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17 - 23 August 2015

Weekly Media Monitoring report for Mali
Posted on August 19, 2015

Contents

Compiled by André Capretti

  1. Shots Fired between CMA & GATIA: Security Zone Established by MINUSMA
  2. Terrorism & Insecurity Continue to Worry the Population
  3. News Emerges from Sevare

1.      Shots Fired between CMA & GATIA: Security Zone Established by MINUSMA
State-owned media

L’Essor, “Echanges de tirs entre groupes armés dans la Région de Kidal: Le gouvernement condamne une violation du cessez-le-feu”, August 17th, 2015

  • The attacks in Kidal between the CMA and GATIA clearly violated the Malian peace accord, upsetting the Malian government and provoking their firm condemnations.
  • The government called on all the different concerned parties to respect their engagements undertaken under the agreement, in light of the serious harm this violation constituted for the peace process
  • The government also called upon a multitude of articles, including members of the international mediation and all the actors from the follow-up committee, to form a real coalition in the fight against terrorism in all of its forms.

 

L’Essor, “Affrontements entre groupes armés à Kidal: Des sanctions sont prévues contre les facteurs de violence”, August 18th, 2015

  • Following the attack in Kidal, the government held an emergency meeting, in which it declared its support for MINUSMA’s denunciation of this violation of the peace accord.
  • The government has backed MINUSMA’s decision to launch an investigation into who was responsible for these attacks, in order to determine how to apply subsequent targeted sanctions. The investigation will be overseen by the African Union and the UN Security Council.
  • However, the government has heavily criticized MINUSMA’s decision to establish a security zone around the city of Kidal, urging the UN mission to remain in the confines of its role of protecting populations.
  • The government’s view is that if MINUSMA oversteps its mandate, any inequitable treatment could nefariously impact the peace process.
  • Government representatives have also noted that this event would not cause a renegotiation of the peace accord, nor lead to new arrangements in the peace process.

 

Privately-owned media

L’Indicateur du Renouveau, “Région de Kidal: Premier accrochage entre le CMA et le Gatia depuis la signature de l’accord?”, August 17th, 2015

  • On Saturday August 15th, members of the CMA rebel movement and members of the GATIA pro-government rebel forces exchanged gunfire for an hour near Kidal (Touzik) in northern Mali.
  • This marked the first violation of the ceasefire since the signing of the accord in June. No fatalities from either side were reported from this first attack.
  • These acts of aggression by the CMA have incited questioning about the rebel groups’ true intentions, especially in the days before an upcoming meeting in Niger regarding the peace accord. What is clear is that the views of the rebel groups regarding the accord are not always perfectly aligned or unanimous.
  • The CMA has defended their actions, denouncing the decision of certain GATIA members to approach Kidal, in violation of the Algiers Accord. GATIA rebels have contested this version of events, arguing that they were just visiting family members in Kidal, and had armed themselves because of the security issues.

 

Le Républicain, “Violent combats entre la CMA et le GATIA à Kidal: Péril sur le processus de paix”, August 18th, 2015

  • This first violation of the ceasefire since the signing of the accord adds another obstacle to the Malian peace process, which has been weakened substantially by increased bouts of insecurity due to jihadi terrorist attacks.
  • The follow-up committee responsible for the implementation of the agreement has already been slowed down radically by numerous blockages at different levels.
  • After finally adopting their internal rules and regulations, the committee has yet to successfully form various sub-commissions and groups. A major obstacle remains the question of representatives from each concerned group.                                                                   

 

L’Indicateur du Renouveau, “En un mot: La CMA emprisonnée à Kidal”, August 19th, 2015

  • GATIA forces took control of Anefis on Monday, a city that had been under CMA rebel control since January 2014.
  • The CMA retains the city of Kidal as its last bastion in the region, aided by MINUSMA’s decision to establish a security perimeter 20km around the city (which will prevent any person from entering the area).
  • Violation of the security zone by members or allies of GATIA will be considered as an imminent danger to the security of the Kidalian population.
  • This move by MINUSMA has been heavily criticized by Malian authorities, who accuse the UN mission of not acting fairly or impartially in its role of crisis mediator. Many of MINUSMA’s actions have been poorly welcomed due to the impression that they tend to favour the CMA rebel groups.
  • This situation has been viewed negatively for marking a return of hostilities between signatory groups, but also positively by some groups as it demonstrates a weakening of the CMA rebels, who are seemingly being rejected by populations in the North.

 

Le Reporter, “Après Tanbakort et Ménaka, le Gatia s’installe à Anefis: Bilan 12 rebelles tués, 2 chefs captures et 4 véhicules récupérés”, August 19th, 2015

  • After heavy combat that resulted in GATIA taking control of the town of Anefis, the number of casualties appears to total 1 pro-government rebel and 12 to 15 CMA rebels. Two CMA rebel leaders were allegedly captured as well.
  • Both sides place the blame on the other for initiating the attacks, although any truth behind either of these allegations has yet to be confirmed.
  • All of these hostilities were provoked by the events of August 15th, during which GATIA forces intruded upon the territory that had been allotted to the CMA in the July 15th peace accord, leading to on and off gunfire between the two groups.
  • This fighting has also put an end to the planned meeting of armed forces on August 18th in Niger, in which issues were to be discussed to appease tensions between the different actors.

 

L’Aube, “Nord du Mali: Kidal fait-il (encore) partie du Mali?”, August 20th, 2015

  • This article points an accusatory finger at the role played by MINUSMA in the Kidal conflict, especially as for what concerns the security zone it established around the town.
  • The author decries the fact that this town was previously controlled by “bands of terrorists” (the CMA rebels), and that it was about to be recuperated by combatants who are loyal to the Republic (GATIA forces) before the UN mission’s intervention.
  • The Malian government has been criticized for not protesting MINUSMA’s decision loudly enough and for not doing enough to retain control over this city, which some claim is no longer really part of Mali.
  • A similar event had happened during the height of the conflict in 2013, when French forces had prevented the Malian army from entering the city. Both decisions have effectively partitioned Mali, undermining the continued efforts towards national reunification.

 

L’Indépendant, “Zone de sécurité ou zone d’exclusion: La CMA prépare un ultime baroud d’honneur pour reprendre Anefis”, August 20th, 2015

  • Following MINUSMA’s decision to impose a 20km security zone around Kidal, many voices have been raised to protest this action (GATIA, Malian government, the political class, etc.). Some are calling the security zone illegal, due to the unilateral manner in which it was imposed within a sovereign state, as well as due to its disproportionate impact.
  • Although MINUSMA’s act was meant to protect civilians from violence, many people believe that it is a decision, which plays in the favour of the ex-separatist rebels, at the detriment of the unionist pro-governmental forces.
  • Even the CMA has released a statement expressing their disapproval towards this measure, instead inviting MINUSMA to lift all security zones so that they can settle their differences with their adversaries. However, this position has been perceived as a potential ruse, meant to gain some sympathy or support for the CMA from other groups who disagree with the UN mission.
  • It appears that the CMA rebels are preparing to mount an attack to reclaim the town of Anefis from the GATIA movement. GATIA has responded that it is ready for whatever aggression it faces from the rebels.

 

Le Prétoire, “Reprise des affrontements dans le nord du Mali: Les vraies raisons d’une escalade”, August 21st, 2015

  • This article warns about the possible infiltration of the GATIA movement by radical jihadists who may be trying to use their position within the group to exacerbate tensions, weaken the security and peace situation in the country, and exploit this fragility for their own illicit activities and narcotics trading.
  • The Malian government does not have any real control over the GATIA forces, and therefore it makes it even more important that they do not stray far from their initial objectives, committing acts which would be contrary to the well-being and stability of the country.
  • Local Kidalian leaders are calling for a return to peace and a focus on future development, as they put it, the population is “ired of war.

 

Journal du Mali, “Mali: la mediation tente de relancer le processus de paix”, August 23rd, 2015

  • In the aftermath of the fighting in Kidal, the international mediation and MINUSMA held a crisis reunion on August 23rd to address the future of the peace process in the face of the current difficulties.
  • Various groups have met with the Malian authorities and the different armed groups to try to ease the existing tensions and figure out a way through this period of crisis.
  • One of the most pressing issues remains the presence of pro-governmental armed forces in the town of Anefis, against the wishes of the CMA.

 


2.      Terrorism & Insecurity Continue to Worry the Population
State-owned media

L’Essor, “Niono: Terreur djihadiste dans la commune rurale du Nampalari”, August 17th, 2015

  • Two weeks after two Malian soldiers were killed by a landmine near Nampala in a terrorist attack, the murder of two other people reportedly took place on August 13th. Once again the attacks are believed to have been the work of jihadi terrorists.
  • One of the victims was the imam of the village of Barkerou, located just 3km west of the city of Nampala. The murder of such a beloved villager came as a shock to the local population.
  • The other attack was committed against a group of 10 Mauritanians who were in transit through Mali and were returning to their home country. Armed individuals shot at their vehicle, killing one person and gravely injuring another.

 

L’Essor, “Coordonnateur humanitaire régional de l’ONU pour le Sahel: La paix et la stabilité sont essentielles pour resorber la crise humanitaire”, August 17th, 2015

  • Toby Lanzer, the UN’s new coordinator of regional humanitarian affairs in the Sahel recently spent 5 days in Mali in his new work capacity.
  • After his visit, he underlined the importance for the international community to maintain its commitment towards responding to the vital needs of vulnerable communities in the country.
  • Lanzer also noted that humanitarian needs will only grow in the country if there isn’t a full commitment toward restoring peace and stability. Stabilizing the security situation in the country is essential to ensure public access to basic social services and means of subsistence.
  • Lanzer commended the resilience of Malian communities, and the dynamism with which civil society has worked to promote values of tolerance and social cohesion. The government will have to work with these partners of development alongside local populations to meet their goals and aspirations in what concerns development and security.
  • As it stands, 3.1 million Malians are affected by food insecurity, 410,000 of which need immediate assistance. Recent droughts in the north and center of the country have also put at risk farming communities who practice subsistence agriculture. These difficulties are compounded by important needs related to protection, access to education and healthcare across the country.

 

L’Essor, “Attaque d’un campement sédentaire dans le Gourma: Deux morts dont un bandit”, August 18th, 2015

  • On the night of August 16th, two criminals on motorcycle killed two farmers in the village of Baria near the city of Gao. The next day more bandits came to the village, killing the village chief’s brother, as well as injuring two others.

 

L’Essor, “L’avenir politique au Mali: La juste balance”, August 18th, 2015

  • In this current security context, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the different terrorist groups operating on the Malian territory are reacting to each other’s actions, constantly trying to one-up each other.
  • After the Sevaré attack, various groups claimed responsibility for the attacks, demonstrating either an overlap between the groups, or a sense of concurrency, with each group trying to amass the most violent acts.
  • Attacks like the one in Sevare also have the mark of amateur work, which though may be reassuring in certain regards, is concerning in that it means any jihadi disciple is permitted to launch an attack which has the potential to cause serious damage.
  • Isolated raids are a technique that have become increasingly used by terrorists, which work to have a strong psychological impact for a rapid and momentary event.
  • Addressing terrorism and insecurity in the country continues to be a difficult task, as it is a phenomenon that feeds on generalized fear generated by excessive dramatization of these events, but which also works most effectively when people are less vigilant or ready to anticipate it.

 

Privately-owned media

Le Prétoire, “Lutte contre l’insécurité et le terrorisme: Sensibilisation et lecture de Coran à Séguéla”, August 21st, 2015

  • In an effort to mobilize the population of the town of Séguéla against insecurity and terrorism, a meeting to raise awareness and read the Quran was held on August 17th.
  • Leaders of this meeting exhorted the population to mobilize itself, remain vigilant and collaborate with the authorities. Among other measures, they asked the public to report any suspicious individuals or behaviors to the local authorities.
  • This meeting also had the benefit of reaffirming the distinction between those who commit these acts of terrorism behind a mask of Islam, and true muslims who respect and follow the teachings of the Quran. Religious leaders were present at the meeting, and were invited to remain alert to the possibility of potential terrorists infiltrating their religious communities.

 

La Sentinelle, “Des suspects mauritaniens vises par des tirs des Famas à la frontier entre les deux pays: 1 mort, 4 blessés… Nouakchott accuse! Bamako s’indigne”, August 21st, 2015

  • Tension has been mounting between Mali and Mauritania, especially after Mauritania released Sanda Ould Boumama, a man accused of war crimes in Mali, from prison.
  • This tension escalated to the exchange of gunfire between the Malian army and a group of five Mauritanians in a vehicle on the border between the 2 countries. Four people were reported injured after the shooting, and one person was reported to have died.
  • The Mauritanian account of the incident was that the Malian army spontaneously opened fire on them without explanation. Though the Malian army has not released their own version of events, at first glance this incident seems to have been the result of escalating frustrations towards Mauritania, a country whose actions have indirectly provoked many of the issues faced by Mali.

3. News Emerges from Sevare
Privately-owned media

L’Indicateur du Renouveau, “En un mot: La “der” sur l’attaque de Sévaré”. August 17th, 2015

  • New details are being revealed in the days and weeks after the hostage taking that occurred in the Byblos Hotel in Sévaré. It appears that MINUSMA blocked the transport of Malian policemen, until the Minister of Security threatened them.
  • It was also discovered that French forces demanded that Ibrahim Boucabar Keita get express permission from François Hollande before they would assist in the liberation of the hostages. IBK did not wait for this assent before ordering the Malian forces to launch their assault.
  • South African newspapers have also alleged that their fallen countrymen was killed by a bullet used by the weapons of the Malian armed forces.

 

Le Procés Verbal, “Incident diplomatique: IBK a faille expulser le patron de la MINUSMA”, August 17th, 2015

  • News has emerged that during the hostage-taking in Sevare, the Malian security minister requested the use of MINUSMA planes to transport Malian forces to the location of the attack. The leader of the UN force, Hamadi Mongi, was slow to give assent, responding that the MINUSMA plane was out of order.
  • Malian president IBK allegedly threatened Mongi that if the plane was not ready in less than 24 hours, he would be kicked out of the country and treated as a persona non grata. The incident was quickly resolved when Mongi acquiesced and ensured the transport of the soldiers.
  • This fiasco adds on to the already tense relationship between MINUSMA and the Malian government. Their inaction in these circumstances made them seem passive in the face of a serious emergency and inefficient in their mandate of consolidating the peace and protection civilian populations.

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