The situation in Mali is becoming ever more dramatic. The regime that has established itself in the north of the country (considering the configuration of the borders of the country, «north» is around two thirds of its territory) has taken an extremely brutal form. Today this is a place of savage violence, including «mass murder, incidents of hostage taking, acts of violence committed against women and children, looting, theft, the destruction of objects of religious and cultural significance, and the recruitment of child soldiers». (1) According to the Assistant General Secretary for Human Rights, Mr. I Simonovich, mass rape is taking place in this part of the country and a mass exodus of the population has begun. The UN Assistant General Secretary noted that extreme Islamist groups are making lists of women that have children outside of wedlock and unmarried pregnant women, and they are subjecting them to cruel and inhumane punishment. The rules of the new regime also include the opportunity to purchase a woman for less than $1000 and children for even less…
But the main problem lies in the fact that this part of the country has become an outpost for terrorist organizations, primarily «Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb» (AQIM). So they need «cheep» children to grow into militants and suicide bombers. They have their reasons for capturing the north of Mali. Here, near Kigali, there happens to be the largest airport in the whole of West Africa, (built by the way, with the help of Soviet specialists) which can take the heaviest airplanes. Such planes are trafficking drugs from Latin America for distribution through Guinea Bissau and other African coastal states… (2)
In mid- October the UN Security Council adopted a resolution which was the penultimate step towards military intervention in Mali. You may recall that at the beginning of the year the Government of Mali addressed a request for military assistance to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). However this request came across resistance in the UN Security Council, which stated that a military operation could only be undertaken with the authorization of the Security Council, which did not approve such a sanction. Only two months later it was decided that authorization for a military operation may be given no earlier than the end of November. (3)Why did the UN Security Council not give immediate authorization for military intervention, and what has changed in the last two months? In our view the concept and possibly even the purpose of the mission has changed. Pay attention to the chronology. Firstly the Mali authorities appealed to ECOWAS, in an attempt to solve the problem using only African forces. These forces were shown to be effective, for example, during a similar operation in Sierra Leone. After the UN Security Council said that military intervention by ECOWAS would only be possible with the consent of the Security Council, Mali sent such a request to the Security Council. However the UN Security Council refused such authorization, saying it needed more time to consider. It was only after Mali sought help from the European Commission (!) and the UN Secretary-General appointed former chairman Romano Prodi as his Special Envoy for the Sahel region (4), that the Security Council gave its consent to such an invasion.
Thus we see that an attempt to solve the problems of Mali using purely African forces was unacceptable to the West. Accordingly a multi-level military mission is being planned which will look apparently African, but will be managed from Europe.
On previous occasions, similar missions took place more quickly, because the countries did not waste time and appealed to the United Nations immediately, which sent missions of Bangladeshi soldiers, commanded by NATO. At a recent meeting of ECOWAS, General Konate from Guinea was appointed commander of the military mission, but it has yet to be approved, and in addition, he was not involved in the preparation of the mission.
The situation in Mali has one distinctive feature: the capture of the north of the country took place with the participation of internal and external forces in parallel. On the one hand «internal» Tuareg rebels, and on the other hand «external» terrorist groups and other transnational criminal organizations.
The negotiations and military mission ongoing at the same time is another parallel. This is emphasized by the representative of Cote D`Ivoire (acting as the country chairing ECOWAS) at a meeting of the UN Security Council on October12, alongside the development with Europe of the ECOWAS military mission. Of course this was not without the involvement of the United States. On October 24, a representative of the US State Department said it was considering options for its «contribution» to the planned mission,(5) and on October 29, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton held talks with the president of Algeria, without whose support, the ECOWAS military mission is impossible. This was stated by Hilary Clinton as she discussed the situation in Mali. (6) Likely it was to seal the borders of Algeria with northern Mali, so that the terrorist that had captured northern Mali could not walk into the Algerian part of the Sahara during the ECOWAS military mission.
However there is another parallel: after the adoption of UN resolution 2071, militants from neighboring countries began to flock to northern Mali. Their involvement can not only complicate the military intervention, but turn it into a general war in West Africa. This could be the reasoning behind these forces.
The UN Security Council has given 45 days for the preparation of the military mission in Mali. However final permission has not yet been given. Everything depends on the tractability of the Mali authorities. Are they willing to agree to free the north of the country at the price asked for by the West?
(1) See the Resolution on Human Rights of September 26, 2012 (21st session of UNHRC).
(2) French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius directly calls the northern Malian Al Qaeda drug traffickers. (http:// maliactu.net/ les-djihadistes -du- nord- mali- nouveaux- maillons -du- trafic- de-cocaine –vers -leurope/
(3) See UN Security Council Resolution number 2071 of October 12, 2012.
(4)Officially in 2012, 18 million people of the Sahel were suffering from extreme climatic condition, poverty and a food crisis. More than to 1.1 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition. However, these problems did not arise in the Sahel before October 2012.
(5) Press briefing of the US State Department. See the official site of the US Department
Of State. www. state. Gov /r /pa /prs/dpb/2012/10/199595.htm
(6) Hilary Clinton`s statement of October 29, 2012. The official website of the Department of State. http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/10/199868.htm