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News France at War in Mali

  1. Jan 11, 2013 #1

    russ_watters

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    France has committed a currently unknown quantity of ground and air forces to combat in Mali to help stabilize the country and quell an al Qaeda led uprising:
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/11/world/africa/mali-france/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

    Near as I can tell, France did not inform, much less consult with the UN (or the US, for that matter) prior to this action. I like that. They saw a problem they thought should be fixed so they are fixing it themselves.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
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  3. Jan 11, 2013 #2
    Should the UN be consulted if a country wants to help another country's legitimate government?
     
  4. Jan 11, 2013 #3

    AlephZero

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    I wasn't sure whether "I like that" was an ironic comment, or if you took this as an argument to support unilateral US foreign intervention without UN agreement, but your edit adding the final sentence ("They saw a problem...") seems to answer those questions.

    But were you aware that
    (1) Mali was a French colony until the 1960s
    (2) The French troops are there supporting Malian troops, with the agreement of the Malian government. which is not quite "seeing a problem and fixing it themselves" IMO.
    (3) There are about 6,000 French citizens resident in Mali, some of whom have been taken hostage.
    (4) The UN has already approved foreign intervention by other African countries over this issue, though there seems to be some delay in the African countries getting their act together.

    Your cnn link doesn't seem to say much about those points.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20991719
     
  5. Jan 11, 2013 #4

    russ_watters

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    The latter: not ironic.
    Yes, though not quite as clearly described as in your BBC link. And I agree that it is not identical to some US actions.
     
  6. Jan 11, 2013 #5

    BobG

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    Technically, they responded to Mali's President's request for aid, making this a France-Mali issue.

    On the other hand, while I guess it's normal for Western press to focus on Western officials, every article about this includes about one statement on the Mali President requesting aid. Not only that, this is essentially a civil war in Mali and President Traore is the interim President in what is essentially a toppled government that France (and other Western powers) are trying to restore. It's not quite like England asking for help from the US.

    This is how countries take immediate action on their own. The UN will almost always condone the action after the fact (because the alternative is to condemn it and then admit it can't actually do anything about it?).

    On the other hand, you don't take the issue to the UN beforehand unless you're actually willing to abide by their decision. Taking the issue to them beforehand and then just defying their decision is just slapping them in the face (withdrawing the issue just before the official decision is made really isn't much better).

    If the intent is to compare what the French did to what the US did with Iraq, I don't think the contrast illustrates anything about right and wrong. Everyone knows how to do this. When a country dorks it up, it just indicates that the country's leadership is a little disfunctional; as if the person at the top doesn't know much about leading/governing and his advisors are trying to back each other into corners by playing on a naive leader.
     
  7. Jan 11, 2013 #6

    russ_watters

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    This was not a reference to Iraq. We went to the UN before going into Iraq and a had a coalition! If anything, I was thinking about Libya and Syria.

    [edit] Btw, a month ago Obama recognized the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representatives of the people of Syria: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/11/world/us-syria-opposition/index.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  8. Jan 11, 2013 #7
    To the Syrian point, if the Syrian government is undergoing a civil war, why would the United States be opposed to the use of sarin gas as a weaponized means of stopping the combat? I know that it could be very harmful to the civilians but it would allow the Syrian government to alleviate some of the damage that they underwent because from what I read, they are being beaten back by the opposition.

    To the topic: Should France go through the UN if the Malian government has requested aid? I am not well versed (if at all) on these types of national matters and rules, but I am wondering if a government is requesting aid that a country that is powerful enough to lend its hand decides to help them, why not? Or, is there a reason why countries should follow the UN's protocols?
     
  9. Jan 11, 2013 #8

    lisab

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    Re Syria: Sarin gas is a banned weapon, but let's stay on topic. If you want to start a new thread, please feel free.

    Edit: Sarin gas is outlawed under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but it looks like Syria never signed it -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_the_Chemical_Weapons_Convention


    Re UN: I really don't know about UN rules on assistance between two closely-tied countries.
     
  10. Jan 11, 2013 #9
    In both Syria and Libya case, external governments wished to overthrow the then legitimate governments without thinking much about what will happen afterwards. Technically, I believe western governments supported terrorism in those states to the point that terrorists became capable enough to replace the legitimate government.

    It's very different in the case here. French government is actually helping the government not overthrowing it.
     
  11. Jan 12, 2013 #10

    russ_watters

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    Rootx, by who'se determination were the existing governments "legitimate"? And by what definition of "terrorism" were the rebels terrorists? While I'm sure the rebels aren't all saints, it is my understanding that by and large the revolutionary movements started as pretty standard grassroots uprising, with no inherent terrorism component: They grew out of the peaceful protests of the Arab Spring. I think you are falling for the common crackpot message that 'one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter'.

    In any case, Syria vs Mali: In Mali, the internationally recognized legitimate government asked France for help and France assisted. In Syria, the organization we now recognize as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people (not yet really a government) has also asked for assistance.
     
  12. Jan 12, 2013 #11

    Borg

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    I am also glad to see France assist the government. The national news was reporting last night that the Mali military is on the verge of collapse. From what I've read about the 2012 Malian coup d'état, it looks like the situation is quite a mess and in dire need of outside assistance (intervention, or whatever you want to call it).

    It's amazing how easy it was for the military to overthrow the government and how easy it's been for the northern rebels to cripple that same military. This is really ironic since the coup appeared to have started as a result of the military's dissatisfaction with the government's management of the conflict with the rebels.
     
  13. Jan 12, 2013 #12

    BobG

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    Surprising, but not shocking in hindsight. This Tuareg revolt is different than the previous three Tuareg revolts.

    1) Post-Libya, there are more weapons in the region. Weapons are neutral inanimate objects and they don't disintegrate after they've served their initial purpose. Suddenly, the Mali government has to fight an enemy equipped with modern weapons.

    2) Tuaregs finally found an ally. Their revolt is an opportunity for Islamic groups to expand their influence by "assisting" the Tuaregs.

    On the other hand, however surprised the Mali government may have been by the sudden success of insurgents, the Tuaregs had to be absolutely shocked by how things turned out. Their "allies" turned out to be much stronger than the Tuaregs and had a much different vision for Northern Mali than the Tuaregs did. In fact, at this point, the conflict essentially is as the French President describes it. The Tuaregs started the uprising, but are now minor players in the conflict. In fact, they may be rooting for the Mali government to win!

    Yes, it's hard to imagine a worse mess than what Mali has devolved into - unless you imagine Rwanda or Darfur. This is Africa - same as the old - except worse.
     
  14. Jan 12, 2013 #13
  15. Jan 12, 2013 #14
    My argument was incomplete but I took quite opposite stance to "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter".

    Nonetheless, given how the situation has evolved in Syria over-time I will have to agree with you over:
     
  16. Jan 14, 2013 #15
  17. Jan 15, 2013 #16

    jim hardy

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  18. Jan 16, 2013 #17

    nsaspook

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world...fee-11e2-b05a-605528f6b712_story.html?hpid=z1

     
  19. Jan 19, 2013 #18

    Astronuc

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  20. Jan 19, 2013 #19

    nsaspook

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    The global war on terror has given nations an excuse for intervention to maintain the status-quo just by linking a mainly internal power struggle to Al-Qaeda. (the new 10 foot tall Commie) I hope the French well but see only trouble ahead for them as eventually most sides will see France as the enemy if the fighting continues.
    The way to end this war is to address the real problems and one of them is the current corrupt, incompetent and kleptocratic government in Mali.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/2013119153558185275.html

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a9ebaa02-6191-11e2-9545-00144feab49a.html#axzz2IRdw296L
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  21. Jan 20, 2013 #20

    Astronuc

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    Hostages Dead in Bloody Climax to Siege in Algeria
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/world/africa/algeria-militants-hostages.html
    Africa Must Take Lead in Mali, France Says
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/world/africa/africa-must-take-lead-in-mali-france-says.html
    Who pays, and how much seem to be some big questions. And then there is the issue of the various national governments, many, if not most, seem corrupt.

    Troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)?
     
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