Aaron Maasho / Reuters & Janet Goldner / Council on Foreign Relations – 2012-10-28 00:03:43
Mali War Plan To Be Ready within Weeks: AU
Aaron Maasho / Reuters
ADDIS ABABA (October 24, 2012) — An African plan for military intervention in Mali to help government troops reclaim territory from Islamist militants will be ready within weeks, the head of the African Union (AU) said on Wednesday. Mali remains paralyzed by twin crises, with the leadership in Bamako still divided since a March coup that toppled the president and the occupation of the north of the country by Islamic militants.
Regional and international efforts to deal with the situation, which has created a safe haven for Islamists and international criminal gangs, have been hampered by divisions over how to help.
The AU asked the Security Council in June to back military intervention. The council asked for a detailed operation plan within a deadline of a little over six weeks from October 12.
“The Security Council has asked us to produce a plan within 45 days — that will be done within 45 days,” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairwoman of the AU Commission, told Reuters in an interview after ministers opened a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Western diplomats had expressed concern that the AU’s request for U.N. backing in June had lacked the necessary details, while others have voiced serious reservations about the ability of ECOWAS to tackle the northern Islamists anytime soon.
Some envoys predict that it could be months before any kind of plan is put in motion and troops are trained and in place.
“One plan is ready, and the other one will be ready because work has already started,” Dlamini-Zuma said. She was referring to a “strategic concept” expected to be endorsed by the PSC on Wednesday.
The strategy outlines measures including elections, establishing an inclusive political process and governance, and defense and security reform. The draft plan calls for the AU and partners to devise a timeline for elections to be held next year.
“UNITY OF PURPOSE”
In July, the AU said it hoped military intervention in Mali would be a last resort. But on Wednesday Dlamini-Zuma spoke of an “early” military operation that could run alongside negotiations.
“We are working … to finalize the joint planning for the early deployment of an African-led international military force to help Mali recover the occupied territories in the North,” she told the opening of the PSC meeting:
“At the same time, we will leave the door of dialogue open to those Malian rebel groups willing to negotiate,” she said.
There is also division among some West African states and western powers over how to tackle the Malian crisis. While it has not ruled out military force, Algeria, the region’s top military power that fought a long war against Islamists in the 1990s, has led calls for a dialogue-first approach. Other neighbors such as Guinea argue no time can be wasted in mediation efforts.
The United States, which spent years working with Mali’s army against al Qaeda’s Sahara wing, has pushed for a more cautious approach. It earlier had called for elections to strengthen the political leadership in Bamako, with a military intervention later if needed. While urging military intervention, France also has called for consensus and coordination.
Dlamini-Zuma, however, said the crisis should be tackled as soon as possible. “I think around Mali, there’s unity of purpose, there’s unity of ideas. So I think so far, so good,” she said. “Once we have taken the documents to the U.N., the ball will be in the UN’s court.”
Armed groups have been told to distance themselves from “terrorist” and criminal groups before they can participate in talks. Dlamini-Zuma told the PSC the door for dialogue was still open for rebels, but warned “negotiations cannot be open-ended.”
(Editing by Richard Lough and Michael Roddy)
Copyright Reuters 2008
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Mali: A Revolution Not a Coup d’Etat
Janet Goldner, Guest Blogger / Council on Foreign Relations
Note:Janet Goldner is a Senior Fulbright Scholar who has worked in Mali for the past fifteen years. She works on a variety of grassroots, cultural, and women’s empowerment projects. She visited Mali again in July and August 2012. Her perspective, different from the more conventional discussion of the Mali crisis, reflects a wide range of indigenous contacts.
(October 22, 2012) — The western media, to the extent that it covers Mali at all, feeds us a steady diet of information about the refugee crisis and the horrors of the barbarous crimes occurring regularly in the occupied northern territory. And indeed it is terrible.
But there is little attention to the crisis in the south that allowed the occupation of the north to occur. The current Government of National Unity, headed by Interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra is rarely covered in the western press. On the rare occasions when Mali is the topic of governmental hearings, Malians are rarely, if ever, included in the deliberations.
What happened on March 21, 2012, was not a coup d’etat. What began as an unplanned mutiny by soldiers disgruntled at being sent to fight a war without munitions, supplies, or support, culminated with the resignation of President Amadou Toumani TourÃ©. Neither planned nor violent, this event was the beginning of a still incomplete revolution against deep-seated corruption spanning the entire twenty years of the so-called Malian democracy.
This mutiny occurred six weeks before planned elections. Many Malians did not believe that the elections could dislodge the ruling kleptocracy. Now, elections must wait until the north is liberated. Then Malians can try to build a true democracy as opposed to the corrupt illusion of democracy that existed before this crisis. Malians want real change and will respond vigorously if the old order tries to turn back the clock.
The coup leader, Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, is often portrayed by commentors as a mad man, an imbecile. But, he was not present at the Presidential Palace the day of the mutiny, only later did he agree to become the leader of the mutiny. He has no political experience and was not well advised. He made mistakes.
In contrast, Sanogo is seen by many Malians as a savior because he delivered Mali from the corrupt leaders and awoke the nation to previously unknown depths of the corruption, including kickbacks from narcotics trafficking and ransoms paid by European countries for hostages held in Mali.
ECOWAS is viewed with suspicion as defending of the old corrupt regime since it is led by presidents of west African countries who are no less corrupt than the old Malian regime. Their actions are seen as an effort to protect their own hold on power from the revolutionary aspirations in play in Mali.
It is important to listen to ordinary Malians who have not had a voice in the international media’s narrative of the ongoing crisis nor have they been consulted by the international community.
Posted by Martin Klein October 23, 2012
A military coup is not a revolution even if it replaces an unpopular government. If democratic elections have to wait until the reconquest of the Sahara, it could be a very long time. Military coups often are greeted by popular demonstrations, but those who cheer one day, often learn to regret it. I personally think that military autocracy is worse than corruption, but then I spent the first part of my life in New York and Chicago.
Posted by Bruce Whitehouse October 23, 2012
It’s good that someone is raising the question of “Who speaks for Mali?”, but I don’t understand how the events of 21-22 March in Bamako cannot be considered a coup d’etat. Moreover I think using the word “revolution” to describe these events is not just misleading but dangerous, and I have expressed these reservations to the author in the past. President Toure was indeed venal, ineffective and unpopular, and the rule of law in Mali was tenuous under his rule.
But Capt. Sanogo’s coup (or whatever one should call it) only compounded these problems. It did nothing to address Malians’ legitimate grievances with the way their government has been run, and isolated Mali from its allies at a time when it needed them desperately.
Posted by Lisa Vives October 23, 2012
While the author might disagree, it is widely acknowledged that Capt. Sanogo allied himself with soldiers that removed a democratically elected president, however unpopular. He proclaimed himself leader of the National Committee for Recovering Democracy and Restoring the State, suspended the constitution and activities of some organizations, declared a curfew and closed borders.
Despite the benefit of 6 training missions in the US which poured some $1 billion into the country, Sanogo in a matter of hours destroyed two decades of a functioning democracy, and enabled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists to entrench themselves in the north. The author’s picture of this rogue soldier comes up short on significant facts.
Posted by Raja Saleem October 23, 2012
As a Pakistani, I can relate to what Malians have felt for their democratic order. While democracy is praised around the world and most of the Pakistanis want a democratic set-up, five years of democratic order in Pakistan has disgusted people. There is corruption, nepotism and a total disregard for ordinary person life and desires.
I know military rule is not the answer and most of Pakistanis also know it as they have been ruled by generals for more than forty years but still when people look at what their democratic rulers are doing, they forget the past and want the soldiers back.
I would also like to commend you for writing against the dominant narrative. For the West, terrorism is most important but it is only one type of terrorism, Islamic terrorism. When people are killed by thousands by military of their own or other countries that is not important as that is not terrorism. So, leaders in developing countries, like Mali, inevitably frame their contexts as a fight against ‘war against terror’ as otherwise why should anyone in US care about Mali.
This is then picked up by the terrorism ‘industry’ that has mushroomed around Washington. Both help each other and military/ financial aid starts to flow to the developing country concerned. The terrorism industry in US benefits by the promotion of its agenda and financial consultancies/contracts.
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