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NATO Expands Afghan War Into Pakistan

September 30, 2010 1 comment

On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies will begin the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The following month midterm elections will be held in the U.S. and NATO will hold a two-day summit in Portugal. The American administration is eager to achieve, or appear to have achieved, a foreign policy triumph in an effort to retain Democratic Party control of the Congress and NATO something to show for the longest and largest military mission in its 61 years of existence.

President Barack Obama has tripled the amount of American combat troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 and along with forces from other NATO member states and partner nations there are now over 150,000 foreign troops in the nation, the most ever stationed in the war-wracked country. 120,000 of those soldiers are now under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the most ever serving in a North Atlantic Alliance-led military operation. NATO Kosovo Force at its peak had 50,000 troops, but they entered the Serbian province after an almost three-month air war had ended.

The 120,000 NATO forces currently in theater – from 50 nations already with more pegged to provide troops – are at the center of the world’s longest-lasting and increasingly deadly hot war. NATO’s first ground war, its first combat operations in Asia.

Last year was the most lethal for the U.S and NATO in what is now a nine-year conflict and this year has already proven even more costly in terms of combat deaths. And there are three more months to go.

Washington and Brussels could decide to save face and end the fighting through some combination of an internal political settlement and a true international peacekeeping arrangement – rather than the subversion of the International Security Assistance Force that was established by a United Nations mandate in December of 2001 but which is now the Pentagon’s and NATO’s vehicle for waging war in Afghanistan. And in neighboring Pakistan.

But the military metaphysic prevalent in Washington over the past 65 years will allow for nothing other than what is seen as victory, with a “Who lost Afghanistan?” legacy tarnishing the president who fails to secure it and the party to which he belongs being branded half-hearted and defeatist.

As for NATO, the Strategic Concept to be adopted in November is predicated upon the bloc’s expansion into a 21st century global expeditionary force for which Afghanistan is the test case. A NATO that loses Afghanistan, that loses in Afghanistan, will be viewed more critically by the populations of its European member states that have sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altar of NATO’s international ambitions. In the words of then-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer six years ago: “What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu Kush in the present day international climate. We have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don’t do it at the Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this perception gap [of the North Atlantic military alliance operating in South Asia] in the long run must be closed and must be healed – that is, for NATO’s future, of the utmost importance.” [1]

Not satisfied with the Vietnam that Afghanistan has become, NATO has now launched its Cambodian incursion. One with implications several orders of magnitude greater than with the prototype, though, into a nation of almost 170 million people, a nation wielding nuclear weapons. Pakistan.

As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the “right of self-defense” and in “hot pursuit” of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.

Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later “82 or higher.” [2]

The amount, like the identify, of the dead will never be definitively known.

Press reports stated the targets were members of the Haqqani network, founded by veteran Afghan Mujahedin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who when he led attacks from Pakistani soil against Afghan targets slightly over a generation ago was an American hero, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.” Two years ago the New York Times wrote: “In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a ‘unilateral’ asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, according to an account in ‘The Bin Ladens,’ a recent book by Steve Coll. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight the Soviet forces, Coll wrote.” [3]

As to the regret that the otherwise praiseworthy Haqqani has of late allied himself with the Taliban, one voiced by among other people the late Charlie Wilson who once celebrated Haqqani as “goodness personified,” in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press last year Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told his American audience that the Taliban “was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that….” [4]

On September 27 two NATO helicopters attacked the Kurram agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing six people and wounding eight. A local Pakistani government official described all the victims as civilians. According to Dawn News, “Nato has also shelled the area before.” [5] Three attacks in three days and as many as 100 deaths.

On the same day a U.S. drone-launched missile strike killed four people in the North Waziristan agency. “The identities of the four people killed in the attack were not known….” [6]

The above events occurred against the backdrop of the revelation in Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars that “a 3,000-strong secret army of Afghan paramilitary forces run by the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan.” [7]

After mounting in intensity for two years and consisting in part – helicopter gunship attacks and special forces assassination team raids – of covert operations, the U.S. and NATO war in Northwest Pakistan is now fully underway and can no longer be denied.

The Pentagon – the helicopters used in the attacks on September 25 and 26 were American Apaches and Kiowas – defended the strikes over the weekend as falling within its rules of engagement and Defense Department spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the U.S. had adhered to “appropriate protocol” and “Our forces have the right of self-defense.” [8]

A spokesmen for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially denied that Alliance forces had launched any attacks inside Pakistani territory, although Afghan police officials had confirmed that they did. On September 27, however, the International Security Assistance Force verified that NATO forces had conducted the deadly strikes. As the third attack by NATO helicopters occurred on the same day, “Coalition officials said the cross-border attacks fell within its rules of engagement because the insurgents had attacked them from across the border.” [9]

A NATO official informed the press that “ISAF forces must and will retain the authority, within their mandate, to defend themselves in carrying out their mission.” [10]

Mehmood Shah, former top security official of the Pakistani government in the region where the helicopter gunship and drone strikes have killed over 200 people so far this month, said of the recent NATO attacks: “This should be considered a watershed event. They [Nato] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. Nato must realise they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.” [11]

On September 27 Interior Minister Rehman Malik denounced the NATO raids as a violation of Pakistani territorial integrity and national sovereignty and told the nation’s Senate that the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad would be summoned to explain the attacks. Malik and the Pakistani government as a whole know that the Hamid Karzai administration in Kabul has no control over what the U.S. and NATO do in its own country, much less in Pakistan. The interior minister’s comment were solely for internal consumption, for placating Pakistani popular outrage, but as Pakistan itself has become a NATO partner and U.S. surrogate [12] its officials, like those of Afghanistan, will not be notified of any future attacks.

Nevertheless domestic exigencies compelled Malik to denounce the strikes inside his country and assert “I take the drone attacks in Pakistani territory as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan.” A senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz “asked the government to inform the parliament about any accord it had reached with the US under which drone attacks were being carried out.” [13]

At the same time Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit went further and lodged what was described as a strong protest to NATO Headquarters in Brussels over the weekend’s air strikes, issuing a statement that said in part: “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” as its mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border.

“There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.” [14]

By the evening of September 27, after the Pakistani complaints were registered, NATO’s ISAF attempted to conduct damage control and reverted to the military bloc’s original position: That it has not launched attacks inside Pakistan at all. On that very day it had dispatched two more helicopter gunships for the third raid in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NATO will continue to launch lethal attacks inside Pakistan against whichever targets it sees fit and will proffer neither warnings nor apologies. The U.S. will continue to escalate attacks with Hellfire missiles against whomever it chooses, however inaccurate, anecdotal and self-interested the reports upon which they are based prove to be.

The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.

Forty years ago Obama’s predecessor Richard Nixon began his speech announcing the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia with these words: “Good evening, my fellow Americans. Ten days ago, in my report to the nation on Vietnam, I announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 Americans from Vietnam over the next year. I said then that I was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam. And at that time I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation.” [15]

He claimed that “enemy sanctuaries” in Cambodia “endanger the lives of Americans who are in Vietnam,” and “if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier: a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation.”

The course he ordered was to “go to the heart of the trouble. And that means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories, these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.”

The practical application of the policy was that “attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border.”

In language that has been heard again lately in Washington and Brussels – with nothing but the place names changed – Nixon claimed: “We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam….”

Washington indeed expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, with what disastrous effects the world is fully aware, and soon thereafter departed Southeast Asia in defeat, leaving vast stretches of Vietnam and Cambodia in ruins.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will not fare any better.

US and NATO Expand Afghan War To The Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By: PakPatriot

By Rick Rozoff
Source:Global Research

In parallel with the escalation of the war in South Asia – counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and drone missile attacks in Pakistan – the United States and its NATO allies have laid the groundwork for increased naval, air and ground operations in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.

During the past month the U.S. has carried out deadly military strikes in Yemen: Bombing raids in the north and cruise missile attacks in the south of the nation. Washington has been accused of killing scores of civilians in the attacks in both parts of the country, executed before the December 25 Northwest Airlines incident that has been used to justify the earlier U.S. actions ex post facto. And, ominously, that has been exploited to pound a steady drumbeat of demands for expanded and even more direct military intervention.

The Pentagon’s publicly disclosed military and security program for Yemen grew from $4.6 million in 2006 to $67 million last year. “That figure does not include covert, classified assistance that the United States has provided.” [1]

In addition, “Under a new classified cooperation agreement, the U.S. would be able to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in the country, but would remain publicly silent on its role in the airstrikes.” [2]

On January 1 General David Petraeus, the chief of the Pentagon’s Central Command, in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as operations in Yemen and Pakistan, was in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and said of deepening military involvement in Yemen, “We have, it’s well known, about $70 million in security assistance last year. That will more than double this coming year.” [3]

The following day Petraeus was in the capital of Yemen where he met with the country’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to discuss “continued U.S. support in rooting out the terrorist cells.” [4]

White House counterterrorism adviser (Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism) John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama on Petraeus’ visit to Washington’s new war theater and afterward stated “We have made Yemen a priority over the course of this year, and this is the latest in that effort.” [5]

The alleged terrorist cells in question are identified by U.S. and other Western governments as being affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). However, on January 4 CNN reported that “A senior U.S. official cited a rebellion by Huti [Houthi] tribes in the north, and secessionist activity in the southern tribal areas” as of concern to Washington. [6]

The Houthis’ confessional background is Shi’a and not Sunni Islam and the opposition forces in the south are led by the Yemeni Socialist Party, so attempts to link either with al-Qaeda are inaccurate, self-serving and dishonest.

In both the north and south the United States, its NATO allies – Britain and France closed their embassies in Yemen earlier this week in unison with the U.S. – and Saudi Arabia are working in tandem to support the Saleh government in what over the past month has become a state of warfare against opposition forces in the country. Saudi Arabia has launched regular bombing raids and infantry and armored attacks in the north of the country and, according to Houthi rebel sources, been aided by U.S. warplanes in deadly attacks on villages. Houthi spokesmen have accused Riyadh of firing over a thousand missiles inside Yemen, and in late December the Saudi Defense Ministry acknowledged that its military casualties over the preceding month included 73 dead, 26 missing and 470 wounded. In short, a cross-border war on the Arabian peninsula.

The West, though, has even larger plans for Yemen, ones which include integrating military operations from Northeast Africa to the Chinese border. Typical of recent statements by U.S. officials and their Western allies, last weekend British Prime Minister Gordon Brown disingenuously claimed that “The weakness of al Qaeda in Pakistan has forced them out of Pakistan and into Yemen and Somalia.” [7]

Brown told the BBC on January 3 “Yemen has been recognized, like Somalia, to be one of the areas we have got to not only keep an eye on, but we’ve got to do more. So it’s strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation, it’s working harder on intelligence efforts.” [8] It is up to Mr. Brown to explain why, if al-Qaeda has been “forced out” of Pakistan, he is adding soldiers to the U.S. and NATO surge that will soon bring combined Western troop numbers to over 150,000 in Afghanistan while intensifying deadly attacks inside Pakistan itself.

The British prime minister has also called for an international meeting on Yemen for later this month and announced that “The UK and the US have agreed to fund a counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen….” [9]

In Western news reports, or rather rumor peddling, Yemeni rebels are accused of supplying weapons to Somali opposite numbers and the second are reported to have offered fighters to the former.

In short the officially discarded but in fact revived and expanded “global war on terrorism” is now to be fought in a single theater of war that extends from the Red Sea to Pakistan. A joint endeavor by the Pentagon’s Central and Africa Commands and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to build upon the consolidation of almost the entire European continent under NATO and Pentagon control and the ceding of the African continent to the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). (Except for Egypt, an individual Pentagon asset and NATO Mediterranean Dialogue partner.)

In fact the Central Command was inaugurated by the Ronald Reagan administration in 1983 on the foundations of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) that his predecessor Jimmy Carter activated three years before. [10] The latter developed out of the Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF) launched directly to counter developments in Afghanistan and Somalia in 1979 (an integral component of the Carter Doctrine) and was deliberately designed to establish military control of the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Sea and the Western Indian Ocean.

Administrations may depart – George W. Bush and Tony Blair have left public office – and names may change – the global war on terror has been rechristened overseas contingency operations – but Washington’s global geopolitical ambitions, limitless since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union in 1991, have only grown more universal and the military means employed for their realization more aggressive.

The White House and its European allies have of late resuscitated and inflated the al-Qaeda specter to a degree not witnessed since the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001.

Under the guise of protecting the American homeland from this shadowy and ubiquitous entity, the Pentagon is involved in military operations from West Africa to East Asia against among other decidedly non-Osama bin Laden-linked forces left-wing groups in Colombia, the Philippines and Yemen; Shi’a militias in Lebanon and Yemen; ethnic rebels in Mali and Niger; a Christian extremist rebellion in Uganda.

Like the infamous 19th century grave robbers William Burke and William Hare, paid so well to provide cadavers to the Edinburgh Medical College that, running out of corpses to sell, created them, al-Qaeda is a dependable villain to be evoked as needed.

Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia can be conflated with pirates in the Gulf of Aden to provide the pretext for a permanent NATO and allied European Union naval presence in a nexus that includes the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea leading into the Persian Gulf and most of the eastern coast of Africa.

The American component of the Greater Afghan War is Operation Enduring Freedom, which takes in Afghanistan, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay Naval Base), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

Djibouti, which hosts some 2,500 U.S. military personnel in the Pentagon’s first permanent base in Africa, is also the headquarters of the U.S.’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), set up in 2001 several months before Operation Enduring Freedom and overlapping with it in many respects. The CJTF-HOA, based in the French military base of Camp Lemonier, was transferred from the Pentagon’s Central Command to its Africa Command on October 1, 2008 when AFRICOM was formally activated.

Its area of responsibility includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen. Its areas of interest are Comoros, Mauritius, and Madagascar. The last three are, like Seychelles, island nations in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. expanded Camp Lemonier to five times its original size in 2006 and troops from all branches of the U.S. armed services “use the base when not working ‘downrange’ in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen.” [11]

In announcing recently that “Yemen has received military equipment from the United States to aid the government’s fight against the al-Qaeda network in the south of the country,” a German news agency added this background information: “Yemen, in the 1990s, welcomed back Arab fighters who left Afghanistan after the fall of the Soviet Union.” [12]

As with Afghanistan itself and other locations where the American military is fighting insurgent groups – the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen – the Pentagon is frequently confronting fighters funded, armed and trained by its own government in Pakistan from 1978-1992 under Operation Cyclone, the largest-ever CIA covert undertaking.

A 2008 edition of U.S. News & World Report, a magazine that can hardly be accused of being unfriendly to the White House and the Pentagon, wrote of the war in Afghanistan that “two of the most dangerous players are violent Afghan Islamists named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to U.S. officials.” [13]

An assessment repeated in the August 30, 2009 Commander’s Initial Assessment of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The report, the basis for the White House increasing troop strength in the war theater to over 100,000, stated that “The major insurgent groups in order of their threat to the mission are: the Quetta Shura Taliban (05T), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HiG).”

The U.S. News & World Report feature provided this background information:

“[T]hese two warlords — currently at the top of America’s list of most wanted men in Afghanistan — were once among America’s most valued allies. In the 1980s, the CIA funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and ammunition to help them battle the Soviet Army….Hekmatyar, then widely considered by Washington to be a reliable anti-Soviet rebel, was even flown to the United States by the CIA in 1985.”

“U.S. officials had an even higher opinion of Haqqani, who was considered the most effective rebel warlord….Haqqani was also one of the leading advocates of the so-called Arab Afghans, deftly organizing Arab volunteer fighters who came to wage jihad against the Soviet Union and helping to protect future al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.” [14]

In the name of combating the very same bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the U.S. and its NATO allies are now, in addition to increasing combined military forces waging a war in Afghanistan now in its ninth year to over 150,000, more than the Soviet Union ever deployed to that nation:

Intensifying deadly drone missile, helicopter gunship and commando attacks inside neighboring Pakistan. A recent government report in that nation tabulated that 708 people had been killed last year in CIA drone attacks alone. Only five of those were identified as al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects. [14] On January 6 at least thirteen more were killed in a missile attack in the Pakistani tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Last month an American military newspaper reported that “A 1,000-strong Marine combat task force capable of rapidly deploying to hot spots could soon be at the disposal of the new U.S. Africa Command,” which announcement came “just a few months after U.S. Special Forces staged a daring daylight raid deep inside southern Somalia” and after another Marine force “had already deployed in support of training missions in Uganda and Mali.” [15]

In late October of last year NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was in the United Arab Emirates [UAE] to rally NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners for a future confrontation with Iran. Addressing a conference on NATO-UAE Relations and Future Prospects of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, he expanded his mission to recruit the Persian Gulf monarchies for the ever-expanding Greater Afghan War. “We have a shared interest in helping countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to stand on their feet again, fostering stability in the Middle East…and preventing countries like Somalia and Sudan from slipping deeper into chaos.” [16]

Two months earlier it was reported that “About 75 U.S. military personnel and civilians will be headed to the Seychelles islands in the coming weeks to set up…Reaper operations, which could start in October or November. U.S. Africa Command is calling the Navy-led mission Ocean Look.

“The U.S. will base the Reapers – to be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – at Seychelles’ Mahe regional airport….” [17] The Reaper is the Pentagon’s newest “hunter-killer” unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) which is equipped with fifteen times the firepower and travels at three times the speed of its Predator forerunner, used to devastating effect in Pakistan and Somalia. Last October Somali rebels claimed to have shot down an American drone and local “residents routinely report suspected US drones flying over [their city]. The drones are believed to be launched from warships in the Indian Ocean.” [18]

The permanent stationing of U.S. military forces in Seychelles is part of a pattern in recent years of basing American troops to man missile batteries, interceptor missile radar sites, air bases, counterinsurgency forward bases and other installations in countries where their presence would have been inconceivable even a few years ago: Afghanistan, Colombia, Bulgaria, Djibouti, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Poland and Romania. A report of January 7 claims that the U.S. plans to establish an air base in Yemen in the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean. [19]

Later it was revealed that “In addition to the Reaper UAVs, the U.S. military is also considering basing Navy P-3 Orion patrol aircraft in the Seychelles for a limited time. Like the Reaper, the Orion can survey a large region….” [20]

A Middle Eastern news source reported on this development as follows:

“The United States is taking its military venture in Africa to new levels amid suspicions that Washington could be advancing yet another hidden agenda.

“American operatives are expected to fly pilot-less surveillance aircraft over the Seychellois [Seychelles] territory from US ships off its coast, in what Washington claims are [deployments] meant to spy on Somali pirates….[S]imilar pretexts were used to justify the US invasion of Afghanistan, the missile attacks in Pakistan, and its waning military operations in Iraq….Washington has also started to equip Mali with USD 4.5 million worth of military vehicles and communications equipment, in what is reported to be an increasing US involvement in Africa.” [21]

It did not take long for the U.S. to put the Reapers into operation. In late October Associated Press reported “U.S. military surveillance drones are patrolling off Somalia’s coast for the first time….U.S. military officials say unmanned drones called Reapers, stationed in the island nation of Seychelles, are patrolling the Indian Ocean. [22]

“The developments come as the White House seeks grounds to establish a major military presence in Africa.

“The US military says it has deployed its drones [‘the size of a jet fighter’], capable of carrying missiles to patrol waters off Somalia….” [23]

Washington’s attempt to establish an Afghanistan-Pakistan-Somalia-Yemen connection is intimately connected with its plans for Africa as a whole. [24]

On January 4 a U.S. military website published this update:

“U.S. Africa Command has bolstered its anti-piracy forces with the recent addition of maritime patrol aircraft and more personnel in the Seychelles islands.

“The Navy last month deployed three P-3 Orion aircraft from the Maine-based VP-26 Tridents, along with 112 sailors, to the Seychelles to patrol the waters off East Africa….Patrol Squadron 26’s insignia, a skull over a compass and two bombs or torpedoes that form an X, resembles the Jolly Roger flag, which symbolizes piracy.” [25]

What sort of pirates the Pentagon is using as the pretext for its military buildup in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa as a whole was demonstrated last September when “Foreign troops in helicopters strafed a car…in a Somali town…killing two men and capturing two others who were wounded, witnesses said. U.S. military officials said American forces were involved in the raid.”

“Two U.S. military officials said forces from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command were involved.” [26] The Joint Special Operations Command was headed up by Stanley McChrystal from 2003 to 2008. He has moved on from overseeing counterinsurgency operations in Iraq during those years to assuming control over all U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

A witness also reported that “the helicopters took off from a warship flying a French flag” [27] and a rebel source said “We are getting information that French army gunships attacked a car, destroying it completely and taking some of the passengers.” [28]

French military forces remain in the former colony of Djibouti where they train for operations not only in Afghanistan but in several former African possessions. Troops, warplanes and armored vehicles from NATO nations – under the flags of NATO itself, the European Union, France and the United States – have intervened in civil and cross-border conflicts across the entire width of Africa over the past few years: Somalia, Djibouti-Eritrea, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of Sudan and the Ivory Coast; from the Horn of Africa to the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea.

A report from last month provides some indication of the French role on the continent. Radio France Internationale described “French soldiers in Djibouti train[ing] for Afghanistan and keep[ing] an eye on Africa” with the following details:

“Twelve special forces commandos arrived first” and “the army…storm[ed] the beach….The exercise, seen as crucial for battle preparedness in a region infamous for its fractious politics, included all the country’s military sectors – sea, land and air.

“As desert tanks zoomed onto the shore Mirage jets criss-crossed the open sky. Meanwhile, land troops were dispatched from the mouths of armoured personnel carriers and helicopters airlifted artillery guns onto the ground.

“‘It’s a show of force. It shows what France is able to do militarily,’ said one army officer.

“In recent years French troops in Djibouti have been involved in a number of…military missions in Africa. They helped reinforce the UN brigade patrolling Cote d’Ivoire and last year provided logistical and tactical help to Djiboutian soldiers warding off an attack from neighbouring Eritrea.

“For the time being, the first theatre of combat these troops will see is Afghanistan, where France is part of the Nato contingent. The mountainous, arid countryside closely resembles Djibouti’s own undulating moonscape.

“The troops taking part are a contingent of a 2,500-strong force based in Djibouti.” [29]

In addition to intermittent armed clashes between troops from Djibouti and Eritrea, in the past weeks reports have surfaced of deadly fighting within Eritrea and between that nation and neighboring Ethiopia. Djibouti and Ethiopia are the West’s client regimes and military proxies in the Horn of Africa and, as is demonstrated above, the integration of the South Asian and Northeast African war fronts is proceeding rapidly.

Starting in the autumn of 2008 NATO began what it calls counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and further into the Gulf of Aden, often in league with comparable deployments by the European Union, with which it shares warships, commanders and “common strategic interests” under the Berlin Plus and other arrangements. [30]

The NATO naval surveillance and interdiction operation in and near the Horn of Africa is an extension of its effective takeover of the entire Mediterranean Sea with Operation Active Endeavor [31] initiated in 2001 under the Alliance’s Article 5 mutual military assistance clause and augmented by the blockade of Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast by NATO nations’ warships under UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) auspices that began after Israel’s assault on the country in 2006. The latter’s Maritime Task Force (MTF) “has hailed some 27,000 ships and referred nearly 400 suspicious vessels to Lebanese authorities for further inspection.

“Thirteen countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey – have contributed naval units to the MTF.” [32]

The NATO and EU deployments in the Gulf of Aden are the first such naval operations in the region in both organizations’ history and the EU’s first in African coastal waters.

The expansion of military presence into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea gives NATO nations control of waterways ranging from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Strait of Hormuz.

As veteran Indian diplomat and analyst M K Bhadrakumar described it in 2008, “By acting with lightning speed and without publicity, NATO surely created a fait accompli.

“NATO’s naval deployment in the Indian Ocean region is a historic move and a milestone in the alliance’s transformation. Even at the height of the Cold War, the alliance didn’t have a presence in the Indian Ocean. Such deployments almost always tend to be open-ended.

“In 2007, a NATO naval force visited Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and Somalia and conducted exercises in the Indian Ocean and then re-entered the Mediterranean via the Red Sea in end-September.” [33]

He added: “US officials are on record that Africom and NATO envisage an institutional linkup in the downstream.

“The overall US strategy is to incrementally bring NATO into Africa so that its future role in the Indian Ocean (and Middle East) region as the instrument of US global security agenda becomes optimal.” [34]

Last August the chief of AFRICOM, General William Ward, said that Somalia was “a central focus of the U.S. military on the continent.”

To indicate the scope of Pentagon plans in not only Somalia but the region, “General William Ward has pledged continued support to Somalia’s transitional federal government….He made his remarks during a visit to Nairobi, Kenya, which is a key U.S. ally in the region.

“When asked about U.S. warnings to Eritrea against its alleged support of al-Shabab, the U.S. general condemned any outside support for the Somali rebels.” [35]

U.S., British and other Western officials have been straining to establish (the most) tenuous connection between the so-called AfPak war front and the need for direct military intervention in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, as was seen earlier with the British prime minister’s risible claim that NATO has been so successful in expelling alleged al-Qaeda elements from Pakistan that they have sought refuge in Somalia and Yemen. Rather than, more logically, in locations like Kashmir, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Similarly, Western governments are sparing no effort to fabricate or exaggerate links between the numerous armed conflicts in the Horn of Africa. Somali rebels are accused of supporting the government of Eritrea in its border conflict with Djibouti; they are also accused of offering fighters for the internal conflict in southern Yemen.

In return, Yemeni rebels are accused of providing arms for Somalia’s al-Shabaab fighters and hovering over it all is the implication that Iran is sponsoring Arab Shi’a forces in Yemen’s north.

There is a plethora of evidence, however, documenting genuine foreign intervention in the region: U.S. missile, bombing, helicopter and special forces attacks in Somalia and Yemen and coordination with the armies of Djibouti and Ethiopia in conflicts inside Somalia and with Eritrea. Saudi air and land assaults in Yemen with the resultant deaths of hundreds and displacement of thousands of civilians. French commando operations in Somalia and combat training in Djibouti for warfare in the area and beyond.

The true outside forces engaged in military actions are ignored in the West in favor of unsubstantiated contentions that the region is being inflamed by the same adversaries the U.S. and NATO are waging war against on the Indian subcontinent and that the villains in and near the Horn of Africa are, in addition to being the local al-Qaeda franchise, inextricably linked and moreover somehow tied with piracy operations. Such are the tortured logic and far-fetched subterfuges used to prepare Western publics for an escalation of military intervention over 3,000 kilometers across the Indian Ocean from the Afghanistan-Pakistan war theater.

NATO warships are bridging the two extremes. Last August the military bloc launched its second naval operation off the coast of Somalia the name of which, Ocean Shield, alone indicates the scope of the Alliance’s objectives in the Africa-Asia-Middle East triangle. The mission includes military ships from Britain, Greece, Italy, Turkey and the U.S. and according to NATO “other countries are thinking of coming to reinforce the operation which could evolve at any moment.” A NATO spokesman said at the time, “No timeframe has been set for this long-term operation, which will last as long as it’s deemed necessary.” [36]

The European Union is conducting a complementary mission, Operation Atalanta, “which has six frigates and works with fleets from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S.-led coalition” and “operates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean…from Somali territorial waters east to 60 degrees longitude, which runs south from the eastern tip of Oman and 250 miles east of the Seychelles.” [37] Rear Admiral Peter Hudson at the fleet’s command center in Britain announced last month that the operation may expand its range even further, taking in most of the western Indian Ocean.

Last September the commander of NATO’s Maritime Group 2 in the Gulf of Aden met with officials of Somalia’s Puntland autonomous region to plan operations.

In mid-December NATO made a direct link between its South Asian war and its expansion into the Indian Ocean by announcing it was considering dispatching AWACS surveillance aircraft to the second location. “Commanders are seeking to back up a five-ship counterpiracy task force with one of the airborne warning and control system surveillance planes, possibly sharing it with the allied International Security Assistance Force fighting in Afghanistan.” [38]

On the first day of this year a Canadian news agency, in a feature titled “Canada to help defend Yemen from al-Qaida reinforcements,” revealed that “A NATO spokeswoman said warships patrolling international shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden, which separates Somalia from Yemen, were aware al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-inspired armed group based in Somalia, had announced plans to send fighters to Yemen” and as a result “A Canadian warship involved in NATO-led counter-piracy operations off Somalia’s coast now has an additional task….” [39]

Somalia and Yemen lie across from each other on either end of the Gulf of Aden where the Red Sea meets the Arabian Sea and the Mediterranean is connected with the Indian Ocean. An arc that effects the conjunction of three of the world’s five most important continents. Territory too important for the United States, whose head of state last month proclaimed himself commander-in-chief of the world’s sole military superpower, and what for the past decade has declared itself expeditionary and global NATO to leave untouched.

Notes

1) Reuters, January 1, 2010
2) Russian Information Agency Novosti, December 30, 2009
3) Reuters, January 1, 2010
4) CNN, January 4, 2010
5) CNN, January 2, 2010
6) CNN, January 4, 2010
7) Agence France-Presse, January 4, 2010
8) Xinhua News Agency, January 4, 2010
9) Press TV, January 3, 2010
10) Cold War Origins Of The Somalia Crisis And Control Of The
Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, May 3, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/cold-war-origins-of-the-somalia-crisis-and-control-of-the-indian-ocean/

11) Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, April 17, 2009
12) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, January 1, 2010
13) U.S. News & World Report, July 11, 2008
14) Ibid
15) Stars And Stripes, December 16, 2009
16) Al Arabiya, November 1, 2009
17) Stars and Stripes, August 29, 2009
18) Press TV, October 19, 2009
19) Press TV, January 7, 2010
20) Voice of America News, September 2, 2009
21) Press TV, October 21, 2009
22) Associated Press, October 23, 2009
23) Press TV, October 25, 2009
24) AFRICOM: Pentagon Prepares Direct Military Intervention In Africa
Stop NATO, August 24, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/africom-pentagons-prepares-direct-military-intervention-in-africa

AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World
Stop NATO, October 22, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/africom-year-two-taking-the-helm-of-the-entire-world

25) Stars and Stripes, January 4, 2010
26) Associated Press, September 14, 2009
27) Ibid
28) Agence France-Presse, September 14, 2009
29) Radio France Internationale, December 11, 2009
30) NATO

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_49217.htm

31) NATO http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_7932.htm
32) UN News Centre, August 31, 2009
33) Asian Times, October 20, 2008
34) Ibid
35) Voice of America News, August 21, 2009
36) Agence France-Presse, August 17, 2009
37) Bloomberg News, December 11, 2009
38) Bloomberg News, December 21, 2009
39) Canwest News Service, January 1, 2010

‘US wants to turn Yemen into another Afghanistan’

January 12, 2010 Leave a comment

PressTv

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says the US, Britain, and Israel are implementing a plan to turn Yemen into another Afghanistan.

Addressing a group of students at Imam Sadeq University in Tehran on Monday, Mottaki said the three countries want to make Yemen the fourth Muslim country to be attacked after Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Mottaki added that the invasion and occupation of Yemen are going to be carried out under the pretext of the campaign against terrorism and Al-Qaeda.

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US President Barack Obama agreed to fight what they called terrorism in Yemen and Somalia.

The UK and the US decided to fund a counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen to tackle the alleged threat from the country.

The US has been deeply involved in the war in Yemen, sending its special forces to train the Yemeni military and conducting air raids in both the northern and southern parts of the country.

The Iranian foreign minister called on the Yemeni government and regional countries to help resolve the “tragic” situation of the poor country.

Mottaki said the United States invaded Afghanistan eight years ago under the pretext of fighting extremism and drug production in the war-torn country.

But the war has brought nothing but insecurity and extremism, he noted.

Mottaki said drug production has also dramatically risen in Afghanistan as a result of the military intervention.