[News] War on terror forever

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 22 14:38:33 EST 2013

*War on terror forever*
By Pepe Escobar


And the winner of the Oscar for Best Sequel of 2013 goes to... The 
Global War on Terror (GWOT), a Pentagon production. Abandon all hope 
those who thought the whole thing was over with the cinematographic 
snuffing out of "Geronimo", aka Osama bin Laden, further reduced to a 
fleeting cameo in the torture-enabling flick /Zero Dark Thirty/.

It's now official - coming from the mouth of the lion, Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, and duly posted at the 
the Pentagon's weaponized African branch.
Exit "historical" al-Qaeda, holed up somewhere in the Waziristans, in 
the Pakistani tribal areas; enter al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb 
(AQIM). In Dempsey's words, AQIM "is a threat not only to the country of 
Mali, but the region, and if... left unaddressed, could in fact become a 
global threat."

With Mali now elevated to the status of a "threat" to the whole

world, GWOT is proven to be really open-ended. The Pentagon doesn't do 
irony; when, in the early 2000s, armchair warriors coined the expression 
"The Long War", they really meant it.

Even under President Obama 2.0's "leading from behind" doctrine, the 
Pentagon is unmistakably gunning for war in Mali - and not only of the 
shadow variety. [1] General Carter Ham, AFRICOM's commander, already 
operates under the assumption Islamists in Mali will "attack American 

Thus, the first 100 US military "advisers" are being sent to Niger, 
Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Ghana - the six member-nations 
of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that will 
compose an African army tasked (by the United Nations) to reconquer 
(invade?) the parts of Mali under the Islamist sway of AQIM, its 
splinter group MUJAO and the Ansar ed-Dine militia. This African 
mini-army, of course, is paid for by the West.

Students of the Vietnam War will be the first to note that sending 
"advisers" was the first step of the subsequent quagmire. And on a 
definitely un-Pentagonese ironic aside, the US over these past few years 
did train Malian troops. A lot of them duly deserted. As for the 
lavishly, Fort Benning-trained Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, not only did 
he lead a military coup against an elected Mali government but also 
created the conditions for the rise of the Islamists.

Nobody, though, is paying attention. General Carter Ham is so excited 
with the prospect of AFRICOM accumulating more gigs than Led Zeppelin in 
its heyday, and himself acquiring iconic savior status (Carter of 
Africa?), that he's bungling up his data. [2]
The general seems to have forgotten that AFRICOM - and then the North 
Atlantic treaty Organization (NATO) - irretrievably supported (and 
weaponized) the NATO rebels in Libya who were the fighting vanguard in 
the war against Muammar Gaddafi. The general does know that AQIM has "a 
lot of money and they have a lot of weapons".

But he believes it was "mercenaries paid by Gaddafi" who abandoned Libya 
and brought their weapons, and "many of them came to northern Mali". No, 
general, they were not Gaddafi mercenaries; most were NATO rebels, the 
same ones who attacked the US Consulate, actually a CIA station, in 
Benghazi, the same ones commuting to Syria, the same ones let loose all 
across the Sahel.

*So what is Algeria up to?*
Right on cue, British Prime Minister David Cameron followed His Masters 
Voice, announcing the intervention in Mali will last years "or even 
decades". [3]

This Tuesday, the creme de la creme of Britain's intelligence 
establishment is meeting to plan nothing else than a pan-Sahara/Sahel 
war, for which they want yet another Bush-style "coalition of the 
willing". [4] For the moment, British involvement means yet more 
"advisers" in the usual "military cooperation" and "security training" 
categories, lots of money and, last but not least, Special Forces in 
shadow war mode.

The whole scenario comes complete with another providential "Geronimo"; 
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, aka "The Uncatchable" (at least by French 
intelligence), the leader of MUJAO who masterminded the raid on the In 
Amenas gas field in Algeria.

Haven't we seen this movie before? Of course we did. But now - it's 
official - Mali is the new Afghanistan (as Asia Times Online had already 
reported - Burn, burn Africa's Afghanistan 
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/OA19Dj02.html>, January 18, 
2013). Here's Cameron: "Just as we had to deal with that in Pakistan and 
Afghanistan, so the world needs to come together to deal with this 
threat in North Africa." Right; Belmokhtar is already rehearsing for his 
cameo appearance in a /Zero Dark Thirty/ sequel.

So by now it's clear where the Anglo-American Pentagon/Africom/British 
intelligence "special relationship" stands - with the French under 
President Francois Hollande, reconverted as a warlord, momentarily 
"leading" the way towards Operation African Quagmire. Crucially, no one 
in the European Union, apart from the Brits, is loony enough to follow 
in the footsteps of warlord Hollande.

By comparison, what is definitely not clear is where the key to this 
equation - Algeria - stands, from the point of view of the Western GWOT.

Number one fact is that the new "Geronimo", Belmokhtar, and his 
Mulathameen Brigade ("The Masked Ones"), of which the "Signed in Blood 
Batallion" which attacked in Algeria is a sub-group, enjoy extremely 
cozy links with Algerian secret intelligence. In a way, this could be 
seen as a remix of the relationship between the Taliban - and "historic" 
al-Qaeda - with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The Algerian military's ultra-hardcore response to the Islamist raid was 
predictable (this is how they did it during the 1990s in their internal 
war against the Islamic Salvation Front). We don't negotiate with 
terrorists; we kill them (along with scores of hostages). We do it by 
ourselves, without nosy foreigners, and we go for total information 

No wonder this modus operandi raised a rosary of eyebrows across the 
Anglo-American "special relationship". Thus the Washington/London bottom 
line: we cannot trust the Algerians. Our GWOT - the Sahara/Sahel chapter 
- will be fought without them. Perhaps, even against them.

A serious complicating factor is that the 40 or so Islamists (including 
Libyans, Syrians and Egyptians) crossed at least 1,600 kilometers of 
high desert coming from Libya, not Mali. They had to have serious 
"protection" - anything from intelligence provided by a foreign power to 
qualified Algerian insiders. Hostages told of kidnappers "with North 
American accents" (including a Canadian whom Reuters has named "Chedad") 
and that all of them knew exactly where the foreigners were located 
inside the compound. [5]

Professor Jeremy Keenan of the School of Oriental and African Studies in 
London frames it in terms of an Algerian false-flag operation gone 
wrong. [6] Algiers may have wanted to signal to the West that French 
bombing in Mali would inevitably lead to blowback; but then Belmokhtar 
turned the whole thing upside down because he was furious the French 
were allowed to own Algerian airspace to bomb Mali. In a way, this could 
be seen as another remix of the Taliban revolting against the ISI.

Algerian public opinion is immensely suspicious, to say the least, of 
all the players' motives, including the Algerian government and 
especially France. Here 
a fascinating sample. This perspective, by a political science 
professor, is worth quoting at length, as it neatly summarizes the 
French "lead" in the new GWOT chapter.

    In an interview with the French-language daily Le Soir d'Algerie,
    political science professor Ahmed Adimi described the intervention
    as an attempt to "undermine Algeria" and a "step in a plan for the
    installation of foreign forces in the Sahel region". Adimi's thesis
    is that France has worked for years to destabilize the Sahel as a
    means of strengthening its geopolitical stance.

    Asked whether the French operation in Mali was consistent with
    United Nations security council resolution 2085, Adimi states that
    the resolution "does not pose much of a problem in itself. Western
    powers have used it to intervene and adopt resolutions to justify
    their military operations. This has already happened in Iraq. In
    fact, the French operation may seem legal since it comes at the
    request of the Acting Present of Mali. However, it is important to
    remember that the current government came to power in a coup.
    Regarding the intervention, it was certainly predictable but the
    French have precipitated matters. [...] These terrorist groups are
    being manipulated by foreign powers," continuing to argue that these
    groups were "allowed" to move south to Konna as means of justifying
    the French intervention.

    Adimi argues that Algerians have "been sounding the alarm about the
    situation in the Sahel in general. Ahmed Barkouk and myself have
    organized several seminars on this topic. We discussed the role of
    France and its commitment to the region. It was France that was
    behind the creation of the movement for the Azawad, and I speak of
    course of the political organization and not of the people of
    Azawad, who have rights as a community. The French knew that their
    intervention in Libya would lead to a return of the pro-Qaddafi
    military Tuareg to Mali. They also planned the release of Libyan
    arms stockpiles across the Sahel band. The project is to transform
    the region into a new Afghanistan, the result of long-term planning."

Tariq Ramadan, in a devastating piece, [7] also unmasks Paris, drawing 
the connection between the dodgy Sarkozy "humanitarian" intervention in 
Libya and the current Hollande drive to protect a "friendly" country - 
all coupled with the hypocrisy of France for decades not giving a damn 
about "the people" suffering under assorted African dictatorships.

But the Oscar for Best Hypocritical Scenario certainly goes to the 
current French-Anglo-American concern about Mali being the new al-Qaeda 
playground, when the major playgrounds are actually NATO-supported 
northern Syria (as far as the Turkish border), north Lebanon and most 
parts of Libya.

*Follow the gold, and follow the uranium*
Even before it's possible to fully analyze the myriad ramifications - 
many of them unforeseen - of the expanded GWOT, there are two fronts to 
be carefully observed in the near future. So let's follow the gold, and 
let's follow the uranium.

Follow the gold. A host of nations have gold bullion deposited at the 
New York Federal Reserve. They include, crucially, Germany. Recently, 
Berlin started asking to get back its physical gold back - 374 ton from 
the Bank of France and 300 tons out of 1,500 tons from the New York 
Federal Reserve.

So guess what the French and the Americans essentially said: We ain't 
got no gold! Well, at least right now. It will take five years for the 
German gold in France to be returned, and no less than seven years for 
the stash at the New York Federal Reserve. Bottom line: both Paris and 
Washington/New York have to come up with real physical gold any way they 

That's where Mali fits in - beautifully. Mali - along with Ghana - 
accounts for up to 8% of global gold production. So if you're desperate 
for the genuine article - physical gold - you've got to control Mali. 
Imagine all that gold falling into the hands of... China.
Now follow the uranium. As everyone who was glued to the Niger 
yellowcake saga prior to the invasion of Iraq knows, Niger is the 
world's fourth-largest producer of uranium. Its biggest customer is - 
surprise! - France; half of France's electricity comes from nuclear 
energy. The uranium mines in Niger 
<http://www.wise-uranium.org/upne.html> happen to be concentrated in the 
northwest of the country, on the western range of the Air mountains, 
very close to the Mali border and one of the regions being bombed by the 

The uranium issue is intimately connected with successive Tuareg 
rebellions; one must remember that, for the Tuaregs, there are no 
borders in the Sahel. All recent Tuareg rebellions in Niger happened in 
uranium country - in Agadez province, near the Mali border. So, from the 
point of view of French interests, imagine the possibility of the 
Tuaregs gaining control of those uranium mines - and starting to do 
deals with... China. Beijing, after all, is already present in the region.

All this crucial geostrategic power play - the "West" fighting China in 
Africa, with AFRICOM giving a hand to warlord Hollande while taking the 
Long War perspective - actually supersedes the blowback syndrome. It's 
unthinkable that British, French and American intelligence did not 
foresee the blowback ramifications from NATO's "humanitarian war" in 
Libya. NATO was intimately allied with Salafis and Salafi-jihadis - 
temporarily reconverted into "freedom fighters". They knew Mali - and 
the whole Sahel - would subsequently be awash in weapons.

No, the expansion of GWOT to the Sahara/Sahel happened by design. GWOT 
is the gift that keeps on giving; what could possibly top a new war 
theatre to the French-Anglo-American 
industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex?

Oh yes, there's that "pivoting" to Asia as well. One is tempted to 
donate a finger - extracted Islamist-style - to know how and when will 
come the counterpunch from Beijing.

1. Mali conflict exposes White House-Pentagon split 
Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2013.
2. African nations can, must do for themselves - with US support 
December 4, 2012.
3. David Cameron: fight against terrorism in north Africa may last 
The Guardian, January 20, 2013.
4. Intelligence chiefs and special forces plot Sahara mission, The 
Independent, January 21, 2013. 
5. In Amenas : les ex-otages racontent quatre jours d'angoisse 
Liberation, January 20, 2013. (In French).
6. Algeria Hostage Crisis: Terror Attack 'Inside Job' Gone Wrong, Says 
Professor Jeremy Keenan 
The Huffington Post, January 19, 2013.
7. Le Mali, la France et les extremistes 
<http://www.journaldumali.com/article.php?aid=5816>, journaldumali.com, 
January 18, 2013. (In French).

/*Pepe Escobar* is the author of/ Globalistan: How the Globalized World 
is Dissolving into Liquid War 
(Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during 
the surge 
His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan 
(Nimble Books, 2009).

/He may be reached at/ pepeasia at yahoo.com.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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