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20 February 2020  

Egypt furious with Hamas over Haniyeh's Iran visit

on Egypt

Egypt is reportedly furious at Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh after he and a delegation from Gaza attended the funeral of slain Iranian Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani. Haniye...

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06 February 2020  

Increased USA-Iran tensions after Soleimani's assassination and their regional impact

on Iran

The US assassination, on 3 January 2020, of Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), greatly intensi...

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30 January 2020  

What you need to know about Trump's Annexation Plan

on Palestine-Israel

By Afro-Middle East Centre and Palestine Chronicle Read the full Plan   US President Donald Trump finally unveiled his ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ on Tuesday, 28 January ...

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21 December 2019  

Iraqi protests threaten political establishment

on Iraq

Despite the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on 30 November 2019, protests in Iraq endure, with protester demands having evolved to include calls for ...

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28 October 2019  

Tunisia's sustainable democratisation: Between new and anti-politics in the 2019…

on Tunisia

By Larbi Sadiki On 13 October, the election of retired constitutional law professor, Kais Saied, as Tunisia’s new president triggered a wide array of reactions and energised hopes...

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04 October 2019  

The Africa-Palestine Conference: Why South Africa must lead the way

on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful so...

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20 February 2020  

Egypt furious with Hamas over Haniyeh's Iran visit

on Egypt

Egypt is reportedly furious at Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh after he and a delegation from Gaza attended the funeral of slain Iranian Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani. Haniye...

Read more

06 February 2020  

Increased USA-Iran tensions after Soleimani's assassination and their regional impact

on Iran

The US assassination, on 3 January 2020, of Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), greatly intensi...

Read more

30 January 2020  

What you need to know about Trump's Annexation Plan

on Palestine-Israel

By Afro-Middle East Centre and Palestine Chronicle Read the full Plan   US President Donald Trump finally unveiled his ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ on Tuesday, 28 January ...

Read more

21 December 2019  

Iraqi protests threaten political establishment

on Iraq

Despite the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on 30 November 2019, protests in Iraq endure, with protester demands having evolved to include calls for ...

Read more

28 October 2019  

Tunisia's sustainable democratisation: Between new and anti-politics in the 2019…

on Tunisia

By Larbi Sadiki On 13 October, the election of retired constitutional law professor, Kais Saied, as Tunisia’s new president triggered a wide array of reactions and energised hopes...

Read more

04 October 2019  

The Africa-Palestine Conference: Why South Africa must lead the way

on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful so...

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More from this category

30 January 2020  

What you need to know about Trump's Annexation Plan

on Palestine-Israel

By Afro-Middle East Centre and Palestine Chronicle Read the full Plan   US President Donald Trump finally unveiled his ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ on Tuesday, 28 January ...

Read more

04 October 2019  

The Africa-Palestine Conference: Why South Africa must lead the way

on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful so...

Read more

06 September 2019  

The war ahead: Netanyahu's election gamble will be costly for…

on Israel

By Ramzy Baroud On 1 September, the Lebanese group Hizbullah, struck an Israeli military base near the border town of Avivim. The Lebanese attack came as an inevita...

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04 September 2019  

Budding frenemies: The complicated US-Turkish relationship

on Turkey

When Donald Trump was elected the forty-fifth president of the USA in November 2016, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was among the first world leaders to congratulate ...

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14 August 2019  

Syria's security reshuffle highlights Russia's consolidation of power

on Syria

July began with a major shake-up in the Syrian military and intelligence apparatus. In an attempt to consolidate power after regaining territorial control over most of the country...

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23 June 2019  

Strategic implications of the 'deal of the century' and the…

on Palestine-Israel

Aisling Byrne interviews Abdel Bari Atwan Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ (DoC) - whether in its actual or conceptual form - is ushering in a new strategic era, providing cov...

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06 February 2020  

Increased USA-Iran tensions after Soleimani's assassination and their regional impact

on Iran

The US assassination, on 3 January 2020, of Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), greatly intensi...

Read more

21 December 2019  

Iraqi protests threaten political establishment

on Iraq

Despite the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on 30 November 2019, protests in Iraq endure, with protester demands having evolved to include calls for ...

Read more

23 October 2018  

Jamal Khashoggi, small spark for a large fire

on Saudi Arabia

By Hassan Aourid Until last Saturday, I was hopeful that the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country’s consulate in Istanbul was not more than a case of c...

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19 October 2018  

Khashoggi murder: Killing dissent even from within

on Saudi Arabia

The gruesome murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was designed to be a clear and firm message for Saudi dissidents, and reflected th...

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08 July 2018  

As Hudaida falls to Saudi-Emirati coalition, peace for Yemen seems…

on Yemen

The recent and ongoing Saudi-Emirati offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hudaida will render UN special envoy Martin Griffiths’s ‘new’ solution to the five-year-long Yemeni crisis...

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18 May 2018  

Beyond Tradition and Modernity: Dilemmas of Transformation in Saudi Arabia

on Saudi Arabia

By Madawi Al-Rasheed Introduction The dominant narrative through which many observers understand Saudi Arabia depicts a progressive and modernist leadership struggling to gra...

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20 February 2020  

Egypt furious with Hamas over Haniyeh's Iran visit

on Egypt

Egypt is reportedly furious at Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh after he and a delegation from Gaza attended the funeral of slain Iranian Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani. Haniye...

Read more

28 October 2019  

Tunisia's sustainable democratisation: Between new and anti-politics in the 2019…

on Tunisia

By Larbi Sadiki On 13 October, the election of retired constitutional law professor, Kais Saied, as Tunisia’s new president triggered a wide array of reactions and energised hopes...

Read more

14 September 2019  

Tunisia’s presidential elections: A fragmented field

on Tunisia

  By Larbi Sadiki The Tunisian presidential race is heating up. With several front-runners and twenty-six candidates, the upcoming early elections on 15 September reflects a...

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30 July 2019  

Geopolitics of Sudan Revolution - Presentation to AMEC

on Sudan

Sudan lies in the hotbed of the Horn of Africa, a region that has been plagued by decades of instability and ruin as a result of intense conflicts perpetuated by post-colonial vest...

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30 July 2019  

The December 2018 revolution and Sudanese professionals in the diaspora

on Sudan

WE LEFT SUDAN In drovesIn the late 80’s and 90’sIndeed, my generation of educated Sudanese professionals are scattered around the globe(Out of 200 medical graduates from Khartoum ...

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29 July 2019  

Geopolitics of Sudan Revolution - Presentation to AMEC

on Sudan

By Zeenat Adam 17 July 2019 Sudan lies in the hotbed of the Horn of Africa, a region that has been plagued by decades of instability and ruin as a result of intense conflicts per...

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12 October 2018  

Ethiopia, Eritrea: An unlikely peace deal in a fractious region

on Ethiopia

The recent peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea, signed 16 September 2018, is set to have lasting consequences for both countries and for the Horn of Africa ...

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06 April 2017  

Ensuring Somalia remains in conflict: Trump’s expanded ‘war on terror’

on Somalia

By Afro-Middle East Centre The 29 March decision by the administration of US president Donald Trump declaring Somalia an ‘area of active hostility’ will likely ensure an escalatio...

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10 October 2016  

South Sudan: Beyond the logjam of UNSC Resolution 2304

on South Sudan

By Majak D’Agoôt and Remember Miamingi No country is entirely self-contained or lacking in interdependencies. These interlocking interests form the critical part of any country’s ...

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28 April 2015  

Nigeria’s elections and future challenges

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre The election of General Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president will see a renewed focus by the government on domestic challenges posed by endemic...

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26 September 2013  

Kenyan hostage crisis: The desperation of al-Shabab

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre The hostage drama at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi over the past week has raised a number of questions about the Somali organisation al-Shabab. After the...

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23 January 2013  

French military intervention will add to Mali’s problems

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle east Centre   The north of Africa was plunged into yet another international conflict with France’s invasion of Mali on Friday, 11 January. Without im...

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23 April 2019  

India in Kashmir: Risking peace as an antidote to war

on South Asia

By Ranjan Solomon On 14 February 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber ...

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28 August 2015  

Does Pakistan’s refusal to join Saudi Arabia in Yemen indicate…

on Pakistan

By Afro-Middle East Centre Allegedly, the current Saudi-led onslaught on Yemen has already caused destruction that resembles the destruction wrought in Syria over the la...

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31 March 2012  

The feasibility of a continued United States presence in Afghanistan

on South Asia

By Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn Recent events in Afghanistan have fuelled speculation over the ability of international forces to continue their presence in the coun...

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28 February 2012  

Dangerous uncertainty in Pakistan

on South Asia

By Junaid S. Ahmed With relations between Pakistan's civilian government and military incredibly tense, speculation is rife in the Pakistani and international media of a looming m...

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30 May 2011  

Pakistan-USA relations in the post-Usama era

on South Asia

By Junaid S. Ahmad The assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Special Forces was supposed to have been a landmark triumph that would bring peace and stability to the r...

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13 December 2010  

Kashmir and Obama's Indian appeasement

on South Asia

By Mohammad Abdullah Gul Obama's recent jive with school children in Delhi symbolises the nature of the new relationship that is emerging between India and the United States of Am...

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26 April 2017  

IS reorganising to face new challenges

on Political Islam

Reports in January 2017 that the leader of the Islamic State group (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed, reports that he had been captured by Russian troops in Syria, and th...

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07 March 2017  

IS in Africa: Containment and fragmentation

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre With the Islamic State group (IS) losing territory in Syria and Iraq, many believe that the group will use the territory it controls in Africa as a fall...

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14 May 2016  

The Paradox of Survival and Expansion: How the Islamic State…

on Political Islam

Omar Ashour This paper examines the reasons for the military steadfastness of the Islamic State group (IS) in the face of local and international forces that are larger in numbers...

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19 December 2015  

ISIS in Africa: Reality far different from IS propaganda

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre The revelation that the alleged mastermind of the 13 November Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) was of Moroccan descent, the tur...

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20 July 2015  

Remaining and expanding: Measuring the Islamic State group’s success in…

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre Since its declaration of a ‘caliphate’ on 29 June 2014, the Islamic State group (IS), the brutal successor to al-Qa'ida, has gone from stren...

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31 January 2012  

The rise of 'Ikhwanophobia': Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood

on Political Islam

By Dr. Mohsen Saleh Introduction Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwanal-Muslimoon), the leading Islamist movement, has gained unprecedented international prominence since the b...

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18 February 2018  

Africa and the problem of foreign military bases

on 'War on terror'

At the establishment of the African Union (AU) in May 2001, discourses about human security and counter terrorism were ubiquitous both globally and on the continent. In Africa, the...

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21 November 2015  

The Paris attacks: Aftermath and the Islamic State group’s future

on 'War on terror'

By Afro-Middle East Centre The terror unleashed on Paris streets on 13 November reverberated throughout the world. From the G20 summit in Antalya to social media debates about how...

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28 May 2010  

Al-Qaeda in the New National Security Strategy

on 'War on terror'

By Mark Lynch The Obama administration's new National Security Strategy has been released today. It goes a long way towards providing a coherent framework for American foreign pol...

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16 February 2010  

Pakistan’s attitude towards Obama’s plan to negotiate with the Taliban

on 'War on terror'

By Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan has generally been welcomed in Pakistan. It is being seen as a vindication...

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07 February 2010  

Mission Absolute: American hegemony in space

on 'War on terror'

By Sourav Roy Come April 2010, officials from the sleepy Polish municipality of Morag will be gearing up for perhaps their most critical assignment in the new decade. Their job wi...

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French military intervention will add to Mali’s problems

 
The situation in Mali has destabilised rapidly since the removal of former president Amadou Toumani Touré by a military junta in March 2012. Tuareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) took advantage of the subsequent power vacuum to launch an offensive in the north with a view to establishing an autonomous state in the area of Azawad. This position was not new; Tuaregs have sporadically demanded autonomous rule in the area based on the historical and continued political and economic marginalisation of this region. The offensive took a bad turn, however, when the MNLA lost ground to a coalition of Islamist groups, including Ansar al-Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), that have since taken over control of northern Mali, aiming to Islamise the country, or at least the northern cities under their control. While Ansar al-Dine is an ethnically mixed group with a local agenda, the latter two have some links to al-Qaeda, have attracted foreign fighters and claim to adhere to a broader international agenda.
 
The Malian government has been unable to contain the offensive and the escalation of the conflict prompted the international community to consider intervening, while attempting simultaneously to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. That is why the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2085 on 20 December 2012, sanctioning the deployment of 3 300 troops under the supervision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by September 2013, allowing some time to attempt finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis. But events came to a head on 10 January 2013, after Islamist rebels initiated a second offensive to capture the city of Konna, gateway to the south of Mali and only hours away from the capital Bamako. After a renewed call for international assistance by the Malian interim prime minister Dioncounda Traoré, France began a campaign of aerial bombardment to halt the rebel advance.
 
It is perplexing that, given the riskiness of the operation and the quagmire that the French might get themselves into, the French did not invest more into finding a political solution, especially seeing as there may have been a chance that the rebels would engage in negotiations. In November 2012, Ansar al-Dine, the leading Islamist rebel group, renounced violence, claimed readiness to distance itself from AQIM and called for dialogue with the Malian government. But the negotiations, which were mediated by Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, did not bear fruit. It seems the Malian government, which enjoys the support of the international community, saw no need to engage Ansar Dine. Whatever good faith Ansar Dine may have had in dialogue was lost by Hollande’s failure to pressure the Malian government to compromise, as well as his claim to support a diplomatic resolution while at the same time making a move towards military intervention, thus undermining any chance of a peaceful solution. Realising that a military confrontation was inevitable, the Islamists initiated a second offensive to provoke an immediate French military response, rather than waiting for a well planned international operation in September. This forced Hollande’s hand at a time when he was not necessarily completely ready for the intervention.
 
This brisk course of action by Hollande was likely driven by domestic concerns as well as foreign policy opportunities and fears. With a reputation for indecisiveness, Hollande may have seen this as an opportunity to portray himself as a man of action, a strong statesman. Mali also presented an opportunity for him to distract French media from his proposed same-sex marriage legislation, which recently galvanised large numbers of French people against him.
 
France also claims that an Islamist takeover of Mali could threaten France’s strategic interests in the Sahel region and damage economic relations between both countries. The much speculated existence of gas and oil in northern Mali and the existence of 5 200 tons of uranium may also have provided an incentive for Hollande, especially since France generates eighty per cent of its electricity through nuclear power. Mali may thus be a strategic lynchpin and gateway to a region – which includes the countries of Mauritania, the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso – that is swimming in untapped resources, gold, manganese and copper among other minerals. Moreover, this was a relatively safe move for France since ECOWAS and the UN Security Council were already considering military intervention, meaning France was likely to gain international support, unlike in previous military interventions in Africa. Finally, France also claimed to be motivated by a fear that Mali would turn into ‘another Afghanistan’, a base for Islamists in the region. France seems to have been guided by the belief that compromise was neither possible nor desirable with Islamists.
 
While the French aerial campaign may destroy rebel stockpiles and loosen the rebel grip on the bigger cities of northern Mali, complete annihilation of the rebels appears to be virtually impossible, even with the 2 000 emergency troops from Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana and Chad. While the central towns of Diabaly, Konna and Douentza appear to have been taken by French troops, and the other major cities of Timbuktu and Goa are likely to fall soon, the vast Azawad desert will remain a safe haven for the rebels, from which a guerilla war can be launched. The rebels are well-armed, with weapons from post-Qaddafi Libya coming in with Tuareg Libyan soldiers and weapons captured from the Malian army. Moreover, they are able to blend in with the local population and are accustomed to the difficult desert terrain. A military intervention is unlikely to bring this notoriously unpoliced region under control any time soon. The refugee situation, with hundreds of thousands of people already having fled Mali, is likely to worsen. While 2 500 French ground troops have already been deployed, ECOWAS troops are likely to bear the brunt of war casualties.
 
The rebels are not a homogeneous entity. They comprise groups that are pursuing separate agendas. While some atrocities have been committed by certain rebel groups in the north, Ansar al-Dine has displayed a readiness to engage in the political process. Furthermore, the Malian government is not innocent in this matter. Even before the coup in 2012, the government was corrupt and had been accused of human rights violations; it was hardly the beacon of democracy which it is now often made out to have been. The problems of the Malian conflict run deep and there is no easy fix for this marginalised and often uncontrollable region. A French aerial bombardment and ground invasion will add to rather than solve the problem.

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Media Gallery

13 January 2020  

Latest on the Iran and US tension: Naeem…

Iranian opposition members in Germany have warned of a "massacre" in their home country. They've demanded that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "must go" during a protest outside the foreign mini...

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08 January 2020  

US-Iran tensions

US President Donald Trump has sought to downplay the significance of Iran's missile attack on two US bases in neighbouring Iraq. Trump tweeted that all was well and that the damage was being assessed...

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08 January 2020  

Ebrahim Deen weighs in on escalating US-Iran tensions

The Globe speaks with Afro Middle-East Centre researcher Ebrahim Deen on escalating US- Iran tensions.

Videos

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20 October 2019  

Syria accuses Turkey of violating a ceasefire deal:…

Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria have accused Turkey of violating a ceasefire deal by refusing to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians. Turkey has also accused Kurds of violating the ceasefire...

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