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  #391  
Old 9 Jun 2012
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Video of Abu Zeid in Timbuktu:

http://lci.tf1.fr/monde/afrique/mali...u-7342915.html
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  #392  
Old 28 Jun 2012
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Probably a load of hot air, but Belmokhtar said to have been killed in a skirmish with MNLA.

Algerian Qaeda commander believed killed in Mali | Reuters
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  #393  
Old 28 Jun 2012
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Few people have been dead as many times as mr Belmokhtar.
And Ennahar is notoriously unreliable.
Clashes in Gao were between MNLA and MUJAO the new bearded acronym.
They are composed mainly by by telemsi arabs from north of Gao.

Islamists surprised many by trying to not only to take control of TB2 but actually trying to govern. Their luck may (hopefully) be running out
Ransom payments fuel al-Qaeda expansion (Magharebia.com)
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  #394  
Old 12 Jul 2012
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AFP report on the release of 3 Algerian hostages from the 7 taken in Gao in April with a bit of back-story.

Also Aljazeera reporting on the continued destruction of antiquities in Timbuktu by the AQIM linked Ansar Dine.
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  #395  
Old 14 Jul 2012
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All 7 Algerians now freed according to Reuters:

UPDATE 2-Algerian diplomats freed in north Mali -sources | News by Country | Reuters
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  #396  
Old 15 Jul 2012
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All seven diplomats are free now, according to Algerian media - but total silence from the government. Did they pay a ransom?
(If you believe Jeremy Keenan, it was an all DRS affair, with the kidnappers, kidnappees and mediators all being DRS agents. In which case a phone call could have resolved the situation?)

Jamestown hasn't given up on the idea that MBM actually died in Gao
The Jamestown Foundation: BRIEFS
The Jamestown Foundation: Mokhtar Belmokhtar: The Algerian Jihad’s Southern Amir
Today came first signs that MNLA are ready to give up their call for independence, in exchange for foreign support.
And there are reports that Algeria is supporting both sides (Ansar Dine and MNLA). Simultaneously.

Pistes from Gao have been mined, which should discourage tourism even if the situation improves.
I hope we can at least go to Niger soon.
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  #397  
Old 19 Jul 2012
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So with the good news of the Tindouf Three released, that leaves 9 European hostages still in Mali: the French Ariva Four coming on for nearly two years, the two French 'spies' taken in Hombori last November and the three tourists (Brit/RSA, Dutch and Swede) grabbed in Timbuktu a day later.

I lose track - was MUJAO who took Tindouf Three set up by MBM? Either way I wonder if his latest death has anything to do with the them being released.

Ch

Last edited by Chris Scott; 20 Jul 2012 at 16:47. Reason: add
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  #398  
Old 19 Jul 2012
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There was a time when it wasn't that difficult to understand (and sometimes even anticipate) what was going on with regards to the AQIM related kidnapping in the Sahara. The last two or three months has seen such a change in the balance of power and opportunity in the Sahara that it is now much more difficult to read the situation.

One thing which is in the favour of independent Saharan travellers at the moment is that AQIM must be pretty busy with business in Mali now. Whereas they once enjoyed a 'simple' and lucrative life of kidnapping, drug running and banditry, now days they have much more at stake - including the possibility of running, in effect, a new state. Their human resources will be stretched thin as a result. Perhaps we could be as optimisitc as to suggest that it is a little safer eslewhere - notably in Algeria and Mauri?

Last edited by Richard Washington; 19 Jul 2012 at 19:20.
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  #399  
Old 19 Jul 2012
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I hope you're right about Mauri Richard. Factors that make me think it might be safer now (which might be wishful thinking on my part):

1. Out of all the Saharan/Sahelian nations, Mauri seems to be the only one actively trying to give AQIM a bloody nose
2. Reports of Belmokhtar being killed (maybe pure fantasy), but wasn't Mauri his territory?
3. Aziz recently sponsored that tourist trip to fly into Mauri to try and prove the country is okay to travel in, plus the plentiful checkpoints around the country.
4. With northern Mali in such disarray, AQIM members that were in Mauri have shifted east towards more 'secure' lands where they have alot more freedom to operate.
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  #400  
Old 20 Jul 2012
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Perhaps it will implode but at the moment there is reported a large inflow to Gao of new recruits, where they are organizing a new katiba led by black Africans.
News Republic
And if the fears that jihadism would form a belt all across Sahara/Sahel were exaggerated, they are now active from Mauri all the way to south Niger.
Perhaps hope lies in that it must get worse before it can get better - that eventually Algeria will be forced into some kind of action, or at least stop blocking it (or supporting jihadism, as some will have it).

Last edited by priffe; 21 Jul 2012 at 11:14.
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  #401  
Old 24 Sep 2012
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ECOWAS reached an agreement for intervention with 'peacekeeping' troops with the Malian transitional government
Mali intervention

Abou Zeid is running out of cash, finding governing a region is not much fun
Looking for a quick deal w France to release hostages (then they will be looking for more westerners to kidnap)
Nord-Mali : Abou Zeid, l'émir d'Aqmi, est-il fauché?

There are many options on the table
Le Figaro - International : Mali : la France en pointe contre Aqmi

All in French
The map gives a view of the affected area
one can only hope it will get better w the coming intervention so we can resume desert travel.

More to read: NORTHERN MALI - A failure of Western policy in the SahelAndy Morgan Writes in English
the touareg leaders of Ansar Dine (French) Les hommes influents d’Ansar Dine : Qui sont-ils ? | Mali Actualités

Last edited by priffe; 25 Sep 2012 at 10:48.
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  #402  
Old 26 Sep 2012
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anecodotal article that gives some impression of what it is like in parts of N Mali now:
Fighters ready for battle in north Mali | News24

"When elephants fight each other, it's the grass that suffers"
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  #403  
Old 13 Oct 2012
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United Nations Security Council passed a resolution allowing military intervention in Mali to the north African country deprived Islamic extremists. Authorization for any military action in Mali needed a second Security Council resolution.
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  #404  
Old 29 Oct 2012
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Hard to know how seriously to take it but further threats of retaliation right across the region issued by Ansar al Din.

Sahel states confront Mali terror threat (Magharebia.com)
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  #405  
Old 4 Dec 2012
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Many-times-dead Moktar Belmoktar is said to be leaving AQIM in order to create a movement spanning the entire Sahara.
MBM's associate says: "It's true. It's so that we can better operate in the field that we have left this group which is tied to the Maghreb."
Mali al-Qaeda leader quits AQIM | News24

The confusing thing about this report is that MBM effectively left the Maghreb franchise of AQIM long ago - even before the 2003 kidnappings (though AQIM was called something else then). That is why, I thought, he headed into the desert in the first place. The worrying thing about the report is that MBM, apart from having more lives than a cat, is normally quite successful at what he puts his mind to. The prospect of a trans-Saharan movement isn't that much of a stretch when you consider that between Somalia and Mauri there are not many missing pieces for MBM to put in place. Northern Chad might be one of them. One upside of this news could be that the business of running a country doesn't appeal to BMB lifestyle. The downside is that we could bump into MBM and his mates anywhere in the Sahara if he sees this through.

Last edited by Richard Washington; 4 Dec 2012 at 10:15.
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