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It is expected that these "special units" are made up of former Tuareg rebels, under command of the Malian army, and whose training has been provided by the Algerian government in accordance with the Algiers Agreements.
"We are ready, we wait. In a few weeks, we will solve the problem," says Ahmed Ag Achérid, part of the hundreds of veterans of the Tuareg cause eager to join these elite units and to fight units of Al-Qaeda.
I say, wow! It does lend some credibility to this report InfoMali.net Le Mali en Ligne - BAHANGA SERAIT A BAMAKO ! that Ag Bahanga was in Bamako a while ago (not confirmed elsewhere).
"A few weeks", they say. That should be interesting to watch.
Some thoughts - this will also mean touaregs fighting touaregs, to some extent. There are touaregs who have been aching to show who are the real bosses of the desert. Perhaps those young touaregs who have joined Aqim will switch sides when/if the battle begins, rather than fighting their own.
What will the French say? I suspect they will want to have the hostages released before any action is taken. Abou Zeid will then be on the lookout for a quick grab of a new set of westerners, his treasure chest full so he can pay off whoever needs to be paid off.
This could mark the beginning of a new relationship between Bamako and the tuaregs.
Let's hope they get on well. Good news for everyone except the bad guys, and the current hostages I am afraid.
About 12 people were killed when former Tuareg rebels backed by Malian government forces clashed with heavily armed drug smugglers ferrying cocaine across the Sahara desert, Malian officials said on Sunday.
Several smugglers were captured in the clash, which took place on Thursday about 100 km (60 miles) from the town of Kidal in northern Mali, a local government official said."Drug traffickers transporting cocaine from Morocco towards Egypt clashed with (former Tuareg rebel leader Ibrahim Ag) Bahanga and his men, who were given material support by the army," said the official, asking not to be named.
Interestingly, it repeats the suggestion made in a few places that M Germaneau died from his medical condition (rather than execution).
If that is made up, it is hard to calculate who benefits by saying it (well, for me at least).
As someone reminded me, things like this published in Algeria (rather than say, France) are likely to have an agenda (possible in Europe too, of course). There is no website for the publisher but they are around.
Thx, Chris. The author Mohammed Mokaddem, alias Anis Rahmani is also the editor of Ennahar and a controversial figure in Algeria. I wonder if he explains the kidnappings in Tunisia and how the Austrians were transited to Mali. And if the mentions the DRS.
More on this book: Ennahar Online - AQIM: a book declares revealing the true identity of Abu Zeid
"The future of AQIM", he said, "is Nigeria not in the Sahel". Ennahar Online - Why this book?
"... it was necessary to put an end to the great confusion among experts and the media in both Arab and European countries on many issues concerning the development of terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa...".
I like this line: "Algeria has found peace and stability and it is therefore time for documentation and analysis with compelling arguments and evidence." Hear hear, Jeremy Keenan.
227 pages of average size
Price: 700 AD
Publisher: Casbah Editions
Faced with the inertia of Bamako vis-a-vis the terrorist activity, former Tuareg rebels in northern Mali have decided to organize themselves to pacify the region. Sources close to the motion "deploring" the critical situation in the North announced that Ag Bahanga, the head of the former rebellion, and its managers organize young veterans to hunt terrorists in their territory.
International vs. Regional Solutions Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré says that Mali is both “a hostage and a victim” of AQIM: “These people [i.e. AQIM] are not Malians. They came from the Maghreb with ideas that we do not know. The problem is the lack of regional cooperation. Everyone complains about their neighbor…” (Ennahar [Algiers], October 1). Mali’s government has declared a series of measures designed to deal with the concerns about its security:
• A rational occupation of territory by the state administration.
• Increased mobility on the part of troops for prevention and intervention.
• A social mobilization to reduce the influence of sects and criminal groups.
The G8’s Counter-Terrorism Action Group (CTAG) held a two day meeting in Bamako in mid-October to discuss the AQIM threat. President Amadou Toumani Touré told the meeting that security alone could not resolve the AQIM issue, saying that development of the Sahel region is necessary to undercut support for militant groups (AFP, October 14). Though the meeting was also attended by representatives of the African Union (AU), the UN, the EU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), its success was hampered by the absence of Algeria, which refused to attend due to the presence of Moroccan representatives (Le Républicain [Bamako], October 14; Ennahar [Algiers], October 13; AFP, October 13). Tensions between the two states remain high due to disagreement over the status of the Western Sahara. ...
The question of allowing foreign military operations in Mali became more complicated when Mauritanian aircraft in pursuit of suspected al-Qaeda fighters killed two civilians near Timbuktu in September (Reuters, September 20). However, with little ability to control its northern region, Mali seems determined to avoid inflaming AQIM by allowing military forces of France (the former colonial power) to be based there (Le Monde, September 22). Mali does, however, accept military training from French forces and has a number of American Special Forces training teams stationed within Mali (see Terrorism Monitor Briefs, June 4). Nevertheless, based on the inability of Mali’s military to even refuel Mauritanian forces during a September 18 clash with AQIM in northern Mali, Algerian authorities have described Mali’s armed forces as “incompetent”
The Arlit Hostage Crisis
The latest crisis involves the kidnapping of seven Areva and Satom employees from the uranium mine at Arlit in northern Niger on September 15. The operation was carried out by the Tarek Ibn Ziyad katiba (military unit) led by AQIM commander Abdelhamid Abou Zeid (a.k.a. Abid Hammadou) (Le Monde, October 11). Five of the hostages are French; the other two are from Togo and Madagascar. Heavy fighting between AQIM forces under Algerian commander Yahya Abou Hamam and Mauritanian forces was reported shortly after the abductions (Ennahar, October 15; Jeune Afrique, October 9). While this latest group of hostages is being held in northern Mali, there are denials from all sides that France ever requested permission to base troops or aircraft involved in the search on Malian territory, though this may be a sop to Bamako’s sensitivity on the issue. The air component of the search is thus based in Niamey in neighboring Niger, while French Special Forces are awaiting deployment in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou. The Kidal airstrip in northern Mali would be useful in the search, but would have the disadvantage of exposing French forces to direct attacks by AQIM (Jeune Afrique, October 9; Air & Cosmos [Paris], September 29; Le Monde, September 22). Not surprisingly, one of AQIM’s reported demands for the release of the hostages is a commitment from Bamako that further French and Mauritanian military operations will not be allowed on Malian territory (L’Indépendant [Bamako], October 12). When and if the time comes for a military intervention on Malian soil to save the hostages, it is expected that Bamako will look the other way until the operation is completed.
Is Regional Security Cooperation a Mirage?
As a result of the Tamanrasset meeting, a joint Sahel information center (Centre de Renseignement sur le Sahel - CRS) was established by the intelligence chiefs of Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania in Algiers on October 7 to collect intelligence from the security services of the four nations and make it available to the new joint military operations center in Tamanrasset (L’Expression [Abidjan], October 7). In April, Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania formed the Tamanrasset-based Joint Operational Military Committee, designed to provide a joint response to border security and terrorism issues (see Terrorism Monitor Briefs, July 8). Ten days after the Arlit abductions, the committee (composed of the military chiefs of the four nations) met on September 26 to establish a coordinated response against the AQIM threat. The committee is currently headed by Malian Brigadier-General Gabriel Poudiougou, but there is little enthusiasm in Bamako for the new security center in Tamanrasset, which is referred to at the highest levels of the government as “an empty shell” (Jeune Afrique, October 15). The absence of Chad, Libya and Morocco from the new cooperative security infrastructure will certainly hinder efforts to eliminate AQIM from the region. The leaders of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Chad held a consultative meeting on the sidelines of the Arab-African Summit in the Libyan city of Sirté on October 10, though this did not seem to ease the admission of new members into the four-nation Sahel security grouping. Mali’s efforts to broaden the group have been continually vetoed by Algiers. Earlier this month, however, Libya donated two much-needed Italian Marchetti surveillance aircraft to Mali to combat local unrest (AFP, October 4). Despite the insecurity in its own northern region and the fact the Arlit hostages were seized in Niger before being moved to Mali, Niamey has been quick to identify Mali as the source of regional insecurity. According to Amadou Marou, president of Niger’s National Consultative Council (which is managing the country in the aftermath of February’s military coup), “Somalia got away from us and northern Mali is in the process of getting away from us"
So with the mauri deploying from the west, Ag Bahanga and his touaregs attacking from Kidal in the east and rival clans in Timbuktu eager to exact revenge for the assasination of one of their leaders, perhaps things aren't looking too good for MBM and Abu Zeid?
They may have never left, although this could be a build-up for further action. One of the few things we learned from the Brit Mali ambassador was that Mori has had a permanent base in Mali for a while, and the contact in Mali in September with AQ was a blow.
We were also told is that the EU is co-funding the re-occupation of Mali army bases in the north Mali which, like Ikhalil, were abandoned a couple of Tuareg rebellions ago. However, he added any security benefits in the region would take some time.
Cooperation in the fight against Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has gained new impetus with the establishment of joint patrols between Malian and Mauritanian soldiers in northern Mali, a first in the area where the units are AQIM very active.
Hundreds of Mauritanian and Malian military vehicles traveling this weekend, about 80 km north of Timbuktu (northern Mali), said a journalist from AFP. Malians had just joined the Mauritanian troops, arrived last week to address those already present for several weeks. "You see, we are brothers, our goal is the same: to ensure the security of our people, do not leave the ground to terrorists, preventing the organization from attack," said a Mauritanian soldier, taking the arm of his counterpart Malian sign of friendship.
"Today, we are in the Malian desert. Tomorrow we will go in the Mauritanian desert. Together we can fight against insecurity.
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