dinsdag 3 juni 2014

Mali in the press (June)

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: US military, peace negotiations, situation in the Northern part, dialoque, Mauritania, French, now-and-then something on resourches and mining,
Earlier Mali in the press blogs on: January, February, March, April,
May, July,

June 30

The French Air Force has replaced the Mirage 2000 that crashed in Niger earlier this month with another aircraft, bringing its fighter aircraft detachment for Mali up to full strength again. (...)

June 28

Mali opts for compulsory military service from 2015SARAH COVINGTON, July 2014 Jane’s Intelligence Review
FOLLOWING A cabinet meeting on 4 June, the Malian government announced the introduction of compulsory military service for men and women aged between 18 and 35, starting from 2015. The move comes just one week after the resignation of Minister of Defence Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga.

June 26

Obvious answers by Frans Timmermans, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs  to Parliamentary questions by Jasper van Dijk (Socialist Party, SP) on NYT article “U.S. Trains African Commandos toFight Terrorism”.


UN extends Mali mission, urges peace talks, Agence France Presse – English, June 26, 2014
The Security Council on Wednesday extended for another year the UN mission in Mali, calling on it to prioritize efforts to facilitate peace talks and expand its presence in the north.
The maximum level of peacekeepers will remain the same, at 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police, as will the arrangement under which French soldiers in Mali can lend a hand in cases of serious and imminent danger.
According to the resolution, the UN mission, known as MINUSMA, should "expand its presence, including through long-range patrols... in the north of Mali beyond key population centers, notably in areas where civilians are at risk."
The operation should also make it a priority to get negotiations started between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels in the north.
A ceasefire was agreed on May 23 after violent clashes in Kidal, but talks have failed to materialize.
The UN resolution urged "Malian authorities to launch without delay an inclusive and credible negotiation process," and called on all the armed groups to put down their weapons.
MINUSMA, the council said, should "coordinate with and support the Malian authorities" to get the talks going, ensuring it is "open to all communities of the north of Mali." (...)

June 25

”The lessons learnt in Mali are advancing the case for wheels [in preference to] tracks. The armies that have been observing the VBCt close up, notably the Danish and the British, are particularly receptive to this,” Nexter CEO Philippe Burtin noted. Jane’s Defence Weekly 25 June 2014
A Jewellery Quarter gold firm, which grew out of a 250-year-old family business, will start mining in Mali next year after a "transformational" acquisition. (...)
It is thought there are 1.8 million ounces of gold in the Yanfolila project in Mali and the plan is to mine as much as 80,000 ounces in the first 12 months, and 60,000 ounces after that, generating between £35 million and £40 million a year at current prices. (...)


Mali security forces have arrested Mahamed Aly Ag Wadoussene, a fugitive at the heart of a jail break in Mali's capital on June 16 in which at least two people were killed and 22 prisoners escaped, officials said on Wednesday.(...)


Mauritania: French armed forces Chief of Staff visits Mauritania, ANAPRESS - Pan African News Agency, June 25, 2014

Nouakchott, Mauritania (PANA) - The Chief of Staff of the French armed forces, General Peter de Villiers, is on a two-day official visit to Mauritania with security issues high on his agenda, the Mauritanian News Agency (AMI) reported on Wednesday.

It said he would discuss Franco-Mauritanian military and security cooperation in the area, including the fight against terrorism and cross-border crime in the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa.

The top French military official had a working session on Wednesday with his Mauritanian counterpart, Major-General Ould Cheikh Mohamed Ahmed.

On 21 May, Nouakchott hosted a sub-regional summit on terrorism in the Sahel which was attended by the Group 5 (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) aimed at coordinating and sharing their efforts.

France and Western countries support the G5 initiative in this field. 


(Nairobi) – The government of Mali should establish a special investigation cell to investigate grave crimes committed by all sides during the 2012-2013 armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Justice Minister Mohamed Ali Bathily. The unit should consist of prosecutors, investigative judges, and others needed to carry out the unit’s work. (...)

June 24

Oscar Nkala, Mauritania outfitsBT-67 transport for surveillance missions, DefenceWeb, Tuesday, 24 June 2014
June 22

Mali agrees to clarify purchase of presidential jet, military equipment, Radio France Internationale on 22 June (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
The Malian government has agreed to take measures in response to IMF requests for explanations.
The International Monetary Fund requested that the government explain the purchase of a new presidential plane worth 30m euro [40m dollars] and a contract for military equipment amounting to 500m euro.


Tunisian leader urges reinforcing of military ties with Niger to fight terrorism, Radio France Internationale on 22 June (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
The Tunisian president arrived in Niger after his visit to Mali on Sunday [22 June].
Mohamed Moncef Marzouki called for the strengthening of security and military cooperation and coordination between Tunisia and Niger so that they could confront the terrorist threat in the Sahel-Saharan region.(...)

June 21

Mauritania since AbdelAziz seized power, Agence France Presse – English, June 21, 2014
Mauritania votes in a presidential election on Saturday, expected to be easily won by incumbent Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Below are key dates in the northwest African country since Abdel Azis took power in a coup in 2008.
- August 6, 2008: A group of generals, led by Abdel Aziz, seizes power, ousting the largely desert nation's first democratically elected leader Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.
- September 14, 2008: Members of Al-Qaeda's north African branch, AQIM, kill a dozen Mauritanian soldiers as they patrol the northern part of the country.
- January 16, 2009: Mauritania suspends its relations with Israel in protest at its onslaught on Gaza.
- July 18, 2009: Abdel Aziz, who has left the army, wins first round presidential elections. The opposition claims massive fraud.
- July 23, 2010: In a military operation, French and Mauritanian troops try in vain to rescue French AQIM hostage Michel Germaneau in neighbouring Mali. Six members of AQIM are killed. Germaneau is then executed by his captors.
- September 17-19, 2010: Mauritania carries out a military operation against AQIM in the region of Timbuktu in Mali.
- February 2, 2011: Mauritania's army foils an attack which AQIM claims was aimed at assassinating Abdel Aziz.
- June 24, 2011: The Mauritanian army destroys an AQIM camp in Mali, killing 15 of the Islamists and losing two of its own men. On July 5, AQIM attacks a Mauritanian army base. Several are killed.
- July 19, 2012: Thousands of Mauritanians protest in the capital, calling for the departure of Abdel Aziz, whom they accuse of despotism and mismanagement. The march is organised by the opposition Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD).
- October 13, 2012: Abdel Aziz is flown to Paris for medical treatment after soldiers shoot at his convoy and wound him in what the government says was an accident.
- November 23 and December 21, 2013: The ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) wins a large majority in the 147-seat parliament in elections boycotted by 10 out of the eleven parties in the COD.
- January 30, 2014: Abdel Aziz takes over the rotating post of African Union chairman.
- June 6, 2014: Start of the campaign for the presidential election, which is boycotted by most of the opposition.

June 20

Thomas Hofnung, "Serval Caught in a Secret War," Liberation website on 20 June (English version via BBC Monitoring Europe – Political)
French forces are aiming for "high value added" jihadist and subversive Tuareg targets.
The Malian army's disappearance from the north is "a nightmare for the French." Although Operation Serval soldiers refrain from subscribing to this European diplomat's opinion, they can hardly deny the negative impact of the Kidal debacle on their main mission: tracking down terrorist groups.
These last few weeks, the flag of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad [MNLA), the main Tuareg separatist organization, has reappeared near Gao and Timbuktu. "The MNLA is deploying a soft strategy of occupying ground that has been left vacant," acknowledges a Malian leader. Well, the advance by the MNLA increases the risks of direct confrontation between Tuareg separatists and Bamako's soldiers as much as the terrorist threat. According to corroborating sources, some jihadists active in northern Mali are using the MNLA flag as a safe-conduct pass or the flag of a sister organization, the High Council for Azawad Unity [HCUA], the "legal front" for Ansar ed-Dine, a movement that fought against the French army. On 11 June, terrorists carried out a suicide attack at the entrance to the UN base in Aguelhok, killing four Chadian Blue Helmets.
These events come at a time when Paris is pleased to have delivered significant blows against the jihadists in helicopter-borne raids carried out in March and April. "Mokhtar Belmokhtar lost several of his lieutenants. His organization has been greatly weakened," deems one French military source. So has Iyad ag-Ghaly, the former Ansar ed-Dine leader. Some of his lieutenants were eliminated or "defected." This key personality of the Tuareg underground is nonetheless nowhere to be found, protected by his perfect knowledge of the terrain, the solidarity among Tuaregs that transcends political rivalries, and by the possibility of finding refuge on the Algerian side of the border.
As for Al-Qa'idah in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], the organization has not disappeared. It has reportedly moved on. "During Operation Serval, most of the foreign volunteers were killed or returned home," confides a source close to this matter. "On the other hand, the Tuareg 'katibas' (Liberation editor's note: cells) are still active and are even gaining strength by recruiting local youths on account of the political impasse that prevails in Kidal."
Under these conditions, the secret war could last in northern Mali, where French forces, approximately 1,600 men now, are applying the American strategy of aiming for "high value added targets": an approach adapted to the constraints of a terrain that is as big as France. "Targeting the chiefs is also a matter of impressing the terrorists, showing them our complete knowledge of their networks, and creating a feeling of permanent insecurity amongst them."
It is easier to say than do when the adversary is applying the tactic of avoidance. "Sooner or later however, the jihadists need to resupply in food, fuel or spare parts for their vehicles," notes one top French officer. Another one says, "Or one of them goes to visit his wife on his motorcycle." "The Special Forces proceed by windows [of opportunity]. One has to react quickly when they open slightly - sometimes within half an hour - and strike." However, many operations have been cancelled at the last moment, due to a lack of absolute certainty about the target's identity. "If we want to avoid going around in circles in the sand or in the sky with a drone, then we always need good intelligence," underscores one officer.
People in Paris acknowledge that several local sources (in all likelihood connected with French intelligence) have been assassinated by jihadists over the past months.


June 18

Guillaume Belan, AASM in debut firing from F-16, Jane's Defence Weekly, June 18, 2014
(...) Since 2008 the Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) of the French company Sagem has been used in operations by French Air Force and Navy Rafale fighters in Afghanistan, Libya (225 dropped) and Mali.


ISLAMABAD, June 19 -- The Turkish government has added three African groups to a list of terror organizations, the Official Gazette reported on Wednesday.
The cabinet designated Al Mouakaoune Biddam, Al Mourabitoun and Al Moulathamoun - which are active in Mali, Algeria and Niger - as terror groups linked to Al-Qaeda, Anadolu news agency reported. Their names translate respectively as Those Who Sign in Blood, The Sentinels and The Veiled. The development follows the United Nations Security Council Committee meeting on June 2 in which the three groups were made subject to asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes.(...)


UN calls for immediate dialogue on Mali, Agence France Presse – English, June 18, 2014
The UN peacekeeping chief Wednesday urged Bamako and armed groups in Mali's north to engage in political dialogue immediately, emphasizing that the country's "status quo" was no longer acceptable.
"The time for peace talks is now," Herve Ladsous told the UN Security Council, as it met to consider renewal of the mandate for the UN mission in Mali.
Since a preliminary agreement was reached between Mali and Tuareg rebels a year ago, Ladsous said, "the government and the armed groups have made little progress towards real, substantive dialogue."
"The status quo cannot stand: progress in the political process is urgent," he said.
Algeria, which is helping to mediate the conflict, said Monday that groups from northern Mali were ready to launch peace talks, but that dialogue had still not materialized despite declarations of intent by both sides.
Ladsous reiterated that the mission would be sending drones to the area to enhance its "situational awareness and its ability to protect civilians and its own personnel."
And while welcoming the arrival of combat helicopters to the region, he urged member states that have pledged assets or support "to deliver on these pledges as quickly as possible."
Ladsous said that by the end of the month, the mission will have reached "77 percent of its military strength, and 83 percent of its police strength."
A maximum force of 12,640 personnel -- 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police -- has been authorized.(...)


Matthew Russell Lee, From Mali, On Azawad Flag Photo with UN Peacekeepers, UN Sent 7 Burkinabes Home, But UN Envoy Koenders Now Calls Photo Fabricated, InnerCityPress, June 18, 2014
By UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- When Mali's Foreign Minister Diop came to the UN Security Council stakeout on the morning of June 18, Inner City Press asked him about the photograph of UN MINUSMA peacekeepers with the flag of break-away Azawad.
(…) Who runs Mali? Inner City Press asked Koenders if the Malian Army had given MINUSMA or the French Serval force advance notice of its May 21 offensive. 'No,' Koenders said plainly. That's to his credit, and so we'll end this report right there. Unlike Ladsous[3], at least Koenders takes questions and answers them. Watch this site. Twitter Follow Button[4] Twitter Follow Button[5]
[3]: http://youtu.be/rm1V-cY9u40

June 17

Nazim Fethi, Maliansclose in on peace deal, Magharebia – 17/06/2014
For over a week, Algiers has hosted peace talks between the Touareg factions of northern Mali and the central government in Bamako.
After two rounds of fruitful negotiations with the rebels, representatives of the Malian government held a meeting with their Algerian counterparts on Sunday.
The neighbouring countries joined in on the talks on Monday (June 16th), as did the African Union (AU) and the UN body responsible for monitoring the situation in northern Mali (MINUSMA).
The aim is to swiftly reach a peace deal between the rebels and the Malian government. The situation in Mali is due to be discussed by the UN Security Council this week and representatives of the Bamako government have openly expressed their desire to see the international community support the current peace efforts.
The meeting held by the working group on Monday was attended by the Algerian foreign minister, his counterparts from Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad, the high representative of the AU for Mali and the Sahel, as well as the special representative of the UN secretary-general and head of MINUSMA.
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra pointed to the positive results from the early talks, noting that his country would continue with its efforts, alongside the international institutions, with a view to reaching a consensus on how to resolve the crisis and peacefully end the crisis in northern Mali.
This consensus will take the stability and territorial integrity of Mali into account.
"We have every reason to believe that this session will be an opportunity to accelerate the efforts of the international community" to find a solution to the Malian crisis, Lamamra said, adding that "a very clear desire to work towards peace and reconciliation" was observed among representatives of the rebel movements.
Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop mentioned the Malian president's determination to "promote peace and reconciliation and move towards a peace deal as quickly as possible". He advocated frank dialogue in the bid to find a solution to the crisis.
For his part, Mauritanian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ould Teguedi said that the shared desire of the delegations who met in Algiers was to bring an end to the spiral of violence in northern Mali, which could have an impact on the entire sub-region. He recommended that all historical disagreements be dealt with, including the marginalisation of northern Mali.
Mauritania currently holds the presidency of the African Union and the president of Mauritania travelled to Kidal last month in the wake of the deadly attacks to broker a Mali ceasefire.
According to the final document issued at the close of the meeting, a roadmap and a timetable will be agreed on and steps to build trust between the Malian parties will be "actively discussed and implemented".
On the side-lines of the meeting, representatives of the rebels in northern Mali called the process aimed at reaching a "final" solution to the crisis in northern Mali under Algeria's guidance a "success".
"We hope that this process will be seen through to completion in the interests of all parties involved in this process, including the Malian government, the armed movements and people of Mali," said Ahmed Ould Sid Mohamed, a representative of the Arab Movement of Azawad.
Mohamed Ousmane Ag Mohamedoun, a representative of the Co-ordinating Body for the People of Azawad, said that the process brokered by Algeria has begun to bear fruit, as this meeting marked the "beginning of the real and concrete negotiations, which will be held with the Malian government".


Murtala Touray, Jail break in Mali raises moderate risk of IEDattacks by Islamist militants, IHS Global Insight, June 17, 2014
Two people were killed and 15 prisoners escaped, including an armed Islamist suspect, Mohamed Aly Ag Wadousene following a jail break at the central prison in the Malian capital Bamako on 16 June, according to the government. During a visit by plumbers to the prisoners' cells, an exchange of gunfire resulted in the death of a guard and a prisoner. According to the Ministry of Justice, eight prisoners were captured shortly afterwards and the security forces began a hunt for the remaining escapees. Ag Wadousene was a former member of the Malian National Guard and stood accused of murder, kidnap, and belonging to the extremist Islamist group, MUJAO. The Malian authority's initial assessment suggests that the break-out was organised without external help. The Malian government has suffered a series of recent security setbacks, including a defeat of its army by armed Tuareg groups in northern Mali and increased attacks using rocket-propelled grenades by Islamist militants against the UN base in Aguelhok.
Significance:It is unlikely that the jail break was an opportunistic incident, given the semblance of co-ordination, the timing, and the access to weapons. It will raise further concerns about the capability of the Malian government and security forces to improve security in the country as they face a renewed campaign of violence by armed Tuareg groups and Islamist militia in northern Mali. The Malian capital has been largely spared violent attacks, but foreign facilities, such as embassies and mining sites remain aspirational targets for Islamist militants. The risk of Islamist attacks in Bamako remains moderate, but appears to be gradually increasing because of the government's inability to reform the Malian army and find a durable solution to the Tuareg insurgency. In the past, jail-breaks in some regional countries (including Niger and Nigeria) have been a precursor to Islamist attacks with the help of escaped prisoners, and the threat level in Bamako will therefore rise in coming days.

Eurosatory 2014, Sagemshowcases solutions to meet armed forces' most demanding needs, Safran Group, June 17, 2014
(…) The AASM is also available in an inertial/GPS and infrared version. The AASM SBU-54 Laser was qualified on June 14, 2013 by the French Ministry of Defense. Hammer missiles were deployed on Rafale fighters in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. At Eurosatory, Sagem is teaming up with AA/ROK (Arinc group) to show the AASM as offered on a C-130 Hercules in a ground support configuration, mounted on the Rafaut outboard pylon. (...)


Airbus Helicopters presents defense lineup at Eurosatory 2014, Airbus, June 17, 2014
(...) The French Army is to display one of its NH90s - the multi-role helicopter deployed by this military service and by allied forces in Afghanistan, and used for the French Navy's rescues of more than 120 persons; along with the presence of Tiger attack helicopter, which has been combat-proven while serving in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.

Completing the company's presence at Eurosatory - its first in the Airbus Helicopters identity following the rebranding from Eurocopter - are scale models of the EC725 Caracal, endorsed through combat deployments with French forces in Afghanistan along with the support of France's role in NATO-led operations during the Libyan military campaign and French Special Forces missions in Mali; as well as the military Panther version of the well-known Dauphin family.


Carlotta Gall, Spain's hunt for militants starts in Africa; Authorities say network turns to enclaves to fuel Islamist insurgencies, International New York Times, June 17, 2014 Tuesday
The police say a network of militants with footholds in Spain and Morocco has recruited and sent volunteers to join insurgencies from Mali to Libya to Syria. (…)

June 16

Inmates break out of high security prison in Malian capital 16 June, Radio France Internationale on 16 June (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
In Mali, some prisoners broke out of the High Security District of the Bamako Civilian Prison this afternoon [16 June].
Up until now, the number of the prisoners who fled is not known as yet. One of them opened fire on a prison warden who later died from his injuries.
June 15

Mali armed groups say they agree topeace talks, Agence France Presse – English, June 15, 2014
(…) After meeting Lamamra, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, known as MINUSMA, said negotiations are now a priority.
"The region will be in danger if there is no reconciliation," state television quoted Albert Gerard Koenders as saying.
He added that it was "important to organise inclusive negotiations" with the aim of restoring peace to northern Mali.
Pierre Buyoya, the African Union's representative for Mali and the Sahel, praised the Algerian government and expressed hopes for a final agreement.
"I congratulate the Algerian government for the work done to get here," Buyoya said, quoted by APS, after meeting Lamamra.
"The situation in Mali needs to move quickly towards a peace agreement."
In the document, the three groups agree to "engage with the government of Mali in a constructive manner on the path of dialogue and negotiations for a new government that responds to the profound and legitimate aspirations of the people of north Mali".
Among their demands is the release of prisoners and "better conditions for the return of refugees once a definitive agreement is signed". (...)


Airbus Defence and Space is marketing an expanded range of military hardware, from tactical UAVs to fighter jets, under its new guise. (...)
Airbus hopes to capture 50% of the market in which the A400M competes and sell 300-400 A400Ms over the next three decades. Airbus has already developed an ITAR compliant export version that features modified communications and navigation equipment.
France was the first of eight nations to receive the type, in August last year, and has two in service. Apparently the French Air Force is very happy with the A400M, and has deployed the aircraft to Mali and French Guyana. Airbus Defence and Space will deliver 11 more A400Ms this year, including the first to Turkey in April, the first to the UK in September and the first to Germany in November. 22 aircraft will be delivered next year, including the first for Malaysia. (...)
Airbus Defence and Space has experience operating the Harfang and Heron I UAVs, which have been deployed to Afghanistan and Mali. More than 18 000 flight hours have been accumulated in Afghanistan and the Harfang has reached over 10 000 hours in 900 flights in Mali with the French Air Force. French Harfangs will be upgraded by Airbus Defence and Space for service to at least 2018. (...)

June 14

Egyptian army chief inspects forces joining peace mission in Mali – agency, Egyptian state-run news agency MENA, June 14, 2014
Cairo, 14 June: General Commander of the Armed Forces Sidqi Subhi on Saturday [14 June] inspected elements of the military police which will join the peacekeeping mission in Mali in a move to assert Egypt's role in realizing stability and security of the African continent.
General Subhi inspected an exhibition for the equipment that will accompany the police elements and help them accomplish their mission and wished them good luck.
General Abd-al-Majid Saqr, the director of the military police, delivered a work in which he asserted that the Egyptian Armed Forces are keen on the distinguished preparedness of the elements that will be assigned with the peace mission in Mali.

June 13

Michelle Nichols, U.N. peacekeepersneed to expand further in Mali's north - U.N.'s Ban, UNITED NATIONS, June 13, 2014
(Reuters) - U.N. peacekeepers should expand further into the volatile north of Mali, beyond cities and towns, amid fears that militants will step up their attacks against international and Malian troops and threats to civilians, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council on the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission, Ban said a strategic review recommended the operation "expand its static and mobile presence in the north, within its means and capacities." (...)


UN peacekeeping force in Mali at 74 percent: report, Agence France Presse – English, June 13, 2014

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali has deployed 8,280 soldiers on the ground, 74 percent of the number mandated a year ago, and still lacks utility helicopters, a new report says.
The UN peacekeeping force in Mali, known as MINUSMA, took over in July 2013 from African forces fighting armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda that occupied northern Mali in 2012.
It has struggled to get troops into place as France seeks to draw down its force and as security deteriorates in the north while attacks on international and Malian security forces increase.
As of May 26 there were 8,280 UN soldiers of the 11,200 mandated a year ago -- including 52 women -- says a report from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, obtained by AFP and to be debated in the Security Council next Wednesday.
Police deployments have also "strengthened significantly" with 979 officers on the ground -- 69 percent of the authorized total of 1,440 -- including 51 women, said the report.
It calls on contributing states to accelerate the deployment of personnel or assets, saying the force still lacks military utility helicopters, "seriously hampering its air mobility."
The secretary general's report, which covers the period March 24 to May 26, said Malian security forces and MINUSMA were coming under increasing attack as security in the north deteriorates.
Seven UN peacekeepers were injured in separate incidents and threats of retaliation against civilians for cooperating with the international community have been reported, it said.
On April 7, an improvised explosive device in Menaka near the MINUSMA camp was detonated by remote control "demonstrating the insurgents' improved tactics and underscoring the vulnerability of United Nations and humanitarian personnel."
On April 30 an IED was found 300 meters (yards) outside MINUSMA camp in Kidal, the cradle of Mali's Tuareg separatist movement, and rockets have landed in and near MINUSMA sites.
Bandits have also attacked trucks transporting supplies for the force, whose proposed budget its second year is $812.7 million.
Staff safety and security remain "major concerns given the sustained threat to United Nations personnel and others from asymmetric attacks, IEDs and kidnappings," the report warned.
As a result, there are severe constraints on being able to deploy civilian staff to remote areas, it added.
The report lists some political achievements but says "many important aspects of the stabilization of Mali, including most tasks included in MINUSMA's mandate, are yet be accomplished."
The humanitarian situation is also cause for concern, it said.
At the end of April, 3.6 million people were food insecure, including 1.5 million severely affected -- the number of which is expected to rise to 1.9 million by June, the report said.
The $568 million needed for the strategic response plan for Mali to meet humanitarian and early recovery needs has so far been only 19.3 percent funded.
Ban stressed the need for a political process, warning otherwise "terrorist groups will seize opportunities to target Malian and international forces, and threaten civilians in the north."

June 12

Defensiekrant, 12, donderdag 12 juni 2014: Recht in de ogen Verkennen: het is een vak apart. Want hoe weet je nou of je op het goede spoor zit en of iemand de waarheid vertelt? Zeker wanneer de taal een barrière vormt. “Heel simpel”, meent Daniel: “Dat onderbuikgevoel wanneer je iemand recht in de ogen aankijkt. Alle jongens zijn veel op missie geweest en hebben daar feeling voor.”


A suicide attack at a UN camp in northern Mali killed four Chadian peacekeepers and wounded 10 others including six peacekeepers and four Malian soldiers, the country's peacekeeping mission said.
A vehicle exploded at the entrance of the camp in the town of Aguelhoc, in the Kidal region, at 3:30 pm, according to a UN statement issued on Wednesday evening.
UN mission chief Albert Koenders condemned the attack as "cowardly and odious." (...)


VIENNA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The Austrian cabinet Wednesday approved the increased participation of its armed forces in the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), Austria Press Agency reported.
The maximum number of doctors and paramedics from the Austrian Armed Forces that could be sent to the mission will be expanded from 9 to 20.
The Austrian contingent will remain uninvolved in actual combat training of troops.
The Ministry of Defense stated the limit was increased to allow for more leeway in potential future developments. (...)


Mali suicide blast kills UNpeacekeepers, Al Jazeera – English, June 12, 2014
Four UN peacekeepers from Chad killed and 10 others including six peacekeepers and four Malian soldiers wounded.

June 11

Soldiers carry guns with live ammunition and wear bulletproof helmets and bulletproof vests in Mali on June 11, 2014. The first batch of Chinese peacekeepers in Mali conducted first live fire exercise to improve emergency management capabilities. (Source: people.com.cn/China.org.cn)


Mali to establish diplomatic mission in Qatar "in a few months time", Radio France Internationale on 11 June (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
[Presenter] Mali has been invited once again to Qatar. This invitation is for attending the United States-Arab World Forum which is being held in Doha and is ending this evening. This is the second time for the Malian president to go there. According to IBK [Ibrahim Boubacar Keita], the ties between the two countries are very good. Correspondent Laxmi Lota [as heard], you are in Doha for RFI. Economic contracts are being signed.
[Lota] A delegation of Qatari businessmen was in Bamako a few days ago. Qatar has invested in a goldmine, rice and telecommunication in Mali. There are many areas for investment by the emirate. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came to Doha in January last year to establish initial contact.
[Keita] All that was done during my visit to the emirate has brought in profits in all sectors like agro-business, mining and infrastructure in all areas. Like every country, our country, Mali is however, expecting much from Qatar.
[Lota] Although Qatar was accused of funding armed groups in northern Mali, the Malian president said everything has been normalized. [Indistinct comments by IBK omitted]. As a sign that the relations between the two countries have been normalized, an embassy of Mali is going to be opened in a few months' time.
Joe Penney, Mali PM warns of Islamistthreat within Tuareg rebels, Reuters, June 11, 2014
BAMAKO (Reuters) - The international community is underestimating the threat posed by Islamist fighters sheltering in areas of Mali's far north controlled by Tuareg separatist rebels, Prime Minister Moussa Mara said.
When Mara travelled to the Tuareg stronghold of Kidal last month, clashes broke out between rebel groups there and troops. [ID:nL6N0O84JH]
Mali's army launched an operation to seize Kidal but was defeated by the rebels, who seized more towns. The fighting threatened to wreck fragile peace negotiations and plunge the country back into war.
Mara told Reuters in an interview on Monday that the armed groups who seized Kidal last month had jihadist elements within them which posed a threat to the peace of the region.
"The international community is not giving the importance needed to the jihadist threat in Kidal," Mara said in his office overlooking the Niger river in the dusty capital, Bamako.
"At the moment, there are jihadists in Kidal. They arrived even before I got there." (...)

June 10

France welcomes adoption of Algiers Declaration by Malian rebels, report in English by French Foreign Ministry website www.diplomatie.gouv.fr on 10 June, 2014
Mali -Adoption of the Algiers Declaration (June 9, 2014)
France welcomes the adoption of the Algiers Declaration on June 9 by the armed groups that are signatories to the Ouagadougou agreement. This is an important first step forward in terms of the commitment of these groups to work towards consolidating the ceasefire of May 23 and initiating negotiations with the Malian government.
We pay tribute to the efforts made by Algeria, at Mali's request, to organize informal discussions with the armed movements in order to establish a common platform to express their demands. These discussions will facilitate the inter-Malian negotiation process, while respecting Mali's territorial integrity and the principles agreed upon in the Ouagadougou agreement.
We encourage Algeria to continue its efforts in coordination with the regional and international actors, and notably with the UN.
France calls on the Malian authorities and the armed groups to initiate, as swiftly as possible, the negotiation process that should lead to a comprehensive and final agreement. 


Fidet Mansour, Algeria, France denyLibya operation, Magharebia, June 10, 2014
Algeria and France are drawing closer together on security issues. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius wrapped up a two-day visit to Algiers on Monday (June 9th).
"We're very committed to security, without which there can be no development, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in the battle against terrorism. We have a shared vision," the French minister stated on Monday during a press conference.
Fabius and his Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra, denied that joint operations had taken place in Libya. "This allegation is not based on reality," Fabius said. Algeria's Lamamra pointed out that Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal "had the opportunity to deny this information categorically". (...)


Algiers (AFP) - Three armed movements from northern Mali have signed a joint statement in Algiers declaring that they are ready to work for peace with the Bamako government, Algeria's foreign ministry said.
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) signed the "Algiers Declaration" late Monday, demanding "inclusive" peace and political talks in their troubled country. (...)


A French Mirage 2000D fighter jet used to patrol the skies over Mali crashed in neighbouring Niger due to a technical glitch, the army said Tuesday.
The two crew members ejected and survived uninjured.
The Mirage was flying back on Monday evening from a mission in Mali, where the French army has been fighting jihadist groups, and crashed half-way between Gao in Mali's restive north and the Niger capital Niamey, where France has a military base.
"The crew was forced to eject following a technical failure," said French military spokesman Gilles Jaron.
"The pilot and navigator were retrieved safe and sound."
The plane, which was worth tens of millions of dollars, is one of six fighter jets being used by the French army in the region. (…)


LONDON (Alliance News) - Alecto Minerals PLC Tuesday said it has found new prospects on the Massakama target at the Kossanto gold project in Mali following a large drill programme, with strong indications that the site hosts an extensive gold-bearing system.
The gold mining company said 18 out of 24 drill holes completed on the site, for a total of 1,998 metres of drilling, found gold mineralisation including a two metre space at 13.54 grams per tonne of gold from seven metres in depth at the TRC009 hole and a 23 metre space at 0.67 grams per tonne of gold from 16 metres in depth.
The company said the drilling was undertaken over four prospect areas: Goreba, Big Pit, MSK Centrale and a recently discovered Phyolite Hill prospect. It found high-grade quartz veins at the Goreba target, mineralised intersections at the MSK Centrale target, and a structure which seems to delineate the mineralisation at Rhyolite Hill. (...)
It added that through its reconnaissance work at the sites, it has now also identified a fifth target area, known as Toukwatou.
Alecto Minerals said that grab samples and channel sampling are being carried out on the Toukwatou target, and it has already received results from an initial 2 metre sample, showing 2.62 grams per tonne of gold.
"We are extremely pleased with these exploration results for the Massakama target at our Kossanto project, as they offer a very real indication of significant gold mineralisation in this area," Chief Executive Mark Jones said in a statement. "The results indicate that we have a mix of high-grade quartz veins and mineralised structures within multiple shear zones." (...)

June 9

Pierre Tran, Providing Budgetary Cover, Defense News June 9, 2014
A Puma helicopter lands near legionnaires of the French Army’s 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment in the mountains in northern Mali, where French forces have battled jihadi fighters. (...)

For the French, Eurosatory can be viewed as a valuable showcase for the Army, but the exhibition also works for French defense industry at large. “It’s very significant for the French Army and industry to show themselves, particularly after the Serval operation in Mali,” de Durand said.

The Mali mission showed that some NATO members are more capable than others, and that they can operate on their own with minimum support, he said.

June 8

ALGIERS, June 8 (Xinhua) -- French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said here on Sunday that his country and Algeria are committed to working together to combat terrorism in the African Sahel region, particularly in violence-ridden country of Mali.
The minister, who is on a two-day visit to the country, made the remarks while attending a press conference with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra.
Algeria and France share "the same vision on issues of common concern, including the situation in Mali," the top French diplomat said.
"We are two countries who work for peace and security, and we are both committed to the development of the sub-Saharan region and across all the African continent," he added.
"There's no development without security," the minister said, reaffirming that they need to keep on working side-by-side in the fight against terrorism.
Lamamra said Algeria has made significant efforts to secure the North African nation's borders from terrorist threats, adding that his country is prepared to help root out terrorism in the region.
(…) Algeria's eastern neighbor, Libya, has also been riddled with political chaos and violence after the downfall of the late Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has been mobilizing troops to guard its borders with Mali to clampdown on militants and weapon- smuggling.
June 6

Malian groups accuse France, Switzerland of backing Tuareg rebels, Radio France Internationale on 6 June (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
Associations in Mali have asked for the boycotts of French and Swiss products. They accuse France and Switzerland of supporting MNLA [National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad] rebel group. The accusation comes two weeks after the defeat that the Malian army underwent in the hands of MNLA rebels in the north of the country.


Bamako (AFP) - A Malian army officer has been arrested for "an attempted coup", a senior government official said on Friday, a day after his family reported he had been kidnapped.
"Lieutenant Mohamed Ouattara has been arrested -- and not abducted -- for an attempted coup, for a bid to destabilise the institutions of the republic and for a breach of state security," the official said, asking not to be named.
An official document seen by AFP stated that Ouattara, along with other military officers and "accomplices", aimed to overthrow the regime of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was elected last year, marking a return to civilian rule following a March 2012 coup.
The government official said several other arrests had been made and that more would follow, but gave no further details of the alleged coup plot in the west African country.
On Thursday, Ouattara's family, including his father retired Colonel Yaya Ouattara, said the lieutenant had been kidnapped in the capital Bamako "by armed individuals wearing military uniform".
Lieutenant Ouattara is a member of the "Red Berets" paratroop corps, who remained loyal to their former commander, president Amadou Toumani Toure, after his ouster in the 2012 coup led by Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo.
The Red Berets were foiled in a bid to carry out a counter-coup a month later and were hunted down by Sanogo's forces, which plunged the formerly stable democracy into chaos.
Since early December last year, almost 30 bodies believed to be those of Red Beret troops captured by Sanogo's regime have been found in ditches near Kati, a garrison town 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako where the coup leader had set up base.
Sanogo's power-grab paved the way for ethnic Tuareg rebels and armed extremists linked to Al-Qaeda to seize key towns in the desert north of the country, where the Islamists gained the upper hand until France led international military intervention in January 2013.
The campaign is still under way against armed groups who melted into the desert.
After Keita took office last September, Sanogo and a score of aides were charged and jailed for "complicity in kidnapping, kidnappings and assassinations" in an official probe into the disappearance of Red Beret soldiers.


Sahel Countries Help Mali, Magharebia (Washington DC), June 6, 2014
(…) Participants at the Ghana conference renewed their solidarity with the Malian government and discussed efforts to counter terrorist threats in the area. Mali's neighbours are eager to help because they are all facing the same enemy, said Mauritanian analyst Mohamed Ould Ibrahim.
Algerian journalist Taoufik Bouqaedah noted that his country was always prepared to assist endangered populations in other countries.(...)

June 5

Mali is to introduce compulsory national service for men and women aged 18 to 35, the government announced, after clashes between northern Tuareg separatists and the army last month. (...)


U.N. Security Council mandates due forrenewal, Future News - Media Planner, June 5, 2014
United Nations Security Council mandate(s) expiring, unless extended: (…) the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); also for French forces in the latter two countries
Event Start Date: 2014-06-30
Event End Date: 2014-06-30

China's vital role in peacekeeping, South China Morning Post, June 5, 2014
China has made a significant contribution to international peace and security in the 25 years it has been taking part in United Nations peacekeeping operations. People's Liberation Army personnel have built and repaired more than 8,000km of roads, defused 8,700 landmines and other explosive devices and treated in excess of 60,000 patients. The missions are an important facet of the nation's soft power; praise has been won and goodwill generated. Strengthening and deepening participation is in the interests of Beijing and the world.
None of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council contributes more personnel to peacekeeping operations than China. At the end of April, 2,180 Chinese troops were involved in nine mission zones, mostly in Africa. China's contribution to the UN peacekeeping budget will increase from just over 3 per cent of the total to 6 per cent by next year. But perhaps the most dramatic shift came last December when combat forces were sent to Mali; a foreign policy centred on principles of sovereignty and non-intervention was for the first time set aside to help bring stability to a country threatened by political upheaval and militants.
Expanding international influence and presence demands adaptability and change. While Chinese national interests have to be protected, China also has to be a reliable and responsible member of the global community. Contributing to security missions and using diplomacy to broker peace will bring stability. There will be positive benefits for all participants.
The accolades Chinese peacekeepers have earned seem at odds with the criticism of Beijing by its neighbours involved in territorial disputes. Even-handed diplomacy and negotiations are the key to settling conflicts. Officials and soldiers will gain valuable experience from involvement in UN peacekeeping operations. Widening participation will reassure others that China is a responsible power, while furthering international understanding and respect. 

June 4

Mali peace envoy meets rebel leaders inMauritania, Agence France Presse – English, June 4, 2014
Mali sent a peace envoy to neighbouring Mauritania on Wednesday for talks with the leaders of rebel groups waging an insurgency against the war-torn west African state's government in Bamako.
The gesture comes after the regional ECOWAS bloc of countries urged the United Nations at the weekend to strengthen its peacekeeping force and consider imposing "targeted sanctions against the armed groups or individuals who impede the peace process" in Mali.
"I made contact with these organisations to first get know who they are, then to pass on the message of the president favouring dialogue and receive their suggestions," Modibo Keita told AFP in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.
Keita, who was appointed by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in April to negotiate with the rebels, met members of the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) and the mainly-black Coordination of Patriotic Movements and Forces for Resistance.


Sarah Covington, Tuareg rebel groups likely to consolidate control of Mali's northern provinces ahead of government negotiations, IHS Global Insight (Jane's), June 4, 2014
Tuareg armed groups have occupied the Malian town of Goundam in Timbuktu province, about 50km south of Timbuktu city, Malian media reported on 3 June. The same day, Tuareg representatives from the Mouvement National pour la Liberation de l'Azawad (MNLA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) arrived in Algiers to open peace negotiations with the government. The latest round of negotiations, arbitrated by Algeria and Mauritania, follows the MNLA and HCUA's re-occupation of several northern towns since fighting broke out in Kidal during Prime Minister Moussa Mara's visit there on 17 May. The MNLA is currently in nominal control of Kidal, as well as the key trading town Aguelhoc, in Kidal province; Ansango and Menaka, in Gao province; and Ber and Goundam, in Timbuktu province. The MNLA seized military equipment the Malian army left behind after it retreated from these areas. Minister of Defence Soumeley Boubeye Maiga and Army Chief General Mahamane Toure resigned as a result. In the first week of June, France and the United Nations reiterated their support for the Malian government in stabilising the country's northern provinces. France agreed to supply three refitted Gazelle helicopters and UN peacekeepers launched patrols in Timbuktu to protect civilian populations.
Significance:The MNLA is unlikely to secure control of Gao (where 1,000 French troops are based) or Timbuktu (where they only have minimal popular support). The withdrawal of the majority of the Malian armed forces reduces the risk of fighting and therefore the risk of collateral death and injury. The Algiers negotiations, facilitated by a ceasefire reached in Ouagadougou on 27 May, are unlikely to result in a unanimous agreement over the status of northern provinces, particularly Kidal. Armed Tuaregs are likely to further consolidate their control over northern provinces by occupying towns such as Tessalit, Anefis, Bourem, Gourma-Rharous and Dire, in order to pressure the government to meet their demands for greater autonomy. Construction projects in these areas, as well as transit convoys to and from these towns, face severe risk of delay.

June 3

Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, State Has Withdrawn Peacekeeping Troops FromMali, Leadership (Abuja), June 03, 2014
The president of the Senate, David Mark, on Monday said the activities of Boko Haram insurgents had compelled government to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from Mali.
He made the remark at a two-day retreat on Nigeria's foreign policy jointly organised by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos.
The Senate president said Boko Haram insurgency had become a major challenge to Nigeria's efforts at forging relationships with her French-speaking neighbours.
"The activities of Boko Haram insurgents are beginning to affect Nigeria's foreign policy," said Mark, represented by his chief of staff, Sen. Anthony Manzo.
He held that any government's foreign policy was an extension of its domestic policy.


Acquisition-hungry miner B2Gold Corp. has struck another deal, agreeing to buy Australian firm Papillon Resources Ltd. for US$570-million in stock.
The deal, which was rumoured last week, gives B2Gold the Fekola project in Mali, which is expected to produce an average of 306,000 ounces of gold a year over an initial nine-year mine life.
"We believe this merger will bring great value to all shareholders and we congratulate Papillon's strong technical team on advancing the impressive Fekola project to a robust prefeasibility study and look forward to working together to advance the project to production," B2 chief executive Clive Johnson said in a statement.

June 1

(…) This year’s OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] request will also include up to $5 billion in a “counterterrorism Partnerships Fund” that would go toward US training and partner-building of foreign troops, Obama announced last week.

“[T]hese resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al-Qaida; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali,” Obama said in his May 28 speech. (...)


Residents of northern Malian town call for pullout of army troops, Radio France Internationale on 1 June 2014 (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political)
There was a protest march in the northern part of Mali, more precisely in the town of Menaka, which is near the border with Niger, this morning [1 June].
Women and youths staged a demonstration in front of the MINUSMA [UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] camp, the international peacekeeping force. The aim was to demand the departure of Malian soldiers from the town.
According to some residents of Menaka, who were contacted by RFI, some elements of the MNLA, the Tuareg separatist movement, were very visible among the demonstrators.


Mauritanian authorities release former AQLIM member after serving prison term, Sahara FM radio June 1, 2014 ( via BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political June 5, 2014)
Mauritanian authorities today released Salafist prisoner, Tijani Ould Sidina, who has been serving a three-year jail term after being convicted of charges of belonging to Al-Qa'idah in the Islamic Maghreb [AQLIM].
Tijani, is the brother of the another Salafist prisoner, Sisi Ould Sidina, who was also convicted for involvement in the murder of French tourists near the city of Aleg, in central Mauritania, in 2007. Tijani was arrested three years ago and was charged for attempting to join Al-Qa'idah camps in Northern Mali.
Dozens of Salafist prisoners are serving varying sentences, including death penalty and life imprisonment, on various charges including that of killing foreigners, carrying out terrorist operations, and establishing a dangerous group.

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)