Saturday, February 09, 2013

The coming debacle in Mali

Don't be deceived by the quick victories of French special forces over AQIM in Mali. The French will soon find themselves in deep trouble.

The basic problem is that Mali is a hopeless mess verging on a failed state. There are no viable governmental institutions, the government itself is a puppet of the army which is rent with violent divisions and corrupt to the core. Atrocities are common.

The Malian state, such as it is, is ethnically sub-Saharan African. The Tuareg in the desert north are Berbers, the descendants of Mediterranean 'back to Africa' population flows 15,000 years ago. The two groups do not, to put it mildly, get on.

So forget all the talk of 'training the army' and 'elections for a new government within the year': Mali is unfixable. It will take a miracle for the French to fashion any kind of exit strategy which looks like success - on any time scale. On the contrary, they will be pushed to become more involved (and how often have we seen that dynamic!).

Everyone will then hate them, and the quagmire will well and truly be in place. Poor M. Hollande!