There was an obvious sign of relief on the faces of the inhabitants of Timbuktu as the French army entered the city and drove away the Islamists who had been oppressing them since last April. The war in Mali is not over yet but the extremists are on the run.
The tales of public lashings (including that of one teenage girl for simply talking to men in the street), barbaric amputations and other crimes against humanity are legion. Its no wonder the people of Mali have welcomed French intervention.
However for those of you have had the misfortune to come across the Stop the War Campaign or some of the fringe groups like the Socialist Party or the Socialist Workers Party will have been told a different story. These "comrades" are against intervention, their most common argument being "it's for the people of Mali to decide". This sounds fine until you realise that in practise it actually boils down to the ones with guns who actually decide. In the case of Mali its' the terrorists.
In the latest issue of The Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party) they write:
Of course, socialists oppose jihadist and al-Qa'ida -type groups, whose poisonous right-wing Islamist ideology and methods are a deadly danger for the workers' movement and the poor masses generally.
A place where teenage couples risk death by stoning if they hold hands in public is repellent to overwhelming majority of workers and youth.
Absolutely right, but then go on to demand the French withdraw their troops from Mali, a formula which means not only doing nothing but would probably result in the expansion of the Islamists control of the country. More teenagers will risk being stoned or worse!
Exactly how does that help the Malian people?
One common theme of both the Socialist Party and the Stop the War Campaign is that civilians are in danger of being injured or killed in the fighting. Of course that is a risk, but then these organisations are not run by pacifists.
Both groups are both run by Marxist revolutionaries who err... actually believe in the violent overthrow of capitalism in the tradition of the Bolshevik Coup of 1917. Their mentor, a certain Vladimir Ilyich Lenin believed revolution came out of the barrel of a gun.
The Stop the War Campaign is long past its' sell by date having been set up to oppose the Iraq War and today relies on the Counterfire group (a break-away from the SWP) to keep it going.
These shrill revolutionaries and armchair anti-imperialists have nothing to offer the people of Mali (or anywhere else) but continued oppression under reactionary Jihadists.
Sometimes the West has to act and this is one of these times.