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Fleets of Drones Descend on Africa

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    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    U.S. drone bases are multiplying on the African continent. Niger has just “given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil”; neighboring Burkina Faso already has one; two new drone facilities are opening in Ethiopia and the Seychelles; and UN peacekeepers in Congo want U.S. drones. Drones have terrorized Somalia from AFRICOM’s base in Djibouti for the past seven years.


    Fleets of Drones Descend on Africa

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    Drone warfare has become central to the modern U.S. version of gunboat diplomacy.”

    With the U.S. and European military offensive in Africa in full swing, the drone wars are set to enter a new phase. Therefore, it is appropriate that U.S. anti-war activists will descend on the White House, on April 13, to demand “Drones Out of Africa and Everywhere!” The activists, including former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and the ANSWER Coalition, say the real target is Africa’s vast natural resources. Drone warfare, say the organizers, has become central to the modern U.S. version of gunboat diplomacy, to “force exploitative terms of trade and political accommodations.”

    The West African nation of Niger has been very accommodating to the Americans, as she has been to the French, the former colonial master. According to a high Niger official quoted by Reuters news service, Niger has “given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of intelligence on Islamist movements.” However, there is no reason to believe that the U.S. drones will be restricted to unarmed surveillance. Sources in Washington say “there are no constraints to military-to-military co-operation within the agreement" with Niger, which presumably means the U.S. can use the drones as it likes. The U.S. base in northern Niger puts the robotic planes within easy reach of Mali, Algeria and Libya.

    The U.S. already has a drone base in neighboring Burkina Faso, which also borders on Benin, Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast.

    Ethiopia is now home to a new U.S. drone base, as are the Seychelles Islands, offshore in the Indian Ocean.”

    In East Africa, the U.S. has been terrorizing Somalia with drones since 2006, when it instigated the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. The U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, sends out drones from its large, permanent base in neighboring Djibouti, from which it can watch – or attack - most of the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea, right next door, one of the few countries in Africa that has no relationship with AFRICOM. Eritrea is under constant threat from Ethiopia, from which it won independence after a 30-year war.

    Ethiopia is now home to a new U.S. drone base, as are the Seychelles Islands, offshore in the Indian Ocean and within easy drone range of most of the East African coast: Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.

    In the very heart of the African continent, the 17,000-man United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo wants to use U.S. drones to monitor armed groups in the region, where U.S. Special Forces are also operating. Those drones would be deployed under much the same UN Security Council language that NATO used to launch its war against Libya, in 2011, allowing “all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.”

    At the same time, another section of the United Nations is about to launch an investigation into the legality of U.S. drone warfare in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Thus, it is possible that the United Nations Security Council could wind up calling in American drones to attack people in the Congo region, while the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism is investigating whether U.S. drone warfare violates international law.

    For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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    NATO Supporting the jihadi's in the Arab muslim world, but....

    Bombing the Jihadi's in the Black muslim world:

    "Making sense of Mali's armed groups"

    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

    AQIM is a mostly Algerian and Mauritanian group that has been present in northern Mali since 2003 and which has kidnapped and held more than 50 European and Canadian hostages for ransom in the last ten years earning what is estimated to be well over $100m. 

    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 [Ansar al-Dine].

    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.

    Over the last decade a few local Ifoghas, Tuaregs and Arabs joined AQIM in Mali, and their members also inter-married with the community. However now that AQIM are openly circulating in the main cities of northern Mali, and thanks to its association with local groups like Ansar al-Dine, the group has become more mainstream.

    Now youths from southern Mali, Senegal, Niger and other countries have come to join them under the rubric of the Islamic Police which AQIM has a direct hand in running. 

    [End Quote]

    An "exclusive" Al Jazeera report from inside northern 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.

    [End Quote]

    And finally...

    "Qatar plays key role in US Middle East/North Africa plans"

    By Jean Shaoul

    9 February 2013

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