First Published: 2012-11-07

 

Mali military intervention strategy adopted

 

West African army chiefs adopt military plan to expel Islamic rebels from northern Mali as latter push for negotiated solution to crisis.

 

Middle East Online

By Serge Daniel - BAMAKO

Decision taken

West African army chiefs have adopted a military plan to expel Islamic rebels from northern Mali, as the extremists push for a negotiated solution to the crisis.

The military blueprint will next be studied by regional heads of state for approval before being presented to the UN Security Council on November 26.

"We are very satisfied," Dembele said late Tuesday at the close of a meeting of the military brass in Bamako.

"On the whole, the strategy was adopted (and) friendly troops will come here to help Mali reconquer the north."

The UN wants clarification on the composition of the proposed force, the level of participation from the various west African nations, the financing of the operation and the military means to carry it out.

The details of the plan as adopted by the military chiefs have not been made public.

"It is an ambitious plan, we should expect a little over 4,000 people in case of military intervention. We have studied all the parameters, now we await instructions from our heads of state," said an officer from Benin who attended the meeting.

Presidents from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will study the plan during a meeting expected weekend in Abuja, a source close to the meeting told AFP.

"I really hope things will advance. We must not release pressure on the terrorist groups, everyone must be convinced," Guinean General Sekouba Konate -- who is in charge of the standby force -- said.

On Tuesday Ansar Dine, one of the groups occupying the vast arid zone, called for all armed movements to halt hostilities and join in peace talks.

The seven-month occupation of Mali's north -- an area larger than France -- by Islamists linked to the north African Al-Qaeda branch has triggered fears in the region and among Western powers that the zone could become a haven for terrorists.

Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith, in Arabic) along with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have implemented an extreme form of sharia in the cities they control, stoning, whipping and amputating transgressors.

Ansar Dine has also destroyed centuries-old cultural treasures in the fabled city of Timbuktu which they denounced as "idolatrous" to their radical brand of Islam.

However the armed Islamist group on Tuesday said it "rejects all forms of extremism and terrorism" after meeting chief regional mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.

The Ansar Dine delegation urged "all the armed movements" to follow its lead with the aim of establishing "an inclusive political dialogue."

Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole, a key mediator in the Malian crisis, urged Ansar Dine to turn words into actions and "refrain from unnecessary provocations."

He stressed that the Islamist group had made no reference to the issue of Islamic law.

In Bamako, where interim authorities have struggled to assert authority after a March coup which plunged the country into this crisis, politicians were favourable to negotiations with the Islamists.

"Territorial integrity is non-negotiable but from the moment that Malians decide to lay down arms and come to the negotiating table, we are available to listen if they are really sincere," said Makan Diarra, presidential adviser.

Bineta Diakite of the Malian Democratic Alliance, the party of transition leader Dioncounda Traore, said the members of Ansar Dine "are our brothers."

"If they want to talk, why not listen to them? But we are not going to talk this time and wait for another rebellion in one month or two years," she said.

Ansar Dine's leader Iyad Ag Ghaly led a 1990 Tuareg rebellion in Mali. He then switched sides to negotiate an end to the rebellion and was later posted as a diplomat to Saudi Arabia before appearing at the head of the extremist group in late 2011.

Observers have described him as "a pragmatic opportunist."

 

Erdogan asks Americans: Who’s your partner, Turkey or Kurds?

Algeria parliament adopts Bouteflika’s constitutional reforms

Turkey promises to let in Syria refugees 'if necessary'

UAE ready to send ground troops to Syria

Iran carmaker reveals 427 million euros in Peugeot perks

Hamas armed branch executes one of its own members

Syria army advances towards rebel town of Tal Rifaat

Netherlands probes civilian casualties in Iraq air strikes

Tunisia completes construction of Libya border fence

Algeria parliament to vote on constitutional reforms

Egypt returns body of Italian student Giulio Regeni

Iran reverses mass ban on candidates for parliamentary polls

Thousands of Syria refugees brave bad weather at border with Turkey

New photos reveal serious abuse of Iraq prisoners in US facilities

EU reminds Turkey: Keep your border open to Syria refugees

Somalia recaptures key port of Merka from Shebab

Iran warns Saudi Arabia over possible ground action in Syria

Palestinian journalist to keep up hunger strike

Iraq’s Sistani to end weekly political sermons

Shebab fighters recapture key port in Somalia

Syria regime forces close in on Daraa

Israeli leaders slam Arab MPs, refuse to return Palestinian corpses

IS jihadists rise in Libya, drop in Iraq and Syria

World powers pledge $10 billion to help war-hit Syrians

Morocco king inaugurates first solar power plant

Saudi ready to send ground troops to Syria

Israel charges cop for exposing woman's ID

Russia accuses Turkey of preparing to invade Syria

Syria talks were an inevitable failure

Saudi says Iranian pilgrims still welcome

Italy demands truth from Egypt over slain student

Fear stalks Libya's Sirte

US adds $890 million to Syria humanitarian aid effort

Tunisia lifts nationwide curfew

Two Israelis jailed for burning Palestinian teen alive

Sweden expects 100,000 asylum seekers in 2016

Turkey refuses access to Russian flight as Aleppo bombardment continues

40,000 Syrians flee Assad regime's Aleppo offensive

US implicitly blames Russia for collapse of Syria peace talks

Rome summons Egypt’s ambassador over student’s death

Israeli forces lock down West Bank town

Two Algerians 'linked to IS' arrested in Germany

Assad regime accused of undermining Syria peace talks

Top Qaeda chief killed in Yemen drone attack

EU agrees on details of Turkey refugee deal as Italy drops objections