Venezuela’s Maduro To Present Evidence Incriminating Colombia in Failed Attack

Source:  TeleSUR
7 August 2018

supporters of maduro rally in the streets august 6Supporters of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attend a rally in support
of him in Caracas, Venezuela Aug. 6, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

“I am going to show evidence and testimony. Our people want justice against terrorism. Justice,” Maduro said concluding his statement.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that he will be presenting forceful evidence incriminating the government of Colombia in the failed assassination perpetrated against him on Saturday in the capital Caracas.

“I inform the people of Venezuela that we continue to work on the investigations into assassination attempt in a degree of frustration, and in the next few hours I will be presenting strong evidence of the links that the Colombian oligarchy has with the events on Avenida Bolivar,” the president said in a video posted on his official Twitter account early Tuesday.

Also, the president said that the executors of the plan received training in the city of Chinacotá, department of Santander in Colombian territory.

“It is clear and there is sufficient proof of the participation of the Colombian government of the outgoing Juan Manuel Santos. We have the location, the names of the place in Chinacota Norte de Santander where they trained, the assassins, the terrorists, all in the coming hours.

In this regard, the Venezuelan head of state confirmed that all those involved in the terrorist act have already been captured.

Minister for Internal Relations, Justice and Peace, Néstor Reverol noted that one of those involved has an arrest warrant for his involvement in the attack on Fort Paramacay base in 2017, while another was held in prison in connection to the 2014 violent anti-government protests known as guarimbas.

“I am going to show evidence and testimony. Our people want justice against terrorism. Justice,” Maduro said concluding his statement.

CNIDH Condemns Assassination Attempt on President Maduro

 

network in defense of humanity caribbean chapter.jpgINTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  IN  DEFENSE  OF  HUMANITY 

 (CARIBBEAN  CHAPTER)

PRESS  STATEMENT 

“We Denounce the Attempted Political Assassination and the Planned Military Overthrow of the Democratically Elected Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”

The Caribbean Chapter of the International Network in Defense of Humanity strongly condemns the assassination attempt on the duly elected President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, that took place on Saturday August 4th, 2018.

Whilst the global pro-imperialist news media has been more interested in reporting the attack as “amateurish”, we see the attack as only the most recent and most aggressively desperate manifestation of a long and persistent assault on the sovereignty of  Venezuela and of longstanding efforts to thwart the will of the Venezuelan people.

We view this attempt on the life of President Maduro as confirmation that the enemies of Venezuela’s socialism are now acknowledging their failure at overthrowing the Bolivarian government through electoral manipulation, mass protest, media propaganda ,and economic destabilization.  We therefore identify this shift to a new stage of political assassination and criminality as a sign of failure, but also a disturbing sign of dangerous desperation on the part of the anti-socialist right wing extremist forces both inside and outside Venezuela.

Our Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity does not separate the assassination attempt on President Maduro from the several years of threats of military intervention, open support for and identification with acts of criminal aggression, and a sustained anti-Maduro campaign by the most powerful country in the Western Hemisphere and by the agents of capitalism. Indeed, we have noted that these acts of internal aggression against the Bolivarian government have not only taken the form of orchestrated violent mass demonstrations, but have also included a helicopter attack with the use of grenades and an assault on the parliament building of Venezuela.

We therefore use this sad occasion to call on the regional news media and on our Caribbean governments to exercise vigilance and to avoid allowing themselves to be used as pawns in an illicit campaign of military and economic aggression against a friendly sister nation.

Despite our awareness of the history of imperialist and right-wing aggression towards the socialist government of Venezuela, our Caribbean Chapter of the Network was nevertheless shocked that in their single-minded desire to reverse the socialist path of Venezuela, the fascist, oligarchical enemies of the Bolivarian Republic would attempt to use such extreme and barbaric violence that could have potentially taken the lives of scores of citizens, as well as the lives of the democratically elected leadership of the country.

We unequivocally condemn this open resort to terrorism, and call on our Caribbean governments to reiterate our region’s commitment to the furtherance of peace, the rule of law and democracy.

Finally, the Caribbean Chapter of the International  Network in Defense of Humanity expresses its satisfaction that President Maduro and the political  leadership of Venezuela were not hurt in the attack.  We also express our empathy with the patriots and soldiers who were injured during the attack and wish them a speedy recovery.  Our Network would also like to record that we are pleased with the words of magnanimity spoken by President Maduro following the attack and his words of advice to the opposition that “While I guarantee you can live in this country peacefully.  If something happens to me, you will have to face millions of campesinos and humble people making justice with their own hands…”. 

The Caribbean Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity urges the Venezuelan Opposition forces to adhere to the principles of democratic dialogue, peace and mutual co-existence and to avoid the urgings of those from outside who are impelling them to resort to violence and criminality in the pursuit of their political objectives.

Caribbean Chapter
International Network In Defense of Humanity

Cuba reiterates unconditional solidarity and support for President Maduro and the Bolivarian Chavista Revolution

Source:  Granma
August 6 2018

Leading the commemoration of the 8th anniversary of ALBA were Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, then President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, and President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moro. Photo: Juvenal Balán

The revolutionary government of the Republic of Cuba forcefully denounces the attempted attack on the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, which occurred Saturday August 4, during a military parade in Caracas, on the occasion of the 81st anniversary of the founding of the Bolivarian National Guard.

This terrorist act, presuming to ignore the will of the Venezuelan people, is yet another desperate attempt to achieve via assassination what has not been possible in multiple elections, or through the 2002 coup against then-President Hugo Chávez, the 2003 oil industry lock-out, or the unconventional war conducted with media campaigns, sabotage, and violent, cruel acts.

The revolutionary government once again condemns the operation being carried out against the legitimate government of Venezuela, as part of imperialism’s policy of harassment to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution, that includes the arbitrary, aggressive U.S. Executive Order describing Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy” of the United States; unilateral economic sanctions in violation of international law; the statement by the U.S. Secretary of State asserting that the Monroe Doctrine remains in full effect and calling for a military coup against the constitutional government of Venezuela; and the U.S. President’s threat of using “a possible military option” against the country.

July 14, 2017, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz warned:

“The coup plotting aggression and violence in Venezuela hurts all of Our America and only benefits the interests of those who are intent upon dividing us, to exert their domination over our peoples, regardless of the conflicts generated with incalculable consequences in the region, as we are witnessing in different places around the world.

“We forewarn today that those who attempt to overthrow the Bolivarian Chavista Revolution, via unconstitutional, violent, coup-plotting methods, will assume a serious responsibility before history.”

The revolutionary government expresses its full, unwavering solidarity with Venezuela and its unconditional support to President Nicolás Maduro Moros and the civic-military of the Bolivarian Chavista people.

As the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, said this past July 17, within the context of the Sao Paulo Forum’s 24th meeting, we must “strengthen the conviction that to fight for Venezuela is to fight for the region’s integration, for respecting the sovereignty and independence of Our America.”

Maradona: To Attack Maduro is to Attack the Venezuelan People

Source:  TeleSUR
August 6 2018

maradona says Venezuela does not surrenderMaradona says Venezuela “does not surrender.” | Photo: @pvillegas_tlSUR

The Argentine posted to social media to denounce an attack on Maduro during a military parade.

On Sunday, soccer icon Diego Maradona has joined the long list of people who have expressed solidarity with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro following failed drone attack.

RELATED:  Venezuela’s Foreign Minister: Probe Into Attack Against Maduro Points to US, Colombia

The Argentine posted to social media to denounce the attack on Maduro during a military event. Maradona addressed the attempt against the life of the Venezuelan president, stating that an attack on the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution is an attack on the people of Venezuela.

The diminutive world cup champion added that Venezuela “does not surrender” before urging for strength for his “dear friend!”

The attack on the Venezuelan president took place during a ceremony to commemorate the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, in Caracas.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Sunday that the attempt on Maduro’s life was a manifestation of frustration against the president as well as state officials.

Arreaza also remarked that, so far, investigations point to the involvement of the United States and Colombia. “There is no doubt about the origin of these attacks coming from a Miami-Bogota-Caracas axis.”

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol disclosed that six people had been arrested in connection with the attack.

World Extends Solidarity to Venezuela’s Maduro After Attack

Source:  TeleSUR

August 5 2018

nicolas maduro telesur world extend solidarityTwo drones carrying explosives were detonated, injuring seven military
personnel and halting Maduro mid-speech.   | Photo: Twitter / @PresidencialVen

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was among the first to comment, posting on Twitter: “Now the empire and its servants threaten his life.”

Messages and statements of support and solidarity from World leaders, governments, and intellectuals continued pouring in Sunday as they condemned the assassination attempt against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.

RELATED: Venezuela: Maduro Survives Drone Attack, Blames Colombia

The attack against President Maduro took place at the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, in which two drones carrying explosives were detonated near the presidential platform, injuring seven military personnel and halting Maduro mid-speech.

Ecuador and Uruguay are the latest countries to issue strong statements condemning the attack against President Maduro and rejecting such attempts by violent and terrorist attempts to destabilize the country.

“The Republic of Ecuador expresses its firm rejection and censure the violent acts that took place on August 4 in Caracas, during the commemoration ceremonies of the 81st. anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, which caused several injuries and endangered the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, his companions and others attending the official ceremony,” read a statement by Ecuador’s foreign ministry.

Meanwhile, Uruguay’s government said it “expresses its solidarity with the victims and their families” and “reiterates its absolute rejection of any illegal act of violence against politicians, regardless of their authors or recipients.”

In the early hours of Sunday, the Turkish government issued a statement condemning the attempt on President Maduro’s life. “We are deeply saddened by the attack which was apparently aimed at President Maduro himself,” said a statement issued by Turkey’s foreign ministry.

“We strongly condemn this heinous attack. It is the greatest consolation that President Maduro and his relatives survived the incident unharmed. We wish a speedy recovery to the 7 soldiers reported to have been wounded in the explosions.” The statement went on to say that “Turkey stands with the brotherly and friendly Venezuelan people and President Maduro, his family and all government officials.”

This assassination attempt, one which is a crime against humanity, only demonstrates the desperation of an empire defeated by brave people. We send our solidarity. Strength to our brother, President @NicolasMaduro and the Bolivarian people! #NicolasMaduro #AtentadoFallidoVzla

Also, the Russian and Spanish governments expressed Sunday their support to President Maduro, his government and the people of Venezuela and called for peace. The Russian Foreign Ministry considered “categorically unacceptable the use of terrorist methods as instruments of political struggle”.

“It is obvious that such actions are intended to destabilize the situation in the country after the recent congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, which defined the priority measures for the recovery of the national economy.”

The Spanish government has underlined its “firm condemnation of the use of any type of violence for political purposes” and has expressed its desire for “prompt recovery” to the wounded.

Those statements were also echoed by the government of Dominica who condemned “with no reservation the attempted assassination of the His Excellency Nicolas Maduro, the President of The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.  All law-abiding global citizens should stand in condemnation of the calculated and cowardly act against the Venezuelan people. As Prime Minister of Dominica, I  stand in solidarity with the President and the people of Venezuela.

RELATED:Venezuela Lauds Ahed Tamimi Who Notes Maduro, Chavez Support

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was among the first to publicly denounce the attack. Posting on his Twitter account, Morales wrote: “After the failure in their attempt to overthrow him democratically, economically, politically and militarily, now the empire and its servants threaten his life.”

He was swiftly followed by the leaders of various political and social organizations across the continent, from Alternative Revolutionary Force for the Commons (FARC) leader Rodrigo Londoño in Colombia to Argentine sociologist Atilio Boron.

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega also condemned the bombing, writing in a statement: “With a heart full of indignation, with the sacred fire of our revolutionary brotherhood, our strong condemnation to those cowardly terrorists.”

Noted Mexican philosopher Fernando Buen Abab also took to Twitter to voice his condemnation: “This episode does nothing but unite us more than ever, receive my usual fraternal embrace, Chávez lives.”

“I strongly condemn the assassination attempt against President @NicolasMaduro. We send our complete solidarity with the government and the Bolivarian Republic of Twitter Ads info and privacy

In El Salvador, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) offered its support to Venezuela: “Our solidarity with the victims and their families. Live Venezuela!”

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz Canel and former President Raul Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, also expressed their full solidarity with President Maduro.

The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) also denounced the assassination attempt against the Venezuelan president. In a statement, the Mexican Coordinator of Solidarity with Venezuela categorically rejected all such attacks on Venezuela’s president. Former Argentine footballer Diego Armando Maradona also extended solidarity towards Maduro.

Venezuela’s Interior Minister: Six Terrorists Involved in Attack on Maduro Arrested

Source: teleSUR

Published 5 August 2018

Nestor Reverol Venezuela interior ministerVenezuela’s Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol holds a copy
of the National Constitution while he speaks during a news conference
in Caracas. | Photo: Reuters

Nestor Revero also indicated that police confiscated several vehicles and film evidence of the failed attempt against President Maduro.

Venezuela’s interior minister Nestor Reverol said on Sunday afternoon that six people had been arrested in the case of drones loaded with explosives that were used as part of an attack against President Nicolas Maduro a day earlier while he was delivering a speech during a military event.

RELATED:   African National Congress Condemns ‘Barbaric’ Attack on venezuelan President Maduro

Reverol said in a statement on the official television station that one of the “terrorists” participated in an attack on a military base in the central city of Valencia in 2017, while another was part of violent anti-government protests in 2014.

He also indicated that the police confiscated several vehicles and film evidence for the failed attempt against Maduro.

The attack against President Maduro took place at the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, in which two drones carrying explosives were detonated near the presidential platform, injuring seven military personnel and halting Maduro mid-speech.

The investigations have shown that it is a crime of terrorism and assassination, the minister explained, “which makes it clear that they have gone to a higher level of violence,” he said. He added that it was an attack not only against the president but also against the people of Venezuela.

He further said that each of the intercepted drones carried a kilo of explosives c4 capable of effective damage within a radius of 50 meters. They were piloted aircraft remotely and designed for industrial work and can withstand heavy loads. “Thanks to the special techniques of our Presidential Guard it was possible to deactivate the drone,” he explained.

In turn, he confirmed that seven soldiers were injured and that they are being treated. “These terrorist acts demonstrate a slap to the policies of dialogue and national reconciliation promoted by President Nicolás Maduro,” the minister added.

Messages and statements of support and solidarity from World leaders, governments, and intellectuals continued pouring in Sunday as they condemned the assassination attempt against the Venezuelan leader.

From Niger to Somalia, U.S. Military Expansion in Africa Helps Terror Groups Recruit

Source: Democracy Now

From Niger to Somalia, U.S. Military Expansion in Africa Helps Terror Groups Recruit

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Related: 

“The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After an Attack in New York—According to Pentagon War Game” (The Intercept)

“The US is waging a massive shadow war in Africa” (Vice)

Transcript 

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, to talk more about U.S. operations on the African continent, we’re joined by reporter Nick Turse. He’s a fellow at The Nation Institute, a contributing writer at The Intercept, where his latest stories are headlined “It’s Not Just Niger—U.S. Military Activity is a ‘Recruiting Tool’ for Terror Groups Across West Africa,” also his piece “The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After an Attack in New York—According to Pentagon War Game,” and at Vice, his latest piece, “The U.S. is waging a massive shadow war in Africa.” He’s the author of the book Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa and his latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan.

Nick, welcome back to Democracy Now!

NICK TURSE: Thanks for having me on.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s begin in South Sudan. Why did Nikki Haley go there? Talk about the protest that occurred there.

NICK TURSE: Sure. Nikki Haley was dispatched there basically as a result of a speech last month that President Trump gave to African leaders at the United Nations. It was a very tone-deaf speech, where he, in fact, lauded the achievements of an African country that doesn’t exist—Nambia. But in the speech, he also mentioned that there were conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and especially South Sudan that needed tending to, that he was dispatching Haley to do something about it. What it was was never exactly clear. She was on something of a fact-finding mission.

She met with South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. And then, as you mentioned, she went to one of these protection of civilian sites in South Sudan, where there have been, you know, internal—internally displaced people basically stranded there for years, since the civil war broke out in 2013. And things got heated, and she was escorted out of the camp.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain the situation in South Sudan.

NICK TURSE: Sure. In December of 2013, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, launched a ethnic cleansing campaign in the capital city, Juba.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s one of the newest countries in the world.

NICK TURSE: Yes, it’s the youngest nation on Earth. And this was, in many ways, a U.S. nation-building project. The United States spent somewhere around $11 billion bringing South Sudan into nationhood. The South Sudanese fought for and died for their independence, but the United States was really the backer of this project. And it all fell apart in 2013. The country has been in a state of civil war since then. And the government has been carrying out ethnic cleansing campaigns across the nation.

AMY GOODMAN: Against who?

NICK TURSE: It started out as campaigns against the Nuer, which is the largest of the ethnic minorities. This is carried out by, as I said, President Salva Kiir, who’s a member of the Dinka, who are the largest ethnic group in the country. Since then, the civil war has spread. And most recently, it’s been affecting the deep south of South Sudan, the Equatoria region, where there are somewhere around 10 to 20 ethnic minorities. They’ve been targeted, and they’ve been leaving the country in droves, mostly to Uganda, about a million refugees across the border since the late summer of 2016.

Now, Nikki Haley, when she was in South Sudan, said that President Kiir could not claim that his soldiers weren’t committing these atrocities. But, in fact, that’s what Kiir has been doing for months now. He’s been claiming that fake news and social media drove these people across the border. But I was there earlier this year. I talked to refugees who had left the country. I spoke to people who were displaced in the country. I saw the burned villages. These people ran because of a government-run ethnic cleansing campaign, massacres, murder, village burnings. All this was going on then and goes on today.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the U.S. interest now?

NICK TURSE: Well, yeah, the United States, I think, especially—it was a bipartisan effort, so there are a lot of people in Congress that believe that the United States has an ongoing role to play in South Sudan. What the White House thinks should be done there is very unclear. Before Ambassador Haley left, she was talking tough about cutting off U.S. aid as a way to leverage U.S. power against the government of South Sudan. But since she arrived there, saw the refugees, she said that she now understands that cutting off U.S. aid would hurt the most vulnerable South Sudanese. It’s really an intractable situation, and it’s difficult to figure out exactly what the United States can do and what Nikki Haley’s mandate is.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, visited Gambela in western Ethiopia, where nearly 350,000 refugees flooded across the border from South Sudan amidst the country’s civil war.

NIKKI HALEY: This is an international crisis. This is not just Ethiopia’s problem. This is an international crisis. And when you look at the thousands of people here and you see that they’re supposed to have one health clinic for 10,000 people, and there’s 86,000 people in one clinic, it’s wrong. I mean, they’re trying to make ends meet by, you know, working off of food shortages, but at some point you have to look and say, “No one deserves to live like this.”

AMY GOODMAN: Haley said the United States is considering how to pressure South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, into peace, but said withdrawing aid may not work. Nick Turse?

NICK TURSE: Yes. You know, this is the quandary the United States has been in. At one time, they were giving South Sudan millions and millions of dollars for their military, to train politicians there, technocrats. Now it’s been reduced basically to aid. And, you know, that’s the leverage the United States has. But cutting that off means that so many people in need will be without.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Nick Turse, who is the author of several books on Africa, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa and his latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. We’ll talk about the United States presence throughout Africa—6,000 U.S. troops, it’s believed—and what the U.S. was doing in Niger, where the U.S. special ops forces and as well as five Nigerien troops were killed. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Africa Dream Again” by Youssou N’Dour. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we talk about the U.S. presence in Africa. I want to turn to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He spoke to reporters last week after a meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who said the military is shifting its counterterrorism strategy to focus more on Africa.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: The counterterrorism rules under President Obama, I thought, were overly restrictive. They denied us the ability to basically engage the enemy effectively and aggressively. The war is morphing. You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House, but out in the field. And I support that entire construct.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we continue our conversation with Nick Turse. He’s the author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa; his latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. Respond to what Lindsey Graham has said. Talk about what the U.S. is doing in Africa.

NICK TURSE: Well, the U.S. is doing a lot in Africa. He talked about restrictions during the Obama era, but this was an era of major expansion, which, this past year, has, I have to say, jumped to another level. U.S. troops are now conducting, according to the commander of U.S. Africa Command, 3,500 exercises, programs and engagements per year. So that’s nearly 10 missions per day on the African continent, something that I think that most Americans are completely unaware of. I think Lindsey Graham states that he was unaware of the extent of this activity. So it’s a massive increase of late. When AFRICOM began, it was running about 172 exercises and missions per year. So this is almost a 2,000 percent rise in U.S. military activity on the Africa continent.

And this runs counter to what AFRICOM was originally sold as to the American people and to the world at large, that it would be something like the Peace Corps in camouflage, that there would be humanitarian operations, building of orphanages and digging of wells, that sort of thing. But it’s a fully militarized U.S. geographic combatant command, where you have troops running missions that, you know, are often sold as training and advisory, and done in a training and advisory capacity, but really are indistinguishable from combat.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, the discussion this week on Capitol Hill, we keep hearing many senators talking about giving more money to the U.S. military, that the death of the four Special Forces soldiers in Niger means the U.S. needs more money and that Africa is the place where, you know, the U.S. military action will be focused. Now, your story, one of them that you wrote, “It’s Not Just Niger—U.S. Military Activity is a ‘Recruiting Tool’ for Terror Groups Across West Africa,” explain.

NICK TURSE: Yes. This is something that a number of experts told me, that, you know, the United States has been pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into counterterror programs since just after 9/11 in West Africa—Niger, Mali, Mauritania, this entire region. The idea was to make this region a bulwark against terrorism. The thinking just after 9/11 was that weak states, fragile governments, ungoverned spaces, these were places that terror groups could proliferate.

But at the time, the United States didn’t recognize any transnational terror groups in the region. After all this U.S. activity, after running one special ops mission after another, year after year, now there are a proliferation of terror groups all across that region—depending on how you count them, maybe six to 10, including the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, which is the group that reportedly conducted this ambush that killed the four American Green Berets.

AMY GOODMAN: Not all of them were Green Berets, but they were Special Forces. On that issue of these Special Forces, 800 soldiers in Niger? What is the drone base? Why was it being built there?

NICK TURSE: Well, in 2013, the United States began drone operations there, a hundred U.S. personnel dispatched to Niamey, the capital of Niger. And the base was designed for providing what they call ISR—intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—over the Niger and the greater West Africa region. Since then, the United States struck a deal with Niger to build a much larger base in the town of Agadez. U.S. Africa Command says that this is—they call it something like a temporary contingency location, which sounds like an airstrip with a couple tents around it. But declassified secret documents that I obtained show that this is a $100 million drone base that they’re building.

They chose Niger, these documents say, because the government there was open to them bringing in MQ-9 Reaper drones, which are the larger, newer variant of the Predator drone, a potentially much more lethal drone package. Originally, these were supposed to be carrying out, again, ISR missions, reconnaissance, surveillance. But now, in the wake of this attack, there’s a major push on to arm these drones and have them fly over the region. And this was something else that I also saw in the documents. Niger was the only country in the region that was open to having armed drones based there.

AMY GOODMAN: And both the U.S. and France are active there.

NICK TURSE: Yes. This is because of the collapse of Niger’s neighbor, one of its neighbors, Mali. In fact, a U.S.-trained officer, one of these—one of the officers trained in the U.S. counterterror programs after 9/11, overthrew the government of Mali, because there was an insurgency in northern Mali that this officer didn’t think that the government was taking on in the correct way. He proved incompetent at taking on the insurgency, as well. Islamists pushed his army back towards the capital. And there was a real fear that Mali would be overtaken by Islamist rebels. So France intervened, with the backing of the United States. And now France has been stuck in a counterinsurgency there, that seems that it’s also interminable and that the French cannot find a way to extricate themselves from.

AMY GOODMAN: Where else does the U.S. have drone bases across Africa?

NICK TURSE: Well, there are drone bases that pop up all across the continent, and the U.S. builds them and shuts them down depending on need. In the past, they’ve had drone bases in Ethiopia, in Chad, also in Kenya. I think the drone base that—of recent vintage, that’s been most important to the U.S., is in the tiny, sun-baked nation of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. There’s a major U.S. base there called Camp Lemonnier, but the drone base is a satellite facility. It’s called Chabelley Airfield. And the United States has run missions there that target the African continent. Also they run drone missions that fly to Yemen. And then it was used for engagements against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as well. It’s a very important, centrally located drone base.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have 6,000 U.S. troops. Do you think that’s the correct number?

NICK TURSE: I think, on any given day, there’s somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 U.S. troops on the continent, depending on the missions that are going on at the time, because troops cycle in and out. But 6,000 is a reasonable number.

AMY GOODMAN: In some, what, 50 countries in Africa.

NICK TURSE: Yeah. The United States is in somewhere around 49 or so African countries, at least over the last couple years. They’re conducting training missions, exercises and, in some cases, you know, commando raids and drone strikes.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Professor Horace Campbell, currently spending a year in West Africa as the Kwame Nkrumah chair at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, a peace and justice scholar and professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He spoke on Democracy Now! earlier this week about forces—about U.S. forces in Africa.

HORACE CAMPBELL: So what we must be clear about to the progressive forces in the United States of America, that neither France nor the United States can have any political legitimacy in Africa, when on the streets of the United States of America fascists are walking around with Nazi flags and police are killing black people. I want to go back to the point that we made at the beginning. United States has no legitimacy for fighting terrorism in Africa, because you cannot fight to defend black lives in Africa when black lives are not important in the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Professor Horace Campbell. Your response to what he says, Nick Turse?

NICK TURSE: Well, he makes a strong point there. And, you know, I might add that—and this is something in my recent pieces—that the United States’s counterterror activities in Africa have seemed to have the opposite effect, in many ways, that, you know, the U.S. was supposed to be building up counterterror capabilities, but we’ve just seen a proliferation of terror groups all across the continent. So, you know, the legitimacy is lacking, and then also the execution of this. It’s really gone counter to what the United States’ aims have been.

AMY GOODMAN: In your piece in The Intercept, the headline is “The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After an Attack in New York—According to Pentagon War Game.” What is this war game?

NICK TURSE: It was a war game that was carried out over several weeks last year. The acronym of it was JLASS-SP. And this was conducted by students at the U.S. military’s war colleges. These aren’t, I should say, West Point cadets or something like this. These are generally colonels in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, some of the best up-and-coming strategic thinkers in the U.S. military, people that will be generals running the wars in the coming years. They ran a very intricate war game, and this was one part of it—but a pivotal part.

The war game posits that there will be a terror attack in New York targeting the Lincoln Tunnel. It will be the largest terror attack since 9/11, the most casualties since then. And it will be carried out by a West African terror group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, one of these groups that’s cropped up in the region since 9/11. Because of this attack, the United States decides to invade West Africa, starting in Mauritania. And, you know—and it won’t be a surprise to anyone that’s watched U.S. wars since 9/11 that this quickly becomes a quagmire, that the United States goes in thinking that it’s going to be a short campaign, that we can eliminate the terrorists there and withdraw quickly, but it soon turns into an intractable conflict where the United States has to surge in forces just to maintain its occupation, and there seems to be no way to get out of it.

AMY GOODMAN: And what’s the significance of a Pentagon war game?

NICK TURSE: Well, I mean, this is—it’s not an intelligence estimate, but this is something that shows what the United States is thinking about, where it sees threats coming from, what it sees as the “reasonable,” quote-unquote, U.S. response to it. And this generally is the U.S. response. I could certainly see something like this happening. And the results are chilling, especially given what we’re seeing now—talk coming out of Congress about, you know, increasing U.S. military operations in Africa. It’s a sobering account of what this might mean for all of us, here in America and especially in Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: What about Somalia? So the timeline was what? October 4th, that was the time of the Niger killings, of the ambush of the U.S. and Nigerien forces. Ten days later, October 14, though a lot of people learned about what happened in Niger, and Trump did not reveal what happened in Niger until after Somalia, but 10 days later, this double bombing in the capital, what they’re calling the Mogadishu massacre, over 350 people killed, 400 people wounded. And The Guardian reports that the suspected bomber is from the specific community targeted by a U.S. raid last August in a village near Mogadishu that killed some 10 people, among them children. Can you talk about what’s happening in Somalia and the U.S. presence there?

NICK TURSE: Well, the U.S. has had a long-standing presence in Somalia. This has been one of the places where U.S. counterterror efforts have been at their largest in Africa. You know, it’s cited by some in the government as a success story. Al-Shabab has, in many ways, been pushed back. But, you know, there’s a continuing terror campaign from al-Shabab that doesn’t seem to be able to be solved through military means. But this is—this is the way the United States has chosen to deal with it and chosen to deal with what it considers threats all over the continent, that it’s a sort of a counterterror whack-a-mole exercise.

AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean that Trump called it a so-called zone of active hostilities?

NICK TURSE: Yeah, this allowed for a loosening of bonds on U.S. military activity there. It allows the U.S. to pursue a more vigorous military campaign. And because of that, there’s a much greater chance of civilian casualties and a chance of just continuing the cycle. This is something that experts have told me again and again, that U.S. operations on the continent are, in many ways, fueling terrorism, that these U.S. military operations are causing discontent, and by killing, you know, innocent civilians, that you’re just breeding more terrorists, country after country.

AMY GOODMAN: During a news conference last month, President Trump congratulated African leaders for helping make his friends rich.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.

AMY GOODMAN: “They’re spending a lot of money,” President Trump said. Nick Turse, as we begin to wrap up?

NICK TURSE: Yeah, I think Trump has viewed Africa maybe in two ways, that it’s some sort of transactional economic zone, where the United States can extract and make money, and then, you know, as a theater of war. And, you know, that speech was exceptionally tone-deaf. And it was the first time he had really addressed what his Africa strategy might be. And as you might expect, after those words, it became more and more muddled. It’s very difficult to understand exactly what the Trump administration sees for the future of Africa, and they really haven’t even staffed up with experts on it within the administration, at the State Department. So, it seems to be an ad hoc policy. I think you’ll see a lot more military engagement, especially after Niger. And, you know, I’m not sure about the economic empowerment that Trump’s talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the shadow war in Africa. What do you mean?

NICK TURSE: Well, I mean, these campaigns have been going on in Africa for years, but it’s largely unknown to the American people. And when you ask AFRICOM, as I have, about what’s happening on the continent, they’re always talking about training missions, about advisory missions. Well, this is exactly what the mission in Niger was billed as. This was working with local forces in an advisory capacity. But we see that, you know, an advisory or training mission can quickly become combat. And I think that the more U.S. engagement you see, the greater the chance that we’ll have more and more catastrophes like this.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there anything else you want to add that you think people in the United States—certainly, the corporate media hardly focuses on Africa. I mean, when you have, for example, the attack, what they call the Mogadishu massacre, of 358 people dead, almost no attention. Of course, right away, there is a mention of it. But in the aftermath, the devastation, the loss of life. What should people understand across Africa right now and be looking for?

NICK TURSE: Well, you know, I think it’s important to keep an eye on places like South Sudan, which we talked of earlier, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic. These are places where the United States had a more robust diplomatic effort before, but has—the United States has pulled back, in many ways. And these are places where the United States—the United Nations has warned of potential genocide, of ethnic cleansing campaigns. I think these are stories that are completely under-, and sometimes un-, covered in the United States, but I think they’re places that will be making the news in the future, for all the wrong reasons.

AMY GOODMAN: As President Trump expresses, to say the least, a tremendous bellicose intent in various areas, are you concerned what that will mean as he focuses on Africa?

NICK TURSE: I am. You know, I think that this is the primary U.S. bent on the continent, that, you know, while a country like China has promoted economic engagement, the United States has really seen Africa as a counterterrorism problem. And the way to deal with that, in U.S. thinking, is to deploy more military forces, build more bases, deploy more troops.

AMY GOODMAN: And last question, and this goes to a piece you wrote just a few months ago, looking at what’s happened in Cameroon, “Cameroonian Troops Tortured and Killed Prisoners at Base Used for U.S. Drone [Surveillance].” And this was a report that came out by Amnesty International.

NICK TURSE: Yes, I worked with The Intercept, Amnesty International and a group called Forensic Architecture. And what we found was that there’s a small—one of several small U.S. bases in Cameroon, or a Cameroonian base where the United States has an intermittent military presence and U.S. contractors are flying drones. On the same base, Cameroonian forces were torturing and sometimes even killing prisoners, people that were suspected of supporting Boko Haram but, in most cases, were completely innocent and had no ties to the group. This is—you know, one, it’s illegal. Two, it’s building discontent in Cameroon. And it’s just—

AMY GOODMAN: This is at a U.S. base for drone surveillance—I said “strikes” before, but surveillance?

NICK TURSE: Surveillance. It was a—there are U.S. contractors who are flying drones out of this base, and then U.S. special operations forces that cycle in and out to work with—as this is another training mission for U.S. troops. But, you know, our allies are committing gross atrocities on a large scale. And this doesn’t go unnoticed by people in Cameroon. People in the United States don’t know about it, but we might know about the backlash to it in the coming years.

AMY GOODMAN: And this just happened today: Three U.N. peacekeepers from Chad were killed, and two others injured, when their logistics convoy was attacked in northern Mali, this according to the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council condemned the attack on the road. The 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali has become the most dangerous in the world, as Islamic militants routinely attack U.N. convoys across the north. Mali, of course, a neighbor of Niger.

NICK TURSE: Yes. You know, this is what I was talking about. After the U.S.-trained officer, Captain Sanogo, overthrew the government in Mali, it really destabilized the entire country. And because of that, in the north and even in the central part of the country, there have been militant groups operating ever since. They’ve really carved out strongholds. So, you have French and African forces, backed by the United States, conducting counterterror campaigns. But this is an ongoing insurgency, and it shows no sign of slowing.

AMY GOODMAN: Nick Turse, I want to thank you for being with us. We’re going to link to all of your pieces with different news organizations. Nick Turse is fellow at The Nation Institute, author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa. His latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. Nick Turse is also a contributing writer at The Intercept.

This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute with Carl Hart. We’ll talk about the national health emergency that President Trump has declared around opioids. Stay with us.

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