Mali: African debt campaigners condemn France's war

February 9, 2013
French soldiers in Mali.

Statement on the military intervention in Mali by the Africa Network of the Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM), January 29.

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The dramatic situation denounced in the appeal sent out by the women of Mali must open our eyes to a terrible reality that has been confirmed in other countries in which there is conflict: Violence against women is being misused as a pretext to justify interventions and wars aiming to grab the wealth of those countries. We unreservedly condemn the violations of human rights by the armed groups that control the northern part of Mali. We stand alongside women and all victims of abuse. We also denounce the military intervention France has been carrying out since 10 January, 2013.

The French government is not waging war in northern Mali to defend democracy and guarantee respect for human rights, as is being claimed, but rather to defend its own colonial interests and those of the French multinationals present in Africa in order to exploit the natural resources there (uranium, gold, diamonds, oil, land, water, and so on). France, like the United States in other parts of the world, wants to demonstrate its military capacity to come to the defence of the strategic interests of the major Western powers and their major corporations.

France’s bombing of highly impoverished regions of Mali above all reflects the determination of French imperialism to maintain neo-colonial domination over the wealth of the peoples of Africa in the context of a worldwide crisis of capitalism.

It is making use of leading-edge weaponry in order to dissuade China and other powers from indulging their own materialist impulses. Another purpose of the West’s intervention is to prevent the people of Mali from organising themselves and prevent the awakening of their democratic, anti-imperialist, and Pan-Africanist aspirations. France and its allies want to avoid any challenge to the regimes that support the status quo in France’s former African colonies.

Mali is one of the poorest and most exploited countries in the world despite its rich mineral and agricultural resources. Those resources are in the grasp of the multinationals. The people of Mali have been disastrously affected by the neoliberal policies imposed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the WTO, the European Union and the French government.

Those policies have only been made possible by the complicity of the regimes in power. They have prevented Mali from freeing itself from the weight of an external debt that serves as a tool for draining its resources and subjecting the country’s interests to the financial institutions and powers.

The debt-relief initiative for Mali, which is one of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs), has prolonged the devastating effects of the indebtedness system, since the parsimoniously granted debt reductions have systematically been accompanied by privatisations and an opening of the country to economic-commercial interests. These measures have subjected small farmers and workers in the cities to international competition to which they are unable to respond. Mali’s women, who bear an enormous burden in keeping the country going, suffer from privations of all types on a daily basis, yet on a daily basis, they resist.

The debt and its repayment continue to serve as the instruments of the impoverishment of populations.

The French State is bombing cities, villages, and infrastructure that are already far too rare in Mali, and reconstructing them will no doubt serve as the pretext to push the country a little further into debt, and increase its submission to the creditors. In fact, the IMF has just announced that it will grant an $18.4 million dollar loan to Mali. This will begin yet another cycle of misfortune for the Malian people if they do not take their destiny into their own hands.

The French government should be devoting the millions of euros its military deployment in Mali is costing it to the social needs of its own people, who are facing austerity measures due to the explosion of its public debt.

The region has experienced a propagation of fundamentalist groups supported and armed by the Western powers, first among them the United States, either directly or via Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Today, the major Western powers do not know how to disentangle themselves from a movement that is not only no longer useful to them, but has escaped from their control and turned against them.

Their intervention in Libya aggravated the situation in the region, particularly through the proliferation of weapons. The Western interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated that behind the humanitarian arguments lurk economic, political and military interests. Western intervention and military occupation provide no real solution to human rights problems. In fact, they even tend to aggravate them.

CADTM Africa believes that it is up to the Malian people to solve internal conflicts and rid themselves of groups they consider to be anti-democratic and obscurantist, and who wish to impose their laws by violent means.

The CADTM Africa network:

* condemns the imperialist intervention by France and its allies in Mali, and calls for the immediate cessation of bombing and the withdrawal of French and African troops from Mali;
* expresses its solidarity with the Malian people and their right to freely decide their future;
* calls for the strengthening of solidarity between the Malian and African peoples to resist the forces who are bent on recolonising Mali and the Sahel;
* considers that the ECOWAS, a sub-regional organisation directed by a club of heads of State working in the service of American and European hegemonies, has no legitimacy and no legal power to contract war loans in the name of the sovereign people of Mali;
* urges the Malian people to invoke absence of consent as the legal basis for repudiation of any debt inherited from the foreign intervention;
* calls on the peoples of Northern and Southern Africa, the Maghreb and the Mashriq to unite in opposition to wars.

[This statement was first posted at thr CADTM website.

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