Recent developments in Mali illustrate both the way in which the Unites States and its Western allies directly project military and political power, as well as the role of terrorism as a necessary pretext for imperialist, neo-colonial domination. Beginning with the establishment of AFRICOM (US Africa Command) in 2007, incorporating the war in Libya and the military coup d’etat in Mali, and up to today’s consolidation of power by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), it has become clear that the United States has managed to successfully destabilize West Africa and achieve many of its long-term strategic objectives in the region.
While the Western media portrays the situation in West Africa as an “unintended consequence” of the imperialist aggression against Libya, the incontrovertible fact that the United States has, for years, attempted to expand its control of the region, has been made all the more apparent by the current instability and the “decisive action” that it necessitates. The spread of AQIM, which has now consolidated control over a vast swath of land in the Sahel region, rather conveniently provides the US with the crucial cover it needs to expand its military presence.
Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, Mali has been embroiled in a fierce civil war that has torn the country apart. The Tuareg fighters, who had fought on the side of Gaddafi and the Green Resistance, began to return home armed, battle-hardened, and bearing a grudge. This was, understandably, a recipe for war in Mali where the central government was seen as little more than a US puppet regime,touting democracy as it bowed to US military and corporate interests. The rebels began waging war against Bamako in hopes of creating their own independent state of Azawad in Northern Mali, a goal which has been stifled since Mali gained its own independence in 1960.
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