This was written back in 2012 during the Tuareg rebellion. I believe some of the predictions have been vindicated. The French intervention hasn’t quelled Islamist sentiments but simply radicalised them further and allowed them to move into other areas of North Africa. The MNLA’s and Tuareg peoples have also been repressed, with their wishes of autonomy being outright ignored. This is the effect of Western imperialism, allowing tensions to fester until violence is seen as the only path:
Recently, the UN has put Timbuktu, a major, historically important city in Mali, on a UNESCO danger list, thus showing a continuing international pressure for the shambles of the Malian government to intervene in Awazad. This again shows the cultural imperialism that occurs when Western nations lose their banana republic dictators, in this case Amadou Toumani Toure, thus losing key economic investments from foreign corporations, this being instigated by the World Bank and IMF, who became involved in many African nations when many anti-imperialist leaders were either killed or removed by Western puppets in proxy wars or covert CIA ops.
This allowed for these unelected, undemocratic, capitalist organisations to enforce corporate privatisation and open public services to foreign investment and commerce. Of course, these corporate organisations argue that their ‘free-market’ capitalism has benefited the Malian (and other African) people, despite the fact it’s one of the poorest countries in the region. Even when it may have appeared that there was some improvement in lives in the lives of the Malian people, such as seen in the slight rising of their GDP (which has subsequently been limited by the Great Recession), really only affected the elites who own capital, seated mostly in the southern Mali.
The north of Mali, dominated by the Tuareg people, has seen little to no change in their economic condition, thus leading to the formation of insurrectionary groups like the MNLA and Ansar al-Dine who want to in some ways liberate their peoples from this economic mire.
However, the economy isn’t the only reason these groups have begun a new rebellion. There is also a complete lack of any true representation for the Tuaregs in the Malian government, thus giving a large part of the population no say in the way their country is run and making this capitalist pseudo-democracy even more dictatorial.
Despite this, ECOWAS has declared economic sanctions on Mali and the AU refuses to open discussions with the MNLA or Ansar al-Dine, further alienating the Tuareg people. It is my belief that the MNLA and Ansar al-Dine should be allowed to develop governance structures, and the AU and UN should be encouraged to open diplomatic talks with these groups. While certainly groups like Ansar al-Dine are not necessarily savoury to Western interests, they gain support. This unsavouriness can be seen in the destruction of monuments in Timbuktu. However, this is simply a system of the ongoing Western and international line that won’t negotiate with these groups. If they had negotiated, this problem could have been avoided or mitigated. Frankly, so long is their support is maintained, they should be allowed to develop governance structures and move toward Awazad independence, and the international community should at least open up talks.
If the international community continually fails to engage with Tuareg groups and the wider Tuareg peoples and continues to push forms of neoliberal imperialism which maintain the idea of Mali, a country founded along colonial lines that has little meaning to the people who have lived their historically. All it serves to do is enforce poverty and maintain an elite. Until this is recognised, the conflict will continue, even if it is crushed by Western imperialism in the short term. Allowing this injustice to fester will only end in more anger and eventually more violence.