The old-style coup makes a comeback in Mali
Malian security forces clash with Tuareg supporters in Bamako on February 2, 2013.
March 23rd, 2012
07:00 PM ET

The old-style coup makes a comeback in Mali

Editor's Note: Jennifer G. Cooke is director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

By Jennifer G. Cooke, CSIS

Disgruntled junior army officers have seized control of the presidential palace and state broadcasting apparatus in the West African country of Mali, declaring a coup d’état against the government of President Amadou Toumani Touré. Calling themselves the National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR), the soldiers have denounced the government’s incompetence, most notably its failure to respond effectively to an ongoing insurrection led by Tuareg rebels in the country’s north. The coup leaders have announced the suspension of the constitution, the closure of the country’s borders, and the imposition of a nationwide curfew. President Touré has reportedly taken refuge in an army barracks in Bamako, protected by loyalist presidential guards.

The coup, if it is ultimately successful, will be a major setback to Mali’s political development and a blow to the country’s hard-won reputation as a strong West African democracy. The country has earned widespread praise for the consolidation of democratic institutions, economic reform, and free and fair elections over the last 20 years, this despite being one of the world’s poorest and least economically developed countries.

What motivated the coup leaders?

The most immediate complaint of the mutineers is the government’s failure to give adequate support to security forces engaged in confronting a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north. In mid-January, a separatist movement launched attacks against the northeastern city of Menaka, setting off a prolonged confrontation that rapidly expanded southward, displacing tens of thousands of Malian civilians. The rebellion benefited significantly from an infusion of arms from neighboring Libya and returning battle-hardened militants who had fought alongside Moammar Gadhafi.

The Malian army took heavy casualties in the fighting and saw a succession of strategic garrisons and towns fall under rebel control. Just a month into the fighting, military troops and their families launched widespread protests against the government, demanding improvements in the handling of the military campaign and adequate support—in weaponry, food, and supplies—to embattled forces. Junior officers on the front lines have borne the heaviest burden, exacerbating what some analysts have identified as growing resentment against the senior officer corps and chronic underfunding of the rank and file.

In what sounds like a hastily prepared statement released via video late on Wednesday, the coup leaders add to this core grievance the government’s incompetence in fighting terrorism, the growing risk of national disunity, and the climate of uncertainty that the government has created around the upcoming national elections, which had been slated for late next month. The mutineers have promised to return power to a democratically elected government, but only on the somewhat nebulous condition that “national unity and territorial integrity are established.”

Is this coup likely to be successful?

It is not entirely clear that the coup will ultimately hold. The rebels do not appear to represent the military establishment as a whole, and as of this writing, no senior military officer has spoken out in their support. It is not clear how much support they enjoy from the rest of the rank and file - so far their admonitions to fellow officers to refrain from looting have gone unheeded - nor what access they might have to weaponry and ammunition to ultimately fend off presidential defenders.

Also unclear is the level of popular support the mutineers enjoy. President Touré’s popularity has declined in his second term, and as noted, there has been broad criticism of his handling of the rebellion. Those kinds of grievances point to the need for stronger institutions in which issues of national import can be debated and in which legitimate pressures can be brought to bear on the country’s executive. But they are not likely to translate into support for such a fundamental and blatant subversion of democratic rule, one that will have short- and long-term costs for Mali’s security, development, and international standing.

What are the costs if the coup is successful?

In the short term, the coup will distract from the effort to halt the rebellion’s advance in the north, as well as efforts - already undercut by the Tuareg confrontation - to combat elements of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has hit the Malian economy and security situation hard, with a spate of kidnappings in the country’s northern reaches. The coup attempt has met with international opprobrium, from the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to Mali’s key security partners, most notably France, the United States, and its Sahelian neighbors. France has suspended security cooperation already, and the United States will likewise be compelled to do so, foreclosing the possibility of bolstered support for Malian troops, the very crux of the mutineers’ demands.

A successful coup will mean suspension of significant development assistance, including the country’s $461 million grant from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation, which seeks to increase agricultural production and Mali’s access to markets. It will certainly give potential investors pause and will likely complicate humanitarian assistance to the many Malians currently vulnerable to rising food insecurity.

Perhaps most damaging in the long term will be the stark setback to the country’s democratic progress and reputation. Malians are rightly proud of their country’s democratic leadership, and the widespread sense has been that the bad old days of crude military power grabs were long gone. Military coups in West Africa were once commonplace, and although unconstitutional transfers of power continue to occur, they are more often effected through more sophisticated maneuvers that make at least some attempt to work within the institutions of the state (however weak) and thereby garner some international legitimacy. The current coup attempt is anything but sophisticated, and coming just five weeks before a scheduled national election, it will be hard to justify as anything but a self-serving and short-sighted bid by a côterie of junior officers.

With the region, the international community, and very likely the vast majority of Malians in stark opposition, there is no good outcome here, and things are likely to end very badly for the mutineers.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Jennifer G. Cooke.

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Topics: Africa • Military

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Wade

    Thank you for a fairly thorough analysis of the current situation. I wish the best possible outcome for the Malian people from what must be a confusing and fear-filled situation.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I don't uderstand what the author meant: "The most immediate complaint of the mutineers is the government’s failure to give adequate support to security forces engaged in confronting a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north".
      After the fall of Gaddafi the Malian combatants fled back home with weapons and formed the most powerful Tuareg-led rebel group – the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA). Mali's Tuaregs have long complained about being marginalised by the southern government and have staged several rebellions over the years. Joined by young recruits and former rebels in the Malian army, the MNLA fighters took over several key northern towns. Not only did they secure a large stretch of territory in the mountainous desert but they also triggered the mutiny, which later turned into a coup in the capital Bamako on Wednesday night.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • Patrick

        habibi, quote your sources so that we can all be on the same page.

        March 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  2. Jonathon

    I wonder why Malian people have not used the internet to display their thoughts. I know that probaly all that own a computer or etc are rich people who won't benefit from the coup but the coup leader must see how effectiv it is for people to show their feelings. Of course, that is if this coup is justified. If not, then he doing a good making sure people's voices are not being heard.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  3. George Patton

    I wonder just how much of a hand the C.I.A. had in this. I have a creeping feeling that the West is behind this! Let's just hope that Mali doesn't becoma another Chile but don't hold your breath on that!

    March 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Reply
    • Rz

      Well, your probably right. The "A" certainly doesn't stand for "advanced". And as brokers/agents, these guys trade in regimes/revolutions/countries (to name but a few items) like AIG does derivatives. And sometimes things go bad.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Here we go, the same mantra you spout from one forum to the next.
      In your islamic world, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes true.
      In the free world, it is important to quote your references so that we can all have a truthful discussion.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:05 am | Reply
      • Rz

        In the free world we have "reliable sources" and "increase in twitter" to confirm WMDs in order to justify military action. No discussion. Period.

        March 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
      • Patrick

        RZ try it, I dare you to spend 1 day without telling a lie.

        March 26, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Allende > Pinochet

      Chile?? Really?? That was, what, 40 years ago?

      "The creeping hand of the west"...give me a break. China now has more influence in Africa than the US and Russia combined; interest-free "development" loans, grants, massive investment...everywhere you look the "creeping hand" of the world's largest communist country is remaking the landscape by buying influence, one impoverished (and typically corrupt) African government at a time...

      March 25, 2012 at 2:53 am | Reply
      • Rz

        Good point A>P. Although the US comes under much scrutiny and typically receives plenty of global media attention, it by no means has a monopoly on influence, relations, corruption, etc. Big Bad Uncle Sam is a player just like everyone else, including China of course. But the irony to all this can be seen in the historic time line of events and statistics. In keeping it short, look at data from WWII to Reaganomics, to 1993 NAFTA, to Clinton's 2000 US-China Relations Act, to present. The politics of foreign relations and trade is a complex science in itself. Sometimes good intentions and experiments don't always bring about the best results. Given all the potential direct and indirect results from Clinton's trade agreement with China, it might explain why perhaps one of the very few things Obama was allowed to readily pass last year was the free trade agreements with Korea, Columbia, and Panama. Will the end result of these deals really bring back manufacturing and jobs to America ? Or will it more likely redirect some of the US trade away from China ? Go figure.

        March 25, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  4. sadat

    Strangest way to the marriage application

    http://upload40.com/12321.html

    March 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  5. IRAQI SHIIA ARE STEALING IRAQ READ THE PROVE, I AM IN BAGHDAD NOW

    IRAQI SHIIA THUGS ARE SENDING MILLIONS TO SYRIA GOVERNMENT TO KILL THE KURDS AND THE SUNNI, ALSO TAKEN IRAN OIL AND SALE IT FOR THEM

    في عراقنا المزيَّنِ بالفقر والعوز والثكالى وفقراء الطرق الذين يمسحون زجاج السيارات في برد بغداد القارس والدولة عنهم في غيبوبة، أقول في هذا المشهد المظلم يخرج الينا مجلس النواب ببدعة جديدة في الإسراف والبذخ، وهذه المرة من خلال شراء عشرين قطعة سلاح لكل نائب. أود تذكيركم سريعاً وقبل الدخول في الموضوع ان كل نائب يستلم ما يقارب 12.000.000 دينار مقطوعة عن 12 يوم عمل في كل شهر اي مليون دينار عن كل جلسة سواء عقدت ام لم تعقد كما يستلم 22.500.000 دينار لثلاثين شخصاً يحمونه علماً ان الغالب الاعم من النواب يقطنون المنطقة الدولية والتي لا يكادون يحتاجون فيها لحماية من أحد، ويعلم الجميع ان عضو المجلس يستلم كامل المبالغ المخصصة للحماية نيابة عن الحماية على اساس ان يوزعها لاحقاً.
    وفوق هذا البذخ الصلِف للمال العام الذي يجب ان يكون محلُّهُ فقيرات العراق وعجزته ومعوقوه ومعدموه قرر مجلس النواب ان يشتري لكل نائب عشرة مسدسات (من نوع CZ99 سعر القطعة في بلد المنشأ 500$ كما يظهر فيهذا الرابط وعشرة بندقيات نوع M16 سعر القطعة في بلد المنشأ 586$ كما يظهر في هذا الرابط وبعملية رياضية بسيطة سيتضح ان كل نائب سيكلف الدولة 21.720$ دولار امريكي علماً اننا احتسبنا الكلفة حسب قيمة الاسلحة في بلد المنشأ وتغاضينا عن عمليات الفساد الحتمية التي ستضاعف المبلغ وتضخمه، ومعنى هذا ان مجلس النواب سيقتني اسلحة بقيمة 7.059.000$ دولار امريكي اي ما يعادل 8.611.980.000 مليار دينار عراقي اذا اخذنا بالاعتبار ان عدد اعضاء المجلس 325 نائباً حفظهم الله ورعاهم ذخراً لنا وللفقراء والمعدمين.

    ولإنعاش الذاكرة وحسب اود التذكير ان المجلس موشِكٌ على الموافقة على شراء سيارة مصفحة لكل نائب فضلاً عما ذكرنا من قبل من اسلحة، وتود رئيسة لجنة شؤون الاعضاء والتطوير البرلماني الدكتورة حنان الفتلاوي زعيمة مقارعة الفساد ان تجري مناقشة الموضوع بكل شفافية ولكن خلف ابواب موصدة في جلسة سرية خشية الفضيحة طبعاً وليس لسرية الامر، ولو افترضنا جدلاً ان كلفة السيارة المصفحة الواحدة 50.000$ دولار امريكي فان المجلس سيقتني مجمل السيارات بمبلغ 16.250.000$ مليون دولار وهو ما يعادل 18.281.250.000مليار دينار عراقي.

    أقول لمن اراسلهم من عيون السلطة الرابعة حان دوركم الان، واقول للبرلمانيين: اذا لم تستحوا فاصنعوا ما شئتم

    الراصد البرلماني

    March 24, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply
  6. BASHAR AL KALB

    BASHAR AL ASAD AND HIS WIFE, SENDING MILLIONS OD USA DOLLARS TO LEBANON IN A STASH IN A DIFFRENT ANAME ACCOUNT, ALSO SENDING WEAPONS FROM SYRIA TO HIZBOALLAH 10 FULL TRUCKS EVERY DAY CROSSING TO HIZBOALLAH TO PREPARE FOR A RUN AND TO BE USED FOR EMERGENCY , those love birds killers and thug are preparing to empty syria from cash and weapons and move them to lebanon in the hands of the terrorists hizboallah i saw that my self, we have people on the ground at the syria / lebanon boarder sending these informations , some of the trucks also contain chemical weapoins to hizboallah...please inform the media now before it is too late

    March 24, 2012 at 11:54 am | Reply
  7. ....BASHAR AL KALB

    .....BASHAR AL ASAD AND HIS WIFE, SENDING MILLIONS OD USA DOLLARS TO LEBANON IN A STASH IN A DIFFRENT ANAME ACCOUNT, ALSO SENDING WEAPONS FROM SYRIA TO HIZBOALLAH 10 FULL TRUCKS EVERY DAY CROSSING TO HIZBOALLAH TO PREPARE FOR A RUN AND TO BE USED FOR EMERGENCY , those love birds killers and thug are preparing to empty syria from cash and weapons and move them to lebanon in the hands of the terrorists hizboallah i saw that my self, we have people on the ground at the syria / lebanon boarder sending these informations , some of the trucks also contain chemical weapoins to hizboallah...please inform the media now before it is too late

    March 24, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • Huh?

      Wrong story, pal...your rant does not relate to Mali in any way, shape, or form...

      March 25, 2012 at 2:55 am | Reply
  8. GET RED OF THEM NOW, SHIIAZIM IS EVIL MUST END

    GET RED OF THEM NOW, SHIIAZIM IS EVIL MUST END

    1. al-Assad IS in serious trouble. Obama was one of the first world leaders to call explicitly for al-Assad's ouster. ALL THE WORLD CONDEMN AND SANCTION HIM and we must keep doing it until he fall and then bring him as a war criminal along with russian leaders we must attack russian interest every where, they have blood in there hands.

    2. Force is only answer aganist syria now.along with Hizboallah, terrorists must be hunted down, Yes, the Pentagon is reportedly preparing "detailed" contingency options for U.S. military action in Syria. That's what militaries do, and it's only prudent for the United States to monitor chemical weapons sites and eavesdrop on the regime's communications. It's also a good idea for the president to have a full understanding of what his options are and the risks and costs involved.

    3. The U.S. intelligence community is concerned about hizboalla ,iran and iraqi shiia terrorists presence in Syria of fighters from Iraq's shiia branch, who are thought to be behind a spate of bombing attacks in Damascus and Aleppo.

    4. . If al-Assad is to fall, the pillars that prop up his regime must first be removed. Iran and Russia, both of which continue to send weapons and advice, if not more, must be convinced that a post-al-Assad Syria is something they can at least live with. Both countries have met with members of the Syrian opposition, indicating they want to explore their options. Perhaps

    5. Ignoring China. and use the human right tickets aganist them, make it tough for china to buy and sale to any memebers , china love money and will leave asad if there are economic snaction aganist this evil communist regime.

    6. Focusing exclusively on the Syrian National Council he;p them, arm them , finance them, get no fly zones in multiple areas so they can get weapons and supplies, they are already in civil war , so no worries we can safe civilians , al asad already kilkled 14,000 civilians, and more than 132 000 in prison, killing daily.

    .7- attack syria now alonmg with hizboallah as they are hiding chimechal weapons and stash and make the region un stable, attack them now and save millions of civilians later, attack them now and that will make it easy to get red of iran later. we all must be united to get red of those evil fregiemes, dont be silent SILENCE IS A CRIME, HITLER MUST NOT COME BACK AGAIN and he is a life and well as long as IRAN AND SYRIA THUGS ARE COMMITTING CIVILIAN KILLING.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  9. THE E MAILS OF BASHAR AL ASAD THE KILLER OF SYRIA

    الناشطون وصفوا الأسد بأنه حريص ويلغي ما يكتبه من صندوق الإرسال بشكل مستمر (وكالة الأنباء الأوروبية )
    نشرت صحيفة ذي غارديان لائحة بأهم الشخصيات التي ورد ذكرها في ثلاثة آلاف رسالة إلكترونية حصلت عليها، والتي تقول الصحيفة إن جزءا كبيرا منها نسخ من البريد الإلكتروني للرئيس السوري بشار الأسد sam@alshahba.com. وتصف الصحيفة الشخصيات التي تبادلت الرسائل أو لها علاقة بهذا العنوان البريدي بأنها مجموعة صغيرة ولكنها متنفذة وهم كالتالي:

    بشار الأسد: يقول الناشطون إن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد يستخدم اسم "سام" (Sam) كاسم حركي في مراسلاته عبر الإنترنت. وقد لاحظ الناشطون -الذين راقبوا هذا العنوان لشهور عديدة- أن صاحبه شديد الحذر ويتمتع بحس أمني عال، ويقوم بمسح الرسائل الصادرة سريعا.

    أسماء الأسد: زوجة الرئيس السوري، وتستخدم بريدا إلكترونيا تحت عنوان ak@alshahba.com للمراسلة مع العنوان المذكور والحرفان الأولان يرمزان إلى عالية كيالي معلوف. وغالبا ما خاطب sam@alshahba.comصاحبة الحرفين AوK بعبارة "عزيزتي أسماء".

    ويعتقد الناشطون أن عالية كيالي الحقيقية ليس لديها حق الدخول إلى العنوان، ولكنهم لاحظوا أيضا أن صاحب هذا الحساب لا يتخذ إجراءات أمنية عالية مثل صاحب الحساب "سام". وتصف الصحيفة المراسلات بين العنوانين البريديين أعلاه، بأنها تنم عن شخصين يرتبطان بعلاقة زواج، ولكن علاقتهما ترزح تحت وطأة ضغط العمل الشديد، ولكن على أي حال فإن المراسلات بين الطرفين لا تنم عن اكتراث بالعنف الدموي الذي يجتاح سوريا.

    شهرزاد الجعفري: ابنة السفير السوري لدى الأمم المتحدة، وهي في بداية العشرينيات من عمرها. ويعتقد أن الجعفري وبعد تخرجها من الجامعة في الولايات المتحدة، عملت متدربة في مؤسسة براون لويد للعلاقات العامة في نيويورك بالولايات المتحدة. وبعد عودة الجعفري إلى دمشق، سرعان ما أصبحت من المقربين من الأسد وأعلى مستشاريه الإعلاميين.

    ويقول زملاؤها في مؤسسة براون إنها استمرت في التواصل معهم، واستخدمت علاقاتها مع المؤسسة لتحصل على ثقة الأسد كشخصية لها خبرة في مجال العلاقات العامة. إلا أن إحدى الرسائل التي تبادلتها الجعفري مع مسؤول رفيع المستوى في المؤسسة أظهرت دعمه للجعفري والأسد، ولكن المؤسسة بررت ذلك بأن كلمات المسؤول لم تكن سوى كلمات تشجيع لمتدربة سابقة في المؤسسة، وهي لا تعني دعما للأسد.

    هديل العلي: مستشارة صحفية إلى جانب الجعفري، وتتمتع بحظوة لدى الأسد وتأخذ على عاتقها كتابة تقارير عن الصحف اليومية وطريقة تعاملها مع الشأن السوري، ووقع خطابات الأسد على المناصرين، بالإضافة الى تأمين إيصال طلبات مقابلة الأسد من صحفيين يعتبرون مقبولين لدى النظام.

    لونة الشبل: مذيعة سابقة في قناة الجزيرة. تقدم دعما قويا للأسد وقد تكون من أشد المطالبين بانتهاج أسلوب متشدد إلى أكثر حد مع المعارضين السوريين. كما تقدم المشورة بشأن كيفية إبقاء الانتفاضة تحت السيطرة.

    خالد أحمد: أحد اللاعبين الأساسيين في المراسلات، ويقوم بتقديم تقييمات منتظمة عن الوضع المتردي في حمص. وهو مكلف بمهام إشرافية بوصفه مسؤولا سابقا في المنطقة التي تضم حمص. ويعتقد أن لأحمد صلات بالحزب القومي الاشتراكي السوري الذي ظل ومليشياته لمدة أربعين عاما من أشد المناصرين للنظام السوري. ويردد خالد رواية النظام أن هناك إرهابيين إسلاميين مدعومين من الخارج يحركون الانتفاضة السورية.

    حسين مرتضى: رئيس قناة العالم التلفزيونية الإيرانية، ويتمتع مرتضى بصلات قوية بإيران وحزب الله ويقدم النصائح والمشورة للأسد بشكل مستمر، ويدعي في مراسلاته مع "سام" بأن ما يقوله يمثل وجهة نظر إيران وحزب الله. ويعتبر مرتضى عنصرا رئيسيا في تسويق رواية النظام عن ما يجري في سوريا.

    March 25, 2012 at 12:33 am | Reply
  10. Benedict

    And here i was thinking that Africans are getting things right after so long?! How does sacking the government help their quest to defeat the Tuareg militia attacks? Restore the elected government so that all hands will on deck to tackle this threat to Mali‘s sovereignty!

    March 25, 2012 at 6:14 am | Reply
  11. SHARMOOTA KOS omahatkum muslims shiia

    Evil Iran are responsible of killing diplomats in many countries.......Why usa silent, attack Iran now they are a terrorists state helping terrorists hizboallah.
    يشار أن لأذربيجان -الجمهورية السوفيتية السابقة الواقعة على الحدود مع إيران- علاقات ودية مع الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل وقد تزايد التوتر بينها وبين إيران في الأشهر الأخيرة.

    وفي الشهر الماضي اتهمت طهران باكو بمساعدة المخابرات الإسرائيلية في عملية اغتيال العالم النووي الإيراني مصطفى أحمدي روشان الذي قتل في انفجار قنبلة ثبتت في سيارته.

    كما تدهورت العلاقات بين البلدين في يناير/كانون الثاني بعد أن اعتقلت أذربيجان رجلين للاشتباه في قيامهما بالتخطيط لمهاجمة أجانب، بمن في ذلك السفير الإسرائيلي في باكو وأحد الحاخامات، وقالت السلطات الأذرية إن المشتبه بهما كانا يتلقيان المساعدة من رجل إيراني على صلة بأجهزة المخابرات الإيرانية.

    وتقول السلطات الأذرية أيضا إنها أحبطت خطة لعملاء إيرانيين وحزب الله اللبناني لتفجير سيارة ملغومة قرب السفارة الإسرائيلية بأذربيجان قبل أربع سنوات، ومؤامرة كانت تستهدف السفارتين الأميركية والبريطانية في العام 2007.

    كما تنظر طهران حسب مراقبين بارتياب متزايد لجارتها بسبب علاقاتها التجارية المتنامية مع إسرائيل، التي كان آخرها توقيعهما اتفاقا بمليارات الدولارات الشهر الماضي لتزويد باكو بمعدات دفاع صاروخي، في حين تستورد منها تل أبيب أكثر من ربع احتياجاتها النفطية.

    March 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  12. Y Diawara

    Most malians strongly comdamn the putsch even the ones that used to criticize the elected president.
    They express it int forums maliweb.net, maliactu.net etc... and are calling for protests.
    The US , The UN, the African US all condamn the coup.
    The country need help now more than ever to face the AL QAIDA terrosists in the north that are seeing the coup as an opportunity to strengthen their positions.

    The West , specially the US need to be very carefull about this because sooner or later their will have to face the consequences of the terrorists if they manage to strengthen their positions in north Mali.
    This is a serious warning but i guess the US ambassy in Mali is already aware of this and is acting accordingly.

    You need to help that country restore its democracy so it can efficiently fight the terrorists.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  13. Besperus

    Nice work. The date on the photo with the article...February 2, 2013? What worm hole did your photographer crawl through?

    March 27, 2012 at 1:27 am | Reply
  14. Don Canard

    assuming this is the traditional split between Arab-oriented muslims in the north of the saharan nations and black-oriented muslims and nonmuslims in the south (like in Sudan), the southerners could have seen that fighting the Tuareg was a bottomless pit and a losing proposition – an impoverished country prodded simultaneously by the western carrot of support and the western threat of vilification as not supporting the WOT, into being on the frontlines of the WOT. Thus making as clean a break as possible and leaving the north to the Tuareg is the most positive outcome they can hope for, so they choose it. Not the west's favorite choice, it would rather have active frontline states fighting AQ with its support, but from the Malian perspective the choice most in their nation's interest.

    April 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  15. Don Canard

    and if the Tuaregs are nationalists first, then they'll use connections with AQ to further their own ends, but won't let themselves be made cannon fodder for the koran-thumpers. these are all tribal people who are interested in land and bettering their own lot, not serving as proxies for ideological conflicts (hasn't changed much since the cold war...). If the analogy is correct, then the most ruthless among the indigenous pop (think savimbi and the idiots in west africa of 20-30 yrs ago) will join up with whatever transnational side appears to best serve their interests, make their country desolate or at least poorer in the process, but ultimately pursue their nationalist goals. So the real threat would appear to be a nativist islam which is not radical but not western-friendly. AQ and its manifestations are a wart on the side of the larger muslim pop which cares about survival issues first.

    April 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  16. syria = hizboallah- evil

    fk u all iranians and syrian baathy thugs evil hizboallah terrorists

    April 14, 2012 at 3:08 am | Reply

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