By Dmitry Babich
The situation in Mali, the country most closely located to the “zone of stability and security” purportedly created by NATO in Libya, is far from being stable or secure. The international news agencies and world press are reporting horror stories about the rule of terror, established by the jihadist movements in the north-east of this country, previously dominated by the local Tuaregs.
There are two interesting conclusions that the world’s politicians and experts draw from the developments in Mali. First, it is recognized that destabilization of Mali was one of the results of the military intervention of NATO in Libya (the Tuaregs, who in fact unleashed the military action, were armed by weapons from colonel Qaddafi’s ransacked arsenals). Second, the proposed solution to the crisis, heavily lobbied by France, is… another military intervention, this time in Mali. Obviously, the “zone of stability and security” has for some reason got a unique ability to spawn new conflicts.
The only “political heavyweight” on the world stage who predicted undesirable developments in Mali in the immediate aftermath of the Libyan coup was the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. In April this year, during a visit to Azerbaijan, he sketched the negative scenario which unfortunately proved to be true: “The Libyan story is far from over. We see how the statehood of Mali is being destroyed under our very eyes. What is the reason for that? Besides the unending skirmishes in Libya itself, instability is flowing into neighboring states via arms smuggling, infiltration of fighters. What we see in Mali is just the result of these processes.”
What is indeed astounding is the fact that the NATO countries continue to trumpet their operation in Libya as a great success. State secretary Hillary Clinton, for example, praised the victory of “secular liberals” at recently held elections in Libya (which would indeed be great, if “secularists” had not had a discussion on an innocent point – whether sharia should be the main law of the country or, even better, the only law). In her comments, Mrs. Clinton carefully avoids making a link between the destruction of Qaddafi’s regime and the sudden replenishments of the arsenals of AQMI (the French abbreviation for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and Ansar Dine, the two most violent groups of the jihadist movement in Northern Africa, which ultimately took control of north-eastern Mali.
“During Qaddafi’s rule, we did not know about these groups,” says from Mali’s capital Bamako Caroline Tuina-Ouanre, a journalist from neighboring Burkina Fasso, specializing on covering the developments in Sahel, a region in Africa where both Mali and Burkina Fasso belong. “Obviously, they did not get their arms from nowhere. They got them profiting from the collapse of the Libyan regime, which in itself was a result of the Western intervention. It made AQMI much stronger, this is a proven fact, long reported by the French-language press of Africa, from Morocco to Burkina.”
France, the country that actually engineered the Western intervention in Libya, is now the primary supporter of an intervention in Mali. However, the French president Francois Hollande said that “for obvious reasons” (meaning, obviously, the history of French colonialism in the region) France was unwilling to intervene on its own. “The intervention should take place in the framework of the African Union and under the auspices of the United Nations.” Hollande said.
The irony of the situation is that the African Union was resolutely opposed to the Western intervention in Libya in 2011, saying that such an intervention would undermine regional security. The South African leader Jacob Zuma, a key figure in the AU, and the Algerian president Abdelaziz Buteflica were among the most vocal opponents of the physical destruction of colonel Qaddafi. And now France wants Buteflica’s Algeria to spearhead the eventual intervention in Mali. In 2011, both U.S. and the EU ignored the African Union’s protests, trumpeting the removal of Qaddafi as a 100 percent positive development, a “victory for democracy.”
So, now France is asking the African Union to make up for its misdeeds in the area – misdeeds that the AU never approved.