Mali: On the fourth day of the French military action in Mali, Islamist rebels seized another town in southern Mali, but were driven out of Konna. French officials said Diabaly, 400km (250 miles) from the capital, Bamako, was taken in a counter-attack. French aircraft continued to bomb rebel gathering areas in the north and northeast.
Comment: Diabaly is in territory considered government-held. Apparently the Islamist rebels attacked from Mauritania with a daunting force of five pickup trucks carrying rebel fighters. The Malian garrison at Diabaly claims to have fought for 10 hours, but appears to have run away. Hmmm.
Mali’s Touareg rebels, meanwhile, announced they are prepared to assist French military forces in Mali by confronting jihadist groups on the ground in the country’s northern region, a senior Tuareg official said on 14 January.
Comment: It is now clear that the main French operating bases in Africa are Ndjamena, Chad for Rafale and Mirage fighter aircraft; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso for attack helicopters and Bamako for all other operations and probably some combat aircraft operations.
French ground forces units are task organized and drawn from the Infanterie de Marine – including a unit of tanks; a platoon of La Legion Etrangere and special forces. These are the forces that historically have rescued French interests in Franco-phone west Africa since World War II. Some 2,500 French ground forces reportedly have been deployed.
Several news outlets claimed or repeated the claim that Islamist rebel elements attacked Diabaly from Mauritania. That possibility showcases the importance of a regional effort to destroy the Islamist extremists. All states bordering Mali must cooperate to prevent the Islamist rebels in Mali from finding safe haven anywhere in Sahelian Africa.
Finally, the Touaregs have discovered that life under the Mali government is more benign than life under the strict Islamic rule of the jihadis. That is tonight’s good news.
Phi Beta Iota: There are 5,000 separatist movements in the world — 27 of them in the USA. Governments need to restore their commitment to the public interest and earning legitimacy, and at the same time discover that information-sharing and sense-making across the eight tribes of information (academic, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit) is how they achieve hybrid governance in a whole systems true cost context that creates a world that works for all. The Touaregs switch is an Information Operations (IO) coup that will be un-noticed and therefore unheralded across Agrica — this is a MAJOR theme that should be leveraged to the fullest. In our view, in part because of Saudi Arabia’s persistent policy of exporting virulent Wahabbism, it is now appropriate to merge the terms Islamist and jihaddist. These people are not a terrorism threat — they are a cultural threat.