Mali Islamists Becoming ‘Increasingly Repressive’

The chaos in Mali is a direct result of the destabilization following the US-NATO war in Libya

Islamic extremists in control of northern Mali are becoming “increasingly repressive,” according to Human Rights Watch, amputating limbs, whipping people in the streets and stoning people to death.

The Islamists, who came to power after the US-NATO war in Libya destabilized parts of northern Africa, are imposing draconian punishments on residents for acts like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, women not covering themselves, and having the wrong ring tones on their cell phones.

“The Islamist armed groups have become increasingly repressive as they have tightened their grip over northern Mali,” said Corinne Dufka, of Human Rights Watch. “Stonings, amputations and floggings have become the order of the day in an apparent attempt to force the local population to accept their world view.”

The military coup that took place in Mali is a monument to the consequences of U.S. interventionism and the resulting power vacuum and instability has caused mayhem. Rebel troops seized power and toppled the government in a bid to oust democratically elected President Amadou Toumani Toure who they claim insufficiently supported the military in a fight against Tuareg militants waging an insurgency in the north.

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi had hired and armed many Tuareg fighters to defend him against the NATO-backed rebellion in Libya, and they returned to Mali at the Libyan war’s end stronger and more determined than ever, leading to a coup headed by Captain Amadou Sanogo, who was trained by the U.S. military.

As with previous U.S. interventions of late, militants allying themselves with the ideas of al-Qaeda seem to crop up only after the U.S. destabilizes the country.

Many see this violence, and the accompanying militancy, and try to use it to justify more US interventionism in the region. Indeed, covert US militarism in Africa is increasingly significantly in response to just these kinds of non-state actors of late.

But US interventions merely exacerbate these problems. Mali was a stable, comparatively democratic country in the region prior to the destabilization following the war in Libya.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.