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article imageOp-Ed: The international community's responsibilty in Mali

By Paul Iddon     Jan 31, 2013 in World
With the Malian Islamists displaced and fleeing to the rural north of the country the international community has an obligation to aid Bamako in reasserting order.
A "turning point” has been reached following targeted air strikes by the French Air Force on the Islamist forces they are engaged against in Mali. This has left them, according to the French defence minister, “in disarray.” These comments come as French troops secure Kidal, the last of the towns which the militants are occupying. French jet fighters have flown ahead of these ground forces and dropped ordnance on training camps and depots the militants are using north of that town in the Aguelhok mountains -- which are located near Mali's northern border with Algeria.
France is preparing to hand over the towns and cities it has liberated, with little resistance, to the African Union forces. As France is preparing this tactical withdrawal it will be the job of the African Union to secure the country for the meantime and confront the remnants of those Islamist militias.
One however is confronted with cynical thoughts regarding the speedy success of this campaign as it is almost reminiscent of the relative ease in which the United States, along with its Northern Alliance allies, liberated Kabul in Afghanistan during their intervention in late 2001 before chasing Osama Bin Laden into the Tora Bora mountains. Operating in and around these mountains and similar areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, these Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces were able to wage a guerrilla campaign against the U.S and coalition forces in Afghanistan. A similar campaign may be at work in Mali. As easy as the militants were to disperse and drive out of the population centers they were occupying and away from the civilians they were terrorizing, it may prove more difficult to confront these militants when they begin launching a protracted terror campaign that will seek to undermine the authority of the government in Bamako, terrorize Malian civilians who refuse to submit to their rule and continue to wreak havoc across large parts of the north of the country.
France will probably withdraw most of its 1,000 troops that liberated vast swathes of the north that these Islamists were occupying. A good number of these troops were special forces precisely trained for desert warfare. Military advisers and African Union troops will remain for the long run to aid the Malian Army in consolidating its control over the country's sovereign and national territory. They will also probably aid Mali in the difficult undertaking of resettling the hundreds of thousands of Malians who fled from the violence that engulfed their home regions.
The United Nations Security Council which has been 'uncomfortable' with the idea of sending a U.N. mandated peacekeeping force to Mali seems to be reconsidering that option as support for the deployment of such a force is growing.
Mali was, to all intents-and-purposes, one of the most successful democracies in Africa. This is one of the reasons it was targeted in such a violent manner by such malevolent forces wishing to reduce it to a state of abjection not unlike the kind Afghanistan was subjected to under Taliban rule.
The responsibility of the international community in my view is the providence of an abundant amount of aid, both our human and monetary capital, that will help stimulate the Malian economy and aid the Bamako government in helping to rebuild the country. By helping the Malian government retain its democratic system and providing it with the hard capital it needs to invest heavily in the civil aspects of its society, such as education, we're investing in the stability of North Africa. That, in turn, is a factor that serves the security interests of west and north Africa.
It is also an important undertaking for the simple fact that it gives the Bamako government the ability to defend itself against the terrorist and fascistic forces that threaten not only Mali's free society, but free societies the world over.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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