X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Coffee House

Mali could be the gamble that defines Hollande’s presidency

17 January 2013

6:16 PM

17 January 2013

6:16 PM

The crisis in Mali is yet another unintended consequence of the Arab Spring. Specifically, they are a result of the revolution in Libya, where Tuareg rebels who supported Gaddafi were forced to flee after his downfall. Heavily armed and regrouping in Mali, they created the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) which effectively ended the government’s control over the north. Jihadist groups aligned with al-Qaeda then swooped in and established a semi-autonomous Islamic state in the north.

As they pushed south it looked as if they might capture all of Mali, prompting interim President Dioncounda Traore to ask for French assistance. Francois Hollande responded by launching Operation Serval with overwhelming public support both at home and abroad. The mission is straightforward enough: to stop the Islamist push south and re-establish the government’s control over the north.

[Alt-Text]


Yet, neither of these tasks will be easily achieved. Memories of swift and successful interventions in Africa, such as Blair’s foray into Sierra Leone have long recessed. The Malian jihadists are well armed and are exploiting a pattern of increased lawlessness across the Sahel following the Arab Spring. Their willingness to use asymmetrical tactics now also explains the ongoing hostage crisis in Algeria, where 41 foreigners are being held by jihadists unhappy with French involvement in Mali.

Yesterday’s Algerian siege could not have come at a worse time for Hollande. Last Saturday French Special Forces launched an ambitious rescue attempt in Somalia to free an intelligence officer, Dennis Allex, held by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. The mission resulted in two soldiers being killed before it was eventually called off. To compound Hollande’s problems, the bodies of the fallen soldiers were left behind and have been paraded on jihadist forums. This morning al-Shabaab announced they executed Allex in response to the abortive French mission.

Hollande now has to manage two competing factors: time and French public opinion. The latter will wane at an accelerated pace if the civilian and military death toll climbs. These fears will need to be assuaged if Hollande is to afford his soldiers the time needed to see through their mission in Mali. Even once jihadist fighters are routed, restoring the government’s control over the north will be far from easy. Mali is a state fractured along sectarian and ethnic lines.

It was thought that Hollande would be more reticent about exercising French power in the world. Sarkozy had, for example, committed troops to Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, and Libya while Hollande’s election manifesto only mentioned foreign policy four times. He may well have been a reluctant interventionist, but Hollande is now committed to Mali in a campaign that could go either way – a gamble that will define a large part his presidency.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close