October 17, 2012
By DREW HINSHAW
BAMAKO, Mali—A prospective military campaign against al Qaeda and its allies in the vast desert of this West African country has hit an obstacle: Neither Mali nor its neighbors appear ready to send soldiers into a land war, against war-hardened militants, in the world’s largest desert.
Late last week, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving West African states 45 days to plan to retake Mali’s north, now held by Islamic fundamentalist rebels allied to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The resolution has taken on urgency after AQIM, as the Saharan offshoot is known, was linked to last month’s attack on U.S. consulate sites in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador there and three other Americans.
AQIM militants roam the Sahara from Mauritania to Libya, a swath larger than India. After Mali’s democratically elected government collapsed earlier this year, they have taken over Mali’s France-sized north and begun to enforce Islamic law with public amputations and executions.
Now, foreign governments want to borrow a page from Somalia, where African Union peacekeepers recently routed al Qaeda-allied militants, a crucial step in stabilizing the strife-torn East African country. On Friday, dignitaries from the U.N., France, the U.S. and across Africa are set to assemble in Bamako, the country’s unassuming capital, for the largest meeting to date on the crisis.
But confusion in Bamako—along with the challenges such a military action could pose—have delayed the campaign, ceding Mali’s north to an al Qaeda affiliate eager to strike Western targets.
Mali’s own army lacks training, equipment and arms. In an indication of the general confusion there, officials in Guinea recently intercepted a shipment of weapons destined for Bamako because they weren’t sure who would end up with the arms. On Wednesday, Guinean officials agreed on plans to return it, the Associated Press reported.
The Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, has proposed sending 3,300 personnel from Mali and its neighbors to battle in the north. But even some Ecowas member countries are hesitant to dispatch combat troops, and there is no indication that international forces would join in.
At the U.N., Security Council diplomats have said the Ecowas mission isn’t properly organized and that it won’t authorize any force until it is. The Pentagon is willing to send advisers to help with Ecowas force-deployment—once Ecowas has a plan for Mali—but won’t send forces, U.S. defense officials say. A U.S. appropriations act blocks Washington from providing direct military aid to a non-democratic state such as Mali. The U.S. is considering unilateral strikes in the region, officials have said, and the White House’s National Security Council has asked civilian experts to put together a list of potential air strike targets there, according to one of the analysts asked.
French President François Hollande, too, has said France would provide logistical and training assistance to an Ecowas-led military intervention but wouldn’t send soldiers. The EU was expected earlier this week to announce a training program for Malian and African troops, but instead said Monday it would propose the program by mid-November.
Mali defense officials say such shortages won’t stop their campaign.
“We’re going to start the mission without Ecowas and they can come find us along the road,” said Mali defense ministry spokesman Nouhoum Togo.
On a recent afternoon outside the capital, in Mali’s south, a group of Malian soldiers rehearsed for war by practicing driving flatbed trucks over scrubland, the closest thing at hand to a desert. For years, the U.S. held annual exercises with Malian soldiers on a nearby plot of land. But when al Qaeda rebels ambushed Mali’s military outposts in the north, many of those same soldiers fled.
“Before, we weren’t ready to die,” said Mr. Togo, the defense ministry spokesman. “Now, for our dignity and our country, we’re ready to die.”
The same month Mali’s army abandoned the north, frustrated army officers staged a coup, toppling the democratically elected government in Bamako. Heavily armed Islamic fundamentalists now rule the north.
Of the 3,300 personnel West Africa nations have tentatively offered to send, the bulk would come from Nigeria. Many of the rest include non-combat personnel: police officers, engineers, doctors. Tiny Togo is likely to send about 100 troops, its prime minister said. Guinea-Bissau is sending personnel, but its army is preoccupied governing a country. Cape Verde has committed five doctors.
Aside from Nigeria, the Ivory Coast is a big backer of military intervention in its northern neighbor. Yet both the Ivory Coast and Liberia are hosting U.N. peacekeeping missions after their own recent civil conflicts.
West Africa’s hawks are making slow progress persuading leaders from nearby North African countries. In particular, Algeria has expressed concerns that Mali’s rebels could retreat across their shared 855-mile desert border. Even 3,300 battle-equipped soldiers from West Africa would be too few, say many analysts, to secure a sweep of dune, boulders and mountains that the French themselves failed to thoroughly colonize. Nigeria is pushing Ecowas to raise its troop commitments to 5,000 troops, according to one of the country’s senior security officials. Nigeria is lobbying Senegal to provide much of that margin.
Mali’s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, one of the top leaders of the transitional government, is a former scientist who worked at NASA during the 1990s and 2000s. Today, he has the formidable task of convincing other African countries to help clear the country’s north of militants. The prime minister has been to Niger, Algeria, Morocco, Chad and South Africa seeking support.
South Africa and Chad have voiced willingness to participate. But it isn’t yet clear what such troops would be doing in Mali. Ecowas plans to invade the cities of the north, according to its Special Representative to Mali Aboudou Touré Cheaka. These would include the historic and vulnerable trading town of Timbuktu, where 14th-century clay monuments have been smashed by Islamists who view them as sacrilegious.
Mali’s army has asked that Ecowas soldiers stay behind and guard Mali’s middle belt. Many observers expect foreign troops will end up in the south, patrolling the capital, providing a sense of security to civilian leaders like the president. President Dioncounda Traoré spent May and June convalescing after pro-coup protestors broke into his office and beat him with the helmet of a palace guard.
—Julian E. Barnes, Joe Lauria and David Gauthier-Villars contributed to this article.
- ECOWAS, UN Officials Set to Meet Over Mali (voanews.com)
- Foreign jihadists pour into northern Mali (dawn.com)
- Inside al-Qaeda’s new home (smh.com.au)
- Zuma says military intervention possible to end Mali crisis – Xinhua (news.xinhuanet.com)
- UN Passes Mali Resolution (blogs.voanews.com)
- France Says International Intervention in Mali Weeks Away (blogs.voanews.com)
The European Union plans to freeze the assets of the Syrian Central Bank starting next Monday, declared French Foreign Minister Alan Juppe, as quoted by Reuters.
The new sanction will hit Syria right on the next day after the referendum on the new constitution, set for February 26.
- EU likely to adopt further sanctions against Syria (vancouversun.com)
- Syria’s Assad unbowed as sanctions tighten (cbc.ca)
Thousands are dead in Syria, with more blood spilled each day. Iran is within arm’s reach of a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel’s very existence. And in Egypt, 19 Americans are banned from leaving the country, making them veritable hostages in an unfriendly land. All indications are that the Middle East is crumbling, and President Barack Obama’s foreign policy is collapsing right along with it.
First look toward Homs, Syria — ground zero in the 11-month-old uprising against the brutal government of Bashar al-Assad, which is unleashing death upon its people minute by minute and hour by hour. The United Nations estimates that Assad’s regime has killed more than 5,000 anti-government protesters in the last 11 months, with 200 killed on Friday night alone. The Arab League has stationed observers in country, whose mission was to oversee compliance with a peace plan. That failed.
The Obama Administration rushed to the United Nations Security Council and attempted to pass a resolution calling for Assad to step aside. Predictably, China and Russia laid down a veto. On Monday, the United States finally closed the doors to its embassy in Damascus and withdrew the diplomatic staff over continuing security concerns. Meanwhile, intelligence experts are examining the risk of terrorists gaining control of Syria’s weapons stockpiles should the Assad regime fall.
To the east in Iran, the regime’s full-steam-ahead pursuit of nuclear weapons is reaching a crescendo, with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently remarking that the country could build a bomb within one year and have the means for delivering it one or two years later.
Finally, in Egypt, officials there published a list of 43 people, including 19 Americans, accused of interfering in Egypt’s internal politics. They are not allowed to leave the country and could soon be brought to trial on claims that they illegally funded political groups in Egypt’s parliamentary elections. Heritage’s James Phillips explains that “they have become hostages in a much larger struggle: the struggle for freedom in Egypt against an unholy alliance between Egypt’s transitional military government and the Islamist political parties who will soon assume power.”
President Obama and members of his Cabinet tried to reach Egyptian leaders on the matter, but in the words of Lorne Craner, head of the pro-democracy organization IRI, “things are getting worse . . . We are all scratching our heads over here. I did two tours at State and one at the [National Security Council]. If the president called someone, something gets worked out.” But as was the case under President Jimmy Carter, the White House appears helpless while Americans are held captive.
None of these crises occurs in a vacuum — except for the vacuum of a cogent U.S. strategy for dealing with these ever-worsening conditions. Since President Obama took office, he has pursued a diplomatic strategy of charm and restraint: attempting to broker peace between Israel and Palestine, engaging with Syria and Iran, and withdrawing from Iraq. Now we are seeing the results.
The international rogue that is Iran continues to rise, along with its threat to the world. Thousands are dead in Syria under a brutal dictator while the international community is serving up effete condemnations. America’s ally Israel appears ready to take matters into its own hands in order to ensure its survival, while prospects for peace with Palestine remain dim. U.S. citizens are trapped in Egypt as anti-Western Islamists seek to consolidate their power. And Iraq’s once-peaceful prospects have been marred by one terrorist attack after another after America’s military forces departed. Obama has failed at every turn to safeguard U.S. interests in the region or take effective proactive initiatives to deal with threat of rising extremism and spiraling violence that could lead to regional conflict.
There are actions the United States can and should take. Phillips explains that in Syria, “the best assistance that the United States can give to ease the suffering of Syrians is to help speed the fall of the Assad regime.” And it can do it by working with European allies, Turkey, and Arab states to escalate sanctions, provide humanitarian relief to refugees, and provide diplomatic and economic support for the Syrian opposition — while holding back from military intervention.
To address Israel and Iran, Phillips and James Carafano advise that the United States must have a clear and unambiguous policy that it will protect itself and its interests.
As for Egypt, Phillips writes that America should “freeze U.S. foreign aid to Cairo and give Egypt’s new leaders an ultimatum: free the American hostages or permanently lose U.S. foreign aid and any American help in refinancing Egypt’s burdensome national debt.”
More broadly, President Obama must fundamentally change course toward the Middle East. His policy of engagement has not worked, and the world is seeing the results. The Middle East is crumbling, and an ineffectual and inert Obama Administration is leading from behind with a foreign policy that has entirely failed to cope with the rapidly devolving conditions along the Mediterranean’s southeastern shores and beyond, with consequences reaching around the world.
- Syrian Crisis: Embassy closure, UN Security Council vetoes intervention (examiner.com)
- Why UN Gridlock On Syria Could Encourage Israel To Attack Iran (businessinsider.com)
- Syria: Dictatorship 101 (papundits.wordpress.com)
- America’s Hypocritical Double-Standards for “Democracy” (therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com)
BEIJING | Sun Feb 5, 2012 9:07pm EST
(Reuters) – China’s top newspaper on Monday defended Beijing’s rejection of a U.N. resolution pressing Syria‘s President Bashar al-Assad to abandon power, saying Western campaigns in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq showed the error of forced regime change.
The commentary in the People’s Daily, the top newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, was Beijing’s clearest defence of its decision to join Moscow at the weekend in vetoing a draft United Nations resolution that would have backed an Arab plan urging Assad to quit after months of bloodshed.
The commentary suggested that Chinese distrust of Western intervention lay behind the veto, which was described by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a “travesty.”
“The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate and numbers of civilian casualties keep rising. Vetoing the draft Security Council resolution does not mean we are giving free rein to letting this heart-rending state of affairs continue,” said the commentary in the paper, which echoes government thinking.
China, not its Western critics, was acting “responsibly” for the sake of the Syrian people, it said. The author used the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” which can mean “voice of China” and is often used to give Beijing’s position on foreign policy.
“Currently, the situation in Syria is extremely complex. Simplistically supporting one side and suppressing the other might seem a helpful way of turning things around, but in fact it would be sowing fresh seeds of disaster,” said the paper.
China’s siding with Russia over Syria could add to irritants with the United States. Vice President Xi Jinping is due to visit there next week, burnishing his credentials as the Communist Party’s likely next top leader.
Beijing and Washington have also sparred over Iran, which faces tightened Western sanctions over its nuclear ambitions.
The commentary also laid bare broader Chinese concerns about Western-backed intervention in the Arab world and beyond.
China is one of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members that hold the power to veto resolutions.
In March, China abstained from a Council vote that authorised Western military intervention in Libya. That resolution became the basis for a NATO air campaign that led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, despite misgivings from Beijing and Moscow about the expanded campaign, which they said went beyond the resolution.
“Libya offers a negative case study. NATO abused the Security Council resolution about establishing a no-fly zone, and directly provided firepower assistance to one side in the Libyan war,” said the People’s Daily Commentary.
It also cited Iraq and Afghanistan in its case against the Syria resolution.
“The calamities of Iraq and Afghanistan should be ample to wipe clear the world’s eyes. Forceful prevention of a humanitarian disaster sounds filled with a sense of justice and responsibility,” said the paper.
“But are not the unstoppable attacks and explosions over a decade after regime change a humanitarian disaster?” it said.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Paul Tait)
- VIDEO: West angry at UN Syria vote veto (bbc.co.uk)
- Syria: UN veto gives Assad ‘licence to kill’ – opposition – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
- Russia, China Block U.N. Resolution To Curb Syrian Violence (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Russia and China Veto Western Aggression Against Syria at the UN (02varvara.wordpress.com)
- Syria: Russia and China’s resolution veto shames UN, says William Hague – Telegraph.co.uk (telegraph.co.uk)
- Russia, China veto UN Security Council resolution on Syria (rt.com)
- AJC Dismayed by Russia and China Veto of UN Security Council Resolution on Syria (prnewswire.com)
Posted: April 11, 2011
8:22 pm Eastern
By Aaron Klein
Arab League chief on board that created doctrine used to bomb nation
TEL AVIV – Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa served on the committee that invented the military doctrine used by President Obama as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya, WND has learned.
The discovery is particularly pertinent because on Sunday Moussa announced during a special meeting in Cairo that the Arab League plans to press the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip similar to the one imposed now on Libya.
Moussa said he plans to present the proposal to the U.N. Security Council.
The call comes as Hamas has fired over 140 rockets into Jewish civilian population zones, prompting Israel to carry out anti-terror operations in Gaza aimed at diminishing Hamas’ rocketing capabilities.
As WND was first to report, billionaire philanthropist George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, the world’s leading organization pushing the military doctrine. Several of the doctrine’s main founders sit on multiple boards with Soros.
The doctrine and its founders, as WND reported, have been deeply tied to Obama aide Samantha Power, who reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya. Power is the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights.
Now it has emerged that Moussa served on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect.
That commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “Responsibility to Protect,” while defining its guidelines.
On the 2001 commission board with Moussa, as WND first revealed, was Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Also on the commission board was the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which was founded by White House aid Samantha Power.
Power was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect. She is the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights.
She reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya.
With Power, Moussa and Ashrawi on its advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.
In his address to the nation two weeks ago, Obama cited the military doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.
Indeed, the Libya bombings have been widely regarded as a test of Responsibility to Protect.
Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”
The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various U.N.-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops.
The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect is the world’s leading champion of the military doctrine.
Two of global group’s advisory board members, Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, are the original founders of the “responsibility” doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”
As WND reported Soros’ Open Society Institute is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Also, Thakur and Evans sit on multiple boards with Soros.
Soros’ Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.
Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.
Annan once famously stated, “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are … instruments at the service of their peoples and not vice versa.”
Obama cited doctrine many times
Aside from his direct citation of the “responsibility” doctrine in his address explaining why the U.S. is acting against Libya, Obama alluded to the doctrine four more times in his speech.
The following are relevant excerpts from his address:
- In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies – nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people.
- Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians.
- To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.
- The task that I assigned our forces – to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a No Fly Zone – carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
Soros: Right to ‘penetrate nation-states’ borders’
Soros himself outlined the fundamentals of Responsibility to Protect in a 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article entitled “The People’s Sovereignty: How a New Twist on an Old Idea Can Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations.”
In the article, Soros said “true sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments.”
“If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified,” Soros wrote. “By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens.
“In particular, the principle of the people’s sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict.”
More Soros ties
“Responsibility” founders Evans and Thakur served as co-chair, with Gregorian on the advisory board of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which invented the term “responsibility to protect.”
In his capacity as co-chair, Evans also played a pivotal role in initiating the fundamental shift from sovereignty as a right to “sovereignty as responsibility.”
Evans presented Responsibility to Protect at the July 23, 2009, United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to consider the principle.
Evans sits on multiple boards with Soros, including the Clinton Global Initiative.
Thakur, is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which is in partnership with an economic institute founded by philanthropist billionaire George Soros.
Soros is on the executive board of the International Crisis Group, a “crisis management organization” for which Evans serves as president-emeritus.
WND previously reported how the group has been petitioning for the U.S. to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition in Egypt, where longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was recently toppled.
Aside from Evans and Soros, the group includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
WND also reported the crisis group has also petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.
Soros’ own Open Society Institute has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.
‘One World Order’
WND reported yesterday that doctrine founder Thakur recently advocated for a “global rebalancing” and “international redistribution” to create a “New World Order.”
In a piece last March in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, “Toward a new world order,” Thakur wrote, “Westerners must change lifestyles and support international redistribution.”
He was referring there to a United Nations-brokered international climate treaty in which he argued, “Developing countries must reorient growth in cleaner and greener directions.”
In the opinion piece, Thakur then discussed recent military engagements and how the financial crisis has impacted the U.S.
“The West’s bullying approach to developing nations won’t work anymore – global power is shifting to Asia,” he wrote.
“A much-needed global moral rebalancing is in train,” he added.
Thakur continued: “Westerners have lost their previous capacity to set standards and rules of behavior for the world. Unless they recognize this reality, there is little prospect of making significant progress in deadlocked international negotiations.”
Thakur contended “the demonstration of the limits to U.S. and NATO power in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many less fearful of ‘superior’ western power.”
Power pushes doctrine
Doctrine founder Evans, meanwhile, is closely tied to Obama aide Samantha Power.
Evans and Power have been joint keynote speakers at events in which they have championed the Responsibility to Protect principle together, such as the 2008 Global Philanthropy Forum, also attended by Tutu.
In November, at the International Symposium on Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities, Power, attending as a representative of the White House, argued for the use of Responsibility to Protect alongside Evans.
With research by Chris Elliott
( Original Article )