Friday, October 19, 2012

More Thoughts on Intervention in Mali

Today the AU, EU, and ECOWAS are meeting with the government of Mali in Bamako to discuss concrete plans for military intervention against the Islamists in northern Mali. The current plan is to send 3,300 ECOWAS soldiers to assist the Malian army in this task. France in particular has been pushing for a military solution to the problems in Mali, but the US may end up providing air support to the operation just as it did to rebels in Libya who overthrew Qaddafi. At the same time it looks like the Islamists have greatly reduced food and utility prices for the people living in northern Mali and have thus gained themselves some popular support. Some refugees from southern Mali have even returned to northern Mali. The Islamists are also busy destroying the tombs of Sufi saints in northern Mali. So like many radical social movements the Islamists in Mali are a mixed bag. In terms of personal freedom they are extremely restrictive. They are now, however, successfully alleviating some of the poverty afflicting the people of northern Mali. It would be foolish to assume that the Islamists do not in fact have a significant social basis of support. They very well may be capable of preventing the proposed military intervention from reestablishing effective rule by Bamako over the region.

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