Thursday, January 31, 2013


I haven't said anything about Mali, have I?  Kind of held off until I had a better grasp of the "how come" element. I mean no one seeemed to care about Mali for the last I don't know how many years, then, kaboom, it's back to Africa time with the French in the lead.  As the Voltairenet points out:

Mali, with a population of some 12 million, and a landmass three and a half times the size of Germany, is a land-locked largely Saharan Desert country in the center of western Africa, bordered by Algeria to its north, Mauritania to its west, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger to its southern part. People I know who have spent time there before the recent US-led efforts at destabilization called it one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth, the home of Timbuktu. Its people are some ninety percent Muslim of varying persuasions. It has a rural subsistence agriculture and adult illiteracy of nearly 50%. Yet this country is suddenly the center of a new global “war on terror.”

I mean, what is that all about, Alfie?

THEY say it's about terrorists and Muslim extremists.  Some OTHERS say it's really all to do with weapons floating around from Libya, Libya blowback.  And what about the indigenous tribes in the north of the country.

Well, probably all those things are in there in one way or another, but that just seemed to simple to me...the Empire doesn't go to war for just anything these days.  That just isn't prudent, an one of our old Presidents used to say.

Try resources on for size.  The world is running out of them and that part of Africa has some things, including uranium, that lots of folks on all sides of the Empire (and especially the province of France) want...and the Chineese, too.

Those zany Chinese have been turning up all over Africa in recent years.  Some call them neo colonialists, others call them friends.

The Western wing of the Empire call them a problem.

The Center for Research on Globalization reports the following:

Several cables in 2009 revealed French hostility toward various obstacles that were placed before French corporation Areva as it attempted to secure the rights to mine uranium at a site in the country’s south. On June 17, 2009, US ambassador Frederick Cook dispatched a cable, “French-CAR relations seriously strained,” that concluded: “Boziz√© may believe that he has successfully rendered himself the least of the evils in the CAR political landscape. He thus appears to imagine himself indispensable to his neighbours and the French, an assumption that AmEmbassy Bangui believes may be badly mistaken.”

Another cable sent five months later was headed “Growing Chinese influence in the CAR evident.” It detailed the extent to which both American and French interests were losing ground to Beijing, which was “ramping up its military cooperation, public diplomacy and development efforts.” The cable noted that whereas there were only four resident diplomatic agents in the American embassy in Bangui, the Chinese embassy had about 40 employees. It added that approximately 40 CAR military officers were being trained in China every year, compared to the two or three officers who went to the US and 10-15 to France.

Making clear the predatory calculations behind the US and French presence in the Central African Republic, the cable referred to the country’s “rich untapped natural resources” and warned: “With French investments moribund and French influence in general decline, the Chinese are likely positioning themselves as the CAR’s primary benefactor in exchange for access to the CAR’s ample deposits of uranium, gold, iron, diamonds, and possibly oil.”


It is not going to stop with Mali.

This from the Fourth Media,

As British Prime Minister David Cameron declared, the crisis in Mali “will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months.” Backing up such bluster, Britain has reportedly joined France in dispatching special commando teams to Mali, in addition to surveillance drones.

In Washington, the talk of a long war to be waged across the entire Sahel region of Africa has also begun. As one U.S. official speaking on the Western intervention into Mali warned Monday, “It is going to take a long time and time means that it could take several years.”

But wait, don't we want to contain the terrorist threat?  Well, sure, that is the story behind the war of the police all over the world these days.  Hell, where would be without those terrorists?  We don't rreally want to defeat them.

Again from the Fourth Media,

 After all, a vanquished al-Qaeda would really denote something of a strategic setback for Washington. It would deprive the U.S. a source of proxy war foot soldiers, while also leaving Washington struggling to justify its global garrisoning. In the end then, the al-Qaeda menace — that gift that keeps on giving — is simply too useful to defeat.

 All the attention on combating al-Qaeda in northern Mali has provided the perfect cover for the U.S. and its junior Western partners to pursue their grand strategy of containment against China. And with China increasingly out competing Western interests throughout Africa, one understands the sudden neo-colonial urge in the West.

According to Razia Khan, the regional head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, bilateral trade between Africa and China is nearing $200 billion annually, having grown at an average rate of 33.6 percent per year over the past decade. What’s more, in the coming years Africa stands to become China’s largest trade partner, surpassing both the EU and the U.S.

None of this has been lost on Washington. As the presumptive next U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, noted during his Senate confirmation hearing, the U.S. is knowingly playing from behind.

“Now with respect to China and Africa, China is all over Africa — I mean, all over Africa. And they’re buying up long-term contracts on minerals, on … you name it,” Kerry commented. “And there’re some places where we’re not in the game, folks. And I hate to say it. And we got to get in.”

And that brings us back to resources.  The Chinese need them, too.  I mean you don't rapidly develop your country out of thin air. 

 Mali is rich in resources, from uranium to gold...and maybe even lots of oil. Votlairenet reports:

According to Mamadou Igor Diarra, previous mining minister, Malian soil contains copper, uranium, phosphate, bauxite, gems and in particular, a large percentage of gold in addition to oil and gas. Thus, Mali is one of the countries in the world with the most raw materials. With its gold mining, the country is already one of the leading exploiters directly behind South Africa and Ghana. 

There is also  lignite, kaolin, salt, limestone, gypsum, granite, marble, diatomite, hydropower, iron ore, manganese, tin, lead, zinc, and copper.

Are you getting the picture.

But was a war against terrorism in Mali really necessary.  It is true that a fierce bunch of midevil Islamic fundamentalists have been in control of northern Mali for a while now.   Well,  as Counterfire  puts it:

Had the rebels expressed their love of the West and outlined their intentions to open up Mali's market to foreign companies (allowing the leaching of resources), we would not have heard a word of objection from France, the United Kingdom or any other power. Instead, we are greeted with the scramble to take a big slice out of this African cake. Everyone is rushing to fight 'terrorists' in Mali. France is ensuring energy security. There should be no disruption in the flow of uranium through France's nuclear reactors. The so-called rebels are bad for business.

 The Empire wants to control the human and natural resources of the poor regions of the world.  It has to control them. France, remember, generates almost 80% of its electricity from nuclear power.  Mali and nearby Niger have lots of that uranium stuff.  Hmmm...   The French company Areva is presently constructing in Imouraren, Niger, what will become the second-largest uranium mine in the world..  Mali is number three worldwide in gold.  Gold is always good for the Empire

If you believe the West is worried about a few measly Islamic fundamentalist poking around in the middle of nowhere, then you probably never even heard of China. 

 Did I mention China?

Did I mention Niger?

Even more importantly, did I mention the whole of Africa remains rich in resources?

Say goodnight, Gracie.

The following is from  the Global Research.

Mali “Resource War” Extends into Niger: France sends Troops to Secure Niger Uranium Mines

Barely two weeks after invading Mali with over 2,000 troops of the Foreign Legion, France has dispatched special forces troops to neighboring Niger to secure uranium mines run by the French state-owned nuclear power company Areva.

The new French military intervention in northwest Africa was first reported by the weekly magazine Le Point and confirmed by military sources contacted by other sections of the French media. Le Point reported that French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had quickly agreed earlier this week to a “major innovation” in ordering the Special Forces Command to send troops to protect the Areva uranium production sites in Imouraren, and 80 kilometers away in Arlit. The magazine noted that this is the first ever use of the French commandos to directly defend the assets of a corporation.

The magazine reported that French government officials had taken the decision following the botched attempt to rescue the French hostage, Denis Allex, in Somalia and the recent bloody hostage-taking incident and siege at the Armenas gas facility in Algeria, where over 80 people were killed.

Those two events “in addition to launching the ‘Serval’ operation in Mali have significantly increased risk factors for French installations, including industry and mining in the region,” Le Point reported.

In reality, the dispatch of French commandos to the uranium mines in Niger only underscores the overriding economic and geo-strategic motives behind the French military intervention in Mali. Under the cover of a supposed war against Islamist “terrorists” and a defense of the central government in Mali, French imperialism is using its military might to tighten its grip on its resource-rich former African colonies.

Official spokesmen at both Areva and the French Defense Ministry refused to discuss the new military deployment, citing security concerns.

In Niger itself, officials denied any knowledge of the dispatch of the special forces commandos. “It’s true that the terrorist threat has increased today, but as far as I know there is no such agreement in place at the moment,” one official told Reuters.

A Niger army officer told the news agency that there were already security arrangements in place that had been agreed to with France and imposed after the September 2010 kidnapping of seven employees of Areva and one of its contractors in the northern Nigerien town of Arlit.

“We also have counter-terrorism units in the Agadez region,” said the officer. “For now, I don’t know of a decision by the Nigerien government to allow French special forces to base themselves in the north.”

Failure to inform the Nigerien government of its plans would not be out of the question. Ever since its independence in 1960, France, which had ruled the country as a colony for 60 years, has treated Niger as a semi-colony.

The uranium extracted from the mines in Niger have been considered of strategic importance by successive French governments. The yellowcake produced from Niger’s uranium ore has been used to make France’s nuclear bombs as well as to fuel its nuclear reactors, which account for over 75 percent of the country’s electricity.

While vast profits have been reaped from Niger’s uranium, the mining operation has benefited only a thin layer of the country’s subservient bourgeoisie. According to the United Nations human development index, Niger is the third poorest country on the planet, with 70 percent of the population continuing to live on less than $1 a day and life expectancy reaching only 45.

Moreover, the mining has exacerbated ethnic and regional tensions within Niger. Uranium production is concentrated in the northern homeland of the nomadic Tuareg minority, which repeatedly has risen in revolt, charging that whatever resources do accrue from the mining operations go to the southern capital of Niamey. One of the main demands of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a largely Tuareg armed militia that has battled the Nigerien army, has been the more equitable distribution of uranium revenues.

Moreover, the exploitation of uranium by Areva has created an environmental and health disaster in the mining areas. The environmental group Greenpeace found in a 2010 report that water wells in the region were contaminated with radiation levels up to 500 times higher than normal. In Arlit, site of one of the major Areva mines, deaths from respiratory diseases occur at twice the national average.

France has every reason to fear that its intervention in Mali, which has already seen the bombing of civilian populations and the torture and execution of civilians by the French-backed Malian army in predominantly Tuareg areas, could cause armed conflict to spill over the border into Niger.

However, in addition to securing its profitable facilities from “terrorism” or popular revolt, France has other reasons to flex its military muscle in Niger. In an attempt to increase its share of the uranium profits, the Nigerien government has recently issued exploration permits to Chinese and Indian firms. By dispatching armed commandos, Paris is asserting its domination of the former colony as part of its African sphere of influence.

As France stepped up its African intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used testimony before a Senate committee Wednesday to affirm Washington’s determination to escalate its own intervention in the region.

“We are in a struggle, but it is a necessary struggle,” said Clinton. “We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.”

Clinton acknowledged that the rebellion in Mali as well as the hostage siege at the gas plant in Algeria had been fueled in large measure by the US-NATO toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, where Washington and its allies armed and supported Islamist militias as a proxy ground force in the war for regime change.

“There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya,” she said. “There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM [Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb] have weapons from Libya.”

She argued that, while there was no evidence that any of these forces in North Africa posed a direct threat to the US, Washington should launch a preemptive campaign against them anyway. “You can’t say because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it,” she said.

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