These developments are really going to increase tensions and destabilization not just in Mali and Niger but throughout the entire region of West Africa and extending also into the northern regions of the continent as well."A political analyst says that the recent developments will increase tensions and destabilization not just in Mali and Niger but throughout the entire region of West Africa and the northern regions of the continent as well. This is while the US has set up a new drone base in Niger reportedly aimed at fighting al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Africa and helping French troops in their war on Mali. A report by The New York Times said on Friday that the US deployed a number of Predator drones to Niger, suggesting a shift in Washington's anti-terrorism efforts towards Africa Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, to further discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview. Press TV: Mr. Azikiwe, the US is now in Niger. So what is the next move can we expect from Washington? Azikiwe: What we can expect is more a military presence inside of West Africa. In December the White House announced that it was deploying 3,500 troops to nearly three-dozen African countries. This is part and parcel of the increased militarism being fostered by the United States Africa Command. Niger is one of the most richest countries in regard to uranium. Uranium is a center for the nuclear technology and nuclear weapons industry. It also is clearly related to the ongoing French aggression and occupation in neighboring Mali. In Mali they claim that the French intervention was resolving the internal problems in that country but what we have seen over the last few days has been increasing clashes in Gao, in Kidal, in Tessalit and also in the northern mountains. It was reported today that some thirteen Chadian troops were killed in conflicts with the Islamists in the north of the country. There has been two bomb attacks in Tessalit. There has also been the reported death of a French soldier just two days ago in Gao. These developments are really going to increase tensions and destabilization not just in Mali and Niger but throughout the entire region of West Africa and extending also into the northern regions of the continent as well. Press TV: Wars and aggression literally create refugees. How bad will the refugee crisis become both in Mali and Niger? Azikiwe: Well we have a situation that developed in the aftermath of the US-NATO bombing of Libya during 2011. It fueled the internal conflict in the north of Mali.
In regard to the situation in Mali it has been reported by the United Nations that over four hundred and fifty thousand Malians have been displaced both internally as well as in neighboring countries or in West Africa is going to worsen the situation with the fighting intensifying in these various cities in Northern Mali. So we can look forward to an even deeper humanitarian crisis and this has been done ironically enough.At the same time President Hollande has been awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize for 2013. It is extreme irony and it is clearly an indication that France is not bringing peace to Mali, it is bringing more war and more destabilization. Press TV: And how detrimental would these wars on Mali and of course bringing Niger into this as well, how bad would it be for the economy of France and the US especially in these hard times? Azikiwe: France is in a very desperate situation. Economically the unemployment rate now is approximately 11 percent. They have a huge deficit there. They cannot rely on other countries in Europe to come in and bail them out or the United States because United States is facing this eminent fiscal cliff where tens of thousands of people are going to lose their jobs over the next several weeks if they do not come up with an agreement. France, the President went there just two days ago to Greece and he was met by general strike. So the entire world capital system is in deep crisis and this is why we have these NATO states are intervening in these African countries but it is not going to be a solution, it is just going to aggravate the existing problems that already are indeed severe crisis as we speak. AHK/JR