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Old 09-11-2007   #1
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Default Mali mainly, 2012 coup, drugs & more

Letter from Timbuktu, by Austin Merrill. Vanity Fair Web Exclusive, September 10, 2007. http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/09/sahara200709
Quote:
The Pentagon has allotted $500 million to the fight against terrorism in the Sahara Desert, using American Special Forces teams to train African armies and befriend locals. Vanity Fair was invited to join the U.S. military on a recent mission to Timbuktu, Mali, to get an up-close look at one of the lesser-known fronts in the battle against al-Qaeda.
by Austin Merrill WEB EXCLUSIVE September 10, 2007
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Old 10-22-2009   #2
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Question Guinea-Bissau and the drug trade?

Over the past few years or so(since at least 2006) elements of Columbian drug cartels have been setting up business in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, In hopes of both getting out up of an increasingly hostile environment in Columbia for the cartels as well as finding a route to further their trade into Europe. From what I understand the Columbian Cartels and other elements of the drug trade from Latin America have been stepping up their business in the West African nation, especially recently. Also Iíve heard that the Columbians/Latin Americans in Guinea-Bissau are being joined by other organizations like criminal gangs/mafias from Russia and Eastern Europe as well as militant groups from the Middle East like Hezbollah have set up shop there also, all trying to make money from the illicit trade recently established in the West African nation.

So I was wondering if any SWJ members would mind telling me more about what is happening Guinea-Bissau and where I could find more information on the drug trade recently established there and whether all of this is overblown or not?

Thank you,
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Old 10-23-2009   #3
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Default She's alright, She's alright, She's alright....

From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

Cocaine Trafficking in West Africa: The threat to stability and development
(with special reference to Guinea-Bissau)
- December 2007 (pdf)
Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa - November 2008 (pdf)
Transnational Trafficking and the Rule of Law in West Africa: A Threat Assessment - July 2009 (pdf)

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has done a good series:

Guinea-Bissau: West Africa's New Achilles' Heel
Untold Stories
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Old 12-14-2009   #4
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Default Mali mainly and drugs in West Africa

(Moderator's Note Athis appeared as a RFI and was moved to the Africa thread 27/6/2010, where it sits better now; PM to originator. Mod's Note BTitle of thread changed to reflect two subjects covered Mali mainly and drugs in the region).

Does anyone know anything about Mali please? I'm about to do some research on the place and given the level of expertise in here thought that SWJ was a good place to start.

Are there any security issues there? Any potential conflict?

Historical involvement in conflicts around Africa?

Sorry to be so Billy Basic but I have to start this off somewhere!
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-14-2011 at 10:24 PM. Reason: Add Mod's Note A and later B
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Old 12-14-2009   #5
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Default Mali: the quest begins

Being a former French colony and until recently in an obscure part of West Africa / Sahel Mali has an amazingly low profile. Try the standard newsites like the BBC or the CIA and others for a country profile.

Mali has recently featured in some UK-funded counter-radicalisation work, with a conference for clerics in Bamako; which appeared in The Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...l-leaders.html

and within the last few weeks a crashed aircraft loaded with cocaine. AQIM is rumoured to have a presence in the north and linked to kidnapping of foriegners. Just put Mali in Google News and its all there.

There is a specialist website, partly in French IIRC: http://www.thecroissant.com/index.html (behind a paywall alas)

The US Africa Command has had a training mission there and exercises.

Not sure how strong the French connection is now, so have a look for Frech experts?
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Old 12-15-2009   #6
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commando Spirit View Post
Does anyone know anything about Mali please? I'm about to do some research on the place and given the level of expertise in here thought that SWJ was a good place to start.

Are there any security issues there? Any potential conflict?

Historical involvement in conflicts around Africa?

Sorry to be so Billy Basic but I have to start this off somewhere!
The French are still there, in fact one of them was recently kidnapped in Western Mali.

Security issues abound in Sub Saharen Africa and Mali is no exception. If you are looking for searches, look into Mali and the Tuaregs. There is a great deal to be found on that subject. Also search for Mali and AQIM.
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Old 12-15-2009   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
....Security issues abound in Sub Saharen Africa and Mali is no exception. If you are looking for searches, look into Mali and the Tuaregs. There is a great deal to be found on that subject. Also search for Mali and AQIM.
The Tuareg rebels in the north are led by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga and grouped under the Alliance Touareg Nord-Mali pour le Changement (ATNMC).

When looking into security and conflict, don't restrict yourself to Mali. Many issues are regionally linked throughout the Sahel. Look into crime, smuggling and terrorism, separately and together.
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Old 12-15-2009   #8
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Default A French view on Mali

Commando spirit

As Iím French, I may enter in the discussionÖ But Mali is not the part of Africa I am the most familiar with.

Good sources to start with and be familiar with what is going on there is to look at
www.rfi.fr
www.afrik.com/mali
www.Allafrica.com (especially the French version).

If you read French, then go to Karthala (http://www.karthala.com/index.php) and Harmathan (http://www.harmattan.fr/index.asp).
It is the two main French editors for development, history, security research books.
You may find some stuff in English in their catalogue (but I doubt of it).

In English:
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/qui...li&searchtype=
You will find a lot of publications on Mali. Mostly development oriented but will help you to understand the economic and sociological issues there, often linked with security/political issues. In Africa, I would say that economy and politic/security are bound and melted.

I do not know how much this will help as itís not Mali focussed only. But as Jedburgh said, most of the issues are regional. I can orient you to two main French think tanks:

IFRI, Subsaharian African issues (English version)
http://www.ifri.org/?page=detail_research_center&id=1

IRIS, African issues (English version)
http://www.iris-france.org/en/aires-...he/afrique.php

If you will be assigned in Mali, basically you have to speak French. Just like I, I have to speak English to work in East and Southern Africa. Just donít assume that Malians will speak English.
If you need more specific oriented docs in French mostly, just contact me, I may help.
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Old 07-23-2010   #9
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Default France targets 'al-Qaeda militants' in Mauritania

From the BBC:
Quote:
France has confirmed it took part in a raid against alleged al-Qaeda militants alongside Mauritanian troops.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10738467
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Old 08-05-2010   #10
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Moderator's Note: A lengthy article looking at the recent operation and originally posted on an un-related thread and moved here.

The french are active in the Sohel...

http://themoornextdoor.wordpress.com...ian-aqim-raid/

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-05-2010 at 10:14 PM. Reason: Moved here and PM to author
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Old 08-21-2010   #11
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Default Has al-qaeda started a feud with the tuareg?

An interesting report on how feuding hinders the 'struggle':http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=36764&tx_ttnews[backPid]=26&cHash=49c037ace5

On Mali:
Quote:
Mali is still struggling with a simmering Tuareg insurgency in its vast and poorly controlled northern region. Colonel Hassan Ag Fagaga, a noted Tuareg rebel, has threatened to resume the insurgency if the government does not implement the terms of the 2008 Algiers Accord (El Khabar, July 15). Colonel Ag Fagaga brought 400 Tuareg fighters in for integration with Maliís armed forces in 2009. He has already deserted twice to join the Tuareg rebels in the north. Al-Qaeda has tried to ingratiate itself with the disaffected Tuareg of northern Mali but has had only marginal success. Some former rebels have even offered to form Tuareg counterterrorist units to expel the mostly Arab al-Qaeda group from the region.
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Old 08-24-2010   #12
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Default Wider than Mali - impact of Spanish hostage release

Thanks to SWJ Blog a NYT story on the release of two Spanish hostages held for nine months:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/wo...html?ref=world

The last two paragraphs refer to Mali:
Quote:
The release of the two Spanish hostages, meanwhile, followed an agreement by Mauritania to extradite to Mali a man convicted by a Mauritanian court in July for his role in the kidnapping of the Spaniards. The Malian citizen, known as Omar the Saharan, was allegedly the mastermind of the abduction and had received a 12-year prison sentence.

Mr. Zapatero thanked Spanish diplomatic and secret services for helping secure the release. But he provided no further insight on Monday on the link between the Malian extradition and the release of the hostages.
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Old 06-27-2011   #13
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Default Mauritania 'destroys al-Qaeda camp' in Mali

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/af...224429787.html

Quote:
The Mauritanian army has launched an attack on an al-Qaeda training camp in neighbouring Mali and "completely destroyed" it, a Mauritanian security source said.

Friday's assault in the forest region of Wagadou in western Mali involved air strikes, the unnamed source told the AFP news agency, adding that the "terrorists" struck back with "heavy arms".
Subsequent reporting states 15 terrorists dead and along with two Mauitanian soldiers.

This is how the war on terror should be fought, we don't need to send U.S. Army Divisions to occupy nations to fight terrorists.
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Old 06-27-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
This is how the war on terror should be fought, we don't need to send U.S. Army Divisions to occupy nations to fight terrorists.
Since Mauritania doesn't have any combat aircraft, I wonder who did the airstrikes...
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Old 06-27-2011   #15
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I suspect the French or the U.S., both have been active in the region.

Obviously plenty of NATO aircraft available over Libya that could have been re-missioned
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Old 01-10-2011   #16
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Default Organized Crime and Terrorism in the Sahel

SWP, 1 Jan 11: Organized Crime and Terrorism in the Sahel: Drivers, Actors, Options
Quote:
The dimensions of organized criminal activity in the Sahel region have fundamentally changed in recent years. As profits from cocaine smuggling and abductions of foreign nationals increase substantially, criminal networks are expanding their influence, eroding both the rule of law and existing social structures. The growing presence of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) should equally be seen in the context of the developing criminal networks. Attempts to counter this trend by boosting the capacities of regional states in the security sector have failed to address the real problems. The EU and Germany should encourage greater regional cooperation. Key states are Algeria, which claims regional leadership, and Mali, which has yet to begin tackling organized crime.....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-10-2011 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011   #17
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Moderator's Note

Copied here from the AQ in Africa rebirth thread and edited down to the Mali aspects.

In an Associated Press article out today we can see that AQIM has recognized the need to aid the poor locals to gain their hearts and minds.

Quote:
With almost no resistance, al-Qaida has implanted itself in Africa's soft tissue, choosing as its host one of the poorest nations on earth. The terrorist group has create a refuge in this remote land through a strategy of winning hearts and minds, described in rare detail by seven locals in regular contact with the cell. The villagers agreed to speak for the first time to an Associated Press team in the "red zone," deemed by most embassies to be too dangerous for foreigners to visit.
Link:http://www.newser.com/article/d9rdg0...in-africa.html

The world's poor are a easy target for terrorists to recruit and gain their confidence. The world, not necessarily governments only, must reach out to help, listen to and walk alongside the poor or there will be much unrest ahead.

I remember Robert Kaplan of the Atlantic Monthly predicting anarchy in West Africa back in 1994...see article http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...-anarchy/4670/ What we may be seeing is a second wave of the anarchy with the same, unsolved poverty issues driving it.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-05-2011 at 08:20 PM. Reason: Copied & edited to here
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Old 12-20-2011   #18
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Default Algerian troops 'in Mali to combat Qaeda groups'

Given that other, non-African nations have taken to wandering around the Sahel this is the first report I've seen on Algeria troops being in Mali:
Quote:
Algerian troops have crossed into Mali to help government forces combat groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda, officials and witnesses told AFP Tuesday.

"Algerian troops are currently stationed in northern Mali to assist the Malian army in the fight against terrorism," a high-ranking military official said. e would not divulge the number of Algerian troops now based in Mali nor the expected length of their stay.

"We know there is a team of instructors of at least 15, including officers," a diplomatic source said, also on condition of anonymity.
Link:http://news.yahoo.com/algerian-troop...eSBXb3JsZFNGIE
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Old 01-20-2012   #19
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Default Dozens of Tuareg rebels dead in Mali clash

Reportedly the result of Tuareg mercenaries coming home from Libya and I note a new group calling for independence:
Quote:
the newly formed National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NLMA)
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16643507
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Old 01-20-2012   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Reportedly the result of Tuareg mercenaries coming home from Libya and I note a new group calling for independence:

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16643507
The returned mercenaries and arms are bound to cause problems for the Sahel region for some time.
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