West Supporting Lesser of Two Evils in Mali Could Lead to More Trouble
Mali has long taken pride in its democratic track record, despite repeated rebellions in the north and lasting poverty. Unfortunately, in March, 2012, Mali’s 15.4 million people had witnessed two decades of democracy collapse in just a few hours with a coup d’état initiated by its military.
Military officers accused President elect Toure of failing to deal with the Tuareg rebellion, and deposed him ahead of the April Presidential election.
By April 2012, military, under international pressure, picked whom to support and handed over the government to the new President Dioncounda Traore. Meanwhile, in the same month, Tuareg rebels seized control of northern Mali, declare independence.
At the end of April, junta decided to take control of the government again, after an alleged coup attempt by supporters of ousted President Toure in Bamako.
During this power vacuum and instability, the Tuareg MNLA and Islamist Ansar Dine rebel groups joined together to declare northern Mali to be an Islamic state. Ansar Dine leading the coalition began to impose Islamic law in the city of Timbuktu. Al-Qaeda in North Africa supported the arrangement.
France decided to intervene in January, 2013, partly out of a sense of obligation as Mali’s ally (Mali used to be a French colony), and partly because it is in France’s best interest to limit the power of terrorist organizations too close to the areas France has influence over.
France also has economic interests in the region such as being able to access to the uranium mines of Sahel region, located through central Mali, southern Algeria and Niger; because a large percentage of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power plants.
According to a recent report in The Telegraph, the West is planning to donate millions to support the coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, the very same man who decided to depose the democratically elected President of Mali in March, 2012.
The U.S. also donated close to $1 billion development and military aid to Mali in the past decade. Inadvertently, the military aid in weapons and training helped prepare the Malian military for the coup. Sanogo himself received six training missions in the U.S., the State Department confirmed.
International politics is complicated and messy. More often, the West intentionally or not gets involved, and the events following are more destructive than the original conflict. We have many examples of this in the past and still dealing with the consequences of this sort of decision making in the present.
May be it is time for the West to understand that sometimes it is better to not intervene, because supporting the lesser of the two evils, thinking that particular evil is willing to do your bidding, is not sound international politics, it is playing with fire which can inflame you in return.
Image Credit: Magharebia.com, AFP/Issouf Sanogo