Friday, October 20, 2017

Required viewing: How the Trump administration got Chad to withdraw from the fight against ISIS in Niger

Yes, you read that title correctly.

If you keep up with the political news, and, worse, If you write about it, at some visceral level, you get a little numb. But sometimes the news is so foul that it breaks through that emotional firewall and you get seriously pissed off. That happened to me last night as we were watching the Rachel Maddow show.

Here’s the bare bones account.

If you look at the map of subsaharan Africa, from west to east, you find three land-locked countries: Mali, Niger, and Chad. The latter, Chad, has a competent, respected military force with lots of experience fighting terror groups, ISIS and Boko Haram, active in that region. Chad functions like the command post for that fight. But the Trump administration managed to put Chad on the most recent travel ban. Arguably the most important ally we have on that piece of ground in Africa is Chad and we severely insulted that country by banning its citizens from travel to the US. (Chad’s ongoing tussle with Exon Mobile over oil revenues might have contributed something here as might some bureaucratic bungling over passports at State and DHS.) When that travel ban was announced, Chad started withdrawing its troops from Niger. The immediate consequence was that there was a reduced military presence and lessened security in Niger. Why is that important? Remember that Niger was where the four US special forces soldiers were killed. And Trump and the administration and our military do not want to talk about that. For if they did, they would have to connect some dots as did Rachel on her show last night. When they do talk about all this, as did Chief of Staff John Kelly did yesterday, the focus is on communicating with the families of those fallen.

With all due respect to John Kelly, and with sympathy for those families, I still must ask: How can we not be outraged by this incredible incompetence?

Some serious bowing, scraping, and groveling is in order. The administration needs to do whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to bring Chad back into the fight against ISIS and Boko Haram. The problem is that Trump never admits guilt or takes responsibility. Therefore, Chad will be sidelined and that part of Africa, at least, and our fight against terrorism, will be damaged as a result.

Below is a link to Rachel’s reporting last night. Consider it required viewing.

Inexplicable Trump travel ban decision preceded US Niger exposure.
Rachel Maddow looks at the utterly confounding decision by the Donald Trump White House to add important partner Chad to the latest iteration of the travel ban, and how it might put U.S. military lives in danger in places like Niger. Duration: 25:22

Here’s a summary from AlterNet. [Rachel Maddow Reveals the Sickening Reason Trump Hasn’t Talked About U.S. Soldiers Killed in Niger][alternet].
He made a terrible decision and hopes to keep his critics distracted.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained how President Donald Trump’s decision to include Chad on his travel ban may’ve endangered the lives of servicemembers in Niger, four of which were recently killed under circumstances that have not been properly explained.

By including Chad on the travel ban, against the advice of foreign policy experts and multiple officials, U.S. soldiers lost Chadian ground support in Niger. Multiple terrorist groups, including ISIS and Boko Haram, are active in Niger. But Chad began to remove its soldiers immediately following Trump’s travel ban.

“[T]hose Chadian troops were really doing something in Niger. They were protecting those villages in that whole region from ISIS militant groups being able to operate freely and be able to take more territory from there once again,” Maddow explained. “And pulling those troops out had an immediate effect in emboldening those ISIS attacks.”

Less than one week after Chad began removing troups from the region, four American soldiers were killed in an ambush.

“So, no wonder the president doesn’t want to talk about it,” Maddow said.

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