U.S. backs French bombing of Mali

Colonial powers try to reconquer Africa

Jan. 14 — French imperialism has launched major military operations in West and East Africa under the guise of fighting “Islamic terrorism.” French fighter jets and commandos have gone into operation in the north and central regions of Mali.

These attacks follow the Obama administration’s late December declaration that the Pentagon would dispatch 3,500 troops to 35 African countries. The U.S., Britain and Denmark have said they are involved in the bombing raids in Mali. The former French colony has been effectively partitioned since March 2012.

It’s important to remember that in Libya the French air force took the initiative starting the bombing of that North African country in March 2011. In the end, U.S. imperialism provided the lion’s share of the logistics, intelligence and air power that was key to destroying the Libyan state.

The Mali bombings have killed more than 100 people in the cities of Gao and Konno and in at least three other areas. Some people in Konno tried to hide from the attacks. “Some flung themselves into the river. Many did not survive — including three children who drowned in the river as they struggled to escape.” (Toronto Globe and Mail, Jan. 13)

In Douentza in central Mali, aerial bombardments have prevented victims from reaching the local hospital. The French Air Force can’t distinguish between so-called “Islamic extremists” and those in other groups not on the terrorist list, not to mention civilians.

A statement issued by Doctors Without Borders said, “Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital. We are worried about the people living close to the combat zones.”

Chaos in Libya spreads to Mali

In Libya the NATO countries armed Islamic groups to fight the legitimate government. Now the imperialists are using “Islamic extremists” as a pretext for this intervention. The truth is that NATO powers intervene to seize control of African resources. In Mali there are oil reserves in the center and north of the country.

Many of the insurgency troops in northern Mali had participated in the resistance to U.S. and NATO bombing in neighboring Libya. The imperialist intervention toppled Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who was brutally assassinated in October 2011.

The political crisis in Mali has been developing for over a year after Tuareg separatists sought to create an autonomous enclave in the north of this vast country. The Movement for the National Liberation of Azawad took control of a number of cities in early 2012.

Some Islamist groups then entered Mali’s contested northern region and began to establish control of key areas around Gao and the historic city of Timbuktu. With the advances of the MNLA in early 2012, tensions mounted within the capital of Bamako in the south.

The Islamist groups that are ostensibly being targeted by France include the Ansar Dine, the Movement for Justice and Unity (MUJWA), and  Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb. Since AQIM has been active in neighboring Algeria, Washington tried to get Algiers directly involved in the Malian conflict.

In late March, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, who was trained in a U.S. military academy, led a military coup in Bamako, overthrowing Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure. Through its U.S. Africa Command, the Pentagon had developed close ties with the military in Mali, providing training, arms and monetary support.

The regional Economic Community of West African States withdrew recognition temporarily from Sanogo’s military junta. ECOWAS led negotiations resulting in the formation of an interim government headed by veteran Malian politician Dioncounda Traore, who was appointed president. In turn, he appointed Cheick Modibo Diarra as prime minister.

Diarra, an astrophysicist who holds a U.S. passport, has served as the representative of Microsoft Corporation in Africa. Diarra was recently removed from the premiership and replaced by Django Cissoko.

ECOWAS leaders drafted a plan to send 3,300 troops into northern Mali to reestablish the authority of Bamako.

The Globe and Mail noted, “The French intervention was so hasty that it did not wait for any clear approval from the UN.”

Failure of U.S. and French policy in Africa

The French intervention will create an even greater crisis in France’s former colony. Mali has already been stifled and weakened by Washington and Paris’ interference in its internal affairs.

Even the New York Times pointed out that the Pentagon program with the Malian military has been an abysmal failure. U.S.-trained Capt. Sanogo staged a coup that heightened instability and prompted an imperialist invasion. Many of the U.S.-trained officers deserted the central government to join the insurgents. (Jan. 13)

Even though the French claim that the bombing of Mali has halted the advances of the so-called Islamists, reports on Jan. 14 indicate a widening war and the threat of deploying more French forces on the ground. At least 400 additional French troops have been placed in Bamako.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French television, “[The Islamists] have taken Diabaly … after fierce fighting and resistance from the Malian army.” France, which had finally withdrawn its forces from Afghanistan, may be facing another long-term occupation on the African continent. (Reuters, Jan. 14)

In the same article Oumar Ould Hamaha of MUJWA was quoted as telling Europe 1 radio, “[The French] should attack on the ground if they are men. We’ll welcome them with open arms.”

Hamaha continued, “France has opened the gates of hell for all the French. She has fallen into a trap which is much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia.”

Disastrous Somalia mission

In the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia, a French “rescue” operation failed to bring back an intelligence officer who has been held by the Al-Shabab organization in southern Somalia for over three years. The raid carried out against Al-Shabab positions in Bulo Marer was met with fierce resistance,  resulting in the deaths of an untold number of French Special Forces and the capture of at least one soldier, who later died from his wounds.

French intelligence officer Dennis Allex remains in Al-Shabab custody. The French government said he was killed in the firefight, but the Islamic resistance movement indicated that he was still alive and was not at the location that was attacked.

Later the Obama administration admitted that it was involved in the botched operation. The Al-Shabab group has been fighting the U.S.-backed transitional government in Somalia for five years.

The U.S. Pentagon and CIA have been training African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops composed of military units from Washington’s African allies, including Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Kenya. Some 17,500 AMISOM troops now occupy Somalia to prop up President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s regime.

In a Twitter message, Al-Shabab emphasized that its forces had captured the commander of the French Special Forces unit.

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