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France's Mali intervention simply a PR move?

Published time: January 15, 2013 03:56
Edited time: January 15, 2013 07:59

French soldiers from the 2nd RIMA (French Navy Infantry Regiment), arriving from France, stand at the 101 military airbase near Bamako on January 14, 2013, before their deployment in north of Mali (AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)

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France’s decision to intervene in Mali is just a public relations bid by President Hollande, as his domestic policies have yet to live up to his campaign promises, political activist John Rees has told RT.

­Instead of bombing yet another Muslim state, France, Rees argues, should work to resolve domestic disputes with their minorities.

RT: Paris says it's waging 'a war against terrorism' in Mali – So its goals seem noble at least …

John Rees: Well, we’ve heard this so many times. I’m surprised that they haven’t bored themselves by repeating this line. We heard it over Afghanistan, we heard it over Iraq. We heard it over Libya and we should recall that more than a decade ago, at the beginning of this process, the head of the security service in Britain warned the then PM Tony Blair that the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq which spread the threat of terrorism, not reduce it. That warning has proved sadly absolutely correct. There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded it- there is now. Al-Qaeda had not spread to Pakistan in the way that it has now since the invasion of Afghanistan. As we heard from your correspondent, the intervention in Libya has led directly to the spread of al- Qaeda in Mali now. We should at least have learned by now that this is not the way you reduce the threat of terrorism, this is actually the way in which you bolster it, in which you increase its attractiveness to young people in the region.

RT: Should France just sit back and let terrorism and extremism reign over Mali where it could perhaps become a haven for extremism and terrorism and just threaten regional stability but become a base for terrorist operation worldwide…

JR: If the French want to do something about reducing the antagonism between their state and the Muslim people both in France and abroad, they should start at home. They should start withdrawing the laws which make it illegal for women to wear Islamic hair dresses in France. They should withdraw the law that now makes it illegal for Muslims to pray in the streets in France. Perhaps if they want better relations with the Muslim world, they could start by bettering the relations with the Muslim community in France itself. That would be a far more significant step forward than bombing yet another Muslim country.

RT: When will African nations be left to solve their internal problems by themselves – without foreign interference?

JR: I think when they stand up to the imperial powers. I think it is a mistake on the part of the Mali government, no matter what its difficulties to call for help from the very who are people responsible since colonial times for so much of a disaster in that part of the world. Only a small look North and East would tell you that in the Middle East constant attention of the imperial powers have generation after generation worsened the problem not made it better.

RT: The dust has not yet settled since the Libyan military campaign spearheaded by France – and the country is at war once again – will the French public support it?

JR: They may well do. I think your correspondent was right when they said that there is very little difference in Sarkozy response over Libya and Hollande’s response over the Mali crisis. That is sad because Hollande promised so much. Its his inability to deliver on the domestic front, his inability to live up to the high hopes that many in France hoped that he would deal with austerity, which has driven him into incredibly reckless foreign policy in a hope that it would bolster his poll ratings. These gambles sometimes turnout to be correct but in recent history in Europe they often turned out to be incorrect. It was the end of Blair the premiership- when he attacked Iraq. It took some years to work himself through but that is what happened. Hollande needs to look at that and wonder whether or not he wants to shred the same power.

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