by Horace G. Campbell
One of the little known aspects of this militarization of Africa was how the French intellectual culture was negatively affected by the history of military engagement and interventions.
Between 1960 and 2012 France had undertaken more than one hundred military interventions in Africa. The lowest point of this engagement and its intellectual variant was when France invaded Central Africa to assist those who were carrying out genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The importance of this study was in the full documentation of how this Grand Strategy was connected by three circles,
This study of Griffin was written before two major events that changed the world.
The first was the capitalist depression and the
financial crisis within Europe and North America (after 2008). The second
was the revolutionary upheavals within Africa that toppled the regimes of
Tunisia and Egypt.
Despite the catastrophic failure of that intervention and the instability that has ensued in Africa (with the deepening military engagements in the Sahara), the momentum for French military activities are driven not only by the grand strategy, but by the necessity to draw the United States and the United States Africa Command into a closer alliance, with the US underwriting the intervention by France.
The alliance and cooperation between the COIN strategists of the US military and the former colonial generals of France have been well documented and epitomized by the correspondence between General David Petraeus and the late Gen. Marcel Bigeard, 1916-2010.
Bigeard had been the quintessential colonial
military torturer whose life and exploits followed the colonial and
neo-colonial history of France in Africa and IndoChina.
Those who have followed the expenditures of the United States since 2003 in the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and later the US Africa Command will know that of the more than half a billion dollars that was spent, the money went to train many of the forces that are now called terrorist have been trained by the United States.
Even from within the corridors of the media in Washington DC writers such as Walter Pincus have documented the huge expenditures of the US military in Mali since 2002. In the same period when the hype of weapons of mass destruction was being propagated by the Bush administration, another fiction was being presented.
This was the idea that terrorists were spreading
out from Afghanistan and spreading terror from Asia through the Horn of
Africa and over to West Africa. This was presented as the banana theory of
terrorism and documented in the book, The Dark Sahara: America’s War on
Terror in Africa. 
The fear was that Islamic fighters driven from Afghanistan would settle in northern Mali.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler, then head of planning at EUCOM, said,
Figures now produced by varying agencies in the USA show that in the counter-terror offensives, Mali was the largest recipient of US funds amounting to more than half a billion dollars.
The Pentagon had started out with the Pan
Sahel Initiative (PSI) but by 2005, the PSI was replaced by the
Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a partnership of
State, Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
meant to focus on improving individual country and regional capabilities in
The aid packages to Mali represented a systematic buildup of the US military involvement in the Sahel region, with a focus on Mali because of the strong history of popular struggles for democratic change in Mali.
As far back as November 2009, in his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Africa hearing on ‘Counter-terrorism in the Sahel’ on 17 November 2009, Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson identified Mali - along with Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania - as one of the ‘key countries’ in the region for the US counter-terrorism strategy.
The current insecurity in Mali is a direct result of the US military presence and the instability represents one more piece of evidence why Africans must be more forthright in opposing the expansion of the US Africa Command.
It was when the full extent of the US engagement with the forces in combat became known that the lame duck leader of AFRICOM, General Carter Ham, admitted,
During the era of colonialism and apartheid the US foreign policy was informed by the support for the white racist regimes in Africa and for dictators. From the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in 1960 to the execution of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, the US hard interests have been dominated by oil, needs of finance capital (IMF), wars, and global US diplomatic and military hegemony.
The US Africa Command is the latest iteration of the combination of these hard interests with the counter-terrorism discourse losing its luster.
During the period of the support for apartheid,
when the peoples of Angola were about to defeat the South African racist
army at Cuito Cuanavale, the United States mounted Operation Flintlock to
give support to the white racist regime.
Operation Flintlock exercises were held in Mali in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Mali got equipment worth $5 million, including 37 “new Land Cruiser pickup trucks, along with powerful communications equipment” for the desert, according to a U.S. statement.
Mali also got $1 million in U.S. mine-detector
Moammar Gaddaffi had gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with the United States associating with the war on terror, until the United States and France turned to the very same jihadists to remove Gaddafi.
The names and personalities have been changing over the past ten years but there is a certain consistency with which there has been shifting allegiances in North Africa.
One allegiance that has been constant has been
the relationship between the US military and intelligence services with the
Algeria Secret Police DRS (Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité)
Department of Intelligence and Security (DIS).
The book by Souaidia about the world of the Generals of the DRS had been written before September 11, 2001. After the Global War on Terror was declared by George W. Bush, the neo-conservatives embraced the DRS as an ally and partner to fight terrorism.
Haliburton entered into the lucrative business of building defense institutions as well as profiting from the oil and gas business in Algeria. The collusion between the firms such as Haliburton and the DRS has been documented.
Although the complex linkages between terrorism,
corruption and a section of the politico-military power concealed the exact
base for support for AQIM, from inside the national Security apparatus in
Washington there were writers who exposed the overlap between governments,
smugglers, drug dealers and those who were dubbed as terrorists. 
The sixth group is from time to time listed with
the groups that are called Jihadists.
The shifting alliances of these so-called jihadists that were supposed to have threatened Bamako, West Africa and the world are then reproduced by other western journalists without the kind of critical examination of the roots of these organizations.
Given the history of the US counter-terror
operations and the shifting alliances it would be important for the Senate
Armed Services Committee to investigate the claim of Jeremy Keenan that “at
the heart of AQIM is the DRS.” 
From the period of the internal war against Islamists in 1992, there had been numerous stories about the DRS and its role in corruption and torture.
Algeria and the DRS consider the Sahel to be the
backyard of Algeria and hence it has been difficult to separate drug
traffickers, smugglers of cigarettes, Jihadists, and corrupt secret services
in this region.
A leader of the so called jihadists called Iyad Ag Ghaly has enjoyed the support of leaders inside and outside of Mali functioning at one moment as the envoy of Mali in Saudi Arabia. 
An unflattering profile of Iyad Ag Ghaly,
‘Mali’s whisky-drinking rebel turned Islamist chief,’  gives
some indication of the interpenetration between terror, counter terror, the
world of drug dealers, kidnappers and organized mafia groups.
One direct result of the Libya intervention was the reality that France, the United States and Britain financed the Islamist forces who they are now supposed to be fighting.
For the past sixty years, France intervened
militarily ostensibly to protect French nationals but in the main, these
interventions have been to support corrupt and unpopular leaders.
From Africa, one of the most important lessons is to draw from the discourse on imminent threat to be able to isolate those corrupt officials who participate with external forces in counter-terror activities.
And then, ten years later turn around and start to fight wars against the very same forces that they have trained and nurtured. There was no time when the forces of the jihadists numbered more than 6000. It is clear that France jumped the gun to intervene pre-empting the deployment of the forces of ECOWAS.
International pundits blamed Africans for their
slowness in responding to the takeover of Northern Mali. Experience from
Sierra Leone and from Liberia pointed to the capabilities of forces from
ECOWAS, especially Nigeria, to eradicate forces of military destabilization.
These divisions should not divert attention from the fact that the Tuaregs have real grievances all across the region of the Sahel. The challenges of resolving the outstanding questions of self-determination and autonomy for the Tuareg in this region cannot be carried out in the context of the present borders.
The French intellectuals and military understand
this and hence, France has presented itself as a supporter of the Tuareg
while jumping in to fight other sections of the Tuareg.
The bulk of the weapons and finance for these
jihadists come from allies of the USA where the Wahabist forces are
financially and militarily well endowed.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the USA understand the
potential for change after Tahrir Square, hence the tremendous investments
to remilitarize this entire region.
Since last November, there has not been a week when the western media did not carry a story about how AQIM threatens the west.
From these reports, carried especially in the
Washington Post and the New York Times, one may be forgiven if one forgets
that there is another dynamic at work in Africa, that of a new force of
economic dynamism across the continent.
The New York Times is part of this debate and is on the side of those who want to see the maintenance of the high military budget. In the past 50 years there has not been a major war or deployment of US military force that the New York Times opposed.
This organization supported the war in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now the expansion of western military
intervention in North Africa. The reporting in my opinion is part of the
effort to promote the idea that Africa is a hotbed of terrorist activity and
that the rag tag groups that are called jihadists are a threat to the United
When Jeh Charles Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, gave a speech in Oxford in November to say that the war on terror is not endless and that there will be a time when this mopping up of terrorists will be a police operation, the New York Times did not give this story the same exposure as European papers.
The item was front and center for British newspapers such as the Guardian.
In his speech Jeh Johnson held that,
The CIA had been using Libya as a base for the recruitment of jihadists to fight in Syria.
Some of the very same groups that had been
trained by the CIA are now fighting in Mali.
It has now devolved to the integrated East African Community to bring in Somalia and carry out a process of demilitarization. Such a process of demilitarization weakens the hands of those in the USA who see Africa as a hotbed of terrorism. The present struggles in Mali require new commitment for social and economic transformation in Africa, especially incorruptible leaders who can resist drug dealers, jihadists and smugglers.
It is in Nigeria where the forces of
destabilization are most active because these forces understand that a
democratic and committed Nigeria will be a major force for unity and
emancipation in Africa.