News / Africa

Mali on Brink of Becoming a Terrorist Safe Haven

Mali on Brink of Becoming a Terrorist Safe Haveni
X
December 24, 2012 6:08 PM
African and world leaders say they will not let Mali become a terrorist safe haven, a failed state, a so-called "Afghanistan" in the Sahel. The U.N. Security Council has backed a regional military deployment to Mali next year to deal with an ongoing political crisis in the capital and help the Malian army retake the north from Islamist militants. Will 2013 be the year that Mali pulls back from the brink? If so, at what cost? VOA West Africa correspondent Anne Look has this report.
Mali_Yearender_WEB-fixed-x264-Platform_YTHDFull
Anne Look
African and world leaders say they will not let Mali become a terrorist safe haven, a failed state, a so-called "Afghanistan" in the Sahel. The U.N. Security Council has backed a regional military deployment to Mali next year to deal with an ongoing political crisis in the capital and help the Malian army retake the north from Islamist militants. Will 2013 be the year that Mali pulls back from the brink?  If so, at what cost?

2012 was the year that armed men seized control of Mali.  And their grip looks stronger than ever -- both in the north and the south.
 
Analysts say a military junta pulls the strings in the capital, Bamako.  The soldiers, who mutinied and then overthrew the elected president on March 22, closed the year by forcing out the interim prime minister and his government in December.
 
Meanwhile, al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants have controlled the northern two-thirds of the country since April.  Their brutal application of Sharia law has included stonings and amputations.  Nearly half a million people have fled.  That number could swell by tens, or even hundreds, of thousands during expected fighting next year.
 
African leaders now have U.N. backing for a phased military intervention to send in 3,300 regional troops to retrain and ultimately fight alongside the Malian army.
 
African Union ambassador Antonio Tete told the U.N. Security Council the deployment is an integral part of a three-track plan that includes negotiations and reinforcing the political transition in Bamako.
 
"Any perception of a lack of decisiveness on any of these tracks may send the wrong message to the terrorist and criminal networks, as well as to the armed groups that are not committed to a negotiated solution, while prolonging the suffering of the civilian population and increasing the threat to regional and international peace and security," Tete said.
 
Impatience is growing in Mali. Ethnic northern militias are training near the front lines.  Analysts say the fight to retake the north could descend into civil war and bloody reprisals.
 
Experts warn that the Malian army is not ready.
 
The U.N. resolution did not set a timeline for the military offensive. U.N. Special Representative to the Sahel, Romano Prodi, has said it's not possible before September 2013.
 
"Any military effort in Mali must be undertaken after careful analysis and thorough preparation and that these efforts should be part of an agreed political process that tackles the roots of the conflic," Prodi said.
 
International Crisis Group West Africa Director, Gilles Yabi, said while months of preparation are needed, it's impossible to know the risk of waiting.
 
"Will this time give the armed groups -- some of them known terrorists linked to al-Qaida -- more time to recruit and to train people to carry out attacks abroad?  Does that mean we should move faster?  That's hard to say, but urgency should not justify hasty decisions.  Time invested now in negotiations could isolate the hardline terrorists and lead to an intervention strategy that minimizes the risk to civilians," Gilles said.
 
Foreign Jihadists in northern Mali have threatened terrorist attacks in countries contributing troops.  Attempts to oust the Islamists could also push fighters, and fighting, into neighboring countries.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs