This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Islamist Game Plan

Malians now have a fairly good idea of how their religion can be interpreted; in ways they might never have imagined would be visited upon them - that is to say if they live in the north of that vast country. The south can use their imaginations through hearsay. They might have experienced the more direct opportunity to share the anguish of the north in witnessing those among them to have ventured a more casual approach to sex, by hieratical stoning. Or the amputation of hands.

Or, following the examples that took place in Goa and Timbuktu, by the grace of Ansar Dine, the Movement for Oneness and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, flogging as an indication of displeasure that the flogged were not sufficiently Islamic in their demeanor, their dress, their obligations toward Islam. And if they, as people proud of their heritage and their cultural-religious artefacts, valued the mausoleums and their ancient mosques, they might have felt humiliated horror at the destruction of same.

Forbidden by pure Islam, as idolatrous. And any who prized them and worshipped before them in obeisance to their faith, were obviously idol-worshippers, needful of reproach. Public flogging represented a meaningful lesson to the public. And this they endured for the space of a year in endless time. Many experienced homelessness as their houses were commissioned for the use of the invaders whose prerogative it was to take what they wanted.

And they also wanted children, young boys on the cusp of manhood, and those who were nowhere near that chronology; all would do, as fodder for the ranks of the Islamists. Recruited by generous wage promises for those who were accustomed to poverty. Algerian AQIM instructors happy to oblige in the training. And to consolidate their territory, the Islamists invited the Tuareg independence group to vacate the villages they meant to represent their own new territory.

The Tuareg rebels had, in any event, surely gleaned the agenda of their religious counterparts when landmines were placed around Gao; neither hasty entry nor self-preserving exit heartily encouraged. And when the new government of Mali, no more successful at protecting their country than the previous one whom they unseated in a military coup, became sufficiently alarmed to request their West African neighbours to intervene, a commitment was secured but failed to materialize.

Until finally when the year turned into 2013, Ansar Dine marched on Konna, a city dividing the country between north and south and suddenly it seemed feasible that military ambition would soon enough be sufficiently emboldened to approach Bamako. The world was appalled on behalf of poor, susceptible Mali, and then France sent its fighter jets to deliver the message of rejection, bombing Islamist training camps, armoured vehicles and fuel and supply depots.

That vast territory comprising a huge tract in the Sahara desert suddenly seemed less locked in to the Islamist jihadist union that had claimed it. Eventually African forces joined the French military on the ground. The Islamists were dispersed, their training camps bombed, their fighters expeditiously fleeing the onslaught, much as the Malian army had slipped away a year earlier under the Islamist assault.

"Given that the Malian Army is internally divided, lacks the capacity to effectively project force, has been implicated in human rights abuses, and is very small, it is uncertain whether Malian forceswill be able to effectively follow up on French military strikes by securing and holding territory" was the assessment by the U.S. Congressional Research Services.

The French feel they have done what needed to be responded to. Mali would prefer them to remain. Mali would ideally like the African Union as well to maintain a presence. For they know, all of them, that the Islamist groups have been merely temporarily displaced with the intention of returning at the earliest possible opportunity.  As indeed some have, returning to Gao, penetrating the very heart of the city, challenging the Malian army again.

For their part, reluctant to remain, and see themselves rooted in yet another Islamist opportunistic insurgency, the French are making a persuasive argument to the United Nations to assemble a 'peacekeeping' force. It remains to be seen what peacemakers can accomplish matched against the intractability of the Islamists, planning to reassemble and retake their holdings in the north of the country and to enlarge them, spreading as well to neighbouring countries, to achieve their broader goals.

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