Of course on the surface Hollande’s government stresses that by entering Mali, France is not falling back into old habits. But France’s interests in Africa are not something that at the current economic situation it is ready to relinquish. A new form of colonialism has been evident since the old one was no longer sustainable. The United States of America and Britain are also backing France including the deployment of American drones.
“We must stop the rebels’ offensive, otherwise the whole of Mali will fall into their hands – creating a threat for Africa and even for Europe,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told reporters to justify Mali’s invasion.
For months, Paris has been planning to get involved in Mali on the excuse of driving out the anti-government rebels out of France’s ex-colony.
This intervention came weeks after Paris’s involvement in another ex-colony of Central African Republic (CAR). In CAR, the French stalled President Francois Bozize accepted a power-sharing pact with the opposition. Both sides in CAR have French backing. Both Mali and Central African Republic are countries with massive reserves of minerals, oil and gas.
France’s president Hollande ordered the first military strikes of his career in Mali. Now France has deployed 550 troops, C-160 transport aircrafts, attack helicopters and has Rafale jets on standby. The important question here is what are the intentions behind the recent adventures by France and its western allies?
Of course on the surface Hollande’s government stresses that by entering Mali, France is not falling back into old habits. But France’s interests in Africa are not something that at the current economic situation it is ready to relinquish. A new form of colonialism has been evident since the old one was no longer sustainable. The United States of America and Britain are also backing France including the deployment of American drones. With the full control of the international organisation, the western presence is now legitimised by the United Nations resolutions allowing foreign intervention to support Mali. Exactly the same route when France and Britain ordered NATO’s invasion and air strikes in Libya to oust Gaddafi.
The western allies needed an excuse to justify the invasion of Mali. For months they were preparing the public opinion by saying that Islamists are taking over Mali and other parts of Africa harboring fears that the area could soon become a hub for al-Qaeda linked militants. Shocking reports of public amputations in rebel-held northern Mali as tough shariah (Islamic law) is imposed will persuade many French voters the intervention was just. The “so called Mali Islamists” are a rag-tag army with no significant military equipment or training with most of their arms smuggled out of Libya.
“There is that much at stake financially and strategically in Mali. But on the other hand this is the sort of intervention that could drag on for very long time. I think what triggered it was the move by the Islamist rebels towards Bamako, which is the capital where most of the French citizens are. Most of them are located at the southern end of the country and I think Hollande felt he had to do something to protect them.” France-based independent journalist Robert Harneis said.
France claimed new successes in its campaign to oust rebels from northern Mali, bombarding the major city of Gao with airstrikes targeting the airport and camps used by the rebel group controlling the city. France’s foreign minister also said the intervention is gaining international support, with the help from the United States, Britain, Denmark and other European countries. The invasion has come with a human cost in the city of Konna, the first to be bombed on Friday and Saturday. According to reports many innocent civilians were killed, including children who threw themselves into a river and drowned trying to avoid the falling bombs.
Mali is a country with massive natural resources which include gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower which mostly exploited by westerners particularly France who has a large French nationals living in the country whilst The country’s population living in absolute poverty. Also new natural resources have been discovered in Mali which include bauxite, iron ore, manganese, tin, and copper deposits but so far not exploited. The existence of hydrocarbons in Mali has been known since the 1970s, when drilling tests proved massive oil resources which can be developed at low costs.
In the current economic situation when all western economies facing massive problems, the unexploited African resources seem very attractive for old colonial powers. The powers, who never relinquished their hold on their colonies, instead changed their tactics which today is known as the “new colonialism”. Having the full control of international bodies such as the United Nations where they can pass resolutions at any time combined with the massive propaganda machines to propagate the “Islamophobia” seem strong tools in the hands of the advocates of the “new colonialism”.