Friday, March 07, 2014


There has been little or no political commentary in this journal since the arrival of IBK. That is because I think I as well as everyone else wanted a break . We all wanted to believe that everything was OK now, since Ibrahim Boubakar Keita took power with an overwhelming majority after a triumphant democratic election. But of course everything is not OK. The problem of Kidal and the MNLA is just as poignant and unresolved as it ever was. The country is crawling with MINUSMA soldiers. I am very cross because I still cannot use the swimming pool at Hotel l’Amitié, because the whole luxury hotel is taken over with UN soldiers. But I will admit reluctantly that the hardship I thereby suffer should perhaps be put in perspective…
There is never-ending talk of Reconciliation here. The word must be one  the most frequently employed on Malian TV’s evening news, which is watched by the whole of the Malian nation more or less.
Reconciliation  is a a such pretty word. It sounds so civilized. It is used here all the time by all the clever people who have all the money. How could one possibly have anything against it ? Well, one can if it is used in connection to a misundertanding. And however pretty the word is, there are perhaps other words which whould be more appropriate in certain situations.
In response to an  article which appeared on called : Retour de l’insécurité au nord : Le MNLA et le MAA sous la couverture française ?  . ‘Return to insecurity in the North/ the MNLA and the MAA under French protection?’ by a Mohamed A. Diakité , the frequent Malijet commentator Kassin wrote, albeit in his accustomed belligerent style something quite sensible, the greater part of which I translate below. His comment sums up admirably the misunderstanding which prevails and which perpetuates the Malian crisis, and his opinion is widely held.
I translate:
National reconciliation ?
Reconciliation means:
" Action to reconcile opponents, in mutual disagreement ; from ‘ to reconcile’ "according to the dictionary . And ‘ to reconcile’ means : " To bring people to mutual agreement, to restore friendly relations " in the same dictionary- Larousse .
So who are these " people " we should " reconcile" in Mali? Is there a problem of understanding between the Tuareg and Songhai of Mali?
Between the Songhai and Arab of Mali?
Between Belah and Songhai ?
Between Arab and Tuareg of Mali ?
Between these communities and the State of Mali ?
So where does this term ‘reconciliation’ come from, this word so fashionable at the moment  in Mali?
It stems from a misunderstanding of the Malian crisis.

Mali does not have and has never had a problem of understanding between her communities which have lived for millennia in perfect symbiosis: some nomadic traders; some pastoralists and some sedentary agriculturalists or merchants…
…After two years of crisis the problem remains despite the Serval intervention and despite the MINUSMA theatricals and the ostentatious retraining of the Malian Army.
The worst thing is that certain peddlars of illusion and certain Western countries have succeeded in deceiving the United Nations and France that these armed bandits (the MNLA) actually represent communities in Mali, and that they have
political demands " that you need to look at" and " engage in a political dialogue."
The reality is that we have armed men in northern Mali who do not represent any of our communities and who took up arms for their own interests as mafia and bandits.

On the one side we have these armed thugs that were asking for the Independence of the 3 Regions of the North of Mali and  who are now asking for  autonomy which for them is one step towards independence. But they are not mandated by any community in Mali!
(Toubab is butting in here with her own opinion: it seems to me that they are being listened to because they hold the guns! What about all the legitimate people who do not take up guns, and who are simply speaking for their communities? Noone makes any fuss about them, and noone listens to them even though they may hold a more legitimate claim to represent their people- is that a healthy state of affairs??)
On the other side we have the Malian state which with IBK has clearly stated that there is going to be neither independence nor autonomy. So the problem is not a problem of reconciliation between communities in Mali but it is a problem of divergence between the State of Mali and a horde of unscrupulous criminals who have taken up arms to attack the state at the expense of all the communities of Mali ( in the north as well as in the south).
What to do?
Should we get organized to subdue these rogues or should we try and reconcile the members of a family which have no problem?
Well, you don’t reconcile people who have no need for it, but with  armed bandits you either bow to their demands or you combat them.

But what is the Malian state doing during this time?
Well, exactly the opposite: that is to say it does not combat the armed bandits, and it doesn’t cede to their demands either.
We are therefore blocked and there is neither war nor peace and banditism is on the increase. To divert our attention the Malian state talks of National Reconciliation…etc.”
Kassin’s recommendation is the following, put in his accustomed pungent style:
“ It is time now that the Malian state reclaims the north of our country and attack militarily these armed thugs in a WAR WITHOUT MERCY until the complete eradication of the vermin MNLA.”
Although I am not so certain as Kassim on the procedure or the manner of this, I am whole- heartedly with him on his assessment of the manner in which the Western media and powers have been and are hoodwinked by the MNLA. It is a shocking state of affairs when an armed group that has no mandate from anyone is able to hold a whole nation to ransom with the blessing of the International community!



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