French Parliament votes to extend Mali mission

Yesterday, Monday April 22nd, 2013, the French Parliament voted to extend the French military mission in Mali, Operation Serval. Under Article 35 of the French Constitution, the government is required to submit requests to extend military interventions beyond four months to the Parliament, which then votes on the request. The Senate voted in favor 326 to 0 and the National Assembly, 342 to 0.

As part of the debate in the Senate, a report, dated April 16th, prepared by Jean-Pierre Chevenement and Gérard Larcher on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was introduced into the record. The 135-page report (which is only available in French as far as I can tell) argues that a continued French military presence in Mali is necessary for the time being, based on a number of concerns:

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Mali analysis round-up (Part 4)

This is Part 4 to a round-up of interesting pieces that are related to the situation in Mali. Most aren’t directly related to France specifically but given the centrality of the Mali intervention in French foreign policy at the moment, it’s all relevant. Part 1 is available here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

General

The Atlantic Council has a good collection of resources (publications, posts, external resources, etc) here.

“When the Jihad Came to Mali” – first-hand account by Joshua Hammer in the New York Review of Books

“Understanding Mali’s ‘Tuareg Problem'” – blog post on Bridges from Bamako

On the Long-Term & Reconstruction

“The remaking of Mali” – article by Pietro Musili and Patrick Smith in the Africa Report (unfortunately, you can’t read the whole thing without a subscription)

“How to tackle Mali’s crisis in the long term” – analysis by IRIN News

“For Progress in Mali and the Sahel, Local Governance Cannot Be Ignored” – by Mireille Affa’a-Mindzie on the Global Observatory

On the Human Impact

“Mali conflict leaves dangerous legacy for children” – video on BBC News

“The returns challenge in Mali” – analysis by IRIN News (on the challenges with repatriating and reintegrating refugees from Mali)

On Military Intervention & Peacekeeping

“Tuareg rebels ask ICC to probe Mali army ‘crimes'”AFP wire

“French Officials Warn ‘Success’ in Mali Won’t End Islamist Threat” – article by Bruce Crumley in Time Magazine

“Stablising northern Mali: different approaches to peace operations” – analysis by Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni for the Institute for Security Studies

“Mali’s Peacekeeping Mission: Full-Fledged Behemoth, or Have Lessons Been Learned?” – by Arthur Boutellis on the Global Observatory

Response from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to accusations by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights against the Malian army

From my friends over at La Jeune Politique – very interesting article on the French-Qatar relationship and how Qatar may be supporting Islamists in Mali, all the while conducting joint military exercises with France.

La Jeune Politique

French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Qatar February 10 for a brief visit of less than twenty-four hours, just a week after President Hollande visited Mali. France’s recent and heightened military intervention in Mali has drawn criticism from Qatar, and Le Drian met with the Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on behalf of President Hollande to discuss the conflict.

One of the products of the meeting is “Falcon Gulf 2013,” an agreement whereby French military from every branch will journey to Qatar for a joint exercise, which began this past Saturday and will run through the first week of March. According to the French Defense website, “the objectives of integration are ambitious, as all the levels (operational and tactical)” will participate. This joint exercise symbolizes a reinforcement of the relationship between the nations.

The exercise comes at a tenuous time in the French-Qatar relationship. Suspicions…

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Mali analysis round-up (Part 3)

This is Part 3 to a round-up of interesting pieces (some related to France’s intervention in Mali, some not) I’ve found on Mali. Part 1 is available here and Part 2 here.

@MaliDaily also compiled this list of “who to follow on #Mali” on Twitter which is pretty useful to get regular updates on the situation there! Some of the people on the list tweet in French and some in English.

The Africa Sub-Committee of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives recently held a hearing on Mali. The video transcript and written statements and testimonies are available here.

“Can France restore the magic of northern Mali?” – article by Andy Morgan on the BBC

“Intoxication by information: fighting over facts in Mali” and “Behind Mali’s conflict: myths, realities and unknowns” – blog posts on Bridges from Bamako – they both provide a really good overview of a lot of what’s being said in the news media and by NGOs and provides counter views – in other words, a great overview of the different opinions.

“What’s the way forward for Mali?” – by IRIN News

“Inside the Islamic Emirate of Timbuktu” – article by Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa on Foreign Policy – fascinating look into how the extremists functioned in Timbuktu until they were kicked out.

“Security in the Sahel and the West’s Military Fixation” – article by Peter Dorrie in Think Africa Press

“Excerpts from al-Qaida manifesto left behind in Timbuktu” – in the Washington Post

“The ICC might not deter Mali’s rebels – but it might deter the government” – blog post by Mark Kersten on Justice in Conflict

“Tessalit assumes vital importance in Mali’s struggle against Islamist rebels” – article by Afua Hirsch in The Guardian

“Fear returns to Mali amid clashes” – video report on the BBC

Mali analysis round-up (Part 2)

This is part 2 to a round-up of interesting pieces (some related to France’s intervention in Mali, some not) I’ve found on Mali. Part 1 is available here.

General

“Crisis in Mali having far-reaching impact on rest of West Africa, warns UN envoy” – UN article

“Guide to the Crisis in Mali: Part 1” and “Part 2” – by Sasha Papazoff in La Jeune Politique

“Mali is not a Stan” – article by Laura Seay in Foreign Policy (very good response to the many pundits, especially in the US, who’ve said that Mali was going to become France’s Afghanistan)

“In Search of Monsters” – article by Stephen W Smith in the London Review of Books

“Crisis in Mali” – report by Alexis Arrieff for the Congressional Research Service (interesting in that it provides information to US Congressional offices and will impact US policy)

On the Military Intervention

“In Mali, military intervention is not enough” – article by Kofi Annan in The Guardian

“Mali Exposes Flaws in West’s Security Plans” – article by Adam Entous, Julian E Barnes and Drew Hinshaw for the Wall Street Journal (very interesting piece of what’s really going between the French and the Americans)

“French Military Intervention in Mali: It’s Legal but… Why? Part II: Consent and UNSC Authorisation” – by Theodore Christakis and Karine Bannelier on the Blog of the European Journal of International Law

On the Roots of the Conflict

“Jihad in Africa: The danger in the desert” – article in The Economist (on terrorism in Algeria and the Mali crisis)

“Analysis: The dynamics of inter-communal violence in Mali” – by IRIN News

On Human Rights

“Mali: First assessment of the human rights situation after three week conflict”Amnesty International briefing note

“Mali: Human Rights and Humanitarian Snapshot” – Overview of displacement and pressing human rights issues on MapBox

“Untold Stories from the Conflict in Mali” [videos] – by Christoph Koettl on the Witness.org blog

On the ICC Case

“Prosecuting crimes against cultural property in Northern Mali: Why it Matters” – blog post by Jelia Sane on Justice in Conflict (an oldie but goodie)

“Cash-Strapped ICC Takes on Mali” – analysis by IRIN News

“Timbuktu’s Cultural Treasures & the ICC” – blog post by Kimberly J Curtis on the Foreign Policy Association blog

Mali analysis round-up

There’s been some very interesting pieces written about Mali in the past few weeks which I wanted to share as I’ve found them very useful in understanding the current situation. I originally wanted to keep this to analytical pieces related to France’s involvement in Mali but I thought expanding it to wider issues and themes might be useful. I’ll update this as I find more stuff. Please feel free to send links my way (through the comments here or on the contact page)!

General

Chronology of events (in French) by Radio France International (not really an analytical piece but a very useful resource

“France in Mali: the End of the Fairytale” – blog post by Gregory Mann on Africa is a Country

“On Intervention, Popularity and Colonialism in Mali” – blog post by Alex Thurston on Sahel Blog

“Mali, dynamic of war” – blog post by Paul Rogers on Open Democracy

“French Military Intervention in Mali: It’s Legal but … Why? Part I” – blog post by Theodore Christakis and Karine Bannelier on the blog of the European Journal of International Law

On the ICC referral

ICC, Office of the Prosecutor, “Situation in Mali – Article 53(1) Report”

“Mali and the ICC: what lessons can be learned from previous investigations?” in The Guardian

“Random Comments on the Mali Self-Referral to the ICC” – blog post on Spreading the Jam

“Is the International Criminal Court Following the Flag in Mali” – blog post on Political Violence @ a Glance

On human rights

“Intervention in Mali: Human Rights First?” – blog post by Andrew Jillions on Justice in Conflict

Letter to French President Francois Hollande on situation in Mali – from Human Rights Watch

“Mali: Civilians Bear the Brunt of the Conflict” – report from Amnesty International (from last year but provides a good overview nonetheless)

On US-French cooperation in Mali

“Thinking Through the Malian Thicket” – blog post by Deborah Pearlstein on Opinio Juris on the legality (international and domestic) of potential US involvement in Mali.

On criticism of the French intervention in Mali

“France Faces Criticism over Malian Intervention as Humanitarian Questions Arise” – blog post/news story by Sasha Papazoff on La Jeune Politique

France & Mali: old friends?

There’s been little discussion of French-Mali relations prior to the current conflict (by that I mean the past few months …) so I figured this might make for a good first post. This is a really brief overview and not an in-depth analysis but I do think it is useful to put things into perspective.

A little bit of background …

First a few facts. Mali gained independence from France in 1960. Early relations between France and Mali are often discussed in the context of Mali’s 1962 decision to opt out of the Franc Zone (a cornerstone of France’s post-colonial policy in Africa – more on that in a later post, I promise), which is seen by some to have engendered many of the country’s subsequent economic and financial difficulties. This was in large part due to post-independence President Modibo Keita’s socialist-leaning economic policy. Mali signed on the Franc Zone later, in 1967, but under an agreement that saw the Malian franc devalued by 50%. Full integration of Mali into the UEMOA (Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, “West African Economic and Monetary Union”) did not happen until 1984.

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