Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mali and the War On Terrorism

Jihadists, Islamic extremists, Islamic fundamentalists, or whatever label you want to apply to them, are again headline news due to increased activity, this time in northern Mali where French troops, with the help of Malian troops, have been given the unenvious task of liberating towns from Al-Qaeda occupation. As each town falls to French forces we learn of the brutality handed out by these terrorists to the native populations, particularly the black residents, where torture and murder seems to have been used not just to keep order, but in a self-righteous sadistic manner synonymous with Al-Qaeda.

Whether or not you think European involvement is the correct course of action, there is little doubting the possible threat to peace these terrorists could cause, not just to the region but, the world as a whole. Having said that, as always happens, the only thought is how to eliminate the threat and there is no discussion on why this threat exists in the first place. Why is it that these Islamic extremist groups seem to have an endless pool of enthusiastic recruits that are frothing at the mouth at the thought of carrying out such despicable acts, particularly in regards to the West and their supporters? Why is there so much hate and resentment aimed at the West? The main stream media finds the answer to these questions too uncomfortable so chooses not to ask them.

Mali, like many other African and Middle Eastern countries, all have two relevant common characteristics: They are oil producers and they have mass poverty. Then there is a third factor that comes into play: Many of them have corrupt governments that allow Western multinationals to make ridiculously large profits from their oil reserves. How must this look to the native populations? Often living in dire poverty, lacking food, water, housing, employment, eduction, and probably most importantly – hope, it's enough to turn anyone bitter. They have practically nothing, yet through stealing their natural resources Western multinationals turn over huge profits. It's not hard to see the link between terrorism, poverty and the theft of resources.

If we want to reduce terrorism we have three options, along side the use of force. One, stop profiting from other countries resources, which I think we can all agree is unlikely to happen. Two, eradicate or reduce poverty in those countries. Three, continue to exploit their resources but use a fair amount of the profit to fight poverty in their respective countries by funding housing, education, infrastructure etc. If we ignore these options, and I'm sure we will, global terrorism will not go away.    

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