The coup in Mali arises partly from the blowback following the NATO destruction of Libya, part of the counter revolution against the Arab Spring, and from the train and equip activities AFRICOM has been conducting in Mali for much of this century. Train and equip laid the groundwork; the return from the ruins of Libya of militant and well armed Tuareg rebels provided the trigger. I wrote about the AFRICOM threat to Malian democracy back in 2009, US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali. The picture below is just one piece of the ongoing train and equip activities. There are a couple more pictures at the end of this post. Read the earlier post for more detail. When your only significant investment in a country is military train and equip, you are prepping that country for military government.
Based on the accounts so far, it appears the coup may not even have been planned, it may have been spontaneous, arising from an argument between the military and the government at a meeting to discuss the handling of the Tuareg rebellion in the north. However, the groundwork for a coup was all in place, including the education of its leader:
The green-beret mid-ranking captain, [Captain Amadou Sanogo] who speaks with a raspy voice, also revealed he had spent much time at training programmes in the United States, in Georgia and at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.
He said he was trained under a US scholarship as an English instructor
And from another source:
Sanogo, who said he had received “training from U.S. Marines and intelligence”, said, he would not remain in power but refused to give a timeframe for restoring civilian rule.
Mali and the United States have had close military ties in recent years as part of American counterterrorism programs. According to the State Department, Captain Sanogo attended an English-language instructor course at the Defense Language Institute, a special school for international military students at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex., from August 2004 to February 2005.
Nearly three years later, in December 2007, Captain Sanogo returned to the United States, this time for more English language classes at Lackland before attending the Army’s entry-level course for intelligence officers at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., instruction that he completed in July 2008.
Finally, Captain Sanogo attended the Army’s prestigious infantry officer basic training course at Fort Benning, Ga., from August 2010 to December 2010.
Stars and Stripes gives us more detail on the ongoing train and equip activities with Mali, Leader of Mali coup received officer training from AFRICOM, under U.S.-funded International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, confirmed by the Africa Command and the State Department.
The U.S. military has supported the Mali military extensively over the past decade, and the country has become a significant partner in the U.S. efforts to curb North Africa’s shadowy al-Qaida affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.
In addition to its involvement in the International Military Education and Training program, Mali has also participated in the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, which is intended to strengthen bilateral military ties with the U.S. and supports counterterrorism coordination across the region’s different militaries. Mali also recently hosted U.S. soldiers in a joint logistical exercise named Atlas Accord 12.
“We have regularly had small teams traveling in and out of Mali to conduct specific training that has been requested by the Malian government and military,” said Nicole Dalrymple, a spokeswoman for the Africa Command, known as Africom, in an emailed response to questions.
Most of the world was quick to condemn the coup:
NIGERIA yesterday joined others to condemn “in strong terms” reports that Malian rebel soldiers had taken over control of the country from the democratically elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who expressed displeasure and dismay over the action, described the move as “an apparent setback to the consolidation of democracy in Mali in particular and the African continent in general.”
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for calm and for grievances to be settled democratically. The African Union said it was “deeply concerned by the reprehensible acts currently being perpetrated by some elements of the Malian army”.
The African Union (AU) said the “act of rebellion” was a “significant setback for Mali”.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it was deeply disturbed by the raging mutiny in Mali and has warned mutineers to hands off attempts to take over power via unconstitutional means.
The US may be hedging its bets. From the Washington Post:
The coup is a major setback for Mali, a landlocked nation of 15.4 million which is dirt-poor but fiercely proud of its democratic credentials. The current president, a former parachutist in the army, came to power himself in a 1991 coup. He surprised the world when he handed power to civilians, becoming known as “The Soldier of Democracy.” A decade later, he won the 2002 election and was re-elected in 2007. There was never any question that Toure — known by his initials ATT — would step down at the end of his term next month.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said officials were meeting to discuss whether to cut off the $137 million in annual U.S. assistance..
A client military government seems to be the US preferred form of governance for African countries. It will be interesting to see how the US proceeds.
Here are some other stories on the coup:
For more background information with particularly informative links, you can read these earlier posts:
Stable and secure in AFRICOM speak does not mean stable and secure for the people of Africa. It means stable and secure for US energy and resource needs and US policy objectives.