In my Last Post, I spoke about the DR Congo vis-a-vis Intervention on Humanitarian Grounds. This post focuses on Mali.
When a bunch of junior soldiers seized control of Mali’s Presidential Palace, declaring the government dissolved and its constitution suspended, the world didn’t sit up and take notice. When there was a spate of destruction directed at cultural property in the country, a little hue and cry began. And slowly, as the rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad declared the secession of a new state, as the Al-Qaeda came in through associated Islamist groups and sidelined the rebels, Mali slowly descended into a mess. In this backdrop, the recent UN Security Council Resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter signals a possibility that there may be room for military intervention.
The text of the resolution holds that the regional powers and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should work with the UN Secretary General in drawing up a “detailed and actionable” plan within 45 days, which would function as a sine qua non for the passage of a further resolution authorising intervention. The African Union is endeavouring to encourage political engagement, while its Peace and Security Council has readmitted Mali after the suspension imposed on March 22 deposed the then President Amadou Toumani Toure. But is an intervention feasible?
For starters, the Malian government is weak, as is its military powers. Secondly, the military’s own justification for the coup, i.e., that the civilian government had failed to defeat the secessionist groups in northern Mali, was a weak claim in itself. There is a considerable flow of weapons from Libya, which could make any military action in Mali futile. Islamist group Ansar Dine has now merged with Tuareg fighters, and has declared northern Mali an Islamic state with the approval of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group already has a track record of imposing a very rigid form of the Sharia law and of destroying world heritage sites in areas it controls. In addition, the International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into allegations of severe brutality particularly against women. Without a decisive direction and stringent action, military intervention could destroy the fabric of Malian society through civil war.