The manner in which the situation in Mali is handled will determine not only the next steps for the country, but also how similar crises will be addressed in the future. Any escalation in the international community’s response to the current situation will be detrimental in the long term as the problems in the country involve a number of parties.
France has announced the success of its military operations in Mali as it took control of key posts, including the airport in Kidal where Islamists had total control. The French troops had joined forces with Malian troops in the recapturing of Timbuktu and Gao. “Now it is up to African countries to take over. We decided to put the means — in terms of men and supplies — to make the mission succeed and hit hard. But the French aspect was never expected to be maintained. We will leave quickly”, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The situation in Mali should not be allowed to be repeated, whereby a group of extremists take over the reins of an entire nation. This can only be assured through a long-term plan that builds the institutions of the country so that it maintains its integrity and unity. Without proper infrastructure and means that allow all the Malian people to be part of nation-building, the situation will always be challenged with the possibility of a civil war looming large.
As the UN Security Council begins its discussions on the possibility of deploying UN troops in Mali, it is critical that the long-term aspect is addressed and examined. The presence of foreign troops in the country is only a temporary solution. There is an urgent need for the country to decide its future itself.
The African Union and other members of the international community should provide assistance to Mali, given that extremist groups will always take advantage of weak countries — something that should be avoided at any cost.