Saturday, February 02, 2013

French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Four - Final French Drive to Victory and Cartoon Propaganda Maps

French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch One - The French Counterattack
French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Two - Geography as a Barrier to the Islamists
French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Three - French Advancing in the International War
French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Four - Final French Drive to Victory and Cartoon Propaganda Maps

Disclaimer:  The staff of Geographic Travels supports France in its war against militant Islamists in Mali and elsewhere.  We remain uncertain and personally torn by the issue of Tuareg independence via an Azawad.

The French-Malian-International forces have captured the core of northern Mali (Azawad) with only a few small outposts in the far north left in rebel hands.  Ansar al Dine, other Islamists, and even non-fighting National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) forces have been swept aside and their cities have fallen to the French-led drive.  France will likely capture the last few outposts by the end of the week.

France24 map from 30 January
Secular Tuareg inability to keep Islamists out and the French decision to back the Malian government in an effort to reclaim the north has killed any dream for a separate and independent Azawad.

Cartoon/Propaganda Maps

I find cartoon and propaganda maps made during conflicts fascinating    The fact that a powerful message can be sent using a mixture of the cartographic and politics with few written words causes me to still ponder about the power of maps.  I have been collecting war cartoon propaganda maps from the 2008 Russia-Georgian War, the 2011 Libyan War, Japan's point-of-view during World War II, and sometimes guest blogger even managed to secure some Syrian Civil War cartoon propaganda maps.

In the case of Mali there are three categories: pro-French intervention, anti-intervention but not anti-France, and anti-France.  The pro-French intervention category can be broken down into three sub-categories: pro-Mali/pro-France, anti-Islamist, and anti-European inaction.

Pro-French Intervention

La Jeune Politique, an English-language French news website, has a rare pro-Mali map.  The leader of the military and the military installed-government smile.  Nowhere does one get the impression that the civilian government, admittedly a failure, was overthrown by the military.  Note the rebels only get a flag but no textual mention on the map.  Azawad is labelled "disputed area."

Heroic France stops terrorists from expanding into Niger's uranium fields.  While Ansar Dine was not going east, they were advancing south, Islamists in the past have expressed their desire to take over Niger.  Image from Facebook

Islamists take Africa hostage.  Cartoon by Imad Hajjaj

Cartoons for Peace shows the Islamist terrorist octopus having tentacles all over the region.  The long reaching, multi-tasking/threat octopus has been a propaganda tool for over 125 years.

France is alone while European help is just a mirage.  The Mirage is a pun as France's top jet is known as the Mirage.  Image by Chappatte

France at war while Europe plays. Image by Tom Janssen

Anti-Intervention but not anti-France

Another major theme of Malian war propaganda maps is showing the war as a mistake.  While these maps are against France's war, they are not anti-France.  The common theme is France does not known what it is getting itself into.  This mirrors the semi-famous May 5, 2003 The American Conservative magazine cover cartoon map showing that the United States was going to get stuck in an Iraqi quagmire after quickly winning the Iraq invasion.

France is shown as suck in the quicksand quagmire of Mali while hampered by its weak economy.  From the Kuwait Times

Cartoonharry draws France disrupting and getting stung by the wasps nest that is African civil wars

France is shown making the same mistake the United States did.  From the Korea Times


The final theme shows France in a negative light.  I have not been able to find any Islamist propaganda maps (what a unique field of political cartography, if its exists) but elements of the Muslim world are using the oppurtunity to make anti-France propaganda maps even if they do not openly support the Islamists.

Imad Hajjaj, who made the Islamist's take Africa hostage cartoon map, shows France as a tool of the United States against hapless Malians.  This is a great example of the constant flipping of sides in Arab street politics.

Iranian press agency FARS shows France feeding on the blood of Mali.  Iran is an enemy of al Qaeda but has supported the group on the side in efforts to hurt the West.

This will likely be the last Mali war map update.  However, if things greatly change on the ground we will resume this map series.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that in Imad Hajjaj's second cartoon he depicts the Islamists as pigs. thats pretty strong iconographic choice to have made given the image of the pig's uncleanliness in the ME. I would suggest that it is off a peace with his earlier cartoon's denouncement of Al-Qaeda in Africa. Perhaps rather than a "great example of the constant flipping of sides in Arab street politics", there is a constancy wherein he dislikes the Islamists and he also dislike meddling Western imperialism; you don't have to be for one or the other.

Marco said...

I am the French Managing Editor of LaJeunePolitique, which published one of those cartoons. I liked your post and I just wanted to say that if you wanted to post your comments directly on our website, you're very welcome, we're always opened to such dialogue.


Catholicgauze said...

Great point. Thanks for seeing what I overlooked. I hadn't thought about the pig angle but you're probably right.

Catholicgauze said...

Thank you for your openness.