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Old 03-27-2012   #101
ganulv
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Am I correct in my assumption that the small size of the Malian and Burkinabé militaries has a lot to do with their respective presidents’ anxieties regarding coup attempts? I assume this stays on Blaise’s mind given how he came about his current position.
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Old 03-27-2012   #102
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Am I correct in my assumption that the small size of the Malian and Burkinab militaries has a lot to do with their respective presidents anxieties regarding coup attempts? I assume this stays on Blaises mind given how he came about his current position.
Hey Matt,
Not all too sure about Burkina Faso other than the typically well fed and paid presidential regiment (RSP), but the Malian military is quite small - numbering less than 7,000 (on paper that is) and reportedly Mali can't afford what they have. Looking at those Russian dinosaurs they have for vehicles and aircraft, it's a wonder they can even put up a defensive force.
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Old 03-27-2012   #103
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Hey Matt,
Not all too sure about Burkina Faso other than the typically well fed and paid presidential regiment (RSP), but the Malian military is quite small - numbering less than 7,000 (on paper that is) and reportedly Mali can't afford what they have. Looking at those Russian dinosaurs they have for vehicles and aircraft, it's a wonder they can even put up a defensive force.
The publicly available stuff says about 6,000 in Burkina. That number seems to include the Gendarmerie and the Garde Champêtre. Theres also a five figure conscripted militia force which I cannot imagine amounts to much given that the gates at the camp militaire in Bobo looked like they hadnt been painted in years (Im not saying the country is so poor that their military cant even afford paint; rather I suspect the paint money in the budget gets put into someones pocket before paint can be bought with it).

Veering off topic as I sometimes do I took the photo below as a storm which caught ma petite amie and I was blowing up as we walked back to our auberge. We waited for about twenty minutes in a store and since there was no sign that the rain was going to let up and we were already wet we decided to continue on foot. In the mile or so we walked through the rain the only other movement of any kind we saw on the roads was when we met a couple of soldiers walking in the opposite direction and everyone who saw us walk past had the oddest looks on their faces which I thought was probably their way of expressing that they thought we were morons. Then later I thought about passing the two soldiers and I had to wonder if maybe your average Burkinabè is afraid of being rained on for some reason (that it will make them sick or that they will melt or something) and the soldiers had been made to be out in the weather enough to know better.


Burkinabès freaking the f**ck out as a storm blows up.
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Last edited by ganulv; 03-27-2012 at 06:29 PM. Reason: typo fix
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Old 03-30-2012   #104
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Default How long will crisis last?

A coup in Mali is clearly quite different to other African coups:
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President Amadou Toumani Toure said on Wednesday that he remained in the country, free and in good health
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17562066 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17543387

As the Tuaregs advance diplomats in ECOWAS are stirring themselves, threatening economic sanctions and in Mali itself the banks are busy as deposits are withdrawn.
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Old 04-01-2012   #105
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I hear the Tuareg rebels have taken over Timbuktu and have declared their independent state. What are the implications?
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Old 04-01-2012   #106
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Default The 'fall' of Timbucktu: the implications?

KingJaJa,

Yes the 'fall' of Timbucktu has been reported by the BBC: Newshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17576725

You added:
Quote:
What are the implications?
Typing aloud then I would suggest these:

a) the impact within Mali on the new regime - nearly 500 miles away - and how much Mali and the people think the city is worth
b) will the reported dtente between the rebels and local Arabs hold?
c) the impact on the calculus of ECOWAS on imposing sanctions and possibly intervention. Will petrol supplies be cut-off notably; no fuel, no combat.
d) the impact of such a 'fall' of a city once having a mythological status well beyond the region, notably with Algeria, France and the USA - in that order
e) can the 'rebels' actually administer the Tuareg region, including towns and without some of the extremism associated with AQIM?
f) an ECOWAS intervention leads to an effective partition, I doubt the coalition - even with external support - will seek combat in the north.

All from my faraway "armchair". Helped by this BBC analysis Is Mali's coup doomed?:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17573294
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Old 04-01-2012   #107
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David,

1. Will ECOWAS be forced to side with the junta, because applying sanctions on the junta merely emboldens the rebels? (The rebels want nothing more than a weakened Malian military)

2. What impact will this have on other separatist movements in Africa. Africa is full of artificial states and as I said earlier, the political maps will have to be redrawn this century. We had South Sudan and now this. About the viability of the proposed state - I don't think the Tauregs are less economically viable than either Nigeria or Mauritania.
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Old 04-01-2012   #108
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Default More Q&A

My replies are in bold after the question.

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Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
David,

1. Will ECOWAS be forced to side with the junta, because applying sanctions on the junta merely emboldens the rebels? (The rebels want nothing more than a weakened Malian military)No

2. What impact will this have on other separatist movements in Africa. Africa is full of artificial states and as I said earlier, the political maps will have to be redrawn this century. We had South Sudan and now this. About the viability of the proposed state - I don't think the Tauregs are less economically viable than either Nigeria or Mauritania.Almost none, simply due to the population size, remoteness and minimal impact on African affairs
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Old 04-05-2012   #109
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Default Updates from the desert

A BBC report announces:
Quote:
Mali's Tuareg separatist rebels have declared an end to military operations, a statement on their website says. The Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) say they have captured enough territory to form their own state. But the position of Islamist insurgents, who fought alongside the Tuareg in northern Mali, is unclear.
There are other updates in the report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17622760

In Timbucktu it looks grim. citing agencies:
Quote:
The head of Ansar Dine, notorious rebel Iyad Ag Ghaly, has set up base at the town's military camp and has been flanked by three of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's top leaders. Ag Ghaly's men have fought alongside the secular MNLA which wants independence for the desert nomads who originate in the area, however the two groups have very different aims and appear to have fallen out.
Residents and security sources report the Islamists have chased the Tuareg out of Timbuktu, burning their flag and replacing it with their black jihad flag.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...s-in-Mali.html

A snippet following helping two Brits to leave the city:
Quote:
The couple’s saviors were units of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a nomadic Tuareg force...which did not have an Islamist agenda.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/exp...tu-escape.html
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Old 04-05-2012   #110
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Default Making sense of Mali

In Mali we are dealing with several situations simultaneously.

1. A Military overthrow of an elected civilian government.
2. A mutiny by an ill-equipped and poorly motivated army.
3. The breakdown of military discipline and the command structure of the Army.
4. A popular revolt against the central government by a section of the population (Tuaregs).
5. Infiltration by Al Qaeda.
6. A weak state on the verge of implosion.

Mali urgently needs a renegotiation of its internal political architecture, but the motley crew in Bamako are not in the best position to do it. Will sanctions help stabilise the situation in Mali? I doubt it.

What should the international community do, because instability in Mali puts Niger and Northern Nigeria at risk.

Blind emphasis on point 5 (Al Qaeda infiltration) could be extremely counter-productive
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Old 04-05-2012   #111
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David,

About the viability of the proposed state - I don't think the Tauregs are less economically viable than either Nigeria or Mauritania.
Nigeria has a lot of oil. If the finance minister can do what she has set out to do, is a lot of potential for growth there. There is probably even enough to spread some prosperity to the North. That would undermine support for BH, which, in turn, might lead to more foreign direct investment as the region became more stable which then leads to more stability and so on. Unfortunately that is a pretty big if.

Mauritania does not but its economy is about 81% industry and services. That is a big improvement over an agrarian economy. Their DDP per capita (PPP) is only about $2200 but that is an improvement over 2009. Their real growth, as measured by GDP, was about 5% over the last two years (after a 1.2% contraction in 2009). That isn't a blistering pace but not bad for a developing world state with no mineral wealth.

Overall Mali's growth over the last two years has not been bad (also about 5%) but its economy is still ~39% agriculture based and GDP per capita (PPP) is still around $1300. Much of the industry and services are located south of Timbuktu. For that matter, if memory serves, most of the best agricultural land is south of Timbuktu as well. The increasing desertification of Sub-Saharan Africa has left much of the land in the north of countries like Mali and Niger unfit for much agriculture. One of the problems that has led to this uprising is the limited economic support that the Tuareg have gotten from Bamako. I am not sure how creating a separate state is going to fix that.
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Old 04-05-2012   #112
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You need to accept that comment like "Statements about what the Tuareg want must be viewed with some suspicion" must surely also apply to what you were told and what you believe, yes?
I am not saying that anybody was lied to about what the Tuareg do or do not want. I am simply saying that, because they are such a sparse and widely spread group that none of them can be said to be speaking for all of them. I am sure that some Tuareg absolutely do want a homeland. I also know that some are not so interested and I cannot say that either point of view represents the majority view.

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Your 'fix' is not to do anything... so the war will continue. Some fix that is.
My point is that I am not advocating any fix at all by foreign powers. This is not an issue that they can fix. Africa's problems will have to be solved by Africans. Foreign powers can provide some support for them in this but they cannot fix their problems for them.

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Like indigenous people in other extreme climatic areas maybe they just want to continue with their traditional way of life. Maybe they don't want a modern state with malls, Walmart, MacDonald's and Starbucks. No matter how backward we may think their lifestyle is maybe they like it just like that ... and are prepared to fight for it.
I never said that they did want those things. Some do and some probably do not. I can say say, however, that none of them want to watch their children starve because the extreme climate that they live in has become more extreme to the point that it is probably not life sustaining anymore.
I did meet Tuareg who wanted to continue their nomadic herding lifestyle but the grazing is so poor now that livestock are dying off faster than they can replace them. That is not sustainable.
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Old 04-05-2012   #113
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Mauritania does not but its economy is about 81% industry and services. That is a big improvement over an agrarian economy. Their DDP per capita (PPP) is only about $2200 but that is an improvement over 2009. Their real growth, as measured by GDP, was about 5% over the last two years (after a 1.2% contraction in 2009). That isn't a blistering pace but not bad for a developing world state with no mineral wealth.

IIRC Mauritania has substantial mineral riches and wikipedia happens to agree:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Mauritania


Btw, IIRC the Touareg do prefer to be called Imuhagh. "Touareg" is a foreigner-coined derogatory term; IIRC it means something like "dirty ones".

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Old 04-05-2012   #114
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I am not saying that anybody was lied to about what the Tuareg do or do not want. I am simply saying that, because they are such a sparse and widely spread group that none of them can be said to be speaking for all of them. I am sure that some Tuareg absolutely do want a homeland. I also know that some are not so interested and I cannot say that either point of view represents the majority view.

My point is that I am not advocating any fix at all by foreign powers. This is not an issue that they can fix. Africa's problems will have to be solved by Africans. Foreign powers can provide some support for them in this but they cannot fix their problems for them.

I never said that they did want those things. Some do and some probably do not. I can say say, however, that none of them want to watch their children starve because the extreme climate that they live in has become more extreme to the point that it is probably not life sustaining anymore.
I did meet Tuareg who wanted to continue their nomadic herding lifestyle but the grazing is so poor now that livestock are dying off faster than they can replace them. That is not sustainable.
Thank you... this makes your position clear.
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Old 04-05-2012   #115
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IIRC Mauritania has substantial mineral riches and wikipedia happens to agree:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Mauritania


Btw, IIRC the Touareg do prefer to be called Imuhagh. "Touareg" is a foreigner-coined derogatory term; IIRC it means something like "dirty ones".
I pulled my data off of the CIA world factbook. Perhaps I overstated that they have no mineral wealth but compared to places like Nigeria and Libya, they do not have a lot of mineral wealth. They are focused more on inviting foreign direct investment than on exploiting mineral wealth.

As for the name Tuareg, that is the name that all of the ones that I have known used for themselves. I never heard any of them complain about that and most of them would not have hesitated to do so if they were so inclined. They are not a meek people.
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Old 04-06-2012   #116
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A lot of noise has been made about the Nigerian finance minister. She isn't actually the person driving the economy, the president and the cabal that got him elected are.

The interests of the cabal do not intersect neatly with the World Bank textbook knowledge she has in her head. There are a few extremely important reforms like the deregulation of the downstream sector of the economy, the petroleum industry bill and power sector reforms that have been stalled.

Right now she has a very mixed (to put it mildly) reputation in Nigeria. Inflation is up, disposable incomes are down. The Fast Moving Consumer Goods Sector of the real economy has stalled. Power generation hasn't improved substantially.

Please understand that insiders, not outsiders (even the economist) are the best placed to assess the performance of African public servants. And definitely not the Western business community that barely ventures out of their comfort zone in Lagos.
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Old 04-06-2012   #117
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Quote:
I pulled my data off of the CIA world factbook. Perhaps I overstated that they have no mineral wealth but compared to places like Nigeria and Libya, they do not have a lot of mineral wealth. They are focused more on inviting foreign direct investment than on exploiting mineral wealth.

As for the name Tuareg, that is the name that all of the ones that I have known used for themselves. I never heard any of them complain about that and most of them would not have hesitated to do so if they were so inclined. They are not a meek people.
Always read statistics about Africa with an awareness that nobody really knows what they are talking about.

In the early 2000's, I worked in a consulting firm, based on ITU statistics, there was no way Nigeria could support 70 million mobile phone subscribers. After all, the GDP per capita figures were extremely low and we only had 300,000 land lines.

Naturally, Western firms shied away from investing in Nigeria and the South Africans took over that market. Vodafone realised its mistake and tried its best to get back into the market, but it was too late.

We've tried to do market assessments for Indian firms and firms all over the World. But we just don't know what is going on because data is so unreliable. Census figures are sometimes wildly overstated (or understated). NGOs overstate mortality figures and poverty statistics to increase funding from donor governments. And official statistics are extremely dodgy.
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Old 04-06-2012   #118
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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.
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Old 04-06-2012   #119
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Default Tuarag rebels proclaim 'independence of Azawad'

Has the inevitable breakup of Africa's artificial states begun in earnest?


Quote:
"We solemnly proclaim the independence of Azawad as from today," said Mossa Ag Attaher, who added that the rebels would respect "the borders with other states."
Armed Islamists had stormed the Algerian consulate in northeastern Mali and abducted seven diplomats on Thursday amid fears Al Qaeda-linked fighters are turning the country into a rogue state and fuelling a humanitarian crisis.
As the Tuareg trumpeted the success of a decades-old struggle to "liberate" their homeland, their fundamentalist comrades-turned-rivals began imposing sharia law in parts of northern Mali.
The MNLA said as a result of their successful conquest of an area they call the Azawad, they were halting all military operations from midnight on Thursday.
Ag Attaher declared: "We completely accept the role and responsibility that behoves us to secure this territory. We have ended a very important fight, that of liberation ... now the biggest task commences."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...of-Azawad.html
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Old 04-07-2012   #120
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Default Coup leaders to stand down as part of Ecowas deal

A BBC report that starts with:
Quote:
Coup leaders in Mali have agreed to stand down and allow a transition to civilian rule, as part of a deal struck with regional bloc Ecowas. In return, the bloc will lift trade and economic sanctions and grant amnesty to the ruling junta, mediators said.
Later I noted this and wondered:
Quote:
Ecowas is preparing a force of up to 3,000 soldiers which could be deployed to stop the rebel advance.
In a side bar comment:
Quote:
Regional defence chiefs of staff are drafting plans for a potential military intervention. But it would still take weeks and outside logistical help before it could be deployed.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17642276

France has said it will help with logistics and IIRC previous ECOWAS expeditions have had financial support from elsewhere.
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