Neocolonial war in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger


French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It started in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

The French Foreign Legion became infamous in the nineteenth century for its atrocities while imposing colonial rule in Algeria and elsewhere. Now, it plays a role in twenty-first century neo-colonialism as well.

By Thomas Gaist:

Mali war spilling into Burkina Faso, Niger

18 July 2017

Four and a half years after the January 2013 invasion of Mali by a US-backed French force, the war is spiraling toward a larger regional conflict, prompting border closures by neighboring governments, and spurring escalations by the Western governments.

Mali’s border areas are experiencing “a significant expansion of violent extremist and terrorist activities, including coordinated cross-border attacks against security posts and ransacking of border settlements,” the United Nations top official for West Africa said Thursday.

Additionally, opposition groups staged protests over the weekend in Bamako, Mali’s capital, rallying thousands of demonstrators in the name of blocking proposed legal changes that would transfer emergency powers to the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Last Monday, eight Malian troops were ambushed and killed traveling between Gao and Menaka. On Wednesday, Burkina Faso armed forces clashed with heavily armed militants along the Burkina-Mali border. On Friday, Mauritania declared its northeastern border a closed, militarized area, announcing that “any individual circulating or transiting in this part of the national territory will be treated as a military target.”

On July 8, JNIM attacked a French Army base near the town of Tessalit, killing at least three French soldiers. On July 9, JNIM fighters attacked a police station in Mobti province. In March, Mali’s main Islamist factions, Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun, the Massina factions and Al Qaida announced their merger into a new formation, Nusrat-ul-Islam, under the leadership of Iyad Ag Ghaly.

An Al Qaida branch in Mali known as the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) attacked a Nigerian garrison near the village of Tsawah along the Mali-Niger border in June.

French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Timbuktu at the beginning of July to discuss plans to expand the “G5 Sahel” multinational army, an imperialist proxy coalition established in February 2014, consisting of forces from the governments of Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. On July 2, Macron called on the G5 coalition to contribute 5,000 soldiers in support of French military activities against “terrorists, thugs and murderers.”

“This force is first going to secure the borders, particularly in the areas where terrorist groups have developed,” French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian told Le Monde.

“It doesn’t look like France will be pulling out of Mali anytime soon,” France 24 noted in response to the announcement.

Complementing expanding French military operations the German parliament voted in January to expand troop deployments in Mali from 350 to 1,000, making Mali the German military’s largest overseas mission.

The immediate causes of the Mali war flowed from the fallout from the 2011 US-NATO war against Libya. Beginning in January 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg ethnic militia, launched an insurrection against the central government and established control over portions of northern Mali. In March 2012, a coup d’état led by government soldiers declaring themselves the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR), removed President Amadou Toure from power. Rebel militia groups seized control of Malian cities of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in wake of the coup.

From January 2013, Paris responded with repeated waves of troop deployments, with backing from Washington. The 2013 invasion, “Operation Serval,” served as the spearhead for a major expansion of French militarism across the country’s former colonial holdings in West Africa.

In exchange for French “assistance” in stabilizing northern Mali, Paris demanded and received basing rights for its troops throughout the country. Previous Malian governments had been among the few regimes in Francophone Africa to resist such arrangements, limiting French military activities to small-scale training of local forces. Prior to 2013, French combat troops had been absent from Malian territory since their withdrawal following the country’s formal independence in 1960.

As part of “Operation Barkhane,” the successor to “Serval,” some 6,000 French ground troops, hundreds of armored vehicles, war planes, attack helicopters, and drones are now deployed throughout the Sahel. Additional German and French troops deployed under European Union flags in February 2014, for the official purpose of training of Malian units.

The American and European ruling elites are determined to tighten their grip over the Sahel, which is home to massive natural resource deposits, including uranium and numerous precious metals, and is speculated to have the largest untapped petroleum reserves in Africa.

Mali’s northern Taoudeni basin has been known to contain large gas and petroleum reserves since the 1970s. In 2011, the French firm Total claimed to have found “the El Dorado of petroleum reserves” in the northern desert region. A 2015 US geological analysis found that the Taoudeni Basin contains “160 million barrels of conventional oil, 1,880 billion cubic feet of conventional gas, 602 million barrels of shale oil, and 6,395 billion cubic feet of shale gas.”

Involvement by French, German and other European Union (EU) forces in the Sahel is part of “a major new direction in European security policy,” according to the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

For the European powers, the Sahel represents “a second front in the war on terror,” that is “building alongside a growing number of multinationals hoping to extract oil and gas reserves of Mali and Mauritania, and strong French military presence,” according to Environmental Justice Atlas. In addition to seizing control over the continent’s resources, and asserting the interests of the dominant European banks and corporations, the European powers view the militarization of the Sahel as a means to suppress the flood of refugees northward toward the Mediterranean.

These policies are aimed at reasserting the colonial order established by world imperialism during the 19th and 20th centuries. Throughout the period of “decolonization” from the 1960s onward, the economies and societies of West Africa were subordinated to the needs of French imperialism through an array of mechanisms, including control over African currency reserves and raw materials, monopoly rights for French firms in all key sectors of the economy, and permanent military and police basing arrangements on African soil.

Dozens of coups d’etat have been engineered from Paris against African governments, beginning with the assassination of Togo’s head of state, Sylvanus Olympio in 1963, who made the fatal mistake of attempting to transition Togo’s economy to its own national currency. Malian President Modiba Keita met a similar fate after seeking to leave the French currency zone in June 1962.

In 1975 and again in 1989, French military officers organized the overthrow of Chadian Presidents. In 2003, French troops toppled Central African Republic (CAR) President Ange-Felix Patasse, placing in power General Francois Bozize, after Patasse sought to expel France’s military presence from the CAR. At present, nearly 2,000 French troops are operating in Central African Republic as part of “peacekeeping mission” alongside African Union troops.

More recently, in 2009, Paris organized a coup against the Madagascar government of Marc Ravalomanana, after he sought business deals with rival imperialist interests at the expense of French corporations.

“France established military bases in Africa during the colonial period, and maintained a military presence in Africa after the ‘flag independence’ of its former colonies in the 1960s,” Gary Busch wrote in an article for Pambazuka News this week.

“These agreements allowed France to have pre-deployed troops and police in bases across Africa; in other words, French army and gendarme units present permanently and by rotation in bases and military facilities in Africa, run entirely by the French. The Colonial Pact was much more than an agreement to station soldiers across Africa. It bound the economies of Africa to the control of France,” Busch noted.

Notwithstanding the incessant rhetoric about “fighting terrorism,” the thousands of Western soldiers invading Africa are sent primarily to secure strategic interests. The stage is being set for a ferocious antagonistic struggle between the major powers for control over the continent. The coming to power of the Trump administration, with its ultra-nationalist “America First” agenda, is intensifying the inter-imperialist tensions and fueling conflicts in every sub-region of Africa.

This week saw Western media issuing ominous warnings about the dangers of piracy and terrorism in the Gulf of Guinea, Niger Delta, and the Lake Chad Basin. Some 5.2 million have already been displaced by the Western-backed Chadian-led invasion of northern Nigeria, justified in the name of “fighting” Boko Haram.

The expansion of the Mali war is an advanced expression of the tendencies toward war and social breakdown at work throughout Africa and worldwide. Two and half decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the supposed “End of History,” Africa’s governments are tottering in the face of war, famine and disease. The only response of Africa’s national elites is further war preparations and deeper integration into the corporate, political and military establishments of North American and Western Europe.

German government escalates neocolonial war in Mali


This video says about itself:

10 october 2015

Thirty years before Adolf Hitler seized power as Germany’s chancellor, German soldiers murdered up to 105,000 Herero and Namaqua tribe members in its Southwest Africa colony, now the state of Namibia.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Germany steps up military intervention in Mali

28 January 2017

Germany’s parliament (Bundestag) voted overwhelmingly on Thursday extend and massively expand the German army’s intervention in the West African country of Mali.

According to the motion, which was approved by parliament in its third reading, the upper limit for the number of soldiers deployed as part the UN mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, is to be increased by 350 to more than 1,000. The limit was increased just last year from 150 to 650. The deployment is also to be extended by a year.

An additional 300 German soldiers are deployed in Mali as part of the European Union’s (EU) training mission EUTM. This means that more German soldiers will soon be stationed in the West African country than in any other country in the world. The largest intervention to date was limited to 960 soldiers in Afghanistan. In Kosovo, where the German army has been operating for 18 year, 517 soldiers are currently deployed.

The army began on Friday with the shifting of NH90 combat and Tiger transport helicopters from Leipzig-Halle airport to Mali. According to the German army, they will be used to transport and rescue injured people. In addition, operations to escort convoys and conduct surveillance are also planned.

Next Tuesday, Colonel Oliver Walter, commander of the Friesland air force regiment, will send the first new contingent into action with a military order at the former Upjever airfield. The first soldiers will be deployed on February 15. The entire contingent is then to arrive in Gao, in the dangerous and restive northern region of the country, on 1 March.

The German government is seeking to sell the mission as a humanitarian peacekeeping operation. In the government’s justification of the new mandate for the army, it states, “The stabilisation of Mali is a key focus of German engagement in the Sahel region and an important part of the German government’s Africa policy. The issue at stake is to help Mali towards a peaceful future and overcome the causes of flight and persecution.”

In reality, the German army is not leading Mali toward a peaceful future but increasingly towards terrorism and chaos. A few days ago, a fatal suicide bomb attack near a military base in Gao killed 70 people and many more were injured. “The hospital is overcrowded. There are decomposing bodies everywhere,” Arboncana Maiga, a resident of the city by telephone, told Deutsche Welle. “We have not experienced this before in Gao.”

The deterioration of the security situation in the area is so dramatic that the German army has increased its so-called risk payment to €110 per day. This corresponds to level six, the highest danger level. This only previously applied to the military intervention in Afghanistan.

All of this sheds light on the true character of the German military intervention in Mali and its background.

Germany is waging war and collaborating with an authoritarian and corrupt government to keep refugees away from Europe by detaining them in Africa. Above all it is using the unrest and refugee crisis as an excuse for enforcing its economic and geo-strategic interests on the continent, which has a large population and is rich in natural resources.

Africa was at the heart of Germany’s foreign policy shift from the outset. Just weeks after President Joachim Gauck and other leading politicians announced the end of military restraint at the 2014 Munich Security Conference, the cabinet adopted the guidelines for an Africa policy. These guidelines read like a blueprint for the exploitation of Africa by German imperialism in the 21st century.

The guidelines speak of a “growing relevance of Africa for Germany and Europe,” and this means, “The potential of Africa arises out of a demographic development with a future market with high growth rates, rich natural resources, potential for agricultural production and food security under its own control…African markets are developing dynamically and will—in the raw materials market and beyond—be for the German economy…increasingly interesting.”

The goal of the German government is therefore to increase “the political, security policy and development policy engagement of Germany.” The aim being pursued was “to act based on interests, early quickly, decisively and substantially,” which includes military interventions. The German government intended “to deploy the full spectrum of its available methods…cross-departmentally, political, security policy, development policy, regional policy, economic, academic and cultural.”

Since the publication of the guidelines, German imperialism has stepped up its efforts to impose its interests in Africa under the guise of the war on terror or combatting the “causes of flight.”

Already at the beginning of 2013, the German parliament agreed to support the French intervention in Mali and to station German soldiers in the country. Additional German interventions are currently under way in Senegal, Western Sahara, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.

The latest expansion of the Mali operation introduces a new stage in the return of German militarism to Africa. It is directly connected with the geopolitical shifts and mounting conflicts between the imperialist powers following the election of US President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen demanded the “clear political will” to reach the NATO-mandated figure of 2 percent of GDP for defence spending and not lose any time with military rearmament. “Ships, helicopters, armoured vehicles, personnel—even when the money is there, they still need to be built or recruited and trained.”

At the same time, Von der Leyen explained that European governments had to readjust their foreign policy and “ensure security in our region as Europeans.” With reference to Africa that meant “supporting African states to bring the growing population in correspondence with the expanding economy and stabilise them against terrorism.” The “cooperation with Africa” was thus “a task for NATO. I see us Europeans assuming much more responsibility.” …

Loyal, the magazine of the German military reserves association, recently reported “how a German patrol in Gao not only had to struggle with the extreme heat, but also a cool response from the population. A stone was thrown at the armoured and armed vehicle of the German army.”

Birds and trees in Africa


This December 2016 video, by Danielle van Oijen from the Netherlands, is about the importance of trees for wintering birds and people in Mali, Africa.

No deportation of refugees agreement with European Union, Mali says


This video says about itself:

The Deadly Journey From Libya’s Migrant Jails

30 March 2016

Desperate to escape conflict and poverty, thousands of migrants and refugees attempt the perilous journey to Europe each year, with many crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa in rubber dinghies and wooden boats.

In the wake of the decommissioning of Mare Nostrum, a search and rescue operation run by Italy, the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched their own vessel, named the Bourbon Argos, to find those stranded at sea and save those in trouble on one of the deadliest routes to Europe.

On board the vessel, refugees and migrants are provided with medical aid, food, and shelter, then brought safely to Italian shores. Having survived life in Libya, ruthless treatment by smugglers, and horrific conditions aboard flimsy boats, once aboard the Bourbon Argos they face yet more uncertainty as they approach Europe.

VICE News teamed up with MSF to document these missions in the Mediterranean. In this extra scene, we speak with rescued refugees and migrants, where they describe the situation in Libya before embarking on one of the deadliest routes to Europe.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Mali: no agreement with Koenders about returning migrants

Today, 20:26

Mali denies that last Sunday in Mali an agreement was signed with [Dutch Foreign Affairs] Minister Koenders about the return of migrants. Diop, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali denied that in the VPRO radio program Bureau Buitenland on NPO Radio 1.

Koenders was on behalf of the European Union in Mali and reported on Sunday that there was an agreement on facilitating the return of rejected asylum seeking Malians from countries in Europe. There are, according to Koenders, concrete agreements on repatriation, border management and legal migration.

According to Minister Diop these things have been discussed, but “we can not say that specifically an agreement has been concluded.” “We are also surprised that the situation was explained that way.”

Diop does not deny that a joint statement was issued, but that dd not involve an agreement, according to him. He expects a correction by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

More than 5,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016: here.

Germany in 2016: Mass deportations and brutality toward refugees: here.

European Union sends refugees back to Mali war


French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It started in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

The French Foreign Legion became infamous in the nineteenth century for its atrocities while imposing colonial rule in Algeria and elsewhere. Now, it plays a role in twenty-first century neo-colonialism as well.

While the Dutch government are preaching “austerity” to their citizens, they planned to spend lots of money on neo-colonial war in Mali.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

EU will send refugees back to war-torn Mali

Tuesday 13th December 2016

EU COUNTRIES will deport failed asylum-seekers to war-torn Mali, the bloc announced yesterday after concluding a deal with the west African country.

The agreement includes commitments by the European Union to support Mali’s economic development, the introduction of biometric passports and improving security in the country’s north.

Former colonial power France sent troops to Mali in 2013 to combat a Tuareg insurgency increasingly falling under jihadist influence following the Nato-backed overthrow of Libya’s government in 2011.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who signed on behalf of the EU, said that “only through this kind of co-operation we can tackle the problem of migration at its roots.”

Tracking one turtle dove could help save its whole species


Titan the turtle dove was fitted with a tracking tag last year, before he began his migration to Africa. Photo: RSPB

From BirdLife:

How tracking one turtle dove could help save its whole species

By Jamie Wyver, Wed, 05/08/2015 – 08:38

In a first for UK science, a European Turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) has been tracked by satellite tagging as it travelled 11,200km from Suffolk in England to Mali, Africa, and back again.

Flying mostly under the cover of darkness, the bird, named Titan, flew 500-700 kilometres a night across epic landscapes such as the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Cádiz, visiting Senegal, Morocco and Spain en route. His maximum speed was 60km per hour.

Titan was fitted with a small, lightweight satellite tag in Suffolk in summer 2014 by the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. Since then, Titan is playing a vital role in solving a serious conservation problem: how to prevent the rapid loss of his species from across Europe.

Turtle doves have recently been up listed to ‘Vulnerable’ status on the 2015 European red list, with their population plummeting by 77% across the continent since 1980. In fact, the disappearance of these birds is happening so rapidly that their numbers in the UK are halving every six years. If the decline continues at this rate, the species may be lost as a breeding bird in the UK within the next couple of decades.

In the UK, the number of breeding attempts per turtle dove pair halved between the 1960s and the late 1990s, which on its own can explain the population decline of UK breeding turtle doves. The RSPB is working on the premise that due to changes in agricultural practices, the availability of favoured weed seeds has declined, leading to reduced annual productivity. We are working with farmers to make the most of agri-environment schemes that support provision of hedges and scrub for nesting, and turtle-dove foraging plots: areas sown and managed specifically for the birds.

After being fitted with the tag, Titan remained in Suffolk until the end of September, when he headed through France into Spain and finally into Africa, going from Mauritania to Senegal and settling in Mali, where he spent the winter.

On migration, many turtle doves fly over the Mediterranean, a danger zone because of the hunting of turtle doves here. When Titan first entered this region, the legal hunting seasons in France and Spain were in full swing. Estimates suggest that around one million birds are killed across the western European flyway each autumn.

But this is only one of many challenges migratory birds face, and not all make it. RSPB researchers fitted two turtle doves with satellite tags in 2014. However, only Titan made it successfully to the wintering grounds in Africa and back again.

There are many factors in Africa that could play a part in the alarming decline of turtle doves as well, such as a lack of reliable sources of food and water and limited suitable roosting sites. Africa has seen significant agricultural expansion and intensification, as well as desertification, in recent decades.

Tracking Titan on his journey has given the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science valuable information, including the route taken, resting points and lengths of stays at those points, which will help understand where to target conservation efforts.

To encourage international collaboration on a plan to save turtle doves, the RSPB helped organise a symposium and round table event at the European Ornithologists Union conference this August to bring together academics and conservationists from across the species’ range at a flyway scale. Add to that, BirdLife International launched a new three-year EU LIFE+ funded project in April 2015 to identify the conservation needs of turtle doves (along with another 15 species) and to develop an International Species Action Plan.

There are also widespread efforts to ‘regreen’ the Sahel belt where turtle doves overwinter, which may bring back some of the roosting sites they need.

Titan finally left Mali on 19 May, and made swift progress through Mauritania and Algeria, arriving in Morocco on 24 May. Having just crossed the 2,000 km of the Sahara, he spent about two weeks resting in Morocco before crossing into Europe on 6 June. Passing through Spain and France, he finally returned to the UK, ending his journey very close to the spot he was first tagged a year earlier.

Breeding biology of sympatric Laughing (Streptopelia senegalensis) and Turtle (Streptopelia turtur) Doves in NE Algeria: here.

Determinants of nesting success in Turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur) in a North-African agricultural area. Determining the effects of environmental factors on nesting success of migrant and breeding game birds is paramount especially in man-made environments. Using Poisson regression, we investigated the influence on the number of chicks fledged per nest (N = 207) of nest placement, proximity of cereal crops and water sources, taking into account possible phenological and spatial differences between the five studied orchards. The best model, selected by Akaike criterion, shows positive linear effects of distance from the nest to the trunk, to closest cereal crops and a quadratic effect of nest height (with an optimum at 1.6m). In Guelma’s orange groves, nest placement and proximity to cereal crops have a direct impact on the productivity of Turtle doves. Further researches on other tree species (fruit and forest ones) are necessary to: (i) assess their importance for breeding Turtle doves and (ii) determine the effect of environmental variables on the maintenance of the species: here.

Studies of niche partitioning among Columbidae species have mainly addressed food habits and foraging activities, while partitioning in relation to nest-niche differentiation has been little studied. The recent expansion of Laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis distribution throughout Morocco has raised concerns regarding its effects on native species, particularly Turtle doves S. turtur. The study, conducted in May 2008 and 2009, attempted to determine the factors that may play a role in nest-niche differentiation among the two sympatric dove species in the Tadla’s agricultural area (central Morocco). I used Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) to test the relevance of nest placement and human presence variables in the nest distribution of the two species. The results show substantial niche segregation in the olive nest-trees selected by Turtle and Laughing doves, with selection depending primarily on human presence and, to a lesser extent, the vertical distribution of nests. Observed nest-niche partitioning may diminish the potential for competition between these species and enhance opportunities for their coexistence. I further suggest guidelines for future studies that seek to understand the spatio-temporal dynamics of Laughing and Turtle dove coexistence in the region: here.