Congressional Delegation Visits Mali — How Will U.S. Interests Play Out?
(MintPress) – “There is the hope that there will be additional support from the United States in these and other areas, but … American law prohibits direct assistance to the Malian military following the coup,” said Chris Coons, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Africa sub-committee during a visit to Mali this week.
Despite being one of the 10 poorest nations on earth, Mali has one of the largest gold reserves in the world, the third largest in Africa after Ghana and South Africa. The latest invasion by 4,000 French troops backed by the U.S. and other Western powers could be a long-term strategy to open Mali to multinational corporate expansion — carried out under the guise of driving out Al-Qaeda, Ansar Dine and other Islamist rebels from the desperately poor West African state.
Malian presidential elections are set to be held in July, an opportunity for the U.S. to ensure the election of a Malian President with an avowedly pro-Western orientation. Restoring democracy will allow the U.S. to resume for aid to Mali, partially suspended because of political instability.
“After there is a full restoration of democracy, I would think it is likely that we will renew our direct support for the Malian military,” said Coons, part of a Congressional delegation visiting the war-ravaged country during a one day visit this week.
Coons was accompanied by Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Congresswoman Karen Bass (D- Calif.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.).
Before the central government was toppled in Bambako during an April 2012 military coup, Mali received $140 million in annual U.S. aid. Thirteen million dollars of the $140 million was suspended after the coup, because U.S. law forbids aid sent directly “to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.”
According to World Bank statistics, Mali remains one of the most impoverished nations in the world, with 43.6 percent of the population living below the poverty line. This statistic is based on the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day.
President Obama authorized $50 million to assist France and Chad in their mission to rid Mali of Al-Qaeda, Ansar Dine and other terrorist groups that have occupied the North of Mali.
France dispatched 800 troops to Mali last month and has since increased its troop presence to 4,000. President Francois Hollande has reported that what was once supposed to be a quick mission could become a longer occupation.
“The invasion has almost nothing to do with ‘Islamism,’ and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China,” writes world-renowned author and investigative journalist John Pilger in a recent anti-war article.
U.S. corporations cannot gain access to Mali’s vast natural resources without first stabilizing the country by installing a workable government.
This could be the reason that the U.S. recently established a drone base in Niger, allowing U.S. forces to survey vast tracts of land for both “combatants” and natural resources.
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