Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mali: jihad on the march, Islamists take the North

I have talked about Mali in the past when jihadists made their presence known.  Now we are witnessing the next phase in the Islamization of Mali; the physical taking of land.  Mark my words here, Islam is once again taking over the African continent slowly but inexorably, one country at a time.

Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Somalia, Mali...

From the Boston Globe April 2 by Rukmini Callimachi

Mali loses control of north, as sanctions imposed

BAMAKO, Mali—Just 12 days after they stormed the presidential palace, the young officers that seized control of Mali in a coup were slapped Monday with harsh financial sanctions that could cause the country to run out of gasoline.

The body representing nations in West Africa announced Monday that starting immediately they are closing the land borders with Mali. The landlocked nation of over 15 million imports nearly all its petroleum products from neighboring Ivory Coast, and economists say gas stations could run dry within weeks. The country's account at the regional central bank has also been frozen, meaning that the junta will struggle to pay the salaries of government employees, including the very soldiers whose loyalty they need to retain power.

"All of the measures are applicable starting today and until the constitutional order is restored," said Alassane Ouattara, the president of Ivory Coast who is the chair of the Economic Community of West African States, after an emergency summit in Senegal. "The measures taken by the junta are in the right direction, but are not sufficient," he said.

The regional body representing 15 nations in West Africa had issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the soldiers that grabbed power, which expired Monday. In an effort to stave off the sanctions, the captain who led the coup held a press conference Sunday to say he was reinstating the constitution and planning to hold elections.

Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo refused to give a timeline on when the elections would be held, however, and dodged questions on whether he would continue to be president during the period leading to the election.

Meanwhile, the government on Monday also lost control of the northern half of the nation, as rebel flags were hoisted over the last three major towns still under government control. In just three days, the Tuareg rebels swept across the north, taking the regional capital of Kidal on Friday, the largest city of Gao on Saturday and the fabled desert outpost of Timbuktu on Sunday.

Commentators on television are already talking about the possible partition of Mali, which has weathered numerous rebellions by the lighter-skinned Tuaregs who have long felt marginalized by the darker-skinned Bambaras, who dominate the south where the seat of government is located.

At no time in the past did either of the three towns fall, indicating how much ground the rebels have been able to cover in the wake of a 12-day-old coup in the distant capital, which has left both the military and the government in disarray.

"The north is 1,000 percent in the hands of the rebels. There's no resistance, there's nothing. ... They have taken all the strategic points. In all the towns," said an official in the mayor's office in Kidal, who requested anonymity because he feared for his safety. "There is no Malian state left."

There is more, read it all

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