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Crisis in West Africa: Where Neocolonialism Meets Fundamentalism--With Dire Consequences for Mali's People

The French intervention in Mali further complicates a descent into hell which that country has been experiencing for the last two years.

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A political settlement must be brought about in Mali. This must include the full and unconditional reinstatement of democratic rule in the country. The military must return to the barracks. The French military must also return to their bases…in France, and withdraw from this conflict. ECOWAS and the African Union, however, have a different role. They must step up to the plate and provide multiple levels of support to a process of democratization and stabilization. They are needed as intermediaries in settling the military conflict. They must bring the right amount of pressure to bear on the Malian military to return legitimate political rule to the country. They must help the people of Mali sort out the real and perceived ethnic conflicts that have divided the country. This includes, but is not limited to, the question of the Tuareg.

The role of the African Union and ECOWAS is not, primarily, a military role. Though legitimate authorities in Mali may, at some point, need military assistance as part of the process of stabilization, such a move must be made by the people of Mali rather than the French, the USA, or for that matter, any of the agents of global capitalism within the various African ruling elites. This role for ECOWAS and the African Union must be respected and supported by the United States, rather than undermined and subverted in order to advance the interests of US hegemony and global capitalism.

It is up to the people of the United States of America, particularly, but not exclusively, those of us of African descent, to take a stand on this matter and show real solidarity with the people of Mali rather than fall prey to the demagoguery and misinformation that dominates the mainstream airwaves.

Silence is not an option.


Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, on the editorial board of, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him at

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