Mali Proves we Should Stay Out of Other Country's Problems and End the War of Terror
To the dismay of the US, junior Malian officers trained as part of $620m pan-Sahelian counter-terrorism initiative launched in 2002 to help four semi-desert states resist Islamic militancy took part in a coup in March last year. Others among them defected to the Tuareg revolt that eventually led to a coalition of Islamist militias, allied with Algerian militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, capturing the northern two-thirds of Mali.
Potentially, these US-trained officers are now using US counter-insurgency knowhow against France’s intervention force.
“It is a great failure,” says Dr Berny Sèbe, an expert in Franco-African relations at the University of Birmingham. “Some of them defected. Others organised a coup.”
In two of the three other Sahelian states involved in the Pentagon’s pan-Sahelian initiative, Mauritania and Niger, armies trained by the US, have also taken power in the past eight years. In the third, Chad, they came close in a 2006 attempt.
“One of the things I think we’ve learnt is that it’s not sufficient to focus exclusively on tactical activities. We’re very, very good in training and technical matters,” he said. But, he added: “We’ve got to spend more attention at the senior leader levels to talk more about the real role of militaries in free societies.”