Tag Archives: politics

Africa comes to Washington

English novelist David Lodge once observed that professional conferences have become a modern form of pilgrimage. Much like medieval pilgrims, he wrote, conference-goers today “indulge themselves in all the pleasures and diversions of travel while appearing to be austerely bent … Continue reading

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Is Mali heading back to the abyss?

July was a bad month for Mali. On the 12th, government security forces fired on unarmed demonstrators in Gao, killing three. The protestors were denouncing the establishment of interim local authorities–a provision of the peace accord signed in June 2015, … Continue reading

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Getting a read on Serval

From January 2013 through July 2014, the French military carried out on Malian territory a vast intervention codenamed Opération Serval. It has been reputed to be the largest unilateral overseas deployment of France’s armed forces since the Algerian war ended … Continue reading

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Uncomfortable truths about Mali

Some may recall a candid speech from a French diplomat in July 2012 about Mali and its neighbors. It was delivered by Laurent Bigot, then France’s top diplomat for West Africa. Bigot’s candor got him fired, but earned him a … Continue reading

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Who wants peace in Mali?

“We should not be misled by talk of entering a time of peace. Peace is not the absence of war; it is the absence of the rumors of war, the threats of war, the preparations for war….” – Gil Scott … Continue reading

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What Mali’s recent past reveals about its present woes, Part 2: Of chiefs, slaves, and “paranoid nationalism”

In his recent book From Empires to NGOs in the West African Sahel, historian Gregory Mann describes how state sovereignty was fashioned in the Sahel following the end of colonial rule. In the previous post, we discussed his concept of … Continue reading

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What Mali’s recent past reveals about its present woes, Part 1: The road to nongovernmentality

These days the sovereignty of the Malian state looks more hypothetical than ever. The government’s control over its northern regions ranges from tenuous to nonexistent. Kidal has been firmly under the rule of Tuareg separatists for two years, while only … Continue reading

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Mali’s peace negotiations: Déjà vu all over again?

[This piece originally appeared on the blog Fragile States.] Starting in July 2014, representatives of Mali’s central government and various northern rebel factions took part in peace talks hosted in Algiers. Following the latest round in November, a draft agreement … Continue reading

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A hard look at Mali’s problems

It’s not yet clear whether Mali will avoid its own outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Thus far only one case of infection has been confirmed within Mali’s borders, on 23 October. A Doctors Without Borders representative credits a rapid … Continue reading

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Book review: Can Judd Ryker save Malian democracy?

There are not a great many novels set in Mali. The country has had its own small literary scene since the 1950s, featuring writers like Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Massa Makan Diabaté, Moussa Konaté, and Yambo Ouologuem. Maryse Condé’s Segu (1987) and … Continue reading

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