AROUND AFRICA: Mali! Mali! Mali!

January 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

Army Losing Control

Mali (CIA World Factbook)

Mali in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Islamist forces in northern Mali have attacked and taken a long-held village from the West African nation’s army.

The New York Times reports the militants have seized Konna a village that had marked the limit of the army’s control of the country. An army spokesman refused to confirm or deny the loss but an unidentified Malian Army officer told the Times the situation was “very serious” and “very dangerous.”

The Malian Army has been in disarray since a coup  last March that overthrew the democratically-elected president. The ensuing chaos prompted Tuareg nationalists in the country’s northern deserts to swoop down and seize half the country — an area the size of France — including key towns like the legendary caravan trading city of Timbuktu.

Since then, militant Islamist groups like Ansar Dine have seized control of the revolt, allied with al Qaeda affiliates like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and imposed harsh Islamic law, including floggings and amputations of limbs for theft and other crimes. They have also destroyed tombs and other historic religious sites they deem idolatrous.

This latest setback may affect a United Nations Security Council-approved plan to send troops to assist the Malian Army retake the north.

Seeking French Help

Mali’s president, Dioncounda Traore, asked France Thursday (Jan. 10) for help in countering the Islamist offensive now threatening Mopti, a city of 100,000, according to the Associated Press.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said Traore sent letters to U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon for the Security Council and also to French President Francois Hollande, seeking fassistance from Mali’s former colonial ruler.

In December, the Security Council authorized an African-led force to support the Malian Army in retaking the north. No timeline was set however.

Western security officials have expressed concern that terrorists could turn a chaotic Mali into a platform for attacking Europe.

New Regional Threat

The Long War Journal reports that a West African terrorist group says it is forming a new “brigade” with four “battalions” to conduct operations in northern Mali. The al Qaeda-linked Movement for Tawhid [Unity] and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) announced the formation on Jan. 4.

MUJAO is one of three major al Qaeda-linked groups that participated in last spring’s invasion of northern Mali.

Mali and its neighbors(CIA World Factbook)

Mali and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

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Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, Unconventional Warfare. Tags: , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (January 4, 2013) FRIDAY FOTO (January 11, 2012)

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