By William Tucker The Malian army has stated that Islamists who seized much of northern Mali last year – along with several Tuareg groups – have begun moving south towards Mopti. The city of Mopti sits astride the Niger river and lays in the narrow region that separates the north of Mali from the south. Currently, the Malian army controls the majority of this chokepoint.
By William Tucker Guinea has agreed to release a shipment of military arms bound for Mali following an inspection by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The arms shipment was held up because ECOWAS was still mediating in the crisis between the Malian military and the civilian government. The transfer of power to a new unity government back in August helped clear the way for international assistance.
By William Tucker Two rebel groups that participated in the effort to seize northern Mali in the midst of a military coup in the capital of Bamako have signed a formal agreement that merges the two groups into one governing entity. The Tuareg group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), and the Ansar Dine, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, signed the accord in Timbuktu.
By William Tucker Units of the Malian military that supported the coup launched a new assault on loyalist forces today, seizing control of an anti-junta military base in the capital. Many of the loyalist forces have fled Bamako after a new decree was issued calling for the arrest of the remaining forces still loyal to the ousted President. The fighting between pro-junta and loyalist forces has remained confined primarily to Bamako.
By William Tucker Two weeks ago I stated the military led coup against the Malian government did not bode well for counterterrorism operations in North Africa. That now seems to be an understatement. The head of the Malian junta, Captain Amadou Sanogo, ordered the military to back off fighting in the northern city of Gao for fear of endangering the civilians in the city.