Tag#mali

New situation in Mali and wider Sahel

Military efforts combining French, Malian and most recently troops from Niger and Chad have quickly managed to uproot the various militia groups in Northern Mali and driven them into deserted mountain areas. During the last weeks we have seen an unprecedented drive against a common goal among such diverse actors as France, Algeria, Mali, AU and the West African states. This is in itself a victory. It may be argued that without the backup by troops from Niger and Chad, French and Malian troops would indeed have managed to retake Gao and Timbuktu and secured the territory south of the Niger river, however daring the push to take Kidal should be seen in the light of troops support from Niger and Chad. With these two countries having support lines across their respective borders more long-term control over the Kidal region becomes a possibility. At the same time involvement by Nigerien troops risks creating new problems with their Tuareg populations in that country.

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The best recipe for protracted warfare in Mali is aerial bombing and rushed deployment of peacekeeping forces

Either you act quick before too much damage is done, or you have patience and try all avenues for peaceful dialogue.

I have tried to make sense of the long delayed international approving of PKO deployment to the Mali crisis as a sign of maturity in international UN and diplomatic circles; without knowing details I have interpreted the situation as peace negotiations must have been at least moderately successful. But now with the French bombing northern Mali I can only conclude that it is either too late, or too soon.

Although the sudden attacks must have been planned well ahead, something that speaks well with the rapid deployment of West African peacekeepers (a mission that would until a few days ago not happen before well into the autumn this year), the question is now what will happen. France will probably continue bombing rebel bases in the north, but will not employ soldiers in the region, except for a few in the Malian capital Bamako. European countries have promised to train both Malian forces and West African peacekeepers, but this will hardly affect the outcome of the crisis. We may get some indications what will come in the future by looking at past West African PKOs and if we look at the chiefly Nigerian missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 90s it is not a pretty picture. Although ECOMOG missions to the two countries limited the intensity of the conflicts they clearly also prolonged them. In both countries the peacekeepers did not only fail to be neutral but very soon after their arrival they became part of the war economy, trading in natural resources, loot and arms. A West African mission in Mali will also have Nigerian forces as its backbone (and I am not saying that Nigerian forces are the only ones with problems or even those with most). One should be fair to say that the Nigerian army has developed positively over the past ten years or so, but be equally realistic: a West African PKO will become part of the conflict and individual forces will try to benefit economically from their presence – where the most troubling perspective would be involvement in the trans-Saharan drugs trade. Ultimately, however, if they will be successful or not depends on their ability to navigate a dry, sandy environment something they are not familiar with.

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Mali : the unexpected crisis, a year later…. (guest post by Marc-André Boisvert)

When I moved to Bamako a bit more than a year ago, the international community praised Mali for being a beacon of democracy and stability.

I did not see that. I am not pretending that I knew that almost two-third of the country would fall under the control of rebels link to Al-Qaeda, nor that the military will take over in one of the most useless coup in West Africa, ousting President Amadou Toumani Touré (locally known under the acronym ATT).

What I knew was Malians did not see their country as the model that the international community kept referring to. They talked about corruption, lack of real democracy and injustice.

Nevertheless, there was such a consensus of Mali being the good Western-friendly pupil that I started to believe in it myself. Then the double crisis hit.

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Military intervention brings no simple solution to conflict in Mali (guest post by Olli Teirilä)

The latest conflict in Mali’s troubled history is coming to a breakpoint, or at least some kind of a turning point. While in the north of the country the Tuareg rebels continue their recently accelerated fighting against the Islamists of MUJAO, AQMI and the new-found Malian Ansar al-Sharia, in New York the United Nations’ Security Council is still weighing the details and options of an ECOWAS led military intervention.

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An interview with me about the situation in Mali (Swedish Television)

An interview with me about the situation in Mali (Swedish Television)

Post-Kaddafi repercussions in the Sahel: the Mali emergency, questions of radicalization and emerging West African discourses of “clashing civilizations”

In western media there has over the last days been an uproar against Ansar Dine who are seen destroying world heritage sites in Timbuktu. Destroying buildings give more attention than killing people in Northern Mali and it is far from the first time that radical Muslims use this trick to speak to the world. Yet still it is an unfortunate outcome of an uneven world when buildings are worth much more than human beings. In late June about 20 scholars from West Africa, Europe and North America gathered at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra to discuss the increasing political unrest in the Sahel. The conference was a joint venture between The KAIPTC and the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Continue reading

Post-Kaddafi repercussions in the Sahel: the Mali emergency, questions of radicalization and emerging West African discourses of “clashing civilizations”

In western media there has over the last days been an uproar against Ansar Dine who are seen destroying world heritage sites in Timbuktu. Destroying buildings give more attention than killing people in Northern Mali and it is far from the first time that radical Muslims use this trick to speak to the world. Yet still it is an unfortunate outcome of an uneven world when buildings are worth much more than human beings. In late June about 20 scholars from West Africa, Europe and North America gathered at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra to discuss the increasing political unrest in the Sahel. The conference was a joint venture between The KAIPTC and the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Continue reading

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