THE sudden escalation of fighting in Mali and the involvement of many Nato states, with France leading, has focused world attention on West Africa. It is not just the situation in the former French colony that has prompted Western European reaction; the 41 foreigners taken hostage — and some reportedly killed — by Algerian militants include nationals from a number of European countries. Fierce fighting is taking place in northern Mali, where local militants, joined by sympathisers from other countries, have been challenging Bamako’s writ, running a parallel government, destroying the country’s cultural heritage and terrorising the people. The intensity of French air strikes, followed by a ground assault helped by Malian forces to take rebel-held Diabaly, show the militants’ tenacity and strength. Observers feel Mali could sink into a long civil war or face a Somalia-like break-up, unless French, Malian and regional forces gain a quick victory.

With Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb gaining strength, the West African region could become a powerful centre of Islamist insurgency. Those now trekking to Mali are immigrants rendered jobless after the end of the Qadhafi regime, fighters from Algeria and those loyal to Nigeria’s Boko Haram movement. Europe’s concern is that this large minerals-rich region could become a base of operation for Al Qaeda-led militants. The real losers, however, are the Malian people, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled their homes in the northern area to escape Ansar Dine’s atrocities. As the militants’ behaviour elsewhere in the world shows, it is their own people whom they persecute and turn into their enemy because of the harshness of their interpretation of religion. However, depending upon how the French conduct the war, collateral damage from air strikes could turn the people against foreign involvement, leaving them between a rock and a hard place.

Updated Jan 17, 2013 07:40pm

More From This Section

Militant groups in Punjab

THE Punjab government, in response to a report in this newspaper, has furnished statistics pertaining to the last ...

Surge in Karachi violence

IN the midst of a spate of sectarian killings in Karachi and with tortured bodies turning up in and around the...

Autonomy for State Bank

THE IMF doesn’t seem happy with the quantum of independence the government plans to give the State Bank of ...

No housing for the poor

AFTER several weeks of back and forth, for many residents of Islamabad it appears that the worst is about to happen....

Comments (2) (Closed)

Jan 18, 2013 06:34pm
after libya, egypt,syria,now mali and algeria for a greater zionist rule
Ahmed j
Jan 18, 2013 09:27am
Fallout from Libyan intervention. They don't learn from their mistakes.