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The lurking reality of absurd borders and impossible ethno-sectarian configurations — and the fun has just started.
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If the history of letter writing in the region has any lesson to offer, it would be that this letter will fare no better than its predecessors. On the ground MNLA appears to be steadily losing to Ansar ed Dine, buoyed by the influx of hundreds of foreign fighters sent to ag Ghali by the likes of Al Qaeda in Maghreb and the Nigerian Boko Haram. The deal, MNLA was originally planning to offer to the international community, fell apart. If anything it’s now MNLA itself who needs the international community to save it from the fundamentalists. But on the international scene MNLA and its declaration of independence have received no support whatsoever and the mood seems to be gradually shifting in support of military intervention.
These are bad days for the Tuareg nationalists. Yet, as they are watching their surprising victory to slip out of their hands, it’s now their former colonial tormentors themselves, oh the irony of it, who are finding themselves slipping into the nightmare of another failed experiment in creative borders and wishful mixing of peoples and cultures. “Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong,” wrote Bismarck in 1876. “Europe is a geographical expression.” More than one hundreds years later the “geographical expression” is struggling to survive a utopia imposed on it by the well-meaning enthusiasts of togetherness.
The severe economic crisis has put to test both the viability of a single European currency and the sense of solidarity between its members. The anti-German sentiment is exploding along the Eurozone’s southern periphery with an intensity unseen in Europe since the World War II. Unemployment hitting above 20% in Spain and Greece, the practice of burning German flags and chanting “Nazis out” pioneered by protesters in Greece may yet become a new habit in the Eurozone’s Mediterranean belt.
Across Europe anti immigration and nationalist parties are rising. Scotland is likely to see an independence referendum in 2014. Belgium has recently smashed all world records for the longest period without a government amid constant infighting between the Flemish nationalists and their French-speaking opponents. Elevating the entire euro zone to the status of transfer union may sound like a good idea in theory, but right now this notion is threatening to split the very country which is home to the EU headquarters, no less.
France does not seem to be having it any better in the United States of Europe than other members. President Sarkozy spent his term vigorously deporting Roma migrants, threatening to strip foreign-born rioters of citizenship and plotting with the Germans to reestablish border controls within the Schengen area. To no avail. As the world of fantasy is crumbling in Europe, large chunks of the French electorate failed to get impressed and the voters turned even more massively towards the anti euro and anti immigration National Front.
Ours is a world of absurd borders and impossible unions. But from Africa through the Maghreb and the Middle East, all the way to Scotland and Flanders in Northern Europe, they are rising: nationalists, separatists, regionalists. They are coming in all shapes and colors and they are legion. Ag Ghali and his fundamentalists may have spoiled the party in Mali, but the big party is far from over. If anything, it has barely started.
2010. Bombino aka Omar Mokhtar, also nicknamed the Jimmie Hendrix of the Tuaregs, firing up a rock party at the feet of an ancient adobe mosque in Agadez, Niger.
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