Western imperialist states, with the support of the United Nations Security Council, are preparing for a full-scale military intervention in the West African state of Mali. Since March, the country has been in a severe political crisis after a military coup and its effective partitioning into north and south.
The French government of Francois Hollande has moved surveillance drones to West Africa and is holding secret talks with U.S. officials in Paris. Mali was colonized by France in the 19th century but won independence in 1960.
Before a coup toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure in March, the U.S. Africa Command had established training programs and joint operations with the Malian army.
This planned imperialist intervention is being carried out under the guise of fighting in North and West Africa.
The Tuareg people in northern Mali have been at odds with the central government in Bamako in the south for many years. After the U.S.-NATO engineered war of regime change in Libya, many Tuaregs who had worked in Libya relocated back to northern Mali, where Tuaregs have lived for many centuries. The Movement for the Liberation of Azawad is reported to have led the campaign that seized several major cities in the north earlier this year and declared a separate state of Azawad.
The MNLA is viewed as a secular organization concerned with addressing grievances between the Tuareg and the central government. Organizations of an Islamic orientation also have a formidable presence in northern Mali. The imperialists are using the presence of groups such as Ansar Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, and Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Magreb to justify intervention and occupation.
France has been turning more attention to the entire Sahel region as it accelerates its withdrawal from Afghanistan. It plans to move two surveillance drones to western Africa from Afghanistan. (AP, Oct. 22)
Imperialists want to use African troops
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson was involved in the Paris talks on Mali. On Oct. 12, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling for the deployment of 3,000 troops under the ostensible authority of the West African regional organization. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was given 45 days to put forward “detailed and actionable recommendations.”
In Brussels on Oct. 19, the European Union resolved to “speed up planning of a possible (EU) military operation to help reorganize and train the Malian defense forces. The EU will maintain the option to adopt targeted restrictive measures against those involved in the armed groups in northern Mali and those hindering the return to constitutional order.” (skynews.com.au, Oct. 22)
Once the imperialists made their plans, they held a meeting in Bamako, Mali’s capital, on Oct. 20-21 with regional leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the recently installed African Union Commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
France’s special envoy to the Sahel, Jean Felix-Paganon, told the international press during his visit to Mali that “we are at their disposal.” (telegraph.co.uk, Oct. 22)
Tuaregs deny influx of Islamist fighters
The rationale for imminent military action in northern Mali, according to a wave of news articles, is the claim that fighters from various Islamist groups have been pouring into the region. Voice of America put out an inflammatory report on Oct. 22: “Hundreds of additional Islamist fighters have deployed in northern Mali, as neighboring countries make plans to send troops to the troubled nation.” It claimed, “Residents report seeing hundreds of Tunisian and Egyptian militants in the city of Gao, while many other militants went to the central town of Douentza, close to Malian army positions in Mopti. The al-Qaida linked militants in the region have carried out public executions, amputations and floggings in an effort to enforce their strict version of Islamic law.”
The MNLA has denied these reports. Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh, a spokesperson for the organization, said reports of “the arrival of convoys of jihadists from Sudan and the Western Sahara are totally false. We categorically deny it.” (iol.co.za, Oct. 22)
Even a Malian security source told the French Press Agency that while “new terrorists” had arrived in the north of Mali, claims of several hundred were “exaggerated.” (Sapa-AFP, Oct. 22)
The aims and objectives of the E.U., U.S. and U.N. Security Council are related to the overall imperialist strategy for the African continent, which has oil and other minerals indispensable to the world capitalist market.
Western intervention, even if masked by thousands of regional troops from ECOWAS, cannot resolve the problems of underdevelopment and lack of empowerment among the African masses. Africa and its people have no other choice but to take control of their resources and to develop mechanisms for ensuring the security, stability and development of the continent.