Subject: West Africa/Sub-Saharan Africa
I recently wrote a post about the civil war that is breaking out in the African country of Mali…..it seems that is very little interests in the doings in Africa unless it is some lame bullet point in a campaign or some slow day in news…..and then something blows up and there is massive indignant outcry for why this happen with no one noticing….well I notice stuff and I try to keep my readers up-to-date on situation that could prove a bit sticky for the US….and the rest of the world…..
My previous post was about the possibility of AQ making a stand in the north of Mali…..that there was a possibility that they could find a new home to avoid the massive attacks by drones they suffer with today….and then there is the argument that Malians would possibly become a yet another country with the extremism of the Taleban in Afghanistan….is that a concern? A real concern?
I also wanted to know the answer because of the spread of extremism in the Muslim world and in doing my research I found a good analysis written by Brian J. Peterson for AllAfrica.com……..
Mali is at the far moderate end of the spectrum of Islamic societies. Talk to Malian Muslims about Islam today, and they will likely say something about peace, tolerance and unity. Therefore, the brand of Islam being advocated by the Islamists in the north simply does not mirror what the vast majority of Malian Muslims value in their religion. In fact, most Malians are loosely affiliated with one of the major Sufi brotherhoods, such as the Tijaniyya, Hamawiyya or Qadiriyya. However, there are many Malians who simply identify themselves as “Sunni,” or ahl al-Sunna (which non-reformists label as “Wahhabi”), usually indicating that they belong to the wider reform movement. These reformists state that the only real difference between them and Sufis is that they pray with “arms crossed” and their wives wear veils. Otherwise, many of them participate in community-level Sufi rituals and celebrations. In other words, the boundaries between reformists and Sufis are not quite as rigid as outside observers might think.
There is another reason for this: Malians have a long history of resisting jihads and attempts at forced conversion. This is not to say that in the long run jihads always failed in spreading Islam. The nineteenth-century Muslim scholar and state-builder El Hajj Umar Tall left an enduring legacy in the region, despite the resistance that his wars provoked, particularly in the Bamana heartland. However, the historical and anthropological literature is replete with cases of Malians resisting the efforts of Muslim states and preachers seeking to impose Islam on them.
Malian peasants have generally refused to accept forced conversion efforts, whether by firebrand preachers or state-builders. They cite the “No Compulsion” verse from the Qur’an, as one elderly informant stated: “On the path of Allah, there is no need for forcing Islam on people. After the descent of the Quran, Allah said that there is no more compulsion in religion. This cannot be done.” Later, there were efforts by “Wahhabis” at imposing reformist ideas on rural Muslims. Once the “Wahhabis” showed their intolerance by criticizing Sufi holy men, engaging in street battles over the correct way to pray, defiling the tombs of saints, and generating “conflict” (fitna) between Muslims, they were rejected.
For these reasons, local imams and ordinary Muslims have stated that they don’t need any foreigners coming to tell them how to conduct their religious lives. Thus, when Malian Muslims hear about the violent efforts of Iyad ag-Ghali and other Salafists linked to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, they see no religious legitimacy or theological rationale for their wars. They are already Muslim, so there is no justification for bringing war to Muslim communities. They see the northern jihadists as warlords aimed at pillaging Malian people and lands for personal gain, while using Islam as an ideological tool to manipulate and dominate vulnerable people.
I believe that any extremism will be met with extreme individuality by the Malians….AQ may find a foothold in West Africa but it will be to little or NO consequence….but with that said….it does warrant monitoring….nothing is for certain……especially in the Sahara. My concern is that since the US military is now operating in Africa that someone could start a real problem that could force the US into actions that could be disastrous…..
Hopefully this week was a bit educational for my readers and gave them some thought that nothing is insignificant. I realize that most Americans could care less about some obscure country in sub-Sahara, but keep in mind that these same people felt the same way about some obscure little country in Central Asia–Afghanistan! And look what that got us.