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Thread: Ripples from Mali: events plus outside Mali

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Bill,

    You cite a WaPo article:

    As I have posted elsewhere a recent article points out that Tuareg elements of Mali's army, trained by the USA, deserted to the "other side". One wonders what is the truth?

    Post 230 on the parallel Mali thread (cited in part)

    A strange NYT article on the US role before the coup in Mali in mid-2012, one wonders why this had been in the public domain and challenges the value of the US DoD programme across West Africa:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/wo...nted=all&_r=2&

    I have a suspicion that much of the writing before the French action, especially in the USA, followed a legend that is was this 'flood' from Libya that split Mali. A convenient, acceptable legend when in fact Mali was a weak state and even weaker when part of the army being Tuareg deserted.
    Also in the article:

    Some Defense Department officials, notably officers at the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, have pushed for a lethal campaign to kill senior operatives of two of the extremists groups holding northern Mali, Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Killing the leadership, they argued, could lead to an internal collapse
    .

    I don't follow this region as closely as I used to, but the assumption about killing senior operatives to create network collapse is more often a false assumption than a correct one. It is another one of those so called lessons from the last decade of war that we need to reconsider the validity of. There are cases where some leaders are so charismatic that they create a personality cult and their death would be very disruptive, at least for awhile. This doesn't mean we shouldn't endeavor to act early versus waiting for a crisis, but we need to act based on understanding. The issues driving this conflict have been going on for years, and while charismatic leaders are required to mobilize, organize, and direct movements (terrorist, insurgency, or otherwise), once started they can have a life of their own.

    I think the U.S. places too much emphasis on its through, by and with mantra because it is based on a generally false assumption that the rest of the world shares our interests and most are willing to act in partnership or better yet as our surrogates to pursue our goals. What the article didn't state is why the U.S. trained officers defected? What were their interests? Why didn't we understand them to begin with? What "expert" told us this was the right course of action? Based on what?

    On the other hand I'm not convinced that these incidents call our DOD program in the region into question. If you look at our foreign engagement over the years you'll find we win some and we lose some, but the objectives for the most part appears sound (even if they are pursued incorrectly), and their little doubt that security forces need additional assistance in most cases. What we must do better is gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of what is really happening, what are the real issues in the eyes of the locals, and only then can we hope to realistically reach point where we identify "common interests," that then allows us to develop a collaborative strategy that will be based on understanding instead of wishful thinking. Second we have to stop rushing to the most convenient surrogate as we have done throughout history (most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan), which more often than proves to be counterproductive overtime.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 01-19-2013 at 05:49 PM. Reason: To complete it

  2. #22
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    Default Boko Haram Leader Shekau Shot, Flees To Mali

    I don't know how authentic this is.

    There were indications yesterday in Abuja, that the leader of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, Imam Abubakar Shekau was wounded during a gun battle with security men recently.
    Sources said in Abuja that security agencies traced the whereabouts of Shekau, who succeeded late Mohammed Yusuf as leader of the sect to Mali, where he escaped to after sustaining injuries during a gun duel with soldiers of the Joint Task Force, JTF, a.k.a Operation Restore Order.
    Sources told Saturday Vanguard that the Federal Government approved the deployment of 1,200 soldiers apparently because of the need to arrest the wounded Boko Haram leader.
    The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika who addressed officers and soldiers of the Nigerian army shortly before they were airlifted to Mali Thursday in Kaduna, asked them to be extra vigilant as there are indications that some terrorists had sneaked into the country with the aim of causing havoc.
    Ihejirika however, pointed out that the Nigerian Army was not resting on its oars as the war against terror was being won.
    http://www.informationng.com/2013/01...s-to-mali.html

  3. #23
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    Default Two Killed, Four Injured In Bomb Attacks On Mali-bound Nigerian Troops At Okene

    This is EXTREMELY WORRYING, Nigerian troops en route to Mali are attacked with IEDs WITHIN NIGERIA.

    About 190 Nigerian troops were ambushed a few kilometers from Okene in Kogi state today. The attack took place around 6: 05 AM Nigerian time as militants cut through the convoy of Mali-bound Nigerian army peacekeepers traveling in three luxurious buses via Kaduna too Bamako, Mali. The militants decimated the convoy with the aid of IEDs planted on the highway and began firing on the troops afterwards.
    The soldiers were under escort at the time and the military escorts alter returned fire, but the assailants who were parked on both sides of the highway escaped the scene after two soldiers had been killed and several others injured.
    Nigerian Army spokesperson, Brigadier General Bola Koleosho confirmed to Saharareporters by phone that two soldiers were killed while the bomb explosion injured four others. The wounded soldiers are receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Center in Okene.
    http://www.osundefender.org/?p=87980

  4. #24
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    The risks of large scale reprisals against the Tuaregs by Bamako are high
    I'd think that would be counterproductive, but of course that doesn't mean it won't happen. The question is whether the Western powers or ECOWAS want to help it to happen or enable it to happen.

    Would it be feasible to make aid to the Mali government conditional on them reaching a fair settlement on the issues that are pushing the Tuareg to rebel? Would that be a non-starter for the Mali government or for the ECOWAS participants?

    "Mali" in my first second language means "mistake". Coincidence of course, but still...
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  5. #25
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Some Early Algeria Perspectives

    A long analysis on Algeria's stance, interesting as clearly outside the government there is no consensus. Algeria IMHO is one of the key players, yes partly due to its military capability, but more due to its diplomatic role with factions and nations:http://themoornextdoor.wordpress.com...oor+Next+Door)
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-20-2013 at 06:09 PM.
    davidbfpo

  6. #26
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    David,

    Found this article to be of interest:

    Jihadists’ Surge in North Africa Reveals Grim Side of Arab Spring, By ROBERT F. WORTH, Published: January 19, 2013, NYT, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/wo...nted=1&_r=0&hp

    Algeria’s authoritarian government is now seen as a crucial intermediary by France and other Western countries in dealing with Islamist militants in North Africa. But the Algerians have shown reluctance to become too involved in a broad military campaign that could be very risky for them. International action against the Islamist takeover in northern Mali could push the militants back into southern Algeria, where they started. That would undo years of bloody struggle by Algeria’s military forces, which largely succeeded in pushing the jihadists outside their borders.

    The Algerians also have little patience with what they see as Western naïveté about the Arab spring, analysts say.

    “Their attitude was, ‘Please don’t intervene in Libya or you will create another Iraq on our border,’ ” said Geoff D. Porter, an Algeria expert and founder of North Africa Risk Consulting, which advises investors in the region. “And then, ‘Please don’t intervene in Mali or you will create a mess on our other border.’ But they were dismissed as nervous Nellies, and now Algeria says to the West: ‘G*dd@&n it, we told you so.’ ”
    Sapere Aude

  7. #27
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Lessons learnt must remain that learnt!

    Jason Burke is a British journalist and author who has become a well-known commentator on terrorism, for The Guardian and The Observer in the UK; currently he is faraway from the UK and 'Sahelistan' in India.

    His column looks at two aspects, the British setting and the global counter-Jihadi approach and ends with (with my emphasis):
    There is another problem with framing the threat as "global". From General David Petraeus reformulating counter-insurgency tactics for the US army to MI5 putting spooks in police stations, the grand realisation of the middle of the last decade for those combating extremism was "think local, not global". This meant dumping identification of militants through profiling in favour of painstaking tracking of networks; questioning the vision of al-Qaida as global terrorist masterminds and unpicking the granular details of every extremist group from Morocco to Malaysia; it meant tailoring tactics to ground conditions and the customs of local communities; it meant degrading the credibility of the enemy by minimising the danger they posed.

    The new challenge this decade may be an unforeseen one: the hard-learned lessons of last decade being neglected, if not deliberately unlearned.
    Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...isis-dark-days
    davidbfpo

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    Default Chad troops move toward Niger's Mali border to face Islamists

    Seems like another front is being opened.

    (Reuters) - An armored column of Chadian troops in Niger moved towards the Malian border on Tuesday, part of an African military force that is gradually deploying to support French operations against Islamist rebels in northern Mali.

    A Reuters reporter witnessed the Chadian forces, who are experienced in desert operations, advancing north from the capital Niamey on the road to Ouallam, some 100 km (60 miles) from the border, where a company of Niger's troops are already stationed.

    France, which launched air strikes in Mali 11 days ago to halt a surprise Islamist offensive toward the capital Bamako, has urged a swift deployment of the U.N.-mandated African force to back up its 2,150-strong ground forces already there.

    Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, who visited the troops at Ouallam military base, condemned the al Qaeda-linked Islamist alliance controlling Mali's vast desert north. An Imam, or Muslim cleric, said prayers for the troops.

    "We are going to war. A war imposed on us by traffickers of all kinds, an unjust war, from which the peaceful citizens of northern Mali are suffering terribly," Issoufou told the forces.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...90L0GK20130122

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Jihad in Africa: The danger in the desert

    A wide ranging article from The Economist, which has some odd references, such as the bulldozers and tunnelling in insurgent Mali and a very useful map of religious observance across northern Africa:http://www.economist.com/news/briefi...sm?frsc=dg%7Ca

    It ends, IMO not very helpfully with:
    Should radicalised and militant forms of Islam spread farther, current grounds for confidence will be undermined. Intelligence agencies already have a heavy presence in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, to sniff out terror links with the east African diaspora in the West. The real threat, though, is to African countries themselves. In many, including resource-rich ones like Nigeria, religious cleavages are widening. Both action by jihadists and action against jihadists could exacerbate the dangers.
    davidbfpo

  10. #30
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    Default A long forgotten Algerian Spring

    Dr. Omar Ashour, from Exeter University, weighs in on 'The Algerian Tragedy', a country that has drifted out of Western attention until the recent incident. He starts with:
    Let’s start by stating the obvious: AQIM is not a product of the Arab Spring. AQIM exists because of the military coup that ended the “Algerian Spring” two decades ago. And it has not been strengthened by the Libyan revolution, but rather by the failure of state-building in North Mali, the absence of post-conflict reconciliation and reintegration in Algeria, and a lack of accountability for a shadowy Algerian security establishment whose brutal methods have proved woefully inadequate to the challenge.
    Link:http://www.project-syndicate.org/com...8P2uGYiICZP.99

    A short backgrounder and a salutary reminder that most of Algeria was pacified at a huge cost, the war continues albeit mainly in the far south, with virtually no people to "swim amongst".
    davidbfpo

  11. #31
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    Default Algeria Attack Represents al Qaeda’s Dying Gasp

    Phil Mudd, a former analyst at the FBI & CIA, offers his perspective on what has happened and ends with:
    We did not know how these types of al Qaedist fringes would play out 10 years ago, when I remember sitting at the nightly threat briefings at CIA, wondering, after yet another attack in yet another locale, whether we might be losing. Today, though, history has taught us the lessons of how these groups fail: trailing brightly from the fading al Qaeda comet, they win their 15 minutes of fame. Or maybe 15 months. Tomorrow, though, their real challenge begins. They have been, and will be, the architects of their own demise.
    Link:http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...ying-gasp.html
    davidbfpo

  12. #32
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    Default A long forgotten Algerian Spring (Part Two)

    A rather long, but worthwhile review by Andrew Hussey, a UK-based academic whose specialism is France and North Africa. It's title is:
    'Algiers: a city where France is the promised land – and still the enemy' and the sub-title: believes the only way to makes sense of the problems Algeria faces today is to look back into its colonial history. He takes a journey through 21st-century Algiers – into a dark past
    Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...ial-past-islam

    He is writing a book:
    The French Intifada, which is a parallel attempt to make sense of French colonial history in north Africa. This book is a tour around some of the most important and dangerous frontlines of what many historians now call the fourth world war. This war is not a conflict between Islam and the west or the rich north and the globalised south, but a conflict between two very different experiences of the world – the colonisers and the colonised.
    SWC has many threads that include Algeria; the main one is 'France's war in Algeria: telling the story':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=15864 , but until Mali little on what happened in Algeria after independence fifty years ago.

    I stand corrected there is a small thread 'Algeria Again? Contemporary affairs':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2079


    As Omar Ashour reminds us Algeria had a 'Spring' twenty years ago that led to a bitter civil war.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-28-2013 at 10:39 AM. Reason: Add links and correction
    davidbfpo

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Phil Mudd, a former analyst at the FBI & CIA, offers his perspective on what has happened and ends with:

    Link:http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...ying-gasp.html
    This is a very poor piece of analysis in my opinion. I don't think anyone claimed the Algerian attack represented a spike, but rather it was part of a much larger spike of activity that has been enduring throughout the region from Nigeria, to Mali, to Libya, and Algeria.

    As for AQ being on the short and final, Al Shabab gained in strength, AQ in Yemen gained in strength, Baku Harim (sp?) in Nigeria gained strength over a period of years and months. No one can evaluate a trend on a particular event, regardless of its media coverage, but on the other hand you can't dismis the trend either. Happy thoughts are a substitute for real analysis.

  14. #34
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default AQ: how great is the terrorism threat to the west now?

    Jason Burke, of The Observer adds a review article and poses the question:
    But does this all add up to al-Qaida 3.0, more dangerous than ever before? There's a simple test. Think back to those dark days of 2004 or 2005 and how much closer the violence seemed. Were you more frightened then, or now? The aim of terrorism is to inspire irrational fear, to terrorise. Few are as fearful today as they were back then. So that means there are two possibilities: we are wrong, ignorant or misinformed, and should be much more worried than we are; or our instincts are right, and those responsible for the violence are as far from posing an existential threat as they have ever been.
    Link:http://m.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/j...sm-threat-west
    davidbfpo

  15. #35
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    Default Energy, flashpoints and waves

    A very short USIP commentary 'Regional Security Lessons from the Attack on Algeria's In Amenas Gas Plant', which draws attention to:
    average annual attacks on energy infrastructure have risen from slightly more than 200 worldwide during 1980-99 to 380 over the last decade, 2000-11.

    Not only do attacks tend to cluster in certain regions, they also occur in waves. The crests of these waves tend to correspond with flashpoints of instability that are characterized by localized ‘bursts’ of violence aimed at energy infrastructure. Algeria and the Maghreb are not peculiar in this regard. Other recent waves and clusters could be identified in Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Russia.
    Four lessons:
    Four important lessons can be gleaned from USIP's project on the vulnerability of energy infrastructure. First, attacks on energy facilities historically occur in 'waves,' and we might be at the start of one such wave in the Maghreb and the Sahel. Second, attacks are likely to cluster around natural gas and oil installations because they are often far removed from major administrative centers and because they provide a wide variety of high-value targets.

    Third, the interconnected nature of causes demands an examination of the people, equipment and virtual networks that support energy operations. This will help tailor solutions to fit the local context. Fourth, violent non-state actors are less likely to be homogenous groups with a singular focus.
    Link:http://www.usip.org/publications/reg...enas-gas-plant

    USIP are IMHO a long way behind the "oil majors" in thinking about the issues, the "majors" have long had facilities in vulnerable areas, which has included Algeria for at least twenty years. Somehow I doubt the "majors" or insurers will comment preferring discretion and commercial confidentiality.
    davidbfpo

  16. #36
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    Three succinct comments by Brian Jenkins from RAND

    Part 1: The Motivations Behind the Amenas Terrorist Attack

    This opens with a sharp caveat:
    If the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi held any lessons for government officials who must make immediate assessments, eager-to-be-interviewed experts, or critics ready to point fingers, it was this: What is initially known about a terrorist attack beyond the what, when, and where often turns out to be wrong. Many of the critical details may not be known for days, weeks, months—or ever. There will always be omissions and distortions. That lesson undoubtedly applies to the bloody terrorist attack on the Amenas natural gas facility in Algeria
    Link:http://www.rand.org/blog/2013/01/the...st-attack.html

    Part 2: The Dynamics of the Hostage Situation at Amenas

    A thorough review, including historical aspects like:
    In the 1970s, hostage situations accounted for about 20 percent of all terrorist incidents. (On the risk to hostages)... 79 percent of the hostages who died in hostage incidents were killed during a rescue operation, either by their captors or by their rescuers (Based on a 1977 RAND Study).
    Link:http://www.rand.org/blog/2013/01/the...at-amenas.html

    Part 3: What Does the Amenas Attack Mean for U.S. Policy in Africa?

    This is very short, almost a "holding" action as France acts in Mali and the USA decides what to do next:http://www.rand.org/blog/2013/01/wha...policy-in.html

    There is an very different point of view in a SWJ Blog piece today 'The Amenas Siege and the Growing Hostage Problem in Africa':http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/the...blem-in-africa
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-11-2013 at 10:50 PM.
    davidbfpo

  17. #37
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    davidbfpo,

    The best thing the US should do is to look beyond the Al Qaeda bogeyman.

    There's a lot going in Africa that would have occurred irrespective of Libya etc.

  18. #38
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Default Quick up date on Operation Serval

    After the quick progression, comes the time for search and destroy...

    Mali: the battle continues Iforas, 30 Islamists killed in the operation

    Operation "Panther IV", "continues" and "progress." This was said Thursday the staff of the French army. Monday started, this operation is to dislodge the Islamists in the region of the Adrar des Iforas in north-eastern Mali. "This is not just a progression, it is also quite favorable search this area is that people can hide. Should therefore avoid exceeding the terrorist positions and have people in the back, it is therefore a thorough enough search, "said the spokesman of the General Staff, Colonel Thierry Burkhard, at the weekly press briefing of defense.

    "It is estimated that twenty terrorists were neutralized in the first place attachment" on Tuesday, in which Harold died Legionnaire Vormezeele. Wednesday, a little further east, "a little less than a dozen terrorists" have in turn been announced Thierry Burkhard, bringing the death toll on the side of jihadist thirty dead.

    The previous count, announced Wednesday by Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was 25 Islamists killed. Several ammunition depots were also destroyed, according to the staff. A wide Mali entire Staff announcement "about 200 sorties" from Thursday, February 14, with "sixty" carried about by hunters, although they are not necessarily made of keystrokes, at we said.

    A "ten goals" have been destroyed by air strikes, mainly carried out by fighters but also some by helicopter, according to Colonel Burkhard. These "targets" were mainly in the region of the Adrar des Ifoghas but also in the region Bourem. These are "half" of logistics sites that have been destroyed, but also "an armored reconnaissance and four pick-up," he said. Weapons caches were discovered and several rocket-propelled vehicles were recovered.
    En savoir plus sur http://www.atlantico.fr/pepites/mali...YMbxZpOL1EF.99

  19. #39
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Marc,

    I look forward to the elucidation of:
    ....several rocket-propelled vehicles were recovered.
    Yes I know it probably means somthing else. Certain interests will welcome the 'rocket propelled vehicles gap'.
    davidbfpo

  20. #40
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Marc,

    I look forward to the elucidation of:

    Yes I know it probably means somthing else. Certain interests will welcome the 'rocket propelled vehicles gap'.
    OK, the original was: several vehicles equiped with rocket launchers.
    The beauty of google...

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