In a week marked by an ongoing Bowdoin divestment debate, a papal resignation, the State of the Union address and a surprise nuclear test, it’s no small wonder that the situation in war-torn Mali isn’t getting much coverage.
After the sudden spike in interest last month following the launch of France’s intervention in the North African nation—“Opération Serval”—foreign news coverage of Malian affairs has largely returned to the way it has been over the last decade: essentially non-existent.
Only reports of kidnappings and the occasional piece about the increasing influence of Islamist groups are enough to pique the interest of the media on both sides of the Atlantic.
Mali is seen, wrongly, as being no different from any other failed African state, when in fact the repercussions of its collapse would have a significant impact far beyond its borders.
In Mali, like in many former colonies, the borders were drawn without any regards to geographical, ethnic or political considerations. This partly explains why the some of the Tuareg—a people known for their nomadic lifestyle and stunning blue robes—have rebelled against the governing power in Mali five times in the last century.
Until last year, each effort of the Tuareg people to create an independent nation, Azawad, resulted in a stalemate or was successfully suppressed by Mali’s army. Yet something changed in January 2012, when the most recent rebellion was launched.