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13 August 2012


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I have had the good fortune to attend the Festival au Desert a few times. Mali has so many great musicians. The festival brought together many artists from Ali Farka Toure who Ry Cooder collaborated with and the excellent Tuareg band Tinariwen and of course the French gypsy band Lo'Jo that played with them as the band Azawad.

May the spirit live on!





Babak Makkinejad


My recommendation will be to work within the political cover of IOC and with the Islamic Republic of Iran to put on the table a credible alternative to neo-Salafi and Wahabi Doctrines.

This is the only choice.

Saudi Arabia and others cannot help - they have been part of the problem since their money has re-defined Islam for very many people.


I love Malian music as well. Don't know if Rokia Traore is on your list, but she should be.

I've always thought that ancient areas at the intersection of different cultures are some of the most interesting places to go. Three places in the world I've wanted see--Ethiopia, Yemen, and Mali.


Yes. Rokia Traore's music is very nice. I saw her perform at a nightclub in France few years ago.

Intersection of cultures is very interesting and the cuisine can be very good too as a result.

Good friends of ours were Peace Corps volunteers in Mali until they were evacuated some months ago and are now in Ghana which is also very nice to visit.


In complete agreement with your idea. The Malian military coupist whom led the overthrow of the government however vehemently rejects the notion of an intervention force, ECOWAS or otherwise. The AU are as usual muddled.
The toxicity of an islamist enclave has secondary and tertiary effects. Did'nt Chad have this type of separation between north and south some years back ? i am aware an EU force of French, Irish and Belgians helped restore some order to the country.
I will be in the general vicinity by week's end (the Sokoto Caliphate in Nigeria and Niger mostly) and I can confirm that the growing capability of salafi-inspired jihadis for terroristic acts has been attributed to wandering jihadis returning from Somalia, northern Mali and Chad.
What i'm amazed at is the supine attitude of the French to all this. They seem content to let the matter fester away (perhaps preoccupied with events further south in Cote d'Ivoire ?) although locals in mali report the presence of drones overhead (Africom assets ?)
I will report (if possible) on the views of some the ECOWAS DA's from Niger on their perceptions and thoughts on the crisis.

The Twisted Genius


A rapprochement between the US and Iran would please me to no end and would probably facilitate solutions to a host of world problems. However, I don't know how that would be accomplished today. I think Nixon going to China would be seen as a cakewalk in comparison.

The workings of the OIC are also a mystery to me. Their recent move to suspend Syria was expected, but the signaling of some kind of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran leaves me totally perplexed. Can you shed any light on this?

The Twisted Genius


I look forward to your reports. There's a lot going on in West Africa now, but we hear very little in the press here beyond the occasional mention of a Boko Haram massacre. As far as the French go, I think they shot their bolt in Cote d'Ivoire and Libya. I have read of a team of Special Forces training the Nigerians along the Niger border. I'm pretty sure they're in other parts of West Africa doing their training missions with local forces. Stay safe out there.

Babak Makkinejad

I cannot shed any light on your question.

What I am suggesting is that the United States does not have any way to influence events in Mali or anywhere else where neo-Salafis and other assorted extremeists are involved.

That is because US friends have been those who financed that indoctrination over the last 33 years all over the Muslims world.

And you cannot fight that indocrination by appeals to some sort of Western Humanism. You can only fight it by rebutting it within Muslim Tradition.

And it is only the Doctors of Islamic Sciences in Iran that could do so.


Just to update SSTers on the evolving situation in Mali; so far western govts have bothered only to issue condemnations (Hollande particularly describing the salafi-inclined Tuaregs' destruction of the sufi shrines as "unfathomable stupidity"). the cynical view in the ECOWAS region is that Mali having no convertible mineral resource is'nt worth the bother (contrasted to Libya). The AU exists as an organisation with the 'fire-brigade' approach. They have no co-ordination capabilities to form rapid ready brigades to deploy to affected areas without massive western govt logistical support. As we all know, France and UK are in deep recession and have no resources to deploy (though sightings of drones remain common).
Mali is leaderless and confused as to whether foreign troop s on Malian soil is a good thing or not. I understand Campoare, seeing the noose tightening around his long reigning dictatorship, is eager to play a prominent role to stave off creeping international condemnation of his regime. But there is deep skepticism that the B-Faso has capabilities beyond containing a gang of bank robbers. The Tuaregs are being encouraged to negotiate for an autonomous region within a Malian state entity with the central govt being in charge of defence, foreign policy and internal security, but with the different regions operating under different laws (sh'aria in the North, Malian/French common law in the South).
The alternative that ECOWAS/AU member states are reluctant to embrace is a sustained military campaign against heavily armed Tuaregs, which will make Darfur look like a run in the park.

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