Is the United States poised to enter another Afghanistan?
Of course, you say, the question is ridiculous, given both the US budget contraints and the political atmosphere that has generated. Yet, never underestimate the Republican elected representatives in both the House and Senate to seek and to find another theatre for "putting troops on the ground" regardless of the fiscal crisis. And there is also little doubt that the terrorists now holding American hostages at a gas refinery in Algeria, while they are claiming they are retaliating against the French for bringing troops and tanks into Mali against their movement, they are also widening the conflict to bring as many troops from as many countries outside of Africa into their trap, thereby generating as much chaos across a band of Africa to establish a terrorist base from which to attack the west.
There will have to be some very "outside-the-battlefield" thinkers in all of the military academies in the western world pouring over what to do next about this entrapment. Pouring more military hard power will satisfy the terrorists more than it will solve the problem; yet that is what they want...total chaos, people and guns and planes with missiles killing people of different counrties, tribes and cultures, so that they can wage jihad against the west.
And to take over a gas field must be like winning the Super Bowl for the terrorists, a shining example of the pulsing energy heart of the western industrial/economic/trading/military establishment.
While the World Health Organization fights the dengue fever, spread by mosquitoes around the world, the political/diplomatic/military component of the west fights a mosquito war against the Islamic terrorists who are bent on world domination through their continual and perpetual and indefatigable commitment to bring their beliefs and their sharia law to every corner of the planet.
And just as with dengue fever, there is no known 'cure' for jihad....and all of the best brains in all of the best schools and all of the best writers with all of the best books have not been able to find a response that is both effective and efficient in countering the multiple methods of the tyranny of terror.
Mali conflict spills into Algeria as foreigners taken hostage
By Michelle Shepperd, Toronto Star, January 17, 2013
Mali’s conflict spilled across its borders Wednesday, as Islamist militants stormed a gas facility in Algeria, reportedly taking as many as 41 foreign hostages, killing two people and wounding others.
Details of the attack remain uncertain but it is believed the hostages include French, American, British, Japanese, Irish and Norwegian citizens.
A group calling itself Katibat Moulathamine, or the “Masked Brigade,” claimed responsibility and said the hostage-taking was in retaliation for France’s intervention in Mali, the Associated Press reported. Algeria allowed France to use its airspace to send warplanes to neighbouring Mali.
The organization — which claims it abducted 41 hostages, although other estimates put the number at about 20 or 30 — is a faction connected to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), now in control of Mali’s north alongside other rebel factions.
Moktar Belmoktar, the group’s one-eyed Algerian leader, has a long history in northern Mali and extensive local alliances, said analyst Andrew Lebovich in a phone interview from Senegal.
Like AQIM itself, Belmoktar emerged from the war in the 1990s against Algeria’s government, setting up a new base in Mali.
By Wednesday night, Algerian troops had surrounded the Ain Amenas gas field, located close to Libya’s border, according to the Associated Press. The gas field is jointly owned by BP, Norwegian oil firm Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach.
An Algerian government official told the New York Times that the 20 attackers were heavily armed and had arrived in three unmarked vehicles.
Fearing backlash to France’s offensive in Mali — which came months ahead of a planned attack by African forces, in response to AQIM’s advance on the capital and strategic military towns in the centre of the country — France has boosted security at its airports and train stations in the past week and cautioned French citizens and institutions abroad to be on high alert.
“They want to get back at the French desperately and they have a history of carrying out a tit-for-tat response when it comes to French intervention,” said Bruce Whitehouse, an anthropology professor at Lehigh University, and a Fulbright scholar who has lived in Mali.
“They clearly want to portray what they’re doing as a direct and balanced response to what’s being directed against them,” he said.
There could also be wider political implications of the attack, forcing a reluctant Algeria into the conflict.
“It will bring a lot more pressure from the United States and European governments to get involved,” said Whitehouse. “(It) might be a good thing from Mali’s point of view. Algeria has what’s reckoned to be the most capable military there and they have experience and they know the terrain.”
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta hinted at a possible U.S. military response as well during a trip to Italy Wednesday.
“By all indications, this is a terrorist act . . . It is a very serious matter when Americans are taken hostage along with others,” Panetta told reporters in Rome, according to a transcript of the news conference. “(I) want to assure the American people that the United States will take all the necessary and proper steps that are required to deal with this situation.”
But when pressed further about an “end game,” Panetta said he supports a model where African forces support Mali’s effort to battle AQIM and other rebel groups.
An AQIM spokesperson told Voice of America that if the U.S. helps France in Mali, it will “face the consequences.”
AQIM is skilled in kidnappings and ransoms for Western hostages, reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars, has kept the organization well-funded. Seven French nationals were already being held hostage before Friday’s offensive.