dinsdag 1 april 2014

Mali in the press (April 2014)

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

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

The focus this month: arms smuggling to Nigeria, military organisation, new government, Jihadist tactics, (weakened) security, Morocco, Algeria,

Earlier Mali in the press blogs on: January, February, March, May, June July,

April 30

French army kills close aide of Malian Islamist chief Iyad Ag Ghaly in north, adio France Internationale on 30 April (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, May 1, 2014)
[Presenter] In Mali, several military sources announce the death of Haroune Said, who was the right-hand man of the Islamist leader, Iyad Ag Ghaly. He was killed during an operation that was carried out against the jihadists by French soldiers in the Kidal Region. This ex-army officer deserted the Malian army in 2012 and joined the ex-Tuareg rebel Iyad Ag Ghaly who leads the Ansar Eddine movement. Our correspondent Serge Daniel provides further details.
[Daniel] He was the lieutenant of the Malian Islamist leader, Iyad Ag Ghali. He was also an adventurist. Haroune Said was already on the battlefield during the Tuareg rebellion of the 1990s. Some people thought that he was going to hang up his boots when he was injured in battle, more precisely in the throat.
They were mistaken. He finally joined the ranks of the Malian regular army after the peace agreements. He would even become a company commander in the Malian locality of Diabali.
But during the new uprising of the Tuaregs in Kidal in May 2006, Haroune Said was in the movement, on the right hand of his mentor, Iyad Ag Ghali. He then returned to the ranks again during the new peace agreement before finding himself again in the nascent rebel movement in March 2012.
He chose his side very early. It is that of the Islamists. This tall first cousin of Iyad Ag Ghaly became indispensable in the Islamist mechanism of the Ansar Eddine movement.
He was at the Borisa area in the north-eastern part of Mali, which was a place where French soldiers were carrying out operations against the jihadists last weekend. Haroune Said was killed with two of his close aides.


Kevin Michael Grace, Duncan Hughes'Quartet of High-Grade Winners, The Gold Report,  30 april 2014
The Gold Report (TGR): You called Papillon s Fekola gold project in Mali "good." How good is it?
Duncan Hughes of RFC Ambrian (DH) : It would be difficult to find another junior gold project as good as Fekola. It has 5.15 million ounces (5.15 Moz) at 2.4 grams per ton (2.4 g t) with good metallurgy and low strip ratios. It could be mined from one open pit and recent company work has suggested that there may be opportunities for shallow satellite pits as well. Production is forecast to begin in 2017: 320 000 oz per year over the first 11 years at an all in cost of $740 oz.
And Papillon has strong management. Mark Connelly is the CEO. He worked at Adamus and has developed projects from exploration through to production. The non executive chairman Ian Middlemas has a strong track record of developing projects to the point of being taken out. Fekola is close to Randgold s 17.9 Moz Loulo Gounkoto projects AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. s (AU:NYSE ANG:JSE AGG:ASX AGD:LSE) 13.1 Moz Sadiola project and Endeavour s 3.8 Moz Segala Tabakoto project. Given Middlemas track record I would say that Papillon has to be a target.
TGR: Could you compare Papillon to another company operating in Mali Legend Gold Corp. (LGN:TSX.V)?
DH: Legend s Tiekoumala project is at a much earlier stage than Fekola and has 590 000 oz (590 Koz) Indicated and Inferred. Legend has just announced a joint venture agreement with Randgold on seven of its permits. Randgold is of course a producer with high quality assets throughout Africa.
TGR: How should investors balance potential reward and risk in West Africa specifically with regard to the various gold producing jurisdictions?
DH: Several years ago gold companies in West Africa traded at a premium because of the excellent exploration opportunities engendered by the geology. Since then markets have changed and investors have become risk averse. In Africa we have seen the Arab Spring a push for nationalization and the coup in Mali. These events remind investors that the African political landscape is not as secure as some other parts of the world.(...)


Lisa Jones, Rifles help Mali fight threat by insurgents, Gloucestershire Echo, April 30, 2014
A 33-strong contingent from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) has taken over from colleagues for a second six-month deployment in the West African country, where they are helping to train the army there to combat an Islamist-led counter-insurgency.
They have also been toughening up conventional military tactics such as patrolling, guarding bases and reassuring the local population - which is being tested under battle situations. The four weeks of feedback-led hot-housing has been followed by live exercises to test its effectiveness.
Officer Commanding of the Riflemen in Mali, Major Phil Bray, said: "We put them to the test and see how they react to it. I would generally say the Malians have exceeded our expectations. In that time they've progressed quickly." The aim is to build the capacity and capability of Mali's armed forces, maintain security and build long-term stability in Mali and the wider region.
The Riflemen - including five from Gloucestershire - have used the skills they used during their 2011 deployment to Afghanistan to teach their Malian counterparts how to spot improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - a threat used to devastating effect on thousands of British servicemen and women.
Maj Bray said the men had been in the country since March 6, delivering experience learned on the front line. He said: "Some of my soldiers have served in Afghanistan and they were able to tell some of their stories and use those techniques to teach the Malians. It's been really valuable. "There have been similarities between the Afghan techniques and those of the insurgents here."
He added: "As soon as they finish training with us, they go straight on operations up north, so they've got to be ready. We've only got a finite amount of time in which to do that.(...)


TUNIS: Tunisian security forces backed by jets and helicopters have begun a major operation to root out Al Qaeda-linked militants from a hideout in the Chaambi mountains bordering Algeria.
Thousands of troops have deployed in the remote area to scour the mountains, where the militants are holed up, some since a French military operation drove Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters out of Mali last year. (...)


Adam Nossiter, Letter From Africa:Keeping a Qaeda unit on the run, International New York Times, April 30, 2014
(…) French officials have expressed irritation with the new government in Mali for not pursuing more vigorously a policy of reconciliation with the perennially discontented ethnic groups of the north - the Tuareg, who allied with the jihadists in 2012 and supplied manpower for the takeover of the region's principal towns. But as long as the Tuareg show no sign of making common cause again with the Qaeda groups - and that alliance did not turn out well for them - a certain hard-headed realpolitik dictates that their complaints can be safely ignored, or at least neglected.
The same does not apply to the Qaeda affiliates. Their ruthlessness means they must be constantly watched.
''We haven't eliminated them entirely,'' the Western diplomat said. ''We are continuing to weaken them. They are under permanent observation.''
Mr. Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the spectacular and deadly attack on the gas plant at In Amenas, in southern Algeria, in January 2013, remains on the run. Yet, ''I think it would be difficult for them to do a large-scale terrorist act now,'' the diplomat added.
''When you kill 40 of them, after all, you've done some damage,'' he said. ''Their life is pretty difficult right now.''

April 29

(…) In respect to his appointment as President and CEO of the Company, Mr. Franzmann has been granted 1,000,000 incentive stock options exercisable at $0.15 per share, expiring on April 29, 2019. The Company has also agreed to grant Mr. Franzmann an additional 500,000 options once there is availability under the Company's stock option plan. 500,000 of Mr. Franzmann's incentive stock options will vest immediately; an additional 500,000 options will vest upon Mali's Minister of Mines granting AGG a Mining License for Kobada with the final 500,000 incentive stock options vesting upon the first pour of gold at Kobada. The granting of the options is subject to regulatory approval of applicable filings. (...)

About African Gold Group
African Gold Group, Inc., based in Toronto, Canada, is fully focused on transitioning from an exploration/development company into a gold producer. In conjunction with this objective, a full Feasibility Study is currently underway for AGG's Kobada Gold Project, located in south-west Mali, West Africa. The Company is projecting the Feasibility Study will be completed in Q3 2014, at which time the Company will submit an application to obtain an Exploitation License to the appropriate Malian authorities. Additional Information is available under the AGG's profile on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.africangoldgroup.com.(...)

April 28

BERN, Switzerland, April 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Today, Switzerland and the European Union have signed an agreement on Switzerland’s participation in the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali). The agreement will enable Switzerland to support EUTM Mali with civilian expertise.(...)

French Reaper Reaches 500 Flight Hoursin Mali, uasvision.com, April 28, 2014
The French Air Force has reported on April 17th  that the Reaper detachment deployed in support of Operation Serval in Mali passed the 500 hour flight milestone on 31 March.
TheFrench Air Force started deployment go of the Reaper in Mali shortly after its arrival in Africa on 16 January.
The Reaper UAV is being used as a key identification, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) asset in Mali; with operators, intelligence officers and image analysts for the system conducting missions at a steady pace since January, according to the French Air Force.
Around 1,600 French soldiers are currently deployed in Mali as part of French action against armed terrorist groups, while supporting the standing up of MINUSMA and FAMA forces.
The French Air Force is also using the Harfang UAV in Mali. In September 2013 the system had logged 2,000 flight hours in support of French operations in Mali since its deployment in January 2013.

April 27

Mali relaunches dialogue with rebelgroups, Agence France Presse -- English, April 27, 2014
Mali launched a plan on Sunday to revive stalled talks between the government and armed separatist groups, announcing a regional diplomatic tour to entice exiled rebel leaders back into the peace process.
The west African nation has been mired in ethnic violence since the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) launched a rebellion in 2012 claiming the country's vast desert north as an independent state.
"On the instructions of the president of the republic of Mali, anxious to make peace, we have developed a plan to resume dialogue and negotiations between all the sons of Mali," National Reconciliation Minister Zahabi Ould Sidy Mohamed told AFP.(...)


Keith Johnson, China's AfricanAdventure, Foreign Policy, April 27, 2014
(…) Beijing has already sharply ramped up its participation in U.N. peacekeeping activities and other international endeavors that it once denounced as interference in the sovereign affairs of other states. China is the biggest single contributor of U.N. peacekeepers, but they have almost always played support roles far from the front lines. Last year, however, China dispatched combat troops[6] to Mali to help reduce tensions in the country's restive north, a first for Beijing. (...)

April 25

Czech Defence Minister visits firstmission, arrives in Mali, CTK National News Wire,April 25, 2014
Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky is making his first visit to a military mission abroad today, when he arrived in Mali where Czech soldiers are on a training mission.
Stropnicky arrived in Mali a few days before the government debates a proposal to extend the Czech soldiers' mandate in Mali.
"The training mission in Mali is becoming one of the most important foreign operations of the EU and the Czech military," Stropnicky said after arrival in Bamako.
The Czech military is gradually withdrawing from Afghanistan, where a bigger number of Czech soldiers have been deployed in the past year.
The western armed forces' focus is now shifting to Africa more and more.
The current mandate of Czech soldiers deployed in Mali within an EU mission ends in June, but the Czechs want to continue operating in Africa.
"On Monday, I will submit to the government a proposal to extend Czech participation in the EUTM mission until the end of the year, but we would like to continue the mission in the years ahead as well," Stropnicky said.
The valid mandate counts with maximally 50 Czech soldiers in the training mission. Now there are 34 of them in Bamako in a unit that guards the command of the operation seated in Bamako's Hotel Nord Sud.
Another four soldiers are deployed at the Kati training base.
The Czechs are training local armed forces to fight Islamists in the north of the country.
Stropnicky arrived in Mali this morning and he is returning to Prague this afternoon. He is accompanied by five people from the Chamber of Deputies defence committee.
The EU will extend its training mission in Mali by two years, until May 2016. A complementary EU civilian mission to help train non-army security agencies, or police and national guards, will be launched.


Restoring Mali's military pride, UK Government, 25 April 2014

April 24

Malian official calls for new mindset in resolving northern crisis, Radio France Internationale on 24 April (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 25, 2014)
[Presenter] Mali is in the current news of this Thursday [24 April]. Former Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita is in charge of the issue of the north from now on. He has been appointed as the high representative of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for the inter-Malian inclusive dialogue, in particular with the northern Tuareg rebel movement.
Correspondent Serge Daniel, you are the RFI correspondent in Bamako. You said that he wants to go fast. He wants to hold discussions with them with the support, he said, of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and the international community. In his opinion, his assignment is clear and he is going to meet them in the next five days. His mission is clear.
[Reporter Daniel] You only have to listen to him.
[Keita] As regards my assignment, it has the ultimate aim of ending on a global and final peace agreement.
[Reporter] In order to achieve it, the former prime minister, who is known for his honesty, explained his state of mind.
[Keita] I abhor the words quote rebel groups unquote. Those who I meet are Malian citizens who have concerns. That presupposes that there should be concessions and a new change of mind.
[Reporter] Obviously, it is necessary to make things move quickly and find early responses to several issues.
[Keita] How is Mali going to organise the entire territory administratively and institutionally? How is Mali going to define an integrated development programme for the territorial collectives? And what will it do to improve governance? Finally, there is an issue of reconciliation in light of what is in existence. These are the issues.
[Presenter] The interview was granted to RFI correspondent in Bamako, Serge Daniel.


Utilico Investments Limited Interim Management Statement 31Mar14, London Stock Exchange Aggregated Regulatory News Service (ARNS), April 24, 2014The company announced a significant increase of 54.0% in ore reserves at its Syama project in Mali to 3.15 million ounces following the completion of an independent pre-feasibility study. This study supports long term gold production until at least 2025 at Syama.<

April 23

Malian ex-PM appointed to lead talks with rebels, Malian state-owned ORTM TV on 23 April (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 25, 2014)
[Presenter] Another major story of this bulletin. The president of the republic, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, has appointed former Prime Minister Modibo Keita as high representative of the head of state for inclusive inter-Malian dialogue. This took place yesterday at the council of ministers. The man who has been chosen was a retired literature professor. He was also minister of employment and public service and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation. The profile of Modibo Keita and the relationship between his entity and the National Commission on Dialogue and Reconciliation is highlighted in the following report by Ramata Konate.
[Reporter] Modibo Keita, a former prime minister from March to June 2002, is the one whom the President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has trusted to conduct the talks with the rebels. The retired literature professor of literature is well known for having held important positions in Mali from 1972 to 2002: minister of employment and public service; minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation under Moussa Troare's regime. A short time later, Modibo Keita has been Mali's ambassador to Germany, Sweden Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and Norway. He held the same position at the organizations of the United Nations system in Geneva and Vienna.
Prof. Keita had been also Secretary General of the Presidency from 1999 to 2002. The man from Koulikoro is aware of the dimensions of the mission entrusted to him form now.
[Modibo Keita, special representative of the head of state for inclusive inter-Malian dialogue] I find it an extremely important mission. But, as we say, things become difficult when we don't act. As for me, I am optimistic for a certain number of reasons. Because I have seen that the way has been paved; that a number of extremely important acquisitions have already been made; that meetings, talks have taken place and even the preliminary agreement of Ouagadougou. I think that there are undeniable acquisitions that should be welcomed and on which we have to rely in order to successfully conduct the mission, as the ultimate objective of this mission is to reach the shining of a global and final peace agreement.
[Reporter] Then, what would be the relationship between this entity and the National Commission on Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation.
[Modibo Keita] They are two different entities. The group of men and women with whom I will work will essentially focus on concluding of a global and final peace agreement. It is time-framed. It is desirable that it will not be a long-term mission, whereas the National Commission on dialogue and Reconciliation aims to re-knit the social fabric on the long run. This commission exists; anyway it has been created even if the new members have not been named. But they are paving the way. Could you imagine if we reach a peace agreement while the social fabric is not re-knitted, while there is no reconciliation, where we are heading? So, there is no contradiction between the two entities. On the contrary, we work together.
[Reporter] In addition to this cooperation, Prof Keita could draw on his humility and experience to better conduct the talks with the rebels. The man is 72 years old. He is married and father of four.

After the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, it became possible for jihadists to move almost unhindered across an immense
area. Stocks of arms from the Libyan army have fallen into their hands. Geographically, an unbroken link has been established from Mali, through Libya, to Egypt, with connected routes extending to Somalia, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai peninsula and beyond. Weapons and other goods find their way to areas where they are needed by jihadists along ancient caravan and smuggling routes across almost uncontrollable desert. It is also relatively easy for jihadists themselves to travel from Mali, say, all the way to Yemen or Syria. Despite the success French troops have had against the various
jihadist groups in Mali, they continue to pose a threat throughout the greater Sahel region. They have plenty of room there to regroup, rearm, train and prepare attacks. Aided by the political situation and modern means of communication, jihadist networks and groups are increasingly able to collaborate. Much of their joint effort at present is directed towards support for the struggle in Syria, providing personnel, money, weapons and supplies. Networks of facilitators operate out of the Gulf region, Pakistan, North Africa and Turkey.

From annual report Dutch intelligence service AIVD: https://www.aivd.nl/actueel/aivd-publicaties/@3096/annual-report-2013/


On Mali, UN Envoy Koenders on Dutch Attack Copters, Rape Probe Now "Not Finished" - But Results Foretold?, InnerCityPress, April 23, 2014 (...)
While Koenders unlike Ladsous at least purported to respond to this question, and one about Dutch attack helicopters bound for Mali, there is a lack of clarity. Beyond the "completed" investigation by Chad, is there another, UN investigation? Are there preliminary findings based on which Koenders said what he did? As with the rapes in Minova in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by DPKO's partners in the Congolese Army, we will continue to pursue this issue. Inner City Press also asked about the five Dutch helicopter's Mali's foreign minister Abdulaye Diop had told it about earlier in the morning. Koenders said, "We welcome contribution of Dutch government," specifying three Apache attack helicopters in May, and two transport helicopters in September or October. Koenders cited all information fusion, being the ears and eyes on extremist groups. Earlier, Inner City Press asked Foreign Minister Diop if such information will be shared with his government, or only within MINUSMA and its troop contributing countries. Diop said he didn't know. So this, too, will require clarification As an aside, later on April 23 the UN's envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay complained of the lack of helicopters from the AMISOM mission. It left one wondering about how the UN is run: did the Netherlands give the copters to Mali because one of its nationals is the UN's envoy there? We hope to have more on this.


Mali – Security Council, 7158th meeting (video, English)  

RT : Strong support from for efforts to build up MINUSMA, amid insecurity in north from terrorists & rising...


Bomb blast wounds UN peacekeeper in Mali: UN, Agence France Presse -- English, April 23, 2014

A roadside bomb struck a UN vehicle in northern Mali on Wednesday, wounding a peacekeeper from Guinea during a UN visit of foreign dignitaries, an official said.
The improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at around 1130 GMT at least 400 meters from the Kidal air strip, said the head of the UN mission in Mali, Albert Koenders.
"Initial reports indicated that the peacekeeper, who was in a vehicle and bumped into this IED, seriously damaged his vehicle and is now in hospital," he told reporters in New York.

April 22

Jihadist group in Mali announces death of French hostage, Agence France Presse – English, April 22, 2014
One of Mali's top jihadist groups said on Tuesday a French hostage it had kidnapped in November 2012 was dead.
The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), a splinter group of Al-Qaeda's regional branch, told AFP Gilberto Rodrigues Leal "is dead, because France is our enemy". (...)


AQLIM terrorists reportedly caught by Algerian security services, eport by Faouzi Haouamdi, entitled: "Al-Qa'idah guidance chief caught in Illizzi", by privately-owned Algerian newspaper Echourouk El Youmi website on 22 April (via BBC Monitoring Middle East – Political, April 22, 2014)
Informed sources have affirmed to Echorouk that the security services in the Illizzi governorate yesterday [21 Apr] caught a senior leader of the Sahara emirate branch of Al-Qa'idah in the land of the Islamic Maghreb [AQLIM]] who was planning to carry out selected operations in the southern region. He was the terrorist emir whose non-de-guerre is Aboulfatah El Mouritani and whose real name is Hamid Ould Daddah. He is aged 39, has Mauritanian nationality and was in charge of guidance and rationalisation within the Sahara emirate branch of AQLIM, which is led by Yahia Aboulhoumam.
According to our sources, the security services also arrested 11 other persons during the security operation including Algerians and other foreigners from Mali and Libya who offered support and assistance to terrorist groups.
The network that was caught in Illizzi used to provide computers, portable telephones and money to the organisation in question.
The special services have linked the presence of the Mauritanian leading figure in Illizzi and that of the terrorist Bellaouar in Libya to a plan being concocted by AQLIM to carry out yet another operation in the south that would have wide media repercussions. This will be revealed by the investigations that the security services are conducting with the detainees.


ALGIERS - Mali remains attached to Algeria role in the launch and success of an inter-Malian inclusive dialogue in the "best possible conditions," according to a joint statement released Monday after the second session of the Algerian-Malian Bilateral Strategic Committee on Northern Mali, held in Algiers.
"The Malian side has asked the Algerian party to continue his good offices towards creating the conditions for the launch, in the best conditions possible, of the Malian international dialogue, a dialogue which must be inclusive, as desired by the Malians themselves and by the international community," reads the statement.


Al-Qa'idah official said killed by French army in northern Mali – Report, Radio France Internationale on 22 April (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 22, 2014)
[Presenter] The French forces continue carrying out operations to track down jihadists in northern Mali. Our correspondent Serge Daniel has the details.
[Daniel] Sources close to the French military operations in northern Mali gave the figure of about 30 Islamists killed in the course of the last three weeks. Among the names of jihadists killed is that of Algerian national, Abou Ouarab. If his death is confirmed, this means that one of the main fighting brigades of the AQLIM [Al-Qa'idah in the Islamic Maghreb] in northern Mali has just lost its number two man. Tactically, the French army intervention is taking place on the ground with the support of air resources.
A foreign security source explained the situation as follows:
[Unidentified security source] What is striking on the ground is the determination of the Islamists. They withdraw and hide themselves but they then reappear surprisingly.
[Daniel] Recently, for example, in Zouerat in the Timbuktu Region, they stormed a market, distributed leaflets and threatened the people who were suspected to be collaborating with the foreign forces.
An expert acknowledged quote and unquote, the fight against these Islamists will be long. He added in order to succeed, it is necessary to continue tracking down the terrorists in northern Mali but finally engage the fight in other countries of the region which they use as the base to which they withdraw.
April 21
Mali calls on Algeria to host reconciliation talks with northern armed groups, Radio France Internationale on 21 April, (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 21, 2014 Monday)
[Presenter] As I said in the headlines, the Malian reconciliation minister was in Algiers yesterday [20 April]. Zahabi Ould Sidi Mohamed met his Algerian counterpart for foreign affairs, Ramtane Lamamra.
The Malian minister discussed a meeting future meetings between the armed groups in the northern part of Mali and the government on the Algerian soil. More details with Serge Daniel.
[Daniel] Algeria is Mali's big neighbour or rather the big neighbour of Kidal Region and the cradle of the Tuaregs of the Adrar of the Ifoghas. For some of the armed groups of this wide northern area of Mali, Algiers could be useful. It is just rightly so that the very new Malian minister of national reconciliation made the visit.
Zahabi Ould Sidi Mohamed met his Algerian foreign affairs counterpart and they even talked holding a meeting of the armed groups and the representatives of the Malian government soon on the Algerian soil. However, Bamako demanded one thing: to lead the negotiations and to call in other experts now that the armed movements of the north of Mali do not want for the moment to hear of the Algerian mediation in the crisis. Some of them prefer Burkina Faso while others want Morocco, whose king received the leader of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, with the agreement of Bamako some months ago.


EU envoys hold talks with authorities in Mali's Kidal's; to meet armed groups, ORTM TV, Bamako, in French 18 Apr 2014 (via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political, April 21, 2014)
[Presenter] In the Eighth Region, the ambassadors of the EU are looking for means and ways to stabilize Kidal Region. They had discussions with the region's authorities on development, security and the working conditions of public servants. The governor of the region seized the opportunity to deplore the increasing insecurity and food issues in the region. Tiemoko Sagara reports.
[Reporter] Organizing the required response for the stability of Kidal Region is the aim of the EU ambassadors. They have discussed with the general administration and the chiefs of regional services.
[David Gressley, UN chief's special representative] We are here with a number of ambassadors to inquire about the prevailing situation, and especially to listen to the concerns and expectations of the governor, of the administration and especially of the population in order to better organize our response to help the population, the government in stabilizing Kidal.
[Reporter] At the meeting with the Kidal administration, the governor has first of all presented the very hard working conditions of the public servants before underscoring the prevailing situation in Kidal. The region is now facing an unprecedented security problem: frequent holdups and carjacking. In Kidal, everyone is armed, according to the governor of Kidal. The districts of Tin-Essako Abeibara do not have security forces. Schools are almost non-existent. Only three schools in Aguel'hoc, Tessalit and Anefif have opened. Although drugs are available only some clinics are operational because of insecurity.
According to Col Adama Kamissoko, the cantonment of the armed groups is still the only issue of the Ouagadougou Agreement. As for the return of the administration, the government has disbursed over 2.7bn CFA francs [6.7m dollars] and the rehabilitation of buildings is underway.
[Gressley] We will continue our humanitarian support in terms of water, food aid and nutrition. This will continue and we are mobilizing resources with our partners and I think that such visits could help in the mobilizing of resources.
[Reporter] The visitors have appreciated the will of the administration to hold talks with the armed groups and the good collaboration between foreign and Malian forces in Kidal. The ambassadors are planning to meet with the armed groups and foreign and Malian armed before leaving the Eight Region.

April 20

(...) He explained that Boko Haram currently receives help from other globally recognised terror groups. What you have now are "insurgents from other countries. They are trained by Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab and other groups. They send people here to train them. They also go for training and come back but you must remember, many terrorist groups are in this together and they don't have problem training and supporting each other because they know that one day, they can call each other for help and when they do, they expect that you will come and help. They may say 'we need you to help us get Mali, and then you send people because they trained you, gave you funding and all the resources you need, so that was done for you to pay back. So, you are correct to say they got people to help them. There are times also that survivors report that people who came with Boko Haram to kill them were speaking a language they have never heard before; nothing out of Nigeria, so they could be French, Spanish, something from Mali, CAR, Kenya, etc. They know instinctively that it is not a Nigerian tongue which proves the fact that they bring in outsiders." (...)

April 19

Mali opposition: Tuareg impasse makesnorth unsafe, The New Zealand Herald, April 19, 2014
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) An opposition party says an impasse in negotiations between Mali"s government and separatist rebels is creating insecurity in the country"s north.
Tuareg rebels, who want an independent homeland in Mali"s north, launched a rebellion in 2012 and took control of much of the area. But al-Qaida-linked extremists later moved in, and a French-led intervention ousted armed groups last year.
There were hopes that a newly elected government would negotiate a political solution. But President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has not named an official negotiator, and the talks have yet to start in earnest.
On Thursday, the opposition Party for National Renaissance published a scathing assessment of the situation.
The report said the impasse allowed armed groups to operate again in the north, citing recent killings, kidnappings, mine explosions and rocket fire.

April 18

PARIS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- French troops have released five Malian aid workers kidnapped in the West African country in February by an al-Qaeda linked group, the French presidential office said on Thursday.


French forces kill about 10 jihadists, free five aid workers in northern Mali, Radio France Internationale on 18 April 2014 (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political April 18, 2014)
[Presenter] Mali is in the news this weekend. French authorities announced stunning rescue yesterday [17 April] of five ICRC employees. The International Committee of the Red Cross relief workers were kidnapped in the country's north between Kidal and Gao on 8 February this year. MUJAO [Movement for Monotheism and Jihad in West Africa] immediately claimed responsibility following the abduction.
Their release was carried out by French military special forces in Mali, which were especially busy on Wednesday night [16 April]. The French forces managed to free the hostages after intercepting two vehicles moving towards the north of Timbuktu. At least 10 of the jihadist fighters were killed. Let us listen to what the deputy spokesperson at the army HQ, Col Pascal Georgin, had to say about it.
[Georgin] This is because the operation was mainly carried out by the special forces operating in the area north of Timbuktu after identifying a target which was identified as a group of terrorists moving aboard two vehicles. The operation was by air and on the ground and involved the use of helicopters, which were engaged in confronting the target in order to neutralise a part of the terrorist group and free five people held as hostages.
There were exchanges of gunfire because once the warning shots were made, the attackers engaged us in a shootout. It was at that time that we moved in to neutralize the enemy. The number of the group of terrorists we neutralised was about 10 enemy fighters. We can effectively think that there was [word indistinct].
[Fourt] Were the Malians informed about this operation? Were they in the know since it was an operation to free Malian nationals with French help?
[Georgin] It was an operation that I cannot tell you at this stage whether Malians were informed before its launch but I can tell you that it was an opportunity we took an advantage of. Obviously, the Malian authorities were informed right from the start about this operation.
[Presenter] This interview was granted to our correspondent Olivier Fourt.

April 16

Sandra I. Erwin, Plan to Deploy MoreU.S. Troops in Africa Faces Logistical Hurdles, National Defense, April 16, 2014
(...) The size of Africa, itself — twice as wide as the United States from East to West — creates asignificant transportation problem, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert R. Ruark, director of logistics on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 
U.S. forces currently are deployed in Niger, Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic and Djibouti. The Republic of Djibouti is in the Horn of Africa, on the North East tip of the continent. The U.S. base there serves as the main hub for military operations because it is the only location on the continent that can provide the required services. This limits commanders' response time if they have to move troops to other regions of Africa, Ruark said. "We seem to be operating mainly from one enduring location."(...)


(...) Andrew Tilghman, DoD quietly expandingAFRICOM missions, Military Times, April 16, 2014
The U.S. conducted operations in western Africa last year in a French-led mission against extremists who, aligned with local desert tribesmen, ousted the democratically elected president of Mali. Over several months, the U.S. provided the French military with airlift, air refueling and intelligence along with a small team of U.S. personnel on the ground.(...)


Jeremy Binnie, Nigeria to buy new fighters, helos, Jane's Defence Weekly, 16 April 2014
(…) Nigerian media reports suggest the NAF’s Alpha Jets are currently its primary fixed-wing COIN assets. Two were deployed to Niger to support the African intervention force in Mali in January 2013, one of which subsequently crashed. (...)

April 15

Militair kamp Mali beschoten, 15-04-2014 09:57 | Reformatorisch Dagblad.
Het Nederlandse militaire kamp bij de stad Gao in Mali is maandag beschoten. Niemand raakte gewond. Dat heeft Defensie bevestigd. Een granaat sloeg maandagmorgen op ruim een kilometer afstand buiten de poort in. De beschieting is waarschijnlijk het werk van moslimextremisten. De rebellen hebben recent de beschikking gekregen over zwaarder wapentuig. Sinds de Kerst hebben er zich zes beschietingen voorgedaan. Defensie zegt hier vooraf rekening mee te hebben gehouden. „Vervelend is het wel.” (...)

Eerste deel hoofdmacht Mali-missievertrokken, Nieuwsbericht Rijksoverheid | 14-04-2014
Ruim 70 militairen zijn vanmiddag vanaf Schiphol naar Mali vertrokken. Ze maken deel uit van de hoofdmacht van de stabilisatiemissie van de Verenigde Naties (VN).
De militairen gaan in Mali inlichtingen verzamelen, verwerken en interpreteren. Dat doen ze voor de militaire partners binnen de Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma). De komende weken vertrekken nog ruim 300 militairen naar het Noord-Afrikaanse land. Onder hen commando’s, leden van het Apache-gevechtshelikopterdetachement en inlichtingenpersoneel. Het leeuwendeel van deze groep gaat 22 april naar Mali.


Senegal to send Mali 250 more peacekeeping troops, The New Zealand Herald, April 15, 2014
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) Senegal plans to send more peacekeeping troops to neighboring Mali, where international forces are trying to restore stability after jihadi extremists took over the country"s north.
Senegalese President Macky Sall announced Monday that he would send in 250 more troops during a visit by the Malian leader, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Around 500 Senegalese soldiers are already in the country as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
Mali descended into chaos following a 2012 coup, and al-Qaida-linked militants seized control of the much of the country"s north. French troops intervened to push back the radicals last year, and thousands of U.N. peacekeepers are now helping to maintain peace.

April 14

Malian army conducts large-scale security operation at border with Mauritania, ORTM TV on 14 April (via BBC Monitoring Africa, April 16, 2014)

[Presenter] In Timbuktu, the military has just completed a large-scale patrol operation in Goudam and Nere sector towards the Mauritanian border. The mission was aimed at sensitizing and reassuring the nomadic and sedentary population who are the foremost victims of lootings and robberies. On the ground, the soldiers have arrested suspects, seized weapons as well as about 10 motorbikes. Adama Djinde's report from ORTM Timbuktu.
[Djinde] Although the Fifth Military Region of Timbuktu is pacified, the military remains on constant alert. Significant logistic means have been deployed with a view to initiating a large-scale patrol in the areas of Goudam, Eshel, Bitangoudou, Frash, Lere, and Larnam, at the Mauritanian border. The operation aims to reassure and secure the nomadic and sedentary population in the localities visited.
[Col Keba Sangare, head of Timbuktu military operations] This mission fits within the framework of our assignments in Gao as well as the major patrols to increase the security level and also initiate civilian-military actions towards the population living in the countryside. We are extremely cautious, and we need the collaboration of the population to flush out the enemy far from our borders or destroy him in case of opposition.
[Djinde] The troops are more than resolved to launch the final assault and destroy the enemy. Despite the heavy sun, the hot atmosphere and sand, the convoy moved forward in dust clouds. The natural obstacles could not thwart the advance of the soldiers. With great professionalism, they meet to apply the instructions. We are in Pintakoutou, a village where a discussion on the security situation was held. The mission has made it possible to arrest two suspects, seize weapons, and about 10 motorbikes. [end recording]


Jihadi Leader Belmokhtar Alive in Libyaand Plotting Attacks, Radio France Internationale (Paris), April 14, 2014
In March the government of Chad, which joined France in putting down the rebellion in north Mali, claimed that its troops had killed both Belmokhtar and Abou Zeid, although the US is still offering five millions dollars (3.6 million euros) for information leading to his detention.
Now several security sources have told journalists that Belmokhtar has left Mali, where French troops and US drones were searching for him, has taken refuge with other armed Islamists in Libya.
He is planning more attacks on Westerners and their interests, they say.
Tom Engelhardt, AFRICOM Becomes a'War-Fighting Combatant Command', Antiwar.com,
April 14, 2014
(...) U.S. Facility near Gao, Mali. This austere compound is thought to have been overrun by Islamist forces in 2012. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As part of the webinar for industry representatives, Wayne Uhl, chief of the International Engineering Center for the Europe District of the Army Corps of Engineers, shed light on shadowy[20] U.S. operations in Mali before (and possibly after[21]) the elected government there was overthrown in a 2012 coup led by a U.S.-trained officer. Documents prepared by Uhl reveal that an American compound was constructed near Gao, a major city in the north of Mali. Gao is the site[22] of multiple Malian military bases and a "strategic" airport captured[23] by Islamist militants in 2012 and retaken by French and Malian troops early last year. (...)

April 13

Wanted jihadist hiding in Libya: Maliansecurity sources, Agence France Presse – English, April 13, 2014
Fugitive jihadist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar is hiding in Libya, from where he plans to mastermind terrorist attacks across Africa's Sahel region, security sources told AFP on Sunday.
The elusive Islamist, who staged a deadly siege of an Algerian gas plant in January last year, was said to have been killed in northern Mali two months later, although security experts have since expressed doubts over the reports.
"For some time we have had evidence that Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of the most dangerous Algerian Islamists, who operated in northern Mali, has gone to Libya to avoid being arrested or killed. From the Libyan territory, he intends to control the entire Sahel," a Malian security source said.
Belmokhtar's whereabouts were confirmed by a Nigerian security source, and another source close to MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.
"Everyone agrees today that he is not dead, that he is still active, but that he has settled for a while in Libya where he is still active," the MINUSMA source told AFP.
Belmokhtar was a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which, along with other armed Islamist groups, took advantage of a military coup in 2012 to occupy northern Mali before being driven out by French and African troops.
He split from AQIM last year and launched the Signatories in Blood, masterminding a raid of Algeria's In Amenas gas plant in which 38 hostages were killed in a four-day siege.
The attack was said to have been carried out in retaliation for the French-led military intervention in Mali.
Branded "The Uncatchable", the one-eyed Islamist is also believed to be behind twin car bombings in Niger in May 2013 that left at least 20 people dead.
- $5m reward -
The United States designated Belmokhtar's group as a terrorist organisation in December, and the State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the Algerian's capture.
General David Rodriguez, head of the US Africa Command, told reporters in January that Belmokhtar, who cut his teeth fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, was still alive and had the means to stage another attack similar to the Algeria raid.
Belmokhtar was involved in fighting against Chadian forces in Mali's northeastern Ifoghas mountains and was reported to have been killed in action in March last year.
The reports, however, were never confirmed and Rodriguez said Belmokhtar was "in the middle of the Sahel", exploiting the porous borders between southwest Libya and northeastern Mali.
He said the US was trying to help Libya and other countries in the region bolster security and counter the threat posed by extremists.
Mali has been the target of a series of attacks claimed by Islamist insurgents loyal to Belmokhtar and other jihadist commanders since France launched its military intervention in January last year.
The residual groups of fighters are no longer able to carry out coordinated assaults, but Malian soldiers are vulnerable to small-scale attacks, by Islamist groups and by separatist rebels from the country's Tuareg ethnic group.

April 12

Jennifer Lazuta, Nation Faces DeepeningHumanitarian Crisis - UNVoice of America, April 12, 2014
The UN humanitarian coordinator for Mali says the country is in a deepening state of humanitarian crisis, with an additional 400,000 people expected to face food-insecurity by June.
Humanitarian assistance is drastically underfunded and the return of refugees who fled the conflict in 2012 and 2013 is making things worse.
The United Nations says 1.4 million people in Mali are currently in need of food assistance. This is up from 812,000 people in December 2013 and could rise to 1.9 million by June, as the lean season sets in. (...)

April 11

Richard de Silva, Discussing militaryairlift in Mali and CAR, Defence IQ, April 11, 2014
This September’s Military Airlift event will be held in London, UK, and, among the topics to be addressed, will include the role of airlift operations in Mali and the Central African Republic, the A400M’s early operational performance, and the key ways in which this capability can become more affordable in the coming years.


Eerste luitenant Wouter Helders, VN-schip vol materiaal missie Mali gearriveerd, Defensiekrant 08, vrijdag 11 april 2014

De ‘HC Lara’ , een door de Verenigde Naties (VN) gecharterd schip met een ruim vol Nederlands materieel voor de Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSMA) is aangekomen in Ivoorkust. In Abidjan, de grootste haven van het land, wordt alles gelost en naar Mali getransporteerd. (

April 10

Are Economic Sanctions Effective Against Rogue Rulers ?, Global Voices, April 10, 2014

(...) Economic sanctions and military intervention in Mali,
After Captain Amadou Sanogo and his troops took power[8] [en] in 2012, the international community immediately announced sanctions [9]and withdrew its development aid[10] in Mali. But the situation rapidly worsened as rebel groups fought for independence for Northern Mali[11] [en] and international military intervention began, led by France.
[ Image removed: distribution de nourriture pour les réfugiés maliens - via wikimédia commons CC-BY-NC ][12] Food being distributed to Malian refugees. Photo via Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-NC
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Malian minister for humanitarian action issued a final report on the impacts of the crisis. The report was unambiguous on the negative impact[13] of the sanctions on the country's economy and its dependence on development aid:
The economic sanctions include two elements: the suspension of development aid by the technical and financial partners, and the economic embargo imposed by the Economic Community of West African States[14]:
The consequences of these events have been revealed through the following conditions:
- the suspension of cooperation with partners;
- the decline in activity (investment, production, bank, commercial, import/export, inflation);
- the decline in the population's buying power through the increase in the consumer price index, and the loss of confidence of economic agents (uncertainties);
- the decline in budgetary revenues (budget revisions, etc.);
- the decline in spending on social sectors (the Strategic Framework for Growth and Poverty Reduction and the [United Nations'] Millennium Development Goals, etc.).
[...] One of the key lessons of the political and security crisis lies in Mali's great dependence on its foreign relations. [...]
Once again, the imposed sanctions penalized the already fragile local population. These sanctions did not result in a return to good government, as external military intervention was necessary to stabilize the country.

April 9

Mali mandate: EUTM; prepares for phase two, Jane's Defence Weekly, April 9, 2014, pp. 20-21
Two years ago the Malian Armed Forces lost a war to militants in the north and deposed the country’s government in a coup. Now they are being rebuilt by an EU mission. Guillaume Belan reports (...) By then [May 2016], a significant percentage of the Mali’s soldiers will have been through the training. After a recruitment drive, the FAMa currently has a strength of 14,000, with th e Gendarmerie and
National Guard adding another 13,000. It will also mean that Mali will be able to have three of four of its comparatively elite battalions deployed in the turbulent north at any given time. (...)


French radio explains Malian premier's resignation, Radio France Internationale on 6 April (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 9, 2014)
[Presenter] After the surprising resignation of Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly last Saturday [5 April] in Mali, we now know much more about the reasons for his departure. He slammed the door and was immediately replaced by Moussa Marra who had until now been the minister of planning and towns. Barely seven months after being at the head of a team doing immense major work of reconciliation between the citizens of a country, which was torn apart by a year and a half of crisis, Oumar Tatam Ly resigned due to difference of opinion with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita [IBK]. We go over to Bamako for further details with our correspondent Serge Daniel.
[Daniel] Oumar Tatam Ly was not fired. It was he who slammed the door. In his resignation letter, he explained that he was no longer in a position to carry out his assignment. He also spoke about different viewpoints between the president of the republic and him on several issues. The prime minister who resigned does not hide his bitterness.
In his letter, a copy of which RFI has, he asserted, with exact dates, that he tried to convince President IBK of the need to review the present style of governance especially, I quote, the dysfunctions and inadequacies found in the government which reduce greatly its ability to face up to challenges.
Did Karim Keita, who is a deputy in the National Assembly and son of the Malian president, play any role in the resignation of the prime minister? Oumar Tatam Ly did not mention him in his letter, but a section of the Malian media has for some time now been accusing the son of the president openly of creating impediments for the prime minister who resigned. In order apparently to make the point, the latter tendered in only his resignation and not that of his government.

April 8

Jihadists reportedly use new strategy to launch attack in northern Mali, Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French 8 Apr 2014 (via BBC Monitoring Africa – Political)
Rocket attacks hit the town of Kidal in Mali on Monday [7 April]. The attack is attributed to Islamists who occupied the north of the country for several months in 2012 before being chased away by an international coalition led by France. Nevertheless they are still active in this vast region where they regularly commit attacks, some of which are deadly.
It seems the Islamists are using use rockets to attack towns in northern Mali, as their new strategy. Observers on the ground have expressed concern. In recent statement, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon expressed these fears: "The situation in northern Mali is deteriorating."
Several security services in the region are absolutely sure: it seems that, in order to bring in weapons and fighters, the jihadists have managed to open an efficient passage between Libya, which is in a crisis, and northern Mali.
On the other side facing them, only the French army makes its presence felt. The UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has only mobilized half of the fighting units that are needed. What these troops are lacking most are military weaponry, especially helicopters.

April 7

Militants launch failed rocket attack in northern Mali, Agence France Presse, April 7, 2014
Militants fired rockets at a school and a French army camp in the northern Malian city of Kidal on Monday, without managing to hit their targets, military sources said.
"On Monday at 7:00 am (0700 GMT), Islamists fired four rockets at Kidal. One rocket was headed to the French military camp and the fourth to a school. There are no victims," a Malian military source told AFP.
A French army source said that "three rockets were fired at Kidal, (which) did not cause any damage".
Residents said that after the attack, "heavily armed" French soldiers were patrolling the streets of Kidal, which lies deep in the desert north of the west African sub-Saharan nation.
Several Islamist groups linked to Al-Qaeda occupied northern Mali in 2012 before being driven out of the vast desert region's major towns and cities by a French-led military intervention launched in January last year.
While the Islamists' organisational structure was largely destroyed in the army operation, splinter groups are holed up in the desert and launch regular guerrilla-style attacks, some of them deadly.


Former UN Officials Urge French President to Support Human RightsMonitoring in Western Sahara, Sahara Press Service (El Aaiun), April 7, 2014
(…) Last year, France was forced to respond militarily to the grave threat posed by renewed conflict and extremism in Mali. The similarity between Mali and Western Sahara is striking. Both are in the Sahel region, where extremist groups including Al Qaeda prey on local grievances to attract recruits and co-opt armed movements. As in Mali, Western Sahara contains a distinct group of people - the Saharawi - who do not feel politically or culturally connected to Morocco and who have a history of armed resistance.
It is vital that we take pre-emptive action to defuse tensions in Western Sahara in order to avoid a repeat of Mali, which could endanger French and Western security and necessitate a similarly challenging intervention. (…)
Frank Ruddy, Former Deputy Chairman UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, and Peter van Walsum Former UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, United Nations
April 5

Former Malian president's home attacked by gunmen, Agence France Presse, April 5, 2014
One gunman was killed during an armed assault on the private residence of former Malian president Alpha Oumar Konare in the country's capital, guards told AFP on Saturday.
Konare, who was head of state from 1992 to 2002, was away from the property in the eastern outskirts of Bamako when the attack took place on Friday night.
But his wife, historian Adame Ba Konare, was at home with the couple's grandchildren when around ten gunmen stormed the compound, a member of the family's official guard told AFP.
"More than ten people dressed in civilian clothes cut the electricity in the area, climbed the walls and fired inside the Konare residence," he said.
"At the moment, we do not know who carried out or ordered it. But they wanted to kill. We retaliated in self-defence, this is when one of the attackers was killed," the guard said.
"Everything happened quickly. The light was cut in the residence, we heard gunshots and the guards responded."
Malian police recovered "at least one mobile phone" from the body of the assailant who was killed, a source close to the force told AFP.
"We already know that the assailants attacked the premises in one group, who came from the north side of the residence, and another which arrived from the Niger river side," he added.
Since his voluntary departure from power in 2002, Konare has remained largely private, avoiding commenting on Malian political life.


ALGIERS- Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said Saturday that the state would spare no effort and continue to mobilize all the resources for the homecoming of the members of the Algerian consulate, abducted two years ago in Gao, Mali, safe and sound.In an address at a meeting with the hostages' families, at the headquarters of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lamamra, "reiterated Algerian state's commitment and determination to spare no effort and to continue to mobilize all the available resources for the hostages to return home safe and sound," the ministry's spokesman, Abdelaziz Benali Cherif, told APS.The meeting took place in the presence of Minister of National Solidarity, Family and Women's Affairs Souad Bendjaballah, Deputy Minister for Maghreb and African Affairs Madjid Bouguerra, senior officials from the ministry of Foreign Affairs and other state institutions, in addition to the head of the Algerian Red Crescent, Saida Benhabiles.
April 4

The United States and Algeria have said that they are working together to combat terrorism in North and West Africa by strengthening both security and economic opportunity.
In a strategic dialogue, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Algerian Foreign Minister, Ramtane Lamamra said they were working to increase security coordination to fight drug trafficking and kidnapping-for-ransom that fund terrorism in North and West Africa.
"We want to do this so that Algerian security services have the tools and the training needed in order to defeat al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. And we will work to address the instability that has spread throughout the Maghreb and Sahel," Kerry said.
He said Algerian efforts in Mali and Niger underscore its constructive role in regional stability.
The Algerian Foreign Minister, Lamamra said Algeria would never back down from fighting terror and asked for US help with electronic surveillance.
"The Sahel region has abruptly evolved into one of our preeminent concerns as terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and all kinds of criminal activities have woven their webs and built their networks in the region, threatening the stability and very existence of the people and states of the area," he said.
Lamamra said it was now a necessity to provide a decent future for the people of the region who are still facing "dire living conditions and harsh adversity."
"We need to join forces to help advance the emergence of stronger states in the Sahel and to develop impactful economic plans to foster the best conditions possible for both security and development," he said.
The foreign minister said this can be done by creating jobs, encouraging the growth of small business, and improving access to water and energy.


Remarks at opening plenary of the U.S.-Morocco strategic dialogue, CQ Federal Department and Agency Documents Regulatory Intelligence data, April 4, 2014
(…) With the 18 different agreements Morocco signed earlier this year with Mali, in areas from microfinance to infrastructure, Morocco is driving both greater security and greater prosperity in the region, in the Maghreb. And I also understand that his - after His Highness left Mali he left immediately to go to Guinea, Gabon, and the Ivory Coast, where he also brokered a series of new economic agreements. That's all just in the first months of this year. So I guess it sounds like he and I have a similar travel schedule. But apart from that, he's really aggressively out there trying to manage this process and push it forward. (...)


Mali starts process to confine armed rebels, The New Zealand Herald, April 4, 2014
TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali says officials will soon begin the process of looking for barracks where armed rebels can be confined.
Boert (sic!) Koenders announced at a press conference Wednesday that the effort, aimed at reducing the number of weapons circulating in northern Mali, will start this week.
Koenders says the initial search will take place in Tessalit and Kidal, which is the home base of a separatist ethnic Tuareg movement known as the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad.
He says it"s an important step toward providing security for the population of northern Mali, which emerged from jihadist rule about a year ago following a French-led military operation. The north continues to struggle with instability and the separatists remain active.

April 2

Two Held Over Arms Smuggling, Daily Trust (Abuja), April 02, 2014
The Lagos State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have arrested two persons for allegedly smuggling arms and ammunition from Mali to Nigeria.
The suspects are said to be part of an arms smuggling syndicate, that specializes in selling arms to criminals, particularly crude oil thieves based in the Niger Delta region.
The suspects were arrested at their hideout in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital by police detectives led by Superintendent of Police Abba Kiyari.
The police team recovered ten AK47 rifles and 19 AK 47 magazines, fully loaded.
The suspects, who smuggled the weapons into the country from Mali through Bokina Faso, were alleged to have concealed the weapons in sacks of yam flour.
In his statement, one of the suspects allegedly named his main supplier as one Gbenga, who resides in Mali. He said after purchase, he would carefully conceal the arms in packs of condensed milk before stuffing them into bags of yam flour.
"I smuggle the arms from Mali into Bokina Faso, then I Way- bill it as cargo using luxury buses to Lagos and finally to Ibadan. Most of my customers are in Onitsha," he said.
He added that he makes between N80,000 to N100,000 from the sale of one AK47 rifle.

See also: Boko Haram - MilitaryOffensive Against Terrorists Extends to Cameroun, This Day (Lagos), Arpil 2, 2014


UN chief warns of weakening security in Mali, Associated PressInternational, April 2, 2014
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that security is deteriorating in northern Mali amid increasing terrorist activity, and he urges United Nations member states to provide military transport helicopters for U.N. troops to use across the vast region.
In a report to the Security Council circulated this week, Ban cites an upsurge in attacks by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa against U.N., French and Malian forces using rockets and improvised explosive devices. One rocket attack was in the fabled town of Timbuktu.
The U.N. chief says abductions and banditry contribute to a climate of fear.
Mali was divided in two for nearly a year by Islamic extremists.
Ban also urges all parties to grasp a "historic chance" to promote national reconciliation.


Bangladesh to send 1,446 peacekeepers to Mali, The Daily Star website, Dhaka, April 2, 2014
A 112-member team of Bangladesh Army left Dhaka yesterday to join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for the first time.
A total of six contingents, including one battalion army personnel and a naval unit, would be deployed in the African country.
A total of 1,446 members of the armed force will eventually be deployed in the mission, says an Inter Services Public Relations press release.
Bangladesh Army will deploy one infantry division, two signal units, one engineering unit and one transport unit. Col Md Jahangir Harun led the first team which left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the morning.


/ PRNewswire Africa / - On Tuesday the 1st of April, in Bamako took place the transfer of authority ceremony of the European Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) between General Bruno Guibert and General Marc Rudkiewicz, in presence of Mr. Richard Zink, ambassador and leader of the European delegation in Mali.
During his speech, General Guibert paid tribute to the 560 European servicemen of the mission: "I would like to share with you my satisfaction for your strong commitment and determination to achieve your objectives. You have given the best of yourself to help our Malian comrades (...)".
During the first mandate, EUTM has set the foundations for the restoration of the Malian armed forces, helping the Malian authorities defining an army based on lasting structures and providing them with military units, able to accomplish the security mission in the north of the country.
The European Training Mission in Mali gathers 560 European servicemen from 23 different countries. Its goal is to contribute to enhance the Malian military capabilities, in order to enable them to ensure the security and sovereignty of Mali. The mission is integrated into the European Union global approach to the Sahel.

April 1

INTERVIEW: Rear Admiral Cheikh Bara Cissokho, Jane's Intelligence Review April 2014
Regarding Senegal’s capacity to combat the threats it faces, the Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Navy, stated, “What is enough? For the time being we are able to face the actual threat in our waters. We have some French-built corvettes, offshore patrol vessels, and light fast-attack craft. Of course, the challenges have to be faced by the Senegalese and other [regional] navies with limited resources. In the medium term we need other capabilities, such as integrated radars, interlinked to surveillance technology installed along our coast, monitoring territorial waters. French Dassault Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft are permanently based at Dakar, but these are currently being used in Mali. So they [the French] gent us a smaller one [an Airbus Military CN235], which does the job pretty well.”

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)