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Published 18th January 2013

Vol 54 No 2


Mali

Taking the fight to the desert

Mali: Minaret of a mud mosque. Each year the mosque is given a new layer of clay to replace what the rains have washed away. Dieter Telemans / Panos
Mali: Minaret of a mud mosque. Each year the mosque is given a new layer of clay to replace what the rains have washed away. Dieter Telemans / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

For now, the region is cheering France’s launching of a war on many fronts against the jihadists although it is likely to drag on for many more months

As France pours men and money into the battle against jihadists, the contours of Mali’s crisis are rapidly changing. Bombing raids may have ended the militants’ hegemony over the people of Timbuktu and Gao, but their campaign is far from over. Restoring some security across the Sahara will be a slow and painful business, with many reverses. Pounded by French air strikes near Leré, fighters led by Al Qaida’s Algerian commander Abdel Hamid Abou Zeid quickly hit back, attacking Diabali. Then, half a desert away, on 16 January Moulathmine Islamist militants took 41 foreign oil workers hostage at In Amenas, south-east Algeria.


Nouakchott on the spot

Under pressure from both the jihadists and France, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is fast losing all semblance of neutrality. For now, his position seems secure but the regional...


Abuja’s foreign legion

The troops now on their way to Mali to fight alongside the French are extending the campaign against Boko Haram

The 900 troops sent this week to fight alongside French and local forces in Mali are joining an operation which the Nigerian government sees as an extension of its fight against Bo...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The growing resistance by Mali’s musicians against attempts by jihadist militias to suppress their art and divide the country could launch a wider regional campaign against religious intolerance and political oppression. The singer Fatoumata Diawara has brought together 45 musicians and singers from West Africa to record a song and video, in Bamako to promote peace and national unity.

The cast for t...

The growing resistance by Mali’s musicians against attempts by jihadist militias to suppress their art and divide the country could launch a wider regional campaign against religious intolerance and political oppression. The singer Fatoumata Diawara has brought together 45 musicians and singers from West Africa to record a song and video, in Bamako to promote peace and national unity.

The cast for the Bamako recording includes some of the region’s finest musicians and singers such as kora player Toumani Diabaté, ace guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, singer and social critic Oumou Sangaré, Amadou and Mariam and Côte d’Ivoire’s Tiken Jah Fakoly. A group of Tuaregs, who now face discrimination in both northern and southern Mali, also appear on the record to call for national unity and tolerance. Tuareg musicians such as the band Tinariwen, who have supported the Rolling Stones, have been forced underground and now can play only outside the country.

The three main jhadist groups occupying northern Mali – Ansar Eddine, Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’ouest – have banned the playing of musical instruments as un-Islamic. Last June, Ansar Eddine destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mohammed, a 15th century Muslim scholar, in Timbuktu and threatened shrines that they condemned as idolatrous. One of the most important historic centres of learning, Timbuktu has 700,000 ancient manuscripts in 60 private libraries.

Voices United for Mali - 'Mali-ko' (Peace / La Paix) on YouTube

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