Pentagon and CIA begin to shore up other faltering Arab regimes
By Wayne Madsen
The Obama administration has ordered the Pentagon and CIA to draw a "line in the sand" to prevent the popular overthrow of other U.S. client dictatorial regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. The order comes after a New York Times report that Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates covertly supported Obama's envoy Frank Wisner, Jr's message of support and encouragement for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before his ouster by the Egyptian military following the democratic opposition uprising in Egypt.
Using the CIA's and Mossad's contrived constructs of two "straw-man" terrorist organizations — Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) — created to justify U.S. military and security support for the oil states of the Arabian peninsula and U.S. natural gas interests in the Sahel region, the Pentagon has stepped up military support for Yemen's dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh and Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Under the rubric of the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP), the United States, with the cooperation of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to Algeria's security police and military. The TSCTP was formerly known as the Pan-Sahel Initiative. The Algerian security police have used U.S.-supplied lethal military and non-lethal crowd control equipment, including night-vision equipment, armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, global positioning systems, and secure radios, to forcibly put down pro-democracy protesters in Algiers who want the Bouteflika regime to follow in the steps of the Mubarak regime in Egypt and resign. Similarly, in Egypt, security police used U.S.-supplied tear gas and canisters on pro-democracy demonstrators.
Among the chief suppliers of military and security equipment to Algeria are Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, AM General, and Northrop Grumman.
In neighboring Morocco, TSCTP military assistance, including that provided through International Military Training and Education (IMET) programs, has been used to put down demonstrators in Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco, who support the POLISARIO liberation movement. U.S. and neocon propagandists have falsely accused POLISARIO of links with AQIM. Tuareg liberation movements across the Sahara are also accused by the Pentagon and its neocon operatives of having ties to AQIM. However, the charges are a ruse to protect the operations of U.S. and other western natural gas and oil operations in the Sahara, particularly in southern Algeria where the United States has helped set up a regional military command center.
The events in Tunisia and Egypt have also brought out protesters in Morocco who want a curtailment of the powers of Morocco's pro-U.S. monarchy but who face a military and security force armed to the teeth by the United States.
U.S. military training for North Africa's autocratic regimes in provided annually during the Pentagon's OPERATION FLINTLOCK military exercise. Last year's exercise, conducted from May 3 to 22, included military forces from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Niger, Chad, and Nigeria. French and British troops also participated in the operation. Another Pentagon program that is involved in providing security assistance to the Algerian regime is Operation Active Endeavor.
U.S. Special Forces reportedly maintain a permanent presence in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania where they support local military operations against groups accused of being allied with AQIM and another insurgent group, now thought to be very few in numbers — the Salafist movement and an Islamist group accused of having links to Al Qaeda. The Salafist movement in Algeria, GSPC, was announced by Al Qaeda's Egyptian number two man, Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, to have merged with Al Qaeda on September 11, 2006, creating AQIM. The announcement appears to have been another U.S. and Israeli intelligence-contrived ruse to justify stepping up U.S. military and intelligence support for the regimes in Algiers, Tunis, Rabat, and Nouakchott. In fact, many of the Islamist "militants" arrested by local military and police forces in the Sahel region and accused of being AQIM and Salafist "terrorists" are merely small-time criminals involved in smuggling drugs and weapons across poorly-protected national borders.
One of the chief Pentagon supporters for U.S. client-dictators across the Sahel to the Horn of Africa is Vicki Huddleston, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for African Affairs, who maintains particularly close connections to Algeria's military and security hierarchy, including Defense Minister-Delegate Abdelmalek Guenaizia and African and Maghreb Affairs Minister Abdelkader Messahel.
Details of Huddleston's October 2009 meeting in Algiers with senior Algerian officials remain shrouded in secrecy, according to the Algerian newspaper Liberté in an October 20, 2009 article. However, many in the Algerian opposition believe that Huddleston was discussing the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in Algeria. Huddleston also had a meeting at the Algerian Defense Ministry at which "military and technical cooperation" was discussed. A prior visit by officers of the US European Command to Algiers concentrated on the training of Algerian intelligence, special security police, and gendarmes by Pentagon-and CIA-supplied instructors. There were also reports that Saudi Arabia covertly financed the purchase from the United States of armored hpw security vehicles by Algeria and Mauritania for use against anti-regime activists.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, a known supporter of Israeli interests, also has established close ties with Algeria's leaders, notably Foreign Minister Ahmed Ouyahia. Just as with Israel's special relationship with Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, Tel Aviv has established close links with the leaders of other Arab dictatorships, including Algeria, using trusted American interlocutors like Feltman and Huddleston. Huddleston has a long resume that includes past postings in locations where the CIA has been engaged in major covert activities: she was George W. Bush's head of the US Interests Section in Havana in 2002 where she was engaged in anti-Castro activities and ambassador to Ethiopia, where she helped provide political and military support to that nation's dictator Meles Zenawi.
As with Algeria, the Pentagon has been supplying the Saleh regime in Yemen with massive amounts of military and security hardware. US Special Operations forces have been training Yemeni security forces who have targeted Shi'a Zaidi tribal members in north Yemen and South Yemeni secessionist forces in the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, a formerly socialist nation that was forcibly kept within Yemen in a 1994 civil war, a war in which the Clinton administration provided north Yemeni forces with military hardware and satellite and communication intelligence.
The Pentagon has justified its $150 million in military and security assistance to Yemen for fiscal year 2010 by claiming it is needed to fight "AQAP," another CIA- and Mossad-constructed "Al Qaeda" franchise. The Pentagon has doubled military assistance to Yemen for fiscal year 2011 to $250 million. The assistance, which almost mirrors that given to the Algerian regime, includes night-vision equipment, armored vehicles, Humvees, Huey helicopters, and communications and Internet surveillance systems. Yemeni forces have used their U.S.-supplied military hardware and training to brutally suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Sanaa, Aden, and other cities in the country.
While the Obama administration offers platitudes to the pro-democracy wave sweeping the Arab world, the military assistance provided by the Pentagon and CIA to repressive regimes speaks for itself. The last-ditch efforts by the Pentagon, State Department, and CIA to save the Mubarak regime in its final days will be repeated in Algiers, Sanaa, and the capitals of other U.S. client states in the North Africa and Middle East region.
FY 2011 official US military assistance to client dictatorships in North Africa and Middle East
Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) $20,000,000
IMET – Algeria $950,000
IMET – Yemen $1,100,000
Foreign Military Financing – Yemen $35,000,000
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several renowned papers and blogs.
Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows. He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.
As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.
Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.