When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Why The Mali Coup Threatens All Of West Africa

Following the March 22 coup that ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré, the north of Mali is in the hands of a Tuareg rebellion. It is a rolling series of events that has leaders across the region worrying about similar threats.

Tuaregs, like this man in Algeria, live in several different countries in North and West Africa (Garrondo)
Tuaregs, like this man in Algeria, live in several different countries in North and West Africa (Garrondo)

The very existence of the West African country of Mali is currently under threat. The whole of the north of the country is in the hands of a Tuareg rebellion, which nothing seems able to stop.

President Amadou Toumani Touré was ousted on March 22 by a junta of captains calling themselves the National Council for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDRE). Taking advantage of the ensuing power vacuum in the capital Bamako, the rebels have gained possession of northern Mali at lightning speed.

The rebels, the majority of whom are members of the nomadic Tuareg people, refuse to be called Malian, and they want to establish an independent Tuareg state called Azawad.

Currently the rebels only hold the northern part of Mali, but with potential reinforcements arriving from other areas of the Sahel, a transition zone between the Sahara in the north and the savannahs to the south, and in particular from neighboring Niger, that could all change. In the meantime, the Malian army is falling apart.

The captains who overthrew the president justified their actions by claiming to be working to end the decline of Mali. However, the coup has had precisely the opposite outcome. Despite the fall of city after city in the north over the past few days, the CNRDRE has not sent any troops north to defend the country from the rebels.

Quick response, deep concerns

West African leaders are responding quickly to try and avoid an outright collapse of the Malian state, and they have reacted with commendable promptness. At the impetus of, in particular, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, a diplomatic emergency committee has been formed that is threatening the junta with heavy sanctions if it does not relinquish power.

However, none of the heads of states involved is entirely blameless. Some, like Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré, have faced mutinies in their own countries. The desire of the presidents of the region to return constitutional order to Bamako is therefore influenced by a certain degree of self-preservation. Who can blame them? Only recently emerging from the Ivorian crisis, with Guinea still fragile and Senegal only just managing to avoid serious upheaval following its electoral turmoil, West Africa could do without the collapse of Mali.

In Bamako, regional pressures run counter to public opinion; Mali has developed a strong dislike for its neighbors' interference. But at this stage the only options left are likely to be hard to implement, not least the junta stepping down as Sanago, president of CNRDRE, holds tight to power.

The West African heads of state will need plenty more energy to achieve their joint objectives: firstly, getting the Malian military back to their barracks; and secondly, helping them to launch a counter-attack. If this doesn't happen, the North will quickly be lost and the division of the country becomes an ever-growing threat.

Until now, West Africa's efforts have met with relative indifference from the international community. It is imperative that the outside world offers its support and realizes that the situation in Mali will have significant consequences for the whole of the Sahel region.

Read more from Le Monde in French.

Photo – Garrondo

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest