Tag Archives | Mali

The slow acceptance that destroying cultural heritage is a war crime

AHMAD Al-FAQI AL-MAHDI is probably not the world’s most terrible wrecker of cultural and spiritual heritage, but as he regretfully admitted, he was party to the destruction of some shrines in his homeland, Mali. These were places which have been recognised over the centuries as an important locus of prayer and pilgrimage, and as testimonies to a once-great civilisation. This week he made history: he was sentenced to nine years in prison in The Hague by the International Criminal Court , which is supposed to try the world’s most egregious misdeeds but has only managed to jail a handful of people during its 14 years of existence. The verdict was hailed as an important legal milestone: the first time such a prestigious court had so explicitly recognised the destruction of religious and cultural patrimony as a war crime. Mr Mahdi’s misdeed was to organise and participate in the destruction of structures made of mud and stone which had been erected long ago over the graves of revered Islamic holy men and scholars. The vandalism happened in the summer of 2012; that was a time when two ultra-militant Muslim groups, al-Qaeda and Ansar Dine, temporarily took control of the north of the […]

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Stability in Mali: re-emergence of old French counterinsurgency models?

By Roel Vandervelde  (roel.vandervelde@port.ac.uk) Paper c0-published with the WAPSN website at http://www.westafricasecuritynetwork.org/stability-in-mali-re-emergence-of-old-french-counterinsurgency-models/ In the last four years French forces have conducted major military operations in two African states. In 2013, the French government promised to ‘clean up the area’ in Central African Republic as well as return ‘stability’ to Mali through the ‘reconquest’ of Northern Mali under operation Serval after disgruntled military men had ousted the elected Mali president and lost the North to a Tuareg rebellion.[1]  Between January and April 2013 French air and land forces acted unilaterally and decisively to roll back southbound offensives of an alliance of multifarious Tuareg clans, Islamic tribes and groups like Ansar Dine, and outsiders like Al-Qaeda, which had sprung up the year before.[2] President Hollande quickly announced French deference to the Mali authorities in February 2013, “The changeover is soon enough, now it’s the Malians who have the responsibility to assure the transition and above all the stability of their country.”[3] France deftly handed operational responsibility to the MINUSMA UN mission in July 2013. Eerily reminiscent of the flight-deck announcement of US president George W. Bush in Iraq in 2003, the following January the French President announced troop reductions, now that the […]

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