The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
The Longest Afterparty Ever? Libya and Mali

Close to 100,000 Malian refugees huddle under makeshift tents in eastern Mauritania, swapping stories of jihadists’ brutal imposition of Sharia law in the northern regions. Their detailed accounts of persecution are sadly familiar: beatings in the street of women unaccompanied by men, of anyone outside their homes at night, and of those who display their adherence to Sufism, a peaceful tradition of Islam popular before the extremists arrived.

Ansar Dine has claimed control over northern Mali after driving out the Tuareg rebels. (The Tuaregs had initially worked with the group back in January to fight Malian government forces, though tribal and religious differences soon turned them against each other.) One refugee attests to the diversity of “heavily armed men of numerous races, nationalities, and languages.” Ansar Dine may be recruiting foot soldiers from as far away as Pakistan. American counterterrorism experts are increasingly concerned that the region could become a base of operations for international terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda.

Libyans, for their part, are far from enjoying happier, freer lives as a result of Qaddafi’s fall. As the Libyan Observatory for Human Rights has reported, disparate groups of militiamen have colluded to undermine the interim National Transitional Council’s attempts at order, carrying out revenge attacks, killings, abductions, and extortion against former Gaddafi supporters. Black Africans receive the brunt of these attacks because the militia suspects them of having worked as mercenaries for Qaddafi during the war.

Former rebel fighter Suheil al Lagi warns: ”This is not the new Libya we fought for and we may have to take up arms again if the corruption and greed continue. This time against the new government.”

The afterparty drags on. Via Meadia welcomes the positive result of Libya’s elections, but a lot of the heavy lifting remains to be done.

 

Published on July 20, 2012 9:11 am
  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    These tribal and clan based societies can never get together on any egalitarian basis. The biological/cultural barriers are just too high. That, in my humble opinion, is one of the big lessons or recent history. Wish it weren’t so but if wishes were horses all men would fly. Or something like that.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    Incidentally, one reason for hope in China is that the forced urbanization is churning the patriarchal village clans, destroying the family structures and loyalties that in the past have divided Chinese society. All those hundreds of millions of teenage girls going to work in the factories on the coast, living in dorms, their families being forced off the land into high rise apartment buildings — among other things this is possibly the biggest women’s liberation movement in history. Read the book Factory Girls, also Country Driving, for details.

  • Kevin

    Luke (#1 above) may be right. But this sounds largely like the situation in Al Anbar province in Iraq where the US was able to find tribal allies to beat back Al Qaeda. It seems to me that we need to be willing to work with local political realities to find allies and defeat Islamists. Afghanistan in 2001 showed that cooperating with locals to defeat the Taliban was much easier than trying to build a democracy under American occupation. I wonder if limited support to Tuaregs or others in Mali could similarly be used to prevent the establishment of a terrorist haven. We still want to make sure we are not sucked into every civil war on earth, but small detachments of SF and some air power could be decisive in preventing very hostile groups from coming to power.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Matthew 7:16 You will know them by their fruits.

    Their actions will tell you who they are. Islamics actions have been monstrous for decades attacking, murdering, raping, looting, and defiling innocents wherever they can. Muslims are no better than pirates or bandits, and treating them like normal civilized people is foolish, they have not earned the right to be treated with respect.

    To those who say “not all muslims are bad” I have to reply “the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”. If they were good men they would be fighting the bad men, since they have chosen not to fight them, they are not good men, and need not be treated with the respect a good civilized people deserve.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    Why I read Steve Sailer and you should too:

    http://tinyurl.com/c9ph8m4

    He mines the virgin territory of the politically incorrect with learning and intelligence. Political correctness is indeed one of the great disabilities of our age. That one may explore it with profit and without prejudice or hypocracy, Mr. Sailer is living proof. The number of mainstream journalist who read him in their closets is longer than you think, or anyone knows, but include, at least, David Brooks and Steven Pinker and (for all I know) WRM.

    Until our society learns to talk about ethnicity, about the drift towards an ethnically stratified society and the class alienation it nurtures, cynical elites will have a field day directing political attention away from the general welfare of our democracy. Instead of addressing real problems of technology, trade, immigration, and taxation we spend our time talking about racism instead of race, bigotry instead of ethnicity, diversity instead of stratification, and a whole host of other hot button issues — anything except the real issues that effect the future of our democracy and the American experiment Lincoln described in his most famous address to the American people. This problem can only change at the top, among our elites. The alternative is not good for anybody, certainly not in the long run. It takes courage, honesty, and a spirit of benevolence, of enlightened self-interest all around.

    That said I’m not urging WRM to tackle these issues. He has his forte.