Leading article: We need to talk about Mali

 

Share
Related Topics

Were it not for the looming presence of al-Qa'ida (AQIM) in the Maghreb, last week's military coup in Mali might be met with the half-anxious apathy with which the international community usually greets upheavals in Saharan Africa.

Although an unusual democratic experiment in a tough region has just been snuffed out, that alone is – sadly – not sufficient reason for global concern. The fear is that the military takeover, and the Tuareg rebellion in the north that prompted it, may reinforce an increasingly dangerous al-Qa'ida affiliate and further destabilise an already hazardous region. And while a coup by an obscure ethnic minority in what is, for many, an unfamiliar section of the map might seem a distant problem, the lines of responsibility in this particular case are very clear.

Mali's President, Amadou Toumani Touré, is far from blameless. He repeatedly ignored pressure to act against either AQIM or the gun runners and drug smugglers traversing the Sahara. He also insisted that the fighting in the north was under control. But his demoralised and humiliated army knew different, and such complacency was finally punished by their by seizing power at the barrel of a gun.

But the rebellion in Mali is nonetheless a direct consequence of the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya. Many of the Tuareg fighters now tearing up their homeland fled south after decades serving in Gaddafi's army, starting a chain reaction of unintended consequences across one of the world's remotest – and most difficult to control – regions. Having provided crucial assistance to the rebellion in Libya, the international community cannot now wash its hands of the consequences.

With AQIM on the march, the stakes are high, not just for Mali, or even just for the region, but for the entire world. It is up to the West to put concerted pressure on both the Malian military and the Tuareg rebels – with the help of other governments in the region – to hold peace talks. The current crisis has already displaced more than 100,000 people across impoverished borders in the middle of a severe Sahelian hunger season. There is no time to waste.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
One 200ml bottle of codeine linctus contains three times the equivalent level of morphine you'd get in casualty if you broke your wrist  

The ‘war on drugs’ consistently ignores its greatest enemy: over-the-counter painkillers

Janet Street-Porter
The author contemplating what could have been  

I was a timid, kind, gentle-natured child, later to be spurned and humiliated – in short, the perfect terrorist-in-waiting

Howard Jacobson
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable