News / Africa

Mali Military Intervention Support Growing

People originally from northern Mali carry signs reading 'We support army action to liberate the North,' as thousands of Malians, including elected officials, front, marched in support of foreign aid and military intervention to retake Mali's north from I
People originally from northern Mali carry signs reading 'We support army action to liberate the North,' as thousands of Malians, including elected officials, front, marched in support of foreign aid and military intervention to retake Mali's north from I
Peter Tinti
High-level delegations from the United Nations, West African bloc ECOWAS, and the African and European Unions meet with Malian leaders Friday to hammer out details for proposed military intervention to retake Mali's north.  

In Mali's capital city of Bamako Men gather every morning at roadside newspaper vendors to debate the headlines, more specifically, what to do about the north dominates discussion.

The territory fell to al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants in April amid the chaos that followed a March 22 coup in the south.  
Mali Military Intervention Support Growing
Mali Military Intervention Support Growingi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

As the crisis drags on, hopes for a negotiated solution appear to be fading.  What was once fierce resistance to the prospect of foreign troops in Mali appears to be waning.

Many in Bamako say they worry that Mali's army is still too disorganized and poorly equipped to take back the region alone.

Bamako resident Moussa Cisse says the Malian military needs training.  It is disorganized at this moment and needs the help of ECOWAS, but only with training.  He says then Mali can liberate the north by itself.

But hundreds of Malians marched in Bamako against the idea of ECOWAS military deployment.  The protest was organized by COPAM, a coalition backing the junta that toppled the government.  The coalition has objected to ECOWAS involvement in Mali since the coup and has staged regular demonstrations.

It was hard not to compare the turnout to the thousands of people who marched last week in support of ECOWAS troops coming to Mali.

Local analysts say those who oppose foreign assistance are being marginalized within the interim government, which appears to be increasingly independent from coup leaders.

Attitudes are also shifting in the North, not just about foreign military assistance, but also about the idea of an offensive.

VOA spoke over the phone with residents of occupied northern towns who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted by Islamist militants.

One resident of Gao said he believes that the time for negotiations has passed, after months of living under harsh Islamist rule.

He says military intervention is necessary.  Mali has negotiated with armed groups in the past, he says, but the problems always come back a few years later and this time is different.  He says the population has "had enough" and it is time for war in order to "clear the path."  He says there is nothing to negotiate, because the Islamists want Sharia or nothing.

A resident of Timbuktu now living in Bamako echoed these sentiments, arguing his friends and family who stayed behind all support military action.

The people in the north are suffering, he says, and when they heard about a possible military intervention by ECOWAS, he says everyone was happy.  He says Mali is a secular country and there cannot be Sharia law because Malians live together, whether one is Christian, animist or Muslim.

The U.N. refugee agency says at least 450,000 northerners have fled into neighboring countries or into the government-held south since the start of the year.

A recent report by the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights cited many human rights abuses committed by Islamists in the north, including amputations, recruitment of child soldiers and "enforced marriages that are a smokescreen for enforced prostitution."  Smoking and music are banned, and in many towns women are forced to wear a veil and are forbidden from interacting with men in public.

Amid these reports, many Malians appear to be reaching the conclusion this crisis is fundamentally different from past rebellions, in which secular, ethnic Tuareg separatists sought greater autonomy and independence for the region.

But there continues to be a broad mix of opinions regarding how a military intervention should be carried out.  Many Malians who support military intervention say they fear that a hastily-planned, poorly-executed military campaign, by either the army or a regional force, would just make the crisis worse.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid