Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mali: Country in Turmoil, Foreigners Should Avoid Travel

Heavily armed terrorists stormed the Algerian Consulate in northeastern Mali [Gao] yesterday (April 5) and abducted seven diplomats amid fears that al-Qaeda affiliates are very quickly turning Mali into a rogue state, particularly in light of the March 22 coup led by Captain Amadou Sanogo and a small group of low-ranking soldiers who ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure just weeks before he was due to step down.

Alarmed by the sudden collapse of the West African nation, which is now divided between a rebel-controlled north and a junta-controlled south, two weeks have now passed since Toure was forced out.

COMMENT: According to the French think-tank, CF2R, the US/EU participation in the ouster of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi forced hundreds of well-armed Tuareg rebels to flee home to Mali. Hence, every form of aggression usually results in counter-aggression. Nevertheless, Gaddafi's demise was generally a good thing, considering how he had tormented his own people and been an irritant to most countries for decades.

In keeping with US law, the US Department of State suspended at least $13 million of its roughly $140 million in annual aid to Mali on Wednesday (April 4).

Up until March 22, Mali had been one of West Africa's most stable democracies, yet after months of al-Qaeda-linked kidnappings of foreigners and other acts of violence, the arrival of emboldened Tuareg rebels to seize half the country in their quest for a northern homeland, has pretty much turned Mali upside down.

Additionally, with many Islamic extremists pushing for an establishment of sharia law across the most of the moderate Muslim state, this is not a country to be visited by foreigners at this time, given how fluid the political situation is.

Most foreign governments of developed nations have warned their citizens against travel to Mali; this advice should be complied with.

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