Innocents Abroad Build Foreign Armies

1380155832_3ab58663c5_bby Daniel Pipes:

In the near-century that the United States has been a great power, it has developed some original and sophisticated foreign policy tools. Examples include the Marshall Plan, special forces, and satellite imaging. At the same time, the country’s naiveté remains firmly in place. For example, the notion persists that government staff are “particularly qualified to [handle a problem] because they knew nothing about it.” (For details, see my analysis at “American Know-Nothing Diplomacy.”)

The persistent belief that training and equipping foreign troops imbues them with American political and ethical values, making them allies of the United States, offers another sign of innocence. Some examples of this delusional policy in recent decades:

  • Lebanon: On landing U.S. troops in 1982, the priority was to train a national army. Of course, this failed, with most members returning to their communal militias with new arms and training to use against rivals. Despite this failure, the effort was renewed just two weeks ago.
  • Afghanistan: Training a national army was an action following the 2001 invasion; but the Afghan Local Police, a militia backed by the government, turned their guns against their international colleagues so often – 34 times in the first eight months of 2012, killing 45 persons – that the training was stopped.
  • Mali: The latest disaster, where U.S. efforts to train the woebegone Malian national army to take on Al-Qaeda did not exactly work out. In the words of Der Spiegel, “American specialists did train four crack units, totaling 600 men, to fight the terrorists. But it backfired: Three of the elite units have defected en masse to the rebel Tuareg. Most of the commanders, after all, are Tuaregs. Captain Amadou Sanogo, trained in the United States, was one of the soldiers who didn’t defect. Instead, he inflicted even more damage when, last March, he and a few close supporters overthrew the government in Bamako and ousted the elected president.”
  • Palestinian Authority: A disaster still in the making. The Dayton Mission has trained over 6,000 Palestinian Authority security personnel in the hope that they will become Israel’s partners for peace. To the contrary, I have predicted in writing that “these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel.”

When will American politicians and military leaders eventually realize that training foreign soldiers does not allies make them? (February 10, 2013)

Also see:

Is America Training Too Many Foreign Armies? (foreignpolicy.com)

Welcome to Africa’s Alqaedastan

Mali-Islamist-via-AFP1By Daniel Greenfield

“When it was my turn, they took me blindfolded,”  the thief said. “Suddenly I felt a pain in my right hand that was out of this world. My hand had just been chopped off.”

This is Gao, once the seat of an empire, and then a glorified village, and now a city the size of Scranton under the boot of its Islamist conquerors. Gao has become a place where thieves have their hands cut off, where women are forced to wear the stifling Hijab in 113 degree heat or be lashed and where unmarried couples are stoned to death.

Borders are an illusion in Africa. No more than paper mirages that cannot be seen from the air or the roads where a thousand ethnic groups with dreams of glory move back and forth, striving and feuding, until the blood begins to flow.

The Tuaregs were one of them. Like so many others they wanted their own country. Like so many others they were a minority that felt aggrieved and persecuted by the majority. Like so many others they found neighborhood patrons willing to give them money and a sanctuary in exchange for more fighting. After their uprising failed, the Tuaregs set up shop in Libya under Gaddafi who was always looking for a few more African mercenaries to remake the continent into his hashish-fueled visions. And when Gaddafi fell, the Tuareg separatist militias still dreaming of glory, took his weapons and went west to carve out a state in Mali.

For the last hundred years there have been two kinds of movements in the Muslim world. Nationalist and Islamist. Some Tuareg dreamed of a nation. But others dreamed of merging into a Caliphate that would impose Islamic law on thieves and little girls, on Gao and Timbuktu and then on the whole world. Both sets of Tuaregs had stockpiles of Libyan weapons. But the Islamists had a lot more money and support from the dark heart of the Middle East where the oil wells pump and the preachers scream the call to prayer. And the Nationalists didn’t have a prayer.

Al Qaeda now has its own Alqaedastan in Northern Mali, a territory the size of Texas. Al Qaeda began its true war against the West in Africa. The continent which wavers between a Christian and Muslim majority is to Islamic Colonialism in the 21st Century what it was to European Colonialism in the 19th Century. But the Muslim colonizers were here first, ferrying cargos of slaves into caves and then selling them in the slave markets of Gao.

The Tuaregs are among the few in Northern Mali to still keep slaves, but now that the Islamists have taken Mali, it is uncertain who the masters and the slaves are. Many of the Islamist fighters wandering around Gao are foreigners, from North Africa and beyond, dedicated Salafis and mercenaries drawn by Gulf oil money, aspiring drug dealers looking to protect smuggling routes and rapists and thieves plying their trade with the authority of the Koran.

Around the core of Koranic students who memorize verses and preach death, is a larger outer ring that consists of sociopaths, stray killers, hustlers, junkies and young men looking for adventure and a group that is organized enough to feed them and provide them with a spot on the ground floor of a shiny new Emirate where women have no rights and their weapons are the only law that counts. That is what Al Qaeda really looks like: a ball of dung gathering speed and growing in size as it rolls downhill. A gang of sadists building their own forts in the cliffs and fighting to hang on to the new kingdom that opened up for them when Libya fell.

Nations are oases of order in the desert. As cruel and ugly as they might be, they provide some structure to the eternal feuds and grudges that are only ever truly settled with slavery or death.

Obama toppled Gaddafi without considering or caring for the consequences. An Alqaedastan in Mali is one of those consequences. Weapons from Libya have gone west and east carried by old militias looking for a new fight. Gaddafi’s weapons stockpiles are in Gaza and Aleppo now, they will soon find their way to Afghanistan, if they haven’t already, and tens of thousands more will die.

Read more at Front Page

Jihadists Occupy Mali With Impunity

0702-ansar_full_600-450x344By Joseph Klein

Foreign Islamist jihadists from Sudan, Algeria, Libya and elsewhere, who are part of a network of terrorist groups that affiliate themselves with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, are entrenching themselves in yet another African country. Al Qaeda is currently occupying an area the size of France in the northern portion of Mali. Like a virus exploiting a weak immune system, the jihadists, mostly Arabs, are exploiting a power vacuum created by internal fighting among ethnic tribes within Mali that had led to a coup and a weakened central government.

Yet, in the face of both a strategic and humanitarian crisis in northern Mali caused by Islamist jihadist invaders, the Obama administration is dithering as conditions in northern Mali worsen by the day.  So is the United Nations on which the Obama administration appears to be relying for a global consensus regarding what to do next.

Reports from the ground indicate that the jihadists have stepped up their forces in the area, turning northern Mali into another breeding ground for the spread of Islamic terrorism throughout Africa. According to the top American military commander in Africa, Gen. Carter F. Ham, the jihadists in Mali are providing arms, explosives and financing to their counterparts in northern Nigeria, where Christians are already being murdered and churches burned. Moreover, al Qaeda is using its control of northern Mali to increase recruiting across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe, according to Gen. Ham.

Northern Mali is also near the tipping point of becoming the current version of the Afghanistan of the 1990′s, in terms of its use as a base for plotting, training and launching of terrorist attacks around the world. Indeed, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mali-based extremists played a role in the September 11th attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. That fact alone would merit direct American action to eliminate the al Qaeda presence in Mali. Yet there is silence from the Obama White House.

The jihadist occupiers have also committed gross human rights violations against the local Malian population. Imposing Taliban-style sharia law in place of Sufism that most Malians practice, the occupiers have destroyed the local population’s most revered religious monuments the jihadists considered idolatrous and subjected Malians to amputations, stoning, extra-judicial executions and recruitment of children as soldiers. As usual when sharia law is applied, women have been targeted for the harshest treatment. Over 412,000 people have been forced to flee the north.

Mali leaders have pleaded for help from their neighbors with whom they have had peaceful relations. The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responded with an offer of military assistance to uproot the Islamist invaders. In accordance with the United Nations Charter, these regional groups have gone to the UN Security Council to seek authorization and support for an African-led military force to drive out the occupiers.

The Council passed a resolution in October.  It stated the Security Council’s readiness to consider requests for international military force under African auspices to intervene in Mali, but kicked the can down the road until it received a report from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the situation in Mali and further recommendations for UN action.

Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman presented the Secretary General’s report on Mali to the Security Council on December 5th, followed by statements from representatives of Mali, ECOWAS and the African Union.  The disconnect on what to do next between the UN Secretary General’s passive recommendations and the call for forceful action by the Mali, ECOWAS and African Union representatives was glaring.

Although conceding the urgency of conditions on the ground in northern Mali, the Secretary General’s report urged patience.  Give “national dialogue” more time to sort out Mali’s internal issues, prepare a “transitional roadmap” (a favorite phrase the UN bureaucracy uses when it has no concrete plan of action) and establish the conditions for a credible election, the report recommended.

“A military operation may be required as a last resort to deal with terrorist and criminal elements in northern Mali,” Under Secretary General Feltman told the Security Council in summarizing Ban Ki-moon’s report, “but the priority must be on supporting the national authorities to restore constitutional order and reach a political settlement to the ongoing crisis.”

The report expressed concern that the request to the Security Council to authorize a United Nations support package for an offensive military operation could have an “impact on the image of the United Nations,” as if its image could become any worse in dealing with the global Islamist threat. The United Nations is “not best placed to directly tackle the security threat posed by terrorists and affiliated groups,” the report conceded.

Nevertheless, while disavowing the UN’s responsibility for providing direct support or funding from the UN’s regular budget for targeted military operations required to dislodge the terrorists from northern Mali, the report recommended that the Security Council set down “benchmarks” the African-led forces and Malians must meet before they are permitted to commence military operations.  The benchmarks would include “positive developments in the political process…and the effective training of military and police personnel of both the support mission and the Malian forces in their obligations under international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.” The UN should then send in a “sufficient number” of human rights observers to monitor “strict adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law” by the Malian forces and their allies.

In other words, the United Nations’ top leader Ban Ki-moon is recommending that the Malians defending their own country with the help of their neighbors against a foreign invasion by the world’s worst  specimens of human rights abusers must first prove to the UN that they have their own house in order before they can repel the jihadist invaders. Second, the Malians and their allies must effectively pass a human rights certification course and then show that they will play by the rules flouted by the terrorists, all under the watchful eyes of UN monitors for which, by the way, funding will somehow be made available even though there are evidently no monies in the vast UN budget that can be found to support the military operation itself.

The Malian representative, not surprisingly, had a very different take. She pleaded for military assistance to rid Mali of the jihadist scourge without delay.  She mentioned several times that the terrorists occupying northern Mali are foreign. Mali is addressing its own human rights issues in dealing with ethnic minorities, she assured the Council, using what she described as “affirmative action” to integrate minorities into significant positions in government institutions. The process for holding credible elections is already underway, she added.  Responding to those concerned about human rights violations in Mali, she declared that “the best way to preserve human rights” is to quickly set up an African-led military force with international backing that would “allow the Mali government to restore territorial integrity of the entire country.”

Kaddre Ouedraogo, the president of ECOWAS and former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, told the Security Council that “political dialogue must be combined with a military option to dismantle the terrorists.”  He called for the Security Council to pass a resolution by the end of this year under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter authorizing the use of military force against the terrorists.

The African Union representative Tete Antonio concurred, adding that past experience of the United Nations in Sudan and Somalia has shown the limitations of voluntary contributions to pay for the support of military operations.  He wants funding to come through the UN assessed budget this time  rather than have to pass the hat for voluntary contributions.

Where is the Obama administration regarding the Mali crisis? Leading from behind would be an overstatement. It is outsourcing the matter to the UN and to France.

Read more at Front Page