The Islamist Takeover Of Mali

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Islamist and al-Qaeda forces, along with former Gadhafi mercenaries, have wrested control over Mali’s entire northern territory with the recent seizure of a key Malian city, an unsettling outcome which marks just one of the ugly after-effects of Libya’s civil war.

The recent seizure of Timbuktu, located 600 miles north of Mali’s capital of Bamako, by rebel forces battling the Malian government represented the government’s last major stronghold seizure in the north. Having already lost the northern Mali cities of Kidal and Gao only days earlier, the capture of Timbuktu has marked the effective end of the Malian government’s control over its northern territory, a desert region larger than France.

More importantly, there are now fears that a rebellion that began in January as a separatist movement is being overtaken by Islamist and al-Qaeda factions. These factions are not interested in a creating a separate secular state but rather are intent on turning the entire country of Mali into a Sharia-run Islamic state.

Initially, the rebellion against the Malian government had been launched as a separatist movement by the nomadic Tuareg people to form an independent state in Mali’s northern Azawad region. The Tuareg were led by fighters who had once worked as mercenaries for Muammar Gadhafi before his death in October 2011. Once they returned home, these mercenaries launched a push for Tuareg independence under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).

Fueling the Tuareg push for statehood was a huge stash of Libyan weaponry the Tuareg mercenaries had looted from the Gadhafi regime’s unguarded armories and ammunition depots. Yet despite its influx of weapons, the heavily armed MNLA had spent the first two months of the rebellion making little progress, taking a few dozen small towns but failing to capture any of the major population centers in the north.

That, however, all changed with an assist from the Mali military when on March 21 it staged a coup in the capital of Bamako that ousted the country’s democratically elected leader, Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure. That coup, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, was undertaken because disgruntled Mali government soldiers were upset over ineffectual efforts by Toure to fight battles against the Tuareg, in particular Toure’s decision to send poorly trained conscripts to fight.

The coup also prompted the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to react by closing the borders of the landlocked desert nation and threaten to impose economic sanctions on the country if the military junta did not begin immediately handing back power. Those sanctions, among the strictest ever imposed by ECOWAS, included blocking food, fuel and medical imports into the country, rendering a potentially staggering impact on Mali’s already 15 million impoverished citizens. Yet, despite Amadou Sanogo’s promise to reinstate the Malian constitution and organize a transfer of power back to civilians through democratic elections, the junta has ignored demands for an immediate exit from power.

Not surprisingly, opposition forces took immediate advantage of the ensuing political chaos caused by the junta and quickly launched an offensive that saw its forces take the cities of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. Those victories have now apparently been enough to satiate the MNLA’s appetite. According to MNLA spokesman, Hama Ag Mahmoud, the MNLA does not intend to advance further south on the capital of Bamako. Instead the separatist group would cement its control over newly-captured areas, an understandable position given that the territory it has seized is what it originally sought in order to create an independent state.

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  • Schlomotion

    Barack Obama, in a George Bush move, teamed up with Al Qaeda to destroy Libya and hand its plunder to British Petroleum. This drove the Tuareg out of Libya back into Mali where they began attacking cities as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (their territory). In response to the mismanagement of this secession by the Malian government, Malian soldiers had a coup d'etat. Frank Crimi is describing this as an "Islamic takeover of Mali." The mansas of Mali have been Muslims since Mansa Musa I, in 1280 AD. The country only became "democratic" by coup in 1992, and by that means that the guy who ran the coup, Amadou Toumani Toure, served as military commander and then as "elected" President of Mali for a decade until ousted by the next coup. Before that, many of his ministers were Muslim. At stake is that the Malian government wasn't sharing the national wealth and infrastructure with other ethnic groups. The author presumes that the Tuareg, who are secular and just wrested land from Mali with the aid of Ansar Dine will be overtaken by Ansar Dine and submit to Salafi rule, in short Al Qaeda again. SO WHY DID OBAMA AND BP SET AL QAEDA LOOSE IN NORTH AFRICA? Maybe Tony Hayward knows. Jack Straw and Gordon Brown definitely know.

    • Western Canadian

      Your habit of drawing false equivalencies, besides demonstrating your weak and second-rate mind, is actually rather boring.
      Add to that your habit of falsifying history to match your ignorance, and your post is typical of you: vapid and dull.

      • Ghostwriter

        I couldn't have said it better myself.

        • Schlomotion

          You couldn't? That's depressing.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Those fears were recently echoed by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe who said, “It appears that an extreme Islamist-jihadist faction (Ansar Dine) is taking the upper hand among the different Tuareg factions.” For starters, it was the Ansar Dine, led by Salafist leader Iyad Ag Ghaly, which was the group which actually captured the city of Timbuktu, raising its black Islamist flag over the city and claiming it as its new base.

    Sounds like a fight and power struggle between what are mainstream orthodox Muslims and syncretic Muslims is brewing. Syncretic Muslims are seen as non-Muslims unbelievers (kafirs) by true mainstream orthodox Muslims. Indeed, most people in that part of Africa which live on the fringe of the Islamic world are Syncretic Muslims and they are seen as non-Muslim kafirs by true mainstream orthodox Muslims because they don't live strictly according to the will of Allah.

    In any event, if the mainstream orthodox Muslim forces win, take over the country, and impose Sharia, those Syncretic Muslims will soon become mainstream orthodox Muslims.

    Nevertheless, the notion that the rebels are Islamists, i.e., radical Muslims, is a false dichotomy of Islam stemming from PC multiculturalism, which is a leftwing manifestation, and the fact that this article is being written by an allegedly right wing writer is a measure and a sad testament to how much leftism has seeped into the right today.

    AQIM — which operates in parts of Mali, Algeria, Niger, Chad and Mauritania — has long terrorized the Sahara. Specifically, it has subjected the region to terror attacks, kidnappings of Westerners, weapons and drug trafficking, and a burgeoning partnership with the Nigerian Islamic terror group Boko Haram.

    The writer is conflating and confusing what is really jihad as being terrorism. Nevertheless, Muslims don't ever fight terrorism in the cause of Allah, as terrorism is blasphemy in Islam. Instead, Muslims fight jihad, which is holy fighting in the cause of Allah against non-Muslim kafirs to make Islam supreme and in which constitutes total warfare that employs both violent and non-violent means.

    In the West, Muslims employ primarily covert and deceptive non-violent means of jihad, i.e., mass Muslim immigration to the West for the purpose mass Muslim infiltration and stealth demographic conquest, because violent jihad against the West would inevitably backfire and lead to their annihilation. While in the sub-Saharan and other primitive regions of the world, on the other hand, violent jihad is more appropriate because there is no fear of Islam being annihilated.

    Meanwhile, again syncretic Muslims are seen as non-Muslim kafirs in the eyes of true mainstream orthodox Muslims that the writer misconstrues as being radical Muslims, i.e., extremists or Islamists, because he obviously buys into the fictional nonsense and PC multicultural myth that Islam is a so-called Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists, i.e., radical Muslims or Islamists, in his book.

  • wctaqiyya

    Mali has been a big barbaric mess from word go. First, after independence from France, it tried to administer itself as a socialist/commie entity. This naturally resulted in economic collapse and a partial rapprochement with France. But, Mali never had any of the requisite foundations for self rule. So, corruption and strong man rule was the order of the day. As it is and will continue to be in Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc. Unfortunately, the French were short sighted colonists and did not plant any of the institutions required for self rule. Such as a comprehensive education system,a fair and balanced court and law enforcement apparatus, a trained cadre of professional administrators, transportation, international relations and trade, etc. The present conditions in Mali are the inevitable consequence of an almost completely corrupt and malicious de facto dictatorship. Because the minority, nomadic Tuaregs have been severely abused, they rebelled. Good for them. To portray this situation in terms of an Al-Qaeda take-over is misleading. Certainly the extremists will try to take advantage, they are opportunistic. However, the Tuareg's primary interest is to remain unmolested by corrupt officials. Thus, what Al-Qaeda wants in Mali won't amount to much. It's just a big desert anyway, as in, there is nothing there to blow up. I would again remind dear readers that Islamic culture will guarantee perpetual barbarity in those countries so burdened. However, in the case of north Mali, it doesn't really matter. It's miles upon miles of sand dunes interspersed with small bands of nomads on camels. Leave them in peace and they won't molest us.