INTERNATIONAL DISPUTES ERODING PROSPECT FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN NORTHERN MALI By André BURSTIN ESISC Research Associate
On Tuesday, December 4, emissaries from various belligerents involved in the Mali conflict met in Ouagadougou at the initiative of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, who is mandated by the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS), to find a solution to the crisis. The National Union Government of Bamako, the Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Islamist Ansar Dine agreed on “the need to create a framework for dialogue” for a “cessation of hostilities”. According to the statement issued after the meeting, the MNLA abandoned claims of independence in exchange for guarantees on a “broad autonomy” for the North. For its part, Ansar Dine committed itself to keep its distance from the jihadist terrorists related to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The document stresses the “rejection” of terrorism and respect for the territorial integrity of Mali. At present, the main obstacle to an agreement remains the application of Sharia law in areas that fall under the control of the Islamists. The situation on the ground is much more complex, however, and the prospect for a solution remains distant. Accepted in principle by the pressures of ECOWAS, the autonomy envisaged for Azawad will be extremely difficult to define, all the more so since there may be some doubt as to the legitimacy and capacity of the Malian authorities to negotiate a transition agreement with the Tuareg rebels. More important still, no agreement could be credible as long as the jihadists terrorists of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and the Katibates (“brigades”) of the AQIM will continue to threaten the Sahel from their strongholds in northern Mali. It should be noted that even before the closing session of the meeting of Ouagadougou, MUJAO announced that it would...
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