zaterdag 4 januari 2014

Mali in the press (jan. 2014)

Op deze pagina korte stukjes uit de pers over ontwikkelingen in Mali in 2014. De meest algemene en breed gerapporteerde kwesties worden niet opgenomen. Waar mogelijk is een url toegevoegd.

Ook verschenen Mail in de pers:
februari, maart, april, May, June July,

31 Jan.

At this meeting, the Monarch reiterated the constant concern of the Kingdom of Morocco to preserve the territorial unity and stability of the Republic of Mali, as well as the need to contribute to a solution and a compromise that would help fight the fundamentalist and terrorist organizations that threaten the Maghreb countries and the Sahel, and promote the development and dignity of the people of Mali, the same source added.
On this occasion, His Majesty the King encouraged the MNLA to continue to take part in the regional dynamics, initiated by the United Nations and ECOWAS, as a realistic and efficient approach to reach a final and lasting solution to the current crisis.
The Sovereign also reiterated the continued commitment of Morocco to working to achieve a solution to the crisis in Mali, given the historical ties between the Republic of Mali and the Kingdom, and the particular interest of His Majesty the King in the promotion of relations of brotherhood, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries.
The meeting was attended by foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar, and director of studies and documentation, Yassine El Mansouri.
Morocco; HM the King Receives Secretary General of National Movement for Liberation of Azawad in Marrakech, Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat), January 31, 2014


Kamp bouwen bij 47 graden: In Mali zijn Nederlandse militairen begonnen met de bouw van kamp Castor. Op 450.000 m² savanne bouwen ze een complete militaire basis voor de Nederlandse hoofdmacht van MINUSMA. De bouwomstandigheden zijn niet ideaal. Lees verder...
Defensiekrant, Jaargang 1, Nummer 2, 31 januari 2014

30 Jan.

Addis Ababa, 30 January (ARI) - Pierre Buyoya, high representative for Mali and the Sahel and former Burundi president, has warned Africa and the international community that rebels who withdrew from Mali are resting and arming themselves in southern Libya so that they can once again launch attacks on Mauritania, Mali and Niger. "The rebels are a permanent threat to Sahel's security. Mali 's neighbouring countries must cooperate and organize themselves to deal with this scourge, " he said at a press conference on the eve of the African heads of state summit.
Rebels "arming in southern Libya", preparing to attack Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Rwandan news agency RNASource: RNA news agency, Kigali, in French 0000 gmt 30 Jan 14 (via BBC-World Service)
28 Jan.
A SOLDIER helping in the battle against al-Qaeda has been handed an on-the-spot "field promotion" by the head of the British Army - the first of its kind in more than 60 years.
General Sir Peter Wall ordered Rifleman Gigar Das, 31, to be bumped up by one rank after witnessing him training foreign troops fighting terrorists in West Africa.
"It is extremely unexpected, I couldn't be more proud." L Cpl Das was teaching Mali forces how to fight.
Chris Hughes, Give that man a medal; Private promoted in the field for the first time in 61 years , Daily Mirror, January 28, 2014.

27 Jan.

SRSG Bert Koenders visits the Chinese Camp in Gao. Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino


RIGA, Jan 27, BNS - Baltic and Nordic chiefs of defense are due to gather for their annual meeting in Latvia from January 28-29 to decide on closer regional defense cooperation and participation in multinational operations, BNS was told at the Latvian Defense Ministry.
Participants of the meeting, who are also scheduled to meet with Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis, will consider possible models of Baltic-Nordic cooperation in Afghanistan after 2014 when the multinational forces are planning to launch a new training operation in this country.
Other issues on the meeting's agenda include the situation in Africa, cooperation of Baltic and Nordic armed forces in the EU training mission in Mali and other possible areas of multinational operations.
Baltic, Nordic chiefs of defense to meet in Latvia, Baltic News Service / - BNS, January 27, 2014
The 2nd BCT has sent about 2,500 soldiers to Africa. There are about 100 regular Army soldiers permanently stationed in sub-Saharan Africa, and 1,140 soldiers are receiving hostile fire pay for Africa deployments, according to an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

For South Sudan, the Army sent soldiers to support the State Department to secure the US Embassy. For Mali, they trained African peacekeepers preparing to intervene. (...)

“We will likely continue with a balance of exercises, security cooperation and assistance, and helping African partners — along with having to do it ourselves or supporting allies.” With Mali, which saw a coup in 2012, followed by French intervention, soldiers from the 2nd BCT have been supporting French and international efforts. The soldiers, working with US Air Force planes ferrying troops, have been providing movement control and handling cargo over deployments of a few days each.

More recently, soldiers trained a battalion in Niger to conduct peacekeeping operations in Mali and have begun training a battalion in Guinea. 


Oklo Resources (OKU) returned some promising gold intercepts from Mali (its shares rose 50 per cent -- two days before the announcement, by coincidence, of course). 
Robin Bromby, Lack of surplus shows life in gold, The Australian, January 27, 2014
26 Jan

To confront the threat, “the partnership between France and the United States is indispensable” and has proven “fruitful” in recent months after French military interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic, he told an audience at a US think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The visit offered a chance for the minister to present to the Americans a new French redeployment plan for the Sahel, which calls for 3,000 troops to be stationed at four hubs in Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso.
In the French operation in Mali launched in January 2013, the Pentagon provided aerial refueling tankers, cargo aircraft and intelligence, including unmanned drone aircraft.
French Defense Minister: US 'Indispensable' Ally In Africa, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Jan. 26, 2014

25 Jan.

FRENCH forces have killed at least 11 suspected Islamist fighters and seized large amounts of weapons and ammunition during an operation in Mali’s northern region of Timbuktu.
A French army source in Mali said: “The operation was carried out on Wednesday night around 100km north of Timbuktu.
“Eleven terrorists were killed and one French soldier was wounded.”
A source at the Malian defence ministry in Bamako said French forces were carrying out operations in the region against Islamist militants, using air and ground troops. A French-led offensive last January drove out Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali. However, some fighters linked to al Qaeda are still holding out in pockets of territory in a north, a year after the offensive.
French kill 11 Islamists in Mali push, January 25, 2014, The Herald (Glasgow)
See also for info on targeted groups:


BAMAKO, Mali (AP) A Malian military spokesman says the northern town of Kidal has come under attack from two rockets.
Cmdr. Daouda Sagara, head of the military in the town, said his soldiers had heard two large explosions Friday night.
Sagara said he had no information about whether anyone had been wounded or killed in the attack.
Kidal and the town of Gao have repeatedly come under attack from jihadists who had ruled the region until a French-led military operation was launched one year ago.
Mali military says 2 rockets fall near Kidal, January 25, 2014, The New Zealand Herald

24 Jan.

French soldiers carried out vast two military operations in the Timbuktu Region and near the Tessalit Mountains [in the northern part of Mali of the country] in the night of Wednesday and Thursday [22 and 23 January].
The aim is to prevent the jihadist groups from regrouping. French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian disclosed yesterday [23 January] that the [terrorism] risks did not disappear totally from that part of the African continent.
On the other hand, African organizations said that mercenaries from Libya recently swelled the ranks of the radical Islamists in Mali.
French troops mount major anti-jihadist campaign in northern Mali, Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French 24 Jan 14, (via BBC Worldwide Monitoring January 25, 2014).

23 Jan.
Briefing the Council earlier this month, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, Bert Koenders, said UN Member States have pledged around 90 per cent of the authorized troops, personnel and equipment to MINUSMA – among them China, El Salvador and the Netherlands.
They should be on the ground by the end of spring, beginning of the summer, he said. The Mission currently contains 5,488 of the anticipated 11,200 military personnel; 71 out of 320 police officers; and 883 out of 1,120 Formed Police Units (FPU) elements.
Mali: withterrorists regrouping, Security Council urges full deployment of ‘blue helmets’, UN News Service, 23 January 2014


[Presenter] Qatar will always stand with Mali to help it preserve its integrity and national unity. The statement is of Qatari minister of defence who had a head-to-head meeting with the head of state. The talks have essentially revolved around reinforcing security cooperation between the two countries. Special envoys to Doha report.
[Reporter] Mali and Qatar have decided to reinforce their cooperation in terms of defence and security. The topic was at the heart of a long head-to-head meeting between the president of the republic and the defence minister of Qatar. The two countries intend to very soon implement a program proposed by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The aim is to accompany Mali to preserve its integrity and national unity. Qatar has committed itself to this end, reassures Hamad Bin-Ali al-Attiyah, defence minister of Qatar.
[Al-Attiyah] We are very happy to find that Mr President of the republic has a vision, a very wise vision for the long run relating to his ambitions for Mali and its presence on the international stage. This is a source confidence for us. So, we have noted that the priorities of Mr President of the republic is his concern to preserve, at every any cost, the national unity by achieving reconciliation, but also to ensure the respect, forever, of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the republic of Mali in addition to development.
In view of the head-to-head talks HE Mr President had with HH the emir, firm instructions and directives have been given about the mechanism and timetable of action to be carried out in order to help our brothers in Mali to reinforce and strengthen friendship and brotherly ties between the peoples of Mali and Qatar. So, we have received firm instruction from HH the emir in order to reach out or hand to our brothers in Mali and accept their extended hand and explore, within the limits of our means, all possible ways to boost this bilateral relation and cooperation. So, we have been honoured to receive Mr President of the republic this morning to start the programme as designed and according to the instructions of HH the emir yesterday regarding Mali.
[Reporter] The discussions continued around a lunch banquet offered to the president and his delegation by the Qatari minister of defence. The meeting ended with exchanges of gifts between the two delegations.
Mali president, Qatari defence minister discuss security cooperation, ORTM TV, Bamako, in French 2000 gmt 23 Jan 14 (via BBC Worldwide Monitoring, January 24, 2014)

22 Jan.

It seems that, in order to give France a helping hand, some sort of exchange is being considered. To make it possible for France to send additional troops to the Central African Republic, the German Bundeswehr will step up its commitment in Mali. This is where Germany could provide greater help, according to Foreign Minister Steinmeier.

France has been active in Mali since January 2013 with an offensive mission to push back rebels who had taken control of the north. The Bundeswehr has been present in Mali since Spring 2013, with a mandate to train Malian forces (as part of the European Union's EUTM mission) and also to provide the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with air transport and refueling.
170 Bundeswehr soldiers are currently stationed in Mali. If their training mission were to be extended, the Bundeswehr could send in more soldiers who could take over security duties in the capital Bamako and at the training camp in Koulikoro.
Christian Democratic (CDU) parliamentarian and foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter thinks it would be right to extend the Bundeswehr mission in Mali. "The EU intervention has stabilized Mali. Now it's time for us ease the burden of our French partners, who want to deploy in the Central African Republic, together with other EU forces," Kiesewetter told DW.
This could be decided on in the coming weeks when the Bundestag debates an extension of the mandate for the mission in Mali which runs out at the end of February.
Germany to bolster its presence inAfrica, Deutche Welle, 22 January, 2014


Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita arrived in Qatar for a three-day official visit yesterday evening.
No details were provided on the programme of the visit. However, according to Malian television, the visit is aimed at giving further boost to the economic cooperation between the two countries.
This meeting is taking place two days after the Malian president's visit to Algeria which centred on reconciliation between the government and the armed groups in the northern part of Mali.
Malian leader begins three-day visit to Qatar, Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French 0530 gmt 22 Jan 14 (via BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 23 January, 2014)

21 Jan.

In Mali, a vehicle belonging to the UN mission MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali], blew up on hitting a landmine yesterday [20 January].
The anti-personnel mine was laid on the road to Aguelhoc, at an area that is located about 30km from Kidal in the far north-eastern part of the country. Some five peacekeepers were injured slightly in the accident.
According to a report by the UN that was published at the beginning of January, the anti-personnel mine services of the UN is coordinating activities of nine teams from organisations in the region with the aim of clearing the mines in Timbuktu, Gao, Mopti and Segou in the central western part of the country.
Five hurt after UN vehicle hits landmine in northeast, Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French 0330 gmt 21 Jan 14 (via BBC Worldwide Monitoring January 22, 2014)


PARIS (AP) — France will broaden its military presence in Africa's turbulent Sahel region with specialized new outposts to better fight the terror threat from extremist groups such as al-Qaida, the defense minister said Tuesday.(...)
The minister expects to detail the initiative to U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and national security adviser Susan Rice, during a trip to Washington this week. France has worked closely with U.S. forces to try to fight extremism in Africa.(...)
Under the plan, Chad's capital, N'Djamena, will be a hub of French air power in the region and a base for Rafale and Mirage fighters. A site in Niamey, Niger's capital, will be equipped with unmanned aircraft such as France's Harfang and — as of its first official flight on Monday — a U.S.-made Reaper surveillance drone that Le Drian helped authorize France to buy.
Jamey Keaten, France to up Africa military presence, AP, 21 January, 2014

20 Jan.

Algeria and Mali have reiterated their support for a "mutually acceptable political solution" to the question of Western Sahara "in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly ."
In a joint statement on Sunday following the visit of friendship and work by Malian president to Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita affirmed their "support for the efforts of the UN Secretary- General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and his Personal Envoy , Mr. Christopher Ross, to find a mutually acceptable political solution in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly. "
Algeria; Western Sahara - Algeria and Mali Support Political Solution Acceptable to Both Parties, Sahara Press Service (El Aaiun), January 20, 2014
19 Jan.

The Malian foreign minister said that those movements "made a request directly to the Algerian government which immediately informed the Malian government which welcomed the endeavour".
He added: "The Algerian mediation between the gunmen and the Malian government aims at facilitating a dialogue between Malians." He stressed that "some movements have responded favourably and others will join the others," to complete last June's Ouagadougou talks between the Malian authorities and the Tuareg rebels.
Commenting on his Malian counterpart's response, Lamamra said that the talks between the rebel movements in northern Mali were at a "preliminary" stage and explained: "We have not yet reached the stage at which we could actually say that the dialogue between Malians has been revived." He stressed that Algeria and Mali had agreed that the dialogue between Malians would be held in Bamako. He described the preliminary talks as "positive" and "promising", and said they constituted an "initial stage" which would be followed by other stages in which new players may take part.
In what seemed like absolving Algeria of any responsibility for contacting the armed movements, Lamamra stressed: "Algeria briefed all the neighbouring countries and regional and international partners on the preliminary talks" and categorised the Malian president's visit as recognition of the Algerian efforts.
(…) In reply to a question on drones flying in Algerian air space near the Tunisian border and the truth about the presence of [US] Marines military bases along the Algerian border with Tunisia, Lamamra said: "There are no foreign forces in Algerian territory and, according to our information, there are no drones on the Tunisian side."
In reply to a question on the fate of the Algerian diplomats who were abducted in Mali about two years ago, he gave the old reply without any details, and said: "The Algerian diplomats are alive and "well" and I hope they would not be held for long and that they would be released very soon."
Algeria to mediate between Malian rebels and government, Echourouk El Youmi website, Algiers, in Arabic 19 Jan 14 (via BBC Worldwide Monitoring January 20, 2014)
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal held today talks with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who is paying a work and friendship visit to Algeria. These talks were extended later to include the members of the two countries delegations.
Algerian prime minister, Malian president hold talks, Algerian radio, Algiers, in Arabic 19 Jan 2014 (via BBC Worldwide Monitoring)


One prominent Morocco-based al Qaeda expert, who has interviewed former and current leaders of AQIM in Mauritania, said there are even signs the group is preparing to recapture lost territory northern Mali once the French leave.
"The strategy that people told me in Mauritania was that they always withdraw to Libya where they can hide and wait for the French to leave," said Djalil Lounnas, an Algerian researcher at the University of Montreal's Center for International Peace and Security Studies.(...)
The Tuareg are a nomadic desert people spread across the Sahara throughout Mali, Niger, Libya, Algeria and Mauritania. With no state of their own, they have mounted revolts for independence numerous times over the past decades. While their rootlessness and grievances make them receptive to al Qaeda's message, their deep knowledge of the terrain make them an invaluable resource for a terror network seeking to rebuild in hiding.

Paul Schemm, After being driven out of Mali, desert provides al Qaeda refuge, The Associated Press, January 19, 2014  

18 Jan.

Stephen McFaul hoped his end would come quick, as he feared bleeding to death. The west Belfast man believed he was about to be blown up by Islamic extremists in a land far away from home. (...) "They wanted us to relay the message they want the military to pull back from the immediate area, they want to have safe passage from the facility to the In Amenas airport, and from there they want to take us, the hostages, to north Mali, which is the area they now control."
Clare Graham, Terrorists. Tied me to a bomb. I thought:: I just hope it's quick, January 18, 2014, Belfast Telegraph
BAMAKO,(AP) Tuareg rebels withdrew from negotiations with Mali's government scheduled to take place in Algeria this week over fears their political grievances wouldn"t be addressed, a spokesman said Friday, highlighting continuing tension between the two sides.
Mali's Tuareg rebels abandon Algeria-hosted talks, January 18, 2014, The New Zealand Herald

17 Jan.

Now we bring to you this information. The former Islamic judge of Timbuktu, the man called Houka Houka Ag Alfousseyni, has just been arrested by the Malian armed and security forces. The men of Col Keba Sangare, the commander of Timbuktu military operations, have arrested him in Essakane Sector where he was hiding. In the city of the 333 Saints residents are rejoicing for the arrest and congratulating the soldiers for the brave undertaking.
Malian army arrests former Islamist judge of Timbuktu, Source: ORTM TV, Bamako, in French 17 Jan 14, BBC Worldwide Monitoring (January 20, 2014)


China has sent a troop of 395 peacekeepers to the United Nations mission in Mali, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.
Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing that the troop is composed of 170 security personnel, 155 military engineers and 70 medical staff. All of them have been deployed.
China helps keep peace in Mali, Xinhua,January 17, 2014


Algeria's army has put its troops on alert in the south in response to security warnings over imminent armed attacks, coinciding with the first anniversary of the assault on the In Amenas gas complex, Al-Jazeera reported on 16 January.
Troops were placed on alert on Algeria's eastern border with Libya and on its borders with Niger and Mali, according to an Algerian security source.
Al-Jazeera also reported that Algeria troops killed three gunmen while they were monitored trying to cross in a four-wheel-drive vehicle into Ouch Bachir, an area between the southern provinces of Adrar, Ghardaia and El Bayedh.
Algeria's army reportedly on alert on anniversary of gas plant attack, Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 16 Jan 14 (via BBC Monitoring Middle East – Political, January 17, 2014)

16 Jan.

Africom on Facebook:
In a joint effort, the U.S. has flown multiple missions moving personnel and equipment to support French operations in Mali. In addition, the U.S. is providing aerial-refueling capabilities.
U.S. Army Africa · 8.354 mensen vinden dit leuk, 16 januari 2014


The yearlong U.S. Air Force operation over Mali in support of the French mission there is set to continue for the immediate future, officials said.
Adam L. Mathis, No end in sight for 1-year-old Air Force mission over Mali, Stars and Stripes, January 16, 2014. ***

15 Jan.

Par Michel Luntumbue Avec la participation d’Oswald Padonou, 15 janvier 2014, a booklet by groupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité (GRIP), pp. 16.

13 Jan.

The expanded PLAN [People's Liberation Army Navy] presence in MENA [the Middle East and North Africa] is part of the overall broadening of PLAN contributions to international security operations, including the deployment of servicemen to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) - marking the first time the PLAN deployed security forces for peacekeeping operations, albeit for the purpose of providing area security for MINUSMA headquarters and living areas of the peacekeepers. 
Koi Kye Lee, China's navy expanding global role, January 13, 2014, New Straits Times (Malaysia)


[correspondent Christine Muratet] According to the HCR, there are still 185,000 Malian refugees in the neighbouring countries and that only 14,000 chose to return home. The United Nations refugee agency expressed optimism despite everything. A tripartite agreement is being prepared between the HCR, Mali and the host countries so as to aid the refugees to return to their villages or their camps in total safety. But the representative of the HCR in Bamako, Marie Antoinette Okimba-Bousquet, acknowledged that whole areas are still difficult o be reached.
[Okimba-Bousquet] There are some areas that are perfectly safe. On the contrary, in some areas where there is no access and where the security conditions are not met, we cannot encourage the people to return to these regions.
[Muratet] This is the same feeling that a Malian of the Arab Berrabiche community has. He is now living with his family in the M'Bere camp in Mauritania after seeking refuge for a time in Burkina Faso. His house is in Lere [which is a small town and rural commune of the District of Nianfunke in the Timbuktu Region], which is not far from there. Yet he refuses to return because, he said, he does not have any confidence. Some Malian soldiers took advantage of his absence to settle illegally in his house.
[Malian refugee] They broke down my door and entered my house without my permission. How am I going to return home? Where is the confidence? If there is an investigation into the killings of the people in the north, there will be confidence between the government and the people. There will not be any confidence, if there is no investigation. [Muratet] In a report, the International Crisis Group said that the Malian state lost its credibility before a big number of the people of the northern part of the country and that it is late for the moment demonstrating its ability to restore the basic services in these areas. Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French, 13 January 2014, (Via BBC World Service). Vet door Broekstukken

12 Jan.

[Presenter] President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, is since this morning in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on a 72-hour working and friendship and visit. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is accompanied by his spouse, several members of the government, economic operators and notables. Talks about exchanges and bilateral cooperation, notably security and economy will top agenda. The president o the republic will also visit number of development infrastructures. Our special envoys Ibrahima Traore, Demba Ouane and Ibrahim Coulibaly have the story.
Mali president discusses economy, security issues with Mauritanian counterpart, Via BBC World Nes 12jan. 2014 (Excerpt from report by Malian state-owned ORTM TV on 10 January)


Three United Nations peacekeepers were hurt in a gunfight while they were pursuing suspects near a military camp in Mali.
A rocket attack took place on Friday evening in Aguel'hoc, and a battalion of Chadian peacekeepers were out on patrol searching for the assailants, UN spokesman Olivier Salgado said.
The peacekeepers exchanged fire with gunmen, resulting in three of the Chadians getting wounded.
Security remains tight in the region as al-Qaedalinked militants remain active.

3 soldiers wounded, January 12, 2014, The Sun (England)

11 Jan.

Aid agencies estimate that of northern Mali's population of 1.3 million, almost 500,000 have been displaced as a result of the crisis. Now, a year after France, the former colonial power, intervened and retook the north with the help of Chadian troops, many have still not returned. 
Charlie English Bamako, Fear keeps displaced people of Mali far from home: Rebels have been driven out but distrust, insecurity and food shortages remain, January 11, 2014, The Guardian 


From the troubled West African nations of Mali and Nigeria, through Libya and on to Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east, the perspective is one of al-Qa'ida and its proxies and affiliates on the march in a way that contradicts all the optimistic narrative of significantly weakened jihadist militancy expressed by Obama last year. It comes as a stark reminder of just what the al-Qa'ida success in Fallujah means for a world that was led to believe it had terrorism against the ropes. 
BRUCE LOUDON, Al-Qai'da's warriors rush in where Americans fear to tread, January 11, 2014, Weekend Australian

10 Jan.

The government is rekindling clientelist links with Tuareg and Arab leaders with the aim to divide and gradually weaken the armed groups. This policy is likely to bring short-term stability at the expense of long-term cohesion and inclusiveness, vital for peace and development in the troubled north. In addition, it has deepened tensions between armed groups, thus increasing the risk of new splinter groups taking up arms.
International Crisis Group (Brussels), Mali; Reform or Relapse, January 10, 2014
Includes 18 recommendations for government and armed groups.  


The MINUSMA head praised the role played by Algeria to restore stability to Mali and the region as a whole.
Algerian foreign minister, MINUSMA chief discuss developments in Mali, Algerian TV, Algiers, in Arabic 1900 gmt January 10, 2014 (via BBC World Service).

8 Jan.

CREIL, FRANCE — France will cut its troops in Mali to 1,600 by the middle of next month from the current level of 2,500, President Francois Hollande said Wednesday.
Speaking at an airbase in Creil in northern France, Hollande said the “situation is well under control” in Mali, where the “key objectives of the mission have been accomplished.”
AFP, France To Cut Troops In Mali, Says Mission Accomplished, Jan. 8, 2014 


Den Helder Vlootpersoneel in de woestijn van Mali? In eerste instantie stuurt Defensie de zeer ervaren kolonel-der-mariniers Joost de Wolf naar Afrika, maar op termijn is het ook mogelijk dat vlootpersoneel wordt ingezet. De inzet van marinemensen op het Afrikaanse vasteland klinkt als een tegenspraak in termen, maar komt vaker voor. In Afghanistan zijn de afgelopen jaren regelmatig mannen en vrouwen van het Commando Zeestrijdkrachten gestationeerd.
Arie Booy, Van de zee naar zand; Mogelijk ook vlootpersoneel op termijn naar Mali, 8 januari 2014, Noordhollands Dagblad

6 Jan.

Wat de situatie complex maakt, is dat er verschillende commandolijnen lopen door Mali. Er is de VN-missie onder verantwoordelijkheid van Koenders, maar er zijn ook duizend Fransen die zelfstandig opereren en alleen aansluiten als sprake is van acute dreiging. Daarnaast loopt er een trainingsmissie voor het Malinese leger, onder leiding van de Europese Unie. Daar doet Nederland, op een onderofficier na, niet aan mee. ,,Een complex militair landschap,'' meent Homan.
Missie in Mali komt stroef op gang, 6 januari 2014, AD/Algemeen Dagblad


Koninklijke TenCate in Almelo is 'blij verrast' over de kritiek van de militaire vakbond VBM op de mogelijke aanschaf van Chinese uniformen voor Nederlandse militairen die naar Mali worden uitgezonden. Volgens het concern kan de kritiek helpen Defensie toch nog te laten kiezen voor de TenCate-stof Defender M. "Die beschermt onze militairen veel beter." 
TenCate blij met discussie Mali-pak, 6 januari 2014,

5 Jan.

On a visit to Mali last week, Yves Le Drian, the defence minister, trumpeted the success of the intervention. "A year ago, they were torturing people and chopping off hands here," he said in a reference to the extremists.

Things may yet turn sour. Despite government assurances that France is intervening purely on humanitarian grounds or to stop terrorism, critics have accused it of "neo-colonialism" and say France is acting to protect its commercial interests and supplies from a French-run uranium mine in Niger, Mali's neighbour.

There are fears, too, of "mission creep": the French force in Mali will be reduced from 2,500 to 1,000 in the spring but that contingent will remain "for as long as necessary", Le Drian said, to "accompany" Malian forces in their battle against "terrorists". This was taken to mean that the operation could drag on indefinitely.
Matthew Campbell, Flaky French reborn as global gendarmes, The Sunday Times (London), January 5, 2014 

3 Jan.

In many African countries, the population has absolutely no say in the way the nation is run. The rulers serve their masters in American or European capitals.

Classic examples are the French speaking West African countries where the ruling elite represent the French elite and any attempt at changing the status quo is met with French military intervention.

In Mali, the Touaregs have found it had to change the government in Bamako. The French first intervened under the guise of fighting Al-Qaeda and then organized a smokescreen election to stabilize the country.

A stable Mali under the current system only benefits the ruling elites and the French. Currently, France is fighting rebels in Central African Republic (CAR) with the intention of reestablishing the old order where the citizens will have absolutely no role in the direction of their country. The story of Ivory Coast mirrors that of Mali and CAR.
Salah Abdi Sheikh, Somalia; With Its New Ruling Elite Somalia Has Lost Destiny, The Star (Nairobi), January 3, 2014

1 Jan.


Among the jihadists, "there are permanent members and occasional members, the recruitment fluctuates," observes General Guionie, number two with the Serval force. A fact that renders security even more complicated. "Our adversaries cannot be placed into particular categories. We cannot act according to this Cartesian vision," confirms Lieutenant Colonel Calvez.

Yet little by little the work of the French in the field is paying off and the inhabitants of Gao no longer hesitate in providing information on jihadist groups. Four "facilitators" - men who act as go-betweens between the militias and civilians - were arrested recently close to Timbuktu, the most recent by Malian forces.

A sure sign that the Islamist groups are still active in the region is the discovery by Serval troops near Tessalit on 29 December of a cache of five tons of ammonium nitrate, the principal component in making home-made bombs. At the beginning of the month they also discovered a fully fledged training camp in the desert with a buried service station, stocks of spare parts, pick-up trucks concealed under straw, caches of medicines, and shooting ranges. All of which was invisible from the air but a site used as recently as three days before the French hit upon it.
Laure Bretton, In Mali, French Troops Still Face Jihadist Threat, Liberation website, in French 1 January 2014


SARAH COVINGTON, Risks of targeted, January 2014 Jane’s intelligenoe Review
First filed online: 21 November 2013Despite Jouleibib’s death, recent attacks in Tombouctou and Gao indicate that jihadists are still able to operate in northern Mali.
31 Dec. 2013

Spanish Colonel Felix Eugenio Garcia Cortigo is the second head of this EU operation, with an order of battle comprising 534 officers, soldiers, and other ranks. EUTM has already trained three battalions of Mali's army. Each is made up of 700 troops. They are already fighting in the north of the country ... beyond Timbuktu. The original, 15-month, mandate of the operation ends in May. It is likely that the EU will extend it for a further 24 months. Colonel Garcia Cortijo stresses that "the operation's record, to date, is undeniably successful." The EU is already drawing a new operational plan for the period 2014-2016.

[Villarejo Villarejo] What news do you have, about Mali's battalions that have been trained?

[Garcia Cortijo] The first group (called "Waraba," meaning "lion") is operating in the north east of the country. The second ("Elou," meaning "elephant") in Kidal and Menaka, having taken part in operation "Hydra" side by side with French and UN troops. The third ("Sigui," meaning buffalo) is awaiting to be assigned a deployment zone. All reports reaching us, dealing with their behaviour, are positive.

[Villarejo Villarejo] What does the training that you provide them involve?

[Garcia Cortijo] They are tactical groups, bringing together a number of specialties: infantry, artillery, engineers, communications, logistics, commandos ... For 10 weeks, we train them gradually, from the individual combatant level to the tactical group level. Something very important for us is to insist also on morale, during the whole procedure. This includes cohesion, discipline, and combat ethics. We also insist on aspects considered to be essential, such as respect for the law and for international humanitarian law, and making Mali's military personnel aware of gender issues.
Esteban Villarejo, The Threat of Jihadism in Mali Has Not Been Neutralized, ABC website, in Spanish 31 December 2013



What role do the UN-troops of MINUSMA play in Mali at the moment?
Not a great deal, as far as I can see. They’re not a combat force, but rather seem to act as a kind of buffer between the Malian army and the Tuaregs in Kidal.


What is the situation in the north at present?
There are a lot of tensions between the Malian government on the one hand, and MINUSMA and the French forces on the other. There is this feeling that the Operation Serval troops and UN mission are there to keep the Malian army from re-entering Kidal, acting as a kind of protection for the Tuareg rebels—some of whom, such as the MNLA, quickly aligned themselves with the French against the Islamists. President Keita has accused the ‘international community’ of forcing his country to ‘negotiate on its own soil with people who have taken up arms against the state’, and called the situation in Kidal ‘unacceptable’. Meanwhile many of the Salafists who fled to other countries are now going back and forth, crossing into Mali to mount attacks and disappearing again. Unlike in Afghanistan, say, they aren’t really sheltered by the local population.
Interview, THE MALIAN CRISIS with OUSMANE SIDIBE, New Left Review 84, November-December 2013