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Post Does the US Have a Coherent Policy in North Africa?
Created by John Eipper on 07/26/19 4:10 AM

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Does the US Have a Coherent Policy in North Africa? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/26/19 4:10 am)

Does anybody understand the real policy of the US Empire in the North Africa?

Officially the Empire does not have military bases in the Maghreb/Libya/Egypt, but is this truly the case?

First of all, the area is not united.  On the contrary, each nation is influenced by foreign powers and is badly divided internally. Arabs against Berbers and Tuaregs, Muslims against Copts, one tribe against another, racist feelings against the South Saharans, etc.

The Empire, so far, is the dominant power, contrasting the advances of China which has reached excellent commercial relations through the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as Russia, which is the greatest supplier of arms.

The Empire is protecting Egypt with 1.3 billion US dollars per year, and also supports the influence of Saudi Arabia there. The US has 800 soldiers in the Multinational Forces of the Sinai and most probably the outward good relations of El Sisi with Russia and China is only in order to get more help from the Empire.

The relations of the Empire with Algeria go back to 1957 when the US dropped colonialist France. Since 1992 there is an unofficial military base at Tamanrasset in the south plus another non identified on the Mediterranean Sea. Do not forget the mediation between US-Iran in 1980 and the great US support for the Algerian military government in the 1990s civil war.

Morocco has been always friendly with the US since 1776; it was the first country to recognize the new independent state. The great military base of Ben Guerir in the interior has US military personnel and is a major CIA base.

Furthermore the Empire is determining the peace between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara.

Libya is extremely complicated. The US was drawn into the war against Gaddafi in order to protect the UK and France which could have failed with their criminal interventions, but the American warmonger Hillary Clinton hated Gaddafi. The Empire is playing both sides. On the one hand it supports the Tripoli government recognized by the United Nations and sponsored by Italy, Turkey and Qatar, while on the other hand it is flirting with Haftar the strongman from Bengazi, sponsored by France, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Egypt. On top of this, there are undisclosed US troops in the deep desert, in spite of the few withdrawn a short time ago when Haftar started moving towards Tripoli.

This reminds me of when the US was officially allied with Italy but favored Tito, the great enemy of the Italians,

Finally Tunisia. Again, the Empire uses Biserta as a secret drone base to attack Jihadists, while in February 2017, an undisclosed group of US marines fought with Tunisian troops to repel an Al-Qaeda attack. This was a great embarrassment for the Tunisian government when the news came out in the open.

As mentioned above China is desperately trying to infiltrate the Area through commercial and economic means.  So far there is only one official Chinese military base at Djibouti, but China is the largest provider of troops to the UN peace missions in Black Africa which it may be a good springboard for future developments.

Russia in order to gain influence is using the old tool of selling arms (49% of arms sold in the area are from Russia, 15% from the US and 10% from China). But Russia also uses economic/commercial means especially in the oil/gas Industry.

A nice quotation:

The truth always remains the truth even if it has lost its voice. Falsehoods remain falsehoods even if millions of people profess and impose it.

JE comments:  The Chinese and the Russians do seem to have a more coherent policy in the region:  grab market share and sell weapons, respectively.  Nation-building is always messier.  (Russia has mired itself in Syria, to be sure.)

Here's a related question I've never seen addressed:  what happened to Gaddafi's money?  Some sources (Google it) place his wealth at $200 billion.  I find this hard to believe--wouldn't that have made him the wealthiest person in the world in 2011?  (He died cowering in a drainage pipe, to be sure.)

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  • Gaddafi and Latin American Revolutionaries (Timothy Brown, USA 07/27/19 5:17 AM)
    An interesting posting from Eugenio Battaglia (July 26th).

    As I was reading it, I turned my head to a souvenir given to me by the former commander of El Salvador's Faribundo Martí Liberation Front, FMLN Cnte. Fermán Cienfuegos (José Eduardo Sancho Castañeda). It's a "Calendario 2000" handed out by the Centro Cultural Arabe-Libia in Managua, Nicaragua. On its left is a photo of "Coronel Muammar E-Gadhafi--Líder de la Gran Revolución del Primero de Septiembre." On its right side there's a five-paragraph paean to the "Pensador Muammar El'Gadafi" entitled "El Libro Verde Vislumbra La Era de Las Masas."

    Some years back, when I showed it to José Obidio "Pepe" Puente León (Ch. 2 in my When the AK-47s Fall Silent, Hoover, 2000--foreword by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas) during one of my visits with him in Mexico City, he commented: "This reminds me of when, years ago, I was deep in the Libyan desert training revolutionary comrades from Latin American countries." Pepe was Fidel Castro's personal aid in Mexico prior to Castro's launching of the Cuban Revolution and later a National Director of the FSLN in Nicaragua, despite being a Mexican.

    While I was videotaping his oral history, Plutarco Elias Hernández Sancho, Cnte Marcial, a former FSLN, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional's senior field commander, took a few minutes to describe the important role of PLO, Palestine Liberation Front, pilots during the final Sandinista offensive that overthrew the Somoza regime (Ch. 5 in AK-47s).

    A question for Eugenio: Is everyone in WAIS sure that when you say "Empire," we will agree there's been just one imperial country, the United States, during the last two centuries? Not Nazi Germany; not WWII Japan; not the USSR; not the People's Republic of China, not even the UK--just the US?

    JE comments:  The full story of Gaddafi's role in Latin American revolutionary politics has never been told (at least I've not seen it).  Beyond the tenet of a vague "anti-imperialism," did Gaddafi have anything in common with Latin America's revolutionaries?  The "Green Book" is one of those works that everyone has heard of but few have read.  Wasn't anti-communism one of the central themes of Gaddafi's "philosophy"?

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    • Why I Call the US the "Empire" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/28/19 4:18 AM)
      Sorry for my rather delayed answer, but after an intense heat wave we had severe thunderstorms with power outages. In some parts of Italy we even had tornadoes, unknown until few years ago, with many injuries.

      I wish to respond to the excellent post of Timothy Brown, 27 July.

      In human history we always had empires. In 1939 there were several empires, large and small: Britain, the widest-reaching, France, US (Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico), Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Russia, Italy and the Third Reich. Italy however in the 1930s started a great program of integration and civil progress of the locals and the Italians residing in the empire, a program which was improving relations in these territories. For its part, the Third Reich was called an empire even if, at that time, it ruled over only one ethnic group and therefore, from an ethnic point of view, it was the only "acceptable" empire.

      During WWII and immediately afterwards, thanks to the shrewd and hypocritical (Atlantic Charter) actions of the warmonger Roosevelt and his successors, the US dismantled all competing empires. Churchill, the great sinker of the British sovereignty of the Seven Seas and the British Empire, stated that the Atlantic Charter did not apply to Germany.

      In 1991 the US became the only great Empire, opening up an era of potential peace and progress. Unfortunately the rule imposed by this Empire may have been worse than those of 80/70 years ago.

      The good thing for them is that only the completely defeated leaders can be placed on international trial for crimes against peace and humanity. Therefore, for the time being the leaders of the US Empire are safe. But sooner or later, the American people may become sick and tired of losing lives and money, and may place its bad leaders on trial.

      Even if some were extremely ruthless, the pre-WWII empires least ruled and occupied foreign territories openly, many of which were unable to rule themselves (see Africa still at present) On the contrary the present Empire, behind its face-saving so-called alliances, has occupation troops stationed in too many countries while its economic power imposes political/economic actions, including self-defeating sanctions, on its lackeys that rule over the occupied countries.

      See Italy that against its interests had to accept the TAP pipeline and renounce the South Stream, while Germany is pressed to give up the North Stream 2 and buy more expensive American LPG which comes from the shale industry, extremely dangerous for the environment and water. (Is a new Flint underway?)

      Now we have Trump's economic menaces accompanied by insults (oh well, if the insults were only for Macron...) against Europe if it decides to tax the big American digital companies on their European profits.

      Finally about the People's Republic of China or the Empire of the Center, so far is not a great military empire but it is on its to becoming one. A White Paper of 2015 states:

      "The Chinese dream is to make the country strong. China's Armed Forces take their dream of making the military strong as part of the China Dream."

      The new army is globally oriented and evacuated 36,000 Chinese workers from Libya in 2011/12 and another 600 from Yemen in 2015. The Chinese military base of Djibouti (in the same area as Italian, French and American military bases) presently has a force of 6,000 which may reach at least 10,000. Officially its role is to fight Somali pirates.

      The Italian Military Base at Djibouti is named after "Comandante Diavolo" (Commander Devil) Amedeo Guillet, commander of a horse battalion of loyal, heroic, and proud Ascari. He was famous for his charge on 21 January 1941 at Agordat against an attacking British force with Matilda tanks. This was really a cavalry charge, and the last in Africa against tanks. After the surrender of the Italians at Amba Alagi, on 17 May 1941, Guillet continued the war with his brave Ascari until he managed to escape to Yemen, becoming a friend of the ruler who made him return to Italy in September 1943. After the war the monarchist Guillet resigned from the Republican Army and started a diplomatic career becoming Ambassador to the court of his old friend, the ruler of Yemen. He died at 101 in 2010 at Rome.

      JE comments:  Don't forget the Japanese empire of 1939.  There are several questions raised by Eugenio Battaglia's post, but one for now:  is an old-school empire that "openly" imposes its rule somehow morally superior to the subtle neo-colonialism of economic and political domination?  The mainstream view is exactly the opposite, but at least a traditional empire cannot be accused of hypocrisy.  Brutality, oppression, and racism yes, but not hypocrisy.

      Eugenio, glad your power is back on.  Could you tell us more about the tornadoes?

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      • Tornadoes in Italy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/29/19 3:48 AM)

        The bad weather we had lately with tornadoes was not as severe as what you might see in Oklahoma, but it resulted in several deaths. A young lady in a car was killed when she was hurled for more than 150 feet. Many buildings and trees were destroyed, and a couple of other persons died too.

        Once we had few weather phenomena that caused only limited damage. Now we often have serious and extreme cases.

        JE comments:  Severe and bizarre weather is the new normal.  Tornadoes in Italy?  This sounds as unusual as a blizzard in Guam.  And hurricane season is just around the corner.  I fear it will give us a lot to talk about in the coming months.

        How did your olive grove fare in the storms, Eugenio?

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        • Bad News for This Year's Olive Harvest (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/30/19 5:11 AM)
          Here in the Savona area the weather was not so bad. We had strong winds and heavy rain for a while but no hail.

          Unfortunately for the olives, it was already a very bad year due to the winter/spring weather extreme drought when rain was necessary followed by rain or continuous drizzle when sunshine was needed. Therefore we had few flowers and of these very few were pollinated. Many trees have practically no olives at all.

          In 20 years I've never seen a situation like that. I wonder if it will even be worth attempting a harvest, but my wife says that even if we get only a few liters we shall try to save the few fruits that can be found.

          JE comments: I am really sorry, Eugenio.  Looks like we'll have to ration our rapidly dwindling supply of Olio di Battaglia 2018.  This spring at WAIS HQ we planted a cherry grove (the Michigan equivalent of olives), and between the birds and the beetles, we now have a collection of expensive sticks in the ground. 

          Every day I'm thankful I don't have to raise my own food.

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    • What Did Gaddafi Have in Common with Latin America's Revolutionaries? (Timothy Brown, USA 07/31/19 4:06 AM)
      John E asked about Gaddafi and Latin America.  Revolutionary solidarity was the norm, not the exception, during the Cold War.

      The photo of Sandinista Comandante Plutarco Hernández Sancho on page 63 of my book Diplomarine, was taken during an "international solidarity conference" in Caracas, Venezuela where he was the official representative of the FSLN. Hernández gave it and a list of the internationalistas that were attending the conference, now in the Hoover Archives collection of Sandinista documents. Hernández tells his personal story on chapter 5 of my When the AK-47s Fall Silent.  The idea that each Cold War revolutionary movement was independent of all the others is a myth. For that matter, so is the tale that Augusto César Sandino was the ideological father of Nicaragua's Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional. Chapter 3, I videotaped the oral history of the elderly but still active bodyguard of Sandino, Alejandro Pérez Bustamante (Abuelo). During the US Marines campaign in Nicaragua's Segovian highlands, including while Mexico was involved, he was Sandino's personal bodyguard. Decades later during the so-called "Contra War," he was head of a clandestine anti-Sandinista Contra support cell in and around El Chipote. One comment Alejandro Pérez made more than once was that "if Sandino had been alive, he'd have been a "chilote" (a Contra), too"!

      During another Oral History, Plutarco's first cousin, José Sancho (Cndte Fermán Cienfuegos) discussed in detail the extensive financial, political and military support the FMLN and FSLN gave one another, and smaller revolutionary movements in Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica during their concurrent revolutionary efforts.

      JE comments:  One takeaway I've gathered from Tim Brown's writings over the years:  Central American politics are a family affair.  Didn't we learn that Daniel Ortega is even a distant cousin of...the Somozas?

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