In his 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney warned that Mali was to be the next Afghanistan. Since fighting broke out in 2012, the United States has been reluctant in getting heavily involved in the Mali conflict fearing of making the same mistakes of the past. However, on Friday, President Obama announced that a 100 American troops have been sent to a drone base located in Niger. The unarmed drones will be sent out to surveillance the area of Islamic militant groups to assist the French involvement in Mali. The French and African troops have had relative success in retaking a number of Mali cities since their involvement in January of this year. Despite these successful efforts, a number violent attacks and suicide bombers still have recently occurred since Friday.
French troops claim they are in their final stages of their military operations. The major question is whether or not Mali will be able to successfully reestablish its democratic government and restructure it in a way that will include the demands of the Tuareg people. Although prior to the coup d’etat, Mali was a democratic government, it still discriminated again the Taureg people and excluded them from political power. After gaining its independence from France in the 1960’s most leaders have been chosen from the Southern ethnic groups. The government was and has been neither sympathetic nor accommodating of the Taureg traditional lifestyle. According to Cederman, Wimmer, and Min, a reason why ethnic groups rebel is if they are excluded from central power. In the case of Mali, the discrimination and exclusion have led to the Taureg people struggling for independence from the Malian government and is the base cause of the current Malian conflict. The Taureg dominated group, National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) have realigned with the Mali government to fight the Islamic militants on the basis that North Mali will receive autonomy once the Islamic insurgents are pushed out of the area.
Assistant secretary for the State of Africa, Johnnie Carson says that the success of Mali depends on the return of democracy. In my opinion, it depends on not only the return of democracy, but transforming the democratic system that satisfies the needs of the Taureg ethnic group to avoid future problems to make a stronger Mali. Only then can we assure that the future of Mali will not be reliant of foreign aid and thus not become another Afghanistan.
America’s intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq without sufficient evidence. The United States became too involved under false pretenses, which resulted in a quagmire. With North Africa being the new Middle East, the United States, so far, has shown that they have somewhat learned from their mistakes. President Obama has specifically said that he will replace troops with other tactics, such as the use of drones. However, even though the United States shows to remain relatively uninvolved, the French seem to be following the immediate post 9/11 United States. The French president says that they will stay in Mali as long as necessary to expel the Islamic militants. The similarities are prevalent that do make us question if Mali will still be yet another Western world quagmire.
Hammrick, Denise. “Frances’ Military Operation in Mali in ‘Final Phase’”. BBC News. 24 Feb 2013. Web. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21563077
Schmitt, Erick. “New Drone Base in Niger Builds U.S. Presence in Africa. New York Times. 24 Feb 2013. Web. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/world/africa/in-niger-us-troops-set-up-
“Heavy Casualties in Northern Mali Fighting”. Al Jazeera. Web. 24 Feb 2013. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestoryamericas/2012/12/201212781
“Iraq to Mali: The Changing Calculus of War”. Al Jazeera. Web. 25 Feb 2013. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/empire/2013/02/2013222191052356555.html.
DB Devon. “The Crisis in Mali A Historical Perspective on the Tuareg People. Global Research. Web. 24 Feb 2013. http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-crisis-in-mali-a-historical-perspective-on-the-tuareg-people/5321407
Cederman, Lars-Erik, Andreas Wimmer, and Brian Min. “Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel?: New Data and Analysis”. World Politics. 62:1. January 2010. Pages 87-119.