The Western policy north of Mali – a mix of cynicism and cunning
… so Libya was attacked in the name of freeing its oppressed people but also in the name of ousting a leader who, for his decades of cynicism and support for terrorism, deserved it. Ultimately they only waited for the occasion and it presented itself.
By the way, those who are eager to criticize the “Françafrique” (a French expression to describe the paternalist and sometimes shady relationships between France and its former colonies) should be reminded that Gaddafi was a real caricature of his kind: clientelism carried to an extreme, colonisation of the Sahelian countries by money – all this in a rude and brutal style. How many African politicians were forced to make humiliating courtesy visits to the palaces of Tripoli or to the tents of the most powerful king of Africa? True, we have seen some examples of elegant gestures – but they were never for free.
Here is the Libya of the Colonel now: defeated by its own people and by the NATO attacks. Both have been essential to success.
What is the result?
- The country is highly divided: only the Colonel knew how to handle the various tribes and subdue any recalcitrants. A certain Josip Broz Tito – in a different era and style – had the very same expertise.
- Looted arsenals and dangerous weapons are circulating throughout the Sahel at the hands of the Tuareg’s, the AQMI (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), Ansar Eddine and others, according to the rule of the highest bidder.
The coalition took advantage of the weakening of the Gaddafi-regime without considering the consequences for the Sahel or rather considering the consequences as acceptable in return for the benefits. That’s the cynicism…
But where’s the cunning in all of this?
From a purely militaristic point of view, it may be interesting to draw Islamists of all kinds to an empty and deserted area. They pour in from all over the world – from the Middle East, Northern Nigeria, etc. – attracted by the delights of power and the various opportunities for enrichment.
From a Western perspective, modern warfare is much easier to carry out outside of urban settlements where troops are instantly detectable and telecommunications are easy to intercept. Would you prefer to conduct urban guerrilla warfare in the streets of Kano or Kabul, or rather in an empty desert without any shrubs that provide hideouts for your enemy?
I think that for a modern army equipped with satellites and drones, the second option is much more efficient.
War may be carried out eventually, once enough extremists are caught in the trap, and cooperation with Algeria will be assured.