Mali for Dummies (Part Two: Mali)


On Monday we saw that U.S. interest in the 3rd world (i.e. the former colonies) follows the pattern identified by J.W. Smith of the Institute for Economic Democracy. That pattern holds that:

1. Any former colony (or group within that entity) attempting to break for economic freedom
2. By establishing government representing the interests of its own people rather than those of the former Mother Country
3. Will be accused of terrorism or communism
4. And will be overthrown by military intervention
5. Or by right wing (often terrorist) elements from within the local population
6. To keep that country within the ex-mother country’s sphere of influence
7. So that the former colonists might continue to use the country’s resources for the invaders own enrichment,
8. And that of the local elite.

Following that sequence, U.S. and E.U. interest in Mali is driven by resource concerns, not by zeal for democracy or anti-terrorism. It is also motivated by competition with China for the resources in question (uranium, oil, and gold among others).

The indigenous Tuaregs represent an obstacle to the desired U.S. and E.U. access to those resources. The Tuaregs are secular Muslims – i.e. not fundamentalists desiring to impose Sharia Law. Since achieving independence from French colonialism in the early 1960s, the Tuaregs have been seeking independence from the artificially created Mali. Tuaregs want control of their own territory and its resources, presumably with the option of selling them to China. In fact, the Tuareg want their own country (Azawad). Presumably, Azawad would eventually be co-extensive with the Tuareg People who spill over into parts of neighboring Niger, Algeria and elsewhere in the region.

The Tauregs see Mali’s government as the puppet of France facilitating alienation of Azawad’s valuable resources from the Tuareg People to benefit France, the E.U. and U.S. To achieve liberation from such western control, the Tuaregs have organized a rebel army, the NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad).
In its drive for independence and control of its own resources, the NMLA was supported by Muammar Gaddafi. As a “Pan Africanist,” Gaddafi was a proponent of ‘Africa for Africans” and generally opposed continued control of the continent by the U.S. and Europe. (This was a principal reason for western demonization of the man.)

Many Tuaregs were part of Gaddafi’s army. And after its dissolution (with major intervention by the U.S. and E.U.), these Tuareg fighters returned to Northern Mali with many of Gaddafi’s sophisticated weapons. Their heavily armed participation in the Tuareg struggle enabled the NMLA to make strong headway against the government of Mali, thus causing concern to its European and American sponsors about unfettered access to the region’s uranium and other resources. In fact the NMLA gained complete control of Northern Mali, declared their rebellion successful and announced withdrawal of Azawad from Mali. As far as Azawadians were concerned, the rebellion was over.

It was not over however for the U.S. and France. In response, they facilitated a military coup to replace Mali’s president (seen as ineffective against the Tuaregs), substituting in his place a U.S.-trained military general. His new government [allied with the U.S. and E.U. (led by France)] encouraged Muslim jihadists (otherwise considered “terrorists” by the West) to rebel against the NMLA so as to weaken its hold on the country’s North. According to western sources, chief among the Muslim jihadists is AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb).

AQIM successes have created a cover for France (with support from the U.S.) to intervene directly in Mali under the claim of prosecuting its “war on terrorism” against the AQIM it had just used for its own purposes up north. However, the real intent of the intervention (as it has been for 500 years) is resource transfer to the E.U. and U.S.

And that’s where most of us dummies came in. The story never changes, and we’ll fall for it every time: We’ll also be expected to dumbly foot the resulting bill and eventually accept austerity measures to pay for it.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “Mali for Dummies (Part Two: Mali)”

  1. Thanks Mike. I wish more religious leaders would help their congregations to wake up to the realities of their culture, and to practice the real truth of their religions instead of diverting themselves with the watered down mush most of them hear every Sunday. Your truth telling is refreshing, and helps me retain the hope that Real Christianity can play a role in leading us away from the precipice we are so resolutely and unconsciously marching towards.


    1. I agree completely with Mike.
      This is at the heart and soul of the Vatican’s “expediency” principle. Do nothing, regardless, if it rocks our boat. Now that Catholic women can lead the troops we will need to insist on “female Chaplains”.


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