Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mali: Africa absent again!!

Since the beginning of the French military operation in Mali I couldn’t help noticing the complete silence of African countries on the war in Mali.
Could it be that the powers that be in Addis Ababa are sulking because a member state (Mali) of the AU opted to request the former ‘colonial master’ to come to its rescue or is it because the ‘talk shop’ in Addis Ababa had no solution to the crisis in Mali? I bet the latter.                                                                                                   Article 13 of the protocol relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union talks about the creation of an ‘African standby force’ to deal with conflicts such as the Mali’s crisis.
This protocol was adopted by the AU assembly way back in 2002. A decade later it is still empty words on a piece of paper.
‘African solutions to African problems’, it is a slogan that is conveniently used whenever a western country tries to come up with a solution to a crisis somewhere on the black continent. This time around I didn’t hear much of the rhetoric because AU knew they had no ‘African solution’ to the crisis in Mali.
A week into the French intervention in Mali, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) jumped in and offered to deploy troops. With this deployment, some pundits on everything African are claiming that Africans have demonstrated that they able to take responsibility for their own security and diplomacy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Mali was seen, until last year, as one of Africa’s most stable countries. A beacon of democracy and stability on the African continent.
In 1991, students’ led demonstration ended the 23 year dictatorship of General Moussa Traore. In 1992 Alpha Omar Konare elected President of Mali after the military junta accepted to hand over the power to a civilian leader.
Despite the country’s poverty and food shortages due to severe droughts, Mali had a reputation for religion tolerance, a very rich culture and the home of africa’s intellectual center, Timbuktu.
The situation changed in March last year when, once again, the military seized the power, overthrew the elected leadership claiming the president’s handling of the conflict with the rebels in the north as the reason for the coup.
The Tuareg rebellion in the north was quickly hijacked by Islamists and by September 2012 the north of Mali had become the world’s largest territory controlled by al Qaeda linked Jihadists.
The political wrangling in Bamako had created a vacuum and Generals were busy brokering political deals while the Islamists were descending on the capital city, Bamako.
If France hadn’t intervened Bamako would have been taken by the Jihadists in a matter of days. And as previously seen in Somalia, when al-Shabaab took control of Mogadishu in 2006, Bamako would have been the terrorists’ springboard to destabilise the whole region.
I understand that France intervened on the request of the Malian government but I couldn't help wondering why wasn't the request sent to the African Union?

Friday, January 18, 2013

France at War

 A week into the French military intervention in Mali, it is becoming clear that France may have chewed more than it can swallow. Like in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is not a conventional war.  France knows that airstrike alone won’t achieve the desired objectives and Paris has decided to put boots on the ground. This is a bold move but it is a very risky one. AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and its partners (Ansar Dine, Mujwa) might decide, in face of a stronger army, to start an urban warfare in cities that were recaptured by the French army. This isn’t going to be a boxing match with two adversaries facing each other in a ring. French troops could soon find themselves in an ugly, messy and very bloody war.