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11 April 2011


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William R. Cumming

Thanks PL very helpful in trying to understand where the situation now stands in ME and Mahgreb!

Does Tunisia look like a successful reform effort?

And Morrocco and Algeria also look to be quite complicated!

The Twisted Genius

Colonel Lang,

I was heartened today by French actions in Côte d'Ivoire. Their naked and vigorous military intervention dug Laurent Gbagbo's fat ass out of his bunker and probably ended the civil war. I don't pretend to know French motives in this action, but I'd like to think that they simply saw a wrong and decided to right it. I hope they're emboldened to do more in Libya. We surely won't... even with French leadership.

Qatar intrigues me. A tiny and filthy rich island sitting in the twin shadows of Saudi Arabia and Iran seems to taking a real interest in the Arab Spring. Given their size and location, I'm surprised on their boldness to date. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this mouse that may yet roar.

Mark Logan

Thank you once again.

I find myself clinging to the hope that the French and British will not wish to be embarrassed by failure to remove Qadhafi, and will eventually "get it together".

There was a report that they had French FFL commanders directing the CAS too. About damn time!

I suspect the rebels will remain motivated. I saw the footage of the pro Qadhafi forces on Ajdabiya going door to door rounding up young men during their brief visit. This is obviously going to take a lot more time than it should, but I can see reasons they won't quit easily too.

I look forward to any and all shredding.

Patrick Lang


Any news on the French OB? Not sure if you are talking about Qatar. pl

The Twisted Genius

The French have had forces in Côte d'Ivoire since at least 2002 as Force Licorne (Force Unicorn). In April of this year the French MOD announced that there were 1,500 troops in Côte d'Ivoire. They are organized into two (three at one time) battalion task groups consisting of infantry, cavalry, transport and logistics, health service and joint civil-military action groups. Equipment includes wheeled APCs and wheeled light reconnaissance tanks (90mm main guns). I've seen recent pictures of French troops with the green berets of the 2nd Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment. Force Unicorn also has a light Army aviation battalion with Pumas and Gazelles. I've seen footage of Gazelles firing rockets into Gbagbo's compound.

This is a very appropriate force with the maneuverability and enough firepower to get the job done. If it's 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment troops in there, this is an especially bad ass force.

The Twisted Genius

My interest in Qatar was peaked when it sent half its Mirages to take part in the NFZ over Libya and became the first country to recognize the rebels as the legitimate authority in Libya. The Emir, while still an absolute monarch, appears to be uniquely forward thinking both towards the Qataris and the Libyan rebels.

The beaver


Let's see how many French businesses will be allowed or invited to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.)in Ivory Coast under the new President!!!

That's what was happening under Ben Ali in Tunisia as long as his hands were being greased or his relatives were benefiting but after the Wikileaks publications and the offer of MOM - the French FM to provide French policemen blew in her face (whilst she was trying to make some quick business deal in real estate over the New Year), France couldn't help Ben Ali and MOM was let go from the FM position.

Vive le "Pacte Coloniale" Agreemnent

The Twisted Genius

I suspected this was happening. It's a natural path of evolution for the Libyan rebels. This is the first report I've read of what we called GOUT (guerrilla operations in urbanized terrain) almost thirty years ago.


Patrick Lang


Few here probably remember 1st REP, disbanded by De Gaulle after their part in the Algiers putsch. pl


Col. Lang,

An excellent and helpful summary that provides more insightful information in a few paragraphs than what we see and hear from the multitude so-called Middle East experts trotted out by the media.


Though events in Syria are widely reported through the West's usual, simplistic "freedom and democracy lense," it appears that sectarianism is playing an important part, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood. If true, that would limit the appeal of the protests to selected Sunni areas, which seems to be exactly what is happening. It would also limit the support for the uprising internationally to Qatar, which is also happening.

Judging by the quality of news reporting, the West still knows little about the Arab world, treating it largely as a series of demographically homogeneous entities, where political unrest cannot exist outside the familiar Western narrative.


1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment

The asinine French-bashing (Freedom fries! Cheese eating surrender monkeys! etc pp) that became prevalent during 2002 and after is not just silly but has no basis in reality.

I invite people to try these jokes in France, or in the presence of French troops.


In February, I took part in an event held at the American Embassy in Muscat. In his remarks, the Ambassador was quite direct in saying that the United States supported the aspirations of pro-democracy movements in the region, emphasizing the committment of our country to basic political freedoms; this at the height of the events in Egypt.

Various Omani officials, at least one from the royal family, were lined up in front as the Ambassador delivered his remarks and, based on my experiences in this country, I couldn't help thinking they were squirming a bit. I found it a bit direct for here, rude even, but apppreciated the sentiment behind the Ambassador's remarks. Actually, I was quite proud of the whole thing as it lacked the usual unctuous equivocation one usually hears at such things.

Off to Musandam soon. THAT will be interesting.


The beaver,

So monopolies on water and electrity in Côte d'Ivoire are bad? How about in the US, specificly the Tennessee Valley Authority or the Bonneville Power Authority? Perhaps we can shaft the US tax payers the same way the 'free market' supporters managed to do with the privatization of the industries in the old USSR. Though I think we'll see the fire sales with schools, parks and the like at the state level, staring with Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. As to troop agreements, Cuba's been trying to get the US out since we arrived in 1898, I don't see the US leaving Gitmo any time soon.

William R. Cumming

TTG! Do you have a vision as to where the French view their future in Africa North and South?


Thank you Col. Lang for your cogent appreciation of the situation.

michael brenner

Today NATO General Mark von Uhlm declaimed strongly that "NATO is doing a great job." Being Dutch he evidently forgot that the standard phrase is "doing a heckuva job.'

If only these honchos had a sense of the ridiculous.


The beaver


I am not a citizen of the US though I do pay taxes and where I do reside , I am grateful that there is no monopolies on water (isn't Nestlé a good example how some authorities in Oregon sold out the town people). Since I grew up in a part of Sub-Sahara Africa, there is a big difference between the states and these African nations and monopolies bring back the colonial experiences and nightmares.

michael brenner

Here is the companion comment of Major General Margaret Woodward who directed Operation Odyssey dawn. "It was a success. There's no doubt that we did everything that we were asked for -"

She uses the past tense.

Where can you buy that stuff legally? Do they sell it in the NATO officers canteen?

Michael Brenner

At the Virginia Capes

Well stated summary of the ME situation.
Is it possible you can do something like this periodically, as the situation will continue to change/develop?
Thank you.



There are plenty of water utilities that are monopolies in the US, though they are generally if not all the municipal level. I had to look up the Nestle - Oregon issue, that involves bottling water for retail sale. That's slightly different, though it certainly involves the 'taking' of a public good and probably not involving paying anything near a market value or ensuring ownership actually stays with the citizens, through their agent, the State of Oregon. (Just imagine if they tried this with oil or gas!) The same things are afoot in Michigan and the rest of the Great Lake states.

To return to municipal water systems, these are all 'natural' monopolies due to large upfront investment costs for water treatment and distribution equipment these systems, the same is true with electricity and telecommunications. Libya, with only 7 million residents, is unlikely to develop any competitive water utilities.

I am unfamiliar with the post-colonial experience in Africa. There are plenty of other nations who own their water/electricity/telecom companies. I know there were a number of privatization efforts in the '90s, many led by the World Bank. I had some exposure to that while working at the University of Florida's Public Utility Research Center (most of my efforts/research involved Central and Southern American countries:

Patrick Lang


There is probably no way to stop me. pl

William R. Cumming

Over 60% of all drinking water supplies in the US have been privatized. The Germans have been buying up small US water supply systems for 3 decades. Drink up?

By the way all Coca-cola plants in Japan bottling water for drinking at the moment.

The Twisted Genius


I have no special insight into the future French role in Africa. In addition to their colonial past, they have consistently pursued a strong commercial and interventionist path in postcolonial times. That's history... and interesting reading. I think they will continue on their commercial and interventionist path with the added goal of trying to have some kind of control on the flow of immigrants and refugees from the continent.

At the Virginia Capes

Thank you, Colonel.

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