U.N. Official Sees Desperation, Hunger and Fear on Visit to Mali By Rick Gladstone 26th February 2013
A top United Nations relief official who just returned from a trip to northern Mali said Tuesday that desperation, hunger and fear had pervaded the region in the year since Islamist militant extremists seized control, and that only $17 million of the organization’s appeal for $373 million in emergency aid had been donated so far. The official, John Ging, the operations director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said some conditions had begun to improve in northern Mali since a French-led military operation began last month in an effort to expunge the militants from cities like Gao and Timbuktu. But Mr. Ging said that during his four-day trip to the northern part of Mali, an area twice the size of Germany, he had heard harrowing tales of rapes, amputations and brutalities committed against children. ( Read more)
Nearly 100 Rebels Are Reported Killed in Mali Battle
By Scott Seyare, The New York Times
24th February 2013
PARIS — Nearly 100 Islamist fighters were killed in a firefight last week in the rugged northern reaches of Mali, the Chadian military announced on Sunday, in what appears to have been the single most deadly ground battle since the Malian war began in mid-January. (Read more)
AP Interview: Mali investigating accusations that its soldiers are committing atrocities By The associated Press 19 February 2013
PARIS — Malian authorities are investigating claims of torture, killings and reprisals by its own soldiers against minority civilians suspected of links to Islamist militants — accusations that threaten to jeopardize international support for fighting terrorism in the Sahara. (Read more)
Left behind in a house in Timbuktu, al-Qaida’s manifesto, outlining strategic vision for Mali. By Baba Ahmed with The associated Press 14 February 2013
TIMBUKTU, Mali — In their hurry to flee last month, al-Qaida fighters left behind a crucial document: Tucked under a pile of papers and trash is a confidential letter, spelling out the terror network’s strategy for conquering northern Mali and reflecting internal discord over how to rule the region. (Read more)
Mali Islamist rebels urge dialogue, halt to hostilities AFP 6 November 2012
OUAGADOUGOU — Ansar Dine, an Islamist group occupying northern Mali, called Tuesday for other fighters to join them in political dialogue, as military chiefs plot strategies to expel the extremists by force.
As diplomatic efforts for a military solution to the Islamist occupation of Mali's vast arid north intensify, Ansar Dine has dispatched envoys to Burkina Faso and Algeria in a bid to negotiate an end to the crisis.
After meeting with the chief regional mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, the Ansar Dine delegation urged "all the armed movements" to follow its lead with the aim of establishing "an inclusive political dialogue."
In a declaration read by envoy Mohamed Aharid, they called for "a total halt to hostilities, the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms, the return of all displaced people and refugees and the creation of an environment conducive to adopting and implementing a full peace agreement that addresses all the deep causes of the crisis. (read more)
Mali Islamists Willing to Cut al-Qaeda Ties Ansar Dine Would Back International Dialogue, Elections by Jason Dit Antiwar 03 November, 2012
In an attempt to forestall the US-backed invasion of northern Mali, the Islamist faction Ansar Dine has reportedly told Algerian officials that they are willing to sever all ties with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and hold elections.
Ansar Dine has deployed two factions, one to Algiers and another to Burkina Faso in an attempt to kickstart international negotiations on the status of Azawad, the northern two-thirds of Mali which are in a de facto state of independence since early this year, when Tuareg secessionists ousted the Malian military before being themselves ousted by Ansar Dine.
France and the United States have been pushing for a plan to invade Azawad, with the goal of imposing on the region the rule of the “interim” government of southern Mali, installed by the military junta after the loss of Azawad led to a coup.
Ansar Dine has sought to install a Taliban-style theocracy in Azawad, but now says they are willing to “play the democracy game” and have promised a statement in the next few days aimed at placating Western concerns that the region could become a breeding ground for terrorists.
Analysts say Somalia progress might not translate to Mali John Vandiver Stars and Stripes 19 October 2012
STUTTGART, Germany — While the U.S. is hailing Somalia as a success story, an example of how concerted international efforts can rout Islamic extremists in control of much of the country, some analysts are tempering that success with caution.
The U.S.‘ strategy in Somalia is largely focused on training and equipping African Union forces, who have made steady gains against the militant group al-Shabaab, which has been pushed out of the capital and other major cities.
As the U.S. grapples with what to do in northern Africa and across the Sahel, where security vacuums have opened the door to al-Qaida-aligned terror organizations, Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, has suggested the recent gains in Somalia could serve as a model in volatile places like Mali. (read more)
Mali emerges as the latest al-Qaida hub Jonathan Manthorpe Indepthafrica 30 September 2012
Northern Mali, captured by Muslim fundamentalists earlier this year, is rapidly becoming a new haven and headquarters for the al-Qaida terrorist network.
Al-Qaida’s growing presence in the Sahel region stretching across West Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea comes as it is under increasing pressure in its other base areas.
In Pakistan its hideouts near the Afghanistan border are under constant attack from missiles fired by United States drone aircraft. The same is true in Yemen, the homeland of assassinated al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
In Somalia the territory controlled by al-Qaida allies al-Shabab is shrinking rapidly as regional forces recapture the country on behalf of a transitional government. (read more)
Mali’s Taureg want to be involve in settling crisis REUTERS 27 September 2012
Mali's Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York.
Mali's Tuareg separatist movement has asked the United Nations to involve them in settling the crisis in the north of the country, saying otherwise there was no chance of “a definitive solution”.
“Without the frank and direct involvement of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), it is illusory to hope for a definitive solution and lasting peace” in Islamist-occupied northern Mali, the MNLA's representative in Europe, Mossa Ag Attaher, wrote Wednesday in a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
The letter called for the “wiping out of the Islamo-narco-terrorist plague in the Sahel region (of west Africa) and the Azawad (northern Mali),” and was timed to coincide with a UN debate on the option of sending international troops to end an Islamist occupation of half the country. (read more)
Mali: End horrific abuses targeting civilians amid conflict Amnesty International 20 September 2012
Fighting in Mali has died down and parties to the armed conflict watch each other without direct confrontation – but hostility still simmers below the surface and civilians on both sides continue to bear the brunt of horrific abuses
As conflict continues in Mali, Amnesty International has unearthed evidence that civilians are on the receiving end of horrific abuses that include amputations, sexual violence and extra-judicial executions.
After a 15-day research mission to Mali earlier this month, the organization launched a new briefing revealing such abuses in several locations across the country.
Mali: Civilians bear the brunt of the conflict also documents the recruitment of child soldiers – including in camps located on state land. (read more)
Credit: Joseph Eid/Getty
Genocide Watch: Mali By Genocide Watch 6 March 2012, updated 24 April 2012 (En français)
The Mali Federation gained independence on September 22, 1960. The regime in Mali imposed authoritarian Marxist rule. In the 1990s, opposition against the government increased and resulted in a successful coup. The first democratic elections were won by Alpha Ouamar Konaré. In 2002 he was succeeded by Amadou Toumani Touaré, who was ousted during a military coup under the direction of Captain Amadou Sanogo on March 22, 2012. Under the pressure of the international community, in particular ECOWAS, the junta decided a few weeks later to hand over power to a civilian government. According to an agreement between ECOWAS and the junta, the president of the national assembly, Dioncounda Traoré, was sworn in as interim president on April 12, 2012.
The history of Mali is characterized by several insurgencies of the Tuaregs in the northern region. Historians identify four major rebellions: 1916-1917, 1962-1964, 1990-1995 and 2007-2009. The current insurgency, however, is characterized by unprecedented organization and militarization.
Some Tuaregs served as mercenaries in the forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi, the former dictator of Libya. After Qaddafi was overthrown in October 2011, the Tuaregs returned to Mali with heavy weapons and ammunition. They founded a new organization to fight for secession of northern Mali: the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA). The NMLA wants to establish an independent state for the Tuareg people in the Sahel region. Many sources highlight the link between the current Malian insurgency and the defeat of the troops of Colonel Qaddafi (read more).
The coup leaders justified their action under the pretext that the Malian government has not given the military the heavy weaponry and other capacity to deal with the Tuareg insurgency in northern Mali, which they say is supported by AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). France denies the existence of such a connection. Nina Wallet Intalou, one of the principal leaders of the NMLA, declares that AQIM actually poses a threat to the Tuareg culture.
Since January 17, 2012 the NMLA has conquered some of the tiny villages in northern Mali. Recently important cities such as Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao have also been captured by the rebels. During the Tuareg conquests, they have committed brutal ethnic massacres and summary executions. One of the first villages they occupied, Aguelhok, was recaptured by the Malian army. On January 24, 2012, the NMLA recaptured Aguelhok and executed 82 prisoners from the Malian army. Two tactics were used: shooting a single bullet through the head or slitting the throat. The hands of the victims were tied. These summary executions were war crimes under both the Geneva Conventions and the Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Mali is a State-Party. The ICC has, therefore, declared that it will consider claims from several sources in order to decide whether or not to open a war crimes investigation into the allegations of atrocities committed in Mali since January.
On April 6, 2012 the NMLA has declared the independence of the Azawad region. No country in the world recognizes it. The reaction of the new president was as follows: “We won’t hesitate to wage a total, relentless war to regain our territorial integrity and also to kick out of our country all these invaders who bring despair and misery". The current state of affairs in Mali is thus extremely dangerous. Since April 15 negotiations have started between the NMLA and the Malian government.
It is important to stress that most Tuaregs do not support the cause of the NMLA and its secessionist claims. They consider themselves to be Malian nationals. For instance, some of the Tuareg mercenaries who served in the troops of Colonel Qaddafi have already been reintegrated in the Malian army. However, many Tuaregs not supportive of the NMLA have fled northern Mali because they are afraid of reprisals. Recent demonstrations in Bamako have turned against any persons who are believed to be Tuaregs.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has reported that civilians in the north have been killed, robed, raped and forced to flee. She has also declared that ethnic tensions in Mali are rising. The number of internally displaced persons and refugees in the neighboring countries of Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Algeria now number more than 268,000. Besides the tenuous security situation, there are food shortages in the entire Sahel region due to poor rainfall. A humanitarian crisis is imminent, but humanitarian food deliveries have been blocked by the violent NMLA rebellion in northern Mali.
Mali is at stage 5 of Genocide Watch's 8 stages of genocide: Polarization.