A Somali perspective on Mali

Maybe the forces involved would rather continue an on-going battle against those whose beliefs cannot be supressed by violence.

Amal Ahmed
28 January 2013

Not long ago, NATO bombed Libya from the air and armed Libyan rebels or any group fighting against Gadaffi’s regime with weapons, without taking the consequences of a war in a tribal country ruled by a dictator for 40 years fully into account. NATO gave us the Libya we see today: in need of rebuilding, unstable and party to the ethnic cleansing of the Tuareg people.

Syrian resistance fighters are receiving similar support from the west and the neighbouring Arab countries, who are allowing fighters including the Mujahedeen to enter Syria to fight the Syrian regime, although the revolution started peacefully enough. There are similarities with the way that the uprising in Jordan was dealt with and in Afghanistan, when the Taliban were fighting the Soviet Union in the eighties.

Mali, a country rich with natural resources also has its own unique culture emanating from African and Arab tribes who live in north and west Mali. The French who are opposing the terrorists in Mali may predict that this war will be over soon, but there is nothing to prevent the rebels from using guerilla tactics to defend themselves. No-one can guarantee that the chaos and disruption arising from this war will not eventually lead Mali and neighbouring countries into civil wars lasting for decades.

We can see the damage caused by ‘the war on terror’, yet they are still willing to go for more of the same kind of war in Africa in the name, of course, of saving the Malian people and the Malian culture from the terrorists. Why? Maybe not only for Mali’s rare natural resources, or recapturing control of previous colonies. Maybe they wish to be there to oust by force the Chinese investment in Africa which has grown rapidly over recent years.

So the point I am trying to make as we find ourselves on the eve of yet another destructive conflict, is that maybe we are deluded if we think that those involved in this initiative want to solve the problem. Maybe the forces involved would rather continue an on-going battle against those whose beliefs cannot be supressed by violence. In my opinion, because of its strategic geographical placing at the heart of the world, there will always be a power struggle in and around the Middle East and Africa while countries grow and establish themselves by colonising other countries. This will always lead to war.

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Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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