3 Feb 2012 – Feedback is in. That “MIG-21″ in Mali is actually a truck. The MNLA does have Tuareg members but to claim their actions are an Azawad uprising does not account for the hundreds of Azawad people fleeing the area where the MNLA have been engaging Malian troops.
There is a bunch of complicated politics wrapped around this situation, involving Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Senegal – not only because MNLA claimed the latter sent tanks to Mali two days ago. Also Europe and the US are taking a big interest, and Nigeria was recently invited to a regional security meeting as an observer.
The recent violent clashes in Northern Mali were swiftly followed by the arrival of of dozens of US troops in the North of Mauritania, near the border with Western Sahara. The US contingent are assumed to be working alongside French armed forces which established a “training operation” in that location some time ago..
The US troops have been allowed to enter the country without a mandate from the Mauritanian parliament, which leads me to speculate that the recent role-swap between the Interior Minister and the Secretary General of the Defence Ministry might be related to new joint security initiatives that were the subject of discussions of recent months.
Western Sahara remains more or less isolated from the above discussions. A regrettable situation that will inevitably make a complicated situation even more difficult to resolve..
Mali and the MNLA have reportedly agreed to talks in Algeria. That Algeria announced it had temporarily withdrawn military support for Mali ahead of these talks may indicate that is is a condition of its role in the parley that it at least show a semblance of neutrality. More difficult to explain are Mauritanian Foreign Minister’s remarks that indicate his support for the Turaeg rebels, which some have taken to mean military and financial help for the MNLA. The FM also denied any link between events in Mali and AQIM, in contradiction of reports from elsewhere, including Mali. Of course, “AQIM!” is the new “Wolf!” – many countries seem to think (and not without good reason) that it will bring EU and especially US agencies running towards them, checkbooks a-flutter, ready to dole out wads of cash. It does seem that the Tuareg rebels and/or MNLA have a connection with AQIM, since they claimed to have enacted at least one kidnapping where the hostages ended up in AQIM hands..
The awkward fact remains that there are thousands of citizens of Mali and other countries in Africa, including Mauritania, who fought for Gadaffi against the Libyan opposition and NATO. Life is not easy for these returnees, and as long as they are believed to be in possession of large quantities of arms brought back with them from Libya, and treated like terrorists, it is going to be increasingly difficult..
Add the above to the drought and resulting famine; the increasing tide of refugees; and the ongoing civil unrest. We can say for sure that Africa will be making headlines for months to come.
5 Feb 2012 – Numbers.. there were already 4500 Tuareg #refugees in Mauritania before 3000 (or more) new arrivals from Mali. That’s what this blog tw: http://snup.us/qDb says [in Dutch, by Mamatal Ag Dahmane – spokesperson of ARVRA (Association of Victims Refugies et de la Repression de l’Azawad) in Europe]. I found it by following a link from a German woman.. quite the international scenario we have brewing here. Worse, there is a distinct racist tinge in some of the reports I’ve seen, claiming that people are being victimised for their “light skin” and claiming that people are afraid of being “mistaken for Tuareg”. A very nasty and highly suspect situation indeed.
By all accounts, Aziz is an uneducated but vain, unscrupulous, and greedy man, who has already shown such contempt for the conditions of the people of Mauritania that increasing their burdens, even to the point of death from terrorist attack or famine, is not going to cause him any sleepless nights.
His other character flaws include cronyism and corruption in both moral and financial dealings.
Whatever the reason for his apparent support for the rebels in Mali, it will be to his advantage at the very least financially, and possibly in other ways that will feed his ego. Certainly it is being done with the knowledge of the US military, otherwise why would they have been allowed to deploy in Mauritania?
This might be a good time to remember the close bond between Aziz and his saviour Colonel Gaddafi, especially as far as achieving recognition from the African Union was concerned
DESERT rebels have launched a revolutionary war in the Sahara. [26 Jan 2012]
Video: 1 October 2011 – Azawad Protest
The fight for a free Azawad has turned into an armed conflict after brutal attacks on the population by the US-backed state of Mali.
On January 17 armed resistance fighters attacked military compounds in Menaka, Adaramboukare and Tessalit in the north of the African country.
Fighting continued for some time and there was a serious clash at Aguelhok.
Behind the insurrection was the Azawad National Liberation Movement (Mouvement National De Liberation de l’Azawad – MNLA), a group formed on October 16 last year.
The Mali state flooded the area with tanks, aircraft and troops and more fighting broke out on the morning of Thursday January 26.
The MNLA says the Malian army suffered heavy losses and was forced to retreat.
Photos published on Facebook show the wreckage of a burnt-out MIG-21 jet shot down by the resistance fighters.
Mossa Ag Attaher, spokesman for the MNLA, told French newspaperLe Monde that the aim of the struggle was to liberate Azawad from Malian colonialism.
He explained that Azawad consisted of three regions currently part of Mali – Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.
The MNLA was fighting for the aspirations of the Touareg people and also those of the Songhai, Peuls and Moors.
They had a right to choose their own form of government, to self-determination and, if they so desired, to independence, he said.
The MNLA is the result of a fusion between the Mouvement National de l’Azawad (MNA), a group of young intellectuals and political activists, and the guerrillas of the former Alliance Touareg Niger Mali (ATNM).
These elements have now been joined by groups of former Touareg rebels who fled Mali in the 1990s to join the Libyan army and returned to Azawad, with plenty of weaponry, during the NATO war on the Gaddafi regime.
- Mali troops fight Tuareg offensive (moroccotomorrow.org)
- Map of Recent Tuareg Rebel Attacks in Mali (sahelblog.wordpress.com)
- Al Qaeda fighters attacking Mali towns: official (ctv.ca)
- Ex-Gaddafi fighters rebel in Mali (bbc.co.uk)
- Pro-Gaddafi nomads hit towns in Mali (independent.co.uk)