Is Mali the new Afghanistan ?
Al Queda in the Islamic Maghreb is alive and well. Not only that. Two offshoots called Ansar Eddine and The Movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa are also occupying territory in the North of Mali. It seems that there are so many islamic radicals that they all want to be captain instead of merely the crew. Iyad Ag Ghali , the islamist Tuareg leader is in control of the legendary Timbuktu. He has declared Sharia law and has already begun to cut off the hands of thieves. The small Christian population has fled the city and some secularist Tuaregs have managed to occupy a small part of its southern environs, but for how long? Meanwhile The two top leaders of AQMI(Al Queda) Abu Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar were received by Ghali for the purpose of agreeing to a radical islamic alliance. Further to the east ,the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa who left Al Queda for consider it too moderate kidnapped the Algerian consul in Gao and 6 of his countrymen demanding a huge ransom. It appears that the negotiations are stymied because a pair of Algerian fighter jets caught a jihadist convoy in the open and killed 20 of their terrorists.
In the meantime, what is the Malian government doing? It seems that they are busy fighting among themselves. On the 22nd of March a captain Sanogo with the backing of other young officers overthrew the government of President Touré ,who had been democratically elected and nearing the end of his term. The Organization for Economic Cooperation of the West African States condemned the coup ,closed the borders and forced the military the sign an agreement to return to the barracks and let a provisional government take charge, pending new elections. President Touré went into exile in Senegal and Microsoft´s man in West Africa ,Sheikh Modibo Diarra was named provisional prime minister.
The organization Planete XXI International under the leadership of cold war combattant Jean Denis Raingeard of France who during many years has worked with the people of Mali to promote education, industry and commerce as well as fighting corruption in partnership with Europe warned in an open letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon of the danger of the islamic extremists ,not only in Mali but their possibility of linking up with Boko Haram in Nigeria and other Al Queda franchises.He also correctly pointed out that the non-extremist Tuaregs in the North who had declared an independent state called Azawad(who nobody recognized) had legitimate aspirations. Their people were forgotten in the phase of decolonization and split between 6 different countries.
The Malian military under captain Sanogo ,after signing the agreement still had many notables captive or under house arrest. One of whom, Somaila Cissé, presidential candidate of the URD party(pro-western anti-jihadist) tried to leave the country to resolve health issues by flying to Paris. Sanogo´s military blocked him from entering the airport. It took the interim prime minister Diarra,the French and the Burkinabé Ambassadors to get them to make way and only when a contingent of French troops arrived as a back-up.
On monday, April 30 troops with red berets still loyal to outgoing president Touré attacked Sanogo´s green berets . The fighting only ended this morning with a victory for Sanogo whose men are combing the capital, Bamako for remnants of the red berets.
While all of this is going on the entire Northern part of Mali is occupied by 3 different jihadist groups flush with LIbyan arms include many foreigners from places such as Tchad,Libya,Somalia & Mauritania. There is also the separatist Tuaregs of the FNLA, Front for the liberation of Azawad. Sooner or later they will have to fight the jihadists for their territory. And from the Won in Washington, nary a peep.