First Published: 2013-01-13

 

Marzouki: Tunisia becoming arms corridor for Malian jihadists

 

Premiers of Algeria, Libya Tunisia seal pact to secure their borders against arms trafficking.

 

Middle East Online

Guarded response on French intervention in Mali

TUNIS - President Moncef Marzouki said on Saturday Tunisia was becoming a "corridor" for arms to Islamist militants in Mali, as the premiers of Algeria, Libya and Tunisia sealed a pact to secure their borders against arms trafficking.

"The situation in Mali has always worried us because we have begun to understand that our our jihadists, quote unquote, have ties with these terrorist forces," Marzouki told France 24 television on the eve of the second anniversary of his country's Arab Spring revolution.

"We have the impression that Tunisia is becoming a corridor for Libyan weapons to these regions," said Marzouki, whose country borders Libya but not Mali.

He was referring to arms from the arsenal of former Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi that he said are reaching Islamists in northern Mali via Tunisia and Algeria, the latter of which shares borders with Mali.

"We are monitoring very closely what is happening in that hornet's nest because it is a hornet's nest that can threaten the security of all the countries, including Tunisia," he said.

In that vein, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia struck an 11-point plan, signed by their respective premiers, Ali Zeidan, Abdelmalek Sella and Hamadi Jebali, to secure their borders, during a meeting in the Libyan oasis of Ghadames.

The three pledged in a statement to "create common border checkpoints and intensify cooperation in the security sphere through joint patrols," and vowed as well to tackle organised crime and terrorism.

The premiers also addressed the crisis in Mali.

"It is necessary to find a political solution to this crisis by fostering dialogue between the different parties in Mali to preserve the sovereignty and unity of its territory," a statement said.

Libya's Zeidan told journalists the "situation in Mali has made it necessary for us to meet in order to prevent and tackle its consequences."

It requires close "coordination between our military and intelligence services to prevent anything that might affect our security, the movement of persons, arms and drugs trafficking, terrorism and human trafficking," he said.

In December, Libya decided to close the country's borders with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan, decreeing the oil-rich south a military zone, in a move seen by analysts as a response to the crisis in Mali.

The Libyan conflict that ousted Moamer Gathafi in 2011 saw arms and fighters scattered across the region, notably to Mali, where Islamist militants have occupied the north.

At the same time, southern Libya has been plagued by unrest.

In his remarks to France 24, Marzouki gave a guarded response when asked to comment on the French military intervention in Mali.

"The situation is so complex. Of course we would have preferred a politically negotiated solution," he said.

Mali has been in turmoil since three Islamist groups, among them Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, seized control of the country's north after a coup in March.

Backed by French air power, Mali unleashed a counter-attack against the Islamists this week, recapturing a town lost to the rebels as they advanced south from their northern strongholds.

 

Warring Syrians set for first face-to-face at Astana

Turkey moves closer to expanding Erdogan powers

IS demolishes more monuments in recaptured Palmyra

Bodies of firemen recovered from Tehran tower

Police, ruling party hit by attacks in Istanbul

Bomb kills 4 in refugee camp near Syrian border with Jordan

Egypt says political solution 'only way' for Libya ahead of talks

Turkey concedes including Assad in Syria talks

Netanyahu congratulates ‘friend’ Trump in tweet

Israel denounces Belgian plan to interrogate ex-minister

Denmark grants soldiers permission to fight IS in Syria

Car bomb near Benghazi mosque wounds 12

UN calls IS destruction of Palmyra relics ‘war crime’

Armed settlers rescued from angry Palestinian villagers

Petition filed for Israeli court to return body of Bedouin

29 Yemen rebels killed by Saudi-led air strikes

Iran losing hope of saving trapped firefighters

Algeria’s Islamist parties unite ahead of April elections

British worker dies on Qatar 2022 World Cup site

Search continues for trapped Iran firefighters

More than 40 jihadists killed in north Syria air strikes

Trump to be sworn in as 45th US president

Trump to retain envoy to anti-IS coalition

More than 20 firefighters feared dead in Tehran building collapse

Explosions in Gaza target Fatah member

UN expert tells Saudi to end ban on women driving

Desalination plant opens in Gaza to tackle water crisis

Syria’s Assad hopes rebels disarm after Astana talks

UN says 400,000 Syrian child refugees in Turkey not in school

Libya PM skips Davos to focus on electricity crisis

Greece, Cyprus insist peace deal must include Turkish withdrawal

Mistura to lead UN delegation at Astana Syria talks

Turkey slams French satire song about Istanbul attack

Saudi minister says kingdom to become ‘softer’ after reforms

Bahrain lifts ban on electronic Al-Wasat newspaper

Arab Israelis strike in protest over house demolitions

Iran sees Syria talks as opportunity to gain influence

Kuwait upholds sentence for three royals for insulting judges

Tunisia facing mounting calls against jail-for-joint law

Iran's oldest high-rise building on fire collapses

IMF says Egypt on track for next aid tranche

Bahrain police disperse Shiite protesters

Key Syria rebel group opts out of Astana peace talks

Moroccan Sufi ‘living master’ dies at 95

France says Iraqi jihadist among 2015 stadium bombers