Trump’s AFRICOM war in Niger


This video from the USA is called Africom Is Building A Huge Military Fort In Africa.

By Eddie Haywood in the USA:

Pentagon concealed role of US special forces in deadly Niger offensive

17 March 2018

AFRICOM acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that it kept quiet about a deadly offensive its elite forces conducted late last year with Nigerien soldiers, highlighting the scale of US special operations in West Africa and illustrating clearly the predatory aims that underlay the Pentagon’s deployment of elite soldiers in the region.

On December 6 last year, Green Berets coordinating a military operation with Nigerien forces, killed 11 militants near the town of Diffa, close to the Nigerian border. The announcement by the Pentagon on Wednesday marks the first time it has acknowledged its role in the December engagement.

AFRICOM’s silence regarding the operation was no doubt influenced by the international outcry provoked by the October 4 killing of four Green Berets during an ambush in northwestern Niger two months prior, which exposed the vast scale of US military operations across West Africa.

The Pentagon’s operations in Niger are extensive and far-reaching—last year the US finished construction of a drone base in Agadez, located in central Niger, which AFRICOM stated is equipped with the capability of conducting armed drone flights across the entire Sahel region and into Northern Africa to carry out surveillance and assassinations.

Speaking to the New York Times regarding the December 6 offensive, AFRICOM spokesperson Samantha Reho stated that American and Nigerien troops on a mission in the Lake Chad Basin region came under fire from a “formation of violent extremists”. Reho portrayed the event as an act of defense on the part of US and Nigerien troops after Islamist militants attacked their garrison.

“The purpose of the mission was to set the conditions for future partner-led operations against violent extremist organizations in the region”, she said. “There was no aspect of this mission focused on pursuing enemy militants, and the combined force was postured to respond as necessary in case contact with the enemy occurred”, Reho claimed.

Reho added, “With that said, our forces do operate in unstable areas and are occasionally exposed to danger from enemy forces. When such a situation occurs, our personnel are authorized to respond to threats and violence appropriately.”

Refuting Reho’s claims and making clear the predatory character of US military operations in Niger is the October interview of Nigerien Defense Minister Kalla Mountari by Reuters. When asked to describe the mission of US Special Forces deployed to Niger and their relationship to the Nigerien forces, Mountari matter-of-factly stated, “The Americans are not just exchanging information with us. They are waging war when necessary. We are working hand in hand. The clear proof is that the Americans and Nigeriens fell on the battlefield for the peace and security of our country.”

Further contradicting the account provided by Reho was the statement to the New York Times by an anonymous official familiar with the firefight, which suggested the elite commandos were conducting an offensive operation with the aim of establishing an outpost.

According to the anonymous official, US forces were conducting a multi-day operation with Nigerien troops. The official said that the operation’s aim was to clear the area of hostile forces so that a new outpost could be created, which would be very advantageous to US aims in the region.

The location of the offensive near Diffa, a town in southeastern Niger close to the border with Nigeria, is a region long inflamed with conflict between the joint Nigerien-US forces and the Islamist militia Boko Haram, which has been warring in northern Nigeria, with frequent cross-border skirmishes and raids.

The criminal character of US Special Forces deployed to West Africa was underscored by the arrest of two Navy Seals in Mali for the June 2017 murder of Logan Melgar, a Green Beret stationed at the US embassy in Bamako. US Special Forces troops were deployed to the West African nation to conduct intelligence and training operations against Al Qaeda-affiliated militants waging war against the US/French-backed government.

According to military officials investigating the murder, the two Navy Seals who were also stationed at the embassy were allegedly pilfering cash from a slush fund made available by the embassy to pay informants. When Melgar discovered the skimming operation and threatened to alert authorities, the two Seals killed him.

Joshua Geltzer, the senior director of counter-terrorism with the National Security Council under then president Barack Obama, sought to place the blame for keeping the war in Niger secret entirely within the context of the Trump administration and thereby obscuring the role of the Democratic president who initiated the military intervention in Niger.

“It’s disappointing to see this administration show disrespect for Congress’s effort to obtain public answers to key legal questions of our time”, Geltzer told the New York Times.

As the WSWS has reported, Washington has been building and expanding its military forces on the African continent beginning with the Republican George W. Bush administration and continuing through Obama and Trump as part of America’s imperialist strategy for Africa.

The ongoing conflict in Niger and the wider region is the outcome of the 2011 US-backed NATO bombardment of Libya, in which the Obama administration utilized Islamist militias to conduct a regime change operation that culminated with the assassination of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and thousands of Libyans killed by NATO bombs. Libyan society was completely destroyed, and the Islamist fighters that Washington armed spilled forth from Libya across the Sahel and into West Africa.

Furthermore, the development of American military outposts across the African continent must be seen within the context of China’s growing economic influence across the continent. Washington perceives Beijing as an intolerable rival for Africa’s vast economic resources, which includes substantial reserves of minerals, oil, gas, and precious metals and is using its vast military power in an effort to offset China’s economic clout.

Over the weekend, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted its first ever drone strike against Al-Qaeda militants in the southern Libya, killing two militants in the southern village of Ubari. The attack marks a new stage in the expansion of the American military offensive in Libya and northern Africa since the Trump administration took office. Notably, the strike was not accompanied by a public acknowledgement from AFRICOM: here.

Republican Senator James Inhofe of the Senate Armed Services Committee last week sent a letter to Secretary of the Army Mark Esper outlining a proposal that would constitute an increase in troop levels deployed under AFRICOM, as well as broadening the American military’s footprint across Africa: here.

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How European Union xenophobia kills Africans


This video says about itself:

The EU Silently Welcomes Slavery In Libya

1 December 2017

The European Union was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize “for over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

At the same time, EU officials know that once refugees can’t make it to Europe—whether because they become enslaved in Libya or are too fearful to make the trip—they are no longer a problem for the Union.

Translated from Bram Vermeulen, Dutch NOS TV correspondent in Africa:

“You must forgive me”, words to never forget

Today, 09:36

The story of 2017 that stays with me the most was told to us on the floor of one of the ghettos in the caravan city of Agadez in Niger.

Thermo Amadou from Guinea and Diallo Mamdou Djulde told about the day when the Toyota Hilux left them and 23 others in the vast desert near the border between Niger and Libya. The driver had deviated from the route that smugglers have been using for decades between Agadez and the Libyan border.

On that route, since the beginning of the year, there are roadblocks and policemen trained by the European agency Eucap, which settled in Agadez to stop the migration to Europe. The consequence of this pressure from Brussels is that the smugglers now prefer the unpaved roads through the Sahara.

The driver of Amadou and his travel companion after a day of driving lacked petrol. In order to refuel he would drive back to the official route, but with 25 migrants in the trunk, he would certainly be arrested. So you wait here, he said. “I’ll be right back.”

Most of them got out of the trunk. Thermo Amadou remained seated. Until Pappi, the muscular Congolese persuaded him to trust the driver. “Otherwise we will all die here.” The driver never came back. They waited for him a full day.

Then they started walking. With two jerry cans containing 5 liters of water, connected to a rope that he had wrapped around his neck. Back to Agadez. Following the tracks of the Toyota Hilux. On the seventh day the Senegalese Pap Djah gave up. “Leave me behind here”, he begged the others. They had already carried him forward on his shoulders for a day. “Il faut me pardonner”, he said. “You must forgive me.”

Thermo Amadou had never forgotten those words. “Il faut me pardonner”. He sat on a stone in Agadez’s ghetto, and Diallo sat next to him with hollow eyes. They were crying. They walked nine days to tell this story. Two others did not survive the journey on foot. They buried them in the Sahara sand.

While I listened to their story together with colleague and cameraman Sven Torfinn, I told myself to never forget those words of the Senegalese Pap Djah. Every time migration from Africa to Europe is discussed again by policymakers, angry tweeps, and opinion makers at the talk show tables far from Agadez. Those apologetic words from the Senegalese minutes before his death. “Il faut me pardonner”.

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.

3 U.S. SOLDIERS KILLED, 2 INJURED IN AMBUSH IN NIGER The Green Berets were attacked in an area known to have an insurgent presence. [Reuters]

Killings of four elite soldiers in Niger highlight vast scale of American military operations in Africa: here.

The war being conducted in West Africa by the United States in partnership with its European counterparts France and Germany, which was exposed by the killing of four US special forces soldiers in Niger earlier this month, is setting the stage for a much broader war in the region: here.

Making clear the October 4 ambush that killed four Green Berets is to be utilized as a pretext for a major escalation of American military operations in the region, Nigerien Defense Minister Kalla Mountari requested that the US deploy armed drones against reputed militants: here.

U.S. Troop Deaths in Niger: AFRICOM’s Chickens Come Home to Roost: here.

Rare Egyptian vulture discovery in Niger


This video says about itself:

Egyptian Vulture – equilibrist

Azerbaijan. Turianchai reserve. June 24, 2013.

From the Vulture Conservation Foundation:

17 August 2015

Egyptian Vultures found breeding in Niger

The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) – one of the smallest vultures in the world – is still declining fast across its vast range that includes Europe, Asia and Africa, and was in 2007 uplisted to Globally Endangered.

While populations in Europe are relatively well studied – although still declining fast – knowledge about the species in Africa is very poor. We know the species used to breed across the continent, from northern Africa through the Sahel zone to north Tanzania, down to south-west Angola and north-west Namibia, with a gap around equatorial Africa.

Even though data is lacking, breeding Egyptian vultures suffered a large decline in Africa too, and the species may be extinct in many countries south of the Sahara as a breeding species – although in the winter Africa receives many migrant Egyptian vultures coming from Europe.

Recently, colleagues from the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) have found that the species is still breeding in Niger – the first recent breeding record in the country. They found two pairs breeding in the Koutous Massif. This is good news for the species – incidentally, the area is close to the wintering quarters of European Egyptian vultures.

Congratulations to SCF for the fruitful work and for pushing vulture conservation in that part of the world.

Giraffes helped by photographers


This video is about Niger‘s endangered white giraffes (full documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Citizen science project launched to help the world’s giraffes

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) with the support of the Polytechnic of Namibia has launched a project to develop an online citizen science platform for giraffes.

GiraffeSpotter.org is an easy to use web-based application that allows people to upload their photos of giraffes they have seen, together with the location where the image was taken and any other valuable information they can supply to help in conservation efforts, such as herd size, sex and age class of the giraffe.

With the help of GiraffeSpotter.org, GCF will be able to improve its understanding of giraffe ranges, distribution, numbers and ultimately the various species of giraffes’ conservation status across Africa.

At the same time, the charity hopes that the project will also engage people and raise awareness of the plight of giraffes in the wild.

15 years ago there were 140,000 giraffes in Africa. Today there are 80,000: here.

Chechnya offers to save second Danish giraffe Marius


This video is called Niger‘s Endangered White Giraffes (Full Documentary).

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ramzan Kadyrov offers to adopt second Marius giraffe facing slaughter

Chechen president tells Instagram followers he is ready to take in giraffe facing death in Denmark ‘on humanitarian grounds’

Shaun Walker in Sochi

Thursday 13 February 2014 16.47 GMT

To sentence one giraffe named Marius to death may be regarded as a misfortune; to sentence two would be a catastrophe, according to Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Chechen president has used his Instagram account to offer to take in the second Marius, which, it emerged on Wednesday, has been threatened with the same fate as his namesake.

Kadyrov, who has been implicated in torture and human rights abuses, is a known animal admirer and has a huge personal zoo.

He frequently posts pictures of himself on Instagram with exotic animals, and made his offer of shelter for the second Danish giraffe on the social network.

“I read the information about the fact that in Denmark they are going to end the life of another giraffe,” wrote Kadyrov beneath photographs of lions eating the first Marius, which the Chechen leader said was killed for “invented” reasons.

“On humanitarian grounds, I am ready to take Marius in. We can guarantee him good living conditions and care for his health,” he added.

Only days after the euthanasia of a healthy young giraffe named Marius at Copenhagen zoo sparked controversy around the world, a second Danish zoo announced that it was considering a similar fate for another giraffe, also named Marius.

Jyllands Park zoo, in western Denmark, currently has two male giraffes, but has been approved to participate in the European breeding programme. If zookeepers manage to acquire a female giraffe, seven-year-old Marius will have to make way.

The first Marius was considered useless for breeding because his genes were too common. The prospect of his death prompted an international petition that garnered more than 27,000 signatures, and controversy continued after he was killed when he was dissected in front of a large crowd and then fed to lions.

A new petition to save the second Marius currently has 3,500 signatures.

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