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View Full Version : France's oil giant Elf - a state intelligence apparatus for corruption - a case study



David Guyatt
10-09-2008, 01:30 PM
So far as I am aware, Elf has always been a convenient cloak for all sorts of French intelligence activities -- not just financial ones either but deep black covert operations.

The following is of interest as a case study of how state and industry can combine to achieve both financial and state goals:

http://www.10iacc.org/download/workshops/cs50a.pdf

OIL AND WAR: ELF AND « FRANCAFRIQUE » IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

Jean-François MEDARD

Centre d’Etudes d’Afrique Noire, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Bordeaux
Université Bordeaux-Montesquieu



Working paper. Not to be quoted



During the recent years, the French petrol company -Elf- has been involved in a
series of corruption scandals. These scandals have helped reveal to the public the extent
and the scale of the system of corruption evolving within and around a company well
known for its opacity. They have shown the active implication of Elf in armed conflicts
in Africa, directly in the case of Congo-Brazzaville, indirectly in the case of Angola.
Because of the secrecy which has always surrounded Elf, what is known is only the top
of the iceberg. Some of the facts are not precisely established and our information, based
on various secondary published sources is inevitably full of mistakes and approximations.
But we have at our disposal enough information to construct a plausible picture of Elf as
delinquant organization, and of its modus operandi. Apart from the question of the
paucity and veracity of the data, the main difficulty we have encountered has been the
complexity of the networks related to the company, which appears as a kind of nebula of
networks, a set of networks of networks each related to other nebula of networks.
Because of this informal halo, it is difficult to know where Elf as an organization starts
and where it ends. In addition the organisation has changed, informally in the structure of
its networks, and formally from a parastatal to a private company, The private company
has been, in turn, absorbed by another former public French company, Total, which had
previously obsorbed by a Belgian oil company, Fina. Elf has become part of
TotalElfFina.

This workshop deals with the private sector. Elf as a public company should not
concerned us, however, Elf as a public company was at the same time, acting at the
international level as an autonomous company, in interaction with other companies both
private and public. Furthermore, Elf, while maintaining strong ties with the French state
and government, was through corruption, in a way, informally privatized to the profit of
its top management, its own related networks, and French political factions and parties.
In addition, it is doubful that an oil company, even privatised, can be considered as only
private, as if there was no reciprocal relations with the government.

The case of Elf, however, is quite unique, because it has always been closely
related to this enduring system of Franco-African relations which have been aptly
labelled « Françafrique
1
». This system was established by General de Gaulle and his
fondé de pouvoir for Africa, Jacques Foccart, at the time of Independance. It was the key
to the lasting relations between France and most of its former colonies in Africa. Beyond
and behind the formal institutions, it worked through a system of international
clientelism, combining corruption and force, economic, political and social exchanges,
and public and private relations. The Franco-African relations were patrimonialized as
were the African states themselves. Elf was the pillar of Françafrique.

Elf was created by General de Gaulle in 1965, as part of his policy of national
independance. This policy was two sided. On one side, military independance which
supposed the possession of the atomic bomb and an independant industry of national
defense. On the other side, the independant control of the main sources of energy,
uranium and oil. Actually, the access to oil was not the only task which was assigned to
Elf. Through intelligence, corruption and close association to the intelligence services, it
was to be used as a covert tool for maintaining the French presence in Africa. In addition,
it was to be one of the main sources for the financing of the gaullist movement. In order
to be able to understand the nature and the mechanisms of the involvement of Elf in
armed conflicts in the Gulf of Guinea, I will approach Elf from a wider point of view, as
a complex organization which I will describe as a nebula of networks. Françafrique and
Elf have passed through a period of deep crisis. Both have changed, formally and
informally.What is the meaning of this change ? Can we expect the « normalization » of
Elf ?

1- Elf : a nebula of networks

Elf can be described as a nebula of networks. We use here the term of network as
a mode of interpersonal structuration of social relations through informal exchanges
between individuals connected or not with formal organizations. These networks are not
necessarily illegitimate in themselves, -friendship is quite legitimate-but they easily move
from the legitimate sphere to the illegitimate sphere and vice versa. Without always
being clandestine or hidden on purpose, they are difficult to detect. I speak of a nebula of
interconnected networks because they consist in networks of networks with center and a
periphery. The networks at the core are related to other networks themselves related to
other networks. These remote ties may be activated according to the circumstances. This
is why there are no real boundaries to Elf. An important point is that the ties activated by
an individual of the network are mediated through key individuals who act as
intermediaries, mediators or brokers between networks because, controlling or belonging
to different networks, they play a role of interconnection. This is why the books and
publications on the topic are always centered around key individuals who play the role of

1
F-X Verschave, « La Françafrique », Paris, Stock, 1998. This expression, previously invented by Felix
Houphouët-Boigny, the former president of Ivory Coast, has taken a new ironic and polemic meaning,
playing on the words « fric « and « (A)frique ». « Fric » means in French slang money. But it correspond
to an empirical reality and can be used in an analytical sense.

patrons or brokers (Foccart, Pasqua, Leandri, Guelfi, Auchi, C.Feliciaggi, Falcone,
Gyaramak..). These networks are called by the name of their patron : Foccart networks,
Pasqua network...Françafrique itself may be considered also as a nebula of networks, Elf
being a subset of Françafrique. The nebula of Françafrique and of Elf are distinct but
strongly overlaping and interconnected. This is why it is impossible to speak of one
without mentioning the other.

These networks involved organizations and individuals which are both and often
simultaneously public and private. Their very function is to blur the boundaries between
what is public and what is private. This is why corruption constitutes in the case of Elf a
mode of governance. Elf was a public company, but at the same time, it has been
penetrated by the political parties and factions, and has been used as a ready source of
income by the French political class and by its top executives. This mixture of public and
private is quite typical of the close ties existing between Elf and the French public
intelligence services, with the businessmen dealing with Africa and even outside, with
the private political and business networks of Foccart and Pasqua, the security companies
and the mercenaries, whether they were real or false. But the structure of the nebula of
networks has changed through time : the nebula of Françafrique is no longer centralised
and united under the control of J. Foccart. It has become decentralised and the
interconnexions are fluid, depending on the evolution of alliances and conflicts. The
nebula of Elf has been affected by this situation and has lost its unity. It has become
divided between diffrent clans competing for positions and ressources.
In addition, the netwoks have been globalized. Elf has always been centered on
Africa. In that sense it was not globalized until its absorbtion by Total. But its mode of
operation, through the interconnection with other networks was globalized,. It was
related to both the formal and informal financial and banking international system. These
other networks were multisectori and their operations had no direct relations with oil.
The networks, organizations and people with which Elf was in relation, were often close
to intelligences services, money laundering operators, arms dealers, security companies
,politicians and international organized crime. In addition, through its financial
participation in other societies, like CPHI and SOFIPA, Elf was indirectly involved in a
multiplicity of other businesses. We have a very good example of this global reach with
the case of the Taiwan frigates scandal. The French public weapons company, Thomson
had concluded a big contract for the exportation of fregates to Taïwan, but it needed to
overcome the eventual opposition of Pekin and of the French minister of Foreign Affairs,
Roland Dumas, opposed to an operation which might alienate the Chinese government.
On the Chinese side, Sirven, the right hand of Loïc Prigent , president of Elf, offered the
services of one of its Chinese intermediaries to Thomson. On the French side, Sirven
tried to change the position of Roland Dumas using the influence of a mistress of Roland
Dumas. Huge commissions and gifts were exchanged. Thomson complained about a
swingle of 200 millions dollars from Sirven. Roland Dumas was pursued and
condemned, in spite of the fact that the contract of corruption could not be proved, while
he was proved guilty of receiving gift offered by his girl friend and indireclty financed
with Elf money.

Right from its creation, Elf was closely associated to the French intelligence
service, the SDCE which was later transformed to DGSE under François Mitterrand. Its
first president, Pierre Guillaumat, an expert in energy matters (Ecole des Mines, former
head of Commisariat à l’Energie Atomique), was a historic gaullist militant and was one
of the founders of the intelligence service which had given birth to the SDCE. Like all
the oil companies, Elf had created its department of security, also in charge of
intelligence. The links with the African branch of the SDCE were very close. The colonel
Robert, formerly in charge of Africa in the SDECE was later, recruited by Elf as the head
of its own security service. This mobility between the higher levels of the SDCE and Elf
has been constant. While there were tensions between both organizations and the SDCE
could occasionally complain about the autonomy of Elf, Elf could be a precious tool for
the SDECE. The question of the ultimate loyalty of these intelligence officers when they
retired from public service and move to the private sector, whether to Elf or to security
companies, should be raised. Are the former links really severed, are they more loyal to
their former or their new organization? Or are they loyal only to themselves, selling their
dangerous skills as salaried or self employed mercenaries? Elf financed many covert
actions of the SDCE and later of the the DGSE : this permitted the intelligence services
to autofinance their operations and not be dependant on the public money only.

In the case of Elf, the picture gets more complicated, since both the SDECE and
Elf were closely monitored by Jacques Foccart, a very close collaborator of General de
Gaulle. During the presidencies of De Gaulle and of Pompidou, Jacques Foccart was
extremely influential trustedas he was by the presidents, and the overlapping
responsabilities he assumed
2
. As an adviser to the president, he supervised the
intelligence community from the Elysée Palace. As a Secretary General for African and
Malagasian Affairs, he was the fondé de pouvoir of de Gaulle for Africa. In addition, he
had responsabilities within the gaullist movement. He was in charge of the financing of
the gaullist party and also of the electoral questions. J. Foccart was in addition the boss of
the Service d’Action Civique, (SAC), one branch of the gaullist movement. The SAC
played the role of the party militia or police of the gaullist movement, a clandestine
organization in charge of covert action. It was the backbone of the gaullist movement, its
dark and covert side . The core of the recruitment came from the gaullist resistance
networks and from authentic gaullist militants with strong rightist leanings. For practical
reasons, it opened up to former collaborators and later on, even to former
« activists »from »Algérie française », which it had helped to fight previously. It
recruited also widely among gangsters. The SAC people, called « barbouzes », were
playing the role of an unofficial and secret police. They were involved in many crimes.
The SAC had a close relation to Gabon , and the presidential guard of Omar Bongo
which was partly paid by Elf. All these different networks, public or private, were part of
« the réseaux Foccart ». They were active both in France and in Africa, in the different
sectors of economic, political and cultural life. Elf was at the core of this galaxy under
the indirect control of Jacques Foccart.


2
On J. Foccart and « foccartism », see F-X Verschave, « La Françafrique », op. cit., p.283-332

President Bongo of Gabon was the main partner of Foccart and of Elf, and Gabon
was at the time the kingdom of Omar Bongo, Foccart’s land and Elf’s land. Bongo and
Elf were closely associated, politically and financially. André Tarallo, a former co-
alumni of President Jacques Chirac at the « Ecole Nationale d’Administration », has been
for 30 years, the Monsieur Afrique and the Monsieur Gabon of Elf. He was a close and
trusted friend of Omar Bongo and of many other African leaders. The Geneva judge
Perraudin uncovered joint accounts between André Tarallo and Omar Bongo. The
scandal finally led to a rupture between Bongo and Tarallo. Another strong link was
through the FIBA, a very secret and mysterious bank jointly owned by Elf, Bongo and
his family and some of his close friends. The bank, directed by Jacques Sigolet was
operated by Elf. It was used for all the clandestine operations involving bribes,
commissions and various covert deals.

To complete the picture we should add the very strong influence of the free
masons, both in France and in Africa
3
. There is a very marked overlapping between the
main persuasions of free masons, (Grand Orient (GO), Grande Loge Nationale de France
(GLNF) and Loge Nationale de France (LNF)) and both Françafrique and Elf. GO is
leaning politically more to the left, while GLNF is more po litically oriented to the right.
Freemasonery is also very developped within the African continent. It was introduced
during colonization. The African persuasions are connected to the French ones, mainly
GO and GLNF. It is considered is impossbible to do any business in Africa without being
affiliated to the freemasons. The function of this affiliation is to create a kind of
priviledged network of solidarity, which accelerates the connexions and facilitate the
exchanges. The quasi totality of the top executives of Elf are considered to be
freemasons. We can add, that the quasi totality of the politicians and businessmen
compromised in corruption scandals, especially within Françafrique, are also freemasons.
On the African side, Omar Bongo is a very important free mason dignitary in Central
Africa, and Sassou Nguesso and Pascal Lissouba are also freemasons, but not from the
same persuasion..

As long as J. Foccart was in charge of African affairs, he controlled at the top the
nebula of networks of Françafrique including Elf. This gave a unity of direction to
French African policy. When after the death of G. Pompidou, Valerie Giscard d’Estaing
was elected as a new president in 1974, he took over personnally the African affairs,
fired J. Foccart and replaced him by one of his assitants. In addition, he changed the head
of the SDECE in order to undermine Foccart’s influence within the service. But
Foccart’s networks still existed and were very influential. Valérie Giscard d’Estaing
could not take control of Elf, which remained a gaullist stronghold. In 1981, the socialist
leader, François Mitterrand became president. After a period of transition, F. Mitterrand
followed exactly the same policy as J. Foccart, using the same methods, based on the
systematic use of « friends » and networks. He had to create his own networks in
competition with Foccart’s networks. He chose a freemason dignitary, Guy Penne, as the
head of the « cellule africaine de l’Elysée » in order to use the freemason networks as a

3
See Ghislaine Ottenheimer and Renaud Lecadre, « Les frères invisibles, Paris, Albin Michel, 2001. Voir
aussi, F-X Verschave, « Noir silence », p.416-447.
link to the African presidents. Then, he replaced him by his son, Jean-Christophe,
nicknamed « Papamadit », He attempted to take control of Elf, but did not succeeded
completely. He named Loïc Le Floch Prigent, as director of the company. Le Floch
Prigent took with him Alfred Sirven as a « directeur des affaires générales ». Alfred
Sirven, was most probably an « honorable correspondant » of DGSE. He became very
influential, through corruption, in the management of the company, to the point that it is
not easy to know who was the real boss Le Floch Prigent or Sirven. But Le Floch Prigent
and Sirven were not able to take control of the core of Elf, Elf-Afrique and Elf Gabon
directed by André Tarallo.This lead to a kind of sharing of the company between the left
and the right. Through Sirven, Elf instead of financing only the gaullist party, started to
finance all the parties, factions and many politicians; As he said « I know enough to
eliminate the whole French political class». This was corroborated by André Guelfi, (dit
Dédé la sardine) : « If the judiciary had to jail all the people who received money from
Elf, there would not be many people left to form a government. Elf was paying to all
sides. All the parties have been payed : the PS, the RPF, everybody ». Under the
direction of Le Floch Prigent, there were 8oo millions francs of official commissions,
plus 1,5 billion of occult commissions each year.

Elf was thus split between the right and the left, but in addition, the main party of
the right the gaullist RPR of J. Chirac was itself between factions. A prominent leader of
RPR, Edouard Balladur, and friend of Jacques Chirac, became the prime minister of F.
Mitterrand, after the defeat of the socialist party at the legislative elections. As a prime
minister he nurtured presidential ambitions against Jacques Chirac, the official challenger
of F. Mitterrand. Taking advantage of the problems Le Floch Prigent was having with the
justice, because of mismanagement, he replaced him by one of his friends, Jérome Jaffré.
Officially, it was to clean up the house. He started a campaign against Mitterrand and
Chira’s friends and this led, with the help of the juges, to a cascade of corruption
scandals which led to the transformation of Elf into TotalElfFina.

To complicate the picture, another gaullist faction led by Charles Pasqua was
becoming more and more influential. Charles Pasqua was a former leader of the SAC,
but he had challenged the authority of J. Foccart and this led to a split within the SAC :
this was the beginning of the Pasqua networks. When he was an executive of the French
company Ricard, he had been suspected of being related to the French connexion, but
nothing could be proven. What is a well establish fact, however, is that he is very close to
the so called Corsican maffia of gambling. His corsican friends, E.Feligacci and Tomi
have become the gambling bosses in western and central Africa. Charles Pasqua was
recently accused of financing his new party, the RPF, with the money coming from
gambling in Gabon. Formerly close to J. Chirac, he joined Edouard Balladur during the
first cohabitation and became his minister of Interior. He was then in a position to
supervise the different French police, including the Renseignements Généraux and the
DST, the French counter intelligence service. In addition he could control the SCTIP, the
Service de Coopération Technique Internationale de Police. The SCTIP is present in each
African country of Françafrique as a tool of cooperation with African polices. As a
politician, he was the President of the Conseil General of the départment of Hauts de
Seine, the wealthiest depatment in France. He could, thanks to a very dynamic policy of
decentralised cooperation (1% of the budget), develop his influence in different African
countries. A good friend of Tarallo, he became also close to Sirven and could benefit
from the generosity of Elf on every side. In competition with Chirac, he got closer to
François Mitterrand and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas. As minister of
Interior, and even afterwards, he led his own foreign policy toward the African and Arab
countries, often in contradiction with the official one, using the DST against the SDCE.
He has been very active, with his son Pierre-Philippe and his friend Marchiani in oil
producing countries. His son and his friend Marchiani, another Corsican, who had been
fired from the SDCE by president Pompidou, and was recruited by Thomson and
involved in arm dealings.

2-The involvement of Elf in the conflicts in the Gulf of Guinea

After the independance of Algeria, France needed access to new and safe fields of
petroleum. Elf was involved, with other foreign companies, in the exploration and the
exploitation of oilfields in the gulf of Guinea, from Nigeria to Angola. It included
Cameroun, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo-B and Angola. The oil fields are located
along the coast and most of them are off shore. Nigeria has long been the first producer
of the region. Because of the presence of oil, among other reasons, France covertly
supported the secession of Biafra where the petroleum was located. Elf was ask to pay
the royalties to Biafra instead of Nigeria. The money was used to buy weapons and fuel
the war on the account of humanitarianism
4
. In spite of the defeat of Biafra, Elf stayed in
Nigeria, but it was not the leading company and kept a low profile. Nigeria did not
become part of Françafrique. The Gabon of Omar Bongo became, for a long period, the
heart of the oil empire of Elf. This explains the leading position of the country and of its
president within Françafrique. In 1997, Nigeria was still the first producer (112Mt),
Angola was the second (36mt), then Gabon (18mt), Congo (12,5mt) and Cameroon
(6,3mt). Equatorial Guinea is an emerging producer; While the productions of Gabon and
of Cameroon are stagnating, the productions of Congo-B, and evenmore of Angola, are
on the rise, and this increases the strategic importance of Angola from a geopolitical
point of view.

Elf has been directly involved in the civil war in Congo-Brazzaville and
more indirectly in Angola financing or helping simultaneously and successively both
camps. The civil war in Congo, between the former marxist President, Sassou Nguesso
and Pascal Lissouba, the newly elected one, was related to the process of democratic
transition. The war in Angola, opposing the UNITA of Savimbi and the marxist MPLA
of Dos Santos has been going on since the war of independance against Unita. The
military intervention of the Angolese army, actively encouraged by President Chirac, was
decisive for the victory of the Sassou Nguesso camp. After the arrival of Le Floch
Prigent and Sirven at the direction of Elf, « the cake », as we know, had been shared
between Sirven and André Tarallo, the real boss of Elf-Afrique : Alfred Sirven was
dealing with Cameroon, Congo-B (Sassou Nguesso) and Angola(Unita), while André
Tarallo was in charge of Congo (Lissouba) and of Angola (MPLA). This corresponded at

4
FX Verschave, « La Françafrique », op. cit., 137-154.
the same to the divisions inside Elf. In playing on both side, Elf was sure to be on the
side of the winner. But if Elf’s duplicity was known by the protagonists, it could become
embarassing for Elf, and this is what happened. It is why the relation between Elf and
Sassou on one side, and Elf and Dos Santos on the other, have been difficult to handle.

In Congo, the national conference had pushed the former dictator Sassou Nguesso
out of power. During the transition period of André Milongo, who had asked an
American company to audit the accounts of Elf-Congo, Sirven had participated in the
preparation of a failed coup in favor of Sassou Nguesso. Pascal Lissouba, after his
election to the presidency, was in a desesperate need of money. He was a refused a
prefinanced loan
5
by Le Floch Prigent. Lissouba then, turned to Oxxy, an American
company which accepted and Oxxy was given a share in the oil production of Congo, at
the expense of Elf. This was a serious blow to the French company. André Tarallo
succeeded in reestablishing the former situation, and concluded with Lissouba an other
contract which cancelled the first one. The political situation was extremely tense. The
political leaders armed their supporters and created private militia : the « cobra » of
Sassou, the « ninja » of Kolelas, and the partisans of the president Lissouba. Lissouba
needed weapons. He got them through the help of Tarallo and Sigolet, the then director
of the FIBA. Meanwhile, Elf was massively helping financially and militarily Sassou
Nguesso to reconquer the power. Elf was accused of lending helicopters to Sassou
Nguesso which were seen straffing a village by many witnesses. Elf pretended they had
rented the helicopter from a company which had forgotten to wipe out its identification
marks. But the helicopter company was known to be very close to Elf. Jacques Chirac, in
July 1998, visited Dos Santos in Luanda and congratulated him for his military
intervention in Congo-B. Dozens of thousand of people died in the war and in the bloody
repression that followed the victory of Sassou Nguesso. Brazzaville was destroyed and
the country was ruined. But oil was in good hands...

In Angola, the intervention of Elf has been more indirect. As in Nigeria, Elf was
not at home as it was in Gabon or Cameroon. But it is well known that oil and diamonds
have fueled the conflict, the diamonds mostly on Unita and Savimbi side, and the oil on
Santos and MPLA side
6
. What is interesting to notice, is that during the marxist period of
Angola, oil has continuously being exploited by American companies, under the
protection of the Cuban army at Cabinda, while the western governments were
supporting Savimbi against a pro soviet government. In the past, the French intelligence
services and Elf were actively supporting the FLEC, a separatist guerilla movement,
fighting for the independance of Cabinda, a small province of Angola, physically
separated from it, by a piece of land belonging to Congo. About 50% of the oil fields in
Angola are located there.

The French government and the parties from the right have long been supporting
Savimbi, until the end of the cold war and when it became clear that he had no chance to

5
that is a loan guarantied on the future production of oil.
6
Philippe Billon, « Angola’s political economy of war : the role of oil and diamonds, 1975-2000, African
Affairs, (2OO1), 100, 81-116
win, and that it was more realistic to support Dos Santos who controlled the petroleum.
Elf was directly involved in that support and there were relations between Loïc Le Floch
Prigent and Sirven on one side, and Savimbi on the other. The Savimbi lobby in France
was mainly led by political leaders from the liberal right, as Madelin, Leotard and
Longuet. But there were also a few gaullist like Jacques Toubon. After some hesitations,
the government started to support Dos Santos. Accompanying this change of policy, Elf
with André Tarallo supported Dos Santos, along with Savimbi. The move was facilitated
by Sassou Nguesso who was keeping close relations with Dos Santos and was a good
friend of Chirac. His friend, Charles Feliciaggi, the brother of Etienne Feligiacci the
« emperor » of gambling, was introduced to Dos Santos and became the supplyer of the
presidential guard.

As soon as 1994, Pasqua and his friend Marchiani were in relation with Dos
Santos and Pasqua was invited to Luanda. The Pasqua network, with Charles Pasqua
himself, his son Pierre Philippe the arm dealer, Marchiani, C.Feligacci, and André
Tarallo, was solidly entrenched on the Dos Santos side It offered its services to Dos
Santos to help him to aquire the weapons he needed. Followed a very fruitful
collaboration which involved Elf indirectly and contributed to the strengthening its
position in Angola. This help facilitated the military intervention of the Angolese army in
Congo in favour of Sassou Nguesso.To continue his war against Savimbi, Dos Santos
needed weapons which he could only pay with oil. At a time when the price of oil was
low ($10 the barril), Angola had got deep in debts. Three years of oil production were
already sold in advance. A system of prefinancing of the oil, as in Congo-B, was used,
the payment of the weapons being guaranteed by the future production of oil. But most
of the oil money was spent in paying the debts and « eaten » by the nomenklatura.

A new system of financing the weapons was invented. It consisted in involving
directly the arm dealing and security services companies in the exploitation of oil,
through marketing equity stakes in new oil fields to these companies. Until then, the
leading oil companies in Angola were BP Amoco, Elf and Exxon
7
. Three new
companies, which had no previous experience in oil, Pro Dev (15% in block 33), Naphta
(5% in block 33) and Falcon (10% in block 32) obtained shares in the exploitation of oil,
as a counterpart for the selling of weapons
8
. To these percents must be added the
« parallel bonuses » which are given to the heads of state as a kind of entrance fee

Because of a recent scandal, we have some information about the case of Falcon
and of its owner, Pierre Falcone. Pierre Falcone is not directly related to Elf, but he is
close to Pasqua and Marchiani which he helped to finance and can be considered as a
member of « Françafrique ». A franco-brazilian businessman, son of an old friend of
Etienne Léandri
9
, was the director of Brenco Trading Internatinal Ltd, a company based
in Virginia, and specialised in arm dealing. He had excellent financial connections with
the Swiss trader Glencore and the French bank, Paribas, partially owned by Nadhmi

7
BP Amoco 26,6% in block 31, El,30% in block 32, Exxon 35% in block 33.
8
Africa Confidential, vol.4O, n°10, 14 may 1999
9
on Etienne Léandri, see Julien Caumer, « Les requins », Paris, Flammarion.
Auchi, an Anglo Irakian businessman who had got wealthy thanks to Iran-Irak war, and
who has been involved in the money laundering scandal of Clearstream in Luxembourg
10
.
Falcone was closely related to Charles Pasqua, at the time Ministry of the Interior and
Marchiani, and with the DST. In addition Brenco-France was representing SOFREMI, a
parapublic company
11
, depending on the Ministry of Interior, and specialized in arm and
security material dealings. Etienne Léandri, through C. Pasqua, had named two of his
friends at the top of Sofremi, and the young Pierre Falcone as a technical adviser. On the
Russian side, he was associated with Arcadi Gaymarak, a Russian refugee in Israël, who
has been given French nationality, and who is considered to be close to the Russian
mafia. He was connected with the Russian bank Menarep implicated in the
« evaporation » of the $10 billions dollars of the FMI, through the Bank of New York.
Gaymarak had bought the Angola’s debt to Russia. Marchiani had succeeded, thanks to
Gaymarak, in obtaining the liberation of French pilots in Serbia and was given a French
decoration, the « ordre du mérite ». On the Angola side, Pierre Falcone was close to Dos
Santos and he has become the supplier of the Angolese army . Falcone and Gaymarak
organized together, with the backing of the Pasqua network, an operation in order to
prefinance the purchase of weapons from Russia to Angola against the exportation of oil
to Russia.

When the judges, working on Elf, discovered this arms dealing, which involved
the parapublic company Sofremi and the company Communications and System (ex
Compagnie des Signaux), they s dealing and fiscal fraud. While the DGSE was accusing
Gaymarak of being related to the Russian Mafia and of being involved in money
laundering behind screen societies, the DST was supporting him and its former number
two, R. Nart, testifed that Gaydamk had done precious services to France. As for Pasqua
and Marchiani, implicated in the scandal, because they had received money from
Brenco
12
, they accused the judges of undermining the French interests in Angola. Dos
Santos, furious, attacked the French executive. He wrote a letter to President Chirac
asking the French state to stop pursuing Pierre Falcone for fiscal fraud and illegal arms
dealing. He considered Pierre Falcone as his official representant, and this action, « a
breach to Angolese sovereignety which may cause a serious prejudice to Franco-
Angolese relations »...

We have seen that, in relation with the concomitant transformation of
« Françafrique, the informal structure of Elf as a network of networks has changed, and
that it had important consequences on its mode of functioning. Elf became divided
internally between different clans fighting for power and resources. This is the main
reason why the secrecy could not be kept any more and that all these scandals erupted
and became known. The informal codes of regulating corruption had been disrupted, and
the ensuing scandals led to changes in the formal structure of Elf, which not only was
privatised but absorbed by Total, becoming TotalElFina. Can we expect a normalisation
of Elf ?

10
See Denis Robert and Ernest Backes, « Révélations », Paris, Les arènes, 2001
11
35% of the capital to the French state, plus Thomson, Alcatel, and Aérospatiale
12
among many other well known people, like Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, Jacques Attali etc..

3-The « normalisation » of Elf ?

Elf was privatized in 1994 and Philippe Jaffré was placed by the prime minister
Balladur at the top of Elf, officially to clean up the mess, but even more to cut off the
socialists and Chirac from their means of subsistance. But the privatization was not
complete, since Elf-Afrique and Elf-Gabon under the direction of André Tarallo were
kept outside of the process, and the French governement still kept a right of veto. The
privatization of Elf did not really change the behavior of Elf. If the main scandals of
corruption erupted when Le Floch Prigent and Sirven were directing the company, that
does not mean, as we have seen, that Elf was clean. It is rather because the opacity of the
company was well kept for the reasons we know. We saw that under the direction of
Philippe Jaffré ,Elf have been involved in the Congo-war of 1997. But this event did not
stirred up a real scandal. Even if the facts were uncovered, the media was not interested
and public opinion, maybe saturated, was indifferent. The privatization did not change
the close relations French politics. Philippe Jaffré had failed « to transform Elf from a
lazy state dinosaure into a competitive animal in the style of US oil majors where rates of
return and shareholder values count more than political influence »
13
It did not change the
way Elf did business in Africa through facilitators, fixers and high scale corruption.

After a difficult financial battle, during the summer 1999, Elf was absorbed by
TotalFina. Philippe Jaffré was replaced by Thierry Desmaret, the boss of Totalfina. The
government was alarmed by the eventuality of a taking over by foreign interests, and put
pressure on Elf and Totalfina toward fusioning. Ensued an intricate battle of bids and
counter bids which was concluded with the victory of Total over Elf. Philippe Jaffré was
beaten because the whole of the political class was against him, with the exception of
Edouard Balladur. Matignon and Elysée reproached him of activating the scandals in
order to have Loïc Le Floch Prigent put into jail
14
. According to Africa Confidential,
Total was considered to be more efficient than Elf, so deeply involved into French
politics and African affairs. This event has been hailed as the end of the
« Francoafricanised » Elf, and as amove towards a normalization of the company, in the
style of the great oil majors and an illustration of the trend toward globalization.

It is true that things are moving. The FIBA, was dissolved. There has been a
reshufling in the top management positions. The original balance between Total’s people
and Elf’s people at the top of the new big company have been disrupted, and the strong
men of Elf in Africa have been obliged to quit : this is the case of the general Patrice de
Loustal former head ot the « service-action » of DGSE, as all his predecessors at the top
of the Security Department of Elf; it is the case also of J-F Galvada and Gilles Rapeneau.
They have been replaced by Total people coming from South America. At the same time,
things are changing also in Françafrique. The Quai d’Orsay has absorbed the Ministry of
Cooperation. The different administrations working with Africa are mutiplying
declarations of intentions to clean up everywhere. Françafrique is said to be something of

13
Africa Confidential, n°40, vol.15, july 1999.
14
La Lettre du Continent, n°376, 16 septembre 1999.
the past by politicians and the media. Even Africa Confidential is writing : « the last
relics of colonialisme are at last being swept out of Paris. For decades French speaking
Africa was regarded as the chasse gardée, the private hunting-ground; now the lead is
taken by officials striving for a more ethical, or at least more modern foreign policy ».
this seems to me a little too optimistic.

In the middle run, Françafique seems condemned to disappear. But we should not
bury it too early. The bad habits of corruption are deeply engrained. It is not enough to
change the names of the companies, from Générale des eaux to Vivendi, Thomson to
Thales, or Elf to TotalElfFina, and to set up committee of ethics and introduce ethic
codes. The main problem for the company is not the reality of what they do, but the
image they project. It is above all a problem of good communication. One important goal
has been reached by this absorbtion. It is, as it is said in the Lettre du continent, that only
individuals are going to be on trial but Elf as an organization will escape. FX Verschave
speaks of « Elf sous écran total ». It is also a question of finding a new mode of
regulation because the collapse of the mode of regulation, which followed the crisis of
Elf, had disrupted the company and this made good communication difficult. this does
not imply good behavior but more controlled behavior. We can expect less direct
political influence in TotalelfFina than previously and more distance from the
government. But it is doubtful that the new company will renounce its intelligence
dimension and its covert action. Security and intelligence are inescapable for oil
companies, whether public or private. The ties between the public and private sectors of
security are inevitable and are unhealthy from a democratic point of view.

Another aspect is that the relatively good reputation of Total is usurpated. Public
opinion is not aware of the facts. Total has been accused of cooperating with the
Burmese government one of the worst dictatures ot the world and a narcostate in
addition. In connection with a former member of the DGSE transformed into a
businessman and a broker as often happens, Elf struck a deal with the SLORC for the
exploitation of an offshore oil field. The gasoduc to evacuate the gas toward Thaïland
was crossing an area with rebels. Total contributed in « cleaning » the region by helping
the SLORC to buy helicopters from a Polish company.

Stephen Smith and Antoine Glaser suggest that Françafrique is changing from
networks to lobbies
15
. `This is not true for Francafrique as such, and there is no
contradiction between lobbies and networks. But It is true for Elf, which will find itself
in the same situation as the other private companies in relation to their government, that
is in the situation of lobbies.

In conclusion, an oil company is nessarily tird to the governments. These
governments cannot ignore the strategic and geopolotical realities. On the other side, a
private company has to lobby the government to defend its private interests. These
interests may or not coincide with the interests of the government. In the end, we know

15
Stephen Smith and Antoine Glaser, « Ces Messieurs Afrique II, des réseaux aux lobies », Calmann-
Levy, 1997
that it is not because a company is private that it has become clean; It has to be
controlled, but how ? We cannot count on the government alone : we know that the so
called« raison d’Etat » and the constraints of international competition for the company,
reinforce each other. Only the conjonction of polical action from the so called ‘civil
society’ and the strengthening of international regulations could help to alleviate the
situation.



Bibliography

Le Monde
Libération
Le Canard enchainé
La lettre du Continent
Billets d’Afrique

Céline Blanche, « Le rôle d’Elf dans les rapports franco-africains :instrument ou acteur ?,
mémoir IEP de Bordeaux,, 1999.
Géopolitique, « L’afrique : acteur ou enjeu? », n°63 octobre 1998.
Les dossiers du Canard Enchainé, ELF, l’empire d’essence, n°67, avril 1998.
Denis Robert, Ernest Backes, »Révélations, Paris, Les Arènes, 2001.
Philippe Le Billon, « Angola’spolitical economy of war : the role of oil and diamonds,
1975-2000, African Affairs, 2001, 100, 55-80.
Julien Caumer, « Les requins , un réseau au coeur des affaires», Paris, Flammarion,
1999.
Hervé Gattegno, « L’affaire Dumas », Paris, Stock, 1998.
Valérie Lecasble, Airy Routier, « Forages en eau profonde, les secrets de l’affaire Elf »,
Paris Grasset, 1998.
Médard Jean-François, « La corruption internationale et l’Afrique sub-saharienne : un
essai d’approche comparative », Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée, Vol.4, n°2,
1997.
Ghislaine Otenheimer et Renaud Lecadre, « Les frères invisibles », Paris, Albin Michel,
2001.
François-Xavier Verschave, « La Françafrique », Paris, Stock, 1998.
François-Xavier Verschave « Noir silence », Paris, Les arènes, 2000.
François Xavier Verschave« Noir procès », Paris, Les arènes, 2001.
Stephen Smith et Hervé Glaser, « Ces Messieurs-Afrique , le Paris-village du continent
africain», Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1992.
Stephen Smith et Antoine Glaser, « Ces Messieurs-Afrique 2, des réseaux aux lobbies »,
Calmann-Levy, 1997.
Global Witness, A crude awakening. The role ot the oil and banking industries in
Angola’s civil war and the plunder of state assets », 12/99.
Pétrole et Ethique, Rapport de la mission d’information parlementaire sur le rôle des
compagnies pétrolières dans la politique internationale et son impact social et
environnemental, 1999.

Magda Hassan
04-06-2013, 12:32 AM
The In Amenas Fiasco Throws Cold Water on the Algeria-U.S.-France Love Fest (Part One) By Rob Prince, January 28, 2013

The Algerian hostage crisis was both a human and political fiasco and its regional implications are still evolving. "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley."
(The best laid plans of mice and men go often awry.)
-- Robert Burns "To A Mouse On Turning Her Up in her Nest With A Plow. November, 1785"
http://www.fpif.org/files/5747/Amenas.jpg?width=500
Algerian oil and gas pipelines (In Amenas circled).


One of the largest hostage seizures ever ended with the death of 80 people, many of them foreign workers at Algeria's natural gas complex at In Amenas, located nearly 1,000 miles from the capital, Algiers, and less than 70 miles from the Libyan border deep in the Sahara. In the end it was both a human and political fiasco, the regional implications of which are still evolving. It was supposed to be an impressive show of force, 'a message' of how efficiently the Algerian government could deal with terrorism within its own borders. Had it worked out according to plan, Algerian special forces of its fourth military district that includes large slices of the Sahara, would have saved the day. The message to the world in general, but to the United States and France in particular, would have been, should have been: Algeria can handle domestic terrorism; there is no need for Algeria to get embroiled in Mali by sending troops that would be coordinating with the French and American militaries.
But in ways to be discussed in later sections of the series, something went afoul, the whole thing backfired terribly, and continues to.
Keep in mind that although Algeria had a bloody civil war in the 1990s, called, appropriately enough 'The Dirty War (http://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/catalogue/index.php?ean13=9782707171504)' by former Algerian security officer and author Habib Souaidia, never during that decade was an Algeria oil or natural gas facility ever attacked by guerrillas – a rather odd fact given the intensity of the warfare. It makes one wonder about the kind of radicals that would spare the petro chemical sector from their attacks. The attack on In Amenas, was thus, 'a first', for Algeria at least, that must send chills down the spines of oil producers and consumers everywhere.
To understand what was being played out in In Amenas, one has to dig deep, into Algerian history, the role of France, the emerging U.S. strategic-military role in Africa and first and foremost, the fate of the peoples of the region – Algerian Arab Moslems, Kabylie Berbers, Tuaregs of the Sahara, the people of Libya, Mali, Niger and Mauretania, among others. That is what I hope to do in this series of articles, the different threads of which will lead us to back to In Amenas and the slaughter of innocents there.
The series begins elsewhere in Algeria, in the north, outside of a town called Seddat, in May of 2006. Over the course of several articles the thread will lead us back to In Amenas and the events of last week, but for now we'll start the saga elsewhere.
The Seddat Massacre of 2006
Let's begin, not with the fiasco at the In Amenas natural gas site on Algeria's eastern border with Libya, deep in the Sahara Desert, but with a seemingly unrelated incident that took place seven years ago at a place called Seddat in the Kabylie region of Algeria east of the capital Algiers.
There, in May of 2006, with much fanfare, a major military operation was launched by the Algerian army to 'neutralize' (which translates in plain language as 'wipe out') a supposed Islamic terrorist cell holding out in a cave in the vicinity of Seddat. Despite the fact that the so-called war against Islamic terrorism had supposedly ended by 1998, the Algerian government had not been able to eliminate the last pockets of militant Islamic armed resistance. For nearly eight years Algiers had been repeatedly talking about "the last Islamic strongholds."
There was another problem which plagued the Algerian government, formally a parliamentary democracy, but informally and perhaps more accurately, a military dictatorship which had been run from the shadows since independence by a group of military officers, derisively referred to as the D.A.F. (which stands for Deserteurs de l'armee francaise, or deserters from the French Army. It refers to a group of Algerian officers in the French military during the Algerian War of Independence 1954-1962, who, six months before the end of the conflict, jumped ship from the French army and joined the Resistance and then quickly took power once independence came).
By 2006 the ruling Algerian military junta could not simply brush off the repeated accusations that many of the militant Islamic groups that it claimed to be fighting in the 1990s were both infiltrated by and run by the country's powerful intelligence service (http://www.wanttoknow.info/falseflag), the Departement de Renseignment et de la Securite, otherwise known by its initials – the DRS. It all cast a shadow over the bloodshed the 1990s and raised serious questions as to what the fighting was about in the first place.
Algeria: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Something else had happened that plays into the plot as well. By 2006, a new security cooperation relationship was being forged, especially in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, between Washington and Algiers. Despite a certain distrust on both sides which continues until today even, over the five years since 9-11 it had flowered into the beginnings of a political partnership.
For different reasons, both the United States and Algeria were looking for new security partners. The United States needed a North African regional partner, a la the Shah of Iran, with a strong military to assist it in its growing "war on terrorism" in Africa. Then and now, it has been more about protecting U.S. strategic assets in oil, natural gas and strategic minerals than about fighting militant Muslims, a group of which there were precious few in North Africa at the time.
At a time when the United States had already started to shift its security concerns to Asia to meet the growing economic and political challenge of China, finding 'reliable' security partners that could fill in the military vacuum had become essential. The United States hoped to at least in part extricate itself from Iraq and Afghanistan, at least 'tone down' those conflict and emerge from the quagmires it had created in the Middle East and Central Asia to focus on the Far East.
Such a global strategy could not sustain a large scale U.S. military build-up in Africa much beyond the present strength of AFRICOM. Finding others who might be willing to 'partner' with Washington, be it through NATO or other arrangements, became more pressing. Two countries, both unlikely in some ways, to step up to the plate, did exactly that – France and Algeria. The series will deal with France's role in Africa, past and present in the next part of this series and leave it aside for now.
As for Algeria, it was an unlikely ally in some ways. For half a century the U.S. media had dubbed it 'the Cuba of the Mediterranean', supporting, at least verbally, national liberation struggles, criticizing U.S. imperialism, allied with the Palestine Liberation Organization, a strong opponent of Israel and finding itself taking positions opposed to Washington's on most issues at the United Nations. Diplomatic ties had even been severed for six years in the aftermath of the 1967 Middle East War.
And yet, here again, things were not always what they seemed. Much of the so-called antagonism was little more than posturing on both sides. For example, even during the period when U.S. – Algerian official diplomacy was frozen, Algerian-U.S. economic relations actually flourished, especially where they concerned Algerian natural gas and oil production.
The United States was anxious to break into the Algerian energy sector and did so early on with companies like Halliburton (and others). Algeria had no qualms about allying itself in business with the most conservative, if not reactionary elements of the American political spectrum, and did so enthusiastically. The United States helped Algeria break the French stranglehold on Algerian energy when, in the early 1970s, El Paso Natural Gas of Texas engaged the Algerian government in a deal to buy its natural gas. It started a flood of contracts with other countries willing to sign agreements with Algiers; if Washington would, why not other countries?
While the Algerian–U.S. energy relations went through ups and downs, they became once again quite intense after the collapse of the Soviet Union when Algeria began to privatize big chunks of its petro-chemical industries. The Algerians hoped to both increase U.S. investment in its energy sector as well as strengthen its ties with the U.S. military establishment.
For its part, Algeria was anxious to prove – and the United States was anxious to believe – it could be a 'reliable ally' in the war on terrorism, that it could serve U.S. strategic interests in North Africa and the Sahara more or less in a similar fashion that Israel (and now Turkey, Saudi Arabia) are U.S. strategic partners elsewhere in the region. Algeria's strategy here is based on both hard politics – i.e., the U.S. emerging from the Cold War as the world's only superpower (at least militarily) and most probably watching the United States and its allies decimate Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Algiers preferred to befriend rather than alienate Washington, and to convince Washington that it could be 'useful' to it. Of course, Algeria's neighbor, Muhammar Khadaffi, tried to implement more or less the same strategy.
Understanding well, that 'fighting Communism' was now a thing of the past, and partnering with Washington in "the war on terrorism" was the 'only show in town' (the town being the world), Algeria moved to in a number of ways to prove it could be useful. Just after 9-11 the Algerian authorities presented their American counterparts with a list of 500 Islamic terrorists as a friendly gesture.
Military exchanges followed as did visits by high level State Department and military representatives from the USA. They continue. While the Algerians vociferously deny it, there is much evidence that until the Algerians discovered that the United States was using its facilities to spy on Algeria itself, that the U.S. special forces had established a military base in Tamanrasset, in the heart of the Algerian Sahara. Evidence has yet to be presented that Algeria, like so many other countries in the region, participated in the C.I.A. rendition efforts, but then, neither has their participation been disproven. Regardless, U.S.–Algerian security ties enjoyed a level of unprecedented cooperation in the decade since 9-11, relations that despite strains, particularly over Mali, continue.
But despite these improved relations, the Algerians were not sure of the relationship and there were limits to it. Access to Algerian intelligence and security matters remained limited. Algeria most often refused to participate in joint military maneuvers which would have permitted the United States to evaluate its military strengths and weaknesses. Although Algeria had proven its ability to both manipulate, divide and destroy the Islamic based opposition movement which challenged the Algerian generals for power in the 1990s, the junta still felt a need to 'prove itself' to Washington. Prove what? That it could still be used to crush opposition movements.
Which brings us back to the Seddat operation.
There were a number of curious, if not downright bizarre aspects to it.
Seddat: An Exercise in Overkill
For one thing, it was a massive, lopsided operation, one that pitted the Algerian military and security forces, numbering in the hundreds of thousands all told, against a few dozen poorly equipped Islamic guerrilla fighters in hiding in Kabylie caves with their women and children. Reminds one of the U.S. invasion of Grenada in the early 1980s.
The assault team, led by Algerian General Ahmed Gaid Salah, major general of the Algerian National Army, was several thousand strong with communications and logistical support from the entire Algerian state apparatus. It was heavily armed with tanks, armored cars, attack helicopters, perhaps chemical weapons and all those military toys that make military dictators from Algiers to Guatemala pee in their pants with joy. Algiers seemed to be eager to prove that when "necessary" it was willing – as it had done in the 1990s – to use the full power of its military machine against its own people.
Seddat was an exercise in overkill of gargantuan proportions to counter a Lillaputian threat (if it existed at all). Mostly it was for show. Most anti-guerrilla operations are done in secret but the Seddat operation was publicly announced several months before in the Algerian press as something approaching a sporting event and followed closely by the Algerian media from beginning to end. It was all a show of sorts, as if the Algerian military had to prove its overwhelming strength to the world at large, and to the United States and France in particular.
It is a fact of no little significance that the U.S. military attache to the Algiers embassy at the time was 'invited' to accompany General Gaid Salah on this anti-terrorist mission and to watch the slaughter unfold from up close. Indeed, one could make a persuasive case that the whole affair was stage managed down to the last detail to impress the Americans that when necessary, the Algerian military could be as effective and ruthless in fighting terrorism as any government in the region and should be trusted as such. Washington should take note!
To insure the success of the operation, the Algerian authorities made sure that there was not – to use an exhausted expression 'an even playing field' that would insure that the government's casualties would be few, while the rebels would die in large numbers. The government's own statistics stated that there were no more than 75-100 militants holed up in caves near Seddat at the most. Even this proved to be an exaggeration. If Seddat had been a purely military or counter-insurgency operations, certainly, the rebels could have been flushed out and neutralized with a much smaller force and much less publicity. Nor was all that communication and military hardware necessary as the group's location was already pinpointed.
Unlike in In Amenas, where the Algerian special forces lost control of the script (more on that in a latter segment), at Seddat, everything went as planned. The 'militants' were defeated and decisively so. Obviously it was not a particularly difficult task. The American military was duly impressed. The show was apparently worth the effort as shortly after Seddat cooperation between the U.S. and Algerian militaries ratcheted up considerably.
Still, news reports of the contrived confrontation, even coming from Algeria's controlled media, were unsettling. As the details of the operation found their way here and there in the Algerian press, a more cynical picture of what had actually happened began to take shape. For example, the 75 to 100 'guerrilla fighters' turned out to be only six. The rest were women and children killed in the assault, 'collateral damage' which the Algerian security forces didn't hesitate to inflict. Never one to be too concerned about collateral damage, Washington was impressed.
Chemical Weapons?
There were few local witnesses to the aftermath. At least one witness claimed to have seen the bodies of a woman breast-feeding her baby, both frozen in death. There is some speculation that the only way people die frozen in their last life activity like that, is if they are the victims of poison gas attack which kills instantly. The allegation, will, like the mother and children, be frozen in uncertainty because the day after burying the victims' bodies, they were, according to witnesses, disinterred by the military and cremated, thus eliminating the possible evidence. But it is suggestive, isn't it, that when deemed necessary, the Algerian military has no compunctions about gassing its own people?
Washington Impressed With Algerian Repression
At least once before in the Middle East, the United States was greatly impressed by the military prowess of a regional player, by its military superiority over its neighbors. I speak of Israel's victory over Egypt and Syria in the June, 1967 War. Thus began a strategic alliance, couched in the false language of 'common values', 'defense of the only democracy in the Middle East' and other pretexts.
What impressed Washington in 1967 more than 'common values' was the power of the Israeli air force and the devastating blow Israel could inflict on Syria, Egypt and the West Bank in six short days; in so doing, secular Arab nationalism to which Washington was adamantly opposed suffered a blow from which it never entirely recovered. Thus began a well-known strategic love affair that continues until today. Israel had impressed Washington that it could serve U.S. regional interests.
Something like that is now happening in North Africa with Algeria, an unlikely U.S. ally given its half century of anti-U.S., anti-imperialist rhetoric. Algeria has spent the decade since 9-11 trying to impress Washington that it could play a role in North Africa for the United States similar to what Israel plays in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Seddat Massacre – and that is essentially what it was, a massacre – was orchestrated with such a future for Algerian-U.S. relations in mind. It was a part of the overall effort to attract American attention.
In fact, Washington was impressed,so impressed that in 2012, the Obama Administration through AFRICOM General Carter Ham and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent a good deal of political energy trying to get Algeria to intervene militarily in neighboring Mali, to no avail. But however closely the Algerian Junta hopes to snuggle up to Washington, it was still not ready to be its military cat's paw in the Sahara.
At a recent talk at the University of Denver that I attended, General Ham, who impressed his audience of students that AFRICOM was more like the Peace Corps than a military special forces attack unit, noted that he had visited Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and asked him to send a military contingent to Mali. French President Hollande visited Algiers and did likewise, to no avail.
In the end, for reasons I will develop in the succeeding sections of this series, the Algerian government, having led on the United States, refused to pick up the military baton and send its troops into the Malian fray, one of the smarter decisions it has made in a long time. The Algerian generals might crush their own insurgencies and do so by whatever means necessary, but even this dictatorship has been careful not to involve itself, militarily at least, the affairs with its neighbors. The one time it did, by supporting the POLISARIO movement in the Western Sahara, it got a pretty bloody nose.
After reading all this, one might wonder logically, what does all this have to do with the In Amenas fiasco? The answer is everything, to be elaborated upon as the series unfolds.
Sources:
Much of the material on Seddat comes from a piece in French entitled "Le massacre de Seddat: les armes chimiques au service de la lutte antiterroriste" which appeared at the website 'Algeria Watch (http://www.algeria-watch.org/francais.htm)' which appeared on May 31, 2006. The link to the article is: http://www.algeria-watch.org/fr/aw/massacre_seddat.htm
I also want to credit Habib Souaidia, author of La sale guerre (http://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/catalogue/index.php?ean13=9782707171504) (The Dirty War) – Editions Decouverte. 2001. It was in conversations with Souaidia that I first was made aware of the Seddat Massacre.
The analysis is my own (for better or worse)
Link:
Photo exhibit (http://souvenirssahariens2ecast.fr/22.htm) – region around In-Amenas in the 1950s taken by a French soldier stationed there. Gives an idea of the surrounding areas. It was formerly called Fort Polignac.


"There are two kinds of history – the official kind, full of lies, which is taught in schools – history ad usum delphini; and there is secret history – in which we learn the real causes of events – a shameful chronicle."
-- Les Illusions Perdues, Balzac
Mali: New Front of the War on Terrorism
No doubt the attack on the In-Amenas oil and gas facility in the Algerian Sahara is related to the events in Mali, where France has just landed troops in an effort to dislarge the Islamic militants who have taken over Mali's northern regions. What are the pretexts, the deeper logic of the French Malian intervention? One would think that people wouldn't fall for it yet again: 'We're just sending the troops to protect innocent lives and support democracy' – humanitarian interventionalism. Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya.
Now add Mali to the list.
But once again, it works like a charm, long enough at least to get French troops on the ground in Mali from whence it will difficult to extract them for some time. It helps to have a weak UN Security Council resolution a la Libya which doesn't condone sending troops but is vague enough to give a thin veil of legitimacy – the suggestion of international law at work – to cover war crimes. Combine that with some wacko Salafist radicals, a vital element in the mix, who destroy Sufi shrines and rough up women, forcing them, veiled, back in the kitchen without music on the radio and the combustible mix is complete.
Enter French President Francois Hollande, his popularity sagging at home as the French socio-economic crisis deepens. Lying with a straight face, Hollande told his nation and the world that by sending French troops to Mali with jet fighter cover that "France has no other purpose than to fight terrorism." (http://www.worldcrunch.com/opinion-analysis/as-mali-turns-a-french-take-on-just-wars-quagmire-and-limits-of-the-un/mali-un-france-war-conflict-veto-russia-jihad/c7s10793/#.UQqSpB1X2YQ) France only wants to help Mali 'recover its territorial integrity' and make sure there are "legitimate authorities and an electoral process."
Touching.
It plays well in Paris where the Mali diversion works to make a weak and confused French president look strong and determined. The call for a French-led, secular jihad to counter an exaggerated Islamic jihad gets the French public singing La Marseillaise! in unison. If the United States led the charge in opening the first front on the War on Terrorism, France, where Islamophobia (http://www.cair.com/issues/islamophobia/islamophobia.aspx) has a long and esteemed history, can provide the shock troops for the second front, the Sahara. French military intervention plays well in Washington too.
The Obama Administration has been unable, until now, to pressure its choice strategic ally, Algeria, to enter the Malian fray. With its eye on an Asian-Pacific military buildup, Washington itself is unwilling to send U.S. troops (other than some Special Forces types we have to assume are involved) to Mali. Hollande's willingness to act as the Sahara's Netanyahu suits the Obama Administration and its likely new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/01/hagel/).
Hollande's Song
Missing from Hollande's 'We-only-want-to- help-out-the-poor-Malian-people' scenario is France's sorry history in post-colonial history of shamelessly supporting some of the worst African dictators in exchange for economic access, its complicity in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and its specific historic interest going back to the 1890s to control the Sahara and its extraordinary wealth in oil, natural gas, uranium, gold and other natural resources.
The French even have a term for it: 'Francafrique (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7afrique)'. Some French commentators speak of the French military incursion into Mali as the 'return of Francafrique', a bit misleading, as, since the independence wave of the 1960s, France never left Africa. Its neo-colonial relationship with its former colonies is an unbroken chain of cynical economic deals lubricated by massive corruption of its African client elites.
To understand the French intervention in Mali, it helps to take Hollande's words and rework them a bit to 'France is intervening in Mali to protect the extensive French economic interests in the region – oil, natural gas, uranium and gold'. These interests, both those in full operation and those yet to come extend across the Sahara in Chad, Niger, Mali, Algeria and Mauritania. For example. although uranium is not yet mined in Mali, it is mined in nearby northern Niger by Areva (http://www.areva.com/EN/home-57/global-leader-in-nuclear-energy-and-major-player-in-renewable-energies.html), one of the world's largest uranium mining companies, French owned. The French get most of the profits and benefits thereof. The Sahara locals wind up with little more than polluted water tables and piles of radioactive tailings.
Pre-empting the Spectre of Chinese Influence
Under the surface, beneath the French song about promoting liberté, égalité, and fraternité in Mali with French Special Forces troops and Mirage jet fighters, one notices 'un certain nervosite'. Yep, the French power circles are getting the shakes over the instability in Mali. The fear, like most paranoia, is vague, and while not totally imaginary, it is grossly exaggerated.
No, it is not the Algerian-trained (by the DRS) Saharan Islamicists that strike fear into the heart of the French elite…small potatoes. It's China! Of course. Uncertainty over how the situation might play out throughout the Sahara region is at the source of French concern. Political changes in the region could jeopardize France's sizeable uranium, petro-chemical and other strategic raw material access. For a country in which 70% of electrical power comes from nuclear power, and most of the uranium to run it comes from the Sahara, this is serious.
If this part of the scenario is accurate then there is another way to consider French military actions in Mali: little more than a pre-emptive, defensive military maneuver meant to keep China out of Mali (and Niger and Chad among other places) and for France to retain its access to the Saharan wealth on which it depends.
While uranium has not been mined yet in Mali (or in Chad), surveys done by the French in the 1950s located significant potential sources of the stuff there. Geologists also claim there could be yet more Saharan oil and natural gas throughout the Sahara region from Mauritania to the Sudan, much of which – including Mauretania, Mali, Niger and Chad – has yet to be unearthed.
But for the people of the Sahara, the French-created Saharan national boundaries mean little. Where Mali ends and Niger begins is not found on the Tuareg mental map of the region they have lived in for several thousand years. The French fear that the instability in Mali could spill over into Niger, where France has several major uranium mine, with another one about to open for business. Perhaps this gives some insights as to why France has concentrated virtually all of its African military bases in Africa, either in, or within striking distance of the Sahara. One should expect that one outcome of the current French military campaign in Mali is another permanent base somewhere, perhaps between Timbuctou and Gao, north of the Niger River.
Some Historical Considerations
Hollande's 'solidarity' with Mali, his eagerness to send French troops there, is merely the latest episode in France's 125-year effort to gain control the Sahara belt countries from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, an effort in which they were only partially successful.
French conquest of the Sahara began badly. The first mission, the so-called Flatters Mission, taken in 1881 from Algeria, was entirely wiped out by Tuareg bands. Others would proceed only with difficulty. It would take the French nearly twenty years to recover and reconvene its Sahara thrust eastward. The French march to the Red Sea was again stopped at Fashoda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashoda_Incident) in 1898 when the French offensive ran into British troops which it wisely decided not to confront militarily.
The decisive military confrontation that gave France control of the rest of the Sahara took place shortly after, in 1902. A French military contingent under Lieutenant Cottenest wiped out a band of 300 Tuareg fighters in the Ahaggar region (in the Sahara by the current Algerian-Libyan border) .
There were other setbacks. Early 20th-century attempts to dominate the Fezzan (Western Libya) were checked first by the Italians and later after World War II by combined U.S. and British pressure which expelled their military missions from Libya. France had hoped to annex this region to Algeria. Shortly thereafter, in the early 1950s, oil was discovered there.
French military activity in Mali, as part of a larger plan to dominate the region and its resources, is nothing new. Twice in the 20th century, France considered creating something of an independent Saharan political unit, under French control of course first during World War One, and later, a more serious attempt in the 1950s.
The first campaign to create a 'French Sahara' was led by a French priest, one Father Charles de Foucauld, assassinated in Tamanrasset (in the Algerian Sahara) in December, 1916. Foucauld's vision, which had some support in French circles of power, was to create an ethnic state, what he referred to as a 'pan-Tuareg' political entity in the Sahara that would cut the Algerian Sahara off from the northern part of the country, isolating the Arab North from sub-Saharan Black Africa.
Following the racist logic of French colonialism, Foucauld believed that the Tuaregs, an offshot of the Berbers, were racially close to Europeans, superior to the Arabs who represented a kind of second rung of humanity. Black Africans, whom Foucauld considered virtually ineducable, were at the bottom of his racial pyramid. According to his thinking Foucauld hoped to create an ethnically pure Tuareg Sahara that would be closely linked to France culturally and economically.
These ideas were clearly expressed in one of Foucauld's many letters to members of the French parliament:
"How can we civilize our African empire?" he asks, the 'burning question' of the pre-WW I years. "Doubtless it consists of variable elements: Berbers (the Tuareg) capable of rapid progress, Arabs slow to progress. The diverse Black populations, by themselves, cannot achieve civilized status, but all should advance to the degree capable."1
How generous and liberal a spirit!
Although Foucauld's ideas never materialized into an all-Saharan entity that would rip off the Algerian Sahara and combine it with French colonized Saharan areas of Chad, Niger (http://www.novethic.fr/novethic/rse_responsabilite_sociale_des_entreprises,sites_e t_riverains,niger_areva_exploitera_nouvelle_mine_u ranium_en_2014,138191.jsp) and Mali, his program resonated among certain pro-colonial and mining circles in the French Parliament, and like a phoenix these ideas would rise from oblivion in the early 1950s.
At that time the French government proposed what is referred to as "l'Organisation commune des regions sahariennes" (the Common – or Combined – Organization of Sahara Regions), its acronym – OCSR. The OCSR created a series of bureaucracies to research the region's mineral wealth, to administer the region, to set up a communications network. It was a serious endeavor that went much further than Foucauld's less practical colonial vision.
The Sahara and the Algerian War for Independence: 1954-1962
Not much has been written about the fact that the French had started secretly negotiating with the Algerian rebels – the FLN (Front de la liberations nationale) – as early as 1956 and that even at this early date, the French offered the Algerians a modicum of independence; but it was a truncated independence that Paris was willing to concede, one which granted independence to Algeria essentially north of the Atlas Mountains with France retaining control of the Algerian Sahara.
What figured large into the French plan was the fact that oil, oil in very large quantities, was discovered in 1956 in the Sahara. France thought of that oil as its own and was unwilling to part with it. The Algerians, for their part, were unwilling to accept a truncated independence. One probable reason for the utter ferocity of the independence war both by the French and Algerians was that oil-related economic stakes were so high.
France hoped to sever the Algerian Sahara from the north and connect it in a vast industrial, communication network zone that it would control that would be spread out over much of the region, which during the colonial period was known as French Sudan. At independence in 1960, that region would become four independent countries – from west to east: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad. The economic integration of the Sahara itself was a part of a larger plan to link the former French colonies by roads, railway from the Congo Brazzaville further south with metropolitan France.2
In the postwar decade from 1945-1955, the region had been heavily surveyed by French geologists and geographers whose reports – still valid today – gave indications and hints of vast as yet untapped mineral and petro-chemical wealth that France was anxious to dominate. While the OCSR would formally recognize the independence of these countries, the program, a classic neo-colonial venture, was based on effective French economic, political and military control of this vast region.
Financial backing for such a large undertaking, considered essential for France's future energy and economic security, were undertaken. There was considerable support for the idea in the French parliament and in the ruling circles in general. Much organizational infrastructure for the project, the political reorganization of the region, some infrastructural development was already underway even before 1960.
However, Algerian resistance combined with French inability to get all the newly independent political players on board stymied the formal implementation of the plan. The loss of the Algerian Sahara, a key element, made the plan unworkable in the form France had envisioned.But France has never given up on the idea of a French-controlled Sahara zone. Unable to formally undertake the program, Paris has for the past half century, largely successfully one might add, attempted to implement the OCSR informally and that has worked better. France's Mali military mission is little more than the latest attempt to follow through, slightly revised, of these earlier efforts to control the Sahara and its resources. 1. My translation from Andre Bourgeot. "Sahara: espace geostrategique et enjeux politiques (Niger)"Autrepart (16) 2000L 21-48. I am indebted to this author for many of the insights cited in this last section of this entry
2. Ibid
Links:
Immanuel Wallerstein. The Very Risky Bet of Hollande in Mali: The Probable Long Term Disaster (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/01-6).
John Pilger. The Real Invasion of Africa and Other Not-Made-For-Hollywood-Holy-Wars (http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14254-the-real-invasion-of-africa-and-other-recent-not-made-for-hollywood-holy-wars).
Rob Prince is a Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver's Korbel School of International Studies and publisher of the Colorado Progressive Jewish News (http://robertjprince.wordpress.com/).

Jan Klimkowski
04-06-2013, 11:12 AM
Fascinating article.

Tragically, the hypothesis that to impress the military-multinational-intelligence complex, politicians have to stage the massacre of a "terrorist" or "militant" group, even when it transpires that the militants are predominantly women and children, some perhaps frozen in a death rictus by the use of chemical weaponry, is only too believable.


There were a number of curious, if not downright bizarre aspects to it.
Seddat: An Exercise in Overkill
For one thing, it was a massive, lopsided operation, one that pitted the Algerian military and security forces, numbering in the hundreds of thousands all told, against a few dozen poorly equipped Islamic guerrilla fighters in hiding in Kabylie caves with their women and children. Reminds one of the U.S. invasion of Grenada in the early 1980s.
The assault team, led by Algerian General Ahmed Gaid Salah, major general of the Algerian National Army, was several thousand strong with communications and logistical support from the entire Algerian state apparatus. It was heavily armed with tanks, armored cars, attack helicopters, perhaps chemical weapons and all those military toys that make military dictators from Algiers to Guatemala pee in their pants with joy. Algiers seemed to be eager to prove that when "necessary" it was willing – as it had done in the 1990s – to use the full power of its military machine against its own people.
Seddat was an exercise in overkill of gargantuan proportions to counter a Lillaputian threat (if it existed at all). Mostly it was for show. Most anti-guerrilla operations are done in secret but the Seddat operation was publicly announced several months before in the Algerian press as something approaching a sporting event and followed closely by the Algerian media from beginning to end. It was all a show of sorts, as if the Algerian military had to prove its overwhelming strength to the world at large, and to the United States and France in particular.
It is a fact of no little significance that the U.S. military attache to the Algiers embassy at the time was 'invited' to accompany General Gaid Salah on this anti-terrorist mission and to watch the slaughter unfold from up close. Indeed, one could make a persuasive case that the whole affair was stage managed down to the last detail to impress the Americans that when necessary, the Algerian military could be as effective and ruthless in fighting terrorism as any government in the region and should be trusted as such. Washington should take note!
To insure the success of the operation, the Algerian authorities made sure that there was not – to use an exhausted expression 'an even playing field' that would insure that the government's casualties would be few, while the rebels would die in large numbers. The government's own statistics stated that there were no more than 75-100 militants holed up in caves near Seddat at the most. Even this proved to be an exaggeration. If Seddat had been a purely military or counter-insurgency operations, certainly, the rebels could have been flushed out and neutralized with a much smaller force and much less publicity. Nor was all that communication and military hardware necessary as the group's location was already pinpointed.
Unlike in In Amenas, where the Algerian special forces lost control of the script (more on that in a latter segment), at Seddat, everything went as planned. The 'militants' were defeated and decisively so. Obviously it was not a particularly difficult task. The American military was duly impressed. The show was apparently worth the effort as shortly after Seddat cooperation between the U.S. and Algerian militaries ratcheted up considerably.
Still, news reports of the contrived confrontation, even coming from Algeria's controlled media, were unsettling. As the details of the operation found their way here and there in the Algerian press, a more cynical picture of what had actually happened began to take shape. For example, the 75 to 100 'guerrilla fighters' turned out to be only six. The rest were women and children killed in the assault, 'collateral damage' which the Algerian security forces didn't hesitate to inflict. Never one to be too concerned about collateral damage, Washington was impressed.
Chemical Weapons?
There were few local witnesses to the aftermath. At least one witness claimed to have seen the bodies of a woman breast-feeding her baby, both frozen in death. There is some speculation that the only way people die frozen in their last life activity like that, is if they are the victims of poison gas attack which kills instantly. The allegation, will, like the mother and children, be frozen in uncertainty because the day after burying the victims' bodies, they were, according to witnesses, disinterred by the military and cremated, thus eliminating the possible evidence. But it is suggestive, isn't it, that when deemed necessary, the Algerian military has no compunctions about gassing its own people?

Then there is the question: who runs Algeria?



There, in May of 2006, with much fanfare, a major military operation was launched by the Algerian army to 'neutralize' (which translates in plain language as 'wipe out') a supposed Islamic terrorist cell holding out in a cave in the vicinity of Seddat. Despite the fact that the so-called war against Islamic terrorism had supposedly ended by 1998, the Algerian government had not been able to eliminate the last pockets of militant Islamic armed resistance. For nearly eight years Algiers had been repeatedly talking about "the last Islamic strongholds."
There was another problem which plagued the Algerian government, formally a parliamentary democracy, but informally and perhaps more accurately, a military dictatorship which had been run from the shadows since independence by a group of military officers, derisively referred to as the D.A.F. (which stands for Deserteurs de l'armee francaise, or deserters from the French Army. It refers to a group of Algerian officers in the French military during the Algerian War of Independence 1954-1962, who, six months before the end of the conflict, jumped ship from the French army and joined the Resistance and then quickly took power once independence came).
By 2006 the ruling Algerian military junta could not simply brush off the repeated accusations that many of the militant Islamic groups that it claimed to be fighting in the 1990s were both infiltrated by and run by the country's powerful intelligence service, the Departement de Renseignment et de la Securite, otherwise known by its initials – the DRS. It all cast a shadow over the bloodshed the 1990s and raised serious questions as to what the fighting was about in the first place.

(snip)

The Sahara and the Algerian War for Independence: 1954-1962
Not much has been written about the fact that the French had started secretly negotiating with the Algerian rebels – the FLN (Front de la liberations nationale) – as early as 1956 and that even at this early date, the French offered the Algerians a modicum of independence; but it was a truncated independence that Paris was willing to concede, one which granted independence to Algeria essentially north of the Atlas Mountains with France retaining control of the Algerian Sahara.
What figured large into the French plan was the fact that oil, oil in very large quantities, was discovered in 1956 in the Sahara. France thought of that oil as its own and was unwilling to part with it. The Algerians, for their part, were unwilling to accept a truncated independence. One probable reason for the utter ferocity of the independence war both by the French and Algerians was that oil-related economic stakes were so high.
France hoped to sever the Algerian Sahara from the north and connect it in a vast industrial, communication network zone that it would control that would be spread out over much of the region, which during the colonial period was known as French Sudan. At independence in 1960, that region would become four independent countries – from west to east: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad. The economic integration of the Sahara itself was a part of a larger plan to link the former French colonies by roads, railway from the Congo Brazzaville further south with metropolitan France.2
In the postwar decade from 1945-1955, the region had been heavily surveyed by French geologists and geographers whose reports – still valid today – gave indications and hints of vast as yet untapped mineral and petro-chemical wealth that France was anxious to dominate. While the OCSR would formally recognize the independence of these countries, the program, a classic neo-colonial venture, was based on effective French economic, political and military control of this vast region.
Financial backing for such a large undertaking, considered essential for France's future energy and economic security, were undertaken. There was considerable support for the idea in the French parliament and in the ruling circles in general. Much organizational infrastructure for the project, the political reorganization of the region, some infrastructural development was already underway even before 1960.


Which reminds me of: Vieil État-Major and de Gaulle assassination attempt (https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?7079-Vieil-%C3%89tat-Major-and-de-Gaulle-assassination-attempt)


The Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) is generally identified as the group responsible for the attempted assassination of Charles de Gaulle in August 1962 (which is represented, reasonably faithfully, in the opening scenes of The Day of the Jackal).

The OAS was a Gladio-infiltrated organisation, perhaps involving elements of the 11th Choc regiment.

However, Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry, the lead assassin, who was executed by firing squad for the assassination attempt, is alleged not to have been a member of the OAS, but rather of the "Vieil État-Major".

See comments below (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Bastien-Thiry):


Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry (19 October 1927 – 11 March 1963) was a French military air weaponry engineer (creator of the Nord SS.10/SS.11 missiles) who attempted to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle on 22 August 1962, following Algerian independence. Sentenced to death, he remains the last person to be executed by firing squad in France.

Bastien-Thiry, who was involved with the still-mysterious organization, "Vieil État-Major" (which was probably supported by high-ranking officials, politicians and the heads of large companies[citation needed]), soon made contact with the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS), which was already carrying out assassinations and bombings to try to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry was not, however, actually a member of the OAS organization.



It is currently unclear whether "Vieil État-Major" was:

- a small and influential high level cell, perhaps a Sponsorship group (in the Evica-Drago sense);
or
- an individual (such as Giscard D'Estaing);
or
- a metaphor (for some other process/guidance).

I include metaphor as a possibility because one path of investigation of the OAS and Gladio in France leads to Priory of Sion metaphysical territory: AMORC, Synarcism, La Rose des Vents and Arc-en-ciel mysticism, even the Order of the Solar Temple.