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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/31/13

US Secures Drone Base in Northwest Africa

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This is a grossly distorted and self-serving presentation of the events in Mali. The reality is that the crisis was precipitated by the US-NATO war for regime-change that ended in Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's assassination. The bringing down of the Libyan regime served to destabilize the entire region. It sent Tuaregs, a nomadic population that is present in Libya, Mali, Niger and elsewhere in the region, fleeing to Mali under conditions in which US-backed "rebels" were hunting down and killing black people in Libya.

The Tuaregs, who had fought on the side of Gaddafi, brought with them large quantities of weapons, reigniting a revolt that has erupted at least four times since Mali's independence in 1960. Entire Tuareg units of the Malian army went over to the rebels.

However, better armed and better funded Islamists, affiliated with Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, entered northern Mali and gained control of large swathes of territory. These were the very forces that the US and NATO has backed and armed in Libya, utilizing them as a proxy ground force in the war to topple Gaddafi.

Yamamoto's remarks strongly suggest that US imperialism is intervening in Mali not merely to drive out or destroy its erstwhile allies, the Islamists (the same forces that it is still backing in Syria), but also to crush the Tuareg revolt.

Given that the same Tuareg population exists to the east in Niger, the US intervention has the potential of spreading this revolt and igniting a bitter ethnic-based transnational civil war.

Underlying Washington's incendiary activities in Northwest Africa are not, fundamentally, concerns about a supposed terrorist threat, but rather the determination of US imperialism, like its French counterpart, to lay hold of the region's strategically vital energy and mineral wealth.

The US is flexing is military muscle under conditions where it has been outstripped in terms of trade and investment by its ascendant rival in the region, China.

As the secret diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks made clear, China's economic activities have been a central preoccupation of the US spies and diplomats assigned to Niamey, the capital of Niger.

As one such cable to Washington warned: "China is building a major portfolio in Niger's resource sectors and will probably replace France as Niger's top foreign investor when projects under construction are fully operational. Chinese investments include oil and gas production, refining, uranium mining, and infrastructure. There are no current examples of US-China collaboration in Niger."

The move to militarize Africa's Sahel region is part and parcel of the Obama administration's so-called "pivot" to Asia, based on a steady escalation of Washington's confrontation with China. This extends to Africa, where the attempt to militarily assert US dominance over resource-rich territories in which China has developed significant  economic interests has the potential of contributing to a far wider war.

Crossposted at wsws.org

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