France’s Colonial Fun Time In Mali

by lizard

In March of last year, I wrote this post about the coup in Mali. I titled that post “Ripple Effect” because from what I read, it was clear that Mali’s destabilization was due, in part, to the unforeseen consequences of the Libyan intervention.

Now it’s ten months later, and France has decided it needs to blow up Islamic terrorists. Why? I’m sure Reuters will give us the whole story:

The attacks on Islamist positions near the ancient desert trading town of Timbuktu and Gao, the largest city in the north, marked a decisive intensification on the third day of the French mission, striking at the heart of the vast area seized by rebels in April.

France is determined to end Islamist domination of northern Mali, which many fear could act as a base for attacks on the West and for links with al Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France’s sudden intervention on Friday had prevented the advancing rebels from seizing Bamako. He vowed that air strikes would continue.

“The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe,” he told French television.

Yeah, no. When it comes to western military interventions, there are always underlying motivations that don’t get widely reported. For France and Mali, it’s important to understand the context of France’s long history of colonial exploitation of western Africa. This article gets closer to the resource concerns France has in the region, specifically, uranium:

The current problems of the Tuareg rebellion and French intervention in Mali could be linked to uranium. Stefan Simanowitz wrote in 2009: “A key reason that the governments in Mali and Niger are not keen to give the Tuareg greater autonomy is that the areas that they inhabit are home to vast natural resources… [with] the world’s third largest uranium reserves as well as substantial oil reserves.” He pointed out that French mining company Areva had lost its almost complete exclusive right to Niger’s uranium. This could easily explain why France could not afford to lose Mali as well.

There is also the geopolitics of China’s influence in Africa to consider, which this article takes a good look at.

The important question is, how can America get a piece of this action? Well, it appears that yesterday some terrorists attacked a gas field in southern Algeria, and took some hostages, including Americans:

Islamists angry over Algeria’s support for the French offensive in Mali attacked a gas field in southern Algeria, killing two people and seizing hostages, including Westerners, Algeria’s interior minister said Wednesday.

The Westerners, accompanied by Algerian security forces, were en route to Ain Menas Airport when they were attacked early in the morning by another group of no more than 20 people, Diho Weld Qabliyeh told Algerian state television. The security forces returned fire, and the attackers withdrew to the base of the petroleum operation, some 3 kilometers away, he said.

Upon arrival at the base, he continued, the attackers “took in a number of Westerners and Algerians — some people told us they were nine, some people told us 12.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Americans were among the hostages.

And the show goes on.


Reports this morning indicate 35 hostages and 15 kidnappers were killed:

The spokesman for the Masked Brigade, which had claimed responsibility for the abductions on Wednesday, told a Mauritanian news agency that the deaths were a result of an Algerian government helicopter attack on a convoy holding kidnappers and hostages.

No word yet on how many Americans are among the dead.

  1. Jack Ruby

    They really screwed that one up. Everyone knows if you want to rescue hostages in the middle east you just send in two F-16s, preferably manned by Colonels Doug Masters and Chappy Sinclair.

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