So the United States’ fingerprints are allover this entire conflict in Mali and to take it one step further it is part of the broader agenda of creating chaos, destabilizing nations in the region, thereby legitimizing the expansion of AFRICOM."An analyst says that the US’s fingerprints can be seen all over the conflict in Mali, which is part of a broader plan to legitimize the expansion of AFRICOM [US Africa Command] in the region by destabilizing the continent. France initiated a military invasion of Mali on January 12 to allegedly halt the advance of the rebels who control the northern parts of the West African nation. On January 13, French fighter jets pounded rebel bases in the cities of Gao and Kidal in northern Mali. Chaos broke out in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they had mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the two-month Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country. Press TV has conducted an interview with Eric Draitser, the founder of stopimperialism.com from New York City to further discuss the issue at hand. He is joined by two additional guests on Press TV’s News Analysis program: David Lawley, a journalist and filmmaker from London and Lawrence Freeman, with the Executive Intelligence Review, from Washington D.C. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview with Draitser. Press TV: You shed more light on al-Qaeda, the support that it has received from not only France but some of its allies because al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic fighting groups. Tell us more about that because, wasn’t it France and its other NATO allies that provided weapons, training and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government? And of course these very same ones, their ally FG fighters which now, with French arms, are fighting the Syrian government? Draitser: Yes, that is correct and in fact I would stress that it is a little bit more complicated than that. We know that the alliance between al-Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group is a strong one. We have even heard direct quotations from al-Qaeda leaders to that effect we saw that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group under the leadership of Belhadj and other individuals took control over Tripoli and really asserted much of the control over many different parts of Libya. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a little bit more complex because this is an organization that was originally based in Algeria and fought a war against the government of Algeria, which destroyed much of the AQIM infrastructure. Remember that Algeria has a very robust state apparatus that was able to counter the terrorist tactics used by the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and so they migrated south and west into Mali and essentially began to create this situation by usurping control over the movement for the liberation of Azawat from the Tuareg rebels, who were coming back from the war in Libya. So there was that offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb moving into Mali and then from there, you had two other groups that really are under the grander umbrella of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; those being Ansar al-Deen and MUJAO, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa. So these two organizations are the ones that have the force on the ground in Mali and they are really falling under this broader category of AQIM and these forces are the ones who are supposedly being fought by the French and by the international force, although of course we know that it was those same international imperial powers, which unleashed these forces into Mali. So essentially it is a self-replicating cycle that the West has created in order to legitimize a military intervention. Press TV: Eric Draitser, perhaps you can connect the dots for us here looking at a few weeks back when the US announced that it is going to send troops to Africa, 35 countries I believe is what they said. Specifically Libya, Sudan and Algeria and Niger; and according to them, to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda-linked groups. So here we have now France in terms of what is going on. How do you see all of this tying in together in terms of what plans there may be in the works? Draitser: Well, the invasion of Africa of 2013 is really what it is, and this is something that was planned for quite a while and it really should be understood as the tremendous expansion of AFRICOM [US Africa Command] and the American presence on the continent and from the broadest perspective it is to counter the influence of China, both the economic influence that they have and now a growing social influence, as people throughout Africa understand that although China is enriching itself, China offers the possibility of the economic progress while the Western imperial powers, really, offer nothing but the continuation of colonialism or a neocolonial period. But again I think it is important to remember that the United States is not exactly in the background here. Yes, it is true that France is the one that is doing the bombing and France is the one that is sending the ground troops in at the moment, but the United States has been inside of Mali for quite a while and going back to even before the coup against the Toure government last March. We know, from a Washington Post report, that there were a number - I think it was four or five US marines - who were killed is a car accident in Mali before the coup even happened. So the question would be, ‘why was the US military already present in Mali before a coup that was carried out by a US-trained military officer?’ So the United States’ fingerprints are allover this entire conflict in Mali and to take it one step further it is part of the broader agenda of creating chaos, destabilizing nations in the region, thereby legitimizing the expansion of AFRICOM.
AFRICOM, which has existed to this point in a quasi-advisory capacity, wants to become an active military force and the only way that they can do that is by destroying sovereign governments and it should also be noted that the Toure government was not exactly a sovereign government. This was a government that had bent to the will of the United States and the French many times in the past and that is why it enjoyed the support of Washington and Paris.As soon as they destabilize that country, they create an opportunity for themselves to come in, to exploit the resources, to create a terrorist haven and thereby legitimize further military expansion in the [African] continent. Press TV: Eric Draitser, final comments from you. The fighters have said that France’s offensive is going to be France’s Afghanistan. Is that how you see it? Draitser: To some extent I suppose that there are some logic to that. Although it is important to note that like with Afghanistan, we can pinpoint certain individuals who represent a tangible link between the imperial powers and what is going on in Mali. For instance, the leader of the Ansar al-Deen organization, a gentleman by the name of Iyad Ag Ghali who was a representative to Saudi Arabia and is closely linked to the Wahhabi stream coming out of Saudi Arabia, infiltrating into Mali. This is the same person who was in charge of a negotiation with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He represents a bridge between Saudi Arabia, AQIM, Ansar al-Deen and the MUJAO group. So we can look at certain individuals and key groups that represent these overlaps and it is those relationships that are going to expand and to infiltrate the rest of the region. And just sort of a clarifier comment that was made earlier by one of the guests; it is not the Tuareg rebels themselves who are actually engaged in this fight with the French. The Tuaregs had a national liberation movement that was essentially usurped from them by AQIM, by the Jihadis; many of whom infiltrated into the country from Algeria and elsewhere. So we have a multitude of groups who are working, to some degree, in concert, though really independent of each other while the imperial powers come in to execute their will in the West Africa and that is the broader perspective... MY/HJL