[For eighteen months FTW has been documenting
and predicting that the war on terror would soon migrate
to West A frica in
its search for oil reserves. Today, as reported in
The Guardian, it was announced that a new front in
the has been opened in West African
nation of Mauritania. This is not
surprising since major oil companies and drilling operations
like Kerr McGhee have recently made substantial investments
there. The overall amounts of oil may be small in comparison
to Iraq or Saudi Arabia,
but there won't be major wars to fight or long distances
to ship to get the oil into American
As one oil
expert told me last May, пїЅThere
is no elasticity in the system.пїЅ The quick addition
of even a few hundred thousand barrels a day of production
capacity provides a small bit of breathing room as
the jaws of Peak Oil begin to close around a sleeping
planet. пїЅ MCR]
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US Opens New Front in War on Terror by
Beefing Up Border Controls in Sahara
By Rory Carroll and Suzanne Goldenberg,
The Guardian UK
Wednesday 14 January 2004
The US is sending troops and defence contractors to
the Sahara desert of west Africa to open what it calls
a new front in the war on terror.
A small vanguard force arrived this week in Mauritania
to pave the way for A$100m (£54m) plan to bolster
the security forces and border controls of Mauritania,
Mali, Chad and Niger.
The US Pan-Sahel Initiative, as it is named, will provide
60 days of training to military units, including tips
on desert navigation and infantry tactics, and furnish
equipment such as Toyota Land Cruisers, radios and uniforms.
The reinforcement of America's defences in a remote,
poorly patrolled region came on a day when US police
forces gained important powers in the homeland to conduct
In a 6-3 ruling, the supreme court yesterday reversed
a lower court decision in Illinois not to allow police
to set up roadblocks to collect information from motorists.
The supreme court said it did not represent an unreasonable
intrusion on privacy. The three dissenting judges said
the ruling exposed motorists to police interference.
West Africa is not known as a hotbed of support for
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network but Washington is
taking no chances in Aregion with strong Arab and Muslim
"A team of military experts has been here since
Saturday to teach, train and reinforce the capacities
of the Mauritanian army charged with frontier surveillance
against cross-border terrorism," Pamela Bridgewater,
A US deputy undersecretary of state for African affairs,
told reporters in the capital, Nouakchott.
Since dropping support in the mid-90s for Saddam Hussein's
Iraqi regime, the government of Mauritania has angered
some local Islamic groups by forging links with Washington.
At least one such group was allegedly behind a failed
coup last year but some sceptics claim the government
exaggerated the threat.
Mali, Chad and Niger also have porous borders, sizeable
Muslim populations and disgruntled opposition groups
but al-Qaida has so far concentrated its African operations
in the east: blowing up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania
in 1998 and a rocket and car bomb attack against Israeli
targets in the Kenyan resort of MombasAlast year.
Armed groups roving the desert have abducted western
tourists and caused the Paris-Dakar rally to be rerouted,
but whether they are opportunistic bandits or Islamist
guerrillas is not clear.
Ms Bridgewater said there had been threats against US
interests in Mauritania's neighbour Senegal , the scene
of extraordinary security measures during President George
Bush's visit last year.
"Yes, we have heard. But this question is very
sensitive, and I don't want to respond to this question," she
West Africa is comprised largely of former French colonies
and Paris might be expected to be wary. The French defence
minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, is to visit Washington
this week to meet Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary,
and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser.