Independent Media Centre Ireland

CPIR Statement: Mali Invasion - Lies and Opportunism lead in the New Scramble for Africa

category international | anti-war / imperialism | press release author Sunday February 17, 2013 18:44author by CPIR - Páirtí Cummanach na Poblachta

Mali Invasion: Lies and Opportunism lead in the New Scramble for Africa

So, the French have liberated Mali from an Islamist invasion from the North? People are dancing in the streets. Really? Why would France be supplying guns and money to Islamists in Libya and Syria, and fighting them in Mali? And where have the Islamists come out of in Northern Mali anyway? A most unlikely place for Islamists, where men like their booze and women don't entertain the veil.

As usual, the truth is very different to what we are told by the imperialists and their supine running dogs in the media. Northern Mali, or Azawad, as the local Tuareg population call it, is an area the size of France, and is home to about one and a half million people - approx. 10% of the population of Mali. As in all of its colonies, France left a native comprador class to run Mali according to French interests, when it granted independence in 1960. This comprador class totally excluded the Toureg people of Azawad from any share in the nation's wealth - even though most of Mali's fabulous wealth lies under the lands of the Toureg. Not surprisingly, the Toureg began an armed campaign for independence.

During the 1970s and 80s, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi forged close links with the Tuaregs and with the government in Bamako. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Al Gaddafi used Libya's oil money to mediate a compromise between the two sides, and to support this compromise with large development grants. The Touregs settled for limited regional autonomy, and peace was maintained. However, with the NATO destruction of Libya, in 2011, and the brutal murder of Colonel Al Gaddafi, the Malian government attempted to remilitarize Azawad (most likely on the orders of the USA) in violation of peace agreements. In 2012, the Touregs, organised as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) began to push again for independence. Rapid gains by the MNLA led to a military coup d'état in Bamako, in March 2012, where democratically elected President Touré was ousted by Amadou Sanogo, an army captain who had been trained in the USA by US Special Forces. Within weeks of the coup d'état, Azawad had gained de facto independence - leaving Africom with no choice but to do the job themselves that they had put in Sanogo and his military junta to do. France was given the task of reconquering its old colony.

Just before his overthrow, President Touré spoke to a French newspaper, saying:

“Concerning the local Arab-Tuareg rebellions, Gaddafi engaged in mediation, disarmament and reintegration. His overthrow has left a vacuum. Very early, we alerted Nato and others about the collateral effects of the Libyan crisis. To no avail.”

Of course, just like in Libya, the imperialists needed a cover story to feed to gullible populations in Europe and the USA. Fake massacres and viagra had done the job in Libya, but nothing so exotic was needed in Mali. All they needed to do was mention the magic words "Al Qaeda."

And this is where the Malian situation gets really interesting. Azawad is barren soil for Islamists. The Touregs have long stood shoulder to shoulder with the Libyan Socialist Jamahiriya in its fight against Islamist extremists. Other ethnic groups, such as the Songhay, are even more hostile to religious extremism. So who are these Islamists the imperialists are talking about? We can discount Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). It has no substantial presence in Azawad. It's involvement is limited to putting on shows of masked men with black flags for Al Jazeera - a notorious CIA asset, which filmed "the liberation of Tripoli" on a film set in Doha, and showed it around the world as "news," while the NATO rebels were still out on the roads, being protected by NATO air power.

That leaves only Ansar ud-Din (Defenders of the Faith.) This group was only set up after the MNLA has began its military campaign in 2012. It was set up by MNLA fighter, Iyad ag Ghali, who had put himself forward for high political position in the independent Azawad, but had been rejected. He then put himself forward for leadership of his own tribe, the Ifoghas, but was rejected there too. Like any good opportunist, he turned to religion to get himself some followers. Ag Gali, however, is an unlikely Islamist, as he is renowned for his drinking and womanizing. The MNLA have condemned the group as criminals, and stated that any effort "to establish a theocratic regime" were anathema "to the foundations of our culture and civilization."

One important factor to consider is that Ag Gali had been a very successful Tuareg guerrilla leader in the early 1990s. He then was part of the compromise deal Al Gaddafi mediated, and went to work for the Malian government. He still maintains a loyal following from that time, so that we can suspect that many joining his supposed Islamist group have no interest whatsoever in Islamism, but are simply motivated by personal loyalty.

The MNLA has been very careful to avoid all taint of sectarianism, and to maintain a campaign for a secular, democratic, republic. This, of course, made life very difficult for Africom - which explains why independent Azawad was left in peace for ten months. But, assistance was on the way. Ag Gali and his Kitsonian pseudo-gang, which certainly does not exceed 200 fighters, released a statement on You Tube, claiming that "it is our obligation to fight for the application of Shar'ia in all of Mali."

Africom now had all it needed. It was no longer an imperialist force suppressing a democratic independence movement in Africa, but defenders of independent Mali from a foreign Islamist invasion. The media circus went into overdrive - though not with any facts. As said above, the French imposed a media blackout from Azawad itself. But, the time has long gone when the Western media were interested in any fact but one, i.e. there are vast mineral resources under the soil of Africa, and "we" must protect those régimes willing to turn it all over to "us."

The Communist Party of the Irish Republic expresses our solidarity with the MNLA, and commends it's determination and discipline in the face of foreign invasion. We are relieved that it's forces remain intact, despite the cowardly aerial bombardments of the French, which have taken the lives of hundreds of fighters and civilians and have caused terrible injuries to men, women and children. Given the current circumstances, we have confidence that the MNLA will take the correct course of action in Azawad. As anti-imperialist comrades, we would offer the view that the break up of Mali is unlikely to be helpful to African efforts to resist the genocide that Africom has planned for it - The New Scramble for Africa. This was the view of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi and of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, which proved itself a true friend of Azawad and of Mali in general. The Tuareg have already shown themselves to be more than reasonable, when they have honest negotiating partners - and let's not forget that it was the Malian government that broke the peace agreements. Tragically, there is no honest negotiating partner available to the Toureg at present. The military junta in Bamako is nothing but a puppet of US imperialism and its French lapdogs, put in place by that well worn instrument of Western imperialism - the coup d'état.

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