Reports of Atrocities Committed or Encouraged By Malian Forces Continue as Islamic Militants Lose Ground

French and Malian forces have managed to expel Islamic militants from many of the urban areas they captured since the beginning of the conflict in northern Mali. The retreat of Islamic militants is, as I noted last week, a sign that the conflict is probably about to change and not a sign that it is coming to an end. Although many Islamist fighters have been dislodged from their strongholds some of the Malian soldiers that are supported by the French military are reportedly conducting or encouraging atrocities.

There have been reports of Malian soldiers targeting Arabs and Tuaregs in reprisal attacks, sometimes recruiting locals to commit abuses that include summary executions, lootings, and lynchings.

The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into alleged crimes in Mali since January 2012, a move that was welcomed by the Untied Nations’ anti-genocide envoy. 

The abuse at the hands of Malian soldiers is the latest illustration of how more delicate the situation in Mali will likely become. Islamic militants could soon begin a guerrilla war against French and Malian soldiers while some Malian soldiers engage in the sort of atrocities the French-led intervention was supposed to stop.

The French, who have pledged to stay in Mali until sovereignty is restored, are working with a military that is either incapable or unwilling to stop its soldiers from committing atrocities while Islamic militants regroup.

The French-led intervention has succeeded in removing Islamic militants from many captured areas. However, while the military aspect of the intervention has so far been a success the humanitarian situation leaves much to be desired.

There are more troops set to enter Mali. Some troops from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) are already in Mali, and many more are scheduled to arrive soon. It is too early to tell if thousands of new troops in Mali will have any impact on the alleged abuses being conducted by some soldiers in the Malian army or if they will be capable of repelling Islamic militants if they regroup and begin using guerrilla tactics.

The French might soon be regretting their commitment to staying in Mali until there is political stability. What might have seemed initially to be a quick military operation could turn into a long commitment in partnership with a military that has done little to demonstrate discipline.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Look, war isn't pretty okay? And you have to admit it's better to have summary executions, lootings, and lynchings by non-Muslims right? I mean we can all agree on that.

  • affenkopf||

    The summary executions, lootings, and lynchings are still done by Muslims, just less religious ones.

  • John||

    The French might soon be regretting their commitment to staying in Mali until there is political stability. What might have seemed initially to be a quick military operation could turn into a long commitment in partnership with a military that has done little to demonstrate discipline.

    Or maybe they won't. I don't know and neither does Freeney. That is New York Times level bullshit speculation. That is just a sorry effort.

  • Virginian||

    Suppressing an insurrection takes professionalism, patience, and dedication bordering on ruthlessness.

    An alliance of the French and Malian militaries will not be able to accomplish that goal. Best thing to do is declare victory and go home.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Yeah, where did he ever get the idea that foreign interventions could possibly turn into protracted morally dubious quagmires?

  • John||

    Maybe they do. But that says nothing about this intervention. That is just bullshit speculation. He doesn't offer a single fact to support this. It is just a collection of I guess wishful thinking.

  • Virginian||

    How many times does an occupation of a Muslim country have to turn into a nasty drawn out guerrilla war before it becomes common knowledge?

  • Calidissident||

    Note his use of words like "might" and "could"

  • Lyle||

    Feeney seems to hate the fact that standing up for liberty has a blood cost.

    It's amazing how many Reason writers lack the ability to reason. Feeney needs to go back to school and read more history.

    His articles are a disservice to cause of liberty.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Is the Foreign Legion involved?

  • Gladstone||

    Did an Indian Maharaj buy a sapphire?

  • Pro Libertate||

    You jest.

  • ||

    Shocking, just shocking. Who'd uh thunk it?

    At least they arent eating each other......yet.

  • db||

    On the bright side, the blowback will be against the Malian troops committing the atrocities, and not their Western enablers, right? Right?

  • Ranter||

    Obviously, France's new, enlightened socialist leader is just as stupid as all their other leaders (and ours too).

    On a side note - i'm really digging that camo pattern in the photo. Wonder if it's for sale anywhere?

  • DJF||

    Wow, this is a surprise, who would think that war and atrocities would happen together. War is usually such a nice form of mass killing.

  • mr lizard||

    I guess atrocities taste better with a side of croissants. I guess we should have brought a giant BBQ with our occupations.... Oh wait, oops.

  • Not an Economist||

    Blowback is blowback ... for both sides.

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