Sunday, January 20, 2013

Battle against Islamists in Mali won’t be easy

By CHEGE MBITIRU

Routing Islamists from Mali and restoring legitimate political authority and the country’s territorial integrity, as France says, isn’t going to be Sunday school affair, when and if it happens.

Already, eleven days since French President Francois Hollande sent troops to stymie the Islamists’ march to Mali’s capital, Bamako, losers are evident.

They are Mali’s political leadership, the United States, the Economic Community of West African States, and Mali’s northwest neighbour, Algeria.

The African Union, AU— everything —gentlemen and ladies—doesn’t feature among the losers.

The AU remains as active as the Dodo. Once upon a time, the bird lived in Mauritius, an AU member state, courtesy of the Indian Ocean.

Mali’s political leadership’s infamy climaxed when some Tuaregs nationalists resumed, late in 2010, an on-and-off rebellion.

The Bamako rulers’ failure to adequately respond led to last March coup. President Toumani Toure ethereal democratic rule ended.

The ensuing power vacuum opened a flood gate in northern Mali to Tuareg fighters. Some were armed with weapons—multiple rocket launchers and all—in an apparently, but planned thievish plan support for the slain Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. He turned out to be a Paper Tiger.

However, it would be myopic to discount “ladies and gentlemen of virtue” in “justice-peace-democracy-love for humanity-gods-environment” mob in moneyed world capitals and “luxurious hamlets in jungles” of the world. They have been “kissing” profitable financial statements.

Quick to capitalise on instability, Islamists, this time the predominantly Malian-dominated Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, joined the battle.

The latter would turn against the Tuaregs and begin their march to establishing Sharia rule, first in Mali, West Africa and, Inch Allah, the world.

It’s worthy of note the 15-member, ECOWAS, first mooted use of military force to restore civilian rule in Mali. Coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo halfway agreed. Nonetheless, current Malian leadership is a bikini-clad cheer team.

In the weekend, ECOWAS leaders were in Cote d’Ivoire to, yet again, “in the spirit of brother and sisterhood” help our “Malians and sisters.” (Read: West African bloc seeks urgent UN aid for Mali force)

In the meantime, “Will you check my…you know…”

That’s why planning for military and diplomatic solutions remain perennial.

In fairness, may people worldwide recognized the potential dangers of the worst of humanity roaming and killing in the Saharan dunes, wadis, skies and oasis in the name of “I believe. I think. Allah Almighty, said…” et cetera.

Give the devil his due. The US, according to a New York Times report, spent “between $520 and and 600 million” in an effort to combat Islamist militancy in western Africa. The Malian army was the “Poster Baby.” It’s now ethereal.

Algerian authorities, The Washington Post reports, have been grudging cooperation with other nations to combat Islamists in Western Africa.

Well, the Islamists paid them a visit with murderous attack of a gas plant near Libya’s border. Diplomatic rows remain galore.

Mr Hollande is busy looking for fig leafs to legitimise his country’s intervention. He at least remembers, maybe intuitively, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn common sense: Jim, if we are going to hell, we might as well go the whole hog.

(cmbitiru@hotmail.com)