The BBC report yesterday that mainly black African Malian troops, who are mostly from the south of the country, are committing atrocities against Arabs and ethnic Tuaregs has been repeated in an article in today’s ‘Guardian’..The main gist of that particular article, however, is not that “violence against northern Malians” is taking place but that the Malian government believes that war will be over in a matter of days. Moreover, with French aircraft bombarding the rebel positions there might be some truth in this.
“The Malian government”, “rebels”, “intervention”, we would do well to analyse the political nature of this discourse and in doing so we would soon become aware that the western media’s concept of “discourse management” is radically different from the definition given by linguists. Here the discourse is being managed in the sense of it being manipulated.
What, for instance, is “The Malian government”? Is this the government led by Captain Amadou Songo, who was trained in the United States and who agreed to return the country to constitutional rule only to spend the next year consolodating his power? Who are the rebels?
Well, the Islamic Movement for Azawad (IMA) has stated that it wants to negotiate and that it is breaking away from the radical Ansar Dine, and that it “rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism”. Might it just be that the IMA has some legitimate claims? Of course, with the government in Bamako believing that victory is just a few days away, that might become largely irrelevant. What we can be sure of is that there are many in Bamako who not only believe that the rebels “must be killed, killed, killed” , but also that anyone sympathising with either them or their aims must be disposed of. Or, indeed, eliminated only because of the colour of their skins.
Finally, why are the French assuming a major role in helping a government which came to power through a coup d’état which has still to hand power back to a civilian administration? Well, William Engdahl’s answer to that certainly provides us with part of the answer. He says:
”Well I think that’s the Obama Administration’s strategy – let France take the hit on this as they did in Libya and other places in the past year and-a-half and the US will try to play a more discrete role in the background rather than being upfront as they were in Iraq and Afghanistan which cost the US huge amounts of credibility around the world. They’re playing a little bit more of a sly game here, but the rush for the US to announce its support the French military intervention and the actions of Africom over the past year and-a-half, two years, in Mali make clear that this is a US operation with the French as a junior partner.”
Nevertheless, we should be careful and the emphasis should most certainly be put on the word “partner”, junior, or not, and for time being the jury can remain out on that one, France is neither a clueless victim, nor is it some irrelevant “handlanger”. The crisis might bear the imprint of US Africom (US Africa Command). However, just as was the case, and indeed still is, with the British in Iraq and Afghanistan, the French “intervention” is jingoistic neo-colonialism at its worst on a continent that has just been discovered by China and which is extremely rich in resources.The new “Great Game”, the new “scramble for Africa“ has long since commenced and while the capo di tutti capo in Washington will be expecting his cut, Paris will certainly not be going empty-handed.