Mali: Special comment. Western news reporters have discovered in Timbuktu confidential guidance documents that the fleeing jihadists failed to destroy.
On the 13th The Telegraph reported that one of its reporters had discovered some confidential documents in the building used by the jihadists in Timbuktu as their command post. One was an account of a meeting in March 2012, but only the first page survived.
According to The Telegraph, the one page document confirmed that al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb had decided to take command and control of all operations in the Sahara. The Telegraph reporter observed that al Qaida seemed to be very bureaucratic.
The Associated Press (AP) reported on 15 February that one of its reporters discovered ten pages of a longer guidance document in the same building. It was written by the emir of al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelmalik Droukdel, as a critique of the northern Mali operations as of the middle of 2012. It also makes clear AQIM’s long term strategic goals.
It states that the objective of the invasion was to develop Mali as a base, but to hide that goal by working with local dissident to make it appear that a local uprising was taking place. He berated the jihadists in Mali for alienating local groups, such as the Touaregs, and for moving too quickly in implementing Sharia, specifically the whipping of women, and erred in destroying ancient monuments in Timbuktu.
Droukdel also warned his lieutenants to expect military intervention that would dislodge the jihadists. “The great powers with hegemony over the international situation, despite their weakness and their retreat caused by military exhaustion and the financial crisis, still have many cards to play that enable them to prevent the creation of an Islamic state in Azawad (northern Mali) ruled by the jihadis and Islamists.”
“And so, it is very probable, perhaps certain, that a military intervention will occur, whether directly or indirectly, or that a complete economic, political and military blockade will be imposed along with multiple pressures, which in the end will either force us to retreat to our rear bases or will provoke the people against us …”
“Taking into account this important factor, we must not go too far or take risks in our decisions or imagine that this project is a stable Islamic state.”
Most importantly, Droukdel advised local AQIM leaders to make short term concessions and even withdraw in the face of intervention, but assures them that AQIM plans to operate in the region for the long term. The region includes Mali’s neighbors.
The guidance is clear and sophisticated. The criticism of the jihadists who invaded northern Mali is stern – they botched the job, particularly cooperation with the Touaregs last May and the failure to cultivate support among the people in northern Mali. They moved too fast and put the entire operation in jeopardy, according to Droukdel.
The full AP account is worth reading for its insight into jihadist thinking, plans and operations. AQIM has opened a new front. It compares its strategy to that of the Taliban in Afghanistan in that it also is prepared to wait out the French and the African forces.
AQIM cannot beat the French, especially the French Air Force, but its forces seem much more organized and dedicated than the African soldiers who will fill in after the French combat forces depart.
AQIM is determined to spread through the region, but seems to fear most resistance and rejection by the local populations in the villages and towns, such as Timbuktu. That should prove advantageous to the established governments, but they have to overcome centuries of tribal and ethnic hostility to take advantage of it. Prospects are not good and AQIM is not leaving.
Phi Beta Iota: This sounds very much like a covert action by the USA and/or Israel. Even screw-ups get it right occasionally (as in doing the wrong thing wronger). “Only” the first page is classic covert action. The page needs to be very carefully examined by independent experts, including forensic experts on paper type, ink age, and so on. On balance, we believe that the CIA and JSOG are each carrying out very expensive and very pointless operations across Africa, in a repeat of John Stockwell’s In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story (W. W. Norton, 1984). On balance, there is absolutely no question but that the USA is more of a destabilizing factor in Africa and the Middle East, than any combination of indigenous groups allegedly associated with any “Al Qaeda.” US foreign policy is being mutated — as it has been throughout the Cold War — by secret covert activities and crimes that have nothing at all to do with “diplomacy” and everything to do with the military-industrial-oil complex and its quest for hegemony at any price. When CIA and JSOG activities abroad are combined with corporate “dark money” within the USA, funding all manner of morally and intellectually dishonest “think tanks,” what we have is a battle between good and evil that is taking place in the minds of men, at the expense of the taxpayer, for the benefit of a very few and their morally disengaged public and private servants.