Mali-Burkina Faso: Government officials from Mali held the first direct talks with delegates from the Tuareg and Islamist rebel groups that seized the north of the country after a coup earlier this year. The talks occurred in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The rebels pledged to respect national unity and to reject all forms of extremism.
Comment: The rebels appear to be trying to avert or at least delay the planned West African military operation to recover the north. Their profession of support for national unity and rejection of extremism requires clarification because the pro-al Qaida group has instituted the strictest form of Islamic law in Timbuktu and other northern cities, destroyed ancient shrines and ignored direction from the government in Bamako.
Phi Beta Iota: In the early 1990’s Alvin Toffler was asked in a visit to Malaysia what scared him most about the future and his one word answer was “fundamentalism” (face to face communication between Alvin Toffler and Robert Steele). Fundamentalism includes the US evangelicals and pentecostalists that betray the USA to help Israel, and it includes the Islamic fundamentalists that for whatever reason reject secular governance. This is not the same as equating Islam with terrorism. US plans to invade Mali and then oil-rich Niger cannot be credibly justified on the basis of current developments in the area that include Algerian government fabrication of a terroist threat in collusion with rogue elements of the US Government that do not represent the US public interest. Islamic fundamentalism is something that needs to be countered with robust public diplomacy and credible legitimate socio-economic assistance including help in arming the people with the tools of democracy, notably access to the Internet via low-cost handheld devices such as the OpenBTS cellular telephone and Open Spectrum. Neither of these are appreciated by the US Government, which is bogged down in 1950’s concepts and 1970’s technologies.