Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013



This may be hard to believe...but...every once in awhile...the DUNER BLOG makes a mistake.  For example, we're not too proud of our post: LANCE ARMSTRONG IS A HERO (Aug. 29).  We also blew it with MAYAN DOOMSDAY WILL HAPPEN (May 24).  Anyhow, events occurred in West Africa last week that you might have missed. They unfortunately discredit another post from last year: AZAWAD: THE NEWEST AFRICAN NATION? (March 28).  It seems troops from France invaded Mali and liberated the Northern Provinces, thus ending the reign of our new, renegade nation...and thus proving the DUNER BLOG wrong.  D'oh!

Oops! Way Too Much Information to digest in that opening paragraph.  Let's start with your most obvious question: France successfully invaded another nation?  No way!  Alright...let's put this silly American joke to rest.  Despite being invaded by Germany twice last century, overall the French have a pretty high success rate on the battlefields of the world.  Napoleon won 80% of his battles.  Only Britain colonized more territory.  Therefore, it came as no surprise when France came to the aid the Malian Army. The Air Force conducted a swift and effective operation, liberating a million square kilometers of territory.

Your next question: Did anyone other than the DUNER BLOG recognize the state of Azawad?  The answer is: No.  Not a single nation recognized Azawad as an independent nation.  It was also passed over by international organizations.  The United Nations, NATO and ECOWAS all issued vague statements of lament.  The African Union went as far as to denounce the revolutionaries, declaring the State of Azawad to be "null and of no value whatsoever."  Ouch!  It's true...the ragtag Tuaregs who liberated the region are a nomadic people who have never participated in any form of organized rule.  After ten months in Mali, they migrated east, following their livestock.

Next up: What's in the future for Azawad? This is the most difficult question to answer.  While the area has been cleared of the Jihadists (they're Niger's problem now!), the Malian Army has been hesitant to send in ground forces to reclaim the territory.  They say the region is littered with landmines, armed with tiny guerrilla groups and houses hostile civilians.  They're right!  France's military operations were largely from the air...they didn't want any troops to be killed.  The bottom line is no one wants to mess with a bunch of armed yahoo renegade terrorists living in the Sahara Desert. Currently, the plan is to wait for the African Union to assemble a force to reunite the nation.

Timbuktu in better times.
  The real problem here...as addressed in the earlier blog...is trying to enforce law within the imaginary lines in the sand that separate the "nations" of Africa.  The borders were haphazardly drawn by the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese and have no regard for the actual peoples who live there.  Mali will continue to stumble as a nation-state, as the Mande, Fula, Songhai and Tuareg all jostle amongst each other for power under the faux umbrella of a functioning country.  After all,  'Mali' is named after a medieval empire that collapsed in 1078 and hasn't really existed since.  For the time being, Timbuktu (the brief capital of Azawad) will return to being a place no one (but German tourists) care about.

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