On 11 January 2013, the French president François Hollande launched Operation Serval to wage the ‘war against terrorism’ in Mali. Planes, tanks and men armed to the teeth are now being employed in the southern Sahel. As these lines are being written, bombs and machine guns are speaking and the first civilian victims have fallen. The British bourgeoisie has pledged planes and logistical support to the French effort, and Cameron has not ruled out the deployment of British troops. And the ‘blow back’ from this conflict has already appeared in the shape of the blood-soaked hostage crisis in Algeria.
War declared on music and dancing, nothing less. “Culture is our petrol... Music is our mineral wealth” says Malian kora player Toumani Diabate in The Guardian on October 23. Unfortunately for the region it is also laden with oil and sought-after minerals. Music, which it’s internationally renowned for, has coursed through the blood of Malians for ages. Now Sharia demands that it is replaced with Qur’anic verse. Not only is the music dying under this capitalist terror but so are many in the region, some through lynchings, stoning to death, whipping and torture, cutting off limbs.... No wonder “No-one is dancing”, and there’s worse to come.
The recent coup in Mali has only accelerated the chaos of a state that has been corrupt and degenerating for a very long time. Moreover, the coup has happened in the context of struggles for influence and in a zone which is the theatre of trafficking of all types, notably arms and drugs, where criminal groups (Islamic mafias and others) fall out over the price of hostages and the plundering of migrants. But above all, Mali is the weak link of a region in growing decomposition brought about by imperialist tensions which are unfolding in the greater region of the Sahel.