Mali rebel group splits, one faction ready for talks
[FRANCE24] Following two weeks of joint French-Malian military action to flush out Islamist Death Eaters in northern Mali, the country's rebel group Ansar Dine has split in two, with the breakaway faction ready for peace talks, it said on Thursday.
A faction of one of the armed Islamist groups occupying the north of the Mali has split off from its al Qaeda allies and says it is willing to hold talks with the government, the leader of the new group said on Thursday.
Alghabass Ag Intallah, a senior member of the Tuareg-led Ansar Dine group which helped seize northern Mali last year from government forces, said he had created a new organization, the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), and was ready to seek a negotiated solution to Mali's conflict.
A French-led military operation is underway in Mali to drive back the Islamist fighters who launched a surprise push southward toward the capital Bamako two weeks ago. An African ground force is being deployed to support French and Malian troops.
|"There has to be a ceasefire so there can be talks," he said, speaking from the town of Kidal, a Tuareg stronghold in northeast Mali seized by Ansar Dine last year|
"We want to wage our war and not that of AQIM," Ag Intallah said by telephone, referring to al Qaeda's North African wing which has been at the heart of the takeover of the vast desert north by Malian and foreign Islamist fighters.
It doesn't work that way, bub. You started, you asked them for help, they pushed you out of the way and went for the whole thing. Besides which, Ansar Dine was "governing" the same way AQIM was "governing."
"There has to be a ceasefire so there can be talks," he said, speaking from the town of Kidal, a Tuareg stronghold in northeast Mali seized by Ansar Dine last year. "The aim is to speak about the situation in the north."
There doesn't need to be a ceasefire and talks are not called for at the moment. The aim is not to talk about the situation in the north, but to destroy a pack of mad dogs through a country with a 7,500 man army.
He said the new group, which would be based in Kidal, had been in touch with mediators in Burkina Faso
...The country in west Africa that they put where Upper Volta used to be. Its capital is Oogadooga, or something like that. Its president is currently Blaise Compaoré, who took office in 1987 and expects to leave office feet first at the age of 111...
and Algerian authorities. He said rebel demands would be for a broad autonomy rather than independence for the north.
If Ansar Dine did get their own "broadly autonomous" principate to misrule, what would stop AQIM from shoving them aside and taking over again?
Ansar Dine had formed a loose alliance with AQIM and a third group, MUJWA, to impose sharia Islamic law in the desert and mountain area the size of Texas.
Islamic law sez it's okay to slap women around for not wearing veils, to saw people's hands off, and to bury people under piles of rocks for humping. They're selling that as a good thing.
It was not immediately possible to confirm how many fighters would leave the ranks of Ansar Dine to join the new group.
International negotiators have long sought to prize apart the Islamist alliance by offering talks to Ansar Dine and Tuareg separatists, on the condition that they broke with AQIM. Ag Intallah was a senior Ansar Dine negotiator in talks last year.
But preliminary negotiations broke down last month after Ansar Dine called off a ceasefire, amid reports of splits between moderates seeking a political solution and cut-throats with deep links to al Qaeda.
Ag Intallah would not give a figure for his supporters, as he said a list was still being drawn up, but he said most Malians in the ranks of Ansar Dine had joined his faction.
Estimates for the total number of Islamist fighters in Mali vary but do not exceed roughly 3,000.
Ag Intallah said some members of the Tuareg separatist MNLA movement, which has fought AQIM in the north, had also joined his group.
"Islamic law? Why, sure! Sign me up!"
A front man for the MNLA was not immediately available for comment.
"I can say no more!"
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-25