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William Engdahl: Mali a US operation with France as a junior partner

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As French soldiers pour into Mali in the fight to push back the advancing Islamist militants, questions have been raised as to the motives behind the intervention.

Author William Engdahl told RT the US was using France as a scapegoat to save face.

RT: At a time when France and the rest of the Eurozone are trying to weather the economic crisis, what’s Paris seeking to gain by getting involved in another conflict overseas?

William Engdahl: Well, I think the intervention in Mali is another follow-up to the French role in other destabilizations that we’ve seen, especially in Libya last year with the toppling of the Gadhafi regime. In a sense this is French neocolonialism in action.

But, interestingly enough, I think behind the French intervention is the very strong hand of the US Pentagon which has been preparing this partitioning of Mali, which it is now looming to be, between northern Mali, where al-Qaeda and other terrorists are supposedly the cause for French military intervention, and southern Mali, which is a more agricultural region. Because in northern Mali recently there have been huge finds of oil discovered, so that leads one to think that it’s very convenient that these armed rebels spill over the border from Libya last year and just at the same time a US-trained military captain creates a coup d’état in the Southern capital of Mali and installs a dictatorial regime against one of Africa’s few democratically elected presidents.

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Image: The Washington Post

So this whole thing bears the imprint of US Africom [US Africa Command] and an attempt to militarize the whole region and its resources. Mali is a strategic lynchpin in that. It borders Algeria which is one of the top goals of these various NATO interventions from France, the US and other sides. Mauritania, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso. All of this area is just swimming in untapped resources, whether it be gold, manganese, copper.

RT: Why was France the first Western country to get involved to such an extent? And what sort of message is this military initiative sending to its allies?

WE: Well I think that’s the Obama Administration’s strategy – let France take the hit on this as they did in Libya and other places in the past year and-a-half and the US will try and play a more discrete role in the background rather than being upfront as they were in Iraq and Afghanistan which cost the US huge amounts of credibility around the world. They’re playing a little bit more of a sly game here, but the rush for the US to announce its support the French military intervention and the actions of Africom over the past year and-a-half, two years, in Mali make clear that this is a US operation with the French as a junior partner.

RT: How far could this conflict potentially escalate? Could the French get bogged down, and who else is likely to get involved?

WE: The other European countries are loath to get involved in an Afghan-type ground situation with their troops. The Germans are providing humanitarian aid and some special forces training so far, but, frankly, I think al-Qaeda in northern Maghreb is a very suspicious operation and the timing of its activities coming over the border suggests that perhaps some NATO countries might be helping the al-Qaeda group to get military weapons and create the Chaucer’s belly that justifies NATO intervention. I think we’re seeing a very cynical game being played out here in Mali and it’s a very dangerous one when Africa is suddenly becoming a continent that’s been discovered by China, by the US and Europe and the rest of the world as the next place where untold wealth and resources can be captured.

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