Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mali,North Africa the Latest Front in a Long War for the West?

The conflict in Mali since the military coup in 2012 has been perpetuated by Islamist groups and terrorists taking advantage of the fragile state of the region. From Tunisia and Egypt to Libya, the whole North African region has been impacted by the spread of the Arab Spring and its components and this reality all but verifies the view of diffusion playing a large role in the spread of conflict in the area and what this means for energy and security concerns of the West, in particular Europe.

This reality is seen in the fairly swift move by the French to send 4,000 troops in coalition with neighboring African nations like Chad, to the area to help the Malian military push back the rebels/Islamists to the North and decrease their influence in the country, while the conflict in Syria has long gone untouched by the West.

The Mail case is important for two reasons. Firstly, Is the importance of the diffusion argument in internal conflict. The fall out of Libya and porous borders played a direct role in the Islamists abilities to resource themselves against the Mail government creating a disadvantage that would have been seen on a greater level if it wasn't for the intervention of France and its allies. Secondly, it is important because it shows that early intervention in an internal conflict can be very effective and vital to the future stability of a state and length of conflict. Even though issues in Mali are far from over, without the successes of the French coalition in the area, the Islamists would have had more time to cement themselves in Malian society and make their hold on the impacted regions stronger, as we have seen in the case of Syria.

For the future, Mali is still an unknown case. The French have now declared that they will be staying until April instead of March like previously stated, but African forces in the area have committed to aiding the Malian government in the conflict out of their own interests of stability and this may be the best solution regionally because it would show that Africans themselves were rejecting this Islamist push instead of just Western states. In the end Mail will have to eventually stabilize itself and if instability in the other main players in the region continues Mali’s ability to do this for will decrease.

In conclusion, I think policy makers in the West have already learned one lesson from the Mali situation and it was to not have a repeat of Syria. I think the case of Syria has shown that doing nothing but issuing sanctions will not get the job done and failing to intervene can lead to larger security and stability concerns than choosing to do so. Hopefully in the new cases of civil conflict in the region that will come in the future policy makers will use the Mali example rather than Syria, but the final implications of each choice still have to be seen. 

Allison, Simon. "Mali: Five key facts about the conflict." The Guardian. Web. 22 Jan. 
Crocker, Chester A., and Ellen Laipson. "The Latest Front in a Long War." The New York Times. Web. 7 Mar. 2013.

1 comment:

  1. I think the conflict in Syria is much more troublesome than that of Mali. Syrians ties with Russia have led to indecisiveness amongst US officials in fear that another cold war could erupt. I think that the US learned some important lessons from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They don't want to get themselves locked into a war that could last decades with no optimal outcomes. Mali is a little more secluded from the most troublesome areas of the middle east. By invading Syria, the US could then be expected to exert their influence in Iran, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, and other nearby countries