A South Alabama University professor has questioned the sincerity of the West in the fight against extremism, saying while France, with a support of its allies, has launched a war against al-Qaeda-linked groups in Mali they have been arming and funding extremist groups in Syria.
“It is ironic that while France and the United States claim to be fighting these extremist groups, they continue to provide funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition to their brethren in Syria and indirectly to
their allies in North Africa,” Nader Entessar tells the Tehran Times.
Entessar also said, “There are several economic and strategic motives behind France's military attack on Mali.”
Following is the text of the interview:
What are the main goals of France's military intervention in Mali?
From the legal standpoint, France's military attack against Mali is a highly questionable move and is clearly in violation of several established norms of public international law. Although France's colonial possessions have long gained their independence, Paris is under the illusion that parts of Africa is its its "back yard" and it has the "right" to interfere in African affairs irrespective of the legality of such actions. In other words, France still lives under the illusion of grandeur.
There may also be some economic motives behind France's military moves in Mali. Although Mali is not a large country, it does contain significant amount of natural resources. For example, Mali is Africa's third largest gold producers. Encouraging signs of uranium deposits, precious stones, iron ore, bauxite, manganese, copper, lead, zinc and other mineral resources have made Mali a target of Western corporate interest in recent years.
Since the early 1970s, there have been seismic and other indications of oil deposits in Mali. With the increasing price of global oil and gas resources, Mali has stepped up its promotion and research for oil exploration, production and potential exports. Mali could also provide a strategic transport route for Sub-Saharan oil and gas exports through to the Western world and there is the possibility of connecting the Taoudeni basin to European market through Algeria. In short, there are several economic and strategic motives behind France's military attack on Mali.
Moreover, we should examine the recent development in Mali in broader regional contexts. In recent months, we have witnessed the increasing presence of extremist groups, some with Western links via Libya, operating in various parts of Africa. The activities of these groups are increasingly spilling over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn by countries like France. The linkage between these extremist groups, some with al-Qaeda ties, will continue to pose a major threat to the territorial integrity of several African countries, especially in Algeria. It is ironic that while
France and the United States claim to be fighting these extremist groups, they continue to provide funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition to their brethren in Syria and indirectly to their allies in North Africa.
Nader Entessar is professor of the University of South Alabama. He is the author of Kurdish Ethnonationalism (1992) and the co-editor of Reconstruction and Regional Diplomacy in the Persian Gulf (Routledge, 1992) and Iran and the Arab world.
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