Crisis in Mali: An ‘International Threat’
Islamic jihadists and militant groups in Mali carried out three attacks in three days from June 29 to July 1. Islamic terrorists are taking over the West African nation, forcing schools to close, imposing Islamic law, and killing hundreds in terrorist attacks and assassinations. The government has lost control over some of its territory. In some areas, there is “very limited state presence,” according to one United Nations official. In other areas, there is “none at all.”
Two soldiers and one civilian were killed on June 29 in an attack on an African military command post. Four Malian soldiers were killed on June 30 when their vehicle ran over a land mine in the Koro region. A car bomb aimed at French soldiers killed four civilians in Gao in northern Mali on July 1, wounding 31 others, including eight French soldiers.
This is not the first time that Mali has fallen into the grip of terrorists. In 2013, French troops intervened when jihadist groups linked with al Qaeda took its northern region. But while France and the Malian government were dealing with unrest in the north, other terrorist groups turned their attention to southern and central Mali in the area of the Sahel.
The Sahel is a wide swath of territory spanning the width of the continent. It is the geographic transition zone between the deserts of North Africa and the tropical climates of Central Africa. The Sahel runs through central Mali and is a common trafficking route for drugs, weapons and people.
Mali’s government is losing control of its section of the Sahel, but France and other UN members are ready to step in. French troops and the UN peacekeeping force in Mali support a joint military force called the G-5 Sahel. This force is composed of 5,000 troops from Mali and four of its neighbors (Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania). Its purpose is to fight jihadists and Islamic militants in the Sahel. But so far, the G-5 Sahel has not made much of an impact. The force was supposed to be operational by March, but it has faced delays and equipment shortages. The target of the June 29 attack was a G-5 Sahel command post.
France has 4,000 troops in Mali and other former French colonies across the Sahel. This force has been trying to keep the peace while the G-5 Sahel organizes. However, jihadists have targeted French troops with suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks. One source told the Times of London that the presence of G-5 Sahel and French troops has not significantly curbed the violence. The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali is now considered the most dangerous peacekeeping mission in the world. A total of 169 soldiers from the UN force have died in Mali in the last four years.
Many of the jihadist groups responsible for these killings are al Qaeda affiliates. Others claim allegiance to the Islamic State. Some groups have joined forces in an attempt to create a new Islamic state in the Sahel. Reuters called Mali “a launchpad for attacks by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State across West Africa.”
The UN has warned of an “‘alarming’ deterioration of the security, human rights and humanitarian situation” in Mali. More people died in Mali in terrorist attacks between January and April this year than in all of 2017. Boko Haram-style groups have shut down more than 650 schools, saying that “there should be no education but Islam.” In some parts of Mali, government officials have fled, fearing assassination or kidnapping. This has allowed militants and terrorists to impose their will in those areas without fear of government interference.
The Malian presidential election is scheduled for July 29. While terrorists are taking control of Malian communities, the government is trying to ensure that the election meets international standards. But keeping the electoral process democratic under partial jihadist rule could be almost impossible.
Mali is also suffering a humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 4.1 million people not having enough food. According to UN estimates, more than 250,000 people will suffer severe malnutrition in Mali this year. That includes 11,000 children 5 years old and younger. Half a million or more Malian citizens suffer from moderate malnutrition, bringing the total number of seriously undernourished people to nearly 1 million.
Col. Seve Yahya, who serves in the G-5 Sahel, told the Times that the situation in Mali is not just a domestic issue, but “an international threat,” saying: “It’s not just a problem for us; it’s a problem for Europe. When you take on terrorism in Iraq and Syria, you must not forget the Sahel.”
French President Emmanuel Macron visited Mauritania on July 2-3 to galvanize the efforts of the G-5 Sahel in Mali. Nearly 700 German troops also serve in the UN peacekeeping force in Mali. According to the official UN peacekeeping website, Germany is the only European nation contributing soldiers to this force. (French troops are only supporting the peacekeeping force, not actually members of it.) The only other non-African nation contributing troops to the G-5 Sahel is China.
France and Germany have a vested interest in keeping the peace in North and Central African nations. European nations are aware that what happens in Africa affects Europe. Wars and domestic crises in Syria, Iraq and North Africa led to the migrant crisis that swamped Europe in 2015. Keeping the peace in nations like Mali is a way to secure future European security. If African nations are secure, Africans won’t need to seek refuge elsewhere.
Intervening in Mali is also a way to counteract the spread of radical Islam, which Iran sponsors. Radical Islam has swept into Africa in the last decade, overwhelming many previously majority-Christian nations. Iran’s influence has spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa via al Qaeda and other affiliated groups that Iran supports. Europe has been watching this uneasily. The UN peacekeeping force gives concerned nations like Germany the opportunity to stem the Islamic tide without directly opposing Iran.
However, prophecy shows that Germany and Europe will soon take a stronger stance against Iran and the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the April 2013 issue (emphasis added throughout):
These terrorists are sponsored, for the most part, by Iran. Iran has designs on being the strongest power throughout the region, and is extending its reach throughout North Africa.
But Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa. Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can. They will inevitably clash with each other.
The reason this is so significant is that these two powers are prophesied to clash in the end time. Daniel 11:40 speaks of a war between “the king of the south,” which we can prove to be Iran and radical Islam, and “the king of the north,” which we know to be Germany leading a group of nations. (Request our free booklets The King of the South and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for the proof of the modern identities of these powers.) …
Terrorists from the Iranian camp of radical Islam have taken over two thirds of Mali. Now they are getting closer to some German strongholds in central Africa in the old Congo area and on the shores of eastern Africa.
Germany has great power in Africa—even military power—that few people are paying attention to. Germany is not about to give that power up, certainly not without a fight.
Why did France send 3,500 ground troops, fighter jets and armored vehicles into Mali in January and February  to pound Islamist camps? The French just got out of the disastrous war in Libya helping America topple Qadhafi—surely they would have been hesitant to get involved in another conflict. But I imagine France—which is, after all, part of the European Union led by Germany—was strongly encouraged to go down there because the terrorists were getting closer to Germany’s strongholds. …
Who is ultimately behind all of these terrorist attacks? The king of the south—Iran. But it is being opposed now by Germany on many fronts. You are going to see these two powers clash very soon—like a year or two or three. The Daniel 11:40 clash between the king of the south and the king of the north is about to be fulfilled! All of this violence in Africa is just a prelude to the fulfillment of this prophecy.
The latest violence in Mali gives the Europeans further motivation to involve themselves more in the region. France has been one of the driving forces behind the G-5 Sahel, and it may offer even more support for local militaries, arming and training African forces to fight battles that affect Europe.
If you would like to understand more about how radical Islam and Europe are clashing in North Africa, please read Gerald Flurry’s article “Watch Algeria!”