Mali : The Killing Fields?

Veröffentlicht: 1. Februar 2013 in Uncategorized


Mali could be a desert necropolis for French forces

By Ahmed Rajab

France’s military intervention in Mali, which began on January 10, could turn the Sahelian country into its Afghanistan. The move, widely viewed in Africa as neo-colonialist in intent and humiliating for the continent, runs the risk of further destabilising the already fragile Malian state and provoking radical Islamism in the Sahel as well as in the West Africa region in general.

One consequence that the intervention is unlikely to do is to solve Mali’s myriad problems and arrest its descent into a failed state.

“Our leaders, most of them corrupt and despots, lack credibility and political legitimacy. They still dance to the tune of the colonial master to win favours from him,” said an irate Malian official working in the office of interim President Dioncounda Traoré who spoke to The Muslim News on condition of anonymity.

Analysts in the West Africa region believe that French President Francois Hollande has committed French guns and boots on the ground with the sole aim of exploiting Mali for its considerable resources, including uranium, gold, oil and rare minerals. They also accuse France of acting in connivance with Qatar. They proffer this as one reason why other European states are not so keen to support the French military invasion.

In addition to fighting the Sahelian Islamist groups, almost all are also involved with banditry, cocaine smuggling and kidnapping for financial gains, France will also have to contend with northern Mali’s complex tribal politics.

Last April, in the wake of a coup in Bamako, which ousted the democratically elected Government of President Amadou Toumane Touré, two Tuareg groups, the Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) and the al-Qa’ida-linked Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) captured a large swathe of northern Mali, including the cities of Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao. The MNLA, a secularist organisation, has been fighting for an independent homeland of the Tuaregs.

However, the Islamist Ansar Dine, working in tandem with other Islamist groups in the region, the al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Jamat Tawhid Wal Jihad Fi Garbi Afriqqiya (Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO)), quickly outwitted the MNLA. Their victory allowed them to impose an austere Salafist interpretation of Shari’ah in the areas under their control.

Leader of Ansar Dine, Iyad Ag Ghaly, who cuts a romantic figure and who until recently was known to be partial to the pleasures of life, is not a Mullah Omar. Lately, he has been talking to Burkinabé mediators in an effort to avert military action against the Islamists. But tribal leaders in northern Mali do not fully trust Ag Ghaly.

The AQIM is an offshoot of the Groupe Salafiste pour le Prédication et le Combat (GSPC), which is itself an offshoot of the Groupes Islamiques Armées (GIA). There is evidence, however, to suggest that GIA was the creation of Algeria’s intelligence service, the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS).

Certainly its leader, Djamel Zitouni, was a DRS agent. US intelligence sources now acknowledge that the 1995 bombings in France that were blamed on GIA, in fact were the handiwork of the DRS in a bid to stigmatise the extremists. The DRS had heavily infiltrated both the GSPC and AQIM, which is still active in the Sahara and Sahel regions.

Some of the GSPC and AQIM leaders have had links with the DRS or were its direct agents. They included the notorious Amari Saifi (‘El Para’), who in 2003 took 32 European tourists hostage in the Sahara as well as Mokhtar bel Mokhtar, a renegade AQIM leader, who claimed responsibility for the January 16 kidnapping of foreign workers, including British and American, in an Algerian gas field near the Libyan border.

MUJAO’s leader Sultan Ould Badi is also believed to be connected with the DRS.

The link between the Algerian intelligence and the Islamist groups explains why a few hundred Islamist fighters were able to hijack with ease the Tuareg’s nationalist agenda for the independence of their Azawad territory. Algerian special forces are suspected of having assisted them in heavily defeating the MNLA militarily as well as politically.

Because of its own domestic reasons Algeria has always been opposed to the creation of a secessionist state in the Sahel. Algeria has constantly been concerned more by ethnic separatists than by Salafist fundamentalism. It, therefore, used the Islamist groups to frustrate the MNLA’s project. Intelligence services in Washington and Paris have been in the loop on this.

Algeria has reluctantly supported the French project in Mali, a position that many in Africa find unacceptable. But it has done so after considerable pressure from both Washington and Paris.

In late October, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, went to Algiers to put pressure on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to join forces with France and the US to remove the terrorists from Mali.

Bouteflika on his part lectured Clinton on the realities of the Sahel and the absence of a responsible and accountable Government in Bamako. He urged her to let Algeria and Ecowas, the regional organisation, together with the African Union, seek a political solution between Bamako and the rebels and then eradicate the terrorists’ infrastructure in northern Mali.

Washington and Paris, however, did not give mediation efforts any chance of success.

Ahmed Rajab is a Middle East and Africa analyst. He is also Managing Director of Universal TV and a columnist for Raia Mwema, Tanzania’s authoritative weekly. He divides his time between London and Nairobi.

Editorial p2 ==place this in the middle as usual If there is space then place this in the middle in orange: Analysts believe that French President Francois Hollande has committed French guns and boots on the ground with the sole aim of exploiting Mali for its considerable resources, including uranium, gold, oil and rare minerals.

Notice : I just recite this article , nothing more…


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