I have read this article several times in the past few weeks and checked the links. Its rather long and provides some insights into US activities in Africa... which are considerable and a bit murky.
Benghazi had to be part of this larger picture.
Next Stop Mali?
Posted By Kelley B. Vlahos On October 15, 2012 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 17 Comments
Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), stood at a podium in Algeria and addressed the deteriorating security conditions in the neighboring country of Mali.
(For those geographically-challenged, remember when you were a kid and people used to say, “that’s way out in Timbuktu”? Well, this is that place, literally).
“The first step, and necessary step is the re-establishment of legitimate government in Bamako,” Ham told the foreign press corps on Sept. 30.
However, he added, “the one course of action that we are not considering is U.S. boots on the ground in Mali.”
Then why, Gen. Ham, are you there?
As he finished the brief exchange with reporters, he reiterated,“ultimately, the situation in northern Mali can only be resolved politically or diplomatically.”We ask again, Gen. Ham, then why are you there?
“In my view, there is — there is likely to be some military component to address the concerns in northern Mali, but the military component will be — is not sufficient, nor will it be decisive.”
That’s better. As long as there is a slim chance of military intervention in Mali — and no doubt at some point, in some way, there will be — the U.S. military is on the case, giving press conferences at the same time as the State Department guy (who was in New York, not Algeria), both insisting that that America is on the sidelines, for now.
But isn’t this how all our African forays begin? Since that presser, Assistant State for Africa Johnnie Carson has alreadysuggested that a Somalia-style intervention might be in the cards(U.S.-backed foreign armies going into Mali). The wheels were put into motion on Friday, when the United Nations Security Councilpassed a resolution asking Mali’s West African neighbors to speed up plans for an intervention with UN and European Union assistance. No word, yet, on how the U.S. may help, though the two countries already have a lengthy history of military cooperation: U.S. personnel involved in “military-to-military engagement activities” were only pulled out of Mali in March, after a coup upended the U.S.-friendly government there (apparently not all U.S. forces left right away, however).
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addresses troops stationed in Djibouti in December
According to investigative journalist Nick Turse, who spoke with Antiwar.com last week, the U.S. military has some stake —either with boots on the ground or through proxy operations —in more than a dozen African countries today. But aside from the generous shoe leather Turse and other reporters have expended to cast a light on“the U.S. Shadow Wars in Africa,” little is publicly known about the true extent of American military involvement, making the Victorian adage, “the Dark Continent” quite apropos.
“There are these military interventions that are going on, unbeknownst to ordinary Americans,” Turse said. “They (military) are putting up infrastructure, they are building bases —although they recoil at that term — they are putting up this entire transportation system to move military hardware and resources… I think the moniker ‘shadow war’ kind of captures what is going on here — there is something happening, we can’t quite see it, but if you look closely enough it is there. With that much military manpower and hardware it’s hard to surmise it’s anything else.”
For those who care — and we suggest you do — the democratically-elected government of Mali was thrown out in March by a faction of nomadic people living in the north of the country called the Tuareg. But the separatist Tuareg got more than they bargained for when they asked a local Islamist militant group, the Rebels of the Ansar Dine, to help. They helped all right: they called in their friends, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which swiftly moved to displace the Tuareg, imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia law on the moderate Sufi Muslims there in the north, and rendered Timbuktu — an ancient, bustling center of trade and tourism — a“ghost town.”
By the way, according to reports, the Ansar Dine and AQIM are apparently “flush” with weapons, thanks to the lootingthat occurred after the U.S.-led regime change in Libya. Furthermore, the leader of the Tuareg military coup, which opened the doors to what Bruce Riedel calls al Qaeda’s largest foothold “since the fall of Afghanistan in 2001,” was none other than Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, who came to the United States several times for “professional military education, including basic officer training,” according to The Washington Post.
So Mali has become a major flashpoint out of several in which al Qaeda figures somewhat prominently today. This gives the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency more reason to burrow into the continent, even though it is getting harder to parse out how much of the current crises drawing us further in are unintended consequences — or just plain blowback to our encroaching militarism and outright meddling over the last decade.
Take Somalia for instance. The CIA under the Bush Administrationpractically created the Islamic terror al Shabab. Then after several attempts, the U.S. engages in a multi-year drone campaign and spends $550 million to arm and train an African Union force culled from Somalia’s neighbors to restore a semblance of order, for now. This leads Carson to tout Somalia as a model for what the U.S. may do for Mali. The mind reels.