Unintended consequences – Ripple effects in Mali from Libyan war

Developments in Mali are interesting to me because I have traveled there in the past.

News in recent months is sad. Previous post describes a coup by the military leaders.

Walter Russell Mead reports in AQ Sympathizers Proclaim Islamic Republic in Northern Mali that several factions have banded together to declare an Islamic Republic in the northern portion of Mali.

Here is the summary:

The agreement {between two factions} united an ethnically based resistance group with an al-Qaeda linked jihadi group; for the moment, official Mali government forces are incapable of resisting the establishment of a state in land from which its armed forces have been expelled.

The military was frustrated with the lack of civilian leadership so they pulled a coup.  It looks like pressure from elsewhere cooled their heels. At the moment the government in Bamako and the country’s military can not do much of anything about the rebellion.

The rebels have consolidated their power in the Northern region building on ethnic and tribal tensions that previously were resolved.

I recall reading many years ago a report describing the effort to resolve conflict with the Tuareg people group as a great example about how to peacefully end an insurgency. A decade or two later the tension has resurfaced, fueled by supporters of the now deposed Libyan government who fled Libya with all the weapons they could carry.

In addition to the sadness this creates, there is also a lesson on unintended consequences. Mr. Mead’s closing comment:

NATO’s Wilsonian war in Libya helped create hundreds of thousands of refugees, destroyed what Africa experts called one of the more promising young democracies on the continent, brought jihadi fanatics into power and sparked what is likely to be a bloody civil war.

I am glad Gaddafi is gone, but how, exactly, was the war in Libya a humanitarian win?

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