Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 5:27 AM
No doubt you’ve heard about the Algerian hostage crisis that ended in a bloody massacre last Thursday when government troops stormed the gas plant where they were being held. The plant is run jointly by Britain’s BP, Norway’s Statoil, and the Algerian state oil company. Reports are that 37 hostages (of multiple nationalities, including three Americans), as well as dozens of their jihadist captors, were killed.
This hostage crisis came on the heels of France honoring a request by Mali, its former colony, to help it stave off jihadists who are attempting to rule Mali the way the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the years before (the original) 9/11. In fact, the jihadists claim that their hostage-taking suicide mission in Algeria was in response to France intervening in Mali.
We in al-Qaeda announce this blessed operation. We are ready to negotiate with the West and the Algerian government provided they stop their bombing of Mali’s Muslims.
(Al Jazeera, January 21, 2013)
These developments, coupled with the (second) 9/11 attack last year on the American consulate in Benghazi by jihadists, have Western political commentators waxing shock and awe about the opening of a new front in the war on terror in the Islamic Maghreb/Sahel. Never mind that these Afro-centric jihadists have more in common with booty-hunting Somali pirates than with Islam-crusading al-Qaeda fighters.
In any case, there is nothing new about this front:
Not to mention the prevailing fallacy that America must wage war in Afghanistan because it (still) constitutes the central front in the war against al-Qaeda. After all, for the past six years the Bush administration prosecuted the war in Iraq as if it were the central front in this war.
Moreover, there’s no denying that the last vestiges of al-Qaeda are now so splintered that they are just as likely to be found in Pakistan, North Africa or, indeed, in the United States, which makes the strategy for taking them on in Afghanistan patently misguided.
Therefore, Obama would be well-advised to cut America’s losses and run ASAP; to let the Afghans govern themselves however they like; and to rely on Special Forces and aerial drones to ‘disrupt and dismantle’ Taliban and al-Qaeda operations there.
(“‘Without (or even with) more forces, failure in Afghanistan is likely,’” The iPINIONS Journal, September 23, 2009)
I just hope France has learned the lessons of Afghanistan; namely, that the war on terror should be about tracking and killing terrorists, not about invading and building nations.
Accordingly, with the deployment of relatively few Special Forces and squadrons of aerial drones, the French can complete their mission in Mali in less than 10 weeks, as opposed to the more than 10 years it has already taken the Americans to complete theirs (whatever that is these days) in Afghanistan.
Moreover, it seems Obama is finally relying on Special Forces and drones to track and kill terrorists wherever they rear their diabolical heads – just as he has been doing with ruthless success in Pakistan. I am encouraged, for example, that he has honored the request by President Hollande to provide logistical support (i.e., transport planes and drones) to help France execute its mission in Mali.
The expanding American fleet of 375 armed drones — which gives the White House a seductively simple, inexpensive, safe (for Americans) and easily hidden way to wage war – [is] squarely on top of Obama’s agenda when he takes up his second term Jan. 21… Its chief architect and apologist, White House terrorism adviser John Brennan, is Obama’s pick to run the CIA — which operates in secret many of the drone strikes.
(Huffington Post, January 22, 2013)
If Obama follows through, I predict countries will take it upon themselves, as a matter of national pride, to get rid of terrorists within their borders (the way Algeria did) before American drones strike, leaving nothing but death and destruction from those countries to clean up … themselves.
This is why, instead of dreading this “new” Maghreb/Sahel front, we should be heralding this new Special Forces/drones strategy. It also behooves us to appreciate that we are really engaged not as much in a war on terror as in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order that the late Samuel P. Huntington warned about.
Obama’s Afghan surge fails…