“Did U.S. Help Thwart a Coup Bid in Gambia?”
The Washington Post, June 1, 2015, p.A1
“Every other Saturday evening, the coup-plotters excused themselves from their wives and kids to join a conference call. The half-dozen dissidents — all middle-aged men, most with military experience — dialed in from their suburban homes scattered across the South and Midwest. There were operational details to discuss, logistical hurdles to overcome. How would they smuggle rifles and night-vision goggles to Gambia, the tiny West African country from which they were exiled? Was their $221,000 budget enough to topple the brutal strongman who had ruled Gambia for two decades? In the predawn hours of Dec. 30, according to court documents and interviews with people involved in the operation, the U.S.-based conspirators teamed with other dissidents to assault the Gambian presidential palace. They expected to find it lightly guarded. Instead, they ran into an ambush. Four people were killed. Those who survived fled the country. … What the U.S. government did not disclose, however, was that it had been monitoring the plotters and had secretly tipped off West African authorities to the travel of at least one of them. In doing so, U.S. officials may have at least indirectly helped to protect the president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, who has drawn international condemnation for his dismal human rights record, his violent rhetoric against gay people and bizarre beliefs such as his claim to have concocted an herbal cure for AIDS. … Over the years, Jammeh had irritated the U.S. government by cozying up to Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. He had no tolerance for dissent, at home or abroad. During his August visit to Washington, his bodyguards attacked a group of Gambian dissidents holding a protest outside the Hay-Adams hotel, sending some to the hospital.”
Quickie analysis: If the US was going to act at all, it should have detained the American coup plotters well before the actual coup attempt. As things stand, the US has blood on its hands, and a total slimeball is still in charge of Gambia.