Posts tagged Mali
Posts tagged Mali
SAHARATV INTERVIEW: An African Solution To An African Problem – Prof. Horace Campbell On The Crisis In Mali
ProfessorHorace Campbell is a noted peace and justice international scholar and also he is a professor of African-American Studies and political science at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He has a book coming out which is called ‘Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya’ - the book will be out in March. Professor Horace Campbell, welcome to Sahara TV.
French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes.
France has called for international support against Islamist insurgents it says pose a threat to Africa and the West, acknowledging it faces a long fight against the well-equipped militant fighters who seized Mali’s vast desert north last year.
After Islamist pledges to exact revenge for France’s intervention, militants claimed responsibility for a raid on a gas field in Algeria.
France receives help from U.S., Britain as it ramps up airstrikes against Islamic rebels in Mali
French fighter jets bombed rebel targets in a major city in Mali’s north Sunday, pounding the airport as well as training camps, warehouses and buildings used by the al-Qaeda-linked Islamists controlling the area, officials and residents said.
The three-day-old French-led effort to take back Mali’s north from the extremists began with airstrikes by combat helicopters in the small town of Konna. It has grown to a coordinated attack by state-of-the-art fighter jets which have bombarded at least five towns, of which Gao, which was attacked Sunday afternoon, is the largest.
More than 400 French troops have been deployed to the country in the all-out effort to win back the territory from the well-armed rebels, who seized control of an area larger than France nine months ago. What began as a French offensive has now grown to include seven other countries, including logistical support from the U.S. and Europe. The United States is providing communications and transport help, while Britain is sending C17 aircrafts to help Mali’s allies transport troops to the frontlines.
Mali: UN to Debate Military Intervention | allAfrica
Diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis in Mali are being stepped up at the United Nations this week, against the backdrop of warnings that the situation in the country will deteriorate if action is not taken by the end of the month.
A high-level meeting on the Sahel region is scheduled to take place as world leaders gather in New York for the opening sessions of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Photo: U.S. Army Africa/Flickr
Hard-line Islamists in northern Mali stoned a reportedly unmarried couple to death for adultery last Sunday. Analysts worry this is growing evidence of the rebel fighters’ avowed intention to impose strict Islamic law in the vast territory under their control.
Another version of the story put about by an al-Qaida-linked militant group is that the couple was married but engaging in extramarital affairs.
The Shariah killings in the remote desert town of Aguelhok have drawn outrage and condemnation. The human rights group Amnesty International called them “gruesome and horrific.”
The desecration of the tombs of Sufi Muslim saints by Islamist fighters in the fabled city of Timbuktu has also been condemned. The destruction has come to symbolize the twin crises in Mali. In a matter of weeks, this once apparently stable Sahara Desert nation imploded with a rebellion in the north, followed by a coup in the south.
A Rebellion Rises
Nomadic Tuareg secessionists launched the rebellion in January, demanding independence for what they call their Azawad homeland in the north.
Allies from other groups, including the regional al-Qaida franchise — known by its initials AQIM (al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) — fought alongside the Tuaregs.
They captured the three strategic towns in the north: Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. The crisis was compounded by a military coup March 22 in Mali’s capital, Bamako, by soldiers who accused the ousted president of not fighting the rebellion.
While Mali’s politicians and soldiers dithered and bickered in Bamako, the rebels rapidly consolidated their control over a vast and poorly policed zone the size of Texas, in mainly desert northern Mali.
Within weeks the shaky alliance between the turbaned Tuareg fighters and the Islamists collapsed, and Wahabbi jihadists, such as Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, took over.
Pictured: Islamist rebels of Ansar Dine near Timbuktu, in rebel-held northern Mali, during the release of a Swiss hostage on April 24.
Up to 5,000 troops could be deployed to Mali in coming days to combat escalating Islamic extremism, say West African nations
West African nations are considering imminent military intervention in Mali amid growing fears that the country is about to become what one expert has dubbed “the next Somalia”.
Up to 5,000 troops from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) could be deployed in the coming days to combat Islamic extremists linked to the terrorist group Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim). Fighting between Islamist factions and government troops has threatened to plunge Mali into chaos and undermine the security of the entire West African subregion.
“Deployment of troops in Mali is imminent,” said Abdel-Fatau Musah, Ecowas director for external relations. “We are very concerned about what is happening in northern Mali, particularly with the carnage and killing, and barbaric acts that are going on in Timbuktu, and the destruction of heritage sites.
“We are preparing to deploy between 3,000 and 5,000 troops to fight against these terrorists,” Musah added. “The problem is that we are going to have to engage in urban warfare because they have occupied the major centres of northern cities, they are not wearing uniforms, it is going to be very difficult to separate them from the locals.”
The news follows months of fighting between Mali’s national army, secular Tuareg separatist rebels in the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), and extremist groups. The Tuareg rebellion in the north – one of the causes of the military coup that toppled Mali’s civilian government in March – has become increasingly fractured, with the MNLA pitted against Aqim and Ansar Dine, factions that seek to impose Sharia law in Mali.
Residents in the northern town of Gao say Islamists have planted mines around the perimeter to keep the MNLA out. “It’s like a prison. People are scared,” Allouseini Mohamed said. “The militants warned on local radio that people should not wander outside the main roads. They said it was to prevent the Tuareg rebels from trying to attack the town. It’s a big problem because most people here are herders and cattle-breeders and they can’t go out to their fields anymore.”
Pictured: Mali unrest – Islamist rebels, pictured, and Tuareg fighters clashed last month in Gao, leaving at least 20 people dead. Photograph: Romaric Ollo Hien/AFP/Getty Images
Timbuktu’s Sidi Yahia mosque ‘attacked by Mali militants’
Islamist militants in Mali have attacked one of the most famous mosques in the historic city of Timbuktu, residents say.
Armed men broke down the door of the 15th-Century Sidi Yahia mosque, a resident told the BBC.
The Ansar Dine group, which is said to have links to al-Qaeda, seized control of the city earlier this year.
It has already destroyed several of the city’s shrines, saying they contravene its strict interpretation of Islam.
Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Bamana told the BBC that his movement had now completed nearly 90% of its objective to destroy all mausoleums that are not in line with Islamic law.
He said Sharia did not allow the building of tombs taller than 15cm (6 inches).
The new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on Sunday condemned the destruction as a “war crime”, reports the AFP news agency.
The UN cultural agency Unesco and Mali’s government have called on Ansar Dine to halt its campaign.
Pictured: The door in the Sidi Yahia mosque which was broken leads to the tomb of saints
Mali’s Timbuktu and Askia Tomb put on Unesco danger list
The United Nations has said it is gravely concerned about Mali’s historical city of Timbuktu as violence in the country’s north escalates.
Unesco, the UN’s cultural agency, said both Timbuktu and the 17th Century Tomb of Askia, which is in the city of Gao, had been placed on its list of sites in danger.
Islamist forces have just seized Gao from Tuareg rebels.
Unesco said it was also worried about looting and smuggling of artefacts.
Mali’s government had asked the UN to recognise the threat to the condition of its historical sites and the high risk of trafficking of cultural objects.
Timbuktu, which is on the edge of the Sahara Desert, contains many examples of impressive and distinctive architecture which is hundreds of years old and constructed mainly from mud and wood.
The city is also home to about 700,000 ancient manuscripts held in about 60 private libraries.
Concern about Timbuktu’s ancient sites was raised after a coup in March which overthrew the government.
Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants capitalised on the chaos and took control of the north of the country, but their uneasy alliance has all but collapsed.
Analysts say they do not share the same ambitions, with the Tuaregs wanting secession and Islamist fighters keen to impose Sharia law in the poor West African state.
The Tomb of Askia, a pyramidal structure which was built in 1495, is the burial place of the Emperor Mohammad Askia, who led the Empire of Songhai, one of the most successful Islamic empires in history.
Pictured: The UN has been concerned about Timbuktu’s historical sites since the March coup
The UN refugee agency says that a record 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders last year.
Many of them were displaced by conflicts in their home countries.
Mali is one example. More than 320,000 people have been forced from their homes since January because of fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels.
Many are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries - which are struggling to cope with the influx.
The situation is particularly precarious as the Sahel region is going through a major drought.
Al Jazeera’s Laura Kyle reports from Burkina Faso’s Mintao camp and May Welsh reports from Mali’s Timbuktu.
Mali President Traore beaten up by protesters
Interim Mali President Dioncounda Traore has been taken to hospital with a head wound after being attacked by demonstrators, officials say.
He is said to have been unconscious on arrival, but later left the hospital.
The army says it shot dead three people during mass protests by supporters of March’s coup who were angry at a deal for Mr Traore, 70, to remain in office for a year.
Mr Traore’s initial mandate was due to expire on Monday.
But West African leaders reached a deal with coup leader Capt Amadou Sanogo for Mr Traore to stay on to organise elections and end a northern rebellion.
The deal also saw Capt Sanogo recognised as a former head of state with a salary and a mansion.
Capt Sanogo has been silent all day and has not called on his supporters to leave the streets, correspondents say.
The coup, and ensuing rebel seizure of northern Mali, have led many thousands of people to flee their homes.
Aid agencies say they are extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in Mali, which is also suffering from the regional drought.
Pictured: Some protesters carried a mock coffin with the name of Mali’s interim president
Mali junta claims control of Bamako after fighting
Mali’s coup leaders have said they are in control of the situation in Bamako, after hours of fighting in the capital.
In a message on TV, they said they held the state broadcasting building, the airport and army barracks after a counter-coup attempt by loyalists of ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.
However, reports say heavy gunfire continued in the city. Several people are believed to have been killed.
The junta handed power to an interim government after the March coup.
But the junta - led by Cpt Amadou Sanago - is still thought to wield considerable influence in the West African country.
Pictured: Local journalist Martin Vogl reporting from Bamako said clashes continued late into the night
ECOWAS troops for Guinea-Bissau and Mali
Regional body to send troops to both West African states to help swiftly reinstate civilian rule after coups
West African leaders will send troops to Mali and Guinea-Bissau to help both countries to return to civilian rule after military coups, and have threatened sanctions if junta leaders attempt to hold on to power.
The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, said in a statement after an emergency summit on Thursday that it would be sending troops to Mali to support the transitional government’s fight against rebels that control the country’s north.
“The heads of state and of government decided to take all the necessary measures in order to assist Mali in the re-establishment of its unity and of its territorial integrity,” the statement, released after the meeting in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, said.
Between 500 and 600 troops will also be sent immediately to Guinea-Bissau, it said.
Mutinying soldiers in Mali overthrew the government on March 22, while the army of Guinea-Bissau seized power and derailed presidential elections during a coup on April 12.
Paul Koffi Koffi, Ivory Coast’s deputy defence minister, told Associated Press news agency said that the West African regional bloc would be sending “at least 3,000 troops to Mali”.
The junta in Mali has already handed over power to an interim civilian government under the presidency of Dioncounda Traore as part of a deal brokered by ECOWAS.
Traore faces the twin challenges of holding elections and asserting control over northern parts of the country that are now controlled by Tuareg separatists.
The Tuareg fighters have declared independence in the region they refer to as Azawad. Their armed uprising to take control of that area involved an alliance with armed groups who are also calling for the imposition of Islamic law in the area.
Pictured: Dioncounda Traore, Mali’s interim president, will receive support to fight Tuareg rebels [AFP]
“Loyalist” soldiers move into Mali’s rebel-held north
(Reuters) - About 200 soldiers claiming to be government loyalists have moved back into northern Mali saying they will fight to take it back from Tuareg-led separatist and Islamist rebels that routed the army across the region three weeks ago.
The troop movement just inside Mali’s eastern border with Niger came as witnesses said gunmen in rebel-held Timbuktu, near the northwestern border with Mauritania, opened fire to disperse residents protesting against the occupation of their town.
It was the first reported sign of local resistance to rebels in Mali’s remote north, which experts say has become a safe haven for al Qaeda cells and smugglers.
Politicians and the military junta that ousted the president last month are not known to have drawn up a plan yet to wrest back control of the desert zone.
But a Reuters witness saw as many as 200 soldiers and dozens of vehicles under the command of Colonel El Hadj Gamou appear in the town of Lebezanga, near the border with Niger.
Gamou, a Tuareg, for weeks led Bamako’s efforts to repel rebels before saying earlier this month he had joined the rebel ranks, only to reappear in Niger last week to announce he was in fact ready to lead a counter-attack with 500 men.
Two military officers in the border region said forces under Gamou pushed on Saturday some 40 km (20 miles) further north towards Gao, which is in the hands of separatist MNLA rebels and Islamist rebels who want to impose sharia (Islamic law).
Pictured: People from northern Mali march against the seizure or their home region by Tuareg and Islamist rebels, in the capital Bamako, April 10, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney
Mali’s new leader, Dioncounda Traore, has threatened a “total war” against separatist rebels in the north.
Mr Traore’s inauguration marks a return to civilian rule following last month’s coup in the West African state.
Mr Traore now has 40 days to organise elections - though correspondents say this deadline is unlikely to be met because of the situation in the north.
Since the coup, Tuareg and Islamist militants have taken control of much of the northern desert region.
The UN says there are continuing reports of civilians being killed, robbed, raped and forced to flee northern rebel-held areas.
“Reports also suggest that tensions between different ethnic groups are being stirred up, increasing the risk of sectarian violence,” the UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay said in a statement.
Mali’s president, who was ousted from power in a military coup last month, has officially resigned, paving the way for a deal that would also see the two-week-old military junta stepping down in return for the end of trade and diplomatic sanctions.
“I think that my duty today, as it was 22 years ago, is to help Mali,” President Amadou Toumani Toure said on Sunday from one of the hiding places in the capital where he had been holed up since last month’s coup.
“I therefore believe that it is very normal, and I do it without pressure and in good faith. In particular, out of love for my country, I have decided to hand in my letter of resignation, which I will hand in to the relevant authorities to allow the smooth transition.”
Toure penned his resignation letter and in the presence of reporters handed it to an emissary to deliver to the country’s new leaders.
Djibril Bassole, Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, and a leading ECOWAS mediator, confirmed the resignation, saying: “We will now contact the competent authorities so that the vacancy of the presidency would be established and so that they take the appropriate measures.”
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the capital Bamako, said the resignation should pave the way for the formation of an interim government.