Written by Will Lewis
The French have recently become involved in the African nation of Mali.
They appear to be responding to an insurgence of religious extremists who, with the help of gun-running Tuaregs, seek to accomplish the very original goal of killing people and breaking things, a goal both sides seem to be accomplishing remarkably well.
In the Malian city of Gao, Malian forces spent their weekend exchanging fire with the insurgents.
Fighting became so intense that the French were compelled to call in air support. Prompting France to consider initiating the proverbial tap-out, withdrawing as 60,000 UN peacekeepers prepare to enter the country.
The argument for this mass response to the upswing in violent behavior comes from the, not entirely illegitimate, fear that if Mali were to fall into the hands of the deadly Tuareg/al-Qaeda combo, it would provide extremists with a solid foothold in the area.
It is true that establishment of another state ruled by overly zealous religious despots would prove detrimental to the well-being of global affairs, but it is rare that nations are spurred to cross oceans into strange lands without some form of economic benefit.
France is easy to explain.
The European power has interests in Niger, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad. If you were to pull out a map and look at these countries you might notice the gap named “Mali” between them.
The French firm Areva is one of these interests. Areva is currently working on a site in Falea at the southwestern border of Mali, near Guinea.
According to an article published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, this area may have up to 10,000 tons of Uranium resources.
The French company also has heavy interest in the Sahel region of Africa, a strip of arid land that stretches from east-to-west across the continent.
Areva has been active in neighboring Niger for decades, mining oil and uranium. The German broadcaster DW even hinted that Areva is staring at resources in Mali like Sandusky at, well, you know.
Areva has been the target of insurgent attacks that focus mainly on kidnapping its employees. Four of the employees have been taken hostage since 2010. In a decade where hostages are remarkably common and publicized, we might simply write it off as not too terribly bad, but take your commute and day at work and then add desert bandits. It might help with the perspective on another reason why the country has decided to throw caution to the wind and engage in what Canadian officials are calling a second Afghanistan.
Speaking of America’s favorite middle-eastern news fixture, France’s president Francois Hollande has recently decided that it would do well to take the American lead, and slowly inch his way out of the international block party also known as the War on Terror.
For the ironically named Hollande to decide to risk chances at reelection in favor of another war with insurgents reads as more than simply protecting the allies.
A keen reader may exclaim, “Aha! But, this is just another example of France’s fondness Francafrique, a post-cold war effort at neo-colonialism.”
Perhaps, but I am leaning toward Areva.