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Blue Man Coup: How Gadhafi’s Mercenaries Broke Mali

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Posted on May 16, 2012
AP/Aliou Sissoko

Tuaregs ride camels in a racing event in northern Mali. Since a military coup in March, ethnic Tuareg rebels have succeeded in taking the three largest towns in the Mali’s north: Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.

By Susan Zakin

(Page 3)

Mali’s president “begged the United States and Europe to either forgive the debt or restructure it,” Prashad wrote. “Washington held fast. Moral hazard was the name of the game. George Moose, Clinton’s assistant secretary of State for African affairs, caviled, ‘virtue is its own reward.’ How could Mali be bailed out? That would set a bad example for the rest of the indebted countries.”

Government salaries could not be paid and, presumably, ammunition could not be purchased. Forced privatization hurt the cotton market and decimated fragile farming in the north.

Without minimizing the damage of international lending policies, it would be both patronizing and inaccurate to hold the West entirely responsible for Mali’s troubles. David Gutelius, a development economist who worked in the region, criticizes development programs for lining the pockets of Mali’s politically connected elite without improving conditions for the poor. According to Gutelius, the lack of viable economic alternatives and government services in the northern desert was the result of the Traoré government’s cronyism, and helped foster successive Tuareg rebellions.

At the same time, Mali’s desperate financial situation left the country, which is 80 percent Muslim, dependent on Islamic nongovernmental organizations and missionary groups—including those dedicated to a “purer” Islam.


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This is Part 1 of an in-depth look at the rebellion in Mali. Part 2, which will be published Thursday, picks up with the influence of religion, U.S. counterterrorism and smuggling on Mali’s ongoing crisis.

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By noelle, May 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When will we acknowledge that the IMF and the World Bank are destroying the world, nation after nation, including the US and Europe? When will we restructure our economy and get rid of these rascal banksters who fatten themselves by looting the whole planet?

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By frecklefever, May 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment


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By PatrickHenry, May 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

Heavily armed malcontents with nothing better to do, a later day wild wild west.

Modern day pirates, factions armed by the U.S. and NATO spreading fear, death and anarchy which the victims will beg intervention by those who created this mess.

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By americanme, May 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment


Hmmmm.  Americans is the wrong term.  Everyone in thsi hemisphere is American.

But USites since I’ve been on the planet—and that’s nearly 70 years have mostly been dumb and uncaring (empathic ealls thicker than the Great Wall of China).  Recently they became really fat and frightened.  I think both were consequences of US government dictates—along with their stupefication from both legal and illegal drugs.

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By litlpeep, May 16, 2012 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

There are so many markers in this tale of radical imperial failure, it is difficult to find one that stands out.

For one example, “When you chased Qaddafi out in that barbaric fashion, you created 10 more Qaddafis. The whole Saharo-Sahelian region has become unlivable.”

That refrain has been repeated since Andrew Jackson decided to create war and destruction on all the native tribes in the US controlled areas of North America.

It has been repeated in Latin America since James Monroe decided (and no one else questioned) that Latin America was part of the US hegemonic area.  Meaning, we’re an empire, and that’s part of our colonies.

We have repeated the radical imperial failures with dramatically increasing consistency since Truman usurped the power to declare war from Congress, and Congress capitulated without a whimper, sending troops into Korea, a war that has lasted more than sixty years, with no resolution even on anyone’s drawing board.

The empire will continue to destroy the USA from the inside and from the top down.  There is no way anyone can imagine to reverse this rot while continuing to vote for either the democratic or republican national parties or any of their candidates.

We have plenty of options, though time is running out.  We either build viable political alliances from the bottom up, from local neighborhoods and communities outward, or our children and grandchildren become the colonized of some as yet not clearly identifiable imperialists who will replace our rotten to the core banker-muppets and their bipartisan puppets in DC.

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By balkas, May 16, 2012 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

there is an enormous diff between saying “tuaregs
are professional thieves” and saying that some or
most of them BECAME thieves.
or even that americans are fat, dumb, uncaring,
frightened, stupefied and saying that they BECAME

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