Le conflit au mali n’a guère commencé

TW: suicide bombings, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, neo-colonialism, operation serval

No, the conflict in Mali isn’t over at all, just the showy part that Western media were particularly interested in is. I’ve had my strong disagreements with Bruce Whitehouse in the past, but I think his recent piece on the transition of the conflict from the French and Malian armies retaking territory to occupying it is excellent. The war isn’t over, it’s only just begun. If nothing convinces you of that, the recent suicide bombing in Gao should give you at least pause.

Gao Accusation Violence
(Some non-Touareg civilians have already begun targeting suspected Islamists, sometimes with mob violence, including against this injured man in Gao. Image from here.)

Of course, it would be remiss to mention that a Touareg youth, presumably motivated by Islamist arguments, blew himself up and injured a Malian soldier and fail to mention at least three ethnically Arab civilians from Gao who were detained by the Malian government. Their bodies were found in a mass grave near Timbuktu along with many others, also presumably ethnically Berber or Arab Malians (who may have preferred to be known as Azawadis).

There’s the rub beyond even that identified by Whitehouse, of course. Is the Malian government occupying predominantly Touareg land really going to reduce nationalist tensions in the area? This military operation has been argued for as a protection of not only Malians but the whole world ultimately from Islamist-inspired terrorism, but why then have France and Mali been unwilling to even negotiate with Touareg separatists to improve their ability to control the region and weed out violent Islamists? Why has neither occupying force clarified their position on purportedly non-violent Islamist groups like the Islamic Movement for Azawad (MIA)?

In short, why are there civilian bodies in a grave somewhere that Whitehouse would be quick to remind us, many Malians view as more Maghrebin than Malian?

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