First Published: 2012-11-08

 

Mali intervention plan under scrutiny: West African to hold summit in Abuja

 

Delegates say over 4,000 troops could be sent into Mali, whose vast arid north has been occupied by Qaeda-linked extremists for seven months.

 

Middle East Online

Mali: Once one of region's most stable democracies

BAMAKO - West African heads of state will meet in Abuja on Sunday to adopt a plan for their troops to recapture northern Mali from radical Islamists, the grouping said in a statement on Thursday.

Once approved by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders, the strategy "will then be transmitted through the African Union, before November 15, to the UN Security Council."

The Security Council on October 12 approved a resolution urging ECOWAS to speed up preparations for a military intervention to help recapture northern Mali. It gave ECOWAS until November 26 to clarify its plans.

ECOWAS army chiefs on Tuesday adopted the military blueprint, which was drawn up with the help of experts from the European Union, AU, UN and the region.

The details of the plan have not been made public, but delegates say over 4,000 troops could be sent into Mali, whose vast arid north has been occupied by Al Qaeda-linked extremists for seven months.

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 ECOWAS statement said the bloc's military brass has asked for a planning committee to be set up to "refine the harmonised plan" and organise a donors conference.

This committee will be charged with "identifying the shortfalls as soon as possible and proposing the types and number of units" which will make up the force.

The Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution giving the green light for the deployment of troops once it has studied the intervention plan.

Mali, once one of the region's most stable democracies, rapidly imploded after a coup in March allowed Tuareg desert nomads, who had relaunched a decades-old rebellion for independence, to seize the main towns in the north with the help of Islamist allies.

The secular separatists were quickly sidelined by the Islamists who had little interest in their aspirations for an independent homeland and set about implementing their version of strict sharia law.

Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have cracked down on local populations, stoning unmarried couples, amputating thieves' hands and whipping drinkers and smokers.

The crisis has displaced about 200,000 Malians inside the country, while as many have fled to neighbouring states, according to the UN.

Facing a potentially violent ouster, Ansar Dine has sent envoys to Ouagadougou and Algiers for negotiations and this week called for all armed movements to halt hostilities and join in dialogue, while rejecting "all forms of terrorism".

The Islamists' ties with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which has long been present in Mali's north, has triggered fears in the region and the west that the zone could become a haven for radicals.

Ansar Dine spokesman Mohamed Ag Aharid on Wednesday warned in Ouagadougou that any military intervention in Mali would "set the region ablaze."

 

Regime strikes in Syria enclave despite ceasefire call

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Egypt presidential race starts with Sisi likely to win

Christian leaders close Church of the Holy Sepulchre in tax dispute

Blatter supports Morocco bid for 2026 World Cup

Iraq condemns 15 Turkish women to death for belonging to IS

Thousands expected for radical Israeli rabbi's funeral

Syrian Kurd leader arrested in Prague

Philippine officials meet nationals in Kuwait amid labour row

Families of IS suspects in Iraq face 'collective punishment'

Iran's ex-intelligence minister slams handling of prison death

More strikes hit E. Ghouta as UN delays truce vote

Turkey says US embassy Jerusalem opening in May 'extremely worrying'

Lebanon says both suspects in Kuwait murder of Filipina maid held

38 dead in Mogadishu car bombings

Morocco police arrests prominent newspaper publisher

Syria regime continues to pound Ghouta as world stutters

UN rights commission wants S.Sudan war crimes charges

Iran grounds airline's ATR planes after crash

Turkey summons Dutch diplomat over Armenian 'genocide' vote

Turkey navy threatens to engage Italian drillship near Cyprus

Iran police shoving headscarf protester sparks social media storm

UN Security Council to vote Friday on Syria ceasefire

Dubai says Djibouti illegally seized African port

Dutch parliament recognises 1915 Armenian massacre as genocide

Heavily bombarded Eastern Ghouta awaits UN resolution

Russia says Syria rebels rejected offer to evacuate E. Ghouta

UN diplomats press for Syria ceasefire without Russia veto

Iranian minister’s presence at UN rights meeting angers critics

Iran warns it will leave nuke deal if banks cannot do business

Qatar to plant thousands of trees to ‘beautify’ World Cup venues

Pro-Kurdish party says Turkey lying about 'no civilian deaths' in Afrin

African migrants protest Israeli detention policy

Egypt sentences 21 to death for planning attacks

Israeli handball teams in Qatar spark furious outcry from locals

UN report highlights S.Sudan journalist treatment

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea