Tag Archives: Military

Mali News #5 – Forces enter Diabaly and Douentza

Journalists queue to enter Diabaly this morning. All rights @joepenney

First of all Bruce Whitehouse’s situation report from the 18th of January is a must read for catching up on what has been happening in Mali.

Beyond that though there are a few interesting perspectives and pieces that it’s worth reading. First of all, lest anyone focus overly much on the conflict, it’s important to continue to highlight the extreme humanitarian crisis arriving in the wake of the conflict zones. The UN is predicting up to 710,000 people will be forced to leave their homes due to the crisis, and the international aid organisations can not cope with those numbers and the acute nature of the deprivation they are seeing. 

Civil society’s response to what they rightly see as a foreign invasion continues as people in Gao lynch an Islamist Chief who had a popular journalist killed (fr). These are not scenes that we would want to see, but they give a strong indication to the Malian people’s thoughts in the areas still occupied by the terrorist organisations in the North.

Today French forces took the central towns of Diabaly and Douentza from Al-Queda linked rebels. Quickly followed by a horde of journalists who follow the action as you can see above. As government sponsored forces continue to advance we will hear more harrowing stories of life under the terrorists, “With a razor, one of the rebel leaders traced a circle on my forearm before chopping it off with a sharp knife”.

The final update from Northern Africa has been the Algerian hostage situation which was widely linked to the situation in Mali. While it’s unclear to what extent the attack was related to what is going on in Mali, what is important is the Prime Minister’s announcement today that, “We must support effective and accountable government, back people in their search for a job and a voice and work with the UN and our international partners to solve long-standing political conflicts and grievances.” Strong rhetoric from the Prime Minister in his speech, which referred to Mali, and we can hope that Britain will commit to building resilience in Mali after this conflict has finished.

For those who want a thorough and insightful understanding into the roots of Al Qaida in the Sahara region they should look no further than this extract from Andy Morgan.

Finally, the conflict has given greater prevalence to other aspects of Mali’s offering to the world. The guardian highlighted, ‘Mali’s magical music’. And Mali’s opening 1-0 over Niger in the Africa Cup of Nations. Hopefully the powerful nature of these two facets of Malian life will show the world that there is more to Mali, and bring  people together in solidarity, supporting Mali.

Mali News #2 – Government swept away

As our last update was posted, we received news that the Malian Prime Minister and his government had resigned, through coercion. News was not complete, so we’ll review what happened and look at some of the implications and analysis around this latest trial for Mali.

Peter Tinti’s article gives a brief overview of the events a week ago, with suggestions that Diarra’s initial strength of being a political outsider, eventually led to his resignation as he tried to move away from Captain Sanogo’s Military Junta.

International condemnation swept down on Mali and the Military Junta, with the UN threatening sanctions on a country already experiencing famine.

Mali’s new Prime Minister, Diango Cissoko, started drawing up a unity government based upon the belief he could co-ordinate the retaking on Northern Mali through military means. The ICG, who have a good understanding of the situation in Mali commented that Cissoko might stand a better chance or achieving this aim. Despite the international criticism around the resignation of his predecessor, ECOWAS and other nations responded fairly neutrally to this new appointment. Clearly foreign observers are still unsure of the political stability in Bamako while Captain Sanogo is present to undermine what democratic structures that remain in Mali. In fact they still aren’t united in believe in the efficacy of the most publicised plans, as Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, calls the French intervention plan for Mali, ‘crap’.

To really understand the reality of the power of the coup in March, and it’s clear continuing implications, a read of this article from Bruce Whitehouse, an American Anthropologist, gives a great insight. Bruce reported on the situation in Mali as the tsunami of the current crisis hit Mali and Bamako through his blog: Bridges from Bamako. He continues to report occasionally with excellent blog pieces.

In his latest post, Bruce talks of Sanogo’s call that he can start the war of liberation before an election, as some Malians want. He also links to this BBC article which provides an  analysis of the possible scenarios for Mali in 2013, which in the run up to the holiday season including the New Year celebrations in Britain, leaves much to think on for the coming year in Mali.

It’s worth noting that the option of settlement through negotiation and dialogue isn’t present in the four scenarios given, despite suggestions that this route might be effective and is making marked progress. Mark Doyle gives three lines at the end of the article on the prospect. An unsettling reaction rises, and without generalizing from one news piece, you can wonder whether too many people outside Mali are brushing aside the chance for a non-violent solution that might lead to an enduring peace. Dishearteningly that position is something being seen and heard (fr) inside Mali too, although not universally. As conditions continue to deteriorate in the South and the North a thought out route to an enduring and just peace in Mali becomes ever more important.