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Thread: Mali mainly, 2012 coup, drugs & more

  1. #121
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    Default The Black Flag Flies in Mali

    The Black Flag Flies in Mali

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
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  2. #122
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Required reading

    An excellent overview of the situation in northern Mali and hat tip to SWC Blog:http://thewasat.wordpress.com/author/matzahwarrior/

    A couple of key passages:
    The rush to capitalize on the dissolution of Mali’s army in the north has brought to the fore deep conflicts between the MNLA and the salafist-inspired Ansar Al-Din, and brought two terrorist groups who call northern Mali home – Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its “splinter” group the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) out of the woodwork.
    This I expect contributed to the mutiny, my emphasis:
    Following a siege of the military base at Aguelhoc at the end of January, photos and reports out of the city spoke of “summary executions” of nearly 100 Malian soldiers at Aguelhoc
    davidbfpo

  3. #123
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    David,

    Where are the 3,000 troops going to come from?

    Apart from Nigeria, who has the military means to pull it off? Ghana? Senegal? Guinea?

    I don't see much enthusiasm from the Nigerian Army to go on another military adventure, their hands are full - Boko Haram, Niger Delta, Darfur etc.

  4. #124
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Military action in Mali

    I am sceptical that ECOWAS can assemble the will and capability for 3k troops to deploy in Mali. If they had announced a civil-military observer mission to be deployed soon that would make sense; one led by a French-speaking nation too as French remains the daily language IIRC.

    As for an ECOWAS intervention against the rebels that is "pie in the sky" from my "armchair". Given the terrain, distance and being on their home ground one hopes there is sensible military advice aplenty.

    Now, whether other parties see a need to act is a moot point. In particular the USA if AQIM leaders are in one place long enough, more likely is Algeria either now to rescue it's diplomat(s) or after a delay to deliver pain.
    davidbfpo

  5. #125
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    Default Nigeria’s Boko Haram Militants Join Mali Rebellion

    What on God's good earth, does this mean?

    Boko Haram militants have joined the armed rebellion in northern Mali, security officials said.
    Tuaregs and radical Islamist groups have occupied several cities in the north of Mali following a two-month rebellion.

    The armed militias made significant advances after the government was overthrown by a military junta.
    Last week, Islamists stormed the Algerian embassy in Gao, taking seven Algerian diplomats as hostages. It is not clear whether they have now been freed.
    Security sources said the group was led by at least 100 Boko Haram fighters.
    "There are a good 100 Boko Haram fighters in Gao. They are Nigerians and from Niger," Abu Sidibe, a regional deputy, told AFP. "They're not hiding. Some are even able to speak in the local tongue, explaining that they are Boko Haram."

    Boko Haram militants "were in a majority among those who attacked the Algerian consulate" in Gao, another Malian security official said.
    Responsibility for the attack on the Algerian embassy and the kidnapping of diplomats was claimed in a statement issued by an Al-Qaida dissident group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).
    Mujao is said to have split from the main al-Qaida group in the region, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, in order to focus on spreading jihad in West Africa.
    Mali has been rocked by political instability after the government was overthrown by a military coup.
    The junta said it was forced to act after the government was unable to stop the Tuareg-backed rebellion in the north.
    Since taking charge, however, the junta has been unable to stop the Tuaregs, who have now been joined by other Islamist groups.
    Coup leader Army Captain Amadou Sanogo met with the country's parliamentary speaker, Dioncounda Traoré, to discuss a transition back to constitutional rule.
    Traoré is set to be sworn in as interim president to oversee a transitional period and to organise elections.
    Read more: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/32...#ixzz1rdmM62Df

  6. #126
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    Default What on God's good earth, does this mean?

    Since the original story is based on a 'security sources', one of them a Malian, I would use a large "pinch of salt" and the reputable analysis in Post 122 made no reference to a Nigerian Boko Harem presence. Given the very confusing situation in Northern Mali, specifically Timbucktu, alongside the clear interests of 'security sources' to link Boko Harem to events in Mali I think I'll wait for a lot more before making a decision.

    Convincing others, in particular Algeria, France, Nigeria and USA that there is a linkage is the motive.
    davidbfpo

  7. #127
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    If ECOWAS is unwilling/unable to deploy soldiers to Mali, what is the possibility of a French Foreign Legion intervention from France after the elections to either "hold the line" against further Taureg advances or deploy with Malian troops? I am not all that familiar with relations between Mali and France, but I would think there is a precedent in Francophone West African states.

  8. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    A hundreds of km long desert rail line between iron ore deposits and a harbour requires no statistics in order to tell me that they have mineral resources to speak of.
    Probably not enough to survive on and even then it would require the Mauritanians to give those resources up. I would not bet on that.
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

    Terry Pratchett

  9. #129
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    Default Reflections after a visit in the past

    A Stratfor article 'Africa's Tuareg Dilemma' by Robert D. Kaplan, who visited Mali years ago which is a good background read and then reflects on what has happened:http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/afr...obert-d-kaplan

    The real fundamental drama will play out gradually, outside the strictures of media accounts. This drama will be about how, and whether, Africa's recently impressive economic growth rates can lead to the creation of larger middle classes. It is larger middle classes that lead, in turn, to more efficient and vigorous government ministries, and to more professional militaries, so that hinterlands might be brought under control and artificially drawn borders made more workable. The Saharan countries, in this regard, are a more extreme version of the larger African challenge, as the desert has created the largest dichotomy of populations within the continent.
    davidbfpo

  10. #130
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    Slightly tangential.

    I think we are losing sight of an extremely important and obvious event - the speed at which the Malian state fell apart.

    That, not elections nor "a restoration of democracy" or even "the presence of AQ/Boko Haram" is what should keep us worried.

  11. #131
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    Default Did Mali fall apart?

    KingJaja asked:
    I think we are losing sight of an extremely important and obvious event - the speed at which the Malian state fell apart.
    Kaplan referred to the fragility of many African countries in his article, so it is noteworthy that today in FP Blog there is an article, which starts with:
    In a continent that doesn't have much of a reputation for liberal governance, Mali stood out. For the past twenty years this country of 12 million people has stuck doggedly to democratic principles. In 1991, Malians overthrew a military dictatorship and convened a national assembly that drew up a constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press, far-reaching decentralization, and presidential elections every five years. In the years since then, the people of this Muslim-majority country have consistently managed to stick to those principles.
    Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article..._harm?page=0,0

    Note the FP article also asks a far wider question, about the impact of intervention in Libya:
    The lesson: Even in situations where there is ample justification for using force against dictators or war criminals, policymakers would be well-advised to take a good look at the possible negative side effects of their actions.
    davidbfpo

  12. #132
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    Default Analyst says Somali pirates have new weapons from Libya

    Unrelated. Talks about the proliferation of weapons from Libya. If Somali pirates have them, then they are most certainly in Mali/Nigeria.

    (Reuters) - Somali pirates have acquired sophisticated weaponry, including mines and shoulder-held missile launchers from Libya, and are likely to use them in bolder attacks on shipping, a senior maritime security analyst said on Thursday.

    "We found that Libyan weapons are being sold in what is the world's biggest black market for illegal gun smugglers, and Somali pirates are among those buying from sellers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries," said Judith van der Merwe, of the Algiers-based African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism.

    "We believe our information is credible and know that some of the pirates have acquired ship mines, as well as Stinger and other shoulder-held missile launchers," Van der Merwe told Reuters on the sidelines of an Indian Ocean naval conference.

    After Libya's ruler Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels in the north African state, weaponry from his well-stocked arsenals made its way onto the black market, she said.

    The information was gathered from interviews with gun smugglers, pirates and other sources, said Van der Merwe.

    Pirates operating from the Somali coast have raked in millions of dollars in ransoms from hijacking ships and a report in 2011 estimated that maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7 billion and $12 billion through higher shipping costs and ransom payments.

    Warships from NATO, the European Union and other affected countries deployed in the Gulf of Aden have had only limited success in combating pirate attacks, mainly because of the huge expanse of sea that needs surveillance, some 2.5 million square miles.

    "What we are seeing is a decrease in the number of successful attacks, but an increase in the ransom amounts paid out, and the fear is that better armed pirates could risk more or pose a greater challenge when facing capture," Van der Merwe said.

    Pirates have attacked as far away as the Indian coast, about 1,000 nautical miles away, and are increasingly turning their attention southwards towards South Africa.

    A former commander of naval Task Force 151, one of the multi-national forces in the Gulf of Aden, said pirates usually surrendered when faced with the massive firepower of naval vessels.

    "At this stage we are seeing no evidence the pirates of Somalia are having any weapons beyond the AK47s and RPGs," Rear Admiral Harris Chan of the Singapore Navy told Reuters at the conference.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...83B0HO20120412

  13. #133
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    CFR: Mali a dilemma for African Regional Organizations

    But the Sahel as a whole faces drought, and there were UN warnings of possible famine even before the Mali coup occurred. Now, a spokesman for Oxfam observes that closing borders or restricting trade could have a devastating impact on the people of Mali, making emergency food deliveries to starving populations even more difficult.
    Regional organizations may find they have less leverage in such circumstances. And, as Oxfam reminds us, famine could become the context.
    These two quotes, from an article that is a bit outdated by now with the official transition, does bring up a linkage between the Taureg insurgency, Mali, and the famine. If I were the Malian government, I would probably use the food as leverage, try to break the Tauregs by starving them to death or forcing them to migrate to other Sahelian states.

  14. #134
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    These two quotes, from an article that is a bit outdated by now with the official transition, does bring up a linkage between the Taureg insurgency, Mali, and the famine. If I were the Malian government, I would probably use the food as leverage, try to break the Tauregs by starving them to death or forcing them to migrate to other Sahelian states.
    A few problems with that:

    1. There is no shortage of extremely fragile states from which to operate from. "Starving them out" will simply transfer the problem to these states, from which they can easily regroup and come back stronger (see how Liberia destabilised Sierra Leone).

    2. This isn't Biafra 2.0 when the Nigerian government used "starvation as a legitimate weapon of war". Will the international community tolerate starvation as a weapon of war? In any case, I don't recall starvation having a great record of forcing outcomes in Africa's recent history. (Mugabe is still in business, Somalia is still as messed up as it was before).

  15. #135
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    Totally unrelated. Coup in Guinea Bissau.

    Is this the new normal? I'm no expert in democracy, but it clearly has not delivered the goods in Africa. There is no evidence that life in "democratic" Mali was better than life in "authoritarian" Uganda or Ethiopia.

    In Nigeria, where I come from 70% of children in primary education in Lagos attend private schools. Democracy has been accompanied with massive state failure (Nigeria spends more on rehabilitation of Niger Delta militants than on primary healthcare).

    If democracy is seen not to work, it's back to square one.

  16. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    There is no evidence that life in "democratic" Mali was better than life in "authoritarian" Uganda or Ethiopia.
    Did you look for it?

    I doubt that Mali was worse off than in Uganda or Ethiopia, not the least because of the influence of wars and epidemics.


    Quality of Life index 2011
    http://www1.internationalliving.com/qofl2011/

    Uganda overall 51 points (climate 81)
    Mali overall 49 points (climate 51)
    Ethiopia overall 45 points (climate 92)

    Looks like at least this metric favours Mali, since the exogenous factor of climate is what pulls it down.

  17. #137
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    Those statistics are arbitrarily defined. We should look at easily verifiable statistics such as GDP per capita, economic growth rate, literacy rate and employment rate.

  18. #138
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    We're not getting any ceteris paribus comparison anyway because the starting points for these countries were too different.
    Besides; you were writing about "better" "life", and that's very different from macroeconomic statistics. In fact, there's almost no causality between both.
    By the way; your proposed metrics were arbitrarily defined as well.


    It's no wonder that you don't see metrics favouring the one democratic country if you dismiss available metrics so easily.

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    Sorry if I came across as dismissive, but having spend a fair amount of time in an "African democracy", I tend to be sceptical about "African democracies" especially when they are praised to high heavens by the West.

  20. #140
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    Democracy means the people can get rid of your rulers with some civility once every few years.
    It does not equal good governance.

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