Monday, 17 December 2012

Despite Arrest of Prime Minister, UN Plot to Invade Mali Advances

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Despite the arrest of “interim” Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra (pictured) in the capital of Mali by rebellious troops last week, and the subsequent resignation of his interim government, a United Nations-led invasion to support the embattled Malian regime in its bid to recapture the north appears to be moving forward. While previous plans may have to be shelved in light of the recent developments, the coalition plotting and lobbying for UN military intervention remains committed to seeing it through.

Officials expect approval for the UN scheme to come soon, with the actual invasion probably coming sometime next year, possibly as late as September. However, experts and analysts have long warned that the half-baked plot to invade Mali, supposedly on behalf of an unelected regime and foreign powers, could easily spark further tragedy — not to mention the financial cost, the tragic track record of UN military plots, and the lack of constitutional authority for the Obama administration to participate.   

The so-called “interim” government had ruled the southern region of Mali since April, after a rebellion in the north declared independence from the capital city of Bamako and a military coup d’état in the south unseated the previous government. That new, supposedly temporary authority has now collapsed — its leader, Prime Minister Diarra, arrested by soldiers at his home before being taken in front of TV cameras to publicly resign along with his whole government.

"Our country Mali is going through the most difficult period in its history," he said on TV. "During this time of crisis, the men and women of this country — uncertain of what is going to happen to their country — find themselves in an unfortunate situation. That's why I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, have resigned with all my government."

The arrest and apparently forced resignation were reportedly made at the demand of a U.S. government-trained coup leader named Amadou Sanogo, who led troops against the previous government earlier this year. Sanogo, who remains a powerful figure in Mali, surrendered part of his usurped authority to the “interim” government in April amid international pressure.

In the wake of the resignation, a new “interim prime minister,” Diango Cissoko, was appointed to form another “transitional government.” The new “cabinet,” unsurprisingly, was packed with appointees who are close to coup leader Sanogo. Despite claims by the new “prime minister” that his regime would be “representative” of all regions, key posts such as the government so-called “ministries” of defense, homeland security, and justice were all filled by Sanogo’s minions, according to news reports. 

Before the latest developments, a massive international coalition that included the UN, the African Union, the “Economic Community of West African States” (ECOWAS), some European governments, the Obama administration, and a collection of despots ruling countries in Africa had been plotting an international invasion to recapture northern Mali on behalf of the transitional government in Bamako. Despite the recent turmoil over the last week, however, most of those powers and self-styled authorities still want the UN invasion of northern Mali to go forward.

In fact, according to news reports, a new UN Security Council resolution purporting to “authorize” the global military plot is already in the works following the arrest of the “Prime Minister.” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with the socialist French government, among the chief proponents of the invasion in its former colony, expects UN “approval” to come before Christmas, the Associated Press reported on December 17. The global body, mostly composed of dictators of assorted varieties, already passed a resolution in October calling for the invasion and urging national governments to participate.  

The new pitch to sell yet another international war, though, has slowly shifted. From being largely about “supporting democracy” and upholding “human rights” by helping the unelected government in Bamako to reclaim lost territory and citizens, the new argument to invade is dealing with alleged “terrorists” operating in the north (even as Obama and the French government openly aid Islamists in Syria and other areas).

“Special emphasis is required on the need to send, without further delay, an international force tasked with removing the terrorist threat from our sub-region,” African Union Chairman Thomas Boni Yayi was quoted as demanding. His remarks echoed similar calls by Western officials and UN bosses about the alleged need for an international military invasion.

Incredibly, that same African Union, a foreign-backed entity aimed at eroding national sovereignty on the continent, praised the appointment of the new “interim prime minister” shortly after the former one was forced to step down. "As much as we strongly condemn the conditions under which the prime minister was compelled to resign, we also believe that we need to be forward looking and support the new prime minister and assist him and the authority of the interim president," said El Ghassim Wane, a senior official with the African Union’s so-called “peace and security council.”

Other African rulers similarly expressed support for the shadowy new regime in Bamako. “I reiterate our call for the [UN] Security Council to authorize the deployment of an international force as soon as possible to help liberate northern Mali,” said President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou, among the many socialist rulers demanding a UN invasion. “Our sub-region faces unprecedented threats, including terrorism and organized crime, which together make for an explosive situation. They will not spare any of our countries.”

The situation in Mali is indeed extraordinarily complex, according to analysts, and news reports about the developments have often contradicted themselves. However, it appears that nomadic Tuareg rebels living in northern regions declared independence from the regime in Bamako — a long-time goal that was facilitated by the massive influx of weapons from Libya after the international war on dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his state-owned central bank.

Then, Islamist forces allegedly affiliated with al-Qaeda, which received broad support from Western and Sunni Arab governments during the Libyan “revolution,” helped cement northern independence. According to news reports, those Islamic extremists, fighting under the banner of Ansar Dine, began brutally imposing Sharia law and perpetrating widespread human rights abuses.     

If anything, however, recent developments have sparked even more confusion. "The arrest was made by a small force loyal to [coup leader] Sanogo," Mali army spokesman Colonel Idrissa Traore was quoted as saying, making the new “prime minister” appear even more illegitimate. "The majority of the military officers in Bamako were not informed about the arrest of Mr. Diarra, and no one knows what will happen now." Still, the old “prime minister” is gone, and the new one is now in place, though that could always change in an instant.

While it may be true that hardline Islamist forces in the north are violating the human rights of local residents, as more than a few news reports and officials have alleged, there are other factors to consider. Left unsaid, for example, is that the UN and the troops under its command have developed a reputation for wanton human rights abuses as well, ranging from raping and torturing local populations to mass killings and sex slavery.

Just last year, when the UN and the Obama administration helped a Muslim central banker overthrow the president of the Ivory Coast after a disputed election, thousands of innocent Christians were slaughtered by UN-backed Islamic forces. That nation is still in chaos as the new UN-installed ruler attacks critics by shutting down the free press and jailing dissidents he accuses of trying to unseat him. Ironically, the new Ivorian “president” is also helping to lead the charge against independence for northern Mali.

The Obama administration, which has been working fiendishly to rally support for the UN invasion of Mali among African regimes and pledged to support the international military scheme in various ways, also has a poor track record when it comes to “humanitarian” intervention. For evidence see Libya, where Obama, citing a UN “resolution,” launched a blatantly unlawful war without even consulting Congress that ended up arming the very same rebels operating in northern Mali who supposedly need to be destroyed.

The official timeline for an invasion has not yet been established, but analysts and officials expect it to come next year at some point, with American taxpayers being forced to cover much of the bill. Meanwhile, the fact that UN and U.S. government policies sparked much of the mayhem has largely been ignored, and critics of the latest scheme are warning that it will almost certainly cause further blow-back. Whether Americans and their Congress will demand an end to the insanity before national bankruptcy hits, however, remains to be seen.    

Photo of Cheikh Modibo Diarra: AP Images

 
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at

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