Monday, May 2, 2011

Truth and Reconciliation, Part 2

Prior to reading this, you may wish to review Part 1, especially watching the vids there if you haven't already done so. Warning: it is over an hour total of vids, but enlightening and more than a little entertaining...

In Standing There on Freedom's Shore, Part 1, we looked briefly at events in Libya, in which the anti-Gaddafi (or however you want to spell his name) rebels were infiltrated with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah (or however you want to spell their name) terrorists.

We also considered briefly how forces loyal to Côte d'Ivoire's newly-installed strongman, Alassane Ouattara, were strongly implicated in atrocities committed during the fighting as they advanced against forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo, a subject we returned to in Part 1.

By the way, key elements of the international community, as well as the international media, consider Ouattara to be president and Gbagbo the now-deposed "strongman".

I dispute this. As I pointed out in other posts under the label Ivory Coast, for example in Côte d'Ivoire and 2012, Gbagbo was decided to be the winner under Ivoirian law, amid a great deal of alleged election fraud committed in areas subject to control of Ouattara's forces, which never disarmed as they were supposed to in the wake of the previous civil war. True, international observers certified the election as fair and Ouattara as the winner, but most of these observers represent powers that I think have a vested interest in supporting a guy that I now recognize as their puppet. Ouattara ultimately seized power under the facade of an election, but he did so by force, supported by French troops and by UN "peacekeepers" - and it is France that had the most to lose by a Gbagbo victory and a continued Gbagbo presidency. This has been and will continue to be addressed more in-depth at this blog.

In Standing There on Freedom's Shore, Part 2 we considered the Sahara/Sahel region, looking at it as a conduit for trafficking of contraband. In particular, we considered Niger's problem with Touareg rebels, and how each side (government and rebel) accuses the other of trafficking arms and drugs.

We now consider an excerpt from the October, 2009, paper entitled The Invisible Tide: Towards an International Strategy to Deal with Drug Trafficking Through West Africa by James Cockayne and Phil Williams. This excerpt is from page 4 of the report (when you download the pdf, it will show as page 8 / 44).

In the last half decade, West Africa has emerged as a major hub in the global drug economy.8 Between 2001 and 2006, annual cocaine seizures in the region increased from approximately 273 kilograms to just under 14,579 kilograms. Most of these seizures were made in Nigeria, reflecting that country's enhancement of its law enforcement and interdiction capabilities.9 But in the four years from 2005 to 2008, annual seizures of cocaine destined for or coming from West Africa — rather than seizures inside the region — have in turn amounted to an additional 11 tons.10 Some of these large seizures seem to have been discovered almost inadvertently, suggesting that the true volume of cocaine being moved through the region is much higher than previously thought. At the same time, West Africa remains a key source of cannabis in southern Europe,11 and is also emerging as an important transshipment point for heroin,12 and precursors of amphetamine-type stimulants.13

West Africa is now a "major hub" for drug trafficking! Who would have guessed?

Briefly skipping over to Africa Security Brief No 5 from July, 2010, by David O'Regan (page 2):

Cocaine traffic may prove to be a fixture in West Africa. Transshipment has emerged in part because demand is growing in Europe. According to the UN International Narcotics Control Bureau, cocaine use has doubled and tripled in some parts of Western Europe since 2000. Traffickers, it would seem, are not shifting traffic to service preexisting demand but establishing a new route for a growing market.

Skipping down to page 3:

Over the last decade West Africa has emerged from widespread instability and benefited from a period of declining violence and growing democracy. Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire are emerging from civil wars. Mali, Ghana, and Benin continue to consolidate democratic gains. Cocaine traffic poses a direct threat to these advances.

Cocaine trafficking is doing exactly that - it has reenergized Côte d'Ivoire's civil war, even causing foreign intervention to secure the victory of one side.

Notice in the map above - the cocaine trafficking was around, not through, Côte d'Ivoire. That is going to change now with strongman Ouattara in charge.

Returning now to The Invisible Tide: Towards an International Strategy to Deal with Drug Trafficking Through West Africa, from page 5 (9 / 44):

There are some signs that increased interdiction efforts in West Africa are having some impact: cocaine seizures in the region rose in 2007, and the use of aerial couriers from the region appears to have fallen since then, resulting in lower seizures in Europe of drugs trafficked through West Africa.25 But by UNODC's own assessment, the value of cocaine trafficking through West Africa remains at least $1 billion.26 This may in fact understate the scale of the problem, because increased seizures in specific places in West Africa may well have led traffickers to develop new routes, including overland routes through the Sahel and on through the Mediterranean, or through more southerly parts of western Africa. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that the intensified spotlight on Guinea-Bissau in recent years has led to traffickers moving their operations to neighboring countries.27 And by UNODC's own assessment, "[s]hould international attention waver, this region retains all of the attractions that drew traffickers here in the first place."28

Bingo! Organized crime cartels have recently been developing overland routes through the Sahel (and, of course, the Sahara), up to the Mediterranean, and from there to Europe.

Now we see the importance of having President Gbagbo, the highest levels of whose administration were not involved in narcotics trafficking, out of the picture, and strongman Ouattara in: as international attention gets focused on the ECOWAS countries, Côte d'Ivoire needed to be opened up as an entrance for cocaine into Africa. From there, the drugs will go through Burkina Faso and Mali, which have their own stability and contraband problems, and on into the Sahel and the Sahara.

But, how do these drugs get out of the Sahara and on to customers in Europe?

Well, control of Libya would leave plenty of miles of coastline for departures from Africa via boat and small aircraft, and there are already plenty of miles of coastline across the Mediterranean for the drugs to cross into Europe - and much of that coastline is already frequented by long-established organized crime groups, and new groups have sprouted up there in recent decades.

Could this be the real reason that France led the way to oust President Gbagbo, and is pushing so hard for regime change in Libya? Because, in both cases, rebel forces have the Islamic terrorist connections which go hand-in-hand with organized crime, especially trafficking of heroin and increasingly cocaine, the proceeds of which fund their terrorist attacks.

The cover story is to oust "dictators" and "strongmen" - Gaddafi and Gbagbo. Scratch the surface, and the West's political leaders will plead guilty to being interested in securing supplies of oil, cocoa or other resources. But, really dig, and this comes up drugs, weapons, and other contraband, and moving it all into Europe.

From pages 8-9 (12-13 / 44):

Yet exploitation of the region is not simply about access to Europe. The emergence of West Africa as a hub for cocaine trafficking should also be understood as part of the continuing dialectic between drug-trafficking organizations and state authorities. Using West Africa for transshipment allows Latin American traffickers to expand available trafficking routes and complicate the task of interdiction. This became increasingly urgent after first the Caribbean route, and then high-seas transshipment to Europe, were made significantly more perilous by interstate cooperation to improve maritime and aerial interdiction. The use of West Africa — which lacks effective coastguards and airspace control arrangements — adds additional maritime and aerial routes both out of Latin America, and into Europe.43 In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that drug-trafficking organizations are developing overland routes to ship cocaine from the West African hinterland to North Africa, where it can be smuggled by established routes across the Mediterranean and into southern Europe.44

It's what I have been pointing out at my blog - they are developing overland routes across Africa. The reasons are more than just what these scholarly reports address.

First, as addressed in the scholarly literature, with declining use of cocaine in America, and then a US dollar that is declining in value, America is a less attractive market. On top of that, there is reasonably effective interdiction against cocaine moving to North America.

So, with growing use in Europe, and a stronger Euro, Europe becomes a preferred destination for South America's cocaine.

Given this situation, more effective maritime interdiction between South America and Europe is driving the smuggling to go via Africa.

What is not addressed as much in this scholarly literature is the very significant and growing connection between Islamic terrorists and organized crime, to which the terrorists are turning to fund their jihad.

What else is not addressed as much is the tremendous, and relatively unnoticed (by the American public), presence of Islamic terrorists in South America, where the cocaine is being trafficked from.

In addition to cocaine flowing eastward through Africa, and from there up to Europe, weapons from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa are flowing westward to South America, helping in part to fuel Mexico's civil war.

And, there is a flow of heroin from Afghanistan through Africa to various destinations.

More to follow....

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