Thursday, January 31, 2013

About Mali 

  • The landlocked West African country of Mali - one of the poorest in the world - experienced rapid economic growth after the 1990s, coupled with a flourishing democracy and relative social stability.
  • This all hung in the balance in early 2012, when the steady collapse of state control over the north of the country was followed by an inconclusive military coup. 
  • Capital: Bamako.
  • Got independence from France in 1960

Who was the leader before coup? 

  • Amadou Toumani Toure, dubbed the "soldier of democracy", was an army general who was credited with rescuing Mali from military dictatorship and establishing democracy. 
  • He came to power in 1991 after overthrowing military ruler Moussa Traore, and won presidential polls in 2002 and 2007. 
  • He had been due to step aside at the end of his current term. Presidential elections were to have been held in April 2012. 
  • Mr Toure formally resigned after the coup and left Mali for Senegal, although his supporters continued attacks on the new authorities in the capital, Bamako, into May. 

Why did the military coup? 

  • Army officers, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, said they were taking over because of Mr Toure's mishandling of a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north.

What was the arrangement done after the coup? 

  • Dioncounda Traore became the President in April 2012, marking a return to civilian rule after the military coup in March. 
  • Military leader Captain Sanogo agreed in May 2012 to let President Traore remain in office for a year to oversee the full transition to civilian rule. 
  • Under a deal with the military brokered by regional powers, Mr Traore has named a prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra. The unity administration will include the military and will govern until new elections can be held. 
  • Mr Traore, a former speaker of parliament, has vowed to respect the constitution and preserve democracy. He has warned that he will use military force against Tuareg and Islamist militants who took advantage of the coup to declare an independent state in the north. 

Who are Tuareg?

·         Sometimes called the Blue People because the indigo used in some traditional robes and turbans dye their skins dark blue
·         Historically nomadic Berber people who live in the Sahara and Sahel regions of Libya, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, which they call Azawad
·         When camels were introduced into the Sahara 2,000 years ago, the Tuareg became the main operators of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in commodities such as salt and gold
·         Lost out when trade switched to the Atlantic Ocean
·         The Tuareg in Mali say they face discrimination because they are light-skinned and have been neglected by the government in far-off Bamako
·         They prefer to call themselves themselves the Kel Tamasheq or speakers of Tamasheq - their language which has its own alphabet

Who are Islamist militants Ansar Dine? 
  • The Ansar Dine group which is said to have links to al-Qaeda, seized control of northen Mali in April, after a coup left Mali's army in disarray. 
  • Initially, it was working with secular ethnic Tuareg rebels demanding independence for northern Mali's desert territories but the groups have recently clashed and Islamist forces are in control of northern Mali's three main centres - Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. 

  • They have attacked the famous 15th-Century Sidi Yahia mosque in the historic city of Timbuktu. They broke down the door of the mosque as Ansar Dine's Salafist beliefs condemn the veneration of saints. 
  • The door which has been smashed had been left sealed as it led to the sacred tomb of saints. Some local people believe that opening the door will herald misfortune. 
  • They have also vowed to smash every mausoleum, in the face of international protests. The centuries-old shrines to Islamic saints, revered by Sufi Muslims, are regarded as idolatrous by the group. 

Who are AQIM ?

  • They are the people having similar ideology like that of Ansar Dine !
  • Al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM)
  • something like a franchise of Al-Qaida + variety of hardcore groups operating in this region.
  • It offers a typical mix of jihadist activity + criminality (drugs, weapons trades, kidnapping, ransom etc.)

Who are the Secular Tuaregs ?
They are basically the MNLA . Earlier they wanted to create a separate nation for Tuareg people, but now they just want autonomy.

What is the Gaddafhi angle in this ?
  • Colonel Gaddafi (of Libya) had been hiring Tuareg tribesmen in his army.
  • 2011=Uprising in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi gets killed.
  • So these Tuareg tribesmen (from Libyan army) formed their own new rebel group called “MNLA”.
  • They took possession of powerful weapons, surface-to-air missiles etc. from Gaddafi’s fallen army and decided to come back home.
  • They came back home (Northern Mali) and started fighting against the Mali Government. (+Other Islamic militants were also active in the region so they got help.)


  • Timbuktu was a centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries 
  • 700,000 manuscripts survive in public libraries and private collections 
  • Books on religion, law, literature and science 
  • Letters between rulers, advisers and merchants on subjects as varied as taxation, commerce, marriage, divorce, adoption, and prostitution 
  • Added to Unesco world heritage list in 1988 for its three large mosques and 16 cemeteries and mausoleums 
  • Unesco says they played a major role in spreading Islam in West Africa; the oldest dates from 1329


·        France was a staunch advocate of intervention soon after the rebels' 2012 gains, but wanted an African force to be in the forefront of battle.
·        Following the new rebel advance in January this year, France felt it could no longer wait for African troops to be deployed and declared war on the rebels.
·        Now, Ecowas has started to deploy troops, which are expected to number more than 3,000 troops. Nigeria will form the backbone of the force, contributing 900 soldiers.
·        Other countries that have pledged troops include Ghana, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger. Chad, which is not part of the regional body Ecowas, is also sending 2,000 soldiers to work in co-ordination with French troops.
·        Among North African states, Egypt has condemned France's intervention and Algeria is known to have privately argued against military intervention when the idea was first mooted.
·        It feared that the rebels would retreat to its side of the border in the face of a military assault, destabilising its territory even further.

The murky motives behind Mali's crisis Military operations in Mali by France are meant to stop the Islamist rebels, who are perceived as a threat to France and Europe because they might establish a Taliban-type regime in Mali

African Union stand on this 

  • African union= Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • In late January 2013, African Union held a summit to get a solution for Mali crisis.
  • French wants AU to quickly deploy soldiers. but so far only about 1,000 troops have arrived, and only few of them have taken up front line positions, where actual fighting is going on (between Rebels and French).
  • Chad has promised to send 2,000 soldiers and Burundi has confirmed its readiness to join without giving exact number of soldiers.
  • So this Mali crisis will be an acid test of African Union’s ability to tackle regional crisis.

US Stand on this 

  • U.S. says, “If African Union (AU) sends forces in Mali, we’ll support them with logistics. But we cannot fully engage in Mali until a new government is elected and the political crisis is solved.”
  • Experts believe President Obama wants to spend his second (and last) term fixing the “domestic issues” (economic crisis) so Democratic party can win next Presidential election.
  • Therefore, he is not much interested in pursuing aggressive foreign policy agenda anymore. Besides America has already burned enough cash on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Situation in Algeria 

  • Algeria allowed French use there airspace to bang MALI
  • So the terrorists attacked a gas plant in Algeria and took hostage asking Algeria to leave there prominent terrorists in Algerian jails and gave it a French angle to seek international attention .
  • Algeria did not gave in to their demands and attacked the terrorists leading to death of 27 militants and about   36 civilians including British nationals ..which pulled international criticism.
Latest News
Mali crisis: 330 UK military personnel sent to West Africa

BBC News - 1 day ago
Current US involvement in Mali crisis could turn into another 'undeclared' war 

In Short

Mali's rebels

  • ·         Ansar Dine seeks to impose Islamic law across the country
  • ·         A number of its militants are Tuareg fighters who returned from Libya after fighting alongside Muammar Gaddafi's troops
  • ·         Islamic Movement for Azawad split from Ansar Dine in late January 2013
  • ·         Says it opposes "terrorism and extremism"
  • ·         Advocates dialogue with the government to resolve grievances of northern Malians
  • ·         Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is al-Qaeda's North African wing, with roots in Algeria
  • ·         Made up mostly of foreign fighters
  • ·         Says it wants to spread Islamic law and liberate Malians from French colonial legacy
  • ·         Known for kidnapping Westerners
  • ·         Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) is an AQIM splinter group whose aim is to spread jihad to the whole of West Africa
  • ·         Advocates Islamic law and has waged a campaign of violence against Tuareg separatists
  • ·         Signed-in-Blood Battalion is a recent AQIM offshoot committed to a global jihad
  • ·         Made up mostly of foreign fighters
  • ·         Has vowed to uphold Sharia in northern Mali
  • ·         Was responsible for January 2013 siege of Algerian gas facility, taking and killing foreign hostages
  • ·         The National Movement Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) is a secular Tuareg group which seeks independence for a homeland they call Azawad
  • ·         Cause dates back to when Mali achieved independence in 1960
  • ·         Many of MNLA's Tuareg combatants fought alongside Colonel Gaddafi's troops
  • ·         Former allies of Ansar Dine and Mujao, but now opposed to Islamist groups

Miscellaneous Stuff

INDIA AND MALI relations
·        Both nations are part of the Non-Aligned Movement.
·        Mali supports India's candidacy for a permanent seat in a reformed Security Council.
·        India offered to set up a food processing business incubation centre in Mali under the IAFS-II.
·        The President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, paid an official visit to India from 11-12 January 2012.
·        India and Mali signed three agreements during this visit. The agreements are as following;

1.MoU on Co-operation in the field of Geology and Mineral Resources between the Ministry of Mines of the Government of India and Ministry of Mines of the Government of the Republic of Mali.

2. Joint statement by India and Mali on the occasion of the visit of the President of Mali.

3. India also extended Line of Credit of 100 million US dollars for a power transmission project.


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