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Obama’s Counterterrorism Strategy in Mali Collapsed After Libyan War

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On January 16, 2013 @ 11:35 am In The Point | 5 Comments


It’s another success for soft power. Bin Laden is dead, Chrysler is building Jeeps in China and Al Qaeda is on the verge of taking over the country of Mali using US trained soldiers [2].

And it’s all a consequence of Obama’s illegal and disastrous Libyan War.

Over the last four years, the United States has spent between $520 million and $600 million in a sweeping effort to combat Islamist militancy in the region without fighting the kind of wars it has waged in the Middle East… But all that deliberate planning collapsed swiftly when heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya. They teamed up with jihadists like Ansar Dine, routed poorly equipped Malian forces and demoralized them so thoroughly that it set off a mutiny against the government in the capital, Bamako.

For years, the United States tried to stem the spread of Islamic militancy in the region by conducting its most ambitious counterterrorism program ever across these vast, turbulent stretches of the Sahara.

But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation’s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most — taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials.

“It was a disaster,” said one of several senior Malian officers to confirm the defections.

“The aid of the Americans turned out not to be useful,” said another ranking Malian officer, now engaged in combat. “They made the wrong choice,” he said of relying on commanders from a group that had been conducting a 50-year rebellion against the Malian state.

An accident, I’m sure.

Though those accidents seem to be happening a lot in Obama Inc.

Now Obama could give the order to start taking out Ansar Al-Dine commanders using drones. He could also place Boko Haram in Nigeria on the FTO list, but he deliberately isn’t doing any of those things.

Some Defense Department officials, notably officers at the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, have pushed for a lethal campaign to kill senior operatives of two of the extremists groups holding northern Mali, Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Killing the leadership, they argued, could lead to an internal collapse.

But with its attention and resources so focused on other conflicts in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, the Obama administration has rejected such strikes in favor of a more cautious, step-back strategy

Oddly there was no cautious strategy when Gaddafi was suppressing Islamists. Then he had to go in guns blazing. But when Islamists linked to Al Qaeda are on the verge of taking over a country, suddenly the bold decider goes all cautious and step-backy.

Just one of those strange accidents and coincidences that only a crazy conspiracy theorist who believes that Islamists are setting the country’s foreign policy would assign any meaning to.

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[1] Image: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/obamas-counterterrorism-strategy-in-mali-collapsed-after-libyan-war/obama-libya-copy/

[2] Al Qaeda is on the verge of taking over the country of Mali using US trained soldiers: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/world/africa/french-jets-strike-deep-inside-islamist-held-mali.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

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