January 11, 2013
A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.
TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:
“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”
Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.
And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.
Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar noted a more direct connection between LIFG and AQIM in an Asia Times piece titled, “How al-Qaeda got to rule in Tripoli:”
“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “
“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.
Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”
In fact, ABC News reported in their article, “Al Qaeda Terror Group: We ‘Benefit From’ Libyan Weapons,” that:
A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.
“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, January 14, 2013 7:25 EST
Islamist forces based in northern Mali vowed Monday to avenge France’s fierce military offensive against them on French soil.
“France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” said a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Asked where they would strike, Abou Dardar told AFP by telephone: “Everywhere. In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.”
Authorities in France were already on high alert over fears of a backlash on home soil by Islamist extremists.
The MUJAO official also referred to France’s eight hostages held in the Sahel region.
“We will make a statement on the hostages today. From today all the mujahedeen are together.”
The French offensive has blocked the advance of Islamist forces towards the capital Bamako from their bases in the north which they have controlled since last April.
On Sunday, French Rafale fighter planes struck bases used by Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Gao, the main city in northern Mali, and Kidal.
Sixty Islamists were killed in Gao alone on Sunday, according to residents and a regional security force.
French warplanes also attacked rebel stockpiles of munitions and fuel further north at Afhabo, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kidal, a regional security source said. The area is a stronghold of Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith).
And they hit a base further east at Lere, near the border with Mauritania, according to witnesses and a statement from Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Algeria on Sunday granted France permission to fly through its airspace to reach its targets. Previously, Algiers was hostile to any foreign intervention in Mali.
France launched the operation alongside the Malian army on Friday to counter a push south by the insurgents who had threatened to advance on the capital Bamako.
Gao residents said earlier that the French airstrikes had levelled the Islamists’ position and forced them to flee.
“We can see smoke billowing from the base. There isn’t a single Islamist left in town. They have all fled,” a teacher said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
– Timbuktu residents ‘eager for jets to arrive’ –
Residents of Timbuktu, which has seen some of the worst Islamist abuses over the past 10 months, said they were eager for French jets to arrive.
“Everyone agrees,” said one resident, even if there was a risk that civilians might be killed in such an action. Already, he said, there was growing panic among the Islamists there.
French President Francois Hollande was to hold a cabinet meeting devoted to the Mali crisis early Monday.
And at the request of Paris, the UN Security Council was to meet later Monday to discuss the conflict, a spokesman for France’s UN mission said.
Aides to Hollande described the militants as better trained and armed than expected.
“What has struck us markedly is how modern their equipment is and their ability to use it,” one said, referring to the rebels’ hit on a French helicopter, which fatally wounded its pilot, France’s only confirmed loss.
Meanwhile a west African intervention force for Mali was taking shape.
The force has been authorised by the UN Security Council to help the Malian government reclaim control of the north. It will be commanded by General Shehu Abdulkadir of Nigeria, which will provide around 600 men.
Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Togo all pledged around 500 troops this weekend, while Benin said it would send 300. It remained unclear however when these forces would arrive.
Media reports have said France is deploying about 500 troops in Mali.
The French mission will be at full strength by Monday, primarily deployed around Bamako to protect the 6,000-strong expatriate community, said its commander, Colonel Paul Geze.
The Islamists took advantage of a power vacuum created by a March military coup to seize control of huge swathes of northern Mali, quickly imposing an extreme form of Islamic law.
They have destroyed centuries-old mausoleums they see as heretical, and perceived offenders against their moral code have been subjected to floggings, amputations and sometimes executions.
France’s intervention has been backed by the European Union and the United States, while Britain is providing logistical support in the form of transport planes.
DEBKAfile January 14, 2013, 12:17 PM (GMT+02:00)
“France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” said a leader of an Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) offshoot Monday after Mali government forces with French air cover made inroads Sunday on Islamist-held territory in North Mali. Asked where they would strike, Abou Dardar told AFP by phone: “Everywhere. In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.” He also promised a statement later Monday on the eight hostages they are holding in the Sahel region.
French President Francois Hollande’s government has vowed to pursue the buildup of French ground and air forces and remain in Mali as long as necessary to hold off the Islamist militias, introduce a pan-African force and train the disorganized Malian army to restore state authority across the vast West African nation.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) pledged to contribute more than 3,000 troops for the pan-African force, which France has been eager to get organized so it can depict its intervention as a cooperative effort. ECOWAS military chiefs set a meeting for Tuesday, but the arrival of the first African soldiers, promised since Saturday, has repeatedly been delayed.
By The Associated Press – 6 hours ago
Here’s a look at what countries are providing to help Mali’s battle against armed Islamic extremists who have occupied the north since March. West African nations authorized immediate deployment and France launched attacks last week after fighters pushed even further south, toward the capital, Bamako.
France’s resources in what they call Operation Serval include:
—200 troops from Operation Epervier in Chad have been flown into Bamako. This includes some French Foreign Legionnaires. And a company of the 2nd marine infantry regiment based in Auvours, France was moved into Bamako on Saturday.
—Gazelle helicopter gunships from the 4th helicopter regiment of the special forces armed with HOT anti-tank missiles and 20mm cannons. The 4th regiment, based in Pau, France, has 12 of these helicopters.
— Four Mirage 2000D fighter jets, based in Chad, and supported by two C135 refueling tankers. In total, France has two Mirage F1 CR reconnaissance jets, six Mirage 2000D, 3 C135s, one C130, 1 Transall C160 stationed in Chad as part of its Operation Epervier.
—Four Rafale fighter jets were quickly moved Sunday from their base in Saint-Dizier France to Mali, where they began bombing operations on Sunday.
—Two C-17 aircraft to carry foreign troops and military equipment to Mali. One C-17 is currently in France and the other is currently at RAF Brize-Norton in England.
—Britain is not offering any troops, but Mark Simmonds, the government minister for Africa, said British personnel also could be involved in training the Malian army.
— Britain’s involvement in Mali is expected to last one week, according to the country’s armed forces minister Andrew Robathan. The only military personnel there would be a Royal Air Force ground crew intended to service C-17 transport.
U.S.: U.S. officials have said they offered to send drones to Mali. France’s foreign minister said that the U.S. is providing communications, intelligence and transport help.
GERMANY : German officials have ruled out sending any combat troops to support Mali, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Germany will offer logistical, humanitarian and medical support.
EU: The European Union says it is speeding up its preparation for a troop training mission in Mali, which will now likely be launched in the second half of February or early March, but the EU is not planning any direct combat role.
ALGERIA: Algerian Foreign Ministry spokesman Amar Belani said on Monday that Algeria was closing the nearly 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) border with Mali. After months of expressing grave doubts over any intervention in Mali, regional powerhouse Algeria has backed the French attack. It has granted overflight rights to French jets heading to northern Mali.
BENIN: Will send 300 troops.
BURKINA FASO: Will send 500 troops to Mali and 500 others to control the northern border. Check points have also been set up in Burkina Faso on roads to it northern border with Mali.
CHAD: To send troops, but no specific number yet.
MAURITANIA: Mauritanian armed forces were placed on high alert along the border with Mali. The president says the country would not take part in the fighting in northern Mali. The Mauritanian army had conducted raids in 2010 and 2011 against the bases of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in northern Mali.
NIGER: Will send 500 troops to Mali to help fight the Islamic extremists. Date for their departure not yet set.
NIGERIA: Will send 600 troops, according to an announcement Monday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
SENEGAL: Will send 500 troops to Mali to help with combat.
TOGO: Will send 500 troops.
Today’s expansion of the French air campaign beyond central Mali has left many wondering if the war has started – without much international coordination.
By Peter Tinti, Correspondent / January 13, 2013
France widened its military intervention in the African nation of Mali today beyond targets in the center of the country, sending fighter jets to the north to hammer training camps, infrastructure, and logistics depots used by Islamist rebels with ties to Al Qaeda.
“The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country, and Europe,” said France’s Defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on French television.
The French began airstrikes on Friday to counter an ambitious rebel advance southward from their strongholds in the north. While France’s intervention appears to have the tacit support of the international community, the expansion of the French air campaign beyond central Mali has left many analysts wondering if a long-discussed war to retake northern Mali has begun in earnest – without much international coordination or planning.
DEBKAfileSpecial Report January 12, 2013, 9:34 PM (GMT+02:00)
French President Francois Hollande placed the country on high domestic terror alert Saturday, Jan. 12. lest al Qaeda retaliate for French operations against two of its Africa wings: a failed mission to rescue a French hostage from the Somali Shabaab rebels and air and commando aid to the Mali government’s drive against advancing Islamists. He made the announcement after a special war cabinet session in Paris.
debkafile reported earlier Saturday.
French special forces failed early Saturday, Jan. 12, to rescue a hostage from the hands of the Qaeda-linked Somali Shabaab, while a second French air and commando force continued operations in support of the Mali government‘s drive to arrest an Islamist advance.
In Paris, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denied a connection between the two French counter-terror operations taking place in the last 48 hours in East and West Africa – both against wings of al Qaeda. He reported a French soldier was killed in Somalia, another was missing and the fate of the hostage held for three years by Shabaab was unknown. Seventeen Islamist fighters were reported killed. In Mali, a French pilot was killed when his helicopter was shot down near the key northern city of Konna.
Saturday, President Francois Hollande called his war cabinet into an unusual emergency session after the first direct French interventions in the fight against Islamist terrorism went awry and confronted him with his first military crisis.
By plunging into two fronts, Mali and Somalia, France offered two terrorist wings – the Somali Shabaab, which comes under Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and the Malian Ansar Dine, which is part of Al Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM), to issue a joint ultimatum to Paris: Stop both missions immediately or else eight French hostages will be executed one by one. Among them, in Mali, are four nuclear engineers and technicians.
The Somali group kidnapped Denis Allex, an agent of France’s DGSE intelligence service, in Mogadishu four years ago. His rescue was the object of the Somali operation Saturday. French helicopters executed several attacks on the hostage’s suspected place of captivity in Bula Marer south of the capital. They were forced to retreat with losses under heavy anti-aircraft fire.
Saturday afternoon, French officials said the operation had failed. They had initially reported the hostage killed in the operation, then said his fate was unknown, after Shabaab spokesmen said Alex was not in the area of the French raid and was unharmed. The Islamists also claimed to have captured the missing commando from the French attack after finding him injured.
As for the French pilot in Mali, the French defense minister said only that he was fatally wounded in a helicopter raid Friday in support of Malian forces which were targeting a terrorist group advancing on the town of Mopti near the key northern city of Konna, 600 kilometers south of the capital, Bamako. He did not say whether the helicopter was shot down by ground fire. On both fronts, the French forces have encountered heavy anti-air fire from the ground.
A Malian defense ministry spokesman said that government forces had retaken Konna, with the help of French military forces, although he did not say whether they were in full control of the key city or that the Islamist fighters had been driven out.
Hollande said France had intervened in Mali because the wider Sahel region of West Africa was becoming an Afghanistan-like base for Islamist terrorists, and a terrorist state rising in Bamako would threaten all of Africa and bring Europe and France within range.
Le Drian said that France had been in contact with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as well as African and fellow European governments. An administration spokesman in Washington said the US was considering extending intelligence and logistic aid to the French forces fighting al Qaeda in Mali.
debkafile’s military sources report that the crises in Mali and Somalia caught President Hollande in the middle of another crisis involving terrorists – not this time al Qaeda but the separatist Kurdish PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) with which Turkey is at war.
Thursday, three Kurdish women were found dead of shots to the head at the Kurdish Information Center in Paris. One of the victims was identified as Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK organization. French Interior Minister Manuel Vallis said they had obviously been “executed.”
The president’s comment that one of the victims was known to him infuriated the Turkish government. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on Hollande to explain why he had met Kurdish militants with links to the PKK, which is viewed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the United States.
Erdogan also said that Turkey expected the French government to find those responsible for slaying the three Kurdish women in Paris. This incident occurred as Turkish intelligence officials were conducting talks with the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, in a bid to disarm the PKK and end a conflict which has cost thousands of lives in nearly two decades.
January 12, 2013 – AFRICA – An army officer at the headquarters of Mali’s former military junta in Bamako said nearly 30 vehicles carrying Islamist fighters had been bombed and “over 100” rebels had been killed in fighting. “We have driven them out, we are effectively in Konna,” Malian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Diaran Kone told Reuters. “We don’t know if they have planted mines or other traps, so we are moving with caution. There were many deaths on both sides.” A shopkeeper in Konna said he had counted 148 bodies in four different locations in the town. Among the dead were several dozen uniformed government soldiers. Others wore traditional robes and turbans. Fighters from the Islamist coalition that currently controls northern Mali do not wear military clothing. A resident in the town of Gao, the stronghold of the MUJWA Islamist group, said fighters had begun arriving with their dead on Friday. “Electric power is available at the mortuary, which is not always the case. And the Islamists have bought plenty of burial mats,” the man said.
January 11, 2013
President François Hollande declared that Mali’s very existence was threatened by “terrorist aggression”, adding: “French army forces supported Malian units this afternoon to fight against terrorist elements.”
The battle came after hundreds of Islamist gunmen struck beyond their stronghold in northern Mali and seized the town of Konna in the central region on Thursday.
This placed them less than 40 miles from Mopti, the last garrison town protecting the road to the capital, Bamako. President Dioncounda Traore of Mali appealed for help from France, the former colonial power, and a counter-attack began Friday with the aim of retaking Konna.
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