How Mali became a spillover from Col Gaddafi’s ouster

Some of the Mali militia who have caused havoc in the north of the country.

There is no question America is playing a major part causing divisions within numerous countries struggling for sanity and we know enough to accept America means well but seemingly to often be out of their depth which is brilliantly voiced in the following article presented in this weekend’s Sunday New York Times by Ross Douthat.

ALMOST nine months after the world watched Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi meet his maker at the hands of a camera-phone-wielding mob, our intervention in Libya’s civil war has vanished down the American memory hole. To the intervention’s champions, this is no doubt regarded as proof of the operation’s great success: We toppled a tyrant, assisted our European allies, and squandered neither American lives nor domestic political capital in the process.

In North Africa, though, matters aren’t quite so simple. When the United States intervened on behalf of Libya’s rebels, sceptics worried that we could end up splitting the country in two, empowering Islamic radicals and creating a bigger humanitarian disaster than the one we hoped to forestall. The worst-case situation has not come to pass in Libya itself. But thanks to the ripple effects from Colonel Qaddafi’s fall, it’s well on its way to happening in nearby Mali.

Not much attention has been paid to these events, because although Mali has more than twice Libya’s population, it is neither oil-rich nor strategically important. It is the kind of place whose politics is covered briefly in the back pages of foreign policy magazines, in between capsule book reviews and want ads for Kissinger Associates. But north-eastern Mali is part of the same Saharan region that encompasses southern Libya, which means weapons and fighters from the Libyan war have moved easily across Algeria into Mali since Colonel Qaddafi’s fall, transforming a long-simmering insurgency into a multi front civil war.

Mali’s insurgents are mostly Tuaregs, a Berber people whose homeland cuts across several national borders. This spring, their uprising won them effective control of the northern half of Mali, which they renamed Azawad. The central government’s weak response, meanwhile, led to a coup in Mali’s capital, Bamako, which replaced the civilian president with a junta that promised to take the fight to the rebels more effectively. That hasn’t happened; instead, the rebels have taken the fight to one another. The Tuareg insurgency included an Islamist element, known as Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), which is affiliated with a jihadi group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. In the last month, Ansar Dine’s fighters have seized the breakaway region’s major cities, ousting their erstwhile allies and embarking on a Taliban-style campaign of vandalism against the region’s monuments.

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