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In northern Mali, Islamists’ attacks against civilians grow more brutal




On a sweltering afternoon, Islamist police officers dragged Fatima Al Hassan out of her house in the fabled city of Timbuktu. They beat her up, shoved her into a white pickup truck and drove her to their headquarters. She was locked up in a jail as she awaited her sentence: 100 lashes with an electrical cord.

“Why are you doing this?” she recalled asking.

Hassan was being punished for giving water to a male visitor.

The Islamist radicals who seized a vast arc of territory in northern Mali in the spring are intensifying their brutality against the population, according to victims, human rights groups, and U.N. and Malian officials. The attacks are being perpetrated as the United States, European countries and regional powers are readying an African force to retake northern Mali, after months of hesitation.

But such an action, if approved by the U.N. Security Council, is unlikely to begin until next summer or fall, U.S. and other Western officials say, and political turmoil in the south is adding to the uncertainty. That has raised fears that the extremists could consolidate their grip over the Texas-size territory and further terrorize civilians, particularly women and children.

“The people are losing all hope,” said Sadou Diallo, a former mayor of the northern city of Gao. “For the past eight months, they have lived without any government, without any actions taken against the Islamists. Now the Islamists feel they can do anything to the people.”

Refugees fleeing the north are now bringing stories that are darker than those recounted in interviews from this summer. Although their experiences cannot be independently verified — because the Islamists have threatened to kill or kidnap Westerners who visit — U.N. officials and human rights activists say that they have heard similar reports of horrific abuses and that some may amount to war crimes.

The refugees say the Islamists are raping and forcibly marrying women, and recruiting children for armed conflict. Social interaction deemed an affront to their interpretation of Islam is zealously punished through Islamic courts and a police force that has become more systematic and inflexible, human rights activists and local officials say.

Two weeks ago, the Islamists publicly whipped three couples 100 times each in Timbuktu for not being married, human rights activists said.

The Islamist police had spotted Hassan giving water to a male visitor at her house last month. Hassan’s brother knew an Islamist commander and pleaded for mercy. After spending 18 hours in jail, she was set free with a warning. The next day, she fled here to Segou, a town in southern Mali that has taken in thousands of the displaced, mostly women and children.

It was fortunate, Hassan said, that she was handing the glass to her friend out on the veranda. “If they had found me with him near the bedroom, they would have shot us both on the spot,” she said.



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Is Boko Haram More Dangerous Than Ever?


On Nov. 25, Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group from northern Nigeria, attacked a church in Jaji, Kaduna state, using two suicide bombers during the church's weekly religious service. The first bomb detonated in a vehicle driven into the church, and the second detonated approximately 10 minutes later, when a crowd of first responders gathered at the scene. About 30 people were killed in the attacks; the second blast caused the majority of the deaths. The incident was particularly symbolic because Jaji is the home of Nigeria's Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and many of the churchgoers were senior military officers.

In the wake of the Jaji attacks, media reports quoted human rights groups saying that Boko Haram has killed more people in 2012 than ever before. The group has killed roughly 770 people this year, leading many to conclude that Boko Haram has become more dangerous.

However, it is important to look beyond the sheer number of fatalities when drawing such conclusions about a group like Boko Haram. Indeed, a less cursory look at the group reveals that while 2012 has been a particularly deadly year, the Nigerian government has curtailed the group's capabilities. In terms of operational planning, the group has been limited to simple attacks against soft targets in or near its core territory. In other words, Boko Haram remains deadly, but it is actually less capable than it used to be, relegating the group to a limited, regional threat unless this dynamic is somehow altered.

Boko Haram's Rise

Boko Haram, Hausa for "Western Education is Sinful," was established in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state. It has since spread to several other northern and central Nigerian states. Its official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, Arabic for "Group Committed to Propagating the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad." While Boko Haram is a relatively new phenomenon, Nigeria has struggled with militant Islamism for decades. For example, the Maitatsine sect, led by Mohammed Marwa, fomented violence in the early 1980s in the very same cities that Boko Haram is presently active.

Initially, Boko Haram incited sectarian violence and attacked Christians with clubs, machetes and small arms. But by 2010, the group had added Molotov cocktails and simple improvised explosive devices to its arsenal. In 2011, Boko Haram made a major operational leap when it unexpectedly began to use large suicide vehicle bombs. They were used first in the botched attack against the national police headquarters in Abuja in June 2011, and they were later used in the more successful attack against a U.N. compound in Abuja in August 2011.

The leap from simple attacks in Boko Haram's core areas to sophisticated attacks using large vehicle bombs in the nation's capital skipped several steps in the normal progression of militant operations. The group's progression suggested that it had received outside training or assistance. The sudden increase in operational capacity appeared to have corroborated reports circulating at that time of Boko Haram militants attending training camps run by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

This rapid progression, which came in the wake of a Nigerian operative being involved in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner, led to a concern that Boko Haram had the capability and the intent to become the next transnational jihadist franchise capable of threatening the United States and Europe. These fears were further stoked by warnings from the U.S. government in November 2011 that Boko Haram was planning to attack Western hotels in Abuja.

Dynamic Changes

To counter the perceived growing Boko Haram threat, the Nigerian government, aided by intelligence and training provided by the United States and its European allies, launched a major offensive against the group. Since January, the government has arrested or killed several leaders of Boko Haram, disrupted a number of cells and dismantled numerous bombmaking facilities. In addition to government efforts, there has been a grassroots backlash against Boko Haram, as evidenced by the formation of anti-Boko Haram militant group Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, or "Supporters of Muslims in the Lands of Sudan," commonly known as Ansaru.

Boko Haram has lashed out viciously against these countermeasures. From June to August, the group conducted nine suicide bombings, mostly directed against churches and police or military targets in its home territory. Since August, the operational tempo of its suicide bombings has slowed to about one attack a month. Boko Haram operatives have also conducted a number of armed attacks and non-suicide bombing attacks. Many of these were directed against churches and police or military targets, but several of them were also directed against mosques that denounced Boko Haram. Despite warnings that Boko Haram would target Western hotels in Abuja, the group has not attacked an international target since the U.N. building in August 2011.

Boko Haram activity has remained heavily concentrated in its core areas with occasional operations in Abuja. There have been only two Boko Haram attacks in Abuja in 2012: a large suicide vehicle bombing attack against a newspaper office in April and a small bombing attack against a nightclub in June. It appears that the group's ability to conduct large attacks in Abuja has been constrained by government operations.

Tactically, Boko Haram's attacks in 2012 have focused almost exclusively on soft targets. Even its attacks against military and police targets have been directed against police on patrol or isolated police stations with little security or have been a target like the church at the military base in Jaji.

So while Boko Haram progressed rapidly in terms of operational ability in 2011, it is still struggling to conduct sustained operations outside its core geographic territory, and it has yet to successfully strike a hardened target. Even the August 2011 attack against the United Nations, while demonstrating some geographic reach and a focus on an international target, was directed against a relatively soft target instead of a harder target like a government ministry building or a foreign embassy. It is also notable that the group has not conducted an attack in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, or in Niger, Chad or Cameroon, which are all closer to the Boko Haram home territories than Lagos.

However, in Nigeria, the use of militant proxies has long been part of the political process. Just as Niger Delta politicians have used groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta for their own purposes, politicians in Nigeria's northeast have supported and used Boko Haram. In fact, an alleged senior member of the group was arrested at the home of a Nigerian senator in Maiduguri in October 2012, and a previous governor of Borno state is allegedly a sponsor of the group.

This type of political and financial support means that despite the efforts of the central government, the group will not be easily or quickly eradicated. Any serious attempt to curtail the group will require a political solution, which will be highly unlikely during the next two years due to the usefulness of such proxies in the lead-up to Nigerian national elections in early 2015. Therefore, the central government's options will be limited. The best it can hope for is to continue to pursue the group to contain it and limit its reach and lethality.

Certainly, Boko Haram retains the capability to kill people, especially in attacks against vulnerable targets on its home turf. But as long as the Nigerian government maintains pressure on the group and as long as the group remains on the defensive, Boko Haram is unlikely to be able to further develop its operational capabilities and pose an existential threat to the Nigerian government -- let alone become a transnational terrorist threat.



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Unità nazionale e sviluppo socio-economico in Sierra Leone: le sfide di Ernest Bai Koroma


Il 17 Novembre scorso si sono tenute in Sierra Leone le elezioni presidenziali, in concomitanza con il rinnovo dei rappresentanti parlamentari e locali. La campagna elettorale ha visto come contendenti principali il Presidente uscente Ernest Bai Koroma, leader del partito All People's Congress (APC), e Julius Maada Bio del Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

I risultati sono stati resi noti il 23 novembre dalla National Electoral Commission (NEC), ed hanno visto la riconferma del Presidente Koroma con circa il 58% delle preferenze, seguito dal leader del SLPP che ha ottenuto il 37% circa dei suffragi. I giudizi riguardo lo svolgimento delle elezioni, avvenute per la prima volta senza la supervisione e l’assistenza delle Nazioni Unite, sono stati complessivamente positivi. Sebbene da ogni parte politica vi siano state denuncie relative a brogli, gli osservatori hanno sottolineato l’importanza dell’assenza di scontri e l’altissima affluenza alle urne (oltre l’80% degli aventi diritto), indicatori di un rafforzamento del sistema democratico del Paese.

Non a caso le recenti consultazioni elettorali sono state interpretate da osservatori nazionali e internazionali, nonché sentite dagli stessi cittadini, come un momento di svolta del processo di instaurazione e consolidamento democratico del Paese, iniziato dopo una cruenta guerra civile protrattasi per più di dieci anni.

Conquistata l’indipendenza dal Regno Unito nel 1961, la Sierra Leone attraversò un trentennio di forte instabilità politica, con l’alternarsi di elezioni e golpe militari e quindi una gestione prevalentemente autoritaria del potere politico. Nonostante l’instabilità politica, a partire dell’indipendenza il Paese conobbe un discreto sviluppo economico, grazie alle ingenti risorse a sua disposizione, sia in riferimento alle materie prime (oro, diamanti, bauxite, ferro), sia riguardo un elevato potenziale nel settore agricolo e nel settore turistico. Grazie allo sfruttamento di tali potenzialità, la Sierra Leone si proponeva sulla scena internazionale come uno dei Paesi più ricchi dell’Africa occidentale, grazie anche ad un notevole apparato infrastrutturale ed un buon sistema di istruzione tale da giustificare l’appellativo di “Atene” dell’Africa occidentale.

Nonostante queste premesse, la cattiva gestione del potere politico trascinò il Paese in una spirale di violenza culminata, agli inizi degli anni Novanta, in una cruenta e prolungata guerra civile. Sullo sfondo, la lotta contro il potere centrale per l’acquisizione del controllo delle ricche risorse del Paese, in primis delle miniere di diamanti, che vide come attore principale il Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Gli interessi economici portarono al coinvolgimento nel conflitto di attori stranieri, in particolare della Liberia di Charles Taylor che offrì sostegno al RUF, perseguendo l’obiettivo di prolungare la situazione di forte instabilità del Paese, funzionale ad un più facile accesso allo sfruttamento delle sue risorse.

La guerra civile, conclusasi nel 2002 solo grazie all’intervento della Nazioni Unite, ha lasciato una serie di pesanti criticità, con cui ancora oggi il Presedente Koroma ed il suo Governo devono fare i conti. L’obiettivo principale che il nuovo Governo deve perseguire è la ripresa economica. Come affermato precedentemente, i decenni di cattiva gestione politica e la guerra civile del 1991-2002 hanno comportato la distruzione di buona parte delle infrastrutture del Paese ed il completo depauperamento dell’economia nazionale nonché della qualità di vita della popolazione.

Il Presidente Koroma deve la sua recente riconferma all’attività svolta nel corso del suo primo mandato in tal senso. Non a caso la sua campagna elettorale è stata incentrata sull’azione di Governo condotta nel quinquennio 2007-2012 per la ricostruzione delle infrastrutture ed il miglioramento delle condizioni di vita della popolazione con l’introduzione, ad esempio, del nuovo sistema sanitario nazionale. Dal 2010 il Paese ha conosciuto una nuova fase di crescita economica dovuta in parte alla revoca delle ultime sanzioni delle Nazioni Unite (emanate nel periodo della guerra civile) ed in parte all’aumento degli investimenti esteri incoraggiati da un contesto politico maggiormente stabile.

In un quadro globale in cui cresce l’interesse in chiave economica nei confronti dei Paesi africani, una sfida del nuovo Governo sarà quella di approfittare di questo “entusiasmo” internazionale per incrementare ulteriormente gli investimenti nel Paese, cercando di determinare le condizioni necessarie affinché ciò si traduca in un effettivo miglioramento dell’economia nazionale e della qualità di vita della popolazione.

Nonostante il trend positivo degli ultimi anni rimangono,tuttavia, numerosi elementi di criticità di lungo periodo che richiedono delle profonde riforme strutturali e che, se non affrontati, rischiano di creare nuovamente le condizioni per l’esplosioni di nuovi conflitti.

La lotta alla disoccupazione giovanile e alla diffusa corruzione rappresentano gli obiettivi primari dell’agenda politica sierraleonese. Attualmente circa il 60% dei giovani non ha un lavoro e l’assenza di una prospettiva di miglioramento delle proprie condizioni socio-economiche rischia di alimentare non solo nuove tensioni sociali ma anche il coinvolgimento in attività illecite. Come tutti i Paesi dell’Africa occidentale anche la Sierra Leone è interessata dal traffico di sostanze stupefacenti provenienti dai Paesi dell’America Latina e dirette verso l’Europa. Come già avvenuto negli ultimi anni nella vicina Guinea Bissau, il traffico di stupefacenti è un elemento potenzialmente destabilizzante che il Governo Koroma non deve sottovalutare, soprattutto in relazione al coinvolgimento della popolazione locale in mancanza di un’ alternativa di sostentamento.

Per la realizzazione delle riforme strutturali necessarie al raggiungimento degli obiettivi fin qui delineati il Governo Koroma necessiterà di un ampio consenso sia a livello popolare che tra le forze politiche. In questo senso, l’azione di Governo dovrà essere volta anche a cercare di ridurre l’influenza degli interessi regionali e tribali a favore degli interessi nazionali, sfida sicuramente impegnativa in un Paese la cui popolazione ha conosciuto undici anni di guerra civile. La collaborazione tra le principali forze politiche e la promozione di una cultura di unità nazionale favorirebbe l’attuazione delle riforme necessarie. In questo modo la Sierra Leone potrebbe aspirare, nei prossimi anni, a ripresentarsi come partner economico credibile sullo scacchiere internazionale.

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Congo war crimes trial ends in acquittal


The International Criminal Court on Tuesday acquitted a Congolese man accused of brutal war crimes in 2003.

It is the first such acquittal for the court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Prosecutors accused Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of responsibility for the 2003 massacre of hundreds of villagers in Bogoro, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Witnesses and testimony recounted brutal slayings and rapes against the residents, including women, children and people burned alive in the resource-rich village in the central African nation.

He was charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes.

The court decided prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence that Chui had personally led the attacks or ordered child soldiers to carry out war crimes.

In a statement, the court said its judgment did not mean it believed no crimes were committed in Bogoro, or even that Chui was necessarily innocent; only that prosecutors hadn't proved their case.

Rights advocates criticized the judgment.

"The acquittal of Ngudjolo leaves the victims of Bogoro and other massacres by his forces without justice for their suffering," said Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, the international justice advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

"The ICC prosecutor needs to strengthen its investigations of those responsible for grave crimes in Ituri, including high-ranking officials in Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda who supported the armed groups fighting there," she said. Bogoro is in Ituri province.

Prosecutors said they may appeal the decision. Chui remains jailed pending a hearing Tuesday afternoon, the court said.

The case against Chui is one of five brought by the court involving the conflict in Congo.

In the only other case so far concluded by the court, judges in July found Lubanga Dyilo guilty of forcing children to fight and sentenced him to 14 years in prison.

The court dismissed charges against one man. The verdict against another, Germain Katanga, is pending, the court said.

Two other men, Sylvestre Mudacumura and Bosco Ntaganda, both accused of war crimes, have not been captured, according to the court.

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North Mali Islamist group Ansar Dine brings new members into its fold


An Islamist group behind public executions and amputations in northern Mali is further expanding its reach, taking in a new brigade of members under its banner as the United Nations considers a plan by West African neighbors to oust the Islamists with military force.

The new wing of Ansar Dine, known as Ansar Shariah, has raised a new flag in Timbuktu that reads: “There is no god but God” emblazoned on white cloth.

“We want to broaden Ansar Dine to other communities in the north of Mali,” said Oumar Ould Hamaha, an Islamic commander who is one of the organizers of the new brigade.

As the group claims expansion, some observers question whether fighters from other groups in the north are drawn to Ansar Dine’s status because of its negotiations with the Malian government and the potential protection that might bring during a military intervention.

Ansar Dine, or “Defenders of the Faith,” controls the towns of Kidal and Timbuktu in northern Mali. The fighters — estimated between 500 and 1,000 — have imposed a strict form of Islamic law known as Shariah there. They’ve stoned to death a couple accused of adultery, hacked off the hands of thieves and have recruited children as young as 12 into their ranks. Heavily armed men also have attacked bars that sell alcohol, and banned men and women from socializing in the streets.

However, in recent weeks their leaders have tried to make concessions, including distancing themselves from terrorism, even though many analysts question their sincerity.

The group led by longtime Tuareg rebel Iyad Ag Ghali came to power after a rebellion launched by members of the Tuareg ethnic group in the north. And most of Ansar Dine’s members have been made up of Tuaregs since it was formed one year ago.

The new wing , Ansar Shariah, will include local Arabs known as the Berabiche, as well as people of other ethnicities from the north who organizers say support the implementation of Shariah law there.

Alghabass Ag Intalla, one of Ansar Dine’s leaders, confirmed the formation of the new group, saying it was made up mainly of Berabiche members and fighters previous allied with MUJAO, another Islamist extremist group that controls the city of Gao.

“The members of Ansar Shariah have accepted our principles and our approach, and they are under our coverage. There’s no problem,” he said.

Ansar Dine has been attracting new members because it is now seen as the only Islamic group in the north that can be brought to the negotiating table, analysts say. That’s in part because their leaders are all Malian nationals who own property in north Mali and stand to lose if an international military operation is sanctioned.

By contrast, MUJAO and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, are led by Algerian and Mauritanian commanders. Their ideology is in sync with al-Qaida’s and their spokesmen have made clear that they have no interest in negotiating with the “infidel” government of Mali.

Ansar Dine says some members have left MUJAO to join Ansar Shariah, a shift that comes amid questions about whether MUJAO could be a target of any regional military operation.

Still, the choice of forming the subgroup of Ansar Shariah rather than expanding the existing Ansar Dine organization also could suggest that some of these newer militants may not feel comfortable being under Ag Ghali’s leadership, observers say.

The Islamist groups first took control of northern Mali in the wake of a March military coup in the country’s distant capital.

This year’s initial fighting prompted hundreds of thousands of Malians to flee the north, but many have since returned because of economic hardships elsewhere — even though it means living under Shariah law, where a person can be lashed for possessing cigarettes.

A proposed military intervention backed by the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS is still awaiting final approval from the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Mali’s president urged an intervention but acknowledged that in the end most of the extremists within Ansar Dine are in fact Malians and not foreign fighters.

“The Malian people have offered their solidarity to all people who have needed it,” President Dioncounda Traore said. “Why today can we not also benefit from international solidarity?”

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... voto all'ONU U.N. Council Votes to Help Mali’s Army Oust Islamists


The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Thursday that will send thousands of African troops into the desert nation of Mali to help oust Islamist extremists who have turned its northern half into a vast Qaeda enclave and training ground, menacing the stability of neighboring states and posing a potent new international terrorism threat.

But the resolution also makes it clear that such a military intervention will not happen until Mali’s own dysfunctional army is adequately trained and a framework for political stability and elections is restored in the country, which has been in turmoil since a military coup in March.

The resolution, which was sponsored by France, the former colonial power in Mali, does not specify a time frame for the first deployment of foreign troops, to be supplied by a group of West African nations that are eager to see calm restored in Mali. United Nations officials and diplomats who worked on the resolution said that a 3,300-soldier force would be sent, and that any attempt to drive the Islamists from northern Mali would not happen before September or October at the earliest.

The resolution does not explain precisely how the military expedition, which is to last for an initial period of one year, will be financed, although diplomats said they expected the cost to exceed $200 million. The resolution calls for voluntary contributions from member states into a trust fund to be created by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Despite the caveats, the Security Council’s vote authorizing military force, which it is empowered to do by the United Nations Charter, represented a rare moment of decisive unanimity among its 15 member states and in particular its 5 permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — in a year punctuated by bitter disagreements, mostly over the Syrian conflict.

“Everyone knows the complexity of the task facing the international community to restore the territorial integrity of Mali and to put an end to terrorist activities in the north of the country,” Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador, told reporters after the vote. The resolution, he said, “provides a reasonable answer.”

Ideally, Mr. Araud said, the mere threat of military intervention would persuade Islamist militia leaders to negotiate a peaceful restoration of control by Mali’s central government. “It is premature to indicate when the military operation will take place,” he said. “In fact, the question is even whether the military operation will take place. Our goal would be to have a real political process which will allow the Malian Army to go back to its barracks in the northern part of the country without fighting.”

The final version of the resolution reflected what diplomats called some compromises between France and the United States, which had been skeptical that the Malian Army could be made capable of participating in a potentially long and violent struggle to retake the country’s northern area, roughly twice the size of Germany.

The resolution specifies that the European Union will be responsible for training the Malian forces, described as “vital to ensure Mali’s long-term security and stability.” It also specifies that the secretary general must regularly inform the Council on political and military-training progress, and “confirm in advance the Council’s satisfaction with the planned military offensive operation.”

Language was also included specifically intended to guard against human rights abuses by the Malian military in any operation in the north, where ethnic tensions linked to the occupation by Islamist militants are known to be on the rise. A report released Thursday by Human Rights Watch enumerated instances of abuses in Mali committed by security forces and others since the military coup.

Tens of thousands of Malians have fled the north since Islamist militias seized control there after the coup, which left a power vacuum that has yet to be resolved. Just last week, military generals forced the resignation of Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, in office since April.

The principal Islamist militia, known as Ansar Dine, or Defenders of the Faith, has imposed harsh Shariah law based on strict Islamic tenets and enforced it with public killings, stonings and amputations. The group has also welcomed Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the affiliate of Al Qaeda in northern Africa, which has recruited child soldiers, established training camps and reached out to other militant Islamist organizations, including Boko Haram, a particularly violent group in northern Nigeria.

Rights activists monitoring the Mali crisis had a mixed reaction to the Security Council resolution. While they welcomed action against abuses by the Islamists, some expressed concern that the Malian Army, humiliated by the loss of half the country, would be bent on revenge.

Michael Quinn, country director of the aid group Oxfam in Mali, said the Security Council “must make sure that any military planning includes humanitarian consideration to minimize harm to civilians at all stages.”



President Hollande sees al-Qaida link to kidnapping of French engineer in northern Nigeria


President Francois Hollande says a French engineer kidnapped in northern Nigeria was “without a doubt” seized by a group linked to al-Qaida’s north African wing, or its jihadist affiliates.

The French leader told Europe-1 radio on Friday that “powerfully armed” assailants captured the engineer two days earlier.

Nigerian police have said that about 30 attackers stormed the French man’s home in the northern town of Rimi. They also killed two Nigerians — a neighbor and a security guard of the engineer with French energy firm Vergnet SA.

The kidnapping occurred in a quiet area close to Niger. France has been among the Western countries pressing for international action to rid northern Mali, to the north, of al-Qaida-linked jihadists who have controlled the vast, arid zone for months.

Edited by Andrea75

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... crisi nel Mali: indiscrezioni sul ruolo del Qatar http://www.meridianionline.org/2012/12/22/ruolo-diplomatico-qatar-mali/



Il ruolo che l’emiro del Qatar Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani e i suoi diplomatici stanno svolgendo in Mali è al centro di indiscrezioni, proprio mentre il paese sprofonda nell’abisso della disgregazione. Da mesi si parla di trasferimenti di denaro da parte del monarca multimiliardario ad Ansar Dine e al Movimento per l’Unicità e la Jihad nel Africa Occidentale (Mujao), i gruppi che insieme ai tuareg di Mnla controllano il triangolo Kidal-Gao-Timbuktu e destabilizzano il Sahel in affiliazione con al Qaeda nel Maghreb islamico. Una questione spinosa per Francia e Stati Uniti, da anni vicini all’emirato qatariota.

Le indiscrezioni riguardano i destinatari del finanziamento qatariota. Nessun dato certo, piuttosto un rincorrersi di voci e accuse sufficienti però a destabilizzare importanti alleanze e a mettere in dubbio l’importante ruolo diplomatico assunto dal Qatar nelle ultime decadi. Il sasso nello stagno è stato lanciato lo scorso giugno da un pungente articolo del settimanale satirico francese Canard Enchaîné. Con l’ironia tipica dell’“Anatra”, il celebre giornalista Claude Angeli riferiva delle voci raccolte dal Dgse, servizio d’intelligence internazionale francese, riguardo sospetti finanziamenti provenienti da Doha e diretti ai gruppi jihadisti maliani. Pochi giorni più tardi si è iniziato a parlare del sostegno di membri del Mujao a uomini dell’organizzazione umanitaria qatariota della Mezzaluna rossa operante nell’area tra Gao e il Niger.

Le smentite non sono bastate a diradare il sospetto. Qualcosa sembra essere cambiato nell’approccio del Qatar alla politica internazionale: dalla diplomazia degli anni novanta e duemila, basata sull’ampliamento della propria influenza attraverso l’investimento finanziario e la costruzione di una rete di alleanze strategiche con le potenze occidentali, al ruolo d’avanguardia rivestito durante il periodo delle primavere arabe. La parabola estera del Qatar non fa mistero di un’ambizione di crescita costante. Come dichiara Mehdi Lazar, autore di numerosi articoli sulla politica diplomatica del Qatar, l’emirato è passato dal “desiderio di imporre la propria influenza” a quello di “imporre la propria potenza”.

Forte di Al-Jazeera, impero mediatico influente in tutto il mondo arabo, del Qatar Investment Authority (Qia), fondo sovrano che investe all’estero per diversificare l’economia della nazione, e delle terze riserve di idrocarburi al mondo, il piccolo regno del Qatar ha esponenzialmente aumentato la propria importanza e si è reso prezioso alleato di un occidente alla costante ricerca di interlocutori nella penisola araba. L’immagine di paese moderno e aperto al progresso e l’enorme disponibilità economica hanno favorito il coinvolgimento in un crescente intreccio d’affari in numerosi paesi.

Le partecipazioni di Qia innervano l’occidente: in Francia il fondo possiede il 3% di Total, ampie quote in Veolia (società pubblica di fornitura idrica), il 12% di Lagardère (società attiva nel settore dei media e aerospaziale) e la società di calcio del Paris Saint-Germain. Importanti le partecipazioni nelle banche Barclays e Credit Suisse. Qia è presente anche nel settore automobilistico (Volkswagen e Porsche) e nel crescente business della telefonia mobile nordafricana (Nedjma e Tunisiana). Importanti anche gli investimenti nel settore edilizio: la branca immobiliare del Qia, la Qatari Diar, ha mobilitato fondi per ampi progetti immobiliari a Sharm el-Sheikh e a Gaza (630 per la ricostruzione di ampie porzioni della città e per la progettazione di un’area sportiva).

Una simile permeazione nel mondo finanziario internazionale si è man mano accompagnata a un lungimirante attivismo diplomatico. Spinto dall’ambizione di sfruttare la propria potenza economica nel mondo arabo e la propria vicinanza a numerosi paesi occidentali, Al-Thani ha iniziato a tessere rapporti validi a estendere la propria influenza diplomatica. La difficile collocazione geografica che vede il regno chiuso nella tenaglia di Iran e Arabia Saudita ha indotto il Qatar a effettuare una politica internazionale audace, varia e dalle tentacolari ramificazioni, in modo da sopperire alla debolezza territoriale e demografica.

Al-Thani ha proposto la propria opera di mediazione in numerose occasioni in Medio oriente e nell’Africa centro-settentrionale. Nel corso degli anni novanta e duemila il Qatar ha tessuto rapporti di cordialità con tutte le potenze della Penisola araba, giungendo anche a mostrarsi valido interlocutore per Israele nell’area e mantenendo buoni rapporti con la Siria sciita (durati fino agli scorsi anni: oggi il Qatar finanzia i ribelli siriani) e con il Libano degli Hezbollah. L’esplosione delle Primavere arabe e la comprensione di un forte cambiamento in atto hanno spinto il Qatar a cavalcare il moto dell’onda: lo scopo non era solo sopravvivere alle trasformazioni in atto ma utilizzare quel vuoto di potere per aumentare la propria centralità.

A fianco alla continua opera di mediazione in aree difficili come il Darfur e l’Afghanistan (a Doha si è svolta una numerosa serie di trattative tra occidente e talebani), il Qatar ha iniziato a finanziare i movimenti che stavano cambiando la conformazione politica dell’Africa occidentale: denaro qatariota fluiva nelle casse della Fratellanza musulmana in Egitto e in quelle di Ennahdha in Tunisia. Il protrarsi della guerra civile in Libia vide poi il Qatar impegnarsi in maniera attiva a fianco dei ribelli attraverso l’invio di denaro, armi, soldati e addetti al training militare dei rivoluzionari.

Ben presto sono cresciuti i dubbi sulle effettive finalità dell’opera di sostegno e finanziamento del Qatar. Il sostegno economico dell’emirato ha preferito rafforzare (anche in fase pre-elettorale) i movimenti islamici di Egitto, Tunisia e Libia piuttosto che quelli liberali. Denaro di dubbia provenienza è affluito inoltre nelle casse dei movimenti salafiti (in Egitto si è parlato di un finanziamento ai Salafiti di Ansar al-Sunnah da parte dell’organizzazione religiosa ufficiale del Qatar Sheikh Eid bin Mohamed Al Thani Charity Institute). Terminata la guerra in Libia, truppe e diplomatici qatarioti hanno proseguito la propria opera a Tripoli e presto sono iniziate a giungere accuse di voler favorire un processo di islamizzazione nella neonata democrazia libica.

Un simile processo storico rivela la chiara direzione presa dalla diplomazia dell’emirato. L’interesse degli Al-Thani non è semplicemente quello di aumentare la propria influenza nel mondo arabo e nordafricano: sembra che il Qatar stia favorendo la formazione di un blocco di paesi legati all’islamismo sunnita per poi diventarne esponente di punta. Le trasformazioni in atto nel mondo arabo lasciano un vuoto di potere che dev’essere colmato: l’Egitto è in grave crisi economica e politica; l’Arabia Saudita sta affrontando lenti processi di cambiamento nella classe dominante; l’Iran è flagellato dalla crisi interna; la Turchia non riesce a estendere la propria sfera d’influenza fuori dalla Penisola araba. Il Qatar sembra voler cavalcare la cresta di quest’onda nuova per trarne il massimo vantaggio possibile.

Letta in tale chiave l’eventuale decisione di un finanziamento dei gruppi jihadisti nel nord del Mali è destinata non solo a inasprire i rapporti del Qatar con le nazioni diplomaticamente più attive nell’area, ma anche a gettare ombre sulle sue future intenzioni. Finanziare il Mujao significherebbe devolvere denaro agli uomini che da ormai sei mesi detengono in ostaggio alcuni diplomatici algerini rapiti a Gao (uno di loro è stato giustiziato a settembre); l’Algeria è inoltre lo Stato che maggiormente si è speso per risolvere la crisi nel nord del Mali, preoccupata com’è dalla proliferazione del terrorismo islamico lungo i propri confini. Un intervento economico nel nord del Mali inimicherebbe inoltre al Qatar gran parte delle leadership nazionali dei paesi dell’Unione africana del Cedeao, militarmente coinvolti nell’area e in procinto di inviare altri uomini. Infine, la reazione di Francia e Stati Uniti, maggiori interlocutori internazionali del Qatar, alla notizia di un finanziamento di gruppi affiliati ad al-Qaeda sarebbe facile da prevedere.

Abbiamo intervistato Gillian Lusk, associate editor di Africa Confidential e Mehdi Lazar, geografo ed esperto della politica internazionale del Qatar. Mrs Lusk sottolinea come l’approccio machiavellico dell’emirato alla politica internazionale non sia una novità: già da tempo Al-Thani interloquisce con potenze come Israele e Stati Uniti e al contempo sostiene il regime islamico del Sudan. Non è un mistero, secondo Mrs Lusk, l’attività di sostegno a gruppi jihadisti svolta dal Qatar in varie parti del mondo: “l’ambiguità è una caratteristica tipica di molti governi arabi, spinta forse dal desiderio di garantirsi il maggior ascendente possibile: d’altronde anche i governi occidentali talvolta sono disposti a trattare con islamisti”.

Monsieur Lazar appare insicuro sull’effettiva unidirezionalità della politica qatariota nel Sahel: l’emirato pare più attento a garantirsi una forte influenza sull’area e continua a trattare sia con i governi che con i gruppi nemici con una completa apertura di vedute. Secondo M. Lazar, se è vero che il Qatar condivide un particolare orizzonte di vedute con diversi gruppi islamisti, è anche vero che non è la pura ideologia a guidare la sua politica diplomatica: “l’Africa è oggi un continente in crescita e con un grande potenziale economico e il Qatar ha interesse a mettervi sopra un’ipoteca”. Il Qatar vuole quindi metter mani su importanti riserve di gas e risorse agricole e garantirsi un ruolo centrale nei nuovi assetti di potere.

Maggiore la vaghezza sulle notizie riguardanti un finanziamento diretto ad Ansar Dine. M. Lazar ritiene possibile che dietro l’eventuale trasferimento di denaro ci sia il desiderio di trasformare il gruppo in un interlocutore moderato, ipotesi ritenuta invece risibile da Mrs. Lusk. Secondo la giornalista di Africa Confidential è impossibile ammansire simili organizzazioni attraverso il finanziamento: ogni trasformazione in tal senso sarebbe pura tattica. M. Lazar ritiene invece che una possibile legittimazione di Ansar Dine sarebbe un’importante conquista, utile a tagliare definitivamente gli indefiniti legami che collegano il gruppo ad Aqmi. “Senza la vicinanza di Ansar Dine” sostiene Lazar, “l’influenza di al-Qaeda nel Maghreb subirebbe nel nord del Mali un colpo durissimo”.

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... cittadini francesi rapiti in Africa http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/al-qaeda-group-france-is-endangering-hostages-by-agreeing-to-train-malis-soldiers/2012/12/26/40513506-4f4b-11e2-8b49-64675006147f_story.html



A group affiliated with al-Qaeda is accusing France of endangering the lives of a half-dozen French hostages by helping to organize a military intervention in Mali instead of negotiating for the hostages’ release.

The accusation, in an online video, came from Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, a battle-hardened Algerian who leads the most active of three squads of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terrorist group’s affiliate in the Sahel region of northern Africa. Experts said the video was recorded Tuesday and put online by a Mauritanian Web site, Sahara Media, that is a frequent conduit for AQIM communications.

Abu Zeid’s claim appeared designed to stir French public opinion against President Francois Hollande’s government, which insists it is doing all it can to free the hostages but says it must act in secret, through clandestine intermediaries, if its efforts are to be effective.

The video sought to focus attention on Hollande’s determination to drive AQIM guerrillas and their allies from a vast sanctuary in northern Mali, following the passage last week by the U.N. Security Council of a French-sponsored resolution authorizing military intervention in northern Mali by a 3,300-strong force of soldiers from the Economic Community of West African States. The soldiers are to be trained and commanded by French officers. A French general with experience in Africa and Bosnia, Francois Lecointre, has been named to command the mission.

Abu Zeid’s group kidnapped four French technicians at a uranium mining center in northern Niger in September 2010. A year later, it abducted a pair of French geologists in Mali. “The hostages are alive, for the time being,” Abu Zeid said in the video.

The French Foreign Ministry did not respond directly to Abu Zeid’s declaration but vowed that the government would pursue its efforts to free the hostages. “French authorities continue to demand that our countrymen held hostage in the Sahel be released safe and sound, and they are fully mobilized to achieve that result,” said a ministry spokesman, Vincent Floreani.

About 400 European Union soldiers have been assigned, beginning next month, to train a 3,000-strong Malian army force that would be capable of redeployment to restore government authority in the stretches of northern Mali that have fallen under the control of AQIM forces.



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Mali army fires warning shots to halt Islamist advance http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/08/us-mali-rebels-idUSBRE9070FH20130108



Malian soldiers fired warning shots on Tuesday at Islamist fighters pushing south towards their positions, military and diplomatic sources said, raising fears of the first clashes since militants seized Mali's north in April.


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Stanno arrivando le prime confuse informazioni dal Mali dopo l'intervento francese.


Riporto dalla Stampa



La Francia è in guerra in Mali. L’ufficialità, anticipata ieri dallo stesso capo dell’Eliseo Francois Hollande, si trascina dietro i primi attacchi aerei di Parigi a supporto delle forze governative contro i fondamentalisti islamici del gruppo salafita Ansar al Dine, affiliato ad Al-Qaeda nel Maghreb. E registra un primo drammatico bilancio sul fronte occidentale: un pilota francese è infatti rimasto ucciso questa mattina mentre era impegnato nei raid. Altri due elicotteri militari francesi Gazelle - riferisce Le Point - sono invece stati abbattuti durante le operazioni militari lanciate nel nord del Paese.



Il dinamismo dell’intervento militare in Mali si aggiunge al fallito blitz delle truppe di Parigi per la liberazione di un suo connazionale in Somalia, l’agente segreto Dennis Allex, presumibilmente morto nel corso dell’operazione.

Edited by Scagnetti

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Se i francesi perdono la mano qui, c'è il caso che in mali non ci possano mettere più piede.


Non disperare .... c'è il Professore all'opera .... :woot:


The Special Envoy will undertake good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General, particularly in support of national, regional and international mediation efforts in the subregion, and especially regarding cross-border and transnational issues. He will help generate, sustain and coordinate international engagement in support of national efforts of Sahelian countries to address the multifaceted crisis, including with an initial focus on Mali.


Fonte .... http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/sga1377.doc.htm



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in ogni caso, l'interesse francese è noto: il Mali è un ex-colonia, pregna di interessi. farla cadere nelle mani di AQIM non è il massimo, manco per il resto dell'occidente. peccato per i Tuareg che, forse, davvero volevano un loro stato... ma ormai...

Edited by vorthex

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il Mali sta alla Francia come il Golfo Persico sta ad ogni paese occidentale........................

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A quanto sembra nel nord del Paese è molto probabile l'esistenza di giacimenti di Uranio di "discreta entità" ,come già in altre regioni del vasto Sahara, e sappiamo che in Francia l'energia nucleare gode di un'alta considerazione. Disporre di uranio a costi contenuti, grazie ai buoni rapporti con i governi più o meno legittimi del Mali, sarebbe un buon viatico per continuare a dare ai Francesi energia elettrica a buon mercato, senza la quale la loro economia andrebbe verosimilmente incontro a problemi non trascurabili. Mi sembra dunque fin ragionevole che Hollande ,pur essendo fondamentalmente un "mollo", si dia da fare per arginare questi gruppi armati fin troppo bene armati per essere dei ribelli senza denaro (chi da' loro tutte le armi e le munizioni?) . A parte tutto, non sarebbe bello se gli islamisti armati disponessero di molto uranio per fabbricare "bombe sporche" in grande numero

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no. ma la Francia non ha aggredito il Mali... è andata a dare rinforzo al governo (che poi siano o meno simpatici poco conta dal punto di vista "tecnico"), contro gli insorti e le milizie islamiche.

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