To most, above is moot question especially in view of the serial abuses committed by the so-termed radical Islamist rebels and their momentum in turning to overrun more of Mali and perhaps its capital, Bamako. This perhaps mere point of legality nonetheless does have significance for the sustainability of the mission in Mali and as precedence for future conflicts. It also signals a more activist UNSC, or at least when spurred by the direct interests of some of the Veto wielding Permanent 5.

UNSC Resolution 2085 (which follows a largely paper trial of not enacted actions regarding Mali) does authorize military action for an “African-led International Support Mission in Mali” or AFISMA to address an “urgent” need to counter the increasing terrorist threat in Mali, (as reported by UN News Centre). However, AFISMA, at least for now, is still more fiction than reality. Further, AFISMA in theory is to be led by the African states-regional organizations such as ECOWAS (as in the Ivory Coast). More likely than not, French military support would have been called upon by AFISMA at some point regardless. Paris, the former colonial power of the region, either got tired of waiting for the regional leaders to put AFISMA into force or more likely sensed its more direct interests at stake with such a significant Mali Diaspora in France. French deployment of its military, including helicopter gunships, into Mali ahead of any truly African led AFISMA force exposes the operation to be characterized as an expression of old imperial ambitions beyond the African continent rather than one to counter a violent and abusive rebellion.

It is not likely that any current members of the UN Security Council will publicly criticize Paris for its actions. All are critical of the rebels and most fear links to terror, perhaps Al-Qaeda. Nonetheless, each UNSC member will use the precedent for its own purpose. Finally, it still remains to be seen whether Paris’ actions will catalyze a greater African involvement via AFISMA or discourage such. Mali is perceived as a potential quagmire (of which we have discussed more extensively in previous posts), and probably for the moment both African and other international powers are more glad that Paris has risked the first step, even if on unsound footing militarily and perhaps diplomatically.

Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey

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