AFRICOM Overheard by Lacville
AFRICA, 16 Apr 2012
The neocolonial scramble for Africa has led to a declaration of the Independent Republic of Azawad.
In 2008, George W. Bush authorized the creation of AFRICOM, the Pentagon’s African Command. Why? A paper written in 2002 by the influential, right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation, proposed that the Pentagon should create a unified command structure to assure American interests in Africa. “With its vast natural and mineral resources,” wrote Heritage Foundation, “Africa remains strategically important to the West, as it has been for hundreds of years, and its geostrategic significance is likely to rise in the 21st century.”
According to the National Intelligence Council, “the United States is likely to draw 25 per cent of its oil from West Africa by 2015, surpassing the volume imported from the Persian Gulf”, the study reported. The interests of the USA could be assured, wrote the authors, by using local allies to fight American battles. Any objective observer analyzing wars in Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, and now in the Sahara Desert might conclude that the Heritage Foundation strategy has been put into practice with great success for the USA.
In the case of Libya, President Obama was pleased to describe his ‘leadership from behind” as French and British and other NATO allies destroyed Gadafy for America’s pleasure. Numerous writers and journalists have highlighted the neocolonial rush to control Africa’s natural resources. AFRICOM seems to be the strategic center for America’s ‘leadership from behind’ and it is from AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany that the following report comes.
During a recent virtual trip he did not make to Stuttgart, writer Robert Lacville virtually overheard the following briefing of a senior U.S. army general by Senior C.I.A. Agent Jack and a certain Colonel W.
“Evening, General! Are you ready for our briefing?”
“Colonel! Welcome. Come in. Sit yourselves down, both of you.”
“General, have you met Senior Agent Jack?”
“Agent Jack, pleased to know you! I am impressed with what your guys have achieved in West Africa. Tell me how you combined the political scene and the military movement so neatly?”
“Not so tricky, General. You need to identify a combination of naïveté, ambition and greed. A former student leader in Bamako turned up with those exact weaknesses. Once you identify the ‘Chicken’ (to quote a French expression) then all you need is chicken feed – a few thousand dollars. Our Chicken thinks it is Mid East money. He will never guess it came from Uncle Sam.”
“Colonel W, tell me about the military issues in Bamako.”
“Where the coup will take Mali is anybody’s guess, General, but we no longer care. Mali has no army any more: the Tuaregs took all their weapons and equipment, and the soldiers have fled. There was a mutiny, and Captain Sanogo jumped onto the wagon as the driver. Now we can sell Mali some more weapons, and we may need to deliver some food supplies for refugees. That will be good practice for our pilots. Have we a budget for humanitarian relief, General?”
“Sure, Washington will be happy to throw a few hundred thousand dollars at the humanitarian emergency. The operation will look good for the president’s re-election campaign. About your Captain Sanogo? Did you choose him, Agent Jack?’
“Captain Sanogo was one of yours, General; although a couple of ours were stirring the pot. Sanogo was totally out of his depth, of course, and floundering. But that’s fine. The ECOWAS sanctions forced him to hand power over to a transitional government and now Mali is back on the road to being America’s favorite democracy. Meanwhile Sanogo did the job: the presidential elections were delayed, the Tuareg takeover in the North is complete. By the time the political authorities have unwound the chaos of the Mali coup, Azawad will be a done deal.”
“And the ousted President?”
“We don’t care about him, General. He was venal and incompetent. He tied his fortunes and his government too tightly to Libya; he was bound to come unstuck as soon as we took out Gadafy.”
“You say he’s venal, as well as incompetent?”
“Well, General, President Touré (called ATT) was a soldier who never became a politician –like Colin Powell, his military gifts didn’t translate. ATT ran Mali like he ran the commandos: everything came back to him, his assistants all saluted and said “Aye aye, Sir!” A Failed State is a state with weak institutions and corrupt leaders. Mali’s democratic institutions were weak before he arrived, because they were new, and ATT picked them to pieces.”
“OK, that’s the incompetent part: how about the venal?”
“Well, General, I don’t know that President ATT was personally corrupt. I only met him one time, and I thought he seemed a sincere type of guy. His weakness was his friends. You know they say, ‘The King is only as good as his advisors?’ Well, Touré had a small clique of military cronies and promoted them all to the rank of general, even the mediocre ones. Having lots of over-paid generals driving big cars makes the soldiers mad, especially when the soldiers are also paid late. Then the Malian army was short of ammunition. In a desert town called Aguel Hoc, dozens of Mali’s soldiers were killed on January 24 by Al Qaeda, when their ammo ran out. No wonder the troops were pissed!”
“Another thing, General, is that certain Malian generals supported Al Qaeda’s drug business: they allowed the Mauritanian and Algerian traffickers run with cocaine. When Arabs were arrested in Mali, they were able to buy their way out of jail. The Mali government became tied to the Al Qaeda, Colombian and Libyan drug mafias; we mustn’t forget them! The French and Algerians are also involved in cocaine. The Malian president approached us, but we declined to become involved. It is not our problem if cocaine flows to Europe’s cities.”
“Yeah! Europeans are wimps, and the ruling political parties in France and Italy are linked to mafia groups. E.U. foreign policy is a sad joke! Without European support against the drug mafias, President ATT had to make difficult choices. Compromise with drug lords turned out not to be such a good choice.”
“If the Europeans had seen the danger, they would have taken out the Colombians in Guinea Bissau ten years ago! They have allowed the cocaine lords to buy Bissau and their main drug protector, Admiral Bouba Natouch, is now running the navy – which means ‘cocaine boats’. Someone suggested we should send in the Navy Seals to clear the coastline. It could be done, but why would we do it? Cocaine in Europe is their problem, not ours!”
“OK, very interesting – now back to the Sahara. We have two objectives: minerals and terrorism. Your Azawad friends will give us oil and phosphates and manganese and uranium – right? And that means the Chinese and French do not have it. So objective Number One can be ticked off. That leaves Number Two: what about the Al Qaeda threat?”
“Yes, General, we believe the Republic of Azawad is a done deal thanks to Libya’s army of Tuaregs who have returned to claim their homeland. People will scream, of course, and the United Nations will huff and puff, but no one is going to unpick the Azawad…. unless it is AQIM – Al Qaeda in the Maghreb. We always said: ‘first the Azawad, then the Tuaregs will deal with AQIM’ – and that is still the program.”
“So the question is: what is needed to help the Azawad Tuaregs wipe out AQIM?”
“It should not be too difficult, General. Al Qaeda is a bunch of angry Algerians from the civil war of the 1990s, with an ideology composed of Salafist Islam, medieval brutality, drugs, cigarettes, and kidnapping. One AQIM Algerian leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, is known as ‘Marlboro’ because he does so many smuggled cigarettes. He has been sentenced to death in Algeria. We know he was in Timbuktu on Monday April 2nd with the Salafist Tuareg leader of Ansar Dine, Iyad Ag Ghaly. ‘Marlboro’ has recently been shopping for weapons in Libya, with other AQIM leaders. Abou Zeid and Yahya Abou Al-Hammam were also in Timbuktu: perhaps we should code-name them ‘Cocaine’ and ‘Hashish’ to go with ‘Marlboro’!
“All code names, Jack, must be cleared with the military before you use them.”
“No problem, General – just my little joke. We know that Libya’s Tuareg soldiers are not interested in expanding the Saudi political empire of Salafism. We will try to increase the divisions between Tuareg soldiers and Al Qaeda ideologues. The Tuareg leader, Iyad ag Ghali, is a leopard who changes his spots. He used to fight for Tuareg rights and autonomy, but now he has a big black beard and an armed group called Ansardine. Iyad is friendly with AQIM and he wants to be the Ayatollah Khomeini of the Sahara. That pisses off his former comrades. We are putting it around that Iyad carried out the massacres at Aguel Hoc: this will make him enemies who will seek revenge through civil war in Azawad.”
“And who, Agent Jack, will win that war?”
“We were counting on a straight fight between Arabs of Al Qaeda and the Tuaregs. Iyad’s big beard and weird ideology is a complication, making it Arab+Tuareg vs Tuareg. That is why the Tuareg population needs to believe that Iyad murdered the Tuareg soldiers at Aguel Hoc. The Libyan Tuaregs are well-organized and well-armed; we believe they should be able to destroy Al Qaeda and clean up the Sahara for us. Now the military side I shall leave to the colonel.”
“Training and weapons are not the problem for Independent Azawad, General: money is the problem. AQIM has almost unlimited supplies of money from cocaine, and also from ransoms: we believe AQIM has a made around eleven million dollars from ransoming their Swiss and Austrian and German and French victims. Jack mentioned that Mister Marlboro has been shopping in Libya, which is now the world’s biggest and cheapest heavy weapon bazaar. The Tuaregs brought plenty of Libyan weapons with them, but they will need enough ammunition to wipe out Al Qaeda.”
“So the key word is ‘Ammunition’, General. Money and ammunition. We need to keep our Tuareg friends supplied with ammunition. And of course they still need money to pay their guys, and food supplies because there is a famine situation in North Mali: even with money, there is not much food the soldiers can buy.”
“We can fix that. We can keep the money flowing to the Tuaregs, and we can insist that United Nations humanitarian food supplies should also be delivered to the soldiers. The U.N. complains about feeding fighters, but we pay the bills and tell them the soldiers are really refugees.”
“How about the Bamako guys? Do we keep stirring the pot down there?”
“Forget Bamako, Jack. Cut the allowances to a few hundred dollars per payment, just to keep our agitators warm. For ammo delivery, Colonel, will you make a time-assessment of needs and ordnance categories? We will keep Azawad supplied with ordnance to keep the war going until the job is done. If needed, we can do an air-drop under Exercise Flintlock or Operation Atlas Accord – that way we will not even have to put in a request for special flights. Is that all, Gentlemen? Thank you for a helpful and satisfactory briefing.”
Robert Lacville writes on Africa. He has been a regular contributor to the Guardian.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 16 Apr 2012.
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