In this most recent conflict, which risks
turning into a wide-reaching war, the term terrorists is once again being used
hap-hazardly for any enemy of the West. And of course if the enemy of the
Empire also happens to be Muslims, then the happy-go-lucky term Al Qaeda comes
in very handy. Nobody knows who Al Qaeda is. The CIA invented the term eons ago
for the Islam enemy (after they had stopped being their friends) and all it
means is ‘the Base’. It is certainly not ONE organization that stretches all
across the world, or at least from Pakistan to Mauritania. However, the propaganda mongers are not stupid, and the term is adequate to give the impression for millions of people that there is a powerful organization of Islam terrorists out there, all set to invade the West if we don't strike first.
|West Africa and Mali -- Map by Google|
France has a direct responsibility in the breakdown of the state of Mali. In
the 1980s it supported the neoliberal-inspired structural adjustment programs that
destroyed public schools and healthcare and thus opened a royal road to Islamic
institutions to replace those.
France endorsed the
liberalization of the cotton trade required by the World Bank, which has
accelerated the rural exodus and emigration, while blocking the latter, even
though money sent back from expatriates amounted to more than the public aid to
AQIM, SET UP
AS FRANCE’S MAIN ENEMY
Anyway, Nicolas Sarkozy has de
facto cut off this public aid. He also contributed to the weakening of the
authority of President Amadou Toumani Touré by requiring that he sign an
agreement for the readmission of illegal emigrants, an agreement politically
unacceptable to public opinion. He is also waging war in the territory of Mali
together with the Mauritanian army, from 2010 on, without even letting the
President in on this.
This militarization of the
issue of northern Mali has given Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) an air
of anti-imperialist nobility which facilitates the recruitment of combatants. AQIM
has been set up as France’s main enemy at
the end of a "crisis arc" which is supposed to extend from Pakistan
to Mauritania. The militarization has also increased the flow of displaced
persons and refugees, thus aggravating the poverty of Saharan populations.
|Detailed map of Mali where the northern desert-like region has declared independence from the South -- Map by Magellan Google|
The coup de grace came in
2011: The Libyan war made the Malian Tuaregs recruited into the ranks of
Colonel Qaddafi return home with more weapons than luggage. The rest is
history: The declaration of independence of Azawad  after
the defeat of the Malian army (supposed to be a flagship of the French military
cooperation, by the way) and the hostile takeover of northern Mali by the Jihadists
In addition, the Libyan war
has disrupted the economic interests of Colonel Qaddafi’s business networks
whose substantial investments contributed to the stabilization of the Sahel .
|The arid Sahel region stretching across Africa south of the Sahara desert -- Map by Wikipedia|
Finally, the prohibition of
narcotics and the coercive containment of emigration, which the French
authorities are implementing in spite of the futility of these public policies,
provide two formidable sources of gain for the traffickers and are likely to
have the same effects on the Sahel as in Central America: the unleashing of
paramilitary violence which profit the major criminal organizations, Latin
American, Italian and Spanish, along with various local armed movements.
Bad political fiction? The
scenario is already taking place before our eyes with the criminalization of Guinea-Bissau, the increasing involvement of other countries
in the region in such trafficking and the financing that the Movement for the unification
and jihad in West Africa ( Mujao) receives from Northern Mali.
France and the Western
countries in general have made continued mistakes concerning the Sahel for
thirty years and are now reaping what they have sown.
Jean-François Bayart, director
of research at CNRS