February 13th, 2013. – Escalation: Obama to Spend $50 Million on Mali War. Jason Ditz, antiwar.com.
“Starting with providing transport planes for French combat forces, the US continues to get sucked ever deeper into the Mali invasion, with an announcement that President Obama has set aside an additional $50 million to pay for the US involvement in the war.
It didn’t take long for officials to talk of moving from transport planes to providing in-air refueling planes for French air strikes across the nation. The US is also planning a drone base somewhere in the region, an expense likely far greater than the $50 million.
The US is going through much the same slow descent into Mali as the rest of the world, with France pushing for international help after starting a war everyone assumed was scheduled for late this autumn. Britain has similarly gone from transport planes to spy planes and eventually ground troops.
The US has repeatedly insisted that they have no plans to send ground troops into Mali, but as the war continues to escalate and moves more directly into an insurgency, the administration’s repeated warnings about the “danger” coming out of the region seems tailor-made to drag the US into a full-scale ground war.”
“A White House national security official said France is reimbursing the U.S. for fuel.”
February 22, 2013. Obama Deploys 100 US Troops to Niger for Drone Base. Jason Ditz, antiwar.com.
“President Obama has announced the deployment of 100 troops to the African nation of Niger, with an eye toward protecting the drone base currently being built in the nation, which neighbors Mali.
The drone base itself was not explicitly revealed in the letter revealing the Niger deployment, and instead simply couched the deployment as important for “intelligence collection,” meaning surveillance drones.
But officials refused to say whether attack drones would also be flown out of the base, saying only that the first flights over Mali are “imminent” The first drone flights will come out of Niamey, but with an eye toward the eventual deployment from a base near Agadez, which is closer to the areas of Mali they want to surveil.
The US signed a deal with Niger’s government last month ensuring legal immunity for any US ground troops operating in the nation. At the time they refused to comment on the deployment plans, but today’s statement suggests that only 40 of the troops are new arrivals, and that the other 60 were there for some time.”