Good morning, all, and thank you for the invitation.
I'd like to put my presentation in context, briefly.
Between 2013 and 2015 I was detached to the United Nations as a mediation expert. I was following the Algiers negotiations quite closely. I've been involved in the negotiations for four of the six rounds. This is the perspective from which I will be talking, with a special focus on Mali but also with a broader concern for Canada's re-engagement with peacekeeping.
My presentation will cover four points. I want to present a brief overview of my own reading of our history with respect to peacekeeping, not because the members of the committee don't know the facts but because interpretations vary, and I think it is something important. I will describe current deployment environments for UN peacekeeping operations, with a particular focus on the situation in Mali. I'll assess Canada's intended contributions. I will also provide some general thoughts about our return to peacekeeping.
Let me start with our past contributions to peacekeeping. In the interests of time, I'm going to try to be brief. There is more detail in the brief that I have submitted to you.
I want to highlight that we have a very long and rich history with peacekeeping, involving our participation in more than 40 missions by the middle of the last decade. Even then, we ranked still only 55th out of 108 UN troop-contributing countries.
We incurred a number of fatalities—exactly 122. However, these were mostly in the context of deployments in places that were not necessarily the most dangerous environments we have been in, including during the first Suez crisis and in Cyprus, Bosnia, and Haiti.
Since Canada's withdrawal from peacekeeping, the figures released by the Department of National Defence indicate that only 22 Canadians are currently deployed in four missions authorized by the United Nations. The UN's count is slightly different, because the UN counts staff officers, police, and experts on mission. According to the UN figures, we contribute 40 persons to five peacekeeping operations, or PKOs. Those are in Haiti, South Sudan, the DRC, UNTSO in the Golan Heights, and Cyprus.
This is at a time when—and I think the comparison is important—the UN has upwards of 110,000 blue helmets deployed in 14 missions and when a significant number of our western allies, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries, all re-engaged with UN peacekeeping two years ago, or almost three years ago today.
None of this is new to you, but allow me to highlight my two takeaways from this history.
First, we have deployed peacekeepers in diverse environments ranging from less to more complex and from less to more dangerous, and our fatalities did not necessarily happen in the most dangerous of contexts.
My second takeaway is that while our engagement in peacekeeping may reflect normative values, it's also about realpolitik. It is an integral part of Canada's strategy to contribute to international peace and security on a par with non-UN deployments, such as those in Afghanistan or, more recently, those in Latvia. It is an integral part of our effort to share the burden of international peace and security with our allies, and I think that needs to be front and centre in our minds as we think about re-engaging.
My second point is about current deployment environments. They have changed since Canada was last part of a UN mission. Violent conflict is on the rise, and there are at least four characteristics of violent conflicts that we need to take into account.
The first is that they're much more regionalized than internationalized, as they used to be. Most of today's wars are not civil wars; they are “internationalized civil wars”, in the jargon of academics. That means that there are foreign states and non-state actors who play a role in instigating, prolonging, or exacerbating struggles.
In Mali, transnational jihadist groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State have latched on to the grievances of local actors to connect what was a traditional insurgency to broader transnational ideological struggles. The creation of the G5 Sahel Cross-Border Joint Force in July of 2017 has also contributed to regionalizing the Mali conflict, with recent terrorist attacks targeting not only sites on the Malian territory but increasingly G5 Sahel member states as well, including, most recently, Burkina Faso.
The second thing that we need to look at is the emergence of extremist groups. Instability and violent conflict are a fertile breeding ground for extremist movements. By the way, they are also the natural theatre for UN peace operations. Of the 11 countries most affected by terrorism globally, seven host UN peace operations. However, it's important to highlight that all researchers agree that classifying extremist and terrorist actors remains a policy and operational challenge and that it's an exercise that is often instrumentalized by actors with ulterior motives.
In Mali, for example, it is interesting to note that the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, the name that insurgents give to the north of Mali, has been included on several lists of terrorist groups with which, when you look at the rest, it shares very little by way of ideology or political objectives. One explanation that Mali experts have considered is that the NMLA is the most dangerous political opponent of the Government of Mali because of its secular nature and its autonomist objectives, which are likely to draw broad support among communities in the north.
In terms of current environments, the third point I'd like to raise is the multiplication and fragmentation of conflict actors. It has never been as great as in today's wars. In Syria today, we count approximately 3,000 self-identified groups, ranging from groups with a couple of people to more substantial organized forces. In Mali, the fragmentation of northern anti-government forces and their composition and re-composition into ever-shifting alliances and counter-alliances remains one of the main obstacles to achieving sustainable peace. As Arthur Boutellis of the International Peace Institute and I argued in a report that was published last June, this fragmentation, which has created divisions and armed struggles between erstwhile allied clans, is also the result of a divide-and-rule strategy adopted by the government and some of its northern allies.
The last point that I want to raise about new deployment environments is the increase in violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. This has been highlighted in the report of UN Secretary-General Antònio Guterres on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. I will not read the quote from the report, since you have it. I will only say that Mali is no exception to the trend and that today ongoing insecurity, limited economic opportunities, and the lack of access to basic services in parts of the north, and increasingly in the centre of the country, continue to prevent the voluntary return of high numbers of refugees and internally displaced people.
Therefore, the characteristics of these current conflicts complicate the search for peace. In Mali, when I was participating in the Algiers peace process, we achieved a peace agreement, which was signed in Bamako in June 2015. However, that peace agreement was achieved at the cost of clarity. It was an agreement in broad principles that left a lot to be agreed upon during implementation. It has failed to yield peace and stability. Instead, insecurity has spread to the centre of the country. This is not the place to elaborate on the reasons, and there are no parties that are not guilty in this sad state of affairs. It's important to us what this means for efforts to consolidate peace in the country. I'd like to submit that this makes the success of the UN mission all the more important, because there is a risk of heightened instability as Mali has entered, this summer, an important crucial electoral period.
Second, due to all of the forces present in the country, the UN mission is the only operation with a clear mandate not only to address instability and insecurity but also to support peaceful resolution of the underlying issues.
Also, to date, the security approaches of other actors, including the French Barkhane operation and the G5 Sahel, have actually backfired and thrown more people into the lap of terrorist groups.
Against that, I'd like to assess the intended contribution of Canada to MINUSMA.
Canada wants to deploy helicopters to provide transport and logistical capacity and to provide armed escort protection. Canada also wants to help with medical evacuations and logistical support on the ground.
This contribution reflects the government's pledge to re-engage in peacekeeping in ways that will affect the overall effectiveness of UN peace operations and help address, if not fill, critical gaps. This also reflects, to my knowledge, the most serious gaps and needs of MINUSMA.
MINUSMA has repeatedly highlighted that this is what it needs and what it cannot get from a majority of troop-contributing countries. The mission's field offices in northern Mali have come under attack by various spoilers of the peace process. The high number of fatalities is partly due to logistical difficulties of attending to injuries in situ and providing reliable evacuation of the wounded towards places where they can be taken care of.
A quick search of the data publicly available on the website of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations confirms that at least 143 of the 166 MINUSMA fatalities come from troop-contributing countries whose militaries are deployed as part of the ground forces of the mission. These are mostly countries from the south. They're not the western troops of MINUSMA.
As such, I think that not only would the Canadian forces be helping reduce the number of casualties, but based on current trends of who is most in danger, they would not be a primary target.
Here are some quick thoughts about Canada's return to peacekeeping. Peacekeeping has changed since Canada last deployed blue helmets. Settings are more unstable, as I just argued, because of a constellation of factors. Not only are these peacekeeping settings unstable, but if they are not kept in check, the chance that insecurity could spread beyond the borders of states is greater today, because of the regional and international conjuncture, than it ever was since the end of the Cold War.
This suggests to me that re-engaging in peacekeeping is not really a choice for Canada or for any country like Canada whose prosperity and security depend on international peace and security. Re-engaging in peacekeeping, while not danger free, is a necessity to prevent trouble spots in Mali or elsewhere from becoming open sores and the source of regional and international instability.
Thus, it seems to me that it is incumbent on any troop-contributing country to assess how it can best improve the efficiency of peace operations while at the same time reducing the risk to its own troops. It is my assessment that in choosing the kind of deployments it has, the Canadian government has done exactly that in this specific case.
As I will explain, the days of what we knew as peacekeeping are long over.
I'm also sorry to see that this study is restricted, for the moment—I'm sure not indefinitely—to a study by the Standing Committee on National Defence. I would advocate that, given the political nature of these missions, such a study could be usefully managed jointly by your committee and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
I strongly welcome the current government's plans to return to UN operations. I think our absence has been to the detriment of our reputation. Peace missions need Canada, and also NATO. The UN-NATO argument is, I think, a false one; it's not an either-or issue. We have, though, to contend with the fact that Canada's experience predates the reforms that have characterized the last 20 years.
Marie-Joëlle has explained very well how the conflicts have changed. My point is more that the UN has changed. When you listen to witnesses whose experience is from the 1990s, you need to listen also to your UN witnesses who will be coming later and to see what enormous changes the UN has made in the last 10 to 20 years, particularly kicking off in the year 2000 with the Brahimi report and the creation of comprehensive missions under a civilian leader and bringing in all other aspects, normally also including development and humanitarian aspects.
I realize there isn't a development pillar in Mali, but there is a large development program coming from the donors in Mali. This gave a much greater link between the mission, the Secretary-General, and the Security Council. I met with General Dallaire before I went to Burundi and showed him my mandate. He was astonished. What happened to him in Rwanda can not happen again, nor what happened in the Balkans.
I have a few little points to make, but in the interests of time I won't elaborate on all of them.
First of all, number one, when you talk about the UN, you have to define what you mean by the UN. The UN is not an entity in and of itself, acting independently, financed independently. Remember that you're talking about member states. Any failures are the failures of member states.
Canada has been absent for a long time and has been very critical, yet has not taken the effort to get in there and fix the problems that it criticizes. Some of you may be old enough to remember the Pogo cartoon, when Pogo said, “We have seen the enemy, and it is us.” We have to take responsibility for this situation.
Second, as I mentioned in my intro, don't get hung up on traditional peacekeeping. There has been no such thing since the Cold War, except on the exercise.... I can elaborate on that, if people wish. Also, don't confuse the UN concept of integrated missions—with the political deputy, the force commander, the development and humanitarian deputy, and the civilian SRSG—with Canada's experience of integrated missions and whole-of-government approaches in Afghanistan. This is not that. In Afghanistan, it was definitely the military in the lead; in the UN, it's the civilian lead and the political process that drive it.
The next point, if you'll pardon my expression, is to ignore the nervous Nellies. Of course it's dangerous; why else would we be going? It's a war zone; of course armies have to take precautions. Of course I'm sensitive to the political and human side of casualties, absolutely, but if we want a casualty-free war, why do we have 68,000 really good, well-trained, experienced troops? Why bother? Are we then to leave the heavy lifting to others?
Remember, Canadian civilians with no support from their government have been on the front lines all along. When I joined the UN in 1999 as humanitarian relief coordinator, it was at a time when there was a pullback internationally from peacekeeping. More humanitarians died on the front lines in 1998 than peacekeepers. Let's think about that.
The next point is to understand the full meaning of our self-interest. In this day of cross-border terrorism, environmental health, and migrant issues, our national interest is a global one. What happens across our borders is in our national interest. We must get away from the narrow concept of national interests as ideas of direct benefit to us.
We're an international player; we always have been. Global peace and security is absolutely fundamental to our security, health, environment, immigration, trade—to everything. If we stand back and let these crises roll without playing a part, then we will reap the consequences. Two hundred years ago Alexis de Tocqueville—you should read him—said of “self-interest properly understood” that “common welfare is in fact a pre-condition for one's own ultimate well-being”.
The next point is to invest in training, not just for Canadians but for third world partners. You see before you the very sad former vice-chair of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, which had the rug pulled out from under it by some of your predecessors. You can't put it together again—it's gone—but you can find a way of having something rise from the ashes.
I would recommend strongly that you look to a Swedish institute, the Folke Bernadotte Academy. It is inside and outside government, independent but working closely with government, with finance, but also working with NGOs. It is highly respected. There are many other models; I mention that one. Personally, it's my favourite.
Let me mention also the issue of sexual exploitation in the UN. A lot has been written about how bad the UN is because of sexual exploitation. Well, what's happened in the last few months has blown that one wide open. This is not just a UN problem; yes, it is a UN problem, which the UN is trying desperately to deal with, but it is also a military problem, as we know well enough here in Canada. It's also a male violence issue in all institutions.
I just met with my financial adviser yesterday, who quit a major Canadian bank because of something that happened. I won't say which bank and I won't say what happened.
It's a human rights issue, it's a “protection of civilians” issue, and the UN needs our help in dealing with it. Member states will not punish the perpetrators, even once they are identified by the UN.
The next point is to ask where the commitment is to involving more women. I suggest you all look up the Mano River Peace Network, the women's peace movement in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the women actually brought an end to the Liberian war. This is not just a question of whether we have some more female soldiers or enough female policemen or whether there is a woman at the table. No, it's a fundamental issue that makes a difference. It is proven that it makes a difference to peace and security. Think about it.
I'm sorry to be so colloquial here, but what I have written down is, “Go big or go home”—but go strategically. We talked about deploying up to 600. That's a good start. Actually we're starting now with 250. I have a letter, addressed to me personally in response to a query I sent to the Minister of National Defence, saying that they were still committed to 600. That was about a year ago. The delays are affecting our ability to influence the situation. We have to move now or we're not going to be at the table.
I won't talk about how many we have, because I looked up the UN figures and Marie-Joëlle mentioned figures and we have the expert on the figures here, so he will tell you how many we have and where they are.
We need a long-term strategy, especially for Africa.
The last point is on the Mali mission itself.
Mali has been an important partner. It's a good choice. Yes, it's dangerous, as I said, but where is it not dangerous? We've had a development program for years of anything up to $100 million a year. There are a dozen Canadian mining companies in Mali with an investment of $1.5 billion. In the 1990s, if you were a Canadian and walked into Bamako, you were welcomed with open arms. You have to know your history and understand the deep connections between Mali and Canada.
You can say to the Canadian public, “These are our friends”, but we have stood back and ignored the signs of trouble over the last years. However, we must not abandon our friends just because it's difficult or dangerous.
The peace agreement with the rebels is in fact holding. The rebels have not broken the peace in the last six or nine months. The issue is the criminal and terrorist actors.
There are positive requirements, but we also need to make sure we have a development program to match, because it's a development investment that will undercut the criminal and terrorist acts.
If we want to contribute to the success of the mission, we need a place at the table—the political table. We don't have that now. Our contribution, military or financial, has to be enough to give us a voice. Otherwise, we're just playing around the edges.
Lastly, on the UN, as I said, our own security depends intimately on the successful workings of the international rules-based system that Canadians have helped to build over the last 70 years. If we are not prepared to work within that system, to support its ideals, to provide it with resources, and to strengthen it against all of its challenges, then we cannot blame others if it fails. Why is it so hard to understand that we have a responsibility to play our part to ensure the safe and secure world that is essential to our own well-being?
We have had a reputation—have had—for being a significant and supportive player. Are we back? Many Canadians are waiting to find out.
Thank you very much.
I'm very happy to be part of this majority-women panel.
Thank you very much for allowing me to share my thoughts on UN peacekeeping or, using the term I prefer, UN peace operations, of which peacekeeping is a part.
Peace operations are of importance to me as an operational academic because they are of great importance to Canada, to the people in the conflict areas, and to the United Nations, our world organization. Despite all their flaws, UN operations remain one of the best ways to prevent, manage, and resolve conflict. I have spent 30 years studying them, 20 years teaching military officers about them, and over 10 years working with the United Nations, including the field missions earlier this year in Mali. I remain convinced that even in the worst mission areas, there is some peace to keep, people to protect, and initiatives to support. Canada needs to help and has much to contribute.
Being a scientist by training, I rely on factual data to describe trends. In the graphs that I've circulated to the committee, you'll find in graph 1 the number of Canadian uniformed personnel deployed on UN operations since 1950, when a Canadian general led the military observer group in Kashmir. You'll see the big jump that happens in 1956 when the United Nations deployed, on the suggestion of Lester B. Pearson, the United Nations emergency force. We went beyond unarmed observers and deployed armed units in a truly international peace and police force. That's when our number of troops rose to over 1,000. Then Canada helped put together the peacekeeping force in Cyprus in 1964 and again contributed after the Yom Kippur War with UNEF II.
At the end of the Cold War we saw a plethora of new missions in Somalia, Bosnia, Cambodia, and then Rwanda. Canada's deployments, police and military combined, climbed to a peak of 3,300 in July 1993. Canada's identity is built partly on the excellent work of the military personnel and the diplomats who made Canada one of the world's top peacekeepers in the second half of the last century.
After 1995, the UN stopped creating new missions for a few years, and then it surged in the new century, but Canada kept its numbers low, at about 300 to 500. The last time Canada deployed armed units in peace operations was in Ethiopia and Eritrea, as Carolyn mentioned, and in Haiti.
At present Canada provides no units and only 47 personnel as individuals, 23 police only in Haiti, and 24 military personnel in Haiti, the Congo, Cyprus, South Sudan, and the Middle East. You'll see the numbers there.
Until 2006 Canada provided logisticians to the Golan Heights in Syria, but these were withdrawn under the pressures of the Afghanistan campaign, halving the numbers to about 150 total in peacekeeping, as shown in graph 2. You'll see the drop at the left side of that graph.
The numbers dropped further with the present government. When Canada hosted the UN peacekeeping defence ministerial conference in Vancouver, the number fell to the lowest level since Pearson proposed the first peacekeeping force in 1956, and it went down further in January. It has picked up slightly since. Currently, the government deploys less than half the number deployed on average by the previous government. If you're interested, I update the numbers monthly on my website—walterdorn.net—on a page titled “Tracking the Promises”.
Graph 3 shows Canada's rank among nations contributing personnel, moving from the number one position, which we held during the Cold War—and in the early 1990s we maintained that position—to the current position as number 74 among personnel contributions to the UN.
For reference, I also added graph 4, showing the total number of forces deployed in UN peacekeeping operations, and you can see that while Canada is near an all-time low, the UN is near an all-time high. At present the UN Secretary-General deploys more forces on operations than any other leader in the world, including the President of the United States.
Having been seconded to the UN over the past year, thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada, I worked at UN headquarters and conducted technical visits to five peace operations. I can declare with certainty that the UN has many highly competent individuals who go beyond the call of duty and work selflessly, risking life and limb to save vulnerable people.
I can't help but pay tribute to members of my own team. When I deployed back in 1999 in East Timor, I lost a member of my team and there was a massacre in a church complex where I conducted voter education. That experience only deepened my conviction that we had to make the UN work. After 450 years of colonialism and occupation, the Timorese people finally had their chance to gain independence, and that was due to a UN operation.
Fortunately, the UN has improved immensely since that time. We can't judge UN activities by the experiences and tragedies of me in 1999 or of soldiers who served a quarter of a century ago. UN headquarters has improved its field support in many ways since the last large deployment of Canadian Forces, which was in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995.
For example, at the time, the Office of Military Affairs was run by a Canadian general, General Maurice Baril. He had a staff of about half a dozen people. Now the Office of Military Affairs has more than 120 military officers serving, from about 70 different countries. Unfortunately, Canada is not currently one of the countries employed in OMA as UN staff.
The UN's capacity has grown immensely in so many different areas, including the areas in which I work: technology, intelligence, doctrine, training, and protection of civilians.
Unlike the UN's, Canada's capacity for peace operations has declined. With few personnel deployed over the past two decades, the Canadian Armed Forces have less experience than in previous generations and do much less training. With the closure of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in 2013, we no longer have a place where military, police, and civilians can train and educate together. Although the Peace Support Training Centre, or PSTC, in Kingston, with its new Paul A. Mayer Building, does excellent work, its program is only for the military, it is mostly aimed at the tactical level, and only a small fraction of its program is actually focused on the UN specifically.
In a report, “Unprepared for Peace?”, I documented the decline of peacekeeping training more generally in the Canadian Armed Forces. As the only person who teaches a course on peace operations at the command and staff level, I can tell you that the number of activities in the Canadian Armed Forces has dropped to less than a quarter of what it was in 2005, with fewer exercises and almost no role-playing as UN peacekeepers, though some efforts are now being made to reinvigorate the peace operations curriculum.
Some other hard-hitting facts also sadden me. Canada seeks to increase dramatically the number of women in UN peace operations, yet we are failing to lead by example, with only three military women deployed, even as many individual women are willing to seek deployment and are eager to deploy on missions.
I've had women in my office saying that they've been trying for years to get on UN operations but that the opportunities just haven't been there. Now there will be some exciting opportunities for air force officers and women in the helicopter detachments to deploy in UN peacekeeping with the announcement of Mali, and I hope opportunities will come for men and women in the army and navy as well.
I could talk about Mali, but I'll leave that for the question period, because I'm sure questions will be raised about it. I have done fatality statistical analysis there, and I'd like at some point to address the issue of child soldiers in Mali.
In conclusion, there is so much to do to re-engage in peace operations. We have to be careful not to suffer from paralysis by analysis. We've had a number of years now of dithering and delay that have actually caused the UN problems in its deployments. My suggestion is that we adopt a modus operandi of “push what moves”, meaning that we start working quickly on a whole range of activities so that we get the experience we need to find the initiatives in which we can make breakthroughs.
I have submitted a brief with more than 40 suggestions. You can use it as a kind of smorgasbord to look at which ones you might want to choose to highlight.
Canada can become a really constructive force on the international stage, helping bring peace to war-torn areas of the world. Only then can we help heal the open wounds of the world body that hemorrhage problems to the rest of the globe. Only then can refugee flows be diminished, diseases be eradicated, and terrorism be cut off at its source. Only then can Canada truly say it is back.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Mali mission is really beginning to sound a lot like Afghanistan. We had the Taliban there, and here we have the Tuaregs, al Qaeda, and then new actors altogether. This sounds more like an anti-insurgency, counter-terrorism operation, and the statement was even made, “It's a war zone.”
The difference is our mission, of course. In Afghanistan we didn't have the helicopters to do this type of mission, and that of course goes back to the cancellation of the EH101 contract. When we had military commanders here last week, they even said that in protecting the helicopters, they would be using the same provisions they had used in Afghanistan with respect to air protection.
It really sounds as though the difference between this mission and Afghanistan is that we were in Afghanistan because a NATO member country was attacked by somebody who was trained in Afghanistan, and we don't know that there's been a terrorist attack by somebody trained in Mali. It's all being repackaged under the rubric of peacekeeping because that's more palatable to the public, and of course the government can avoid debate.
What's really difficult to see—and granted, we do have mining companies present there—is how this mission is in the national interest. The intangible benefit of spreading this government's Canadian values has many people unconvinced that it's going to be worth the blood and treasury.
My questions will be based along the lines of the experience we've had in peacekeeping missions. Again, that's what we're concerned about. When it's a UN mission, the chain of command has not been as reliable as we've seen in, for instance, NATO missions.
The question I'd like to first ask is to Dr. Zahar, and it relates to her experience there.
Canada lost 159 troops in Afghanistan, and among them 132 were lost because of explosives. They had direct fire, suicide attacks by the Islamic militants. How would you characterize the capabilities and threat levels of the terrorist groups who are taking the fight to the UN forces in Mali? They're targeting peacekeepers.
If I may, I'd like to start by addressing your comparison of Mali and Afghanistan to say that Mali has the potential of becoming Afghanistan, but it's not there yet. That's why it's very important, in my opinion, to not just look at the headlines. Mali has a functional government. It has multiple groups, including armed groups in the north whom we call Islamist or terrorist, who actually want a political deal and want the country to get back on its feet.
It does have problems in implementing its peace agreement, and these problems are actually part of the reason that groups such as al Qaeda are trying to manipulate the people who are dissatisfied and offer them more.
What do they offer them? They offer basic services that the government of Mali doesn't yet have the capacity to extend to all of its population, not just in the north, but particularly in the north. They offer a sense of security, because there are no police, and border raids are common. Then in return what they want is allegiance, and then you have the kinds of concerns that you've raised.
In other words, we still have, I think, a very decent chance in Mali of turning the tide. Mali has had three peace agreements before. They have not been fully implemented, in part because no one had the national interest or vision, I will say, to stay long enough to see that they were implemented. Various international partners fake it, to put it bluntly.
To your question, to the best of my knowledge the groups that are currently operating in Mali can use IEDs, but they don't have very sophisticated equipment. In other words, they do not pose the same kind of threat that al Qaeda does in Afghanistan or as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.
There are many small groups emerging and trying to use allegiance to al Qaeda or to the Islamic state as a way of securing resources. What's interesting about those groups, particularly in the centre of Mali, is that we may disagree with the way in which they do it, but the resources are being used to establish governance and to basically provide some sort of justice and services to people. In other words, it's a market in which, when the government cannot deliver, others are emerging to deliver, and these others are being instrumentalized.
My best answer to you as someone who knows Mali is that it is imperative that we help the Malian government become responsible in its governance and become more capable, because that is the only way in which we can stop Mali from becoming another Afghanistan.