[Diplomacy] Mali Crisis, Taureg rebels, French Troops, Algeria Hostages: Background, implications explained

Diplomacy106 Comments

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  1. What is Mali?
  2. Players in Mali crisis?
  3. Who are the Tuareg?
  4. Gaddafi Angle: 2011
  5. Azawad: Jan-April 2012
  6. Mali President overthrown: March 2012
  7. Entry of French Troops: Jan 2013
  8. Back to Northern Mali
  9. What is AQIM?
  10. Implications of Mali Crisis?
  11. Algeria Hostage Crisis
  12. Mock Questions

What is Mali?

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, Earlier it was a French colony. Mali gained independence in 1960.
Players in this crisis?

FactionTeamsWhat do they want?
RebelsIslamist
  1. Ansar Dine
They want to impose Islamic law across Mali
  1. AQIM
Same. They earn ca$h by kidnapping westerners and drug-traffic. They’re the ‘richest’ among all rebels.
“Secular” Tuaregs
  1. MNLA
Earlier they wanted to create a separate nation for Tureg people, but now they just want autonomy.
Government
  1. Mali Government
–doesn’t have enough firepower to match rebels.
  1. French Government
Sent troops because it Mali’s official army is ill-equipped to fight the rebels.

Who are the Tuareg?

  • Nomadic people who live in Sahara and Sahel regions of Libya, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
  • In medieval times, they used to run Camel caravans across Sahara- trading gold, spices, salts and dates.
  • Sometimes called the Blue People because they mostly wear dark blue / indigo colored traditional garments.

What is their problem?

  • We reside in Northen Mali.
  • While capital city = Bambako = located in South.
  • Government sits there and does nothing for our development.
  • We’re “light skinned”. And all good positions in Government and bureaucracy  manned by black people.
  • We are not getting any jobs, education etc.
  • Villages getting displaced due to mining activities, and the subsequent land-degradation =bad for our farms, cattle.

So Tuareg people had been rebelling against the “South” since a long time.

Gaddafi Angle: 2011

  • Colonel Gaddafi (of Libya) had been hiring Tuareg tribesmen in his army.
  • 2011=Uprising in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi gets killed.
  • So these Tuareg tribesmen (from Libyan army) formed their own new rebel group called “MNLA”.
  • They took possession of powerful weapons, surface-to-air missiles etc. from Gaddafi’s fallen army and decided to come back home.
  • They came back home (Northern Mali) and started fighting against the Mali Government. (+Other Islamic militants were also active in the region so they got help.)

Azawad: Jan-April 2012

  • From January 2012 onwards, there is heavy fighting between rebels and Mali army, in the Northern areas of Mali.
  • But the army did not have powerful weapons. so They had to flee.
  • Thus MNLA rebels took control of Northern Areas of Mali and declared it a free country called “Azawad.” (in April 2012)
  • However, this Azawad country has not been recognized by UN or any powerful country (US/China etc.)

Mali Crisis: President overthrown, March 2012

So far you know that

  • Tuareg people = unhappy.
  • Some of them served in Libyan army but came back home after death of Gaddafi. (+brought heavy weapons.)
  • These rebels fought against Mali army and threw them out of Northern Mali.
  • So, now Mali army= unhappy.
  • Army blamed President Toure for this fiasco.
  • Why? Because USA was giving truckload of ca$h to President of Mali to fight off the Islamist terror groups.
  • But this President was just using that money for his personal “aiyyaashi” (=buying sports cars, Rolex watches, diamond studded i-phone1,2,3,4,5, consuming desi liquor and… you get the picture.)
  • That’s why Mali army did not have good weapons, tanks, gadgets to fight with the rebels..
  • One army officer named Captain Sanogo gathered the soldiers and staged a coup against this President and threw him out. (Although later this Captain handed over power to next President Traoré.)
  • So right now Mali army is divided into factions – one of them supports the old ousted President Toure and wants to bring him back in power.

Entry of French Troops: Jan 2013

  • While all this mess was going on, the extremists groups from Northern Mali, started capturing the areas in Central Mali region. (such as Timbuktu)
  • New President panicked and called up French President:
New President of Maliplease help us. Our army is ill-equipped, divided into factions.
We’ve neither the weapons nor the morale to fight these rebels. So come help us.
French President Francois HollandeI cannot allow a “terrorist state” to emerge in Mali.
Ungoverned spaces in Mali could provide a launch-pad for Jihadist attacks in Europe and elsewhere.
But USA, UN or African Union are doing nothing!
So I’ll send my own French army to fight against these terror groups.
AQIM (Extremist group)@French President, buddy you’re making a grave mistake.
Now we will retaliate by striking back at the heart of France (Paris). You just wait and watch.

Mali Crisis French offensive map

Although some experts believe France is playing “big brother” only to get its hands on Gold and Oil reserves of Mali. (similar to USA in Iraq)

Back to Northern Mali

  • You know that MNLA= Tuareg rebels who previously served in Gadhafi’s army. They had returned back to Northern Mali.
  • But their influence in Northern Mali started declining after they ran out of money (spent in fighting against Mali Army, paying salary to mercenaries and for running propaganda.)
  • Hence, many of MNLA fighters left the gang and joined other Islamist groups. (like Ansar Dine, AQIM etc)
  • Why? Because the Islamists are far richer, earning truckload of cash by kidnapping Westerners for ransom and trafficking cocaine, marijuana and cigarettes.
  • So right now, AQIM (Islamist group) has control of Northern Areas, while MNLA’s grip has declined.
  • Given this changed power equation, now the MNLA says, “We support the French intervention, all we want is autonomy- we don’t want a separate nation for Tuareg people. We are “secular”, we are not associated with AQIM or other hardcore Islamist groups.”

What is AQIM?

  • Al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM)
  • something like a franchise of Al-Qaida + variety of hardcore groups operating in this region.
  • It offers a typical mix of jihadist activity + criminality (drugs, weapons trades, kidnapping, ransom etc.)

Mali Crisis Timeline

Implications of Mali Crisis?

#1: Afghanistan of Africa

  • If Bamako (Official capital of Mali) falls in the hands of Rebels then it would be like a repeat of the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan in 1996= If the extremists take the capital, it’s game over.
  • The whole region will become safe-haven for terrorists, drug traffickers, hostage takers (like recall Kandahar episode).
  • This will further destabilize neighboring countries of Niger and Mauritania.
  • Therefore, international community must prevent Mali from turning into “the Afghanistan of Africa”.

#2: Iran wants to play big brother

  • Iran holds the chair of NAM (Non-Aligned movement).
  • Iran has offered to play role of negotiator between the Mali Government vs Rebel crisis.
  • Iran wants to use this opportunity to “expose” double standards of USA on Syria vs. Mali and to increase influence in this region and generate good will (by showing that it doesn’t support extremist element.).
  • Iran’s official statement regarding Mali crisis “We are against extremism. But we are also against the (western) interference in the domestic affairs of countries and military intervention.”

#3: African Union (AU)

  • African union= Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • In late January 2013, African Union held a summit to get a solution for Mali crisis.
  • French wants AU to quickly deploy soldiers. but so far only about 1,000 troops have arrived, and only few of them have taken up front line positions, where actual fighting is going on (between Rebels and French).
  • Chad has promised to send 2,000 soldiers and Burundi has confirmed its readiness to join without giving exact number of soldiers.
  • So this Mali crisis will be an acid test of African Union’s ability to tackle regional crisis.

#4: USA

  • U.S. says, “If African Union (AU) sends forces in Mali, we’ll support them with logistics. But we cannot fully engage in Mali until a new government is elected and the political crisis is solved.”
  • Experts believe President Obama wants to spend his second (and last) term fixing the “domestic issues” (economic crisis) so Democratic party can win next Presidential election.
  • Therefore, he is not much interested in pursuing aggressive foreign policy agenda anymore. Besides America has already burned enough cash on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Algeria Hostage Crisis

  • In early January, 2013, France sent its troops to Mali.
  • Just a few days after that, some Gunmen with al-Qaeda links attacked a gas plant in Algeria.
  • They took the workers as hostages (including foreign nationals.)
Gunmen in Algerian plantWe’ve attacked this plant because of following reasons

  1. We want French troops to leave Mali ASAP.
  2. Algerian Government has allowed France to use its airspace while bombarding our gangmembers in Mali.
  3. Algerian Government has jailed our esteemed terrorist leaders. They must be freed.

Otherwise we’ll shoot down the hostages and blow up this gas plant.

Algerian GovernmentThis is pure ****** man, you’ve been planning for this attack since last two months, long before French decided to enter in Mali!
You’re just using “French angle” to get attention of international media. Otherwise Your main objective is to get ransom from foreign Governments and to free your terrorist leaders from our jails.
But guess what? We’ll not agree with your demands.

Climax of Algerian Hostage Crisis

  • The stand off between terrorists and Algerian forces continued for 4 days.
  • Algerian Government did not allow foreign special forces (US/UK) to enter or help in this hostage crisis.
  • Finally Algerian Government’s decided to attack those terrorists instead of continuing negotiation with them.
  • This led to death of 29 militants and 38 civilians, including six British nationals. (=bad publicity and international criticism.)
  • Later, Algerian Government gave statement, “Sorry we made some mistakes in handling this hostage crisis. But when facing terrorists, it’s not just words that solve the problem. Action has to be taken! By the way, we’ve found some evidences that Canadian nationals were involved in this act of terrorism.”

Mock Questions

Q1 Correct Statement

  1. Mauritania is a landlocked country
  2. Mali shares borders Libya and Morocco.
  3. Strait of Gibraltar separates Italy and Morocco.
  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None

Q2. Incorrect Match

PlaceLocated in
  1. Timbuktu
Mali
  1. Addis Ababa
Rwanda
  1. Bamako
Mali
  1. Juba
South Sudan

Q3. Incorrect Match

  1. Tuareg
North and West Africa
  1. Masai
East Africa
  1. Pygmy
Central Africa
  1. Zulu
North Africa

Interview

  1. Has Algeria done the right thing by not negotiating with the terrorists? If you’re the PM of India and such crisis hostage-happens, what will you do?
  2. Has France done the right thing by sending its troops in Mali?

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha


So far 106 Comments posted

  1. Soham

    Kem Chavo Mrunal Bhai ?? 🙂
    Hey Bro, One Request
    I am always reading Palestinians Article in Hindu, Now a Days……Bahu Magaj Mari Karu Chu Samjvane Shu Lakhyu Che, Mane Tappo Nahi Padto 😀
    Can U Please Write Article on It
    Humble Request Bhai

      1. Soham

        Thanks MrunalBhai:)

      2. Bhushan

        Sir,
        can you pls explain Tamilnadu-Shrilanka conflict which is currently going on…..

  2. GYAN

    website is not opening an lot of formalities being asked. please whitelist me .i am not a virus but a serious player according to your criteria

  3. Arjun

    Good script Mrunal….. Helps us to understand the typical n complex international films (affairs) in layman terminology…. Explanation of the events in form of conversations is truly hilarious…..thank you.

  4. Ashish Chandra

    Not able to download in pdf……print option is recurring for the last 6 days!!

    1. Mrunal

      you’ve to wait for the whole page to completely load. if you press pdf/print button before that, then it’ll show the default chrome printer option.

  5. xyz

    CAN YOU PLZ ELABORATE MORE ON TUAREG REBELLIONS…….

  6. chandu

    Very well explained.
    Sir please explain presidential systam of USA and process of elections ie how president is elected.
    Difference between india and american system govt and appointing ministers etc
    Difference between indian and USA bureaucracy system
    and the information relating this topic.
    Because these questions are repeatedly asked in upsc and appsc interviews.

  7. SUMIT YADAV

    Dear Mrunal,
    Thanx for enlightening all these future aspirants by your perceptive skills.I think your PDF generation really got a snag,please check it and let the noble thoughts coming to our notebook offline .

  8. Karan

    Gud work sir!!

  9. vipul

    Mrunal sir ur website cant be accessed using mobile browsers other than opera.plz do som thing abt it.

    1. Mrunal

      I just checked it chrome (mobile) on an android mobile. Its working fine.

      1. Rahul

        Sir, actually sometimes it reports Server not Available. But it works most of the time.

  10. Ambarish Sharma

    I dont think India should intervene. Its a sign of foreign diplomacy and maturity not to show any sign of comfort or discomfort.
    Never to forget that its France which has intervened and France has had been a very nice reliable supporting friend of India, in such a case whatever be the fate of Mali and whatever problems there might be inside the land locked territory, India should neither snile nor regret for whatever is happening. Because showing jubilation will make India a diet of some political critiques and showing regret will force France to disbelieve India as had been the case with Sri lanka and even Iran.
    Yes it can say, “We think the matter should be tabled on round table if France and Mali agrees for it :)”

    1. sonal

      OMG..what have u written? understand the qn first..

  11. karthik

    Sir can u provide link on “the implications of current account deficit”

  12. Ranjan

    1.d Mali share borders with Algeria,Niger,Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivore, Guinea,Senegal,Mauritania.
    2.b Adidas Adaba houses secretariat of African Union & located in Ethiopia.
    3.d Zulu tribe are in eastern part of South Africa.

  13. RACHIT UPPAL

    Wohoooo !!!!! Excellent work… Brilliantly Explained….Kudos !!! 😀

  14. Himanshu

    Pls shed some light on demands approved by the cabinet of ex-servicemen for one rank one pension sir..

  15. priyanka dwivedi

    sir plj give some guideline for preparation of PROBATIONARY OFFICERS IN STATE BANK OF INDIA & examination date 28 April.

    priyanka

  16. yashi

    hi mrunal sir,kindly post on MYANMAR(kachin rebels,rakhines,rohingyas etc) all dimensions background…-regards.

  17. la

    Sir,Ian from Andhra Pradesh.iam eligible for OBC certificate.but the mandal revenue officer declined to give the certificate on wrong grounds.i wrote to the district collector and the chief secretary of our state.more than three months have passed.what to do

  18. viju

    Hello sir,

    I am not able to download pdf
    before i was able to download, from today morning not able
    only first page will come that too blank page
    what to do sir now.

    Thank you

  19. rakhi

    mrunal say something about pattern change plzz

  20. Himanshu

    U.p.s.c has delayed the date of notification for civil services,2013..cn we assume that the chances for change in mains patters hv increased nw,or it could be due to some administrative delays??

  21. RAJ9999

    sir thnx a lot for explaining this complex issue in simple language…..

  22. Tulika

    You should publish a newspaper with such a catchy and simple approach and writing style in giving critical information for student like us who really can not manage reading The Hindu every day, though i am trying according to your article about reading newspaper.Still it needs lots of time for working people like us.

    Thank You Mrunal Sir.

  23. ramu ande

    The essay on Mali is very good and easy to understand.

  24. dr.rahul singhal

    Good for new students like me.thanks

  25. Sindhuja

    Thanks a lot for this article. I have had difficulty in understandin this issue bt now im crystal clear abt it 🙂 Please write about Cauvery River dispute, Direct cash transfer scheme and India – Iran relations. Thanks in advance !!

  26. Divyanshu

    mrunal sir, cgpsc has changed the pattern of mains examination.would u pls guide us .
    and how to download you articles….there is only showing option for printing not for pdf downloading like earlier..
    thank u sir

  27. manjunath

    hi mrunal,

    really its nice to c ur website . iam thankful to u . i studied some article really nice i want to download as pdf plz guide me how to download as pdf. iam no t getting as pdf form so plz.

  28. Divyanshu

    sir pls guide how to download pdf file i have installed chrome…what to do now???

  29. Tushar

    just awesome…..

  30. nick

    the topic made simple.. great work sir..

  31. Dhananjay

    MCQ d
    b
    d
    1. The aim behind such hostage activities are clear that the miscreants are ready to face any situation and they can take the life of the hostages. As we have seen in the past like Indian airlines hijacked case in 1999, Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, Beslan school hostage crisis(Russia) in 2004 and many more, the idea behind these situation is to carry out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war. Accepting the demands of the insurgents like in Indian airlines hostage case is not a solution as the man who was set free created or plotted many terrorist activities there after. Allowing foreign special military forces to intervene is also not a good idea as it will impact the morale of countries own military persons and Indian military, National security guards are good enough to handle such situations as we have seen in the 26/11 case in Mumbai. So, in my point of view, what Algerian government did was correct but it would have done in better ways to avoid any lost to civilian life and a message(warning) can be sent to the world that India will not accept any such activities on his land and will retaliate in same way.

  32. rakhi jain

    Hi mrunal,do you have.2008 Mains paper of Chhatisgarh PSC socio and GS
    or can u arrange it…pls post it if u have

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  34. PADAN

    Dear Mrunal,

    Can you please tell how to download your files in editable form so that wan

  35. PADAN

    Can you please tell how to download your files in editable form.

  36. Sadhana

    Sir,
    Gr8 Job..!! I wish you give some training on teaching methodology to these coaching institutes.Thank you so much !! You have made this journey little easy.

  37. aspirant

    your all articles regarding syria,pakistan,china,israel are awsome n have solved so many confusions..
    please also give some insight on IRAN and IRAQ issues and implications on World power equation.
    if already explained then pls paste the link.

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