The Rebellious Colony of Mali: an introduction into the geopolitics of western Africa

Carlton Meyer, “The Rebellious Colony of Mali” (Tales of the American Empire, 14 October 2022)

A handy introduction into the geopolitics of western Africa and why this part of the African continent is increasingly becoming more important in world affairs, this recent instalment in Meyer’s ongoing “Tales of the American Empire” singles out Mali as an example of a nation whose energy and mineral resources put it in the crosshairs of those who want those resources and who are prepared to steal them. Mali’s background as a former French colony rich in oil, gold and other valuable minerals, and its place in the Central Franc Zone, dominated by France, is covered. Meyer points out that Mali, like so many other African nations, is an artificial creation whose borders were determined by European imperial powers. The fact that Mali is populated by many different ethnic and religious groups works to France’s advantage: the French could and still do practise a divide-and-rule strategy to keep these groups in conflict with one another, rather than uniting against their common oppressor.

Different aspects of Mali’s recent history and its relations with its neighbours are revealed. Mali and several other nations in the Central Franc Zone were enthusiastic supporters of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddhafi’s Gold Dinar proposal as a rival to the US dollar and the euro. His overthrow in 2011 put an end to Africa’s dreams of having its own common trading currency and economic market. As a result of Gaddhafi’s overthrow and death, Libya could no longer contain sub-Saharan migration and huge numbers of Africans headed into Europe, many of them risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Terrorist activity, especially that of Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram among others, increased in western Africa, including Mali. Eventually though, Malians wearied of continued French military occupation of their nation, suspecting perhaps that much of the terrorist threat was an excuse for France and then the US to occupy Malian soil militarily.

In recent years US and Western preoccupation with the war in Ukraine, with the potential to extend the war into Russia with the possibility of overthrowing the current Russian government and installing a puppet government in Moscow, has led to the US withdrawing troops from Mali. A military junta took power in Mali in 2020 and invited mercenaries from the Russian private company Wagner to help aid it against foreign interference. In May 2022, military officers attempted a coup against the junta, but this coup failed.

Oddly there is no mention in this video of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and others operating in Mali, to say nothing of who or what is funding them. A quick survey of such groups might have made the video a bit more complicated, but it would have been closer to reality. There is very little information about the impact of continued French and US interference in Mali on the country’s institutions, economy and people though we can be sure that the effect on Mali’s political and economic stability would have been negative. At present Mali appears to be as free as it can be from foreign infiltration under the junta government, but Meyer does observe that the CIA keeps a close watch on Mali and other countries in its region for opportunities to insert itself.