The situation in Mali has been getting worse over a period of time now. However, the recent influx of Tuareg fighters bent on establishing a sovereign state within Mali was the trigger point for Mali’s current downward spiral. This spiral downwards began in March this year and is on-going.
The crisis there is not being addressed by the greater international community presumably because of the current conflict in Syria. However due to a severe case of ‘factionalisation’ (coming to a dictionary near you) Mali could become a catalyst for further conflict in the region. Uneasy alliances currently make up the self-proclaimed freedom fighters that have entered into Mali uninvited.
This process has witnessed a politicisation of ethnic difference as seen in Yugoslavia. Even in this article I have already addressed the rebels as being Tuareg which are a collective. In reality these rebels’ people are a minority within their own society. What I am saying is not all Tuareg are seeking an independent state. This particular group is a heavily armed group of young men.
There are two reasons the West should care about Mali. Firstly because it’s a good ol’ fashioned humanitarian shit storm and many more people are set to suffer, secondly because this is a threat to global security. People tend to choose one and not the other so take your pick as to what is important but, understand they are interrelated on a level rarely explored by the mass media. If the West is truly interested in upholding the human rights it has institutionalised in the Western world then it has a moral obligation to assist the people of Mali. Onto security there are historic examples of states abounded by the world that have now become somewhat dysfunctional countries.
Firstly the politicising of ethnic values must not be made apparent. To create further differences between people who have lived together for centuries will only create more long-term issues i.e. Belgians in Rwanda, Milosevic in Serbia. The world needs to understand that Mali is in a bad situation they may not get worse but, most probably will. It may just be written off as a case of more ethnic violence in Africa. However it is important to remember that it is not simple, it is a complex situation with many key players. Whoever refuses to help this state now does so at the cost of future generations.
A simple military intervention is not the answer. Mali will require structural development which will be a long-term process backed by military support. The same mistake that was made in Libya must not be made here. What mistake in Libya? The UN backed intervention of course that saw many former pro Gaddafi fighters flee into nneighbouring states unhindered. One group of those fighters that fled when Gaddafi fell was this very same group of heavily armed militiamen causing trouble in northern Mali today. For all the wisdom in the west someone forgot to think about that one. Future humanitarian actions need plans in place to prevent this happening in the future and they require a combination of both dedication to the cause and resources. No half-assed attempts should be made in Mali. It needs real support.