2000 French troops have invaded the African country of Mali after the national government collapsed. French airstrikes have fallen on the towns of Gao and kidal amongst others. The French government says, predictably, that their intervention is “humanitarian” but it is no coincidence that French companies make a mint from the Uranium reserves in the north of Mali.
The pretext for the invasion is that Islamist forces have taken over the north of the country, named it Azawad and imposed a particularly brutal strand of Sharia law on the people living there. Most of those people are Muslim, but they haven’t voted for the National Movement for the Liberation of Azwad and certainly haven’t agreed to the new laws. There have been a number of clashes between the NMLA and people belonging to the 30 different nationalities living in Mali.
There has been footage on the news showing people cheering the French troops, so why do we not think that the invasion is the answer? Well, Mali used to be a French colony and since gaining formal “independence” it has still been exploited by French companies who have been mining all the natural wealth and taking it for themselves. The International Monetary Fund imposed “structural” adjustment on the country since 1991 and forced the government to make huge cuts to health and other public services. Now the people living there suffer from 30% unemployment, 50% of children never go to school and one third of people don’t have access to clean water. Just imagine what a difference the money from selling Uranium could make to the lives of those people.
So we think that not only should the French troops get out of Mali but so should the French companies (and all other international companies). They should leave the people of Mali alone because foreign intervention in Mali has caused nothing but trouble ever since the French drew some lines on a map and named the new country “Mali”. The best chance that the Malian people have is to be given the chance to develop their own solutions to the crisis that they face. We would encourage them to use their own forces to establish a region of political freedom, social tolerance and economic liberation from the IMF and multinational companies alongside the people of other West African countries.