It is lovely to have Timbuktu back in the news, a welcome whiff of backwards exoticism and savagery. I am still not sure yet about Mali, and what we’re doing there. I think that in general bombing berserk Islamist Arabs is probably a good thing. I am aware too that Mali is, technically, a constitutional democracy – although in effect it is a one party state. Here’s what Amnesty International has to say about the people we are fighting for:
‘Malian security forces have also committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the extrajudicial executions of Tuareg civilians, indiscriminate shelling of a Tuareg nomadic camp and killing livestock which the nomadic population rely on for survival.
Crimes are not confined to the north of the country. Amnesty International has also documented cases of torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and attacks against political leaders, journalists and other people who expressed dissent peacefully in the south, where the capital Bamako lies.
Measures must also be taken by the Mali government to ensure justice, truth and reparation for all victims. Despite several enquiries being opened into some of these incidents, no cases have been brought before national courts.’
Two sides to every story, etc. Berserk Islamists fighting the governments in Tunisia, Libya and Syria and Egypt were given our support, of course. But down in the Sahel we’ve swapped sides. Perhaps that’s because it’s not ‘spring’ any more, but winter.