Mali and The West.

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(French troops in Mali)

This is not very recent news, but I felt that it is a story that is continuing to have an effect on the politics in not just Mali, but of Africa as a whole, and the role Western powers will play.

France’s military intervention in Mali is said to have been a result of the rise of Islamists in the region and their aim to control it. This sounds quite familiar, when was the last time a Western Power intervened militarily in a country in order to stop the rise of the so called ‘Islamists’? Yes, Afghanistan. And how did that end? It still hasn’t. Mali is quickly becoming France’s Afghanistan. This was seen quickly after France’s decision in Algeria, as the hostage crisis was said to have been a response to Mali. So a short time after the West’s intervention, a crisis occurs leaving in its wake civilian deaths, this just begs the question, what more will have to happen before they realise they made a ‘mistake’ and call for the withdrawal of their troops after what they will call ‘a successful mission’ to avoid further embarrassment. However, it is interesting to point out that the Algerian hostage crisis was used as proof by the West that intervention was necessary, and not in fact as a dire result of their intervention, and what they would have called in different circumstances ‘collateral damage’. But seeing as the Algerian governments rash use of power in an attempt to rescue the hostages ended up in the death of British and other citizens, it was not praised for having ended the crisis and said that any deaths would have been necessary for the wider good. It was instead seen as an act of terrorism that could justify the West’s intervention in Africa.

Many have raised the question of why, if the West was really interested in protecting civilians from persecution in Africa, did they choose now to intervene, when the whole region has seen violent uprisings and revolutions from Tunisia, to Egypt, to Libya and still until now in Syria. Was it because they were afraid of the reaction of the Arab world? Or was it because they didn’t initially support the uprisings, and because they weren’t uprisings against Islamists, but regimes that they themselves used to support and encourage that they didn’t intervene militarily? Or was it, better yet, that the Western powers had nothing to gain from these countries, unlike the possible materialistic gain that can be achieved from Mali’s various gold mines? Some may argue none of the above , but that instead the events happened too fast for an intervention to be worthwhile.

But now that France’s Hollande has gained a better image from his bold intervention decision, who knows where and when this will end. Will it expand, with the help of the US or even the UK to regain a western foothold in Africa, into Algeria, or even across eastern Africa. We can just hold our breaths and hope for a time when military interventions by the West take place across parts of the World every couple of years with hidden agendas and ulterior motives.

Just a thought.       

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