|A Tuareg independantiste in Mali ... sidelined by the Salafi-jihadis.|
Photo: Global Dispatches
By Pepe Escobar, an independent Brazilian investigative journalist and commentator
ONE has to love the sound of a Frenchman's Mirage 2000 fighter jet in the morning. Smells like... a delicious neo-colonial breakfast in Hollandaise sauce. Make it quagmire sauce.
Apparently, it's a no-brainer. Mali holds 15.8 million people - with a per capita gross domestic product of only around US$1000 a year and average life expectancy of only 51 years - in a territory twice the size of France (per capita GDP $35,000 and upwards). Now almost two-thirds of this territory is occupied by heavily weaponised Islamist outfits.
What next? Bomb, baby, bomb.
So welcome to the latest African war; Chad-based French Mirages and Gazelle helicopters, plus a smatter of France-based Rafales bombing evil Islamist jihadis in northern Mali. Business is good; French president Francois Hollande spent time last month in Abu Dhabi clinching the sale of up to 60 Rafales to that Gulf paragon of democracy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The formerly wimpy Hollande - now enjoying his "resolute", "determined", tough guy image reconversion - has cleverly sold all this as incinerating Islamists in the savannah before they take a one-way Bamako-Paris flight to bomb the Eiffel Tower.
French Special Forces have been on the ground in Mali since early 2012.
The Tuareg-led NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), via one of its leaders, now says it's "ready to help" the former colonial power, billing itself as more knowledgeable about the culture and the terrain than future intervening forces from the CEDEAO (the acronym in French for the Economic Community of Western African States).
Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based "observatory", hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and - oui, monsieur - France itself.
Instead, they were slammed by the UN Security Council - faster than a collection of Marvel heroes - duly authorizing a war against them. Their West African neighbors - part of the ECOWAS regional bloc - were given a deadline (late November) to come up with a war plan. This being Africa, nothing happened - and the Islamists kept advancing until last month Paris decided to apply some Hollandaise sauce.
Read the full article
Pepe Escobar is author of Obama Does Globalistan and other books on the globalised world.
© Pepe Escobar/Asian Times 2013
- French military intervention in Mali 'serves US war on terror'
- The state of Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts
- This was no cakewalk
- Background on Mali's Tuareg rebellion
- Other Pepe Escobar articles on Cafe Pacific