Libya shockwaves felt in Mali?

During the uprising in Libya, I wrote a couple of posts speculating on whether the Tuareg mercenaries hired and armed by Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime would return to destabilize Niger and Mali, where they had been fighting a long-simmering, but lately mostly dormant, insurgency for years. The intensity of the fighting has indeed increased. But interestingly, ...

During the uprising in Libya, I wrote a couple of posts speculating on whether the Tuareg mercenaries hired and armed by Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime would return to destabilize Niger and Mali, where they had been fighting a long-simmering, but lately mostly dormant, insurgency for years.

The intensity of the fighting has indeed increased. But interestingly, today it appears that the greatest threat to the government of Mali is not the rebels but the soldiers tasked with fighting them. Mutinous soldiers attacked the presidential palace in Bamako today and cut-off broadcasts by the state-run TV and radio networks. For now, this doesn't appear to be a full-fledged coup attempt, but, as Reuters reports, the military's grievances are directly linked to the Qaddafi armed rebellion:

Anger has been growing within the army at the handling of a Tuareg-led rebellion that has killed dozens of people and forced nearly 200,000 civilians to flee their homes.

During the uprising in Libya, I wrote a couple of posts speculating on whether the Tuareg mercenaries hired and armed by Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime would return to destabilize Niger and Mali, where they had been fighting a long-simmering, but lately mostly dormant, insurgency for years.

The intensity of the fighting has indeed increased. But interestingly, today it appears that the greatest threat to the government of Mali is not the rebels but the soldiers tasked with fighting them. Mutinous soldiers attacked the presidential palace in Bamako today and cut-off broadcasts by the state-run TV and radio networks. For now, this doesn’t appear to be a full-fledged coup attempt, but, as Reuters reports, the military’s grievances are directly linked to the Qaddafi armed rebellion:

Anger has been growing within the army at the handling of a Tuareg-led rebellion that has killed dozens of people and forced nearly 200,000 civilians to flee their homes.

While soldiers had been urging the government to provide better weapons to fight the rebels, bolstered by fighters who had fought in Libya’s civil war, one of the mutineers said they now wanted to oust President Amadou Toumani Toure.[…]

Bamako was briefly paralysed last month as hundreds of Malians put up street barricades and burned tyres in the streets to protest at the government’s handling of the rebellion.

Tuareg fighters seeking to carve out a desert homeland in Mali’s north have made advances in recent weeks, including the seizure this month of the key garrison town of Tessalit by the Algerian border.

The MNLA rebel movement has been bolstered by heavily armed Malian Tuareg returning from fighting alongside Libyan forces who tried in vain to prevent Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow last year.

The clashes have added a new layer of insecurity to a zone awash with smugglers and plagued by fighters linked to al Qaeda and is expected to complicate presidential elections in April.

The situation still seems pretty fluid, but it’s certainly a sign that even in death, Qaddafi can sow instability across the region. 

 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Mali

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