Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Mess in Mali:
The Logic of Unintended Consequences
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 16, 2012
The intentional misreading of UN security council resolution
1973 resulted in Nato's predictably violent Operation Odyssey in Libya
Not only did the action cost many thousands of lives
and untold destruction, it also paved the way for perpetual conflict - not
only in Libya but throughout north Africa.
Mali was the first
major victim of Nato's Libyan intervention. It is now a staple in world
news and headlines such as "The mess in Mali" serve as a mere reminder of
a bigger "African mess."
On March 17 last year resolution 1973
resolved to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.
On March 19,
Nato's bombers began scorching Libyan land, supposedly to prevent a
massacre of civilians.
The next day, an ad-hoc high-level African
Union panel on Libya met in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, and
made one last desperate call to bring Nato's war to an immediate halt.
It stated: "Our desire is that Libya's unity and territorial
integrity be respected as well as the rejection of any kind of foreign
The African Union (AU) is seldom
considered a viable political player by the UN, Nato or any
interventionist Western power.
But AU members were fully aware
that Nato was unconcerned with human rights or the well-being of African
They also knew that instability in one African country
can lead to major instabilities throughout the region.
north African countries are glued together by a delicate balance - due to
the messy colonial legacy inherited from colonial powers - and Mali is no
It is perhaps too early to talk about winners and
losers in the Mali fiasco, which was triggered on March 22 by a military
coup led by army captain Amadou Sanogo.
The coup created political
space for the Tuaregs' National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad
(MNLA) to declare independence in the north merely two weeks later.
The declaration was the culmination of quick military victories by MNLA
and its militant allies, which led to the capture of Gao and other major
These successive developments further emboldened Islamic
and other militant groups to seize cities across the country and hold them
hostage to their ideological and other agendas.
Ansar al-Din, for
example, had reportedly worked in tandem with the MNLA, but declared a war
"against independence" and "for Islam" as soon as it secured its control
More groups and more arms are now pouring through
the ever-porous borders with Mauritania, Algeria and Niger.
wa al-Jihad, along with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are now
making their moves across Mali.
New alliances are being formed and
new emirates are being declared, making Mali a potential stage for
numerous permanent conflicts.
Speaking to the Guardian, former UN
regional envoy Robert Fowler railed against Nato.
motivation of the principal Nato belligerents [in ousting Gadaffi], the
law of unintended consequences is exacting a heavy toll in Mali today and
will continue to do so throughout the Sahel as the vast store of Libyan
weapons spreads across this, one of the most unstable regions of the
Considering that the inevitability of post-Libya
destabilisation was obvious to so many from the start, why the insistence
on referencing a "law of unintended consequences"?
has its own logic. For several years, and especially since the
establishment of the United States Africa Command (Africom) in 2008, much
meddling has taken place in various parts of Africa.
Foreign Policy magazine, Gregory Mann tried to undermine the fact that
Sanogo "had American military training, and briefly affected a US Marine
Corps lapel pin."
He said that these details "are surely less
important than the stunning fact that a decade of American investment in
special forces training, co-operation between Sahalien armies and the
United States and counter-terrorism programmes of all sorts run by both
the State Department and the Pentagon has, at best, failed to prevent a
new disaster in the desert and, at worst, sowed its seeds."
details are hardly "less important," considering that Sanogo called for
international military intervention against the newly declared Tuareg
republic, referencing Afghanistan as a model.
African countries and international institutions have strongly objected to
both the military coup in the capital Bamako and the declaration of
independence by the Tuaregs in the north, but that may prove irrelevant
The Azawad succession appears permanent and the US,
although it suspended part of the aid to Mali following the junta's
takeover, has not severed all ties with Sanogo.
After all, he too
claims to be fighting al-Qaida and its allies.
It is difficult to
believe that despite years of US-French involvement in Mali and
surrounding region, the bedlam wasn't predictable.
The US position
regarding the coup was precarious.
"The Obama administration has
not yet made a formal decision as to whether a military coup has taken
place in Mali," wrote John Glaster in AntiWar.com.
According to US
military definitions, this is still a "mutiny, not a 'coup'" and US army
personnel - referred to as "advisory troops" - were in fact dispatched to
Bamako after March 22, according to Africom spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple.
What is clear is that the "mess in Mali" might be an opportunity for
another intervention, which mainstream media sources are already
A Washington Post editorial on April 5 counselled:
"Nato partners should perceive a moral obligation, as well as a tangible
national security interest, in restoring Mali's previous order. The West
should not allow its intervention in Libya to lead to the destruction of
democracy - and entrenchment of Islamic militants - in a neighbouring
Unintended consequences? Hardly.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom
Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).