Two sides to the story in Mali

31 January 2013

10:24 AM

31 January 2013

10:24 AM

It is lovely to have Timbuktu back in the news, a welcome whiff of backwards exoticism and savagery. I am still not sure yet about Mali, and what we’re doing there. I think that in general bombing berserk Islamist Arabs is probably a good thing. I am aware too that Mali is, technically, a constitutional democracy – although in effect it is a one party state. Here’s what Amnesty International has to say about the people we are fighting for:

‘Malian security forces have also committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the extrajudicial executions of Tuareg civilians, indiscriminate shelling of a Tuareg nomadic camp and killing livestock which the nomadic population rely on for survival.

Crimes are not confined to the north of the country. Amnesty International has also documented cases of torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and attacks against political leaders, journalists and other people who expressed dissent peacefully in the south, where the capital Bamako lies.

Measures must also be taken by the Mali government to ensure justice, truth and reparation for all victims. Despite several enquiries being opened into some of these incidents, no cases have been brought before national courts.’

Two sides to every story, etc. Berserk Islamists fighting the governments in Tunisia, Libya and Syria and Egypt were given our support, of course. But down in the Sahel we’ve swapped sides. Perhaps that’s because it’s not ‘spring’ any more, but winter.

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  • wcm_eu

    Is it not clear thatthe PM’s visit to Liberia was a PR move of the lowest order? Why Liberia? It was the US’s only formal-if-brief attempt at establishing an Utopian Slave-repatriation colony in Africa. Yes, tioday it is a hub of French, Chinese and other investment activitiy, largely in deforesting and land grabbing. It is also an experimental playground for Washington and New Yorki PR firms.

    Why has the PM’s ballyhooed visit passed with so little criticism or comment? He is upping the face game for the UK in a map that remains quite undefined and certainly without consensus.

  • deliberalator

    As Robert McNamara has pointed out Vietnam was not part of a soviet putsch but a Civil War.What we are seeing in the Arab world are civil wars and we intervene at our peril.By intervention we actually strengthen Islamic fundamentalism by giving them a propaganda victory. That grotesque ideology feeds on jihad .Without it it begins to wither and that’s the way to defeat it.
    We keep seeing the same old scenario something happens in one of these Arab shitholes and then these armchair experts get trotted out with their pseudoknowledge of very complex internal situations and the next thing our troops are being killed.
    It IS an Arab problem.We should keep out.

    • wcm_eu

      I agree with the civil-war scenrio vis-à-vis Mali, but it is incorrect to describe it as an “Arab problem”. Any “Arab” interests in Mali are directed from Qatar, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, and these interests are purely those of shareholders.

  • wcm_eu

    More light and debate is needed on Mali. Measure coverage in the broadsheets: relatively little when one considers the potential expansion of this vague commitment in what can only be described in geopolitical terms as a vast new landscape. Colonial commitments were Scouting affairs compared to what is on the line today. Yet, who is prepared to stick their neck out and discuss what is at stake and who is driving the agendas?

    It certainly is not Mr Cameron. I do not believe M. Hollande was lying awake thinking what to do about the sad situation in Mali a few weeks ago. As a self-declared Black President, Mr. Obama is smart enough NOT to bne dragged into the lead ranks. As has been reported in Der Standard and and elsewhere, France was counseled and assured logistical support well in advance of the first fly overs. The Pentagon’s game today is not to lead, but to manage. Good, if cynical advice from the Consultancies who are profiting from these games.

    Islamists and even crueler tyrannies abound across the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa. The genuinely welcoming faces of the unwitting young women who surrounded François Hollande are being used, as was the French Presdient. By whom?

    The larger geopolitical game with roots in the Neocon intelligentsia going back to the 1990s that feared the demise of Western Civilisation by the hordes and masses of the Muslim world. Once they got their feet into Arabian sands and looked across the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait into Somalia, up through Sudan and Erythia, they saw deeper threats. Then, when they (inadvertently) knocked Qaddafi out and coutned two-million-plus black Africans running towards the boat docks, they panicked. Ships of all flags rejected all African documents and Europe was left with a flood of illegal immigratns which today continue to tax authorities and public patience across Europe. The Neo-Neocons who rule today had/have a problem.

    Africa is touted as the New Dreamland, but why now?

    1) China is on the ground and winning access to resources through a modus operandi unknown to political-power addicts in the West. Everywhere there is richland, minerals, oil and water, they are striking lucrative rental agreements.

    2) The O&G + Minerals Industrialists, who are like railroad barons of the 19th Century at their most innocent, and like Belgium’s infamous King Leopold in their most Realpolitik, are today weighing in on the US Government machine, for which Obama is the CNN face.

    The objective is the US flagged Globalist framework to permit the Chiense to continue to do their laborious wonders on the Dark Continent, as it serves well the neo-Superpowers formula, wherein the US is beholden to its greatest creditor, which really has no interest in competing for time at the G-20 podium or in any other media.

    To check Chinese grab, the Globalists, and their Financialists Ministry, i.e., the Goldman Sachs Network, are giving enormous support to the consolidation of three Industries: Agro-alimentaire (foodproduction ° commodities trading); Oil & Gas; and Minerals. “Glencore” serves as a worthy moniker for the latter.

    In this context, I will argue that Mali is the first full-out “Glencore War”. Please tell me I’m mad.

  • BorderlineFascist

    Whatever you read on here is probably as bogus as that ‘Mr Nice’ I watched on TV last night- what a superb concoction of utter kack!

  • davidshort10

    The Arab ‘Spring’ started in the winter. President Ben Ali of Tunisia legged it to Saudi on 14 January 2011.

  • BorderlineFascist

    I have three lovely Dogan ladders for sale if anybody is interested- they are in my top shed.

  • Augustus

    I agree. On the face of it there does seem something odd about send European forces, and possibly US forces, to intervene in a North African civil war. But the rise of jihadist elements in Mali and Niger was not just a local phenomenon, but rather linked to the original al-Qaida network. By 2007, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb was formed from an
    extremist offshoot of the Groupe Islamique Armee (GIA), and last year jihadist forces took over the northern two-thirds of Mali, converting it into a new African Afghanistan. The growing jihadi presence in West Africa had already spilled over into Mali’s neighbour, Niger, which also happens to be a very large producer of uranium ore. It is only a short leap from the emergence of a new region-wide al-Qaida infrastructure in North Africa, that crosses international borders, to a direct threat to Europe itself. Apparently, France already understands that this is what is at stake, but it is not fully appreciated that widely.

    • AugustLudwig

      Correct analysis, but I challenge on the cohesiveness and the extent of material geopolitical threat from the Maghrebian al-Qaeda movement. We’ve well seen where the “released intelligence” on this movement in Libya was wrong, and that the so-called al-qaeda group there is little more than a network of Dad’s Army militias amongst the old Qaddafi partisans. In Algeria, we saw an effective guerrilla attack on a Western oil facility, but the scale of the attack and the strategic importance of the facility, while significant, remains relatively small.

      Al-Qaeda activities are arguably opening the door for the Globalists Agenda Makers–not governments we think we know–to roll out their strategy for nailing down a security strategy over strategic oil, mineral, and, in the case of Mali, extensive uranium fields. Mali is also geographically strategic given its proximity to Niger, as you note, Senegal, Mauritania,Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. Forget not that the Globalist West has something of a foothold in the Sudan(s) and that Libya and Tunisia are not so far away.

      While I am outraged at the disregard of international law or established processes for addressing NATO’s scope of mandate, one can onily applaud the audacity and the success we have seen the French pull off in this first round. No doubt the O&G coimmunity and Glencore shareholders, including Goldman Sachs, are “cautiously optimistic” at this hour.

      Are UK subjects, taxpayers and parents?

      • Augustus

        Interesting comment. The fact is that the growth of al-Qaida in North Africa can certainly be viewed with real concern. It was one of their offshoots which attacked French embassies and most recently the gas facility in Algeria, where it took hostages. But was it ready to move its war against the West to the territories of the European states as well and thus pose a real threat to their security? European leaders think they may well be planning to use Mali as a launching pad. The idea of launching attacks against the West was already proposed by their forerunners. In the 1990s four terrorists from the GIA hijacked an Air France airbus that took off from Algiers and was bound for Paris. In what looked like a rehearsal for 9/11 (there was no connection between the two events) their plan was to use the French aircraft as a missile and crash it into the Eiffel Tower with all the passengers on board. And then there was the bomb attack on the Paris metro in 1995. But whatever the connections may be, what does stand out is the blind hatred of the West as a whole among all the jihadist organizations associated with al-Qaida, and the fanatical desire to eradicate Western civilization.

  • Ed L

    The best thing that could happen now would be to the African Malians to chase every Arab and every Tuareg out of the towns and cities and into the desert. Anyone with a beard and half-mast breeks gets shot on sight if they ever try to enter a Malian town or village. Problem solved.

    What will happen instead is that HRW and assorted morons will accuse the African Malians of human rights abuses and force them to allow the Arabs to live among them, and start blowing things up.

  • David Lindsay

    Exactly as George Galloway said at PMQs yesterday. He was roundly abused for it by Cameron.

    Sir Peter Tapsell, the Father of the House, pointed out that it had taken the French 120 years to get out of Algeria. Cameron replied that he had no doubt tabled a question about it in the 1840s. Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Sorry, feller, what is disgraceful?

      • David Lindsay

        Cameron is.

    • Daniel Maris

      What an outrageous comment from Tapsell. Algeria is full of people (Arabs) who were just as much “foreigners” as the Europeans who settled in Algeria – one million plus of them. European Algeria was a marvellous, cultured place which produced the great Albert Camus. Since the European cultural influence was exterminated by De Gaulle, Algeria has been in steep decline despite its oil and gas wealth. It has been a haven for terrorists and a victim of terrorists. Muslim Algeria got rid of its European neighbour – but at very high cost to themselves.

  • NiceTeaParty

    Another Prime Minister reaches for the revolver

    When the final curtain looks set to fall on his administration

    When he has run out of ideas for improving our own country

    When he desires a legacy as an international statesman, travelling celebrity and globe businessman

    And another few young men and women die in some distant field for reasons we will never quite understand

  • arnoldo87

    We should support any movement towards democracy. The support for those trying to overthrow dictatorships is entirely compatible with this principle, even though the make up of the eventual government is not entirely predictable.
    Equally compatible is the assistance given to the (clearly imperfect) democracy in Mali in their fight against undemocratic Jihadists.

    • Daniel Maris

      I agree. A global democratic offensive is what is required. We kowtow to places like China and what happens? – they try to bring down our free press and our defences through computer hacking.

  • Matt Pryor

    George Galloway (who I generally have no time for) raised a question in parliament yesterday asking why the government supports Islamists in Syria but opposes them in Mali. I thought it wasn’t a bad question for him, although probably motivated by loyalty to Assad and Tehran.

    Cameron’s answer was disappointing, choosing an ad hominem attack on Galloway instead of addressing the question, which is one a lot of people are asking.

    • Youbian

      I agree. Galloway was right for the first time.

      • Matt Pryor

        Maybe for the wrong reasons… but still.

        • rodliddle

          Not, actually, for the first time – I think he had a point about Assange too, even though it was hypocritical of him to have made it.
          But he’s right re Syria/Mali

          • Matt Pryor

            Not sure he’s right, it may be that the camel corps foreign office have sound reasons for the apparent contradiction, but Cameron should have given an adequate answer instead of taking an easy pot shot at Galloway. He actually looked hurt, and I actually felt sorry for him, briefly! Then I remembered that he’s a crook and got over it.

    • Simon Morgan

      Whether that ghastly man is right or wrong – I can’t get past the dreadful Scottish growl.

  • Eddie

    Yep, we support all Islamists in north Africa, then are surprised when they get loads of weapons and attempt an extension of their caliphate.

    For once, I agreed with George Galloway’s comment on this hypocrisy in PM’s questions yesterday – and when I agree with him, things really must be loopy loo…

    I also suspect that a lot of this is racial – with light brown north Africans wanting to oppress the black southern Africans they see as racially inferior (a la Darfur). The struggle for resources (oil and water included) by a population 4 times greater than it was 3 decades ago probably plays a large part too.

    The Tuareg are the real losers: their uprising was taken over by the Islamists, who hate them, but they’re alse blamed by the Malain forces who want to massacre them (and whose coming atrocities we shall be culpable for). Ho hum…

    Perhaps we could airdrop in some diversity workshop facitiltators to teach these ignorant racists the error of their ways? Lots of African drumming, that kind of thing… That’ll sort it…

    • AugustLudwig

      The Media is buying into Mali as a Glorious mission to open a New Africa. Unmasked girls adoring François Hollande in Timbuktu work, no doubt. The Globalists who are masterminding the Agenda (for not by NATO governments to implement) are exploiting such sentiments. There is nothing genuinely enlightened in this story. It remains to be about oil & gas, uranium and other minerals, as well as a well-placed base to check Chinese ambitions as they go around the Continent quietly and impressively securing access to strategic resources.

      • Eddie

        There’s nothing new about hoardes of do-gooding white Westerners rushing into Africa to join the swollen ranks of self-interested ‘saviours’ who use it as an exotic backdrop for their own ends either.

        Oh well. I suppose they just like to go somewhere sunny where everyone smiles all the time…

        But you’re right – the utterly amoral Chinese are essentially invading Africa, buying resources and land, bribing corrupt officials to do it, ignoring all human rights abusive (the Chinese empire has no moral foundation, unlike the British or other European 19th C empires).

        The most tragic thing is that the situation in Africa will just get worse as populations increase and resources dwindle. The big animals will all go extinct, sadly, and the Chinese just do not care. Strange you find their particular version of selfish nationalism impressive: the Chinese are the fascists of now, but less moral… Their presence is to be regreted by all decent people.

  • In2minds

    “I am still not sure yet about Mali” –

    I know the feeling as I’m not sure about Tower Hamlets. Technically
    democratic but lurching towards a one party disaster. As we ‘support’
    the one I suppose we do the same for the other too.

    • Matt Pryor

      Tower Hamlets is mostly populated by Bangladeshis who are generally gentle and polite people. Islamists target poor Muslim areas. We need to tackle the poverty and deprivation if we want to combat extremist ideologies.

      • Eddie

        Nonsense. It is NOTHING to so with poverty and deprivation – that is a typical leftie excuse. Next you’ll be blaming British foreign policy for creating Islamism – yet another lie.
        Look at the profiles of suicide bombers – from 7/7/05 ot 11/9/01 in the US, or the doctors who drove burning cars into Glasgow aiport.
        Your comment is an insult to all those who live, or have lived, in poverty or modet circumstances – like me.
        Most poor people do not become muggers, thieves, criminals or terrorists, hurting others because they are utterly selfish and lacking morality. To make excuses for them is digusting, actually, and an insult to tyhe millions who have suffered deprivation and yet who have not turned to crime and violence.
        Fact is: we need to tackle extreme ideologies and those who promote them if we are to combat extreme ideologies and those that promote them. How? Well, locking these Muslims up for several years (20 minimum) should do it.

        • Matt Pryor

          “Most poor people do not become muggers, thieves, criminals or
          terrorists, hurting others because they are utterly selfish and lacking

          That’s true, but most muggers, thieves, criminals and terrorists come from and operate in deprived areas.

          “Islam is the answer!” means that Islam promises an alternative to democracy and the British State. People who are doing okay and are comfortable in society don’t need to look for an alternative. That’s why Galloway (PBUH) did so well in Bradford West and why David Ward is trying to emulate him in Bradford East.

          I don’t say poverty is an excuse but it is a major factor in radicalization. I’m not saying we should throw money at areas like Tower Hamlets but we shouldn’t neglect them either, otherwise before we know it we’ll need Iron Domes stationed around London!

          Islamism is just the latest iteration of all the other totalitarian movements in history but it’s learned lessons from the others. We need to keep it out of the UK and I’m interested in discussing how we can do that, but please don’t insult me by calling me a lefty, eh Eddie?

          • Youbian

            Actually that is not true. Research shows that most terrorism has no link with deprivation. Apparently the only anomaly globally is the IRA.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Do tell me why the IRA is an anomaly.

          • Eddie

            Yes, but most people who are poor and from deprived areas do not become muggers or criminals – so why should be then make excuses for the scum that do (whose behaviour hurts the lives of law-abiding poor people most of all)?
            ‘Islam is the answer’ is a lie that we have allowed to fester and get spread by Saudi-funded Wahabi mosques and imama – who before 9/1 acted with utter impunity in the UK, spreading hatred with their Labour council diversity grants.
            The establishment in the UK still panders to the hardcore interpretation of Islam, promoting the lie that all Muslims must pray 5 times a day, never drink, be utterly devout and religion-obsessed, ear headscarves and burkas.
            Not true – look at how Muslims here 30 years ago lived, and look at Muslims in Turkey and Bosnia, and sufi Muslims: these liberal, tolerant, decent Muslims and their version of Islam is not allowed any airtime or attention in the UK now. We have allowed devious Islamists to promote one interpretation of Islam as the true Islam – and idiots like the BBC and councils allow themselves to be used in promoting this lie.
            You may not be a lefty, but the excuse you make is typical of that used by lefties – and sorry, but I just don’t buy it. Fact is, lots of Muslims hate The West and white people – and that is what Galloway and the rest pander to.
            Islamists are facists and they believe what they do, and commit the atrocities they do, because of their own vile ideology, and not because of anything we do – or because of poverty. The poor with always be with us and it’s all relative anyway.
            How to solve this problem: we should not give an inch to the Islamists, we should stop pandering to their demands (and our councils, schools and BBC should stop that too), and we should assert ourt own superior values and traditions, frankly. I think thousands should be arrested and detained too.
            Besides, it’s been very easy for Polish immigrants to get jobs in the UK, and yet many inner city youth are unemployed. One suspects that is a choice, therefore.

            • FrenchNewsonlin

              Watch Manuel Valls, France’s short, tough Socialist interior minister. He just booted out a clutch of Islamist “extremist” preachers and has warned the local Islamist population to introduce a “French Islam” or be shipped out.

              • wcm_eu

                Manuel Valls is an Orthodox Jew, and his actions merit close watch. His approach to the Interiour Ministry is on par with that of Sarkozy, who famously spoke of “karcherising” Muslim protesters.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I think you have to remove the word ‘criminals’ from your list. Perhaps you mean convicted criminals. Rich criminals generally get away with it. No prison for bankers, for instance. Not here anyway.There ARE some things to be said for the US of A.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Killing the Islamists might be better. I am thinking of terrorists in general. Killing them is always efficacious.

      • Daniel Maris

        You might like to ask how they came to “lose” so many millions of Hindus from Bangladesh in view of those qualities you claim for them.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      Is there just a hint there of arming a TH incursion,a la Hollande ?

    • Eddie

      Apparently, some British Muslim activists from inner city London are at this very moment heading off to Malawi to help their Islamist breathren… You say Mali, they saw Malawi. Oh dear… What’s a couple of little letters between Islamist friends eh? Amazing they didn’t head off to Maldon really…
      Still, what d’you expect from inner city comps? They’re so busy teaching Mary Seacole studies that none of the kids learn how to read or write, let alone anything about geography… No wonder they’re all so lost…