Blogging the road 2 Timbuktu
A letter to Barack Obama on the Mali Crisis
Dear Mr President,
These boys are from Mali.
You see their like throughout Africa - the continent of your ancestors, indeed of all our original ancestors.
They wear you proudly, bemused to see one of their own where you are. They celebrate you as a history maker.
This letter calls you to change history for the better in Africa, now.
You will have heard about the Mali crisis.
I’ll spare you the history - you will have been informed and its complex, blame is everywhere. It’s a dark story of drugs and mafia, of secret services playing regional power games, of kidnap and ransom, resource control, the war on terror and the Arab Spring, of colonisation and de-colonisation and re-colonisation and desperate rebellion of an ancient people whose land is being used for this battleground.
I know, you’ve glazed over but here’s the good bit:
the solution could be really simple but only you can deliver it.
There is another solution - very complex, a papering over of the cracks only to return again in later years with more force.
The way this world is I'm sure the latter will be adopted, so this is an attempt to get you to take the reigns, deliver something real and lasting and profound for the people of Africa and the world.
For the simple solution all that is required is a simple phone call.
What could be achieved?
Right now, with very little effort, without even a troop being needed on the ground, for these boys' future you could:
- defeat extremist islamist banditry, ideology and terrorism in the Sahara and the Sahel of Africa.
- put an end to the main artery of the drugs smuggling from South America to Europe and cut off a major route for human and contraband trafficking from Africa to Europe.
- give back control of the land to the indigenous people.
- re-unite a nation
- securing for yourself access to new oil fields - yes sorry its that dirty word again, but it is again behind everything - funny that but hey it would be yours to exploit but this time you’d have the thanks and good will of a nation you will have liberated from sharia law, division and possible civil war.
AND all you have to do to achieve all this is make a phone call to Algeria.
Your phone call
First you call in the Algerian Ambassador to the US and tell him that you need to speak to his real boss. He’ll mention the President. You say, no the REAL boss. Wink at him - he’ll know what you mean. If he stalls, grab his balls and say “The God of Algeria!”
He’ll put you through to the boss of the Algerian Secret Service, the DRS - a General Mediene. As you will know from your CIA briefings, they control everything: AQMI, Ansar Dine, MUJAO - their intelligence, their supply lines, their arms.
You tell him the game plan is changing.
You then tell him the phoney war on terror in Africa is over.
He’ll scream back: “But we had a deal - AFRICOM! You can’t do that!”
You say, with your Clint best: “Yes We Can. That was “W” time, this is my time.”
See him quiver!
He’ll be in a bit of shock at this stage. Kick him while he's down.
You go on. You tell him to call off the troops or you are going in. This is your trump card. If you come into the fray Algeria lose control of the situation.
Tell him instability in the north of Mali is no longer in the US’s interests.
He’ll bring up Algeria’s oil.
The DRS - through its agents, the so called islamist groups:AQMI, MUJAO and Ansar Dine. They are all really different disguises of the same thing. They control the north of Mali, and so the oil. Algeria let them loose on the back of the MNLA Tuareg rebellion because it could not fathom an independent Azawad with the Tuareg in control of the oil.
The oil in Mali is linked to the oil in Algeria, but Mali’s beds are lower than Algeria’s. So whoever controls Mali’s oil controls Algerian oil. Mali is ready to exploit. Once they start drilling Algeria will be out of oil in a year they say.
Thus Algeria is interested in chaos in the Mali desert, serving two purposes: control of the oil produced, control and destroy the Tuareg autonomy aspirations. Why? It is their own Tuareg who also live on Algeria’s valuable land.
To encourage him to dismantle his life’s work you could say you still want to buy their oil but if they want to go elsewhere for buyers that is fine, you are sure the Mali government would be delighted to do business on their new oil fields. You’d be drinking Algeria dry anyway goddam it! I reckon he’ll keep you on board.
And that’s it. That should do it. Cut the line of supply, cut off the puppets strings and you’re done.
You will of course then have to help the relevant forces on the ground - a mix of Mali, ECOWAS and MNLA - to get the thugs out of town, but once Algeria are on side this is just a technicality. They'd be out of the towns in days. Once in the desert the MNLA Tuareg rebels will finsih them off.
Why the US?
Firstly because you are not France
Second because you personally are who you are.
Thirdly because if it is EU, this means France.
(Ok what is my problem with France? Oh that would take a book! Suffice to say France is the former colonial power with all the tensions that involves. They set up the nations of the region under the principle of divide and rule, and it is the consequences of this that are playing out now. They have too much interest in the uranium and oil, their relationship with Algeria is very complicated and they have no credibility in the region for any of the parties you need on side, for the reasons above. If France gets involved, an already complicated situation gets 10 times worse.)
So far they have launched two very odd attacks ridiculously to rescue hostages and both have ended in disaster all round and they have killed their own hostages, on purpose I am sure but let’s not go there... They will and can only bodge things up and piss on the region as they’ve always done.
Why not just UN/ECOWAS?
A UN mandate will probably mean ECOWAS troops. The Malian army, the remnants of government and the MNLA rebels, the elements that are needed onside to resolve this crisis, do not trust ECOWAS to resolve the situation, and the people do not want them if it is them alone.The problem for ECOWAS is that it is made up of all the neighbouring nations who all have similar issues in their own countries to those of Mali. They are therefore not looking at the Mali situation alone, and consequently will not be making decisions based on how best to help Mali, but on how best to further their own country’s interests.
Niger for instance has a very similar Tuareg/northern problem because of the uranium being mined in the Air Mountains. Chaos in the north of Mali keeps their issues off the agenda. They may not have an interest in a Mali of federal regions.
The Tuareg have to be heard and brought onside and be a major part of the solution for any peace to be lasting. They are the big victims in all this.
From the outset of the Mali crisis your government’s words on the evolving situation have made one critical mistake of understanding. You have always linked the Tuareg rebels and the islamists as though they were fighting together or for similar aims. They have have totally opposed aims.
The Tuareg seek secular autonomy; the so called "islamists" are first and foremost controllers of the drugs and cigarettes and human trafficing, secondly Algerian agents and only thirdly jihadist pretenders seeking sharia law throughout Mali.
But tell me - where has Islam ever condoned hostage taking for ransom, or drugs and cigarettes smuggiling, or the kidnap of children from their families? They say they don't even want an independent state to impose their sharia, they want to just go on and take the whole of Mali. No they don't, they just want chaos. But the "jihad", the islamism, is a front - and oppose any sense of desert autonomy. Why? Because they are really working for Algeria, so why would they really want to go as far as having their own state? They just want chaos.
The Tuareg are a people of the desert first, muslim second. They are a secular people. Their islam is important to them of course and it directs their society, but it does not form the base of their identity.
The Tuareg have always been the guardians of the desert, protecting travellers and connecting north and south. They just want to live their life, free in their desert where nobody else can or wants to live. They want to go back to how their life was 10, even 5 years ago, where 95% of their external income came from tourism.
Perhaps their distinction between their Islam and their culture is illustrated by the fact that it is their women who go open faced and it is the men that cover their faces out of respect.
Tuareg women have always held a very equal and strong position in Tuareg society. The tent belongs to the woman and stays with her and the children in divorce.
These so called “islamists” - the term is terrible, they are mafia, these people have nothing to do with islam, odd how they never came out with any of this sharia stuff before, and where does Islam condone drugs and cigarettes running, kidnaping of tourists for money (not even jihad)? - have been imposed on the Tuareg people of northern Mali since 2003 when Algeria created AQMI for their own Al Qaeda franchise, with the sanction of the US who wanted lots of bogeymen at the time (just before we all went into Iraq!)
They have destroyed the Tuareg economy that relied heavily on tourism, and for the time being have destroyed their way of life. It is the Tuareg who are refugees, the Tuareg who are exiled and looking down the barrel of cultural annihilation.
Hillary Clinton’s speech to the Secretary General meeting on the Sahel.
It was good to see Hilary Clinton talking forcefully about the Mali crisis, but she revealed some worrying misunderstandings. She said that there needed to be a restoration of the democratic process before things could move forward and called for elections in April.
It was the failure of the democratic process, the corruption of government and President Amadou Toumani Toure’s personal involvement in all the above that sparked the coup d’etat. Malians were looking at a situation where their president was sending in badly equipped troops to give up their lives against opponents with whom he had personal, family and political ties. His hands were covered in muck.
With the situation as it is, elections are the last thing that Mali needs. The mafia "islamists" cannot be contained through democracy, and their eviction has to happen before any elections can take place. On that the country is united.
She also talked of restoring the rule of law. Miraculously, despite having no government, southern Mali is calm and there has been very little civil unrest. This proves that the roots of the crisis and the main influences are foreign not local.
She also said that the "violent extremists" had allowed drugs trafficers space to operate. No - the drugs traficers have been there a long time, with a lot of official knowledge and support. It is they who became AQMI, MUJAO, ANSAR DINE. They are all one and the same.
She goes on: " We have to train the security forces in Mali, help them dislodge the extremists, protect human rights, and defend borders."
This is disingenuous. Your AFRICOM force has had a presence in Mali since 2003, when all this charade began, supposedly to do exactly this and monitor the AL Qaeda situation and train the Malian army to deal with the situation. The Mali garrison at Aguelhoc, closest to AQMI camp, was attacked at the beginning of the Mali crisis. The military were massacred as they didnt even have bullets. Your guys were not doing a good job of training the military to protect their country! Back in 2009, when the issue of whether there were all these terrorists in the region as the US were claiming first arose, I asked an eminent Tuareg elder if there really were "terrorists". He replied: "Yes there are terrorists. I call them the American terrorists. They came when the Americans came and they serve American interests - our oil."
She ends: "Ultimately, our perspective is that strengthening democratic institutions must be at the heart of our counterterrorism strategy. It is democracies that offer their citizens constructive outlets for political grievances, create opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity, and are clear alternatives to violent extremism."
Sadly the western model of democracy as imposed on Africa at independence does not provide an outlet for political grievances, or create opportunities for upward mobility in minority ethnicities, as the majority ethnicity will always be able to control access and funds.
The Tuareg are under 10% of the Malian population, but live on 50% of the land. It is the failure of democratic structures to equitably represent minority ethnicities' concerns that has caused many of Africa's problems. In Mali, it is exactly this failure which has been at the root of the 5 Tuareg rebellions since independence.
And she says: "We are expanding our work with civil society organizations in specific terrorist hotspots – particular villages, prisons, and schools – trying to disrupt the process of radicalization by creating jobs, promoting religious tolerance, amplifying the voices of the victims of terrorism.".
If she is referring to Mali on this I'm afraid that is the Hollywood version. I've never seen or heard of anything of the kind.
YES YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU OWE IT TO THESE BOYS