamist mercenaries
Check the video out

Here

Bolsters my theory about Jabhat al Nusra..

Posted by: Penny | Jan 14, 2013 6:05:58 PM | 57

Organisation de la Diaspora Touarègue en Europe (ODTE
Communiqué de presse
"L’ODTE réitère son appel à une approche globale des conflits qui secouent depuis les indépendances la région sahélo-saharienne, notamment la question de l’Azawad et du Nord du Niger. Elle met en garde contre toute tentative d’étouffer, encore une fois, les revendications légitimes des populations touarègues sous couvert de la lutte contre le terrorisme."

Press release of the Organization of Touaregue expats in Europe (ODTE)
"ODTE repeats its appell for a comprehensive approach to the conflicts that plague the Sahel-Sahara region since independence, especially regarding Azawad and the North of Niger. The organization warns against any attempt to extinguish, again, the legitimate demands of the Touareg people under the cover of fighting terrorism."

Posted by: somebody | Jan 14, 2013 6:40:39 PM | 58

@51, yesirree, there's certainly a pattern there. I was trying to imagine the prequel to these outbreaks of AQ. What must have transpired behind the scenes while the papers fill up with stories of Western compassion and Oriental evil. It seems likely that a CIA employee is carrying bribes to this or that imam offering a new madrassa, or annex to his mosque, or... if he will convince some of his followers to gird their loins and defend Islam. Then, once the pot is bubbling, send in the gunships to save the day.

Posted by: ruralito | Jan 14, 2013 7:04:59 PM | 59

51

"As for Mali? The same old same old
Islamists 'appear' where the West wishes to be, every time!"

That's about it.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 14, 2013 7:44:15 PM | 60

correct if i'm wrong but i thought the Touregs who had been talking about their own independant state had been chased out by the 'Islamists" in northern Mali.

Posted by: heath | Jan 14, 2013 7:44:25 PM | 61

@ Noirette [#49],

Disappointed in a politician? Obomber talked 'bout "Change you can believe in." Little did I know he was talking about "loose change." In the brave words of W "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 14, 2013 8:05:24 PM | 62

heath, 61, as it is the Touareg fighting for Qadafi who returned to Mali heavily armed and trained and restarted the independence fight and and as Touareg traditional culture is the opposite from Wahhabi Salafi culture, and as there is not Touareg civil war but outside forces have to come in, and as there are hardly any press reports talking of the Touareg, but make the public think, there are Islamists there exclusively, I think there is a lot of spin. Notice the way the more serious ones talk of "connections to Al Qeida" not "being Al Qeida".
And it is not the Touareg asking for help.
However, the Touareg travel on sand the global corporate world wants to exploit, France especially for Uranium in the North of Niger which is Touareg land.
Labeling the Touareg Islamist and Al Qeida for the righteous consumption of the Western public makes sense in the way that of course they are in the business of smuggling including drugs and weapons and are not averse to kidnapping making the area unsafe for the global corporate world.
And of course their tribal justice system has no link to Interpol and the ICC.
But there is no mistake: France is attacking an indigenous people fighting for independence.


Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 1:41:10 AM | 63

63, plus it is very likely that interested parties exploited tribal rules on hospitality to plant Al Qeida there, the Mali government and Algeria among others being interested parties, Algeria is famous for having played this double game for a long time.

It is a repeat of Afghanistan. The French will not be able to police an area this size, they will call for NATO help. The US and the UK are already involved. It is just the start. And it all is done with misinformation of the Western public and outside of the control of Western parliaments.

However, as the US needs to cut back expense and wants to shift attention to Asia, and Europe does no longer have the means to be the colonialist I think there is still hope. Maybe the Gulf wants to return to Africa and will finance the war. I do not think China will.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 2:03:09 AM | 64

This here is Jeremy Keenans take in Al Jazeera

Many local Tuareg believe that the Algerian army's presence at Tessalit and Aguelhok was not to fight AQIM, but to protect it from the MNLA, which has threatened to rid Mali of AQIM. Indeed, the MNLA has said that the reason why AQIM is protected by both Algeria and Mali is because AQIM is a cover for the massive, billion-dollar, cocaine trafficking industry that is controlled by rogue elements in the political-military elites of both countries and which has turned Mali into a "narco-state".

Familiar? France is fighting in alliance with Mali and Algeria. If the above is true they are fighting in protection of the drug trade and Al Qeida is very protected indeed.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 2:20:57 AM | 65

more - Glenn Greenwald

Finally, the propaganda used to justify all of this is depressingly common yet wildly effective. Any western government that wants to bomb Muslims simply slaps the label of "terrorists" on them, and any real debate or critical assessment instantly ends before it can even begin. "The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe," proclaimed French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

As usual, this simplistic cartoon script distorts reality more than it describes it. There is no doubt that the Malian rebels have engaged in all sorts of heinous atrocities ("amputations, flogging, and stoning to death for those who oppose their interpretation of Islam"), but so, too, have Malian government forces - including, as Amnesty chronicled, "arresting, torturing and killing Tuareg people apparently only on ethnic ground." As Jones aptly warns: "don't fall for a narrative so often pushed by the Western media: a perverse oversimplification of good fighting evil, just as we have seen imposed on Syria's brutal civil war."

The French bombing of Mali, perhaps to include some form of US participation, illustrates every lesson of western intervention. The "war on terror" is a self-perpetuating war precisely because it endlessly engenders its own enemies and provides the fuel to ensure that the fire rages without end. But the sloganeering propaganda used to justify this is so cheap and easy - we must kill the Terrorists! - that it's hard to see what will finally cause this to end. The blinding fear - not just of violence, but of Otherness - that has been successfully implanted in the minds of many western citizens is such that this single, empty word (Terrorists), standing alone, is sufficient to generate unquestioning support for whatever their governments do in its name, no matter how secret or unaccompanied by evidence it may be.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 6:43:29 AM | 66

@ 62. It's actually..

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 15, 2013 6:44:53 AM | 67

@ Hoarsewhisperer,

Don't tell me, explain it to W or do you 'misunderestimate' him too? :o)

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 15, 2013 7:14:48 AM | 68

@ 68.
Touché.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 15, 2013 7:52:55 AM | 69

The Washington Post finds exclusively vile Islamists in Azawad lashing poor women. No heavily armed Touaregs who offer to be the ground troups for France.

The comments section is fun. Noone is buying it.

I do wonder when the United States will invade Saudi Arabia by these standards.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 9:39:04 AM | 70

Al Jazeera's reporting on Mali makes sense, Western media should get an Oscar for misinformation

But northern Mali is only rich in theory - it is one of the poorest regions on Earth, which the government of Mali has done little to develop.

That is one of the reasons why the secular Tuareg rebel movement - the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) - rose up in January 2012 and swept the northern two-thirds of Mali, declaring an independent state called Azawad.

But the MNLA rebels were soon sidelined by al-Qaeda and its local offshoots, which pushed them from the cities and took over the region, imposing Sharia. The MNLA declined to fight al-Qaeda and beat a tactical retreat. They say their primary enemy is Mali, and until the world recognises them, they cannot lose blood and treasure opening a second front.

"We should fight al-Qaeda in exchange for what?" asks Bilal Ag Cherif, the head of the MNLA and president-in-waiting of the Tuaregs' hoped-for Azawad state.

"Will they recognise Azawad?" asks Bilal. "Provide clear political, economic, security and military assistance to the Azawadis? Those are the requirements of war. So give us those things, recognise us as a state, and then we can talk about fighting terrorism."

In the meantime, Timbuktu is being run by AQIM in partnership with local Islamist armed group Ansar Dine - an organisation of mostly Malian Tuaregs and Arabs which serves as an umbrella and host for the foreign fighters of al-Qaeda, much as the Taliban did in Afghanistan. The two groups work hand-in-glove managing the Islamic police and distributing charity.

Many here are afraid of the mujahideen and say so quietly - they feel sad and confused by the imposition of unfamiliar interpretations of Islam and the destruction of their heritage.

"Aren't we Muslims?" asked one old man in the street. "By God this is the land of Islam. We have many good Islamic scholars here. We don't understand their ways. We feel like we're in prison."

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 11:51:17 AM | 71

More from the Al Jazeera Link above

How did al-Qaeda get here?

Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels.

During ATT's presidency, AQIM amassed an outrageous fortune in Mali – collecting up to $250m in hostage ransoms from Western governments for more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighbouring Niger.

At this moment there are still European hostages being held by al-Qaeda in northern Mali pending delivery of a $132m ransom.

The ransom negotiations, which were carried out under the auspices of the presidency, were confirmed by the Wikileaks cables to be a goldmine for the Malian VIPs involved - with each receiving his cut of the jackpot including, according to a former Malian official with knowledge of the deals, the president himself.

Another powerful individual alleged to have enriched himself from hostage ransoms was ATT's close political and business associate Iyad Ag Ghali who has been involved in nearly every al-Qaeda hostage negotiation since the first one in 2003.

Iyad Ag Ghali is the head of al-Qaeda offshoot Ansar Dine, and the closest thing Mali has to a Mullah Omar.

Now Mali's closest neighbour seems to be confirming the deal.

Niger's foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum recently told the French National Assembly: "ATT was very proud to appear on the steps of his palace trying to return former hostages to their country. But there was a deal with AQIM, which kidnapped the hostages in Niger and Mauritania before taking them into Malian territory. The hostages were then released through the mediation of the Malian president. And his emissary was often Iyad Ag Ghali."

For years Malian Tuaregs have been complaining that their government was in bed with al-Qaeda, but their cries fell on deaf ears.

"Mali opened the field to Al Qaeda- to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people… Mali facilitated Al Qaeda."

-Colonel Al Salat Ag Habi,Commander MNLA

According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were "not enemies" of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

"Mali opened the field to al-Qaeda - to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people," says Habi.

"Local people benefitted up to a point from the trickle down of money flowing to al-Qaeda by way of Mali. And this ensnared many of our youths who are unemployed. Mali facilitated al-Qaeda, providing them complete freedom of movement among our families because they believed the presence of this group would impact the Tuareg struggle against the governing regime which has been going on for 50 years."

Yet for all the huge sums of money, most Tuaregs in northern Mali dislike Salafism and remain un-seduced by al-Qaeda. Most still cling to dreams of independence and find old-school national liberation groups like the MNLA attractive, in spite of the fact that it cannot even afford to feed its troops.

"We are Muslims but we can't stand the Salafi way," says Bukhadu, a 22-year-old Tuareg herder who likes the MNLA. "We want our sisters to feel the wind in their hair."

So this has been going on for 10 years but France is intervening now to restore "democracy"?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 11:53:30 AM | 72

Going off thread here? Apologies.

.. Someone accusing me of being naive at being disappointed at Hollande’s management of the ‘gay marriage’ issue.

Hollande is an ass and a party hack. He has no clue about anything - most seriously, the ‘economy’ education, energy, territorial management-, he is a pure product of a closed pol. system, an ‘elite’ that is a rag-tag leftover of the distribution of power in F after WW2.

He stumbled into his spot in the Socialist party by being a hanger-on and a consensual type. He won the election because ppl voted against Sark (or the UMP), *1, plus other Socialist hopefuls were knocked out for various reasons > DSK, Martine Aubry, his companion S. Royal, etc. and The Socialists, set to win in any case, had no one better to hand.

His campaign admitted as much. He would be a ‘normal’ prez. and would handle internal matters in the French way, seeking compromises, going for dialogue, etc. and would ‘restore’ some more ‘socialist’ principles - handouts - undoing some of the ‘damage’ that Sark did. Note: Sark promised to cut Gvmt. spending but increased it considerably (est. vary, but maybe about 2-4.5% GDP) and increased the debt. (I’m not arguing against high taxation - Gvmt. spending itself, that is another, broader issue.)

The very least one could expect of Hollande was to handle ‘social issues’ like gay marriage. He has made other terrible, horrific, mistakes (not talking foreign policy) within the narrow role he was supposed to take on.

A weak F prez. suits US-Isr and GB, Germany, NATO as a whole. A cooked noodle, a bending leek (to borrow french expressions) an insecure, thoughtless and ignorant man - what better? The downside is the future of the EU, which requires that part of the ‘core’ (F) be active, strong and so on. That is another can of worms.

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2096799/Nicolas-Sarkozy-spends-10k-day-food-keeps-121-cars-palace.html

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 15, 2013 11:54:17 AM | 73

sorry, if there is double posting. My posts seem to get swallowed for some reason.

Al Jazeera actually explains what is going on in Mali

"But the MNLA rebels were soon sidelined by al-Qaeda and its local offshoots, which pushed them from the cities and took over the region, imposing Sharia. The MNLA declined to fight al-Qaeda and beat a tactical retreat. They say their primary enemy is Mali, and until the world recognises them, they cannot lose blood and treasure opening a second front.

"We should fight al-Qaeda in exchange for what?" asks Bilal Ag Cherif, the head of the MNLA and president-in-waiting of the Tuaregs' hoped-for Azawad state.

"Will they recognise Azawad?" asks Bilal. "Provide clear political, economic, security and military assistance to the Azawadis? Those are the requirements of war. So give us those things, recognise us as a state, and then we can talk about fighting terrorism."

In the meantime, Timbuktu is being run by AQIM in partnership with local Islamist armed group Ansar Dine - an organisation of mostly Malian Tuaregs and Arabs which serves as an umbrella and host for the foreign fighters of al-Qaeda, much as the Taliban did in Afghanistan. The two groups work hand-in-glove managing the Islamic police and distributing charity.

Many here are afraid of the mujahideen and say so quietly - they feel sad and confused by the imposition of unfamiliar interpretations of Islam and the destruction of their heritage."


Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 12:00:58 PM | 74

ok second part of Al Jazeera explaining what is going on in Mali

"How did al-Qaeda get here?

Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels.

During ATT's presidency, AQIM amassed an outrageous fortune in Mali – collecting up to $250m in hostage ransoms from Western governments for more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighbouring Niger.

At this moment there are still European hostages being held by al-Qaeda in northern Mali pending delivery of a $132m ransom.

The ransom negotiations, which were carried out under the auspices of the presidency, were confirmed by the Wikileaks cables to be a goldmine for the Malian VIPs involved - with each receiving his cut of the jackpot including, according to a former Malian official with knowledge of the deals, the president himself.

Another powerful individual alleged to have enriched himself from hostage ransoms was ATT's close political and business associate Iyad Ag Ghali who has been involved in nearly every al-Qaeda hostage negotiation since the first one in 2003.

Iyad Ag Ghali is the head of al-Qaeda offshoot Ansar Dine, and the closest thing Mali has to a Mullah Omar.

Now Mali's closest neighbour seems to be confirming the deal.

Niger's foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum recently told the French National Assembly: "ATT was very proud to appear on the steps of his palace trying to return former hostages to their country. But there was a deal with AQIM, which kidnapped the hostages in Niger and Mauritania before taking them into Malian territory. The hostages were then released through the mediation of the Malian president. And his emissary was often Iyad Ag Ghali."

For years Malian Tuaregs have been complaining that their government was in bed with al-Qaeda, but their cries fell on deaf ears.

"Mali opened the field to Al Qaeda- to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people… Mali facilitated Al Qaeda."

-Colonel Al Salat Ag Habi,Commander MNLA

According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were "not enemies" of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

"Mali opened the field to al-Qaeda - to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people," says Habi.

"Local people benefitted up to a point from the trickle down of money flowing to al-Qaeda by way of Mali. And this ensnared many of our youths who are unemployed. Mali facilitated al-Qaeda, providing them complete freedom of movement among our families because they believed the presence of this group would impact the Tuareg struggle against the governing regime which has been going on for 50 years."

So this went on for 10 years under French noses but they decide to intervene now.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 12:04:16 PM | 75

Who set Amadou Toumani Toure up in power in Mali or who supported him afterwards, if different?

Posted by: вот так | Jan 15, 2013 12:36:46 PM | 76

Hmm. He seems to have got away with being his own man. It would be France with Mali and relations seem to have been good, just there is this report that he refused French military bases to Sarkozy resulting in Sarkozy playing Azawad off against Amadou Toumani Toure.

France now has a good chance to get military bases I guess. Or do they finally decide to side with Azawad?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 1:15:07 PM | 77

Found it. Was a very good question, Vat Tak. It is amazing what does not get reported in the Western press.

"It is not just Tuareg that will suffer financially, as certain Sahelian countries will no longer enjoy the streams of funds that Gaddafi regularly lavished on them. The relationship between the Malian leadership and Gaddafi, for example, was close.

Funds for President Amadou Toumani Touré's coup in 1991 came from Libyan coffers."

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 1:43:35 PM | 78

@somebody that AlJazeerah piece stinks of western propaganda.

There is little if any "AlQaeda" in Mali. AQIM is more a less a gang of thieves and Ansar Dine is a Tuareg group that has taken up the mantle of Islam to get finance from the Gulf. Iyad Ag Ghali likes expensive Whiskeys.

As for atrocities. Two weeks ago some Mali soldiers killed 16 clerics on their way to some meeting in the capital. That didn't come up in the western press. Nor does it come up when people in Bamoko get lynched for being alleged thieves. I'd rather have my hand cut off than my head for stealing.

Posted by: b | Jan 15, 2013 1:49:27 PM | 79

75-6

http://www.interactioncouncil.org/amadou-toumani-tour

This site has some bio info on Amadou Toumani Touré. He had military training in both USSR and then France. From this, he doesn't seem committed to any strong political movement or policies. He does seem to have followed a somewhat independent path, as you surmised above, in that he maintained relations with both cold war sides. Possibly too independent for some, and that may be why he got coup'd. This looks interesting:

"Mines: the diversification of mining resources

- Gold (Mali is the 3rd biggest producer in Africa and the 19th biggest in the world)
- Iron, manganese and phosphate (expanding rapidly)
- Oil drilling to begin in Q1 2012"

Maybe, like Gaddafi, he just wasn't being pliant enough with the usual suspects about turning his country over to their exploitation. It would be interesting to find his views on Israel and also who really backed the recent military coup against him.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 15, 2013 2:08:41 PM | 80

b. As I read the piece it is saying the same you do, as being Al Qeida to get paid for fighting it (or for freeing hostages) has been a good sport in the region starting with Algeria. Noone thinks it is really religious. The people paying them make sure though they go through all the atrocities for effect

As I understand it now France fully intends to remain stationed in Mali and has intended exactly that for a while.

From >the link above Debruary of last year, Sarkozy still in power.

Short translation: Contrary to official pronouncements France does nothing to support Mali to resolve the crisis in the North. Quite contrary they profit from the rebellion whose leaders live comfortably in Paris and from the anger in the population to get even with President Amadou Toumani Touré who refused them to build a base in Sévaré. To the contrary the attacks sparking a humanitarian crises displacing 1000's of people to neighbouring countries have been organized in France ....

"Sécurité – Dessous du soutien de la France a la rébellion – Contrairement aux déclarations officielles, les autorités françaises n’apportent rien au Mali pour la résolution de la crise au nord.

Bien au contraire, elles veulent tirer profit de la résurrection de la rébellion dont les leaders politiques bénéficient de tout le confort nécessaire à Paris, et des manifestations de colère des populations pour régler leurs comptes avec le président Amadou Toumani Touré « coupable » d’ avoir refusé d’accéder à des sollicitations de Nicolas Sarkozy comme l’installation d’une base militaire française à Sévaré.

Les leaders du Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad ont élu domicile à Paris, où ils bénéficient de tout le confort nécessaire pour mener ses activités criminelles contre le Mali.

D’ailleurs, les récentes attaques très meurtrières contre plusieurs localités et à l’origine d’une crise humanitaire grave avec le déplacement de plusieurs milliers de personnes dans des pays voisins, sont organisées depuis la capitale française avec sans nul doute la bénédiction du régime de Nicolas Sarkozy qui en veut à mort au président malien coupable aux yeux des autorités du pays des droits de l’homme d’avoir usé de son droit, disons de son devoir de préserver l’intégralité territoriale de son pays en refusant l’installation d’une base militaire française au Mali, précisément en 5e région dans la ville de Sévaré. ATT s’est aussi rendu d’un crime de lèse-majesté en refusant l’ouverture au nord du Mali d’un centre d’écoute."

The atrocities now will undoubtably be committed by France:

The minister said more French troops and airplanes are on the way, including advanced Rafale fighter-bombers from bases in France. He did not say where they would be based in Africa. Mirage aircraft currently involved in the operation have been flying from nearby French bases, including one in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, but some helicopters and other aircraft have been flying from a Malian air base at Sevare.

“There are raids all the time,” Le Drian said.

Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based watchdog organization, said it had documented the killing of 10 civilians, including three children, in the French bombing Friday and Saturday around the disputed town of Konna, just north of Mopti.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 2:23:17 PM | 81

78) According to German press Amadou Toumani Touré is a Christian. That would be another reason to replace him, as his government obviously was a successful secular model standing in the way of the Sunni/Shia strategy.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 15, 2013 2:36:33 PM | 82

@Sean, msg 8
Tea Party Patriots v. DoD?

I thought the difference between an armed rabble and a cohesive unit of enlistees consisted of training and indoctrination, seasoning by experience, and competent leadership. Always obeying orders and always doing things the Army way.

With regard to the rebel fighters from Libya, they certainly have plenty of experience and are self selected for competence - the ones who couldn't cut it were winnowed out by combat. However I question how well they or any similar group would do if confronted with the ruthless methods and vast resources of the U.S. military, on it's own home turf no less.

Posted by: major-general | Jan 16, 2013 4:35:32 PM | 83

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