Mali’s military is showing signs of stress over the antics in the north of the country and the relentless propaganda campaign that provides the bulk of all news on the situation. On Monday, as the new alliance between MNLA and Ansar Dine was reportedly collapsing, they lashed out, but have not yet had the courage to name those they suspect of supporting (or masterminding) this fiasco. This lack of definite accusations is regrettable, as it only leads people to draw their own, predictable conclusions.
The Malian army on Monday has distanced itself from the “so-called” arms and ammunition depot reportedly found in the northern town of Gao, pointing out that such an allegation is intended to cover up the military and logistical support received by the National Liberation Movement (MNLA, northern rebel group) from its mentors.
Several media reports, on Sunday gave information about the unearthing by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) of an “important underground arms and ammunition cache” in Mali’s northern town of Gao.
“The Malian army has absolutely nothing to do” with this “so-called arms depot announced by the MNLA rebels and its accomplices,” Mali’s Defense and War Veteran minister has indicated in a statement.
According to the same statement, MNLA elements who have for some time been confronted with “lack of legitimacy,” have invented a “so-called arms depot,” in order to mislead the opinion about the “support they received from various sources.”
The minister also deplored the fact that “some media outlets” agreed to publish “such trumped-up stories”, reiterating his willingness to spare no efforts to restore Mali’s national unity and territorial integrity.
MNLA and AQIM are separate groups, which along with other groups have for the past two months been occupying the northern desert region of Mali. The former is fighting for the independence of the province, while the latter is more inclined to spread terrorism.
Source African Press Agency
Other news of interest, possibly related to the claim of a huge arsenal being discovered, include Mauritanian military activity near Bassiknou [ar], which created alarm for residents there, especially because of the many Malian refugees in the vicinity, who were unsure whether it was an exercise or not. Normally, major military exercises are planned and announced in advance. Tens of thousands of traumatized refugees supposedly fleeing fighting in Mali have been corralled in the area, so a little heads-up would be considerate. The persistent, and very loud sounds of shelling would have masked any number of other events in the area at that time.
Finally, there is a series of 4 videos [ar] including footage of claimed Taliban rebels, along with Algerians, Mauritanians and sundry others, in Northern Mali.
I find myself wondering once again, why it is that neither the Malian government (or junta etc) nor those of it’s neighbours, make much mention of the refugees. Official news from those quarters is extremely sparse where efforts to help with the costs of housing and feeding them are concerned. The aid agencies however, are on constant megaphone mode, showering us with heart-rending photos and hyperbole-laden tweets offering “a glimpse inside.. race against time.. oasis of hope.” Such fund-raising campaigns are generally followed by an announcement of a government donation of $x million dollars or significant tonnage of food.
- Mauritania and Northern Mali (sahel blog)