Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Flogging Mali Again (and the Attack in Algeria too)’

Full piece here.

Want to read the best roundup of Mali so far?:

‘In short, from a strictly military point of view, what’s going on in Mali is going to keep going on in one form or another for a while. This will not end soon. It is also fairly likely to spread to Niger, possibly to Mauritania, Burkino Faso, Chad, Algeria and back into Libya, too, where the Tuareg live. And, as I have already suggested, a serious French-led intervention in Mali may help to spread it faster. There’s nothing like an “imperialist challenge” to stimulate resistance and high morale. On the other hand, an expansion of Tuareg activism might dilute the Islamist element within it, and might make the Arabic-speaking guest fighters unpopular and unwelcome, much as occurred in Iraq.’

Garfinkle isn’t sure if these are Al-Qaida directly affiliated groups or not.

Addition:  Please see Garfinkle’s follow-up piece on Algeria and the backstory. He suggests the USS Cole, Benghazi, and the Algerian gas plant may best be defined as insurgency.


I suspect it’s true that people in the Muslim world have their own interests, schisms, tribal affiliations and local politics.  Al Qaida is more like a franchise, even a myth, spoken of darkly, but also with some sympathy by some Muslims on the street.  It can be incidental to their lives, but most know Al Qaida involvement is more likely to provoke an American response.  There are a few converts and copycats ‘corrupted’ by the West consistently looking back for a more pure Islam from America and Europe, but Al Qaida’s strength is often grafted from the root of local struggles, and specifically where enough of a power vacuum develops on the ground.

There is broader appeal in uniting around a central vision of Islam, and that sentiment is deeper and stronger at the moment, and usually much less violent and radical, than what Al Qaida offers.  Submission of the will in Islam is certainly not just an option at the buffet of religions that multiculturalism serves up.  I’d remind multiculturalists they are looking out from a few centuries of post-reformation and post-Enlightenment separation of church and state when they address the Muslim world (most of them wanting to project ideals of humanism, secular humanism and also direct their own governments and people toward those ideals).  We will always have to make deals with the devil in pursuit of our interests, and we should recognize most Arab leaders strong enough to do so simply stamp Al Qaida out, much as they rather oppressively stamp out most political opposition to stay in power.

Even with stronger states in the Muslim world it can be tough to find mutual interest, as they offer complex policy challenges (the Wahabi-funding Saudis, an incredibly shaky, terrorist filled Pakistan, a hostile and nuclear-ambitious Iran, a now Muslim-Brotherhood-led Egypt).


Michael Totten has an interesting piece on the relative stability of Morocco, which has a still-functioning monarchy.

Update: Over 80 dead in Algeria.

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Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’