French Mali war escalates

This video is called US drones join the war in Mali.

By Kumaran Ira in France:

France escalates Mali war amid Algerian hostage crisis

18 January 2013

France has increased its troop deployment in Mali to 1,400, amid escalating fighting with Islamist-led rebels who control northern Mali and a hostage crisis at an Algerian natural gas complex that was seized in retaliation for the French war in Mali.

Yesterday, the Algerian military attacked the strategic gas complex in In Amenas, near the Libyan border, with tanks and helicopters. Armed militants of the Al Qaeda-linked Battalion of Blood brigade claimed to have taken 41 foreigners hostage. Some 30 hostages and 11 Islamist militants were killed in the strike, according to the Algerian government. The In Amenas facility’s output is valued at $4 billion per year and amounts to 12 percent of Algeria’s production of natural gas, and fully 18 percent of its critical natural gas exports. As Italy reported a 17 percent shortfall in its gas imports from Algeria, energy industry analysts said the fighting would prompt Europe to rely more on Russian natural gas exports.

Washington reportedly flew a reconnaissance drone over the site to monitor the fighting.

Paris seized on the attack as a pretext to defend its decision to invade Mali, which it claims is part of a war on Islamist terrorism. French President François Hollande said, “What’s happening in Algeria justifies even more the decision I took in the name of France to go to Mali’s aid.”

France launched the war in Mali last Friday to defend the unpopular military junta of Captain Amadou Sanogo, which still controls southern Mali, after rebels captured the strategic town of Konna. They are struggling, however, to halt the rebels’ southward advance. France plans to ultimately deploy 2,500 troops and continue aerial bombardment of its former West African colony.

Fighting between French and Malian troops and rebel forces continued Thursday in Diabaly, only 220 miles north of the capital, Bamako, as the French air force continued to bomb the town.

Despite French air strikes and ground assaults, however, the village remained under rebel control. The Associated Press quoted a resident of Niono: “There were bombardments last night in Diabaly and civilians have continued to come here to Niono, this morning I saw people who came from Diabaly and the Islamists still occupy the city.”

As forces have been deployed north, Islamist forces were spotted in the town of Banamba, only 72 miles from Bamako, highlighting the Malian army’s inability to halt the rebel advance. Troops from nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has pledged to send 3,300 troops to assist France’s war, are slated to reinforce in those areas.

Reuters cited a senior Malian military source: “Banamba is in a state of alert. Reinforcements have been sent. Nigerian troops expected to arrive in Bamako today could be deployed there to secure the zone.”

There were no reports of civilian casualties due to the latest French air strikes, though the bombings will obviously lead to a sharp spike in deaths. Initial reports of French air strikes against Gao and Konna earlier this week estimated there were between 60 and 100 people killed, respectively, in those two cities, including civilians torn to pieces by bombs and children who drowned in a river trying to escape the explosions.

French officials cynically claimed that they would try to avoid harming civilians. Admiral Edouard Guillaud told RTL radio, “France would do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties. When in doubt, we will not fire.”

European Foreign ministers held a meeting in Brussels to discuss the Malian crisis yesterday, endorsing the French war and authorizing a military training mission to help the Malian army.

The French war in Mali aims neither to fight terrorism nor to establish democracy. Hollande is waging a reactionary war to prop up a Bamako regime dominated by the Sanogo junta and to enforce its authority in northern Mali against Islamist forces and northern Malian separatist groups. Its ultimate goal is to defend French imperialism’s substantial corporate and military interests in Mali and in its other former West African colonies.

In so doing, Paris is intervening in defiance of the northern Malian population’s well-known sectional hostility to the corrupt Bamako regime. This policy of presenting this war as a war for democracy and against terrorism is deeply cynical, as Paris and other NATO powers are simultaneously collaborating with Al Qaeda-linked forces in their war in Syria.

A desert and mountainous region, Northern Mali has long been a quasi-autonomous area, dominated by Tuaregs and ethnic Arabs hostile to the central government in Bamako formed after the 1960 decolonization of French West Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were repeated uprisings and protests in northern Mali against Bamako, particularly by the Tuaregs.

After a Tuareg rebellion in early 1990s, the Gaddafi regime offered Tuaregs high-ranking posts in the Libyan army. In a 2012 interview with the French magazine L’Express, Touré said: “On the local Arabo-Tuareg rebellions, Gaddafi engaged in negotiations, disarmament, and finding positions for the rebels. … Very early on, we alerted NATO to the collateral damage the Libyan crisis would have. We were not listened to.”

The Libyan regime also helped the Malian government financially after its devastating privatization and austerity policies of the 1980s, which allowed French capital to take major stakes in Mali. As Touré told L’Express, “Libya made substantial investments in hotels, tourism, agriculture, and banking, thus contributing to our development.”

The Malian crisis exploded after the NATO war in Libya. Tuaregs, who had fought alongside Gaddafi’s troops and were persecuted under conditions in which the NATO-backed “rebels” were hunting down people with black skins, returned to Mali in early 2012, many of them heavily armed. They helped Northern Malian rebel groups defeat the Malian army. Islamist militant groups—including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Jihad and Unity in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine, and the Nigerian group Boko Haram—also played an important role, imposing Sharia law on an increasingly hostile population.

Sanogo deposed President Touré ahead of the April presidential elections, as military officers accused Touré of failing to deal effectively with the Tuareg rebellion. After initially trying to organize an economic blockade to bring down the Sanogo junta, France, ECOWAS, and the imperialist powers ultimately decided to back it against the rebels in northern Mali.

French imperialism fears that a collapse of the Bamako regime would undermine its influence with regimes in the region. France has significant corporate interests in West Africa, varying from energy and mining resources to cheap labor for French industry. It is relying on military force to protect its interests against rivals in the region, in particular China. It will use these forces above all to suppress working class opposition to French imperialist domination of the region.

Will Mali War End Up Like Afghan Conflict? Here.

Algerian bomb squads scouring the Ain Amenas gas plant for booby traps said today that they had found “numerous” dead bodies: here.

Peace activists poured scorn on David Cameron today as he vowed that British workers’ deaths in Algeria demanded “years, even decades” of war: here. And here.

The Algerian government said yesterday that the death toll from the four-day siege at the Ain Amenas natural gas plant had risen to 38: here.

10 thoughts on “French Mali war escalates

  1. Saturday, 19 January 2013

    Puppet master Obama gives puppet Cameron’s strings a tweak

    THE White House on Thursday issued a ‘Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom’.

    The record of the phone call read: ‘President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron spoke today as part of their regular consultations on global issues, including the ongoing hostage situation in Algeria.

    ‘The leaders expressed support for the international community’s efforts, led by France, to deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali.

    ‘The Prime Minister set forth his thinking on UK-EU relations in light of his upcoming speech. The President underscored our close alliance with the United Kingdom and said that the United States values a strong UK in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity, and security in Europe and around the world.’

    The heroic British Prime Minister, Cameron, then duly cancelled his long-awaited speech on the EU, which he had been warned – by pro-EU politicians, from Mandelson to Clarke and Heseltine – risked British membership of the EU, with its demands that powers that the UK had surrendered to the EU be repatriated, or our hero would veto the new EU treaty and have a referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU.

    That has now been scuppered – probably never to appear again – under this Tory leader anyway.

    Cameron had been planning to address an audience of Dutch business leaders with a speech which would have been closely watched by other European leaders, the business community and supporters and critics within his own party.

    The British government is now being mobilised by Obama, alongside the ‘Socialist’ government of France, to fight a new major war in North Africa against the same forces that it is allied with in Syria in the attempt to overthrow Assad.

    Previously, it was allied with these forces in Libya where it gave massive air support to their effort to overthrow and murder Colonel Gadaffi.

    This second act of calculated NATO-supported butchery saw Al Qaeda reward its US allies by murdering the US ambassador to Libya and then organising a massive supply of arms to every body of Al Qaeda forces in North Africa.

    This development was widely predicted and foreseen by many, except for the completely bankrupt cabal that occupy 10 Downing Street which was desperate to wipe out Arab nationalism so that it could grab the oil.

    They murdered Saddam Hussein and left Iraq in ruins. They murdered Gadaffi and allowed North Africa to be flooded with arms. They are attempting to murder Assad and are seeking to destroy Syria as a country.

    Bush, Blair, Obama and Cameron have been responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands, and all they have succeeded in doing is depositing imperialism in an even bigger hole, with even bigger problems.

    So it is to be permanent war abroad and class war at home as the ruling class tries to keep the bankrupt capitalist system going at any cost, shedding a sea of blood.

    It is plain that the bankrupt capitalist system has a completely bankrupt leadership that has lost any right it may have had to rule, and which deserves to be overthrown and replaced by a socialist society as the only way forward for humanity.

    News Line urges the working class of the UK to be for the defeat of the imperialist powers who are making war on you and on the masses of the planet.

    Our enemy is at home and their defeat in North Africa will be our victory.

    In fact, we urge the trade unions to deliver a message to Cameron, that not a single British soldier must be sent to North Africa.

    The only way out of this developing crisis for the working people of the world is through the organisation of the victory of the world socialist revolution and replacing bankrupt capitalism and imperialism with socialism.


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