maandag 5 mei 2014

Mali in the press (May 2014)

On this page citations from press reports (almost daily and mostly in English) on developments in Mali in April 2014.

General and broadly reported questions are not included. Where possible a link is added.

The focus this month: deteriorating security situation, Algeria, natural resources such as Gold (but not extensively), French deployments in Sahel region, informers
Earlier Mali in the press blogs on: January, February, March, April,  June, July,

May 31

Ex-Malian minister calls for probe into orders given to army to fight in Kidal, Text of report by French state-funded public broadcaster Radio France Internationale on 31 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
[Presenter] The former Malian defence minister spoke for the first time since his resignation some days ago. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga called for a parliamentary inquiry to be opened. This is a procedure for finding out the person who is responsible for giving the orders for the battle of Kidal, which was lost by the Malian soldiers to the armed groups of northern Mali. The explanations are given by our correspondent in Bamako, Serge Daniel.
[Daniel] Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga was clear right from the start. His political party, ASMA [Alliance for Solidarity in Mali], which has representation in the National Assembly, is in the ruling coalition. He therefore still supports, and more than ever, the actions of President IBK [Ibrahim Boubacar Keita]. But in order that the truth about the events of Kidal should emerge, the former defence minister is calling for the setting up of a parliamentary commission of inquiry. He does not want to be blamed for what happened.
His close associates insist just like President IBK, that Boubeye did not give the order to soldiers on the ground to attack the armed groups. The man who is still called by his initials, SBM, indicates the direction before the members of his party. If the commission of inquiry is set up some things will be placed at his disposal, they said. These are namely, quote and unquote, all the messages, all the SMs which were exchanged between the people and they will see at this moment clearly, who talked with who, who said what, who was the last person to talk to them, that means to say, to the soldiers on the field and who continued to talk to them.
When the media asked him if he was implying that it was Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara who made the telephone call and an SMS to the soldiers on the field, the man who was also the head of Malian secret service in the past, replied very calmly and coldly, quote and unquote, the commission of inquiry will reveal the truth.

Most news on meeting between MNLA and Malian government officials, without concrete results so far.

May 30

Spain's interior ministry says it has arrested six men on terror charges in its north African enclave of Melilla.
A statement said the men were suspected of trying to recruit fighters for militant groups in Libya and Mali.
One man detained was described by the interior ministry as the "first Spanish jihadist" to have returned from the conflict in Mali.
He was also suspected of attending a training camp run by Mali's Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).
In March, Spanish and Moroccan police detained seven men whom they accused of running a militant cell spanning both countries.
Together with a second Spanish enclave, Ceuta, Melilla is the European Union's only land border with Africa.


UN peacekeepers need more drones inAfrica, Anadolu Agency, May 30, 2014
Marking the Day of peacekeeping operations in New York, the UN said they will be using more UUAV’s, unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, to protect civilians and chase dangerous armed groups. (...)


U.S. Army Africa and Special Operations Command Africa are working together to support the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, also known as TSCP, with a train and equip mission in Burkina Faso.
The TSCTP is a U.S. State Department-led, multi-year, interagency program designed to counter violent extremism by building the ability of communities to resist radicalization, terrorist recruitment, and counter terrorism by building long-term security force capacity and regional security cooperation, US Africa Command (Africom) said.
The partnership comprises the U.S. Maghreb nations of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Sahel nations of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The partnership also includes Nigeria and Senegal. (...)


Eric Schmitt, U.S. TerrorismStrategy Increasingly Involves Proxies to Fight Battles, The New York Times, May 30, 2014
WASHINGTON -- During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military often carried out dozens of daily operations against Al Qaeda and other extremist targets with heavily armed commandos and helicopter gunships
But even before President Obama's speech on Wednesday sought to underscore a shift in counterterrorism strategy -- away from the Qaeda strongholds in and near those countries -- American forces had changed their tactics in combating Al Qaeda and its affiliates, relying more on allied or indigenous troops with a limited American combat role.
Navy SEAL or Army Delta Force commandos will still carry out raids against the most prized targets, such as the seizure last fall of a Libyan militant wanted in the 1998 bombings of two United States Embassies in East Africa. But more often than not, the Pentagon is providing intelligence and logistics assistance to proxies, including African troops and French commandos fighting Islamist extremists in Somalia and Mali. And it is increasingly training foreign troops -- from Niger to Yemen to Afghanistan -- to battle insurgents on their own territory so that American armies will not have to. (...)
The United States flies unarmed reconnaissance drones from a base in Niger to support French and African troops in Mali, but it has conspicuously stayed out of that war, even after the conflict helped spur a terrorist attack in Algeria in which Americans were taken hostage. (...)


Month to May 30: Monthly: Randgold  Resources in its biggest trailing month loss for 2 months, May 30, 2014 Friday
Randgold Resources Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the exploration and mining of gold mines in west and central Africa. It holds 80% controlling interest in the Loulo mine located in western Mali; Morila mine in Mali; 89% controlling interest in the Tongon mine located in the neighboring country of Cte dIvoire; 83.25% controlling interest in the Massawa project in Senegal; and 45% interest in the Kibali project, which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as a gold deposit at Gounkoto in Mali. The company was founded in 1995 and is based in St. Helier, the Channel Islands.


Two aid workers killed in landmine explosion in northwestern Mali, Radio France Internationale on 30 May 2014 (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
[Presenter] Two Malian relief workers were killed when their vehicle was blown by a landmine in the northwestern part of Mali yesterday [29 May]. They were travelling aboard a vehicle belonging to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which is a partner of the Norwegian Refugee Council for which they were working. Our correspondent Serge Daniel files the following report from Bamako.
[Daniel] The vehicle that was hired by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, was travelling on the Goundam-Timbuktu Road, which is in the northwestern part of Mali. It had aboard some Malians who were working for the Norwegian NGO, which is a partner of the UNHCR. They had just distributed essential commodities to Malian refugees who returned to their country.
A loud noise was heard in their vehicle. It was in fact an explosion. The area in front of the vehicle has just run over a landmine. Two Malian nationals were killed immediately. It is not yet known exactly if it was a landmine that was recently laid or a device that was buried in the earth sometime ago. What is certain is that the jihadists have been carrying out an asymmetric war which is summed up in suicide bombings, especially the laying of landmines on the main roads networks in the northern part of Mali after they were driven out of their bases in the main towns in the northern part of Mali in 2013 after the intervention of the French soldiers. These landmines killed at least about 20 people, both civilians and soldiers, in less than one year.

May 28

Malian military increases vigilance along Niger border, Malian state-owned ORTM TV on 28 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, May 30, 2014)
[Presenter] We stay in the north of Mali, specifically in Labbezanga town, the main gateway Niger. Since the outbreak of recent fighting in Kidal, Malian forces have increased vigilance on traffic flows along National Road 17. For the time being activities are going on well the watchful eye of security forces. A team of reporters from the ORTM and Dirpa [Public Affairs and Information Directorate of the Army] visited Labbezanga. Daouda Zoumana Traore reports.
[Reporter] This is the official Mali-Niger border along National Road 17. The area has been the pride of economic operators and traders from of the two countries. Niger and Malian nationals from all socio-economic categories believe in the future. This is the reason activities are running smoothly, but vigilance and cooperation is of essence, especially in Labbezanga.
[Reporter] The population has always helped the armed forces by all means. The activity on the National Road 17 has never been interrupted, Malian and Niger traders confirm.

May 27

Eric Schmitt, Covert U.S. effort formsunits to combat terrorism in Africa, International New York, May 27, 2014
United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda's affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies.
The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars from a classified Pentagon account and carried out by trainers that include members of the Army's Delta Force, was started last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali. (...)
(…) J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, a policy research group in Washington, said the United States must make tough political judgments before investing in ambitious counterterrorism training programs. Mr. Pham cited the lessons of Mali, where American-trained commanders of elite army units defected to Islamic insurgents that seized the north last year.
''The host country has to have the political will to fight terrorism, not just the desire to build up an elite force that could be used for regime protection,'' Mr. Pham said. ''And the military has to be viewed well or at least neutrally by a country's population.'' (...)


Mali defence minister quits after rebelvictory at Kidal, Agence France Presse – English, May 27, 2014
Mali's Defence Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga resigned Tuesday, a week after government troops were defeated by armed rebels in the restive northeastern town of Kidal, a presidential spokesman said.
"Mali's defence minister has offered his resignation and it has been accepted," the spokesman told AFP. (…) 


Mali - With Northern Rebel CeasefireHolding, UN Agencies Scale Up Relief Measures, UN News Service (New York), May 27, 2014
A ceasefire agreed between the Government and three rebel groups in restive northern Mali appears to be holding, the United Nations reported today, warning however that recent deadly violence in the flashpoint city of Kidal has displaced some 4,000 people who now desperately need food, water and other necessities.
According to a UN spokesperson in New York, the truce was signed last Friday between the Malian authorities and groups involved in fighting in Kidal - the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) - after a mediation led by the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Mali, Albert Koenders, and the President of Mauritania and current chairman of the African Union, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.(...)

May 26

Algeria's border situation 'worrying':army, Agence France Presse – English, May 26, 2014
An Algerian general on Monday warned of a "worrying" situation on the country's vulnerable borders, faced with chaos in neighbouring Libya and northern Mali.
"The deteriorating security situation in the neighbouring countries are all factors that require permanent vigilance and rigorous deployment," Boualem Madi told Algerian radio.
Algeria has been an important ally of the West in fighting armed extremists in the Sahara-Sahel region since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings which toppled dictators across North Africa.
But it shares 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) of mostly desert borders with seven countries, including Libya, Mali and Tunisia, making it increasingly vulnerable.
"We must remain very, very, very vigilant," General Madi said.(...)


(...) "Boko Haram has for several years now existed beyond the formal parameters where an arms embargo or asset-freeze would affect the group," Jacob Zenn, from the Jamestown Foundation think-tank in the United States, said. "Its funding comes from kidnappings-for-ransom, which are already illegal, and also non-state actors like AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] and likely state actors that avoid the global financial system to transfer money.
"Arms come from raiding Nigerian armouries or smuggling networks, such as those from Libya via the Tuareg region of Mali," he said in an e-mail exchange. (...)

May 25

Agreement between the Government of Mali and northern ArmedMovements, African Union Commission (AUC), May 25, 2014
BAMAKO, Mali, May 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- H.E. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), visited Kidal, in the north of Mali, this Friday, 23 May 2014, where he met with the armed movements of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA). The meeting took place at Camp 2 of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The discussions resulted in the armed movements accepting an immediate ceasefire across the country; the reaffirmation of their commitment to the Ouagadougou Agreement; the immediate resumption of dialogue; the release of prisoners; the facilitation of humanitarian operations and respect of international humanitarian law; as well as the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, as provided for by the Ouagadougou Agreement, starting with Kidal.
This visit took place against the background of the occupation of Kidal and other towns by armed movements since 21 May 2014. President Ould Abdel Aziz was accompanied by Mr. Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Mali and Head of MINUSMA, and Mr Ntolé Kazadi, Head of the Political Unit of the AU Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL).

May 24

Renewed fighting between Malian militia groups erupt in north, Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French 1830 gmt 24 May 14 (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, May 25, 2014)
Fresh fighting was reported in the north of Mali today [24 May]. This time around, it was not between the Malian army and the Tuareg rebel groups.
But the MNLA [National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad] said that its troops, who were backed by those of the MAA [Arab Movement for the Azawad], fought against the MUJAO [Movement for the Unity of Jihad in West Africa] in the Malian locality of Tabancort.
However, other sources say the fighting was between a section of the Arab Movement for the Azawad - which was backed by the MNLA - and another militia group.
The number of victims is not yet known.

May 22

French army reportedly helps Malian military recover lost ground in north, Radio France Internationale on 22 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
[Presenter] Kidal has been in the hands of the MNLA [National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad] since yesterday [21 May] but the Malian authorities denied it. Good evening, Christine Muratet.
[Muratet] Good evening.
[Presenter] Good evening, Zephyr.
[Presenter] Is Menaka in the hands of the MNLA or not?
[Muratet] Well, Malian Defence Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga confirmed on [state-owned] ORTM [Malian Radio and Television Service] during midday that the Malian army kept its positions intact in the north with the exception of Kidal. Menaka did not fall, he said. However, the special representative of the UN secretary-general to Mali, Bert Koenders, announced during the day that the town of Kidal and Menaka are under the control of the MNLA now and that the MNLA were also reported to have recaptured Anelfis, Aguelhoc, among other towns.
This information confirmed the testimony of some inhabitants of Menaka who said this morning that the town was under the control of the armed groups. Nonetheless, according to the information from the ground this evening, the French army was reportedly assisting the Malian army to recover these positions in several localities, namely Ansongo, Bourem and Al Noussarat [phonetic].
A diplomatic source in Bamako said that the Minusma [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] was busy throughout the day stopping the advance of the armed groups in the northern part of the country. Our source expressed confidence that the armed groups would renounce advancing to these two localities in the north.
[Presenter] That was our correspondent Christine Muratet.


Mali leader urges ceasefire, ordersthree days of mourning, Agence France Presse – English, May 22, 2014
Mali's president called for a ceasefire in the restive north of the country and ordered three days of mourning from Friday as Tuareg separatists claimed they captured more than a key desert bastion after slaying several soldiers.
Tuareg militants killed the soldiers during clashes in the rebel-held town of Kidal on Wednesday, a United Nations source told AFP, as a rebel leader said three armed groups had also taken other northern towns.
After clashes during the day "the situation is calm tonight in Kidal", which is under the control of rebel groups, National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) spokesman Moussa Ag Assarid told AFP from Kidal.
"We took several towns from where the army fled without a fight," he added, citing Anderamboukane, Menaka, Aguelhoc, Tessalit and Anefis.
Mohamed Ag Rhissa, one of the MNLA leaders, told AFP by telephone his group had taken "control of the whole town of Kidal" and that "we have prisoners".
The fighting shattered an uneasy calm, which had held since the MNLA took 32 civil servants hostage during a battle that left eight Malian soldiers and 28 rebels dead.
"The noise of gunfire has stopped... There are prisoners and deaths among the Malian army's ranks," a source from the MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, told AFP, adding that the rebels appeared to have the upper hand.
The fighting first broke out during a visit to Kidal on Saturday by Prime Minister Moussa Mara, whose government is backed by French soldiers who have helped dislodge rebels and armed Islamic extremists from the desert north.
The government has said that the MNLA is being backed in Kidal by Islamist fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and others.
- 'We took control of the city' -
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita called for an "immediate ceasefire" in the fighting in Kidal that had left "several wounded and caused the loss of human life", the government said in a statement.
Keita's plea was "in line with requests by the UN secretary general and (made) in the name of the international community", said the statement read on public ORTM television by government spokesman Mahamane Baby.
"Our men are still on the ground fighting the joint forces of AQIM, MUJAO and other militants. That's all we can say at the moment," a Malian defence ministry source had said earlier.
Alghabass Ag Intalla, secretary general of the High Council for the Unity of Azawad, said his group and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) had also played a key role in the fighting.
"This morning, we were the first to have been attacked by the Malian army. So we took up our responsibilities. We mobilised the MNLA and MAA and together we took control of the city," he said.
The hostages were freed on Monday as 1,500 Malian troops poured into Kidal, sent to restore government control to the bastion of the Tuareg separatist movement, 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) northeast of the capital.
Mali descended into crisis in January 2012, when the MNLA launched the latest in a string of Tuareg insurgencies in the north.
A subsequent coup in Bamako led to chaos, and militants linked to Al-Qaeda overpowered the Tuareg to seize control of Mali's northern half.
A French-led military operation launched in January 2013 ousted the extremists, but sporadic attacks have continued and the Tuareg's demand for autonomy has not been resolved.
Tuareg separatists occupied the regional governor's office for nine months before handing it back in November last year as part of a June peace deal that paved the way for presidential elections.
But the process deeply divided the MNLA, whose ultimate goal is the independence of Azawad, the minority Tuareg name for their homeland in northern Mali.
Up until the agreement, the Tuareg group had refused to allow any government soldiers or civil servants into the desert town.
- 'Sincere dialogue' -
The UN Security Council in a statement Tuesday called for an end to violence across northern Mali.
It also called for "sincere" peace talks and "reiterated that only a credible and inclusive negotiation process can bring long-term peace and stability throughout the country".
MINUSMA sources said several hundred people had fled their homes in Kidal to the relative safety of nearby desert camps.
With the UN peacekeeping mission soon up for renewal, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop has requested "a much more robust mandate, under Chapter VII of the UN charter" -- which allows for the use of force.
This would enable the soldiers to "deal with threats on the ground and disarmament of all armed groups, in particular the MNLA", he said.
The French army announced on Wednesday it had sent 100 soldiers to Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, where 1,000 of its troops are already stationed.

May 21

Mali urges UN todemand disarmament of all groups, Associated Press International, May 21, 2014 UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Mali's foreign minister urged the U.N. Security Council at an emergency meeting Tuesday to demand that all armed groups in the volatile West African nation lay down their weapons, especially separatist Tuareg rebels who launched a deadly attack over the weekend in the northern town of Kidal.
Abdoulaye Diop also urged the council to approve "a much more robust mandate" for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali. It is authorized to help restore peace, especially in northern cities, but not to undertake offensive military operations or chase terrorists in the desert. (...)

May 20

Age-old Tuareg problem looms large as Mali battles rebels, Agence France Presse – English, May 20, 2014
(…) A ceasefire was declared in 2009 but many Tuareg had fled to Libya, where they fought alongside troops loyal to Kadhafi, whose regime was battling a rebellion inspired by the Arab Spring.
With Kadhafi dead and his regime defeated, the nomads -- heavily armed and battle hardened -- made their way back to Mali and united in late 2011 with other former rebels to form the MNLA.
Seen as the saviour of Mali in the immediate aftermath of its military intervention, France has since been heavily criticised for allowing the MNLA to regain a footing in Kidal when they ousted the Islamists.
"For the public, France is a supporter of the Tuareg," sociologist Mamadou Samake said, explaining a small protest Monday in front of the French embassy in Bamako.
Whether the battle for Kidal will prove the MNLA's downfall remains to be seen, with victory for Mali's troops by no means assured.
"To take Kidal, you have to control four major highways -- not only control them, but keep them under control for several weeks," a foreign military source told AFP.
"The Malian army has struggled in the recent past and couldn't control all of these axes. Now, we'll see."


France defers troop pull-out after Mali clashes, Agence France Presse – English, May 20, 2014
France has delayed plans to pull troops out of its former colony Mali after a fresh bout of clashes in a key town.
France said earlier this month it was ending its "frontal war phase" in Mali after sending troops there in 2013 to free the country's vast desert north from Islamists and Tuareg rebels who seized control after a coup.
It planned to redeploy 2,000 of its 3,000 remaining troops serving in Mali under an operation named Serval to other countries in the Sahel region.

May 19
Separatists and Sceptics - Refugees Divided On Future of NorthernMali, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (Nairobi), May 19, 2014

Report Urges More Gear, Troops for French Operators, By PIERRE TRAN, Defense News May 19, 2014
PARIS — France looks unlikely to boost the special operations forces by 1,000 personnel, and the administration should replace their worn out equipment as well as add to the inventory, according to a French Senate report.
Spec ops forces need that boost in numbers, since the units have been over-extended and the kit is overused, a defense specialist said.
Sens. Daniel Reiner, Jacques Gautier and Gérard Larcher delivered the report on the special ops forces to the Senate on May 13.
The 2013 defense and security white paper called for adding 1,000 to the 3,000-strongforce.
The government is unlikely to hit that target, but “it is not necessary to reach that,” Reiner said. It is more likely the special ops forces will increase by 700 drawn from the Army, Air Force and Navy, he said. The report recommends close cooperation with the action unit of the Direction Générale de Sécurité Exterieure (DGSE), the foreign intelligence agency, to offset the shortfall, he said.
The special ops forces have been about 100 short of their staffing target over the past five to six years, said a defense specialist who declined to be identified.
As the personnel numbers are expected to rise, the Senate report calls for more equipment, particularly in air mobility assets such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and drones, Reiner said.
The report also calls for cooperation with the special ops forces of the US and European and NATO allies, including Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
The forces should be deployed in a strategic role of force projection while conventional troops provide the tactical function of “boots on the ground,” namely, protecting the people over a long period and deterring a collapse of security, said Vincent Desportes, a retired Army general and affiliate professor at Sciences Po, an elite university that specializes in international relations.“Special forces can deliver a leverage effect, with a relatively small number being used to deliver a large result,” Desportes said.
But there is concern the French administration tends to blur the lines between the strategic and tactical roles and has assigned missions for special operations units that conventional troops would be better placed to meet, he said.
The Serval campaign in Mali is a case study. France ordered special ops forces to stop an advance on Bamako by insurgents from the north. They succeeded and were then ordered to drive back the fighters rather than leaving that job to the French Army, Desportes said. That effectively relegated the conventional troops to a secondary role, affecting morale.
Over-deployment is exhausting the special operators and wearing down their gear, he said. There is a need to renew and add equipment such as a larger transport helicopter with inflight refueling, and an attack helicopter, he said. The Boeing CH-47 Chinook would meet that need. The existing Caracal is deemed too small.
The Mali campaign highlighted the danger facing the present light attack helicopter fleet. The pilot of a Gazelle died after being hit by a single small-arms round in the opening of the January 2013 Serval mission. Small-arms fire in the same action forced a second Gazelle to land while a third back-up helicopter rescued the crew and destroyed the downed unit. France is expected to maintain a long-term presence in sub-Sahara Africa and the special ops forces will likely face more missions, Desportes said.
Daily Le Parisian reported May 10 that France sent a DGSE team to Nigeria to help recover more than 200 schoolgirls seized by the Boko Haram Islamist group.


IMF miffed over Mali president's $40 million plane, Agence France Presse – English, May 19, 2014
The International Monetary Fund expressed worry Monday over the luxurious $40 million new airplane of Mali's president, despite his impoverished country's deep dependence on international aid.
"We are concerned about the quality of recent decisions such as the purchase of the presidential plane worth $40 million and the issuance of a $200-million state guarantee to allow a private company to buy supplies... for the army," an IMF spokesman told AFP.

May 17

Malian army deploys regiment in Goundam to secure population against banditry, ORTM TV on 14 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, May 17, 2014)
[Presenter] In Timbuktu, the Malian army continues its deployment throughout the region. It is this context that the 52nd Regiment of the Goundam led by Lt Amadou Toure has been installed. The military detachment has the mission to secure the whole zone and dissuade the bandits present in the area. The population is happy to see the Malian armed and security forces in their city to ensure their security, says Adama Djimbe in his report.
[Reporter] By deciding to redeploy the 52nd Combined Regiment of Goundam, the armed and security forces regain the ground for good. Its mission is to secure the population and dissuade eventual bandits, who are numerous in the area. Colonel Keba Sangare, the military commander of Timbuktu, has come to boost the morale of the troops.
[Col. Keba Sangare, chief of military operation of Timbuktu] The aim is to thank the lieutenant and his troops who have come to install the 52nd Regiment of Goundam to conduct patrols in coordination with the forces present in Niafunke in order to promote security, especially with the ongoing development of Faguibine Lake and the construction of the road.
[Reporter] The camp of Goundam in led by the young Lieutenant Amadou Toure who says he and his troops are proud of the welcome they have received.
[Lt. Amadou Toure, commander of 52nd Regiment of Goundam] We also call on the population of Goundam and all those who drive cars or ride bicycles or motorbikes to reduce speed on this road.
[Reporter] This kind of regiments should be deployed in the most remote areas in order to neutralize foes' positions.

May 16

Three Malian armed groups start forum for talks with Malian state, Radio France Internationale on 15 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political May 16, 2014)
A forum of the three armed movements in the northern part of Mali opened in Kidal today [15 May].
The MNLA [National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad], the HCUA [High Council for the Unity of Azawad] and the MAA [Arab Movement of Azawad] are meeting in the town of Kidal. The meeting is on their rapprochement.
Officials of the three movements hope to be able to reach a common platform in order to prepare for the negotiations with the state of Mali.
The forum is continuing until Saturday [17 May].


'Africa is the U.S. Military's Next Frontier', Africa News, May 16, 2014

(…) Not surprisingly, given the ongoing U.S. interest in securing new fuel sources and growing concerns over China's influence in the region, many of AFRICOM's efforts are located in oil-rich regions - specifically Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and the Gulf of Guinea.
The Gulf of Guinea, which hugs the Western coast of Africa, has received heightened interest of late given its proximity to the Sahel and Mali, an alleged increase in pirating, and notably, both on- and off-shore oil deposits.
In Takoradi, Ghana, for example - a place affectionately nicknamed "Oil City" -AFRICOM trains Ghanaian troops, conducts humanitarian missions, and meets with local chiefs, NGOs, and fishing communities. (...)

May 15

French soldiers arrest ex-jihadist in north-east Mali, Radio France Internationale on 15 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, May 16, 2014)
We gathered that an ex-commissioner of Ansar-Dine Islamists was arrested in the north-eastern Malian town of Kidal. French soldiers went ahead to carry out the arrest of al Housseini ag Ahyare, alias Mortalla.
This Tuareg was arrested in his home on Sunday [11 May] with other persons. Mortalla was suspected of being involved in an attack on a bank in Kidal in December last year. Two African soldiers of the MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali] were killed on that day.
This Tuareg, who is close to the movement of Iyad Ad Ghali, was transferred to Gao, where he is expected to be handed over to the Malian services on this Thursday evening [15 May].


Coral Davenport, U.S. militaryresearchers predict fight for resources and peril in coastal areas, International New York Times, May 15, 2014
(...) The most recent scientific reports on climate change warn that increasing drought in Africa is turning arable land to desert. The national security report's authors conclude that the slow but steady expansion of the Sahara through Mali, which is killing crops and leaving farmers starving, may have been a contributing force in the jihadist uprising in that country in 2012. Since then, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has seized control of northern Mali and remains in conflict with the Malian government. (...)

May 14

Mauritania is central player in Sahel security strategy – expert, Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 2100 gmt 12 May 14 (via BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political)
Mauritania sees itself as a central player in any strategy to restore security in Mali and the Sahel region but it will only allow a token French military presence on its Mauritanian territories, an expert told Al-Jazeera on 12 May.
Commenting of the visit of French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian to Nouakchott, a Mauritanian African affairs expert, Abdallah Mamadou Ba, said the visit, the last leg of a West African tour, comes within the context of France's troop redeployment plan in Africa and its new strategy to have its forces in the highest state of alert in the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel region.
Le Drian's visit aims to strengthen military cooperation with the Sahel countries, Ba said adding that France asked Nouakchott to allow the establishment of a base for mobile, rapid response French units in northern Mauritania.
But Nouakchott, he said, only approved a token presence of French military advisers to help with the retraining of Mauritanian troops to enhance their ability in counter-terrorism and in the strengthening of security along its borders with Algeria and Mali, especially in areas of danger to the north and east.
He highlighted Mauritania's role as an effective actor in the group of Sahel countries (G5) in the new French redeployment strategy.
Mauritania's self-perceived importance as a central player in any strategy to restore security in Mali also stems from the fact that it is home to thousands of Malian refugees and it plays host to a number of political movements from northern Mali, he said.
Ba interpreted Le Drian's comments on pockets of terrorists still active in north Mali in the context of armed groups changing the pattern of their operations.
Armed groups are starting to carry out small commando infiltrations to kill individuals perceived to be helping French intelligence, like members of secular Tuareg groups believed to be providing information and possibly material support to French troops in the region, he said.
Le Drian told Al-Jazeera that the security situation in northern Mali has improved significantly despite the presence of pockets of terrorists still holding out in the region.
French military operations in Mali achieved positive results and French troops will continue to fight against remnants of terrorists still operating in the north, Le Drian said.
Mali recovered its territorial sovereignty and democracy but the French mission is not yet complete, he added.
Le Drian was speaking after talks with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz in Nouakchott.
May 13

12 militants killed on border with Mali, ANS-English, May 13, 2014
Algiers, May 13 -- Algerian army has killed a total of 12 militants linked to Al Qaeda during a week's raid in the province of Tamanrasset, near the border with Mali, media reported Monday
The troops discovered the dead bodies of another two militants at Tinzaouatine locality in south Algeria, pushing the number of militants killed there to 12, Xinhua quoted a statement of the defence ministry as saying.
The television also showed pictures of a load of weapons of different types seized by the army forces during the military operation.
Algerian anti-terrorism forces launched an operation in Tinzaouatine locality last week, killing 10 militants who hailed from Mali, Tunisia and Libya, the statement said.
More troops were deployed on the borders with the strife-torn Mali and troubled Libya to counter any intrusion of militants and weapons.


Feitelijke vragen van de vaste commissie voor Defensie (VCD) over de helikoptercapaciteit van MINUSMA. Ingezonden op 16 april 2014 met kenmerk 2014Z05768/2014D13808 beantwoord op 13 mei 2014.
May 12

Brief van Frans Timmermans, J.A. Hennis-Plasschaert, Lilianne Ploumen, I.W. Opstelten,

Mali, 12 mei 2014
Denemarken, Nederland en Noorwegen hebben gezamenlijk een plan uitgewerkt voor de inlichtingenketen van MINUSMA. Dat plan heeft geresulteerd in de opzet van een internationaal hoofdkwartier voor de All Sources Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU). Noorwegen heeft besloten de infrastructuur voor het kamp te bouwen, terwijl Nederland de CIS-systemen en het benodigde netwerk levert. Het hoofdkwartier is volgens planning eind mei operationeel. Momenteel is voorzien dat de volgende landen posities binnen dit hoofdkwartier zullen vullen: Denemarken, Duitsland, Estland, Finland, Noorwegen, Zweden en Zwitserland. Andere landen hebben al interesse in deelneming getoond en gaan in de nabije toekomst mogelijk ook deel uitmaken van dit hoofdkwartier. Naast de internationale samenwerking in het ASIFU-hoofdkwartier, maken twee Deense militairen deel uit van de Nederlandse Intell Compagnie te Gao. China levert al een deel van de Force Protection voor de Nederlandse troepen.
Short remarks: In the letter of four Dutch Ministers the Dutch word 'informatie' (information) is used one time and 'inlichtingen' (intelligence) two times. KCT, Special Forces, or Commando's are not mentioned. Leaving the core of the mission out of view, except international cooperation in creating an so-called All Sources Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU).

On security in the region the letter is rather rudimentary. More is happening than mentioned.

The position of the Malian government – not doing concessions to Tuareg organisations - in the negotiations is taken for granted. Which will hamper the position of Dutch intelligence gathering in Northern Mali. 


(…) "Terrorism in Africa is a global threat," Le Drian said in Dakar. "We intervened in Mali for the sake of the security of Mali and beyond that the whole of the sub-region but also out own security. Mali's security is also west Africa's security and France's, it's also that of Europe."
French troops in Mali found several hundred tonnes of weapons, more than were needed for the armed Islamists' there, Le Drian claimed.
Senegal has upped its contribution to the UN force in Mali, Minusma, from 590 to 800 over the last three weeks but has been reluctant to send troops to the Central African Republic, where France launched a military intervention last December. (...)


Michelle Nichols, U.N. seekssurveillance drones for Mali, shelves plans for Ivory Coast, Reuters Canada, May 12, 2014
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations has shelved plans to deploy surveillance drones as part of its peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast due to improved security, but is now seeking a company to provide the unarmed aircraft for its peacekeeping mission in Mali. (...)
May 10

French defence minister in Mauritania 12 May, Sahara Media news agency website, Nouakchott, in Arabic 1733 gmt 10 May 14 (via BBC Monitoring Middle East – Political, May 10, 2014)
(…) French media sources said that France wanted to establish a military base in the town of Atar, in northern Mauritania, to monitor the movements of groups described as "terrorists" along the strip between Mauritania, Algeria and Mali.

May 9

Report by Xavier Yvon and Pauline Hofmann, Mali murder victims suspected of being French, Malian army informers, French Europe 1 radio on 9 May (via BBC Monitoring Europe – Political, May 9, 2014)
The repetition of the pattern is worrying. In recent months several disturbing deaths have occurred in northern Mali. As the defence minister has just announced that Operation Serval is entering its final phase, several Malians have been murdered in their homes at night by unarmed armed persons who have immediately disappeared. The common feature of these victims is that they are suspected of having supplied information about jihadis' activities to the French or Malian military.
Have informers helping the French Army become the target of the Islamists still active in the North of the country? Neither the French Army nor the Malian authorities are saying anything about this highly sensitive issue.
Since the beginning of the year the United Nations has reported at least six such killings. The latest occurred last week. A man was killed by two men who came to his house by motorbike. He was a likely regular informer of the Army. He had reported the presence of explosives near Kidal airport.
Strategy of fear - Responsibility for these killings has never been claimed, either by the Islamist rebels of MUJAO [Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa], nor by AQIM [Al-Qa'idah in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb]. But they seem to be part of an overall strategy of sowing fear in northern Mali.
Last month, in the Timbuktu area, armed men entered the market. They distributed leaflets, in Arabic and French, threatening "to punish traitor serving the crusaders." According to one notable in the city, the immediate effect was that some inhabitants fell very quiet.
In Kidal, everyone is afraid of everyone else, and suspicion reigns even among friends. Kidnappings have apparently taken place. And, even worse, lists are apparently circulating, with names of the Islamists' next targets.


New Auger Drilling Program Underway atDandoko, West Mali, ASX Announcement, 9th May 2014
Oklo Resources Limited (“Oklo”) or (“The Company”) (ASX: OKU) is pleased to announce the undertaking of a new follow-up Auger Drilling Program at the Dandoko Gold Project in West Mali. Auger drilling is currently underway at the Selingouma North and Selingouma South targets, located 4km and 6km from the recent Disse and Diaba
rou discoveries.

Drilling (Reverse Circulation (RC) & Auger) at Selingouma North and Selingouma South targets in February 2014 returned wide zones of strong hydrothermal alteration with elevated gold and arsenic levels. Selingouma is considered highly prospective for the discovery of new, wide, high-grade, gold mineralised zones. The new Auger drilling program, based on the results of the recent drilling, is aimed at refining future RC targeting and drill testing for the potential of shallow goldmineralisation within the vicinity of the recent drilling. (...)


(…) Randgold Resources, headquartered in Jersey, Channel Islands, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stock exchange. The major discoveries of the company to date are mainly in Mali, Senegal, COTE D'LVOIRE, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. - PNA
May 8

PARIS—France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday that a French soldier has been killed overnight during an operation in northern Mali, where the French army has been conducting a huge offensive to tackle Islamist terror groups since January 2013.
The soldier, who belonged to the Foreign Legion's paratrooper division based in Calvi, Corsica, was killed by an "improvised" explosive device, the minister said said during an interview with BFM TV. (...)


France to deploy 3,000 soldiers inSahel, Agence France Presse – English, May 8, 2014
France said Thursday it will deploy 3,000 soldiers to combat Islamist violence in the vast and largely lawless Sahel region of Africa.
"Our role is to pursue counter-terrorism in north Mali, the north of Niger and in Chad," Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a television interview.
"We are reorganising our contingent so that 3,000 French soldiers are in that zone."
Le Drian said France was "in the process of ending its frontal war phase" in Mali but added that 1,000 French soldiers will remain, based near the town of Gao in the insurgency-hit northeast of the country.


Algerian forces concerned about Libya crisis overspill, border threat, El-Khabar website, Algiers, in Arabic 10 May 14 (via BBC Monitoring Middle East – Political, May 12, 2014)
(…) Security services have warned senior officials about a serious deterioration of the situation in northern Mali after the command of the French military operation, Serval, reduced the Rapid Strike Forces in northern Mali a few months ago.
(…) According to an informed source, the security services had warned a few months ago about the deterioration in the Azawad region [of northern Mali] after the French Defence Ministry reduced its forces in northern Mali before their mission was completed and as the French forces could not destroy the enormous arms caches of the jihadist salafi organizations and groups. The same applies to those groups' hideouts in Ifoghas, Tighaghrar, Ijhalouk [as transliterated] and Izoghak [as transliterated]. Furthermore, the African and Malian forces could not fill the vacuum left after the withdrawal of French forces from the administration of military operations in the volatile regions of northern Mali, which may bring the region back to square one.
(…) The source added that all material, human and logistic resources were deployed along the province's border with the southern provinces, including the air force, to monitor the overall situation in the border region.
The air forces carry out daily reconnaissance missions at night and during the day along the border between Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. The task of monitoring the rest of the border with Niger and Mali was assigned to the armed forces in Illizi, Tamanrasset and Adrar Provinces.(...)

May 7

Chinese premier vows to promote cooperation with Togo, Mali, Xinhua General News Service, May 7, 2014
(…) He said China would also like to join Togo and other African countries in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime for the peace, stability and development in Africa, amid mounting non-traditional security challenges the continent faces. (...)
Calling Mali an old friend and reliable partner of China, Li told his Malian counterpart Mara that China firmly supports Mali's efforts in defending national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.(...)
May 6

Algerian troops kill nine militants, IANS-English, May 6, 2014
Algiers, May 6 -- Algerian troops Monday killed nine militants in the southernmost province of Tamenrasset, near border with Mali, the media reported
The operation took place in a locality of Tinzaouatine, Xinhua reported citing Alhadath news website. As many as eight weapons were seized, including Kalashnikov guns and two RPG7 rockets.
More Algerian troops were deployed on the border with Mali and Libya to counter any intrusion of militants from these two troubled countries.
A couple of days ago, Algerian army troops arrested 20 armed men and seized their weapons on border with Libya.
The Algerian forces killed five militants belonging to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) last year, as they attempted to intrude Algeria territory via the Malian border.


Armed Islamist unittargets 'collaborators' in Mali: military, Agence France Presse – English, May 6, 2014
Armed Islamists in northern Mali have set up a commando unit that has executed alleged collaborators accused of helping French troops and Tuareg rebels, military sources said Tuesday.
"At least 11 people accused of being informers for (French military operation) Serval or the (Tuareg) MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) have been slain in the past 11 months by the Islamists," one of the Malian security sources told AFP.(...)
May 5

Olivier Guitta, Rumors of Instability;Is Bouteflika losing control in Algeria?, The Weekly Standard, May 12, 2014
Indeed, the antiregime propaganda coming from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) does not fall on deaf ears. In an hour-long video clip, AQIM denounces the corrupt Bouteflika administration and underlines the country's political, social, and economic problems. The video stresses the collusion of the regime with its Western allies, especially France, which it says is killing Muslims in Mali. Some discontented youths are buying this narrative and falling easy prey to AQIM recruiters. Also, thanks to its very successful business model, AQIM is wealthy: Reuters estimates that it has garnered at least $150 million through kidnapping for ransom in the past 10 years, and it profits handsomely from smuggling and trafficking in drugs, arms, and human beings.
Because of Algeria's porous borders with Mali, Tunisia, and Libya, AQIM and its affiliates transit easily and pull off attacks around the region. Making matters even easier for terrorists, Algiers refuses to cooperate with its neighbors and accepts no external involvement in its management of terrorism. Also, the fact that the Algerian military maintains thousands of troops on the border with Morocco, with which it is waging a longstanding undercover war, limits its effectiveness in other areas.


Czech military tries to sell redundant equipment to Mali – press, CTK National News Wire, May 5, 2014
The Czech military wants to sell its redundant equipment, including the Soviet-made Antonov 26 transport aircraft, to Mali but the Malian army is not interested in the planes, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.
It recalls that the Czechoslovak army used the An-26 planes from 1982. In the past few years, they were used for the training of Gripen fighters' pilots.
The An-26s were discarded in April 2011 after almost 30 years, and replaced by four Spanish-made Casa planes.
A delegation of deputy defence minister Tomas Kuchta offered the An-26s to the Malian army at the end of April.
"The deputy minister presented the Czech armament industry's possible participation in the modernisation of Mali's military to representatives of the local Defence Ministry and armed forces. Since the Malian air force has long used na An-26, he also mentioned the option to sell the aircraft [to Mali]," Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek told LN, commenting on the talks in Mali. However, the Czech effort has failed.
Mali's representatives have not yet promised to buy the redundant Czech military equipment.
"No agreement has been reached," Pejsek said.
LN writes that this is a bad piece of news for the Czech military that expected to gain some 40 million crowns from the sale of the planes and it would be even willing to lower the selling price.
The Czech Defence Ministry also plans to sell the Mi-24/35 combat helicopters to Mali. Their lifespan expires in 2016 and the military does not count with them in the future.
The military may sell seven helicopters for 35 million crowns, LN says.
Czech soldiers are deployed in Mali within an EU mission. Czech soldiers are protecting the command of the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) and training local units. The Czechs' mandate in Mali is to be extended by the end of this year if Czech parliament approves it.
($1=19.798 crowns)


(…) Implementation of the DOCA will then see the Resolute group become the 100% owner and operator of the Bibiani gold project in Ghana. About Resolute: Resolute is an unhedged gold miner with two operating mines in Africa and Australia. The Company is one of the largest gold producers by volume listed on the ASX. Resolute's flagship Syama project in Mali is on track for an increase in production to 270,000oz of gold a year following an approved expansion to be undertaken through FY2016.

At its Ravenswood mine in Queensland Resolute is investigating a number of opportunities to add value by increasing gold production and lowering operating costs. The Company controls an extensive footprint along the highly prospective Syama Shear and Greenstone Belts in Mali and Cote d'Ivoire. Resolute has also identified a number of highly promising exploration targets at its Ravenswood operations and holds a number of exploration projects in Tanzania surrounding its Golden Pride mine.


Helen Carter and Anthony Franks OBE, Increased kidnapping threat in Libya and the Sahel, Oil Voice, May 5, 2014
(…) In August 2013, BilMukhtar's group amalgamated with the Mali-based jihadist group the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and formed the Murabitun group. [BilMuktar is the infamous one-eyed extremist, who was responsible for the attack on the In Aménas plant in Algeria.]
More recently, BilMukhtar and his group have been reported to be operating from southern Libya. Some informed sources suggest that pressure from French forces in Chad and Mali, and US surveillance has effectively forced BilMukhtar to go on the run in order to avoid being attacked.
Libya's ungoverned and largely ungovernable southern area with its easy cross-border routes is a safe haven for BilMukhtar. (…)


Mali, France to sign defence agreement, PANAPRESS - Pan African News Agency, May 5, 2014
Bamako, Mali (PANA) - Mali is to sign a series of agreements this month with a number of countries, including France, Chad, Niger, Algeria and Mauritania, Mr. Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga, the Malian Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, revealed here Sunday.
The agreement with France is on defence while those with Chad, Niger, Algeria and Mauritania will be on security cooperation.(...)
Regarding the defence agreement with France, [the Minister of Defence] said that Mali will renew the agreement it signed with the Western country in 1985.
"This is an agreement that will enable us to provide a legal framework for the French-Malian military cooperation in terms of providing military training and equipping the Malian army. " he said.

May 4

Islamist group members kill suspected "informant" in northern Malian town, May 4, 2014, Radio France Internationale website (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political)
On Friday night [2 April], two men on a motorcycle fired at Sidati Ag Baye, a resident of Kidal in his home. The man was taken to Gao Hospital by the French Serval forces but he died on Saturday morning [3 May]. The resident, who has links to the MNLA [National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad] Tuareg rebels, may have been killed by terrorists because he was an informant for the MNLA and French Serval Forces.

May 2

TLNT Wouter Helders, Materiaalarriveert in Afrika, Alle Hens 04, vrijdag 02 mei 2014
Na twee weken stampen en rollen op de golven van de Atlantische Oceaan ligt de ‘HC Lara’ veilig aangemeerd in de haven van Abidjan. Majoor der mariniers Mark Baart verwelkomt het door de Verenigde Naties (VN) gecharterde schip vanaf de kade. Het schip voer vanuit Nederland naar de Ivoorkust met materiaal voor de ‘Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission’ (MINUSMA). Nederland doet daar sinds begin dit jaar aan mee.


Malian army chief visits north, says future not to be built "without Kidal", Malian state-owned ORTM TV on 2 May (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, May 6, 2014)
(…) [Toure] I have heard the message on insecurity that you have sent to me through the authorities. This means that there are many things left to do. The purpose of my visit is to make sure that the missions entrusted to us are successfully conducted, and see what provisions can be taken to cope with the possible shortcomings or failures. You have shown that your unwavering attachment to the republic. We shall not build the future of Mali without Kidal.(...)
May 1

House Oversight and Government ReformCommittee Hearing; "Benghazi, Instability, and a New Government: Successes and Failures of U.S. Intervention in Libya."; Testimony by Daveed Ross, Senior Fellow Foundation for Defense ofDemocracies, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DOCUMENTS, May 1, 2014
(...) AQIM is of particular concern to Algeria, as it is an outgrowth of the Algerian militant outfit Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), and as such the group considers Algeria to be one of its highest priority targets. As southern Libya descended into essentially an ungoverned space, extremist groups such as AQIM have benefited. A letter from AQIM emir Abdulmalek Droukdel to Belmokhtar that the Associated Press recovered from north Mali speaks of the need to take advantage of events in Libya. AQIM has taken advantage in some of the ways that Algeria warned of, as "there are numerous reports of AQIM commanders visiting Libya for weapons purchases." n52 Illustrating these concerns, Algerian troops discovered an enormous cache of weapons near the Libya border in October 2013, allegedly including "100 anti-aircraft missiles and hundreds of anti-helicopter rockets, landmines and rocket-propelled grenades." n53(...)
The French military intervention, dubbed Operation Serval, pushed the jihadists from the areas that they control. However, there are clear signs that, a year later, the jihadists are back. The Guardian explains: According to local sources but also the security forces, jihadists have regained a foothold in several areas. Islamists have pressured families hostile to their presence to leave their homes. Over the past six months al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has murdered several people who helped the French military in Mali, in particular Tuareg members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). At least 10 people have been killed.... Three groups are involved in the insurrection in northern Mali: AQIM; the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao); and Ansar Dine, led by the Tuareg Iyad Ag Ghaly. The latter group are the most visible in the field, concentrated in their traditional sphere of influence, north of Kidal, close to the border with Algeria. n60
Not only did NATO's intervention help to produce the jihadist takeover of north Mali, but the safe haven jihadists have been able to find in southern Libya has played a role in these groups' comeback. Fighters from both Ansar al-Dine and AQIM fled from advancing French and aligned forces into southwest Libya, where they blended with local militants. N61(...)

52) Chivvis and Liepman, North Africa's Menace, p. 6.
53) Lamine Chikhi, "Algerian Troops Find Huge Arms Cache on Libyan Border," Reuters, October 24, 2013.
60) Jacques Follorou, "Jihadists Return to Northern Mali a Year After French Intervention," Guardian (U.K.), March 11, 2014.
61) Adam Entous, Drew Hinshaw, and David Gauthier-Villars, "Militants, Chased From Mali, Pose New Threats," Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2013; Chivvis and Martini, Libya After Qaddafi, p. ix (noting that "southern Libya verges on becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda-linked groups recently chased from Mali by French military forces").

Previous Flintlock blogs on Broekstukken:
Military exercises and arms  (21 maart 2014)
Flintlock 2014 (21 Jan 2014)
The Dutch and the War on Terror … in Africa  (11 Feb 2011)
Nederlanders in War on Terror….in Afrika (03 Feb 2011)

Previous Mali blogs on Broekstukken:
Wapenleveranties aan Libië en de buurlanden (07 Sep 2012)