Food stocks low, fuel hard to find: Mali’s misfortunes worsen as al-Qaeda arrives

The Times

Mali’s two-week-old junta rejected international calls to relinquish power yesterday as sanctions intended to force the new regime to step down began to bite and Islamists cemented their grip in the country’s turbulent north.

In his first comments since the embargo was imposed, the coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, warned that the ousted president, Amadou Toumani Toure, could be charged with “high treason and financial wrongdoing”. He announced that a meeting to discuss Mali’s future would take place tomorrow.

Amid fears that Islamic extremists were taking advantage of the political upheaval, three of al-Qaeda’s leaders were said to have headed to the ancient trading city of Timbuktu, where Sharia was being imposed and women were being told to wear veils. Read the rest of this entry »


Fall of Timbuktu to rebels prompts fears for historic treasures

The Times

Rebels in Mali completed their capture of the biggest population centres in the north of the country yesterday by taking the historic trading town of Timbuktu.

Its capitulation, eight days after a coup by junior officers in the capital, Bamako, which overthrew the democratically elected Government, marks the latest gain in a three-day advance by the Tuareg rebels. The junta said that it was seeking to negotiate a peace deal with the rebels and sent representatives to discuss a ceasefire.

The Tuareg forces, thought to be about 1,000, have exploited the uncertainty caused by the overthrow of the Government of President Amadou Toumani Touré, which has left the army with no clear chain of command. Read the rest of this entry »


Gaddafi’s Posthumous Gift to Mali: The Tuareg Seize Timbuktu

TIME.com

As the hapless junta struggles to establish itself, the northern rebels have captured territory the size of Texas — in just three days

To the din of heavy weaponry looted from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals, Tuareg rebels rode out of the desert to attack the ancient trading city of Timbuktu on Sunday morning, completing a blistering blitzkrieg that has seen them capture the three largest towns in northern Mali in three days. After laying waste to an abandoned military camp, the rebels entered Timbuktu around midday, snarling about in pickups, firing delightedly in the air and planting their black-and-white flag over the offices of the provincial governor, the mayor and the military commandant. They had, they pronounced, lifted Mali’s “occupation” and would henceforth defend and secure Azawad — the name they gave Mali’s northern desert — “for the happiness of its people.” Within a period of 72 hours, they have seized an area the size of Texas. Read the rest of this entry »


The Fearsome Tuareg Uprising in Mali: Less Monolithic than Meets the Eye

 

Tuareg rebels stand near a truck in Mali on March 19, 2012. DPA / LANDOV

TIME.com

The allegedly al-Qaeda-linked faction of the Tuareg rebellion in troubled Mali seems more of an opportunistic break than a real extension of the terror group

Somewhere close to the Algerian border a delegation of Tuareg notables hurried through the desert for a summit. It was mid-March and there was dissension among them. One of their own, a renegade desert warrior called Iyad ag Ghali, had just thrown the Tuaregs’ meticulously plotted rebellion against the Malian government into jeopardy. In proclamations appearing on YouTube, ag Ghali’s spokesman had done everything that the committee behind the two-month-old uprising by Tuareg rebels wanted to avoid. “It is our obligation to fight for the application of Shar’ia in Mali,” the spokesman said. The poisonous phrase, seized eagerly by a Malian government smarting from military defeat, undid months of careful political messaging. Now everyone would think the Tuareg were in bed with al-Qaeda. Read the rest of this entry »


Un-Welcoming the Presidents: The Mali Junta Digs In

TIME.com

A contingent of regional leaders turns its plane away as the Mali Junta appears to solidify, learning how to spin and propagandize. But trouble looms

They pumped their fists in the air. “Shame on Africa,” they cried. And then the protesters swarmed across the runway at Bamako international, trampling over the red carpet laid out for visiting dignitaries. With a jet carrying presidents from five West Africa countries inbound, it was an eloquent statement of what many in Mali’s military junta think about international condemnation of their coup — even if the soldiers in charge didn’t explicitly order up the demonstration. Read the rest of this entry »


Mali à l’aise

The Economist

Mali’s coup leaders tighten their hold but inspire little confidence

IF ANYONE knows what is happening in Mali, it should be Captain Amadou Sanogo. Sliding forward on the shiny beige sofa into which he has sunk, he insists that things are moving “as I want. Moving as I prepared…allowing me to engage, to start with my processes.” Yet the 40-year-old officer with a sandpaper rasp seems to be putting a brave face on what looks, in fact, like an accidental coup that was almost invited by the government it toppled. Read the rest of this entry »


Mali’s Coup Leader: Interview with an Improbable Strongman

TIME.com

Captain Amadou Sanogo does not sound or look like the man in charge. But he is now the only show in town in a country beset by multiple crises

Under a sickle moon a large man with dreadlocks, a sparkling purple cloak and white moccasins climbed the stairs of the house that has become Mali’s new nerve-center. He was a marabout — a West Africa holy man — summoned by the 40-year-old army captain everyone in Kati is now calling le President. The new power in Mali is Amadou Sanogo, a career soldier whose improbable coup d’etat has upturned one of Africa’s strongest democracies. On Monday night he sought strength from the spirit world. He needs whatever help he can get. Read the rest of this entry »