The French weekly Le Canard Chained , in its edition yesterday quoted the French Directorate of Intelligence (DRM) describes how the Qatar finance terrorists of AQIM and MUJAO (responsible for the kidnapping on April 5 this year of seven Algerian diplomats in Gao, a town in northern Mali) and Ansar Dine. “According to information gathered by DRM, Tuareg rebels MNLA (independence and secular) movement Ansar Dine, AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and Mujao (Jihad in West Africa) received help dollars of Qatar. ”
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
“Air strikes will be the responsibility of the international force,” he said, adding foreign partners would also provide logistical and intelligence support and soldiers and police to secure areas captured by the Malian army.
Military planners from Africa, the United Nations and Europe in Mali’s capital Bamako last week drew up a battle plan that would involve a foreign force of more than 4,000 personnel, mostly from West African countries. It remains unclear how much of the force would come from Western nations.
France has granted its allies in the Sahel region a new batch of weapons ahead of a possible deployment of African troops in the Azawad region in northern Mali. A senior security source said that the countdown to a military intervention in northern Mali has begun, the exact date of which will be determined by France.
President Barack Obama’s “secret wars” against al-Qaida are steadily widening, most notably in Africa, with the U.S. military’s Special Forces Operation Command doubling in size and the CIA’s strike capabilities undergoing a radical expansion, international analysts said.
“Ad hoc global ‘counter-terrorism’ efforts that began under President George W. Bush, and were encouraged by Obama, have now become institutionalized — and the bureaucracy that wages U.S. ‘secret wars’ will continue to expand for the next couple of years, particularly in Africa,” Oxford Analytica observed in a recent assessment.
The media uniformly stress that Mali is among the world’s poorest countries, which is basically true considering that it ranks 127th in the global GDP listing and 168th (of 179) (6) in terms of the index of human development (7). The ratings, however, should not overshadow the strategic importance and the economic potential of the territory of Mali. It borders seven other countries – Algeria, Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Senegal – and sits on considerable natural reserves of gold, uranium, bauxites, iron, manganese, tin, and copper. According to fresh reports, the northern part of Mali is found to be rich in oil and, importantly, contains a usable underground water ecosystem.
Some 120 000 people have been forced from their homes in Mali since Tuareg-led rebels launched an independence bid last month in the country’s desert north, United Nations figures showed.
The conflict, which has seen rebels bolstered by fighters and weapons from Libya’s conflict launch a wave of attacks on military outposts, comes as the Sahel region grapples with a food crisis that aid agencies say will leave more than 10 million hungry this year.
Fighting in three of Mali’s eight provinces also threatens the holding of an election due in April.
Between 20,000 and 40,000 children work in artisanal gold mines in Mali, Africa’s third-largest producer of the precious metal, Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday.
In a statement, HRW said that “children as young as six dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore.”
It also said that many children “work with mercury, a toxic substance, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children.”