Is the U.S. taxpayer paying for French neo-colonialism in Africa?
 
 Dr. Gary K. Busch
 
Published on June 20, 2017
 
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France’s problem in maintaining its military presence in Africa is that it has run out of money. It cannot afford to maintain such a strong military posture in Africa. It has been able to get the assistance of its European Union partners in a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in programs like EURFOR in Chad which notionally confronts the terrorist organisations with European troops, but the funds needed to provide a real challenge to the terrorists are wanting.
 
The notion of intrinsic forces is important in the evaluation of warfare in the Sahel. These terrorists are not, for the most part, invading foreigners coming to seek domination, power or advantage. They are locals who have taken up the Salafist ideology to further their joint aims of setting up an Islamic State and in preserving the smuggling routes across the Sahel. The ancient salt caravans across the Sahel from Mali making their way to Europe and the Middle East have evolved into caravans of drugs, diamonds and gold from Mali to Europe and the Middle East. The large revenues earned from this smuggling have helped fund the AQIM, the MNLA, MUJAO and other bands and have generated financial and political support from the Wahhabi extremists of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The collapse of Libya under Qaddafi left these smugglers without a protector so the radical extremists who supplanted Qaddafi offered the smugglers of the Sahel the same protection as before and lots of weapons.
 
The Sahel is still a major centre of illicit trafficking in goods. The tribes of Northern Mali are emboldened and protected by terrorist organisations in the barren wastes of Northern Mali and live, symbiotically, with the terrorist forces. Their paths are overlapping. While the tribes continue their smuggling, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) engages in illegal taxation in its areas of control, ISIS in Libya is active in human and narcotics trafficking, and Boko Haram generates significant revenues from trade in cocaine and heroin.
 
The trafficking overlaps the terrorist threats. It is matched by a large influx of weapons. Conflict Armament Research, a UK organization that monitors armaments transfers and supply chains, published an important report in late 2016, “Investigating Cross-Border Weapon Transfers in the Sahel.” The report confirms that a flow of weapons from Libyan dictator Qaddafi’s stockpiles after his fall played a major role in the Tuareg and Islamist insurgencies in Mali in 2012.
 
That same stockpile supplied weapons systems that included man-portable air defence systems to insurgents throughout the Sahel region. But, the report documents that weapons flows since 2011 are no longer predominately from Libya. Instead, the weapons now come from African countries with weak control of their own weapons stockpiles, notably the Central African Republic and Ivory Coast. Sudan has also been an important source since 2015 of weapons used by insurgents in the Sahel. The report posits that the jihadist attacks in 2015 and 2016 on hotels and government installations specifically in Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast also included weapons from a common source in the Middle East, these Iraqi assault rifles and Chinese-manufactured weapons are also used by the Islamic State.
The Logistical Challenge In Opposing the Terrorist Threat
 
The terrain of the Sahel does not lend itself to conventional warfare. There are broad expanses of sand and dunes, broken up by small villages and, occasionally, a town or city. There are no petrol stations, wells, repair shops, water stores, food stocks or fuel reserves in most of the region. Trucks and buses, as well as conventional armour, are difficult to transport in such a terrain. Air bases are usually suited only to small aircraft and lack the scissor-tables, cranes, fork-lifts and loading equipment which allow the free flow of cargo.
 
On the positive side, in the war in the Sahel the lack of ground cover and a tree canopy in the region enables a strategy of using the most modern weapons, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which can seek out, observe and destroy small and mobile enemy forces. This has meant that the logistical demands of the war in the Sahel has generated a strategy of the use of high-tech weaponry deployed by Western forces combined with African troops on the ground as garrison forces for towns and cities.
 
Warfare, in general, in Africa requires a policy of expeditionary war. This is a polite way of saying that massed troop formations have no real use as there are few opposing forces of equal size to fight. African insurgents are bands and groups of often irregular soldiers. Across most of Africa troops must pass through jungles, deserts, mangrove swamps and hostile terrain to get to the enemy, often under heavy fire from the bush. The enemy of the peacekeepers is rarely an army battalion of any strength. Large-scale troop concentrations can sit in a city or town and maintain order, but they rarely can take the battle to the enemy. African armies have virtually no equipment which will allow them to fight an expeditionary war. This is a war of helicopters – in and out movement of troops to desert encampments or remote landing zones or the shooting up of ground formations by helicopter gunships when the enemy can be located.
 
This is how African wars are fought. Except for rented MI-8 and MI-24 helicopters leased from the Ukraine and Russia, most of Africa is bereft of air mobile equipment. They are certainly bereft of African pilots (other than South Africans and a small band of Angolans and Nigerians). There are very few African military aircraft capable of fighting or sustaining either air-to-air combat or performing logistics missions. Either they don’t exist or they are in such a state of disrepair that African combat pilots are unwitting kamikazes.
French Helicopter flying over a river in Mali. (Marc Tessensohn / Bundeswehr)
 
There are very few airbases in the bush which allow cargo planes to land safely when a war is on given that every rebel group has its share of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and mortars. There are no fuel reserves at the airports outside most African capitals, and there are no repair facilities. There is no air-to-air refuelling, except that provided by foreign militaries. Indeed, except for Denel in South Africa and the main airbase in Ethiopia there are no places on the continent which perform sophisticated aircraft or weapons maintenance.
 
Most Western European armies themselves don’t have sufficient helicopters or heavy-lift capacities. The Africans have less. This lack of transport is critical to moving out the wounded. This takes its toll on the soldiers. This is mirrored in the lack of effective battlefield communications. In Africa the phone system doesn’t work in peacetime; why should it work in a period of war? Sending orders and receiving information between the central staff and outlying units is a ‘sometimes’ process. It sometimes takes days to contact units operating far from command headquarters.
 
Despite the good wishes of the French and the other Europeans, success relies on an active U.S. participation and engagement. The French have requested the support of the U.S. military (through NATO) in its ambition to retain control of its former African colonial empire.
 
Europeans are not really ready to assist in the Sahel, despite EU plans. In 2015 when Angela Merkel made the grand gesture of sending weapons to Kurdish rebels fighting ISIL, she learned that her cargo planes couldn’t get off the ground. At the time, the German military confessed that just half of its Transall transport aircraft were fit to fly. Of its 190 helicopters, just 41 were ready to be deployed. Of its 406 Marder tanks, 280 were out of use. In 2016 it emerged that fewer than half of Germany’s 66 Tornado aircraft were airworthy. The French Transall fleet is out of date and few are being replaced.
French Transall deployed to Mali. The Sahel region is arid, and known for its dust storms, which can create wear and tear on military equipment.
 
This matches the debacle of the European military effort to conduct warfare on its own; starting in Kosovo. The Europeans wanted to show they had some independent military capability. The amount of bombs, missiles and other tactical devices used in the first two weeks of the Kosovo campaign exceeded the total arsenal storage of the totality of the European Community. The amount spent per day on the bombing of Kosovo, including indirect costs, amounted to over $12.5 million. It would have been far cheaper to buy Serbia than to bomb it. NATO could have offered each Serb $5,000 a head plus moving costs and still saved money. Under NATO rules the US was obliged to pay two-thirds of these costs.
 
This was just as true in Libya. The Europeans (calling themselves NATO) quickly ran out of ammunition, bombs and money. The US spent almost $1.5 billion in the first wave of attacks by the French and British. As Secretary of Defence Gates said in his speech, “Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform – not counting the U.S. military – NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops — not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters; transport aircraft; maintenance; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and much more.” He went on, “We have the spectacle of an air operations centre designed to handle more than 300 sorties a day struggling to launch about 150. Furthermore, the mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country – yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference.”
 
That is the key point in analysing the struggle against terrorism in the Sahel. Despite the good wishes of the French and the other Europeans, success relies on an active U.S. participation and engagement. The French have requested the support of the U.S. military (through NATO) in its ambition to retain control of its former African colonial empire.
 
There is an ironic side to the French requiring assistance from NATO to support its neo-colonial policies. France withdrew from being a full member of NATO in 1966, and remained separated for decades. The reason for withdrawal was that France believed NATO was not militarily supportive enough. France’s effort to develop its own non-NATO defence capability, including the development of its own nuclear arsenal in the 1960s, was to ensure that the French military could operate its own colonial and post-colonial conflicts more freely. Under de Gaulle, France had attempted to draw NATO into France’s colonial conflicts (on France’s side). De Gaulle claimed that Algeria was part of France and thus was part of NATO. Therefore, NATO was required to intervene to assist France in putting down Algerian independence movements. After the British and Americans refused to assist with French colonialism, de Gaulle expelled NATO troops from France and set up a more independent French military. Now that France is back in NATO it is making the same request of its partners as De Gaulle.
 
The Germans lead the EUTM Mali, which trains Mali’s armed forces, and EUCAP Sahel Mali, which is training and advising the country’s police, gendarmerie and National Guard. The Eucap Sahel Mission, under the command of the German diplomat Albrecht Conze, is co-ordinating European aid to the region. Gunther Nooke, Angela Merkel’s representative to Africa, a Commissioner for Africa at the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, has proposed a “German Marshall Plan” for Africa to relieve a continent struggling with terrorist bands in the region coupled with a drought which is causing mass famine. However, no money is yet attached to such a plan.
Women and children awaiting aid in Mali. (UNHCR Image)
 
The US has its own strategic interests in fighting Islamic terrorists in the Sahel because they pose a major danger to US business interests in the area; a threat to political stability in Africa as a whole which has produced a human tide of refugees. Most importantly, terrorism in the Sahel produces a major source of revenue to the international terrorist structures of Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the myriad sub-groups of these in the Middle East as well as Africa.
 
The US has agreed to support the French and European efforts to fight terrorism in the Sahel but has been unwilling to commit US regular forces to fighting on the ground. It has offered training, equipment and Special Forces participation in military programs in the Sahel and frequently arranges mass exercises to make sure the trained remain so.
The U.S. Military Presence in Africa
 
The US is at war in Africa and has been so for many years. The US has had practical experience in African wars. America has been fighting wars in Africa since the 1950s – in Angola, the DRC, Somalia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti to name but a few countries.
 
In some countries they used US troops, but in most cases the US financed, armed and supervised the support of indigenous forces. In its support of the anti-MPLA forces in Angola it sent arms and equipment to the UNITA opposition. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Larry Devlin of the CIA was an unofficial Minister of Mobutu’s government; the US ran its own air force in the Congo at WIGMO.
 
US airmen supported the South African forces in Kwando, Fort Doppies and Encana bases in the Caprivi from WIGMO. At these bases one could also find soldiers from Southern Rhodesia (in their DC3s) and German, French, Portuguese and other NATO troops. One of the largest of these bases was at Wheelus Field, in Libya. Wheelus Air Base was located on the Mediterranean coast, just east of Tripoli, Libya. With its 4,600 Americans, the US Ambassador to Libya once called it “a Little America.” During the Korean War, Wheelus was used by the US Strategic Air Command, later becoming a primary training ground for NATO forces. Strategic Air Command bomber deployments to Wheelus began on 16 November 1950. SAC bombers conducted 45-day rotational deployments at this staging areas for strikes against the Soviet Union. Wheelus became a vital link in SAC war plans for use as a bomber, tanker refuelling and recon-fighter base. The US left in 1970.
 
Another giant U.S. base was Kagnew Field in Asmara. The base was established in 1943 as an Army radio station, home to the U.S. Army’s 4th Detachment of the Second Signal Service Battalion. Kagnew Station became home for over 5,000 American citizens at a time during its peak years of operation during the 1960s. Kagnew Station operated until April 29, 1977, when the last Americans left.
A pair of airmen returning to the ground after their plane at Wheelus Field, Libya, 1957. The airfield was used to test the new technologies for the US military. (National Geographic Image)
 
However, with the end of the Cold War, the US has found itself fighting a much more difficult and insidious war; the war with Al Qaeda. This is much less of a war that involves military might and prowess. It is a war against the spread of drug dealing, illicit diamonds, illicit gold, human trafficking and the sheltering of Salafists (Islamic militants) who use these methods to acquire cash which has sustained the Al Qaeda organisation and now Daesh throughout the world. It is a conflict between organised international crime and states seeking to maintain their legitimacy.
 
There are now several ‘narco-states’ in Africa. The first to fall was Guinea-Bissau where scores of Colombian Cartel leaders moved in to virtually take over the state. Every day an estimated one tonne of pure Colombian cocaine was thought to be transiting through the mainland’s mangrove swamps and the chain of islands that make up Guinea-Bissau, most of it en route to Europe. This was equally true of Guinea under President Lansana Conte whose wife (and her brother) was shown to be kingpins in the Guinean drug trade. Many in the National Army were compromised and active participants.
 
This drug trade has spread to Senegal, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria. There are very few jails anywhere in the world which are not home to West African ‘drug mules’ tried or awaiting trial or execution. This drug trade is spreading like wildfire in West Africa, offering rich remuneration to African leaders, generals or warlords well in excess of anything these Africans could hope to earn in normal commerce.
Pres. Bill Clinton, Thies military base, Senegal, April 1998, with US Army Africa Cmdr. in Chief Gen. James Jamerson.
 
According to a US Congressional Research Service Study published in November 2010, Washington has dispatched anywhere between hundreds and several thousand combat troops, dozens of fighter planes and warships to buttress client dictatorships or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries, almost on a yearly basis. The record shows the US armed forces intervened in Africa forty-seven times prior to the now-concluded LRA endeavour. The countries receiving one or more US military intervention include both Congos, Libya, Chad, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only four overt military operations were recorded, though large scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive.
 
Under Reagan-Bush Sr. (1980-1991) military intervention accelerated, rising to eight, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa. Under the Clinton regime, US militarized intervention in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, seventeen armed incursions took place, including a large-scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Rwandan Kagame regime. Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up long-standing troubled regimes. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under Bush Jr. fifteen US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa.
 
Most of the US’ African outreach is disproportionally built on military links to client military chiefs. The Pentagon has military ties with fifty-three African countries. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism”. Henceforth, US foreign policy strategists, with the backing of both liberal and neoconservative Congress members, moved to centralize and coordinate a military policy on a continent-wide basis forming the African Command (AFRICOM) and Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA). These organise African armies, euphemistically called “co-operative partnerships,” to support anti-terrorist activities in the continent. U.S. special operations teams are now deployed to 23 African countries and the U.S. operates bases across the continent.
 
A Ghanaian instructor gives a brief to U.S. Soldiers during #UnitedAccord17 at the Jungle Warfare School in Akim Oda, Ghana May 20. pic.twitter.com/oWZZWb0zUg
 
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) June 1, 2017
 
#Marines from #FASTEUR completed embassy engagement training exercise in @USAfricaCommand AOR in Rabat, #Morocco May 26, 2017
🇺🇸🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/htT8KkaXsg
 
— Naval Forces Africa (@USNavyAfrica) June 5, 2017
 
In his 2015 article for TomDispatch.com, Nick Turse disclosed that there are dozens of US military installations in Africa, besides Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti (the Main Operating Base). These numerous cooperative security locations (CSLs), forward operating locations (FOLs) and other outposts have been built by the US in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. According to Turse, the US military also had access to locations in Algeria, Botswana, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Zambia and other countries.
 
Gen. Charles F. Wald divided these into three types:
 
Main Operating Base (MOB) is an overseas, permanently manned, well protected base, used to support permanently deployed forces, and with robust sea and/or air access.
Forward Operating Site (FOS) is a scalable, “warm” facility that can support sustained operations, but with only a small permanent presence of support or contractor personnel. A FOS will host occasional rotational forces and many contain pre-positioned equipment.
Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent U.S. personnel presence, which may contain pre-positioned equipment and/or logistical arrangements and serve both for security cooperation activities and contingency access.
 
There are a large number of UAV bases as well.
 
AFRICOM’s two forward operating sites are Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier and a base on the United Kingdom’s Ascension Island off the west coast of Africa. Described as “enduring locations” with a sustained troop presence and “U.S.-owned real property,” they serve as hubs for staging missions across the continent and for supplying the growing network of outposts there.
 
One of the most important of these bases is in Niamey, the capital of Niger, and nearby at Agadez, into which the U.S. has just spent $100 million on improvements. N’Djamena, in Chad, has been heavily used in the battle against Boko Haram.
AFRICOM’s Programs
 
The main thrust of AFRICOM programs involves the training and equipping of local forces. It engages in regular exercises with African armies and conducts JCET training programs. Most of these involve working alongside and mentoring local allies.
 
SOCAFRICA’s showcase effort, for instance, is Flintlock, an annual training exercise in Northwest Africa involving elite American, European, and African forces, which provides the command with a plethora of publicity. More than 1,700 military personnel from 30-plus nations took part in Flintlock 2016.
AMISOM troops in Somalia. AMISOM is a collaboration between the African Union, UN and the Somalian Government. AMISOM’s 22,000 troops are present to fight Al Shabab, a extremist paramilitary group.
 
There are a wide range of programs in addition to the U.S. participation in various UN programs like AMISOM in Somalia:
 
Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative/Partnership (formerly Pan Sahel Initiative) (TSCTI) – Targeting threats to US oil/natural gas operations in the Sahara region Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Libya.
 
Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA) (formerly African Crisis Response Initiative) (ACRI)) Part of “Global Peace” Operations Initiative (GPOI) – Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
 
International Military Training and Education (IMET) – Brings African military officers to US military academies and schools for indoctrination; Top countries: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
 
Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) (formerly Africa Center for Security Studies) – Part of National Defence University, Washington; provides indoctrination for “next generation” African military officers; this is the “School of the Americas” for Africa, all of Africa is covered.
 
Foreign Military Sales Program – Sells US military equipment to African nations via Defence Security Cooperation Agency; Top recipients: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
 
African Coastal and Border Security Program – Provides fast patrol boats, vehicles, electronic surveillance equipment, night vision equipment to littoral states.
 
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) – Military command based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti; aimed at putting down rebellions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Somaliland and targets Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti.
 
Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS) – Targets terrorism in West and North Africa. Joint effort of EUCOM and Commander Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean); based in Sigonella, Sicily and Tamanrasset air base in southern Algeria; Gulf of Guinea Initiative, US Navy Maritime Partnership Program Trains African militaries in port and off-shore oil platform security; Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo.
 
Tripartite Plus Intelligence Fusion Cell – Based in Kisangani, DRC to oversee “regional security,” i.e. ensuring US and Israeli access to Congo’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, and coltan; Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda.
 
Base access for Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) – U.S. access to airbases and other facilities in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, Algeria.
 
Africa Regional Peacekeeping (ARP) – Liaison with African “peacekeeping” military commands East Africa Regional Integration Team: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania. North Africa Regional Integration Team: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya. Central Africa Regional Integration Team: Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Chad.
 
Regional Integration Teams: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola. West Africa Regional Integration Team: Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Western Sahara.
 
Africa Partnership Station (APS) – Port visits by USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift. Part of US Navy’s Global Fleet Station Initiative. Training and liaison with local military personnel to ensure oil production security Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe.
 
Claiming that this was a battle against “terrorism” the French were able to pass on the costs of their reoccupation of their former colonies using European, UN and, mainly, US taxpayer money.
 
The U.S. Taxpayer Is Paying For French Neo-Colonialism
 
The U.S. military is engaged in over 34 nations in Africa in the fight against terrorism and the growth of the various Al-Qaeda and ISIL affiliates in the region. One of the key problems in conducting this ongoing battle is that the political situation in each francophone country is determined by the needs of Françafrique to keep their chosen President in power; not necessarily what Africans want. A good example is Mali, where the French intervened militarily in January 2013 to stop an uprising of various militant groups in the north.
 
As the price for this assistance, France signed a new defence agreement with Mali, which would allow it to maintain a considerable military presence in the country. The agreement’s eleven pages of mostly general statements say that French military troops and civil servants will be allowed to stay in Mali, build military bases, operate, if needed, with Malian troops, etc., for the next five years. The five years’ term, as written in the document, is renewable.
 
This was a great triumph for France. Ever since the inauguration of the first President of Mali, Modibo Keïta, Mali had resisted the military aspects of the Colonial Pact. The last French soldier departed Mali in 1961. Keita refused to sign the defence protocols. Keita didn’t allow French military bases or troops on Malian soil. Even after the French had him assassinated by Lt. Moussa Traore, the Malians continued to refuse the defence pact. Traore’s successors Alpha Oumar Konare and Amadou Toumany Toure also refused, despite huge diplomatic and economic pressure. The most France could get in Mali was a 1985 military cooperation accord which allowed France to give military training and technical assistance to Malian troops.
 
Now, after engaging French troops to fight the Islamic forces in the North, France took over military control of Mali. After having defeated the invaders, and chasing them out of Timbuktu and other northern cities, and disarming factions of the rebellions, the French military banned the Malian army from Kidal, the central city of the northern Azawad region. The territory is claimed by different rebel groups, but it is under the de facto control of the mainly Tuareg MNLA (National Movement for Liberation of the Azawad). France allowed the rebels to occupy the area, reorganise and later gain a place at the post-war negotiations table.
 
France has openly supported the MNLA for a long time and insisted they be a party to the negotiations with the Malian government who did not want to negotiate with the Tuareg rebels. Then the French put on the agenda the division of Mali into two parts, despite the Malian refusal. There was a short interval of peace before hostilities started again.
 
The French, realising they could no longer afford the military costs of the Malian war, persuaded the UN to send peacekeepers to Mali. In December 2013, France announced a 60% reduction in its troops deployed in Mali to 1,000 by March 2014. Interim peace deals were agreed but were quickly broken. By August 2016 there continued to be attacks on foreign forces. More than 100 peacekeepers have died since the UN mission’s deployment in Mali in 2013, making it one of the deadliest places to serve for the UN.
UN peacekeepers carry coffins at Bamako, February 17, 2016, at a tribute to seven Guinean UN soldiers killed. (HABIBOU KOUYATE / AFP)
 
The French were satisfied that the bulk of the expenses for the capturing of Mali in the web of Françafrique were being paid for by the “international community” (the UN, the US, and ECOWAS). In 2015, the European Union also joined to promote France’s ambitions. France got its military pact with Mali and control of the country. This seemed such a good idea, France then expanded its ambitions to pursue the military options of Operation Barkhane based in Chad to cover Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger and make sure that the costs of this expansion of the reach of Françafrique were being passed on to the ‘international community’; the large part of which is the US taxpayer (directly and indirectly).
 
The same situation emerged in Niger and the Central African Republic. The French intervened militarily in domestic disputes which they created, and took over de facto control of the countries. Claiming that this was a battle against “terrorism” the French were able to pass on the costs of their reoccupation of their former colonies using European, UN and, mainly, US taxpayer money. Both African countries remain at war with domestic enemies in conflicts created by France and perpetuated by French policies towards reinstalling the rigours of Françafrique; all in the name of counter-terrorism. The UN, the EU and the U.S. don’t get a chance to decide who is the enemy in francophone Africa; this is decided by France. They only get to pay for it and use their military to train the soldiers who keep Françafrique in place.
 
Perhaps NATO will soon make it clear to the new Macron Government that the United States is capable of choosing its own enemies and, as in the time of DeGaulle, it is not in the business of preserving French neo-colonial rule on the continent.
 
Dr. Gary K. Busch, for Lima Charlie News
 
Dr. Busch has had a varied career-as an international trades unionist, an academic, a businessman and a political intelligence consultant. He was a professor and Head of Department at the University of Hawaii and has been a visiting professor at several universities. He was the head of research in international affairs for a major U.S. trade union and Assistant General Secretary of an international union federation. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST, Pravda and several other news journals. He is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net.
 
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