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Snippet Contents:

Northern Africa has a colonial history and was carved up by a number of countries, most notably Britain, France and Spain. It is a tragic history of the pillage of natural resources, genocide and oppression over many decades. That is the context of engagement in north Africa. France was very slow out of the blocks in Tunisia when the people had their uprising and removed the dictator Ben Ali. The French went into Libya but there was major criticism of NATO's interpretation of the UN Security Council resolution and devastating consequences in the country. We are all glad to see the back of Gaddafi but the question is whether it could have been managed better. That is the context in which we move into Mali.
It is disappointing we did not have a proper debate in the House because fewer than 12 of our Defence Forces were deployed, meaning there is no proper scrutiny of the decision over a period of time. The Minister acknowledges the Malian army is responsible for numerous reported human rights abuses, followed up by the UN, Human Rights Watch and other human rights NGOs. There are serious concerns.