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June 28-July 5, 2015

Weekly Media Monitoring report for Mali
Posted on July 10, 2015

Contents

Compiled by André Capretti

  1. Continued Jihadi Terrorist Attacks Undermine Mali’s Security
  2. After the Signing: Implementation of Peace Accords
  3. MINUSMA Mandate Extended

1.     Continued Jihadi Terrorist Attacks Undermine Mali’s Security
 
State-owned media

L’Essor, “Conseil de défense à Koulouba: Le besoin de réajuster le dispositif sécuritaire et la coopération transfrontalière”, June 29th, 2015

  • On June 28th, Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita presided over a meeting of the country’s council on matters related to defense and security.
  • Government officials told the media that the terrorist incursion in Nara had been adequately dealt with, and that the situation in Fakola following the attack on June 28th was also on the verge of stabilization.
  • Minister of Defence Tieman Hubert Coulibaly reassured the public that the army had been deployed in these towns and were on maximum alert. He also declared that the country and its army were at war against terrorism.
  • The multiplication of these terrorist attacks across the country has forced the government to discuss readjusting its security presence country-wide, as well as its border cooperation with neighboring countries (both Nara and Fakola are located near borders).

L’Essor, “L’avenir politique au Mali: Les périls résurgents», June 30th, 2015

  • After the recent attacks in Nara and Fakola, the subject of terrorism has become a hot topic in Mali, as leaders and politicians scramble to brainstorm ways of combatting the asymmetric warfare they face from jihadists.
  • Home-grown terrorism is a recently growing problem in Mali, where many men face difficult economic prospects and find themselves absorbed into poisonous sectarian subcultures within their communities, at a young age.
  • Even before Nara and Fakola, terrorist attacks in Misseni, Bamako and Timbuktu have been evidence that jihadists are not hesitant or lacking the will necessary to exert pressure against Malian and international forces through the use of violence.
  • One week after the signing of the peace accords, Malians now realize all the progress left to be accomplished in restoring an acceptable level of security and stability across the country. In the weeks and months to come, the Malian armed forces will have the tough and dangerous task of taking on the imminent threat of jihadi terrorists. 

L’Essor, « Lutte contre le terrorisme : Les FAMA ratissent large en 3ème région », July 3rd, 2015

  • In the aftermath of the Fakola attack, Malian armed forces have been searching the territory around the town looking for members of the alleged perpetrators, terrorist group Ansardine.
  • Cooperating with members of the Ivory Coast’s army, the Malian armed forces searched through the Sama forest, located on the border of both countries and covering 20km2.
  • According to military sources, these searches were fruitful, as the Malian army managed to find and neutralize around a dozen terrorists, including 3 leaders of the Dawa sect.
 
Privately owned media 

L’Independant, “Terrorisme: Le sud et l’ouest du Mali délibérément choisis par les terroristes”, July 1st, 2015

  • Following the peace accords, many pundits are saying that the terrorists’ choice to shift their attacks from the north to the southern and western regions of the country is a strategic choice, not a fluke.
  • After the CMA signed the peace agreement, any non-signatory group active in the North would be labeled as terrorists, and would be easily identifiable (thus having to face the French and Malian armed forces).
  • Given that the majority of armed forces are located in the north, the west and south are comparably under-manned, and more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
  • Terrorist groups are also increasingly taking advantage of the porosity of Mali’s borders with surrounding countries, such as Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Consequently, this has raised the risk of the terrorists proliferating arms and evading capture.

Journal du Mali, “Front terroriste au sud: la coopération sous-régionale s’impose”, July 2nd, 2015

  • The latest terrorist attacks in southern Mali have incited a sense of fear and panic in the general public, due to their calculated and asymmetric nature.
  • The modus operandi of these terrorists seems to be quite similar every time: heavily armed, enter at dawn, shouting the name of Allah and ambush the Malian army in their military camps.
  • The growing number of attacks near borders highlights how important inter-regional cooperation with countries like the Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, will be in solving the issue of terrorism in Mali. 
  • In particular, Malians have been frustrated with the passivity demonstrated by Algeria, who allegedly have Ansardine leader Iyad Ag Ghaly living on their territory.

Liberte-Algerie, “Un nouveau mouvement politico-armé en cours de formation dans le sud du pays : Une menace pour la paix au Mali », July 6th, 2015

  • A new armed group, calling itself the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Mali (MPLM), has been forming in southern Mali.
  • The movement claims to have as its mission the radical change of the politico-military system that has been ruling the country since 1991. It also has the goal of fighting attempts at dividing the country and preserving the country’s territorial integrity.
  • The arrival of a new armed rebel movement in Mali could be a serious threat to peace in the country, just weeks after the signing of the peace accords.
  • The Malian government is definitely not in need of another pro-government rebel movement. Instead it would much prefer a firm and sustained mobilization of the political actors necessary to advance the implementation of the peace accords.
 
Foreign Media
 

AFP, “Six casques bleus burkinabè tués dans une embuscade dans le nord du Mali”, July 2nd, 2015

  • Six MINUSMA peacekeepers from Burkina Faso were killed (5 more were injured and 2 vehicles were destroyed) in the morning of July 2nd, in an ambush in northern Mali near Timbuktu.
  • AQMI (Al-Quaeda’s affiliates in North Africa) claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

Social Media

Azawad Tweet @SaharaRebelle, June 29th, 2015

  •  “Malians are complaining about the accord they signed, after the recent attacks in Nara and Misseni. Since when did we sign with terrorists?”.
  • This tweet makes a good point, in that the rebels who signed the peace agreement and who had been fighting for regional autonomy are not synonymous with the jihadist terrorist groups like Ansardine and Al-Quaeda who are currently perpetrating their own attacks.

2.   After the Signing: Implementation of Peace Accords
State-owned media

L’Essor, “Médiateurs pour la paix: Prêts pour le terrain”, July 1st, 2015

  • A peace project known as “Médiateurs pour la paix”, in which 360 young Malian leaders from across the country were trained in peace building, has been recently launched.
  • The project aims to spread messages of peace (in print, social media and traditional visual media) and raise awareness about the virtues of peace among the youth in the country.
  • These messages come from members of local youth community groups, and Malian organizations militating for peace and development. 
  • The idea behind this project is that “Wars are born in the spirit of men, and so it’s in the spirit of men that we need to build the barriers of peace”.
  • The project’s goal is to fight against violent extremism and cultivate a culture of peace: a set of values, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles that reject violence and prevent conflicts at their roots, through dialogue and negotiation between individuals, groups and the State.      

 

Privately-owned media

Journal du Mali, “Communiqué de la CMA sur la situation actuelle”, June 30th, 2015

  • The CMA rebel group released a communiqué on June 29th, denouncing the repeated attacks against civilian populations that have been perpetrated since the signing of the peace accords. 
  • The CMA reminded the public that it has been fulfilling all of its obligations, respecting all of the treaty’s clauses and cooperating with MINUSMA, the French and Malian armies, and the different IGOs and NGOs on the ground.
  • The CMA also underlined the fact that it has not broken the ceasefire; despite the repeated aggressions and provocations it has faced from militia groups.
  • The CMA accused the government of failing to respect its treaty engagements regarding Menaka, after deploying its army to patrol the city on June 21st, and also called out pro-governmental groups for committing attacks against populations that are hostile or unwelcoming of them.  
  • Finally the CMA called upon the government and its allies to respect their word, the peace accords and the engagements they have committed to undertaking.

Le Republicain, “Accord pour la paix et la réconciliation au Mali: Quelle paix sans Iyad Ag Ghaly?”, July 2nd, 2015

  • The attacks in Nara and Fakola, just one day apart, both of which appeared to have been committed by the Ansardine terrorist group, have demonstrated the importance for the Malian government to engage with the group’s leader Iyad Ag Ghaly to restore peace in the country.
  • The government can either negotiate with Ghaly, or attempt to neutralize the threat posed by his group: both of which would be difficult to accomplish.
  • Negotiations would be particularly challenging as they would likely require the government drop its judicial charges against Ghaly, an option that they are unlikely to pursue given the numerous deadly attacks and crimes against humanity that he is presumed responsible for.
  • Negotiations would also be difficult if the United States were to be involved in the international mediation with him, as this would involve violating that country’s policy against negotiating with terrorists.

It appears that the neutralization avenue may be pursued, as the Malian government may have no other choice but to employ its armed forces to fight back and wage a war against Ghaly and his fellow terrorists.

 

Foreign Media

Xinhua, “Mali: le Conseil de sécurité jure de sanctionner ceux qui violent l’accord de paix”, June 30th, 2015

  • The UN Security Council declared on June 29th that it was prepared to employ targeted sanctions against any party that would engage in actions that could hinder the ceasefire, the implementation of the Malian peace accord or threaten MINUSMA peacekeepers.

AFP, “Mali: le calendrier de mise en oeuvre de l’accord de paix établi prochainement”, July 6th, 2015

  • After the second meeting of the follow-up committee for the Malian peace accords, MINUSMA chief Mongi Hamdi declared that a calendar for the implementation of the agreement should be ready sometime in the coming days.
  • This meeting appeared to go better than the first, as issues surrounding the designation of representatives for each party were solved. Representatives from the different rebel groups and the State seemed optimistic after the meeting.
  • Hamdi stated that the committee should have their internal guidelines completed in the upcoming days, and that the implementation of the agreement according to the set calendar should begin once the month of Ramadan ends.

3.     MINUSMA Mandate Extended
State-owned media

L’Essor, “MINUSMA: Mandat prorogé jusqu’au 30 juin 2016”, June 30th, 2015

  • The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on June 29th that would extend MINUSMA’s mandate in Mali by a year, until June 30th 2016.
  • This resolution authorizes MINUSMA to use all means necessary to accomplish its mandate, within the limits of its capabilities and the zones of its deployment.
  • MINUSMA’s updated mandate will be to support, monitor and supervise the application of the arrangements related to the ceasefire, by the government and the different rebel armed forces. It will also report on any possible violations of the ceasefire.
  • MINUSMA will also have the mission of conceiving different mechanisms on a local level that will help consolidate the peace agreement, as well as help support the implementation of political and institutional reforms in the realms of defense and security.
  • MINUSMA was also asked by the UNSC to involve itself in the protection of civilians, as well as in the promotion and defense of human rights, humanitarian assistance and the protection of cultural heritage sights.  
  • The UNSC demanded that all armed groups present in Mali put down their arms, put an end to hostilities, renounce violence, break all ties with terrorist groups, and recognize the unity and territorial integrity of the Malian state.
  • The UN also authorized the French army to use all means necessary, within the limits of its capabilities, to intervene in the event of any grave danger or threat to MINUSMA. France was also asked to report to the UNSC on its application of this mandate.

 

Privately owned media

Le Republicain, “Arnaud Akodéjnou de la MINUSMA: Notre mandat ne nous permet pas de lutter contre les groupes djihadistes et terroristes”, July 1st, 2015

  • On June 30th, Arnaud Akodjenu, MINUSMA’s special representative for political affairs, met the Malian government and reminded them and the public that the mission’s new mandate does not allow them to fight against jihadi or terrorist groups. In his words, MINUSMA is a political tool, not a tool for war.
  • A majority of Malians have not yet understood that MINUSMA’s role is not to fight rebels, but rather to help the country stabilize and assist in the reconciliation process.
  • Like all UN peacekeeping forces, MINUSMA’s mandate does not authorize the use of force (except in cases of imminent grave danger), and it does not allow for joint operations with the Malian armed forces.
  • Akodjenu reminded the public that the role of fighting off terrorist groups has been confided by the UNSC to the Barkhane force, the group of armed forces which includes members of the Malian and French armies.

 

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