It looks like the Africans, backed by Spain and France are going to go into northern Mali and take on the Islamist Terrorists.
Qaeda group rounds up unveiled women in Timbuktu
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants in the Malian city of Timbuktu have arrested dozens of women for not wearing the Islamic veil over the past two days, witnesses said Friday.
“Dozens of women were arrested Thursday and Friday by AQIM for not wearing the veil,” a local official said on condition of anonymity.
AQIM, eh. islam is like dealing with a cancer, isn’t it?
Please tell me what is odd in the pictures in these two links:
Spain: Europe will back African military intervention in Mali
Published November 21, 2012
European Union countries will back African nations if they decide to intervene militarily in northern Mali to combat jihadist terrorism, Spain’s deputy foreign minister said here Wednesday, while advocating political dialogue in that country.
Gonzalo de Benito met in the Nigerian capital with leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, who have agreed to send 3,300 soldiers to the region and ratified the EU decision to organize a training mission for Malian troops.
De Benito did not discuss how the Europeans will support the African governments, but he pointed to the possibility of cooperating with logistics and transportation.
At a press conference at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Abuja, he insisted on the need for a three-pronged approach to the Malian crisis: political, humanitarian and security.
De Benito also called upon Malian authorities to dialogue with the groups demanding autonomy in the north, who have shown themselves to be willing to negotiate.
The basic objective of the 15 ECOWAS members is to expel the terrorist groups that have become strong in the region, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
In Abuja, De Benito also held talks with Nigerian Foreign Minister Nurudeen Muhammad about bilateral relations and the possibilities of investment by Spanish companies in the ambitious infrastructure and energy projects under way in Africa’s second-largest economy.
De Benito, who on Thursday will travel to Mali and Senegal and later to Cape Verde, wants to take advantage of his tour to secure support for Spain’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. EFE
Nigeria has already endorsed the Spanish bid. EFE
By Joe Brock | Reuters – 18 hrs ago
ABUJA (Reuters) – An Islamist rebellion in northern Mali could become a springboard for jihadists to threaten interests beyond West Africa, Britain’s new envoy to the Sahel region said on Wednesday.
Military experts from Africa, the United Nations and Europe have drafted plans to retake control of northern Mali, which fell to rebels in March after a coup in the capital Bamako created a power vacuum.
“This deep insecurity … we have to recognize that, unless it is checked and it is not met, then it will have the potential for export,” said Stephen O’Brien, Britain’s first special envoy to the Sahel, a 600-mile (1,000-km) strip of semi-Arid land just south of the Sahara.
In an interview with Reuters while on a visit to the Nigerian capital Abuja, O’Brien said the Mali crisis was “a universal threat” with “the capability of threatening interests outside the … region.”
African leaders will this month seek a U.N. mandate to send a mainly West African force of some 4,000 to Mali to rebuild its army and then back military operations to retake swathes of the Sahara desert from rebels.
Nigeria, whose home grown Islamist movement Boko Haram has made links with Al Qaeda’s north African wing (AQIM) in Mali, would commit 600 troops to any intervention, the country’s defense ministry told Reuters on Wednesday.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday approved 250 troops to help train Malian soldiers. But, like the United States, the EU has ruled out a combat role.
O’Brien, appointed in September due to concerns about “the developing terrorist, security and humanitarian situation” in the region, said Britain had not yet made any commitment to aid the intervention in Mali but his visit aimed to negotiate a possible role.
France, Spain, Italy and Belgium have indicated willingness to take part in the Mali mission.
Referring to ongoing talks West African mediators are holding with the secular Tuareg rebel group MNLA and the Islamist Ansar Dine, O’Brien said it would be counterproductive to talk with groups that continued to use violence and “terrorist practices”.
However, he added: “(If) any part of Ansar Dine is either not using, or is prepared to renounce, violence and to break any links with AQIM, then that becomes a possibility.”
Groups that come to a negotiated deal would be spared from the offensive but al Qaeda-linked MUJWA and AQIM are not being considered for talks, O’Brien said.
By Kingsley Omonobi, 21 November 2012
Abuja — The United Kingdom, yesterday, announced that it would provide needed support for Nigeria and ECOWAS in their bid to dislodge the group of face-less terrorists that have hijacked strife-torn Mali and made peace hard to come by.
A military intervention force of 3,200 troops, to be led by Nigeria, is set to storm Northern Mali, which is under severe attacks orchestrated by alleged Al Qaeda sympathisers and this had made life difficult for Malians and subsequently delayed the political transition programme.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja, Special Envoy to British Prime Minister on the Sahel, Mr. Stephen O-Brien, said Britain appreciated the role Nigeria was playing in the sub-region.
He said it was the same reason that made the UK government resolved to contact the country on what could be done to assist in the restoration of peace in Northern Mali.
O-Brien, accompanied by the acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Giles Lever, and two others, told newsmen that whatever assistance his country would give would largely be determined by Nigeria.
He also promised to seek further help from the international community.
Acting Minister of Defence, Dr. Olusola Obada, told the visiting Special Envoy that the ECOWAS Heads of State had resolved to send the troops to restore peace and security in the affected part of the troubled nation.
She said the menace of terrorism in the Northern Mali had been “a great concern not only to everyone in the sub-region but also to the international community.”
She noted how the terrorists were making life difficult in the area and how the proposed election could not be held to allow every part of the country to be involved.
The minister was optimistic that the military intervention was an enforcement of the UN Revolution 2071 as resolved by the ECOWAS Heads of State in the region.
She said: “The resolution has been forwarded to the UN through the African Union.”
She said until the crisis was resolved, the possibility of conducting election in the country was nil.
Obada said: “It would not be proper to hold election in the South, leaving the whole North out of it. If the election would hold, it has to be in the whole country.”
Obada also appreciated the support pledged by the British government and further solicited for the international community.
The meeting was attended by the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, representatives of the Chief of Naval Staff, directors in the ministry and some top military officers.
AFP – New fighting Friday and a crackdown on women for not wearing veils by Islamist militants in the Malian city of Timbuktu marred peace moves by two of the groups controlling the desert north who said they were ready for peace talks with Bamako.
A Tuareg warlord said his National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) had launched an “offensive” to retake the key north-central region of Gao from Islamist rebels.
“Fighting broke out Friday morning near Ansango between fighters of MNLA and the MUJAO (the Al-Qaeda-linked Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) as part of an offensive aimed at recapturing the Gao region,” Moussa Ag Assarid, a high-ranking member of the group in charge of communication, told AFP.
A Burkina security source said the MUJAO attacked some MNLA fighters and “took a lot of prisoners and two vehicles. There were some dead.”
MUJAO had seized control of Gao in June following battles that claimed 35 lives, leaving the MNLA with no city base.
The assertion of an “offensive” to take Gao came the same day as a high-ranking MNLA delegation announced along with Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine that they were prepared to go into peace talks with the government in Bamako.
Meanwhile in Timbuktu, a local official said dozens of women were arrested Thursday by AQIM, a second non-indigenous Islamist group operating in the north along with the MUJAO, for not wearing a veil.
“The Islamists were going into homes to arrest unveiled women,” he said.
A medical source said the women were being “imprisoned” at a disused bank, and that the AQIM militants vowed to continue the crackdown in the city they share with Ansar Dine and “that nothing can prevent them from doing so.”
In Ouagadougou, the MNLA and Ansar Dine issued a joint statement saying they were “disposed to engage resolutely in a process of political dialogue under the aegis of ECOWAS mediation in order to find a negotiated, fair and lasting solution to the crisis.”
The statement followed the talks with Compaore, who is Burkina Faso’s president and lead negotiator for the Economic Community of West African States.
The fresh drive by Mali’s neighbour Burkina Faso to find a negotiated solution to the crisis, which has effectively split Mali in two, came as plans by regional bloc ECOWAS to send troops into Mali gathered pace.
The aim of the meeting was to get the two sides to hammer out a “joint platform” to present to Mali’s transitional authorities.
This interim administration has been running the country since the leaders of a March military coup stepped back from power under international pressure in April.
Ansar Dine and the MNLA, both made up mainly of Malian ethnic Tuaregs, have occupied northern Mali along with the two mainly foreign radical Islamist groups since April.
Both AQIM and the less known but associated MUJAO have imposed a brutal form of sharia Islamic law, stoning unmarried couples, amputating thieves’ hands and whipping drinkers and smokers.
Ansar Dine has made some conciliatory gestures to the secular MNLA, notably announcing this week that it would not insist on sharia law across Mali but just in its northeastern fiefdom of Kidal.
It has also said it would work to help rid the region of “terrorists” and “foreign movements”, thereby distancing itself dramatically from AQIM and MUJAO.
Ansar Dine has also regained favour with the international community by renouncing its separatist ambitions.
The repositioning makes it increasingly likely that the ECOWAS intervention would focus on dislodging AQIM and MUJAO, in the hopes of eliminating a potential sanctuary for international extremist groups.
The planned force, approved by the African Union, will comprise some 3,300 mainly West African troops. The plan must go before the UN Security Council by the end of the month.
But questions still hang over the operation, particularly its exact composition and financing. It will also require logistical support from countries such as France and the United States.
The European Union also wants to support the effort. Its foreign ministers will meet Monday in Brussels to discuss sending a training mission made up of 200 to 400 European soldiers to Mali in January, according to French sources.