Nina Wallet Intalou: the strongwoman of the MNLA

Western leaders and their media lackeys have been at pains to point out that the French military presence in Mali is aimed to destroy Islamist militants in that country and the Maghreb. Many of us understand that the words “Islamists” and “Jihadis” are dog whistle words that are intended to strike fear and, indeed, terror into the minds of those who hear them. In another time, the word “German” would have been used in much the same way. In fact, in  England (and not the rest of the UK), “German” is similarly deployed by Europhobes to convince people that leaving the EU is in their best interests – the spectre of a powerful Germany still exercises the minds of these people who still pine for the long-dead British Empire.

If Islamism is the driving force behind the rebellion in the Azawad region of Mali, then it isn’t doing a particularly good job. Under Islamism, women have no say in political discourse. They are kept silent.  Yet in the Taureg MNLA, there is one woman to whom men will listen. She is Nina Wallet Intalou and she is the voice of her people’s struggle for liberation.

I found this article on a site called WorldCrunch. Here’s an excerpt,

A member of the Executive Bureau of the NMLA (most of whose members live in exile here in Nouakchott), Nina Wallet Intalou, 49, is a key figure of the movement. She is also the only woman of the group. Wrapped in a shiny black malafa, the traditional Sahara veiling dress, and smoking a cigarette, she smiles, trying to conceal her concern about the possibility of a reverse: “AQIM is occupying our land,” she said. “Even men are not allowed to smoke any more. They are fighting our culture and our identity. Mali has never done anything against them. They want to erase us, with the complicity of Algerian authorities.”

Her father was a top nurse in the military from the Idnane tribe. Raised between Kidal, Gao and Mopti, the activist moved to Ivory Coast in 1984, aiming to raise awareness about the Tuareg cause among her African brothers. There, she married a rich businessman, with whom she had three children, and resumed her studies. After graduating in Public Law, she set up a construction business at the age of 26, leading 250 employees and holding the monopoly on the cleaning of phone booths in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital.

After divorcing from her husband, she returned to northern Mali. She was elected Mayor of Kidal in 1997, but could never exert power. “Islamists were starting to settle in the region, and they didn’t want a woman to rule a city,” she said. “At the time, most of them were from Pakistan and were beginning to create the katiba combat units. Algerians only came in 2003.”  As a consolation prize, Alpha Oumar Kondaré, then Mali President, offered her a position of local councilor.

My bold. Let us not forget how the 1992 Algerian elections were cancelled when Islamist parties performed well in the first two rounds,and the military forced the president, Chadli Bendjedid, to resign and replaced him with a “High Council of State” (a junta in all but name). The civil war that followed was bitter and brutal.

The above article was originally published in Le Monde and can be read here (in French).

The weak Malian government is using the threat of Islamism as a cover for its wider aims of smashing the MNLA, who are opposed to Islamism. Indeed, according to Intalou, the Malian government largely ignored the Islamists. So what changed?

This video of an interview with Intalou came to me from Lissnup on Twitter.

Like many of her compatriots, Intalou is currently in exile in Mauritania.

If Islamism is gaining traction in the Maghreb, then it would be important to ask why that is the case.  But as we know, the word “causality” has always absent from the warmongers’ discourse.

Elsewhere, Front de Gauche leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon points out that Hollande’s decision to put French troops on Malian soil was done without consulting parliament or the Prime Minister.

Enfin, il apparaît que la décision d’intervention a été prise par le seul président Hollande, non seulement sans consultation préalable du Parlement, mais même sans que le gouvernement de Jean-Marc Ayrault en ait été officiellement saisi.

That sounds so familiar.

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Filed under Africa, Mali, The Maghreb, World

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