I happened to hear Mike Sheuer on the news and he really hit the nail on the head when discussing the enormous gap between what France says it wants to do in Mali and how it chooses to approach the task, and how that will impact its allies.
I also discovered a recent post on Mike Sheuer’s website following the same train of thought, so there is more detail available if you need it. I note with regret that in his analysis, Mike has not explored the additional influence of the relationship between the West and the Gulf States on this scenario. Perhaps he has covered it elsewhere. If not, I suggest Glenn Greenwald’s 19 January blog post in the Guardian.
Agreeing with someone 100% on everything is not an essential for me to find value in what they say or to respect their point of view, so I am not going to dissect Mike’s comments on Islamists, or his reference to God in the title of his post, even though I am not entirely comfortable with either. But I have provided the entire recording and the link to his post for the sake of clarity, integrity and credibility: I don’t want to be accused of trying to mislead anyone by editing the speech. In any case, the recording is only a few minutes long.
I also want to make it clear that I am strongly opposed to Operation Serval because it is causing the deaths of innocent civilians and spreading terror through an already fragile and frightened community, prompting a surge in the number of refugees and displaced people. At the same time, the military conflict is providing cover for racially motivated human rights abuses against Tuareg and Arab/Berber civilians by the Malian army and their accomplices. All of this could and should have been anticipated. I can only conclude that both the interim government in Mali and the French government were aware of these massive humanitarian risks. Certainly the UN and human rights NGOs like Amnesty [reported in the Guardian] and HRW [reported in Huffington Post] are aware.
While I am sharing links to popular news sites, I also have to comment on the distinctive lack of independent news coverage from Mali. Reliable reports are always thin on the ground there but the press is now being shackled by restrictions such as all journalists having to stay 100 kilometers away from any battle zones unless embedded with troops (and covering bland events like cargo planes arriving). This is the same distance as given in the UK Travel Advisory for tourists. Surely professional, trained reporters with previous experience of war reporting can be trusted to get a little closer to the action? I have some ideas to share with you, exploring the possibility of a less innocent reason for a ban that effectively muzzles the media, in another post.
But the military intervention pushes on regardless. I think they need to call an immediate ceasefire and do the hard work of making serious efforts to find a peaceful political solution. I want to know how to make this happen.
This is a complicated issue and no one is going to have all the answers, but if you want to contribute to this discussion – one I think is really important and that we need to see happening everywhere – I welcome your comments and suggestions.