Many people first heard about plans for U.S. intervention in the African country of Mali during the third Presidential debate in October. Republican candidate Mitt Romney clumsily tried to speak about Mali’s recent turmoil.
On Dec. 20, 2012, those plans continued to move forward. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for military invention in Mali. The resolution comes after nearly nine months of unrest in the landlocked West African country following a military coup d'état in Bamako, the capital.
For months, international human rights organizations warned about the human cost of military intervention in Mali. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in West Africa estimates that intervention will displace more than 300,000 Malians. Additionally, the 500,000 people living in northern Mali will face food insecurity, starvation and disease because of reduced access to aid.
While the UN resolution calls for an African-led military intervention under the guise of combating Islamist militants in the north, the actual architects of the intervention are the U.S. and France. The plan is meant to further U.S. plans for re-colonizing Africa. The U.S. is expanding AFRICOM, a U.S. regional command and military force. In 2001 the U.S. Central Command took over a large French military base located in Djibouti, and this became AFRICOM military headquarters in 2009. Djibouti is a small and very poor African state and former French colony, where a demi-brigade of the French Foreign Legion is still stationed today. As part of AFRICOM expansion, the U.S., with French help, is pressuring Algeria for military “basing rights”. This Algerian base will be used to launch attacks in Mali.
Mali is facing an internal rebellion in the north that began in January 2012. The roots of the rebellion in Mali lie in NATO's military assault on Libya in 2011. Under Qaddafi's government, Libya's tribes and ethnic minorities enjoyed relative autonomy and freedom. When NATO began its offensive against Libya, many of these ethnic minorities fought against the reactionary forces supported by the U.S., France and Britain.
One of the groups affected by NATO's assault in Libya was the Taureg people, who are a nomadic ethnic group located in Libya, Mali and other West African countries. Many Taureg militants fought to keep Libya independent of U.S. control, but left Libya once Gaddafi was brutalized and executed. After crossing through Niger and into Mali, they began fighting to demand greater power for their people and a Mali independent of U.S. or French dominance.
Shortly after the rebellion in Mali broke out, the Malian military overthrew President Amadou Toumani Touré in a coup d'état on March 21, 2012. Claiming that Touré was mismanaging the government response to the Taureg rebellion in the north, the military junta suspended the constitution and took control of the state.
Since that time, Islamist forces joined the conflict against the military junta. The most significant of these groups is Ansar Dine, an Islamist group based in northern Mali, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The U.S. claims that military intervention is necessary to combat radical Islamist groups from taking control of Mali. In reality, the Malian government met directly with the two most significant rebel groups in the north on Dec. 4 to start a dialogue for resolving the crisis. Government officials met with Ansar Dine and the Taureg-led National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and formally agreed "on the respect for Mali's national unity and territorial integrity," and "on the rejection of any form of extremism and terrorism," according to the AFP. Delegates from the Malian government and the most important players are attempting to resolve the crisis internally, without U.S. and French-directed military intervention.
The U.S., France and Britain will train, supply and direct troops from Mali and neighboring African countries. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will spearhead the intervention. ECOWAS is chaired by Côte d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, a puppet of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In March 2011, the French military launched an offensive against Côte d'Ivoire to remove then-President Laurent Gbagbo and install Ouattara as a puppet. The military intervention by ECOWAS will include significant forces from both Côte d'Ivoire and Libya, both with governments installed by France and the U.S.
The U.S., France and Britain increasingly intervene in Côte d'Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan. Meanwhile, the U.S. looks to erect new military bases for their military forces of AFRICOM. Having lost some their foothold on the continent due to the national liberation movements of the 20th century, the U.S., France and Britain are deliberately working to recolonize Africa.
Military intervention in Mali does not receive the same coverage by the corporate media in the U.S. as aggression towards Iran and Syria. However, anti-war and international solidarity activists should stand resolutely against U.S. intervention in Mali's affairs, whether through AFRICOM or neighboring puppet governments.
U.S. Hands Off Mali!