As the French and Chadian armies sweep the AQMI mafia groups back to their adopted home in the Tuareg heartland of the Adar Des Iforas, the Malian army are inexplicably being left behind by the French campaign to reassert its own control, pretty much unmonitored over the liberated regions.
This is the military that crumbled before the MNLA rebellion that kick started the crisis, the military that enacted the coup d’etat that allowed the MNLA take over of the north and the islamist invasion, the military who recently had a pop at each other in Bamako, and the military who have over the course of Mali’s history committed atrocities against the northern population.
Now the international games of charades and musical chairs, of Al Qaeda, coup d’etats and islamist ideology, of acronym wars, of AQMI, MUJAO and Ansar Dine are coming to an end. Now we are back to square one. Mali and the Tuareg, north and south, black and white.
And the south is angry. You hear it in Bamako. And their military are back on the ground, in Timbuktu and Gao and the region south of the Niger and they are asserting their control.
People are disappearing. Military vehicles turn up at houses and in villages and are seeking people out. People bound and chucked into the backs of pick ups like “bags of rubbish” driven off into the night to disappear or be found with throats slit shallowly buried in the sand.
Not just anyone, just the light skins. Tuaregs and Arabs are being cleansed from the north of Mali. And it is working. The refugee camps in Burkina Faso are filling at a greater rate now than ever before in the crisis, by the people whose land has supposedly just been “liberated” by the French.
I know relatives and friends in the camps who are receiving the news on their phones. Everyone talks about the same names, the same stories, the people they knew, their brethren and kin.
Mohammed Lamine Ould Hammoudi owned a cyber cafe, and director of a Qu’ranic school, Al Madrasser Nour El Moubine, stayed on in Timbuktu since islamists arrived he refused to join them, but with no one else in town using his cyber cafe.
When Timbuktu was liberated the Malian military turned up with French soldierstold him “you can stay chez toi, nobody will do you bad.” That night with his father and his 3 kids, Malian military personnel came to his house and took him away. In front of childrens, bound him and took him out of Timbuktu and killed him. Throat slit, shallow grave.
Ali Koubadi, very well known man from Timbuktu, very rich arab. Malian military arrive, he gave them 2 cows. That evening they came and threw him in a car “like throwing out the rubbish”. Killed.
Images of the camps: Click for Photogallery