Mali: the music suffocated by capitalist terror

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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.

Below we have translated an article on Mali from our section in France written in early September. The basic lines of the article and the overall analysis have since been confirmed about this region’s descent into barbarity and chaos.

As expected by the piece, the UN Security Council has authorised the formation of an African-led military expedition in order to “recapture the north”. The fall-out from the so-called “liberation” of Libya continues to contribute to the downward spiral: the Tuaregs who fled Libya with countless tonnes of weaponry; the jihadist’s “international brigade” coming from all over; and there’s the new major player in the form of the group Ansar Dine, set up by ex-elements of Gaddafi’s “Islamic Legion” composed of “exiles from the Sahel, whom Gaddafi used as cannon-fodder” (Observer, 28.10.12). Ansar Dine has recently formed an alliance with Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in this cesspit of decomposition. The leaders of Ansar Dine, particularly one Ag Ghaly, killer and kidnapper, are, in the opinion of the US Council of Foreign Relations, the people the US should be negotiating with. The most significant development to be added to the article is that, while the running has been made by the US and France in military intervention, German imperialism, through diplomacy at the moment, is now muscling in on the act.

Mali sinks into chaos and barbarity

Since the military coup of March 22 which tore the country to pieces, Mali is now bathing in a bloody chaos. It is prey to a number of imperialist gangs and powers who are fighting over its body. While hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants quit their homes to try to escape the massacres, others are systematically tortured, coldly beaten and even stoned to death. The people of the towns and the country are living in misery and in frightening insecurity as the bloody armed forces are preparing to aggravate and generalise the killings in the name of the “liberation” of the northern region which is in the hands of the Islamist groups.

“One couldn’t be clearer about the situation: a coup d’etat in the South, in the North a rebellion which wants to set up a theocratic state from another age, Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its consorts who scoff at the entire world, their bosses, among the most wanted people on the planet, stroll unconcerned around Timbuktu or Gao and whose crimes would surely dispatch them to International Criminal Court along with those those awaiting trial in The Hague.

In Bamako, the acting president, who couldn’t be greatly faulted in the crisis that is hitting his country, is lynched in front of passive or even laughing conscripts and by idle youths who have no chance of existing outside of the present chaos, being brainwashed into committing this abominable crime. The “saviour of the nation”, Amadou Haya Sango, head of the junta which has seized power from the hands of the president on his departure, saves nothing at all (...) And his troops are using torture, whippings and arbitrary imprisonment against all those who don’t support the “cause”.

Every day Mali is sinking a little more into chaos and all the ingredients of a real time bomb are coming together. It’s a new Somalia in gestation, closer and more worrying. Everyone claims their determination not to let AQIM set themselves up, all claim their indignation faced with such a descent into hell”[1].

Here’s the perfect description of a state of terror and of a population taken hostage by civilian, military and Islamic gangsters. Faithful to their barbarous reputation, the latter have set in motion their machine to mutilate, stone to death, get rid of all those who don’t conform to their “Sharia”.

Here’s a characteristic illustration of the mentality and methods of this “tribe” from another age which rules over Gao: “Gao is not too far. The black flag of the Salfists flutters over the road block. The youth who stops myself and my driver is not much more than 14 years old. He’s concerned hearing the music crackling out of the old car radio. ‘Who’s that?’ he yells in Arabic.

- Bob Marley.

- We are in the land of Islam and you’re listening to Bob Marley? We are the jihadists! Get out of your car, we are going to settle this with Sharia.

Beads in one hand and a Kalachnikov in the other, he reminds me of the boy soldiers in Sierra Leone 20 years earlier... The children are often more ferocious than the adults. We hurry to assure him of our faithfulness to Islam before being authorised to carry on (...) Coming from Algeria and elsewhere, all are found at the commissariat of police, now called the ‘Islamic police’: Abdou is Ivorian; Amadou, Nigerian; Abdoul, Somalian; El Hadj, Senegalese; Omer from Benin and Aly from Guinea; Babo, Gambian... A jihadist international!  Dark glasses on his nose, his face covered by an enormous beard, a Nigerian explains that he’s a member of Boko Harum, the group responsible for a number of attacks in the north of his country. He talks of Mali as the “promised land”, denounces the west and the ‘unbelievers’ and swears that he’s ‘ready to die’, if it’s the will of God”[2].

The lives of the populations living under this “government” of diverse Malian cliques who rival each other in barbarity is abominable. But above all the bourgeois world do not care about the suffering of these victims leaving them to rot and cynically waits the monstrous outbursts that are being prepared.

The decomposition of Mali is here for good

After six months of gestures and haggling between the Malian brigands, a heterogeneous coalition of Malian cliques has officially asked for help from the Economic Community of the States of East Africa, “in the framework of recovering the occupied territories of the north and the struggle against terrorism”. According to le Monde of September 8 2012, Paris, which presides over the Security Council of the UN, quickly announced the organisation of an international conference on the Sahel for September 26 in New York on the margins of the General Assembly of the UN, whose support is necessary for a military intervention in Mali. In fact the countries of the East African Community are only waiting for the green light from the Security Council in order to send some 3300 soldiers to the front. We also know that since the beginning of the occupation of the north by Islamists, the big powers, particularly France and the United States, are pushing for the countries in the zone to get involved militarily in Mali, promising them financial and logistical help. Clearly, after embracing Mali by supporting or directly arming the killer bands, France and the United States, with their rivalry, are ready to launch a new war under the pretext of helping Mali to recover its “territorial integrity” and in the name of the fight against “Islamic terrorism”.

Unfortunately, for the working class and the oppressed of this region, all the bourgeois forces around the UN and the East African Community, who hypocritically claim their “determination” and “indignation” in order to better justify an armed intervention certainly don’t want to launch their forces into action with the aim of sparing the population from this descent into “hell”. Who really thinks that French and American imperialism are sincerely indignant faced with the misery that the proletarian masses of this region have to submit to? Who could think that these gang bosses will fight AQIM and its consorts with the sole aim of establishing “peace” and “the security of peoples” in this zone?

Obviously, the answer is no-one. In truth our great democratic barbarians are ready to put the whole region to the torch simply because their strategic and economic interests are directly threatened by these armed groups, preventing the good functioning of economic traffic. This is what can be understood when the French and American authorities talk about “the war against terrorist groups” and “for the security of the zone’s provision of raw materials”. In the same way, certain elements of the bourgeois press are preparing “public opinion” in the sense of better justifying the coming massacres: “It’s no longer hypothetical, it’s a certainty: the more time goes on, the more the decomposition of this broken state is accentuated and the more the humanitarian, strategic and political nightmare of the Somalisation of Mali haunts East Africa, the Maghreb and soon Europe. Even those who, a couple of months ago, accorded the secession of the north some attenuating circumstances through sympathy with the long-time neglected social-economic claims of the Tuaregs, now fear the brutal grip of the most intransigent Islamist groups on whom rest the populations of Azawad. How can terrorism and all sorts of trafficking finding sanctuary throughout the Sahel under the cover of Sharia and the banners of a twisted Jihadism be accepted?”[3].

In effect, from Algeria to Nigeria, from Libya to Niger, from Sudan to Mali, from Chad to Gabon, passing through the Ivory Coast, all this part of Africa is full of the most wanted raw materials the control of which constitutes an extremely high strategic stake. Thus even if they know that they are not going to come out unscathed the various vultures cynically keep the chaos going. We know that France has never stopped its military intervention in this zone, notably Mauritania and Niger in company with the troops of these countries in order to protect its businesses such as AREVA which exploits Nigerian uranium. The United States are also not far behind as the publication Jeune Afrique notes: “Their role (the USA) has become still more vital since the north has fallen into the hands of the Islamists and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (...) The tension which reigns in the Malian north is also provoking the Pentagon to strengthen its presence in Mauritania (...) The Washington Post has just affirmed that more than 8 million dollars has been released in order to renew a base close to the Malian frontier and undertake surveillance operations together with Mauritanian forces. The two other hot spots prompting the USA to act are Nigeria, with the growing presence of Bako Harum, and Somalia (...) General Carter Ham (who leads the Africom forces) stressed to Congress last March: ‘If we don’t have bases on the continent, our means of ISR (information, surveillance and reconnaissance) will be limited and that will contribute to weakening the security of the USA’ (...) Also in front of the Congress Carter Ham declared that he wanted to be able to establish a new base for surveillance at Nzara, in south Sudan. Here again this project is explained by local circumstances. Tensions between Sudan and its southern neighbour rich in hydrocarbons doesn’t leave Washington, which must assure the security of the petrol companies in the region, indifferent.”

It couldn’t be clearer: the US gang boss and its competitors are going to pulverise the whole region of the Sahel, beginning with Mali, with the aim of securing (amongst other things) the zones that are “rich in hydrocarbons”.

Mali isn’t just an “African Afghanistan” but the face of a moribund capitalism

Here’s a country in total decomposition which can offer no viable perspective to its population and to its children, many of whom, in order to survive, are manipulated or recruited by various mafias and traffickers who transforms them into soldiers and mercenaries. This is how these simple young victims of capitalist misery can become, from one day to the next, killers and cruel “apprentice hangmen”. All these youths, unemployed and those that have not worked, all those who have nothing find themselves at the mercy of all the criminal brigands thirsty for profits and blood: civilian or military “democrats”, putchists, independentists and nationalists, “jihadists” and other “people of God”. 

Amina, 9.9.12

[1]. Jeune Afrique 14.7.2012


[2]. Account of a journalist from Jeune Afrique, 4.8.2012


[3]. Jeune Afrique,June 16 2012




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