By Mark P. Fancher. Mark is an attorney who writes frequently about the U.S. military presence in Africa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. As usual the posting of this article does not imply 100% endorsement or agreement.
West Africa teeters on the brink of disaster because of an armed conflict in Mali that escalated after a Tuareg secessionist movement gained control of northern regions in the country. The situation became even more intense when, according to reports, the armed movement was hijacked by extremist elements that are alleged to have used torture and mutilation to enforce what is purported to be Islamic law. These extremist forces are also accused of having connections to terrorist formations.
Although the situation in Mali is rooted in a claimed desire for self-determination for the region that secessionists call “Azawad,” there are no doubt many outside of Mali regard it as yet another conflict between Arab and/or Islamic communities and “blacks.” A BBC News report stated: “The pale-skinned Tuaregs, who inhabit northern Mali, have long complained of neglect and discrimination by the government dominated by [southerners] in far-off Bamako.” The story reports that a Malian arson victim complained of retaliation for the Tuareg insurrection. “People started attacking anything Tuareg. They burnt houses, cars and attacked anyone with white skin – even Arabs.” Read the rest of this entry