Sunday, January 27, 2013
Muslim View of Quagmire in the Sahel
News and Views of Muslims
in the United Kingdom
Quagmire in the Sahel
Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, western forces are again becoming embroiled in another war in a Muslim country. To justify the military intervention in Mali, French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, resorted again to the all-too-familiar “terrorism” rhetoric. “The (French) President is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe,” Le Drian proclaimed.
Mali becomes the eighth Muslim country in the last few years to suffer the wrath of western bombing, from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, Libya, Somalia and even the Philippines. It opens up another quagmire across the Sahel, with again no lessons learnt and seemingly no hope of ending the so-called war against terrorism.
The motto seems to be for any western government that wants to bomb Muslims to simply slap the label of “terrorists” on them. This stifles any real debate or critical assessment of what is happening. There is no doubt that atrocities are being committed by all sides in the civil war in Mali. Ironically one of the causes of the civil war was because of the intervention in Libya by the west of the Tauregs, who guarded Muammar Qaddafi, returning home. There was also the overthrow of the Malian Government which was enabled by the defecting US-trained-and-armed soldiers, reminiscent of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Why is it that former colonial powers wish to return to their client states to wreak further havoc? And why are they aided and abetted by their allies as has been the case of Prime Minister, David Cameron, leading Britain into the Mali conflict without any consultation. It seems we have not learnt from other failed interventions in Muslim countries. By intervening militarily instead of using diplomatic means to resolve conflicts, we are creating more enemies and in some cases radicalising Muslims living in the West because inevitably large number of Muslim civilians would be killed. It is a wrong argument made by Cameron that we have to support France in Mali because there are groups who pose a “large and existential threat” to Britain. Why should they threaten our country if we do not interfere in their country? As former Director-General of MI5, Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller, told the Chilcot inquiry into the UK’s role in Iraq: “Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack upon Islam” and that the conflict increased the threat from international terrorism facing Britain, “substantially.”
And anyway, the conflict in the Sahel region is more complex. In Mali, for example, the Tuaregs want independence from the current military regime which had overthrown a democratically elected government. There are some extremist groups which have taken advantage of this conflict to control some areas in Mali. Britain should stay of the conflict if it doesn’t want terrorism from the Sahel to reach our shores.
The latest intervention in Mali is seen by many in Mali and in the region of neo-colonialism of yet another Muslim country to exploit its mineral, oil and uranium resources.