French imperialism out of Mali!

Statement by the International Workers’ Unity-Fourth International (UIT-CI)

From the beginning of January the so-called “socialist” government of France, headed by Francois Hollande, has sent troops to Mali in Africa in the name of “human rights” and against “terrorist groups”. These false “humanitarian” arguments are hiding a new imperialist intervention to defend the interests of French multinationals in Mali and the region.

In fact the French government had to intervene militarily in its former colony, following the collapse of Toumani Touré’s pro-French government and the disintegration of the army of Mali. This is the result of the pressures from more than a yearlong armed popular rebellion in the north which controls half of the country. The French intervention has the approval of the Security Council of the UN and EU. Although the weight of the intervention falls on France, the United States offered their drone airplanes while Denmark, Great Britain, Spain and Canada promise to contribute with means of transportation. The imperialists formed the International Support Mission to Mali (SAME)—in which African troops would accompany the 4000 French soldiers— to paint the image of a “multinational” military mission to this imperialist intervention. In that regard, Chad sent a troop contingent of 2000 soldiers, Nigeria sent 900 and hundreds more troops came from Togo, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana and Guinea.

The rebellion of the people of Northern Mali

Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. It became a French colony in 1898 and gained independence in 1960. Since then, Mali had dictatorial governments and civilians who were welcoming in multinationals and IMF leading the country to economic and social debacle. With 15.5 million inhabitants, Mali is ranked 175th in the Human Development Index, with a life expectancy of 51.4 years and 65% of its territory is desert or semi-desert while its GDP per capita ranks 160  of 181 countries (data from El Pais newspaper, 1 /20/13). Additionally, 90% of the population is Muslim.

Since the 1980s, popular uprisings have taken place as a result of the demands of the various ethnic groups in the region which were always divided by imperialism to encourage the looting of natural resources. Over the past decades, a  Tuareg rebellion of Mali emerged in the north; they are a semi-nomadic people who live, historically, in an area covering territories of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

The Tuareg people have strong presence in northern Mali in the region called Azawad covering two thirds of the country, a region of 320.000 square miles miles, but sparsely inhabited, with 1,500,000 people by the large presence of the Sahara Desert. This region was being neglected by the various governments of Mali that focus on exploiting the mineral wealth and cotton, the multinational imperialist allies, especially France.

Since 2011, in the midst of the Arab revolution in the Maghreb, the Tuareg rebellion led by the National Liberation Movement Azawad (MNLA) which is a secular Tuareg organization which fights for the independence of the Azawad region. In May of 2012, the Tuareg declared their independence and no one recognized it. Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libyan Tuareg fighters who were in his army fled to northern Mali with weapons and vehicles equipped with machine guns and joined the rebels. They were joined by other armed Islamic groups such as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), which took part in the origins of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb among others.

In January the MNLA launched an offensive to take the cities of Timbuktu and Gao, toward the center of the country, taking control of Konna city for a few days, and reaching 530 km from Bamako, the Malian capital. With the government army both disbanded and defeated, French imperialism had no choice but to intervene.

The rebels abandoned Konna, but civil war continues and can be extended with great political and military costs for French imperialism and its allies.

France invaded to defend the interests of its multinationals in the region

Hollande cannot hide the fact that his troops—with UN support— are going to Mali to protect the interests of French companies not only in Mali but throughout the African region which could destabilize completely if the rebellion of the Tuareg people succeeds. In particular, the French went to protect the nuclear giant Areva installed in neighboring Niger which extracts cheap uranium for French plants.

The debt crisis in the 80’s had a disastrous impact for Mali which resulted in massive privatization scheme beneficial only to multinational companies at the forefront of which are the French. In fact, the railroad was sold to a Canadian company for pennies. The distribution of electricity passed to the control of the French Bouygues, which is also present in the mining sector such as the Morila gold mine. Textile Development Company of Mali, which managed the cotton sector has been partially sold Dagris group. The Niger Office, which manages the arable land in the Niger River Basin, has become a key land grabber. These problems are compounded by the presence of the multinationals Delmas and Bolloré with one million square feet of warehouse space for storing cotton.

Out with the French and UN imperialist intervention in Mali! For the right to national independence for the Taureg people!

We reject all the arguments of “socialist”  President Hollande in defense of “human rights” and his condemnation of “terrorism” as a pretext to French military intervention. This is another imperialist intervention that seeks to continue plundering the peoples of the world and especially in Mali and the African region.

Moreover, his government does not hesitate to spend millions of euros to support this imperialist military intervention while still implementing an economic austerity plan for the workers and people of France, in an attempt to make the people pay for the capitalist crisis. We call on workers, youth and the masses of France, to mobilize to condemn this military intervention and demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from France and the United Nations in Mali and throughout Africa.

Beyond the political differences that we may have with the MNLA and Islamic groups who lead the rebels, we support the struggle of the Tuareg people for the right to the independence of Azawad. We join the voices in the world that reject imperialist intervention in Mali and we call for international solidarity actions to support the struggle of the people of Mali against this invasion.

International Workers’ Unit-Fourth International (UIT-CI)

January 24, 2013