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Africa North
Sahel jihadist groups splinter
[MAGHAREBIA] Malian troops backed by their African and French allies continued their push against jihadists in the country's north on Monday (January 28th), as new divisions emerged in radical Islamist groups.

The recent liberation of northern cities accelerated the discord, especially within Ansar al-Din, which is spearheading the armed resistance.

The first signs of these cracks appeared on Thursday (January 24th), when Ansar al-Din lead mediator Alghabasse Ag Intalla defected to form the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA).

Ag Intalla also expressed his readiness to accept a peaceful solution through dialogue and a ceasefire with the French and Malian armies.

"Radicals in Ansar al-Din are considering the dismissal of Iyad Ag Ghaly from the leadership of movement because of the serious errors he made when he attacked southern Mali to pressure the Malian government about negotiating," Touareg journalist and blogger Amakanass Ag Akal told Magharebia.

Ag Akal explained that one reason for his dismissal is "the position of his Ifoghas tribe which has shifted towards moderation."

In addition to political splits among the jihadist groups, several military commanders also defected, joining the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).

The latest one was Gamou Ag Mineli, a former Malian army colonel, who defected with a military convoy and a number of fighters to join the MNLA.

According to Sahara Media, "Colonel Ag Mineli is currently stationed near the town of Leyra together with 20 vehicles equipped with heavy weapons and a large number of fighters."

Analyst Sidi Mohamed Ould Abdelkader told Magharebia that military strikes also had an impact on the position of the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).

MUJAO leaders have expressed a desire to negotiate the release of French hostage Gilberto Rodriguez.

"I think that this terrorist group wants to buy some time through this announcement," said Ould Abdelkader.

In the meantime, the international community continued to try to garner more military and moral support for the war on terror in northern Mali.
Posted by:Fred

#1  The splintering was one reason the French were able to take Gao and Timbukto quickly.

IIUC, there were, as of a few days ago, six different jihadist groups. They each had different component of Arab vs non Arabs and had different ideas on autonomy vs national takeover vs caliphate. In addition there were some crucial difference on who would get what loot and women and whether to take over small business or merely extort.
Posted by: lord garth   2013-01-29 15:28