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'West created conditions for Islamists to take over in Mali'

Published time: October 13, 2012 18:17
Edited time: October 13, 2012 22:32

People hold banners against a foreign military intervention in Mali. (AFP Photo / Habibou Kouyate)

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As the situation in Mali continues to deteriorate and France calls for intervention, journalist Gerald Horne explained to RT that it was Western powers that created the conditions in the first place for Islamic extremists to take over.

He also expressed surprise that “there will be no French troops in this intervention,” as “the North Atlantic nations bear total responsibility for this catastrophe.”

RT: Now there is opinion that Mali was a relatively stable country while Colonel Gaddafi was in power in Libya, due to his close tribal links – tell us more about this interdependence.

Gerald Horne: There is no question that what is happening in Mali is a humanitarian crisis and a disaster, and is a direct outgrowth of the North Atlantic countries' intervention in Libya in 2011. In order to dislodge Colonel Gaddafi, the North Atlantic countries had to dump tons of weapons into Libya, which inevitably leaked into neighboring Mali, which before had been relatively stable. With the leaking of these weapons into Mali you saw the eruption of civil unrest and military unrest in northern Mali, and now what we have is an al-Qaeda-like formation that has taken hold of a region of northern Mali – which is larger than the state of France. What has happened in the wake of this overthrow of the authorities in Bamako has been the flogging of suspected criminals and the amputation of hands of suspected thieves, the persecution of single mothers. Tens of thousands have fled into neighboring Nigeria, tens of thousands more have fled into neighboring Mauritania, and tens of thousands have fled into neighboring Niger. It’s also fair to say that this event has given a jolt of success to so-called Islamists throughout northern and north western Africa. For example in neighboring Nigeria, the Boko Haram has repeatedly been attacking Christian churches in recent weeks and months. What’s happening is that the United Nations Security Council has to authorize a resolution for the economic communities of west African states to intervene in Mali in order to overthrow this Islamist formation in northern Mali and basically clean up the mess created by the intervention in Libya of the North Atlantic countries.

RT: For many countries, Gaddafi was a man who supported insurgents and eventually took part in the coup in Mali, but to others he helped restraint among those desert warriors. How does something like that happen, how do you see that?

GH: Well basically, the state formations in that part of Africa are rather fragile, and it is inevitable that if you drop tons of weapons into fragile regions that there is only going to be unrest that ensues immediately and automatically. Not only that, but Colonel Gaddafi had worked out a détente with the North Atlantic nations to contain conservative religious radicals. But basically the North Atlantic nations, led by Washington, London and Paris overthrew that détente; they turned the tables on Colonel Gaddafi and aligned with his former antagonists and overthrew him – and now the inevitable has happened. We have to recognize that there is a fatal attraction between conservative religious radicals and the North Atlantic nations. We recall what happened in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, when they aligned with the same forces and now see the same result: a quagmire in Afghanistan, with these former allies of these North Atlantic nations now fighting it out to the death.

RT: Very briefly, we know that Western powers weighed in to help overthrow Gaddafi in Libya – do you think, and if so, just how much of a responsibility should they provide for provoking such major instability in the region?

GH: Well I find it very curious that President Hollande of France has said there will be no French troops in this intervention in Mali; it seems to me that the North Atlantic nations bear total responsibility for this humanitarian catastrophe in Mali. They should be made to pay reparations not only to Mali but also to the neighboring countries that have had to take in tens of thousands of refugees, thereby putting an enormous strain on their fragile states.

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