In the first half of January 2013, French military planes pounded towns and villages in Mali, leading to many people getting killed and injured. The intervention in Mali was supported among others by the US and the UK. It is the latest in a long list of military interventions by Western imperialist powers in the 21st century carried out in the name of waging war against terror and “jihadists”, but in actual fact intended to protect the economic and strategic interests of these imperialist powers.
Mali is a country that was once part of three famed West African empires which controlled trans-Saharan trade from the 8th century onwards. It has considerable natural resources. Mali is the third largest gold producer in Africa. It is rich in uranium and probably has oil and gas deposits as well, apart from other valuable resources such as phosphates, kaolinite, salt and limestone.
Mali was brought under direct French colonial rule in the late 19th century. France has maintained a strong presence and influence over Mali even after it gained its independence in 1960. Just like the British imperialists, France has always sought to preserve its privileged position in its former colonies, closely tying their economies to France. It also has a history of militarily intervening in African countries such the Ivory Coast and most recently in Libya where it was a leading force in the imperialist invasion.
Like other colonial powers, France too sharpened historic divisions in the colonies to maintain its rule. The north of Mali, populated by the Tuareg and other peoples was largely undeveloped, and there have been many instances of rebellion against the government in this region. In recent times, resentment among the people in the northern region has culminated in a movement to separate from the rest of Mali. The French and other imperialists have tried to highlight the ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ nature of the rebel organisation, in order to justify their intervention in Mali as part of the so-called ‘global war against Islamic terrorism’.
With the sharpening of the long-running civil war in Mali in 2012, the French and other imperialists saw their chance to intervene directly. On 20 December 2012, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of an “African-led International Support Mission in Mali”, allegedly “to assist the authorities in recovering rebel-held regions in the north and restoring the unity of the country”. The French imperialists were the leading force in the intervention, backed by the American and British imperialists. Britain was the first to support the French intervention, and provided RAF transport planes and logistic support to the expedition. The US provided intelligence data, air transport and air replenishment support. Mali was overrun with foreign troops, and large numbers of people were killed, injured and displaced.
The experience of the world’s peoples is that once the imperialists get a military foothold in a country, under whatever pretext, they dig their claws in ever deeper. They ensure a political regime that will obey their dictate, and try to suck the resources of the country dry. The French-led military intervention in Mali is another dangerous step in the rapidly widening imperialist intervention in North Africa. It is a blatant violation of the sovereignty of an independent country. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar sternly condemns the military intervention in Mali and calls upon the working class and all freedom loving people to vigorously oppose it.