Asalaam O Alaikum to every one.
I have written this for a blog and I decided to post it at Islamic Board as well because Mali is part of our Ummah which is under attack by misguided Muslim groups who claim to be following the only authentic version of Islam and their serious mistakes give pretexts for the Western armies to invade our lands.
The actual freedom movement of the our Tuareg Brothers have been hijacked and Islam is being given a bad image. Please spread the Word..... Salaam.
P:S: Please do not make this thread in to a ground for arguments. Read and discuss. Those who have disagreements can agree to disagree and that should be respected by others but no inciting. No arguments please.
Gaddafi's Support for African Revolutionaries
Gaddafi as we know supported the liberation movements like ANC, AZAPO, PAC and BCM of Azania (South Africa), SWAPO of Namibia, MPLA of Angola, MNLA of Tuaregs who received education training and support in Libya. He shared a Pan African vision like the anti colonialist revolutionary figures like Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Toure, that all African states should move towards one currency and one army with complete independence from the Western Imperial powers.
In addition to the above Gaddafi opposed bodies like African Union and declared them to have failed to achieve what they were created for in the first place. Such declarations were a threat to pro Western regimes in Africa.
In the wake of a Western intervention in Libya by NATO forces and their Arab allies, the Tuareg Revolutionaries who had been part of Gaddafi's armed forces fought against the rebel forces of National Transitional Council (NTC). After an almost year long rebellion backed by continued NATO airstrikes which destroyed infrsatructure, killed thousands of Libyan Muslims and toppled Gaddafi's government, the NTC replaced it. Large number of Tuaregs sought refuge back in Northern Mali as the Western backed rebels sought out African soldiers from Gaddafi's army and slaughtered them.
Northern Mali is the home to several tribes of Tuaregs who have been fighting for an Independent State of Azawad and their movement is called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). "The Tuareg feel like the outsiders of the national economy, completely excluded from the economic resources in many regions," says Salma Belaala, a professor at Warwick University in England who studies jihad in the Sahel. The discrimination has forced the Tuaregs to stage rebellion several times since the 90s in their fight for an independent state which would allow them their rights, being denied by Pro French Bamako regime since 1960s.
The MNLA joined by Tuareg fighters from Libya, heavily armed with weapons gained from Gaddafis weapons depot gave them the military power in taking over several towns of Northern Mali last year. After a long time the Tuaregs were able to control large parts of Northern Mali and force the Bamako regime to listen to their demands. However break up of Mali is not what they seek as long as Bamako would agree to allow them some sort of federated autonomy within the existing boundaries. This proposal they put forward in December last year during talks with Bamako regime in Burkina Faso hosted by Blaise Compaore, the president of Burkina Faso.
African bodies like The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Union (AU) however kept pushing United Nations for approval of intervention in Mali as negotiation talks were taking place in Burkina Faso thus proving their incapability to solve problems of the African continent. This shows their nature of exacerbating a situation rather than providing peaceful resolutions. Alassane Outtara, the president of the Ivory Coast, in his talks with French President said that armed intervention in Mali was "indispensable" and "[should be done] in the shortest time frame".
As the talks were peaceful and the representatives from both sides departed with plans to continue negotiations in the future. However we can most certainly doubt the sincerity of the Bamako regime who after few days of the meeting, welcomed French military Intervention on 11th January 2013.
Emergence of Ansar Dine
Most important to note here is that since the early 2012 when the Tuaregs had taken control of entire Northern Mali, a group named Ansar Dine splintered from the main MNLA. Mali expert Jeremy Keenan described as the MNLA took over a town, and upon its seizure, Ansar Dine entered behind them and “start bossing everyone around about sharia law.”
The U.S. government's CIA World Factbook says Mali's population is 90% Muslim and Northern Mali is 99% Muslim. Therefore we can assume naturally the population would agree to be ruled by Islamic law. However this was not the main cause of the rebellion, it was due to injustice experienced by Tuaregs in the first place since 1960s when the French withdrew their occupation. Whether Shariah should be implemented or no was not the issue at hand. This division naturally came as good news for the forces in Africa and West determined to undermine the Tuareg movement. Another main reason for the contention between the main body of Tuaregs against Ansar Dine was that the group needs to immediately cancel all ties and give up its association with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), which is known to perpetrate attacks around the world on innocent civilians. Because making such claims would give an excuse to the Western regimes to intervene who are already fighting 'War on terror' around the world against Al Qaeda.
Iyad Ag Ghali
Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Ansar Dine, is a special case. He first came to public attention in the early 1990s as the leader of a Tuareg revolt seeking independence or greater autonomy for the northern region of Mali for Tuaregs. In August 2003 he played the key role in securing the release of 14 mostly German tourists kidnapped by the Algerian Salafi Group for Call and Combat, GSPC, which later became Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He negotiated further hostage releases in 2008, 2010 and 2011. After the collapse of the Gaddafis government in Libya in mid-2011, Mr Ghaly reportedly sought the leadership of the MNLA, but he was rebuffed. This was due to his links with AQIM as well as suspicions that he had close links to pro Western Bamako regime. Some see Mr Ghaly and AQIM as tools of the Algerian (and even US) security services.
Such actions and claims of Ghali are severely damaging the actual cause for which Tuaregs have risen up. In addition to these acts Ansar Dine fighters after taking over Timbuktu known as the 'City of 333 saints' committed aggression. They destroyed many shrines, Sufi centers and even burned down the Ahmed Baba Institute which holds ancient manuscripts of 14th century of astronomy, Islamic law, medicine, literature and poetry all in the name of fighting Bidah (innovation in Islam). This brought criticism from UNESCO and Western media who began portraying more of a connection between the group and MNLA than actually exists. Thus lending more support for a Western intervention.
Near Timbuktu, part of the vast area of the country controlled by Islamist groups, youths have been taking to the streets armed with machetes and sticks to protest against rebel control. The intolerant and harsh way of implementing Shariah has forced the people of a town to uprise against Ansar Dine, when they were said to have beaten a woman because she had failed to cover her baby's head as she carried it on her back.
Al Qaeda and Hostage Crises in Algeria
AQIM has recently claimed responsibility for taking hostage the foreign workers at the Amena Gas Plant in Algeria, which included US, UK and French citizens. Many of them were killed, which is completely alien to Islam as Islam forbids the killing of innocent civilians, and their demand was to end Western intervention inside Mali, claiming the Tuareg independence heritage for themselves! Following the attack , UK Prime Minister David Cameron immediately echoed that the Sahara desert has turned into a 'haven for militant Islamists' who are waging a jihad against the West, giving immediate pretext to the West for an attack.
The good news we have is that Islamic Movement of Azawad lead by Alghabass Ag Intalla, who represented Ansar Dine at the Burkina Faso meeting, has decided to split from Ansar Dine as it rejects its extremist form of Islamic interpretation. He also warned that al-Qaeda linked Islamists - some of whom were foreigners - threatened to turn Mali into a "terrorist state".
AQIM a creation of Algerian Secret Service
A recent video released by AQIM, which exclusively was aired by Pro Qatari Al Jazeera, it is trying its best to own the freedom movement of the Tuaregs. A top al-Qaeda commander in North Africa has urged the people of Mali to reject foreign intervention as a way of solving the country's conflict. Their statements are issued as if the entire North Mali is seeking their advice and following them in fighting the pro Western regime for years!
Who Really Controls AQIM and their Affiliates
Jeremy Keenan, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, with his keen observation has argued in Democracy Now, that the Islamist fighters operating in Mali were in fact the creation of the Algerian secret police.
The fighters were also being supplied, supported and orchestrated by the the secret police, he said. "What we have seen unfold in Mali during 2012 is merely the latest manifestation of the way in which the DRS (Algerian secret police) has used the ‘terrorists’ that it has created to further the interests of Algeria’s ‘mafiosi’ state," Keenan argued. Keenan also said that the Algerian secret police were working "with western military intelligence in fabricating ‘false-flag’ terrorism to justify the West’s global war on terror in Africa".
Professor Keenan says that the Algerian security service is highly influential among leaders such as Ag Ghaly, with whom it has long had links, as well as with key regional leaders of al Qaeda (such as Abdelhamid abou Zaid). Keenan says he believes the Algerians see some benefit in the "specter" of al Qaeda roaming the desert because it heightens their importance to the United States as a partner in counter terrorism.