College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

Faculty Mentor

Nova Robinson

Faculty Editor

Nova Robinson

Student Editor

Rachel Van Liew


The international community’s narrative of the Malian conflict (2012-2015) is overly simplistic. The United Nations, France, and the US focused solely on the terrorist aggression facing Mali and other West African states after the fallout of the Arab Spring—to the detriment of the Malian people’s needs and long-term stability. This paper presents Malian, West African, and African perspectives in contrast to the Westernized narrative, in order to critically analyze the 2013 French intervention in Mali and the under-studied effects of colonial history in contemporary action in the Sahara-Sahel region. The paper juxtaposes the proclaimed “success” of the French counterterrorism intervention against the historical injustices of colonialism and the continuing effects of neocolonialism on development and inequality within and among states. This paper cautions against allowing states, such as France, to exert unrestrained military power for counterterrorist aims without considering the legality and necessity of such action in the context of each state. In the specific case of Mali, the French intervention prevented the resolution of the Kel Tamasheq rebellion against the Malian government and precluded regional powers from taking on the role of primary intervening authority, which continues to affect the resolution of violence and the integrity of the state.