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."

 

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Jobless Tunisians seek new migration routes to Europe

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe

UN urges de-escalation in Iraq

Haley: Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive behaviour

EU says Israeli settlements illegal under international law

Kurdish independence goes from dream to dust

Female commander more than just poster girl for Raqa victory

Saudi airline flies to Baghdad for first time in 27 years

Wanted Dead: France's approach to IS jihadists

Saudi Arabia to monitor interpretations of prophet's sayings

Italy busts Libyan diesel smugglers

Khamenei vows to 'shred' nuclear deal if US pulls out

Fate of IS fighters in Raqa uncertain

Turkish Red Crescent concerned by Idlib humanitarian ‘drama’

US firm to build solar plants in Gaza

Ghost city Raqa scanned for survivors, bombs

Bahrain accuses Iran of harbouring 160 'terrorists'

Qatar says Gulf crisis hindering fight against IS

Qatar emir calls for talks on visit to Indonesia

Iraq calls on BP to help develop Kirkuk oil

Israeli forces raid Palestinian media offices linked to Hamas