from what i can tell, the military seized power from the president, amadou toure, because of how he handled an insurgency that took place in the northern reaches of the country. tuaregs returning from their role in the libyan conflict, both for and against the "revolution", brought a lot of libyan and american weapons with them and have been fighting a battle for independence against the malian government. apparently, they were pretty successful, controlling up to a third of the country at their peak. there have been a series of tuareg uprisings since the end of the colonial period in the 1960s, since the tuareg population was split between several countries with little regard for their traditional homeland or lifestyle. this just happens to be the most successful one so far since they have access to heavier weapons now.
this is reflected in a lot of the coup's rhetoric, they talk about "restoring democracy" as soon as "national unity is restored", which means basically that there was no confidence that toure was going to take necessary steps to brutalize the tuareg into submission.
this shouldnt come as a surprise but the coup has not disrupted normal "business" relations. randgold resources, a major mining corporation, mines 70% of its gold from mali and has already made pacts with the new government to continue their resource exploitation ventures there.
there are all sorts of unanswered questions here. the biggest one is why mali was being upheld as a model of african democracy, and why the state department has condemned the coup. would it be safe to say that "democracy" is code for "compliant with foreign investors" in this case, as in so many others? hopefully everyone will get real excited and whoop it up in this thread and give their insights about this interesting development in african politics.
Edited by bonclay ()
there are all sorts of unanswered questions here. the biggest one is why mali was being upheld as a model of african democracy, and why the state department has condemned the coup.
these are not unanswered questions
The modern state of Mali emerged in 1960, when its imperial plunderers ceased to formally govern the country. However, outside interference and exploitation continue to increase unabated up to the present day. The national bonds of Mali have been fragile since its creation. Tuaregs in the north, representing a good tenth or so of the population, have vigorously resisted attempts at integration into the structure of the Malian state, and their campaign has grown more and more successful over the years. They scoff at the idea that Mali's northern border disputes will ever be resolved, given the incompatibility of rigid state borders with their lifestyle. The battle of the army of Mali against the Tuaregs has provided a pretext for military cooperation between the Mali government and other nations, such as Algeria and the United States.
The first iteration of Malian government, led by Modibo Keita, was developmentalist in character, organized around the creation of a state-governed cotton industry. However, in 1968, the fledgling popular government was overthrown by military coup. In 1981, under the military leadership of General Moussa Traore, Mali was a test case for the IMF structural adjustment program, a move which hobbled the Malian economy. This meant that the vanishingly small part of the development budget which went to infrastructure development in the North--17%--was decreased by new fiscal constraints. Even when military rule ended, democracy was ostensibly restored, and infrastructure spending in the north shot up to 48%, Mali was saddled with a 3 billion dollar debt. 60% of its fiscal receipts went towards debt servicing. Meanwhile, life for the Tuaregs worsened as a series of droughts disrupted their pastoralist lifestyle and forced some of them to seek a bare-bones survival in the cities. Large parts of the north of Mali are Saharan desert, and any disruption in the water supply means death. Gaddafi's Libya also absorbed a large population of Tuareg
Mali's economy is largely export-driven and relies on a few main industries: agricultural exports(mostly cotton), gold mining(an industry which employs up to 40,000 children), iron mining, and outside development money. 80% of people in the country are employed in agriculture. Many of these people's livelihoods are under threat by the plundering of the land and water by private industries. The state formally owns all the land in Mali, and has used this as a pretext to become a sort of land dealer, giving 50-year leases to outside investors like Libya, China, and Senegal. This development plans disrupt the fragile balance of survival that many Malian people depend on; there are no environmental impact studies done, cattle routes are disrupted, land is expropriated and homes flattened in exchange for a few hundred dollars. It is interesting to note that many of these development projects were being funded by the "Malibya" development corporation and paid for the largesse of the Libyan state under Gaddafi. I do not have any information on the effect that NTC rule in Libya will have on these development initiatives.
For the 162,000 hectares of land deals approved for allocation thus far – 0.6 % of Mali’s cultivable land, according to the FAO – the government will be paid 292 million dollars by investors from Libya, the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the US-funded Millennium Challenge Account
Those responsible within the government maintain that the country could not make use of this cultivatable land without foreign investment, but local farmers state that they are afraid of being chased off their ancestral land and of becoming ‘landless’ like farmers in Brazil.
War on Terror, War on Tuaregs
I mentioned in the OP that Toure was overthrown for not being "proactive" enough, in the eyes of the Malian military, in fighting off the MNLA, which had taken control of about a third of the country and was advancing on cities in the Niger River area. This was sort of close to the truth, but the fuller story seems a lot more complicated.
First of all, the Mali military is not only fighting Tuaregs, although they make up the bulk of the resistance. Another important faction is the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb(AQIM), a group of combat veterans coming out of the Algerian Civil War and formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. Like most of the "al Qaeda" that the US quixotically chases after, its connection to any sort of greater organization is tenuous outside of the coincidental name. Ayman al-Zawahiri only formally inducted AQIM in the al Qaeda fold in 2006. The more relevant connection would be to the Afghan War against the Soviets; many leaders in AQIM are alumni of this US Mujahideen training program.
The US State Department gave Mali 5 million dollars and sent in 300 'military advisors' under the pretense of fighting AQIM. Mali's military budget is about 70 million dollars and their national budget is about 1.5 billion dollars.
The US government has worried that the turmoil in Algeria would spread across the Sahara into places such as Mali. In 2002, the Bush administration set up the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which became, in 2005, the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative (and later Partnership, the TSCTP). The point was to take the military forces from the seven 'willing' Saharan countries and train them to fight their various foes, some of whom might be offshoots of al-Qaeda (AQIM, however, was not formed till 2006, when this military interchange was already fairly advanced). With the trans-Sahel project, the US government put in US$500 million over five years, mainly for military hardware, as if the militaries of Ghana and Nigeria, which joined up, need more funds.
Although, the State Department is not the only one involved; from April to June this year, 300 US Special Forces 'advisers' trained the Malian military at three of its bases. These Sahelian initiatives are now run through AFRICOM, the US African Command, set up in October 2007. It operates a programme called 'Joint Task Force Aztec Silence'. The Cowboys are playing Cortés in the desert. The 'silence' after Aztec is chilling.
The battle with the Tuaregs, as mentioned previously, has been ongoing since the inception of the Malian state, taking place in three major waves, starting in 1962, 1990, and 2006. The new commitment to development in the North that led to such an increase in infrastructure spending was a response to the 1990 rebellion, which President Alpha Oumar Konaré realized could not be solved through military means. The 2006 rebellion, handled by Toure, was similarly met with insincere promises of increased development laid out in the Algiers Accord. Hopes for peace were dashed in 2009 when the military moved to kill Tuareg leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, who was not part of the Algiers Accord.
Since then, Toure had been biding his time, waiting for more counterterrorism funding to come in from the US to fight "the al-Qaeda threat" before making his move. As long as he kept up the pretense of helping Washington's insane, misguided crusade against anything that calls itself al-Qaeda, he could expect his forces to steadily grow until they were ready to subjugate all Tuareg resistance.
Touré is playing a double game: he has pledged to start a 'total struggle' against the terrorists, but won't release his troops unless they are better equipped and trained by the United States. It wants air power (a reminder of the time when the Italians bombed the Berber with the view that the bombs 'had a wonderful effect on the morale of the Arabs', according to the Italian air commandante in charge of the 1911 operation). Touré is using the AQIM threat to consolidate his power, and to bring in the cash. More money is on offer for counterterrorism than for development.
Coup and Beyond
Apparently, though, this game of waiting and attrition was not enough to assuage the fears of the Malian military. Toure's strategy was essentially crippled by the Libyan revolt, which empowered the Tuareg rebels with a new arsenal, an influx of battle-trained veterans from both sides of the Libyan civil war, and called into question the lucrative development deals Libya had been working out with Mali.
In a country that is being exploited on all sides by outsiders, a non-military solution to this intractable rebellion has been made impossible by the structural constraints on the Malian economy. The Malian military has made their intention clear: to solve the Tuareg problem once and for all with decisive violence and "restore democracy" once the Tuareg have been forced to submit. The Tuareg resistance is highly invigorated and extremely successful, though. I do not think the military solution will work in 2012 if it did not work in 1990. As early as one month ago, 130,000 people had been displaced by this war, and now wander lost, separated from their land, their homes, their families, their livestock.
The perfunctory US condemnation of this coup belies the role of the West in causing the conflict, from its decades-old training of AQIM leadership to the World Bank's crippling of Malian development through the SAP, from its massive grant to the Malian military at the expense of civil society to its patronization of a sham democracy whose corrupt liberal leaders allowed the country to be exploited at every turn.
Edited by blinkandwheeze ()
Atrocity: An insurance company with a bunch of papers what got ripped out of it and strewn about everywhere. War is hell.
So apparently the military has been looting and stealing in Bamako pretty indiscriminately, robbing gas stations and stores, hijacking cars. The official junta line is that people are putting on soldier's uniforms and doing this to discredit the new military government, which is... kind of a stretch, I guess.
-Apparently the number of people displaced by this conflict is up to 204,000.
-The coup's military objectives backfired. The MNLA advanced to Anefis in central northeastern Mali.
-AU has expelled Mali after the coup, France, China, Canada, the US, and Economic Community Of West African States(ECOWAS) have all condemned the coup.
-The US is threatening to pull out 70 million dollars in development money, but "direct aid to the population will continue."
-Mali is going through another drought right now, putting even more people at risk.
Before its ouster yesterday, Mali’s government accused the Touareg group, known by its French acronym MNLA, of working with al-Qaeda and regional drug traffickers.
Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, moving to other areas of Mali and to neighboring countries including Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger to escape the violence between the MNLA and the army and in fear of reprisal attacks, according to the International Red Cross. Their plight is worsening a food-security crisis that threatens 15 million people in seven countries, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Mali vies with Tanzania to be Africa’s third-biggest gold producer. Companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG), the world’s third-largest producer of the metal, and Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS), have operations in the country. Randgold’s shares closed 13 percent lower at 5,765 pence in London yesterday. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said the company’s mines are unaffected. Mali produced about 44 metric tons of gold in 2011.
The Taoudeni basin, where the MNLA is seeking autonomy, is thought to contain reserves of crude oil, according to Lassana Guindo, the national director of geology and mining. Petroplus Africa Ltd. and Simba Energy Inc. (SMB) are among the companies that have signed deals to search for crude in Mali. The basin has 25 oil blocks, with 13 under exploration, Guindo said on March 13.
Weapons and ammunition from Libyan stockpiles, including anti-aircraft artillery and explosives, were smuggled into Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, according to the report. Some of the estimated 2,000 Touareg rebels who have returned from Libya had been high-ranking officers in the Libyan army.
Mali was due to hold a presidential election on April 29, with Toure set to step down after serving two terms in office. The leader had vowed to quash the Touareg rebellion before next month’s vote.
The MNLA denied that it has any connection with al-Qaeda’s northwest African unit, according to its website. AQIM has taken responsibility for a rise in kidnappings in the vast region, including attacks in Algeria, Niger and Mauritania.
estimates have put AQIM membership at just 300.
In parts of landlocked Mali, especially in the north, as much as 70 percent of the population is facing “acute food insecurity” with a lack of drinking water and animal feed, said Souleymane Sana, assistant country director for Oxfam Novib, by phone from Bamako yesterday. Oxfam Novib’s program to distribute staple foods including sorghum and cooking oil has been suspended and staff have been told to stay at home, Sana said.
Edited by bonclay ()
In a move to counteract Chinese economic ascendancy, Washington is crusading against China's export restrictions on minerals that are crucial components in the production of consumer electronics such as flat-screen televisions, smart phones, laptop batteries, and a host of other products. In a 2010 white paper entitled “Critical Raw Materials for the EU,” the European Commission cites the immediate need for reserve supplies of tantalum, cobalt, niobium, and tungsten among others; the US Department of Energy 2010 white paper “Critical Mineral Strategy” also acknowledged the strategic importance of these key components. Coincidently, the US military is now attempting to increase its presence in what is widely considered the world’s most resource rich nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The DRC has suffered immensely during its history of foreign plunder and colonial occupation; it maintains the second lowest GDP per capita despite having an estimated $24 trillion in untapped raw minerals deposits. During the Congo Wars of the 1996 to 2003, the United States provided training and arms to Rwandan and Ugandan militias who later invaded the eastern provinces of the DRC in proxy. In addition to benefiting various multinational corporations, the regimes of Paul Kagame in Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda both profited immensely from the plunder of Congolese conflict minerals such as cassiterite, wolframite, coltan (from which niobium and tantalum are derived) and gold. The DRC holds more than 30% of the world's diamond reserves and 80% of the world's coltan, the majority of which is exported to China for processing into electronic-grade tantalum powder and wiring.
China’s unprecedented economic transformation has relied not only on consumer markets in the United States, Australia and the EU – but also on Africa, as a source for a vast array of raw materials. As Chinese economic and cultural influence in Africa expands exponentially with the symbolic construction of the new $200 million African Union headquarters funded solely by Beijing, the ailing United States and its leadership have expressed dissatisfaction toward its diminishing role in the region. During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton herself has irresponsibly insinuated China’s guilt in perpetuating a creeping “new colonialism.”
At a time when China holds an estimated $1.5 trillion in American government debt, Clinton’s comments remain dangerously provocative. As China, backed by the world’s largest foreign currency reserves, begins to offer loans to its BRICS counterparts in RMB, the prospect of emerging nations resisting the New American Century appear to be increasingly assured. While the success of Anglo-American imperialism relies on its capacity to militarily drive target nations into submission, today’s African leaders are not obliged to do business with China – although doing so may be to their benefit. China annually invests an estimated $5.5 billion in Africa, with only 29 percent of direct investment in the mining sector in 2009 – while more than half was directed toward domestic manufacturing, finance, and construction industries, which largely benefit Africans themselves – despite reports of worker mistreatment.
China has further committed $10 billion in concessional loans to Africa between 2009 and 2012 and made significant investments in manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as Zambia and Tanzania. As Africa’s largest trading partner, China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day, approximately accounting for 30 percent of its total imports. Over the past decade, 750,000 Chinese nationals have settled in Africa, while Chinese state-funded cultural centers in rural parts of the continent conduct language classes in Mandarin and Cantonese. As China is predicted to formally emerge as the world’s largest economy in 2016, the recent materialization of plans for a BRICS Bank have the potential to restructure the global financial climate and directly challenge the hegemonic conduct of the International Monetary Fund in Africa’s strategic emerging economies.
China’s deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications industry and much needed infrastructural projects is creating "deep nervousness" in the West, according to David Shinn, the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. In a 2011 Department of Defense whitepaper entitled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”, the US acknowledges the maturity of China’s modern hardware and military technology, and the likelihood of Beijing finding hostility with further military alliances between the United States and Taiwan. The document further indicates that “China’s rise as a major international actor is likely to stand out as a defining feature of the strategic landscape of the early 21st century.” Furthermore, the Department of Defense concedes to the uncertainty of how China’s growing capabilities will be administered on the world stage.
Although a US military presence in Africa (under the guise of fighting terrorism and protecting human rights) specifically to counter Chinese regional economic authority may not incite tension in the same way that a US presence in North Korea or Taiwan would, the potential for brinksmanship exists and will persist. China maintains the largest standing army in the world with 2,285,000 personnel and is working to challenge the regional military hegemony of America’s Pacific Century with its expanding naval and conventional capabilities, including an effort to develop the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile. Furthermore, China has moved to begin testing advanced anti-satellite (ASAT) and Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) weapons systems in an effort to bring the US-China rivalry into Space warfare.
The further consolidation of US presence in the region is part of a larger program to expand AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command through a proposed archipelago of military bases in the region. In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham offered the following on AFRICOM and its strategic objectives of "protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment." Additionally, during an AFRICOM Conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller openly declared AFRICOM’s guiding principle of protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,” before citing the increasing presence of China as a major challenge to US interests in the region.
The increased US presence in Central Africa is not simply a measure to secure monopolies on Uganda’s recently discovered oil reserves; Museveni’s legitimacy depends solely on foreign backers and their extensive military aid contributions – US ground forces are not required to obtain valuable oil contracts from Kampala. The push into Africa has more to do with destabilizing the deeply troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo and capturing its strategic reserves of cobalt, tantalum, gold and diamonds. More accurately, the US is poised to employ a scorched-earth policy by creating dangerous war-like conditions in the Congo, prompting the mass exodus of Chinese investors. Similarly to the Libyan conflict, the Chinese returned after the fall of Gaddafi to find a proxy government only willing to do business with the western nations who helped it into power.
As the US uses its influence to nurture the emergence of breakaway states like South Sudan, the activities of Somalia’s al Shabaab, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and larger factions of AQIM in North Africa offer a concrete pretext for further US involvement in regional affairs. The ostensible role of the first African-American US President is to export the theatresque War on Terror directly to the African continent, in a campaign to exploit established tensions along tribal, ethnic and religious lines. As US policy theoreticians such as Dr. Henry Kissinger, willingly proclaim, "Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World,” the vast expanse of desert and jungles in northern and central Africa will undoubtedly serve as the venue for the next decade of resource wars.
anyone who has any good historical background info on the Algerian civil war, AQIM, French Sudan(Mali in the colonial era), or Tuaregs, please feel free to contribute, i think it would help contextualize things.
also: holy shit, pow. i wasnt aware of the SotA-Sanogo connection, that adds a whole new dimension to this.
Edited by bonclay ()
The new iron ore mine is 20km from the capital, in the south west
As for africom, Isn't it something to be desired for African states to get militaries powerful enough so that the state can't be threatened from inside? I know it's worthless if it's just a vehicle for extraction royalties coups, but without a strong enough military to enforce the states existence, it cant ever move ahead as anything but that scary colonial spell raised skeleton that can only mine and raise cash crops. (It was given a pick and a hoe for arms) So isn't it possible that military aid is important in their evolution toward real statehood? I know the doctrine of the soviet union said something along those lines, The National Democratic State and all that. At least, after tons of infrastructure aid resulted in nothing but those coups.
It was like, do land reform, and we'll give you a bunch of tanks and artillery and teach you how to dougie, and industrialize.
Of course they realized that the military could easily take it another way, and so ideological training was really important. I 'm kind of losing my point, I guess I'm just saying that a state needs a military that can be used effectively enough to hold a monopoly on force, or it can't be a state at all.
It's so damn tempting to just take over and take the fruits of extraction for yourself, it really is a massive task to develop these countries into more than accessory economies, and safety is necessary. we need to break this damn world bank hell
if i was a well organized officer corps and i saw a bunch of al qaida nutballs in libya taking power under NATO's permissive gaze i would probably oust a flabby neocolonial government too
Yea yea me too!
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