Al Qaeda’s enemy in Mali, friend in Syria, and air force in Libya

By Stephen Gowans

New York Times reporters Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, writing on January 16 about the “hazy threat from Mali militants,” note that, “The group most worrisome to American officials is Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which emerged out of Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s and originally was strictly focused on overthrowing Algeria’s government.”

US officials didn’t find AQIM so worrisome when the Islamist group was focused on overthrowing Libya’s government. At the time, Washington was happy to allow Islamist militants to destabilize a government that wasn’t wholly congenial to US business interests.

As the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese reported last year, Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi had “said the rebellion had been organized by AQIM and his old enemies the (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), who had vowed to overthrow the colonel and return the country to traditional Muslim values, including Sharia law.”

AQIM’s goals for Libya raised no alarm in Washington, but according to Mazzetti and Schmitt, the organization’s vow to convert Mali to Sharia law is setting off alarm bells in Washington.

To assist AQIM and other Islamist rebels in Libya, the United States led NATO into an air war against the Gaddafi government. Acknowledging AQIM’s role in the Libyan rebellion, some of the Canadian pilots who participated in the NATO air campaign jokingly referred to themselves as part of “Al-Qaeda’s air force.”

Washington’s use of jihadists to topple leftist and nationalist governments stretches back to its 1980s alliance with Islamist rebels, including Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan. Today, al Qaeda-linked militants play an important part in the US-backed effort to overthrow the Syrian government.

To mobilize public support for jihadist rebellions, US officials and news media sanitize Islamist militants as “freedom fighters” or part of a “popular movement for democracy.” Few people anymore believe that the Islamists seeking to overthrow the Syrian government represent a popular movement for democracy. They are, instead, a movement for Sunni religious domination.

After the AQIM triumph in Libya, the organization turned to attacking the US consular building in Benghazi. With its transition from US cat’s paw to US enemy, Washington changed its naming protocol. Now AQIM would go by the moniker Gaddafi favored–terrorists. Which is also how Western officials and news media prefer to describe the organization today, now that AQIM’s goals in Mali collide with the West’s goal of maintaining a puppet regime in the country.

Were the AQIM working in Mali to topple a leftist or economically nationalist government, Washington and Western news media would be hailing the jihadists as a force for democracy.

2 thoughts on “Al Qaeda’s enemy in Mali, friend in Syria, and air force in Libya

  1. Thanks Stephen. Irony is always tastier when kept short and sweet.
    My only (minor) quibble is with your preference for the traditional spelling of Al Qaeda rather than the more up-to-date Al CIA-duh.

  2. If you want to know what is going on, read David Rockefeller (JPMorganChase, ExxonMobil, CFR, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group) associate Zbigniew Brzezinksi. Brzezinski is a co-founder of the Trilateral Commission, and former national security adviser to Jimmy Carter. In other words, he is well placed to put his agenda into practice. Also, as a Polish aristocrat (szlachta), he has a special hatred for the Russians, not just Russian communism, which is long gone. Think: Katyn Massacre.

    Brzezinski wrote a 1998 book called “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives”. According to him, the purpose of US foreign policy should be to prevent any organized power arising on the Eurasian continent – the hollowing out and destruction of China, Russia and India.

    In his word, only the EU and North America are organized, and the rest of the world is bathed in ethnic hatred, tribal, religious, racial and class war. A new Middle Ages for the planet, a new Roman Empire for the West.

    And it are these jihadi groups, thoroughly infiltrated by special forces and intelligence organisations, that are doing their bidding.

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