Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Peacekeeping in Mali

In January, France sent military troops to intervene in Mali.  They had pushed most of the Islamist extremists out of the northern towns and cities and were restoring stability to Mali.  Chad sent military forces to aid in the desert fighting.  All of this international intervention looked like it would put Mali back on track as the model democratic stable country it was in the last few years. 

In the last few weeks this has all changed.  Chad has announced they are going to be pulling their troops out of Mali.  The Chadian President announced, "Chad's army has no ability to face the kind of guerrilla fighting that is emerging in northern Mali. Our soldiers are going to return to Chad. They have accomplished their mission,''(Aljazeera).  The Chadian military has suffered casualties from multiple suicide bomber attacks recently (Aljazeera). 

France is also making plans to pull troops out of Mali.  They plan to pull out half of the current troops by early July this year.  They continue to encourage the democratic election that is also scheduled for early July (Aljazeera). Malians have continued to support the French presence in Mali.

 A Malian man showing his support for the French intervention

 Mali has asked the UN to send troops on a peacekeeping mission to make up for all of the international forces that are leaving.  “A senior UN official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the operation would be the fourth largest UN peacekeeping force and cost up to $800m annually” (Aljazeera).  

Is more intervention really what Mali needs? As talked about in Salehyan, Gleditsch, and Cunningham’s article “Explain External Support for Insurgent Groups”, intervention has the potential to lengthen a conflict. This is what appears to be happening in Mali. The Tuareg rebels continue to claim the North as an independent state and Islamic Extremists are still fighting back from positions in the vast Northern deserts. The intervention has pushed the extremists out of the cities but France and Chad are now planning on leaving. Before the intervention the extremists were winning the fight and it makes sense that they will gain power again once the foreign militaries leave. A UN peacekeeping mission will be costly and beneficial results from it are far from guaranteed.

works cited

Agencies. "France urges Mali to stick to election date" Aljazeera. April 6, 2013.

Agencies. "UN 'considers' peacekeeper deployment in Mali" Aljazeera. April 15, 2013.

Agencies. "Chad to pull its troops from war-torn Mali" Aljazeera. April 15, 2013.

Salehyan, Gleditsch, and Cunningham. “Explain External Support for Insurgent Groups”International Organization (2011).


  1. Although major towns have been taken back and insurgent groups have been pushed back, Mali is far too unstable to have foreign intervention stopped. With major political issues remain unsolved concerning the Tuareg population as well as Mali’s weak military, the state is bound to continue to have serious trouble. On the other hand, it is hard to argue for in the interest of Chad and France to stay. The cost of keeping troops there is too high. The longer the stay, the more heavily involved they will become. In order to avoid another quagmire, France and Chad are doing right by getting out early.

  2. It is difficult to tell whether the time is right for foreign troops to pull out of Mali. Jordan made the excellent point that foreign intervention can prolong conflict, leading to an escalation of violence. However, foreign troops have not been in Mali for an extended period of time. I think the more pressing issue will be the limited state capacity of the government of Mali, as shown by their inability to keep population centers out of rebel hands on their own. I think the conflict will actually be longer if the foreign armies pull out too early. A UN force could very well be pivotal to Mali's future.

  3. I think that while Chad pulling its troops out of Mali would be unfortunate. If the French were to do the same, the country would break into the encompassing violence that had pushed Mali to the verge of a failed state. Its interesting that the author brings up the aspect of the United Nations here. $800 million is a big budget for a peacekeeping mission and more likely than not, the United States will have to front much of the bill. While its sad to see that the country can't maintain basic institutions, the French must see their initial military deployment all the way through until the country has some form of regional security and structure.