dinsdag 1 juli 2014

Mali in the press (July)

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, June

July 16

(Reuters) - A French soldier was killed in the first suicide bombing targeting France's forces in northern Mali, where local and foreign troops are struggling to restore order after putting down an Islamist insurgency last year, officials said. (...)

July 15

Mali armed groups in'strong position' ahead of talks, Agence France Presse – English, July 15, 2014
Armed groups from northern Mali will be in a "position of strength" when they begin peace talks with the Bamako government in Algiers on Wednesday, an Algerian diplomat said.
"After the major defeat of the Malian army," which lost around 50 soldiers in the Tuareg region of Kidal in May, "the armed movements now occupy nearly two-thirds of the country... and come to Algiers in a position of strength," the diplomat told journalists.
He was speaking on the eve of the talks between Malian government negotiators and rebel groups aimed at striking an elusive peace deal, with the country mired in conflict a year after returning to democracy.
The Algiers meeting brings together the various warring factions for the first time since an interim agreement in June 2013 paved the way for nationwide elections.
The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the room for manoeuvre in the negotiations as "tight".
He said the parties needed to reach a power-sharing consensus between, "on the one hand, armed groups who want autonomy for northern Mali ... (and on the other) a government open to any idea except independence." (...)


French military killed, 6 wounded at suicide attack @keesamok
Franse militair gedood, 6 gew. bij zelfmoordaanval op Fr. pantservtg N.van Gao tijdens verkenning - http://www.lopinion.fr/blog/secret-defense/militaire-francais-1er-reg-tue-mali-14409 … via @Lopinion_fr


BAMAKO, Mali, July 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Today, 14 July 2014, Mr. Pierre Buyoya, Head of the African Union Mission in Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL), handed over to Mr. Sada Samake, Minister of Interior and Security, a first batch of thirteen vehicles out of twenty donated by the AU to Mali. This donation, valued at one million U.S. dollars, equivalent to 481,642,430 CFA francs, includes thirteen pick-up vans, four ambulances and three trucks.
The donation will contribute to strengthening the capacity of the Malian defense and security forces. In his statement at the occasion, the AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, Mr. Buyoya, reiterated AU's commitment to support the Malian authorities in their efforts towards the restoration of peace and stability in their country. Security in the Sahel region constitutes one of the three main pillars of the AU Strategy for the Sahel. This includes the promotion of collective security in the region, through the Nouakchott Process, which is an initiative that brings together eleven countries of the Sahel region, including Mali. (...)


Mali government, rebelsmeet for peace talks, Agence France Presse – English, July 15, 2014
Malian government negotiators come to the table with rebel groups on Wednesday hoping to strike an elusive peace deal with the country mired in conflict a year after returning to democracy.(...)
Some of those groups, including the MNLA, the HCUA, and two branches of the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) will be represented in Algiers, where a government delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.
But Mali has excluded several Islamist groups linked to Al-Qaeda which occupied northern Mali for close to 10 months in 2012 before being ousted by the French-led Serval military offensive. (...)
Malian Premier Moussa Mara has warned that the process will "require effort" and "compromises on both sides".
While he has suggested that the government is willing to make concessions, he says there is a "red line" it is not willing to cross -- any talk of compromising Mali's territorial integrity or secular status.
A source from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, stressed the need for urgent action, with the security situation deteriorating and inter-communal violence in the north presenting a threat "more dangerous than anything else". (...)
Djiguiba Keita, from the opposition Party for National Rebirth, invoked the terminology of medieval feudal Europe in a withering description of Mali as Algeria's "vassal", or subordinate.
The talks begin with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arriving in Bamako to sign a defence agreement with Mali, after Paris said on Sunday that it was winding up the Serval offensive after 18 months.
It will be replaced by a wider counter-terrorism operation, codenamed Barkhan, to be implemented in partnership with Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
Le Drian said around 3,000 French soldiers would be part of the operation, 1,000 of whom would stay in northern Mali.
Drones, helicopters, fighter jets, armoured vehicles and transport planes will also take part in Operation Barkhan -- the name of a crescent-shaped sand dune in the desert -- which will have its headquarters in the Chadian capital N'Djamena.

July 14

Megan O'Toole, USramps up 'terrorism' fight in Mauritania, Al Jazeera – English, July 14, 2014 
Citing shared goals of peace and security, the United States last month gave Mauritania a $21m pair of military aircraft outfitted with advanced surveillance equipment.
The gift came as senior staff from US Africa Command, which advances US security interests on the continent, met with Mauritania's defence minister and army chief of staff to discuss methods of strengthening counter-terrorism.
The US has provided some form of security assistance to Mauritania for decades, having established its embassy in the capital Nouakchott in 1962.
But cooperation between the two countries deepened in recent years, amid a growing threat from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The benefits are mutual: In exchange for access to US resources, Mauritania presents the US with a strategic asset in its ongoing "war on terror", experts say.
"Mauritania is a base for upsetting regional stability in West Africa, and that could have repercussions on the United States," Jacob Zenn, an African affairs analyst with the Jamestown Foundation, told Al Jazeera. "Historically a lot of the key militants in the Sahel … have come from Mauritania, [so] a strong Mauritania that has security over its borders and stability within the country is a plus for the entire region."


Mali clashes leavesmore than 30 dead, Al Jazeera – English, July 14, 2014
More than 30 people have been killed in clashes in the desert of northern Mali, the army and Tuareg rebels said, just days before the start of internationally-brokered peace talks.
An army source told the Reuters news agency on Sunday that 37 people had been killed in clashes which began on Friday in the northern desert area between Gao and Kidal. The army blamed the violence on infighting between rebels.
Peace talks between Mali government officials and Tuareg rebels are due to start in Algeria on Wednesday, the first meeting since clashes took place in the Tuareg stronghold of Kidal in May in which some 50 Malian soldiers were killed.
The army source said those killed in the most recent clashes were from the main Tuareg separatist group National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and a group of northern Malian Arabs called Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA).
MNLA spokesman Mohamed Ag Attaye, however, said in a statement that 35 were killed from the Malian army and other "militias" and blamed government forces for starting the attack. (...)


BAMAKO, Mali -- France said Sunday that it was reorganizing its forces in Mali and surrounding countries into a single regional body focused on battling terrorists in northwestern Africa.
The announcement came just days before the start of peace talks to end Mali's separatist rebellions.
''It's a regional operation to ensure the security of the area and prevent jihadist groups from emerging again,'' the French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said on Europe 1 radio. France has 1,700 troops in Mali, but under the new plan about 3,000 French soldiers, based in Mali, Chad and Niger, will become part of a regional counterterrorism operation.
France sent troops last year to Mali, a former colony, to halt advances by Islamist militants. The militants had hijacked an uprising by Tuareg separatists and occupied much of northern Mali in 2012 before being driven back by French troops.
The fighters scattered across the Sahara's mountains and sand dunes but have carried out a string of attacks on both United Nations and Malian forces.(...)


EU launches new security mission in Mali, PANAPRESS - Pan African News Agency, July 14, 2014
Bamako, Mali (PANA) - The European Union (EU) has launched a new security mission in Mali, called EUCAP SAHEL, Mali, to assist the Malian authorities in the training of their police officers, gendarmerie and the national guard, sources from the EU office in Mali told PANA on Monday.
According to the sources, the EUCAP SAHEL, Mali will promote the sector of public safety in Mali with support to the efforts already made by other international partners, like "EUTM-Mali", MINUSMA and other partners.
The sources said that the planned training programmes will globally enable the African country to exercise its sovereignty.
They will also contribute to establishing a modernized interior security sector which is expected to stabilize the country.
EUCAP SAHEL will also reinforce and advise the security forces with a view to improving their operational efficiency, strengthen the role played by administrative and judicial authorities in the management and control of their missions and facilitate their deployment in Northern Mali.
The mission will operate in addition to the European EUTM which has the mission to reorganize the Malian armed forces.

July 13

France said Sunday its military offensive that freed northern Mali from the grip of Islamists would be replaced by an operation spanning the wider, largely lawless Sahel region to combat extremist violence.
The so-called Serval offensive kicked off in January last year when French troops came to the help of Malian soldiers to rid the country's vast desert north from Islamists and Tuareg rebels who seized control after a coup.
France had initially planned to put an end to Serval and redeploy troops to the Sahel region in May but a fresh bout of clashes between rebels and the army in the flashpoint northern town of Kidal forced Paris to delay the pull-out.
"The president wanted a reorganisation of our troops in the (Sahel) zone," Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday in a television interview.
He said French-led Serval had been successful. "Now there is a concern for us and for the countries in the area to make sure there is no upsurge (in terrorism) as there are still major risks that jihadists will develop in the zone that goes from the Horn of Africa to Guinea-Bissau."
The new operation, codenamed Barkhan, will kick off in the coming days and is being implemented in partnership with five countries in the Sahel-Sahara region, Le Drian said, without detailing which nations these were.
He added the operation would consist of around 3,000 soldiers supported by drones, helicopters and fighter jets.
Le Drian did not mention what nationality the troops would be, but he had said in May that this "counter-terrorism" operation would consist of 3,000 French soldiers who would be present in northern Mali, the north of Niger and in Chad.
"The aim is to prevent what I call the highway of all forms of traffics to become a place of permanent passage, where jihadist groups between Libya and the Atlantic Ocean can rebuild themselves, which would lead to serious consequences for our security," Le Drian said.
"It's our security which is at stake."

July 11

Seven fighters loyal to Malian army killed by Azawads, Sahara Media news agency website, July 11, 2014 (via BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political)
Secretary-general and the official responsible for foreign relations at the supreme council of the unity of Azawad Abbas Ag Intalla has said that seven fighters at least who were loyal to the Malian army had been killed in the battles which raged today, Friday [11 July].
In an exclusive statement to Sahara Media, Ag Intalla pointed out that they had identified seven bodies belonging to militia members who participated in the attack on Kidal last May alongside the Malian army.
He added that the `militias which belonged to Mali' had launched this morning an attack on the positions of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the Azawad Arab Movement (the northern wing) but that "the movements had repulsed their attack and inflicted heavy losses in terms of lives and equipment on them", as he said.
Ag Intalla, who is the son the leader of the Ivogas tribes Intalla Ag Taher, added: "For our part, we tried several times to maintain the ceasefire and to negotiate with these militias by all means, but we did not succeed".
The Azawad leader considered what had taken place to be a flagrant violation of the truce which was signed in Kidal last May under the auspices of Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz.
He added: "We reserve our full rights to defend ourselves and to protect our land and people alongside the national and Arab movements and we announce our total support for and participation in any decision or position to be taken in this respect". 


The Economic Partnership Agreement involves the EU and its member states, 16 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
The EPA establishes a partnership based on common objectives, asymmetrical obligations – in West Africa's favour – and joint institutions including a Council, an EPA implementation committee, a Parliamentary Committee and a civil society forum.
West Africa accounts for 40% of total trade between the EU and all the ACP regions. The EU supplies a large part of the equipment that contributes to the economic growth and development in the region. European annual exports are worth approximately €30 billion. West African exports towards the EU account for €42 billion. The agreement should increase this figure even more in favour of our African partners.
The EU Economic Partnership Agreements, which aim to help creating a "virtuous circle" of growth, stem from the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU and countries of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). The regional negotiations with West Africa started in October 2003 and were concluded in February 2014.

July 7

Esteban Villarejo, Spain strenghtens military presence in Africa, Spanish newspaper ABC website, on 7 July (via BBC Monitoring Europe - Political)
A police helicopter in a hangar at Dakar International Airport, ready for patrol, military missions in the Central African Republic, Somalia or Mali; two air transport operations in support of France in 15 African countries; Navy's participation in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean, or the presence of a prime minister at an African union summit - whose host was Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang - are some proofs of how Africa has become especially relevant for Spain's geostrategic interests in recent years.
Before a military audience at the Higher Centre for National Defence Studies (CESEDEN), Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy referred to the importance of the African continent in the following terms: "Political instability and the poor economic prospects for a large part of the population in these countries are factors that have a direct impact on the Sahel region's security and can affect Spain and Europe."
Al-Qa'idah-linked jihadist groups in the vast Sahel region, Boko Haram's terrorism in Nigeria, increasing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, and destabilizing factors in countries like Libya and Syria - they also use the North African illegal immigration route - are pushing the migratory pressure towards the Mediterranean, turning these facts into the main security concerns for Italy or Spain, whose National Security Strategy (2013) identified these areas as a priority.
That is why the Spanish Government, headed by Prime Minister Rajoy, will propose opening a "southern" front at the next NATO summit in Cardiff (which will be held on 4 and 5 September), so that NATO will not focus its entire attention on the Ukraine crisis and the resulting panic that it has unleashed in NATO member states, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland or Romania.
"Endemic Threats"
"Spain will contribute and has already offered a package of capabilities to strengthen NATO's presence in these eastern European countries: air patrols, a frigate, or the High Readiness Headquarters in Betera, which is ready to lead join NATO operations; however, we also want that NATO's southern flank be considered a priority for NATO's interests," Defence Ministry sources pointed out.
At the next NATO summit in Cardiff, which should also illuminate a future for the new "Resolute Support" mission in Afghanistan, a new NATO that stands up to the threat posed by Russia and other unstable areas will be defined for the umpteenth time and all this with a reduced defence budget that is being kept low because of the financial crisis: for example, Spain has cut its defence budget by 32 per cent since 2008.
Defence Minister Pedro Morenes highlighted this concern at a joint news conference with NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe US General Philip Breedlove, who attended a preparatory meeting, on Wednesday [2 July]: "It is very important that NATO keep an eye on the endemic threats in the southern flank and all the Mediterranean coast towards the east, the Sahel region, and the Gulf of Guinea. A weak flank is a threat to the entire organization," the Spanish defence minister stressed.
Earlier, he had pointed out that the next NATO summit in Cardiff would be "the most important summit since 1991, with NATO at the crossroads . . . with Eastern Europe, Syria or Iraq. We have to define what NATO is, its mission, and its capabilities."
More than 400 troops
Coinciding with the withdrawal of the Spanish troops from Afghanistan - Spain has gone from deploying 1,300 troops in Afghanistan to having 300 troops, which are now deployed in Herat and Kabul, Spain's military geostrategic interest has shifted towards Africa, where 400 troops are deployed in seven countries, apart from the patrols in the Indian Ocean and the cooperation with western African navies.
This Spanish initiative, following in the footsteps of France and the EU-led missions in Mali and the Central African Republic, seeks to bring stability to a key region in order to also put an end to the illegal immigration routes, because the illegal immigration mafias are taking advantage of the porous borders - practically nonexistent - of Mauritania, Algeria or Libya to send thousands of people to the EU.
"Flows of refugees or immigrants" is the term that NATO uses to refer to the great security and human challenge that the southern countries are facing. "The best possible response" will also be discussed at the NATO summit in Cardiff, General Breedlove pointed out, but any NATO mission in the southern flank has been ruled out for the time being.


(...) Resolute will benefit from increased production at the Syama [gold] mine in Mali, namely from the new parallel oxide processing plant which is expected to be commissioned in January 2015, partially offsetting the above falls.
The increase in waste removal volumes at Syama in FY2015 is the main driver for the increase in expected All-In-Sustaining costs for that year. However, the current Life of Mine plan at Syama forecasts this to reduce in subsequent years.(...)


Kamerbrief verlenging en wijziging mandaat Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
Brief van minister Timmermans (BZ), minister Ploumen (Buitenlandse Handel en Ontwikkelingssamenwerking), minister Hennis-Plasschaert (Def) en minister Opstelten (VenJ) aan de Tweede Kamer over verlenging en wijziging mandaat MINUSMA.

July 6

Malian opposition said concerned over handling of crisis in north, Radio France Internationale 06 Jul 14 (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political)
The beginning of the talks between the government and the armed groups in northern Mali, which has been announced, is being waited for still. The democratic and republican opposition parties have expressed great concern over the management of the crisis in the north by the president of the republic and the government.
The Malian opposition is asking President IBK [Ibrahim Boubacar Keita] to consult the local political class, the stakeholders, with the aim of coming out with a platform and a national vision before beginning the discussions with the armed groups of northern Mali. The talks are in principle expected to take place in Algeria before the end of this month.
The opponents of the Malian government have a message on the choice of this neighbouring country and the choice of other countries to play the role of facilitator for the resolution of the crisis. The message is quote and unquote, we are urging the brotherly and friendly countries to avoid any haste that is likely to compromise the future. Plainly, it is a Malian crisis and inter-Malian dialogue must be the absolute key for resolving the issue.
On its part, the ruling majority explains that, on the issue of negotiations, the opposition will, in one way or another, be involved in the formulation of the national strategy. It also asserted that unlike what the Malian opposition is saying on the issue of the north, the state has a vision. The aim is to make peace with the armed groups in the north, move quickly towards negotiations and to concessions. As a Malian minister summarised it, quote and unquote, you will see that the negotiation process will be speeded up very soon.

July 3

Evert Brouwer, Veilig onderkomen, Materieel Geien, 3 julio 2014

Over onderkomens Nederlandse militairen in Mali.

July 1

Christopher F Foss, Roll out: mapping the appetite for wheeled artillery, July 2014 Jane’s International Defence Review
The CAESAR 155 m m /52 calibre SP artillery system was originally developed by Nexter Systems as a private venture but has since been adopted by four countries. The French Army has taken delivery o f 5 + 72 CAESARs, all based on a Renault Trucks Defense Sherpa 6x6 cross-country truck chassis, which can be fitted w ith a modular armour package. Those CAESARs have seen operational deployment by the French Army in Afghanistan, Lebanon and most recently Mali.


In 2014, Mali has fallen off most news agendas, replaced by more urgent and potentially more devastating conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic. (...)


Mali: Mali will not yield any military base to France, says Malian PM, PANAPRESS- Pan African News Agency, July 1, 2014
Bamako, Mali (PANA) - "Mali will not yield any military bases to France," the Malian local media quoted Moussa Mara, the Malian Prime Minister, as saying while referring to the Franco-Malian military cooperation agreement.
They said Mara made the statement during a tour of the Sikasso region.
According to Mara, the military cooperation agreement is not a defence pact and so the question of a military base is ruled out.
He said, "this document is not intended to yield any Malian military base to the French army. It aims to provide a legal framework for the presence of the French military in Mali since the launch of the Serval operation in January 2012," noting that it is also a recognition of the efforts that France has made to save Mali, when rebels and drug traffickers occupied the northern part of the country in 2012.
Mara said there is nothing new in this agreement which had existed since 1985 under former Malian president, Gen. Moussa Traoré.
"It had to be renewed through the inclusion of new provisions to enable the French army to continue its operations against terrorism which is a threat to all the countries of the Sahel," he said


Baku-APA. At least one United Nations peacekeeper was killed and six others injured in Mali on Monday when their vehicle struck a land mine in the north of the country, a U.N. spokesman said, APA reports quoting Reuters.

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)