Middle East > Algeria

Mali Collapse: Libyan Blowback Edition


Sign of things to come?

The West African nation of Mali is on the verge of collapse following a military coup in late March that ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré. A coup, on its own, of course, is not a sufficient condition for the collapse of a country. But there is also an Islamist insurgency in Mali. The AFP reports:

Armed Islamists stormed the Algerian consulate in northeastern Mali and abducted seven diplomats Thursday amid fears Al Qaeda-linked fighters are turning the country into a rogue state and fuelling a humanitarian crisis.

USAID, which has been involved in Mali since 1961, had this to say about the recent democracy's prospects, which as of post time is still on their site

Since holding its first democratic election in 1992, Mali has become one of the most enlightened democracies in Africa. In 2012, Mali is expected to hold its fifth generation of presidential and legislative elections.

The military coup in Mali came just a month before the presidential election scheduled for April 29. President Touré was not seeking re-election.

Where did the Tuareg rebels overrunning Mali suddenly come from? Libya. The ethnically Berber fighters were used by Colonel Moammar Khadafi during his 40+ year rule in Libya, and were displaced after the Western-backed insurgency toppled Khadafi's government.  The Tuareg rebels had to travel the Saharan expanse across Algeria to get to Mali, where they are now declaring independence.

Algeria's state press agency, meanwhile, reports that General Carter Ham, head of Africacom and Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson visited top Algerian officials Wednesday to talk about counter-terrorism on the African continent.

The dispersal of Libyan weaponry and rebels has long been a concern so Mali's young democracy is unlikely to be the only victim in the aftermath of the Libya intervention.

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  1. Has anything decent come of the Arab Spring yet?

    1. Has anything decent come of low fat diet yet?

      Nope, neither.

      1. Not coincidentally, both are opposed to bacon.

        1. Bacon is good. Bacon is wise!

    2. Spreading democracy!
      Because prudent foreign policy demands giving the popular vote to anti-American populations.

    3. Ghadaffi dead.
      Mubarak in prison.
      Tunisia seems to be working slightly than expected.

      1. *slightly better* (at least compared to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, etc.)

  2. So how exactly did Tuareg fighters who supported the regime of Khadafi in Libya magically turn into “Al Qaeda linked fighters?” And how were they able to turn “one of Africa’s most enlightened democracies” into a “rogue state?”

    Is there a little hyperbole at work at AFP?

    1. Al Qaeda is everywhere, hiding under rocks, in the tall grass, and even in your basement.

      1. Nah, I mixed up a batch of DDT down there and nothing’s lived there since.

    2. So how exactly did Tuareg fighters who supported the regime of Khadafi in Libya magically turn into “Al Qaeda linked fighters?”

      I can think of a couple of scenarios. They were AQ sympathizers/affiliates before they took the job with Kquaddafhi, or, following his loss, they hooked up with AQ, which has always had a presence in the region.

      And how were they able to turn “one of Africa’s most enlightened democracies” into a “rogue state?”

      By conducting a coup?

      And how were they able to turn “one of Africa’s most enlightened democracies” into a “rogue state?”

      1. The coup wasn’t conducted by the Tuareg rebells, but by the non-Tuareg army.

      2. AQ existed there in Mali before the influx of arms and Taureg fighters. They worked together, not out of ideaological affinity but usually kinship ties and common interests. Now the Islamist group, Ansar Dine, has turned on the NLMA group and has control of at least a couple cities. So this is not media hype. In any event Mali’s neighbors are not having any of this and will intervene probably with France’s help. I expect France (an *actual* imperialist) to be hips deep here.

        1. They also seem to be better at the whole imperialist thing. Compare their intervention in the Ivory Coast with the average US intervention.

        2. So we’ll be going in to bail them out of the horrible mess they’ve gotten themselves into in just a few short months?

    3. The evidence was already clear as day for anyone to see in Libya — but it wasn’t reported except for a few outlets:
      Al Qaeda flag right on the Benghazi courthouse. How do you think they were able to declare that the new constitution is based on Sharia law? I bet some of their unknowing citizens who fought are surprised and disappointed, much like in Egypt (there is a real divide among the people there, with a minority–all young college educated who want liberalization; that’s what you get for asking for a “democracy”)

      In fact, Ron Paul called it in March 28, 2011:

      “Gaddafi may well be every bit the “bad guy” we are told he is, but who are the rebels we are assisting? Do we have any clue? Will they bring freedom and prosperity to Libya if they are victorious? We might like to hope so, but the fact is, we don’t know. Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, explained in a recent article that there is plausible reason to believe the rebels are current or former Islamist mujahedin, eager to engage in jihad.

      Indeed, Gaddafi has fought against Libyan Islamists for years and is seen by them as a bitter enemy. Astoundingly, it may well be that we are assisting al Qaeda in this new war!”

      1. Ron Paul did not call it (as usual on FP). There has been very little Islamist stuff going on in post-revolutionary Libya, the Libyan rebels were fighting against these Tauregs, and these Tauregs are secular. The Islamists are a separate group in Mali called Ansar Dine and they are turning on the Taureg group. They cannot be allowed to establish a terror state.

        1. There has been very little Islamist stuff going on in post-revolutionary Libya,

          Hmm. Let’s hope you’re right. But there’s this:

          Experts believe the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organised political force and could emerge as the leading political player in Libya after Gaddafi, who harshly suppressed Islamists during his 42 years in autocratic power.

          . . .

          The chairman of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, promised in October to uphold Islamic law. “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” he said.


    4. Two separate groups, sometimes working together.

  3. There’s no consequence like an unintended consequence.

    1. If you were warned about the consequence, is it still unintended?

      1. Consequences that are foreseen are not unintended. One of RC’s Iron Lawz

        1. I wonder if WI still thinks so well of living close to nature after the DFW tornadoes?

          1. Having lived through a tornado myself, I will say that they DO get your full attention.

            1. Yessir, they certainly do! They even get the full attention of people like Tim Samaras.

          2. Given that they struck DFW (not exactly a place in a pristine state of nature), I doubt it changes anyone’s opinion.

        2. More like a rusted out law.

          It tickles the ears but makes no sense.

          If I shoot a mugger who comes at me with a knife, does that mean I intended to make his wife a widow and his kids orphans?

          1. Foreseeable consequences, Evil One.

            If you didn’t know he had a wife and kids, maybe not.

            But, if you knew he did, then you knew that killing him would make his wife a widow, etc. If you intended to kill him, then I don’t see how you can say you didn’t intend to make his wife a widow and his kids orphans.

            1. I disagree. Merely being foreseeable does not make a consequence an intended one.

              Using the mugger example, suppose I didn’t even intend to kill him. I tried to shoot him in the leg, but he lurched forward and tried to grab the gun, so instead he was shot in the heart. When I pulled the trigger, I knew that could happen, so it was foreseeable. I didn’t want that to happen, so his death, the widowing of his wife and the orphaning of his kids were all unintended.

              Likewise, Obama intended to get Obamacare passed. One of the consequences was that the Republicans took control of the House in the next election. Given the law’s unpopularity that seems like a foreseeable consequence to me. OTOH, I am pretty sure it was unintended.

              (BTW, with registration, is the 900 character limit gone?)

  4. Yes, because, undoubtably, the fate of African shitholes is of concern to Americans, and a sphere the federal government of the United States should totally involve itself in.

    Isolationism almost destroyed America, you know!

  5. Libyan intervention was a bad idea, but this is not primarily at fault for the Mali chaos. Gaddhafi is many times more responsible for the arming and training of these Tauregs, and the ousted Malian president bears some blame for doing a terrible job of fighting them.

    1. I seriously doubt the govt of a desperately poor country like Mali has the military resources to deal with an oil-funded fighting force, which is essentially what the Tuaregs are/were.

  6. There are good arguments for stability. Was no longer being under the boot of the USSR worth the ethnic wars of the former Yugoslavia? I don’t know. That’s for the former Yugoslavians to decide.

    I don’t like to make other people’s moral judgements for them, but I will say this: if I were a Libyan who wanted freedom from Gaddafi’s thugs, and someone argued to me during the rebellion that toppling Gaddafi was something we shouldn’t pursue–because it might displace fighters to Mali and destabilize the government there? I would have thought that argument was ridiculous.

    1. Libya’s not doing much better, Ken.

    2. Was no longer being under the boot of the USSR worth the ethnic wars of the former Yugoslavia?

      OMFG Ken. You are not allowed to comment on anything related to the Cold War ever again. Yugoslavia had a very tenuous relationship with the USSR after the 1950s, and was already beginning to fall to pieces years before the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

      1. Yeah, so obviously the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the massive failure that was communism had nothing to do with the subsequent disintegration of Yugoslavia, is that what we’re supposed to think?

        You wanna say they weren’t technically under the USSR? Fine. The point stands that whether whatever the former Yugoslavia has gained since its breakup was worth all the suffering isn’t a judgement for me to make–it’s a judgement for the former Yugoslavians. But having paid such a terrible price for whatever progress they’ve made, I would be highly suspicious of the suggestion that they’d rather go back to an authoritarian dictator again.

        Libya’s not doing much better, Ken.

        Again, whether they do well or poorly, it’s hard to imagine average Libyans wanting to go back to the days of Gaddafi, isn’t it?

        Just like it’s hard to imagine the former Yugoslavians wishing they could go back under the boot of some authoritarian regime…

        Incidentally, as bad as things were during the American Civil War, do you imagine the American people regretted winning the American Revolution?

        That’s how I imagine the people of Libya probably feel–and will continue to do so. Like I said, I’m not here to morally judge the people of Libya, but assuming they’re so pathetic they’d prefer the vicious dictator they had to having a chance to chart their own course now? That’s assuming the worst of them, too.

        1. Yugoslavia’s civil war was a breakup of a put-together country into the separate parts that were ethnically and religiously different. It was not about communism vs. democracy. Rather, it was about Serbs in power attempting to gather more power and wealth for Serbia at the expense of Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians, Montenegrans, and other small ethnic minority groups. The excluded ethnic groups, which were mainly in provinces that had been independent from Serbia before WWII, revolted. Croatia and Slovenia allied and fought Serbia to a standstill. Bosnia was smaller and had a substantial Serbian minority population. They didn’t fare very well in the war.

  7. …Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson visited top Algerian officials Wednesday to talk about counter-terrorism on the African continent.

    The Swami always knows the answer.

  8. If we don’t fight them in Mali, pretty soon we’ll be fighting them in Massachusetts and Montana. Or something like that.

    The real question is why anyone would want to take over Mali.

    1. I’ve always wanted to go to Mali.

      Festival in the Desert!




    2. The University of Sankore! It’s a world wonder in CIv IV.

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