Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

ENCORE!

Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Netanyahu resists international pressure to stop air strikes on Gaza

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Italy’s Trentin wins seventh stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • In pictures: Chanel, Dior and so much more at the Paris couture shows

    Read more

  • French ‘Civic Service’ eyes massive expansion amid huge demand

    Read more

  • In Pictures: Petrol station hit by Hamas rockets

    Read more

Africa

Former PM Villepin warns of 'blind' Mali intervention

© AFP

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-01-14

Ten years ago, former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin argued France’s opposition to the Iraq at the United Nations. He is now worried about France’s military mission to Mali, saying Paris has failed to heed the lessons of history.

Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin has warned that military intervention in Mali risked dragging the country into an interminable conflict in the former French colony, was ill thought-out, and “not the French way”.

In an editorial for the Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, Villepin compared France’s mission to stem Islamist advances into southern Mali to “a decade of lost wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya”.

Villepin is one of France’s most venerable diplomats, famous for his speech to the United Nations in 2003 that passionately outlined France’s case against the US invasion of Iraq.

In this Sunday's editorial, the former prime minister, who attracted the scorn of the US leadership for his country’s firm “Non” to the Iraq War, demanded: “How has the neo-conservative virus been able to infect our outlook?

“This unanimous enthusiasm for war, the haste with which we’re doing it, and the déjà-vu of ‘war on terror’, worries me.

“We will be fighting blind without any reason for actually going to war. Stopping the jihadists from moving south, reconquering the north of the country and eradicating AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] are all completely separate war aims.”

Villepin went on to decry the weakness of the Bamako-based Malian government, which was the victim of a military coup in March 2012 that precipitated the Islamist conquest of the vast northern half of the country.

“We will be fighting alone without a reliable Malian partner,” he said. “With the removal of the Malian president in March and its prime minister in December, with the collapse of the deeply divided Malian army, and amid the wholesale failure of the Malian state, who can we rely on for backup?”

France was wholly lacking in regional partners, he added, citing reticence from Algeria, another former French colony that shares a huge desert border with northern Mali, as well as the failure of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) to respond to the crisis.

Only politics and dialogue could save Mali from its woes, he argued, saying the only viable solution was to rebuild the country while encouraging regional partners – notably ECOWAS and Algeria – to step up efforts to restore order to the lawless Sahel region.

“What is needed is a political effort to negotiate with the various parties while isolating the Islamists and bringing the Touareg [nomadic tribes of the Sahel] together towards a reasonable solution,” Villepin wrote.

He concluded that since the Iraq War, he had “not stopped arguing for political resolution of crises away from the vicious cycle of armed force”.

“Today, our country can open a way to get us out of the warlike impasse we find ourselves in, if we can come up with a new model of engagement based on the realities of history, on peoples’ aspirations and with respect for their identities,” he wrote.

“This is France’s responsibility to history.”

Villepin’s was the only strong voice of opposition against France’s intervention in Mali until Monday, when far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon complained that France was acting unilaterally and beyond a UN-mandated plan for ECOWAS to deploy troops to retake northern Mali from the rebels in the coming months.

“The UN mandate stipulated that this was an African problem to be resolved by Africans,” he told reporters. “Doesn’t Algeria, which shares a border with Mali, have an extremely advanced army?

“Resolving this situation is a job for Africans. They’re grown-ups, they have real countries, but yet again we find ourselves going back to our old bad habits of intervening here and there on the continent. We haven’t learned a single lesson.”
 

Date created : 2013-01-14

  • MALI - FRANCE

    Mali-based Islamists pledge attacks on French soil

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    France orders tighter security in wake of Mali operation

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French pilot dies in Mali military operation

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)