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Mali: Losing To The Enemy Within


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20161005.aspxStrategy Page :

October 5, 2016:


While the tribal and religious (Islamic terrorist) violence up north gets most of the headlines, overall Mali is at peace and that has led to renewed economic growth. Food and raw materials production is way up and the GDP is expected to grow by 5.4 percent in 2016. That is up from 4.9 percent in 2015 but down from 7.2 percent in 2014. Nearly all that growth is in the south. The thinly populated northern two-thirds of the country has a population of less than two million, out of 16 million for all of Mali. The north was very poor in the best of times, and over a year of Islamic terrorist government halted tourism, which was a major source of income, especially in the three major cities. The Islamic terrorist rule also interrupted the movement of many essential goods, like food, fuel and medicine.


The south has always prospered while the north scraped by. But because of the 2012 uprising the north is surviving on charity and continued envy of and anger at the wealthier (and ethnically different) south. Because of the continued failure of the government to deal with the long-standing problems of corruption and inefficient government, especially in the Tuareg/Arab north, foreign economists do not expect a higher GDP growth rate in 2017. Corruption and tribalism are a problem throughout Africa and there are no easy solutions other than for elected officials to take a stand and try to enact needed reforms. That can be very dangerous because many such reformers turn out to be just using their popular reform program to engage in more corrupt behavior (like establishing a dictatorship).




n central Mali the FLM (Macina Liberation Front) Islamic terrorists remain active. But so far this year they have carried out, at most, one attack a month. FLM is composed mostly of young Fulani men and is affiliated with the largely Tuareg Ansar Dine Islamic terror group from the north. The Fulani tribes of central Mali are producing a growing number of recruits for Islamic terrorists. FLM openly identifies with the Fulani (Macina are the local branch of the Fulani). This group became active in early 2015 and since then has claimed responsibility for a growing number of attacks. It started out with calls for Fulani people to live according to strict Islamic rules. That in turn led to violence against tribal and village leaders who opposed this. That escalated to attacks on businesses and government facilities. FLM considers Ansar Dine their friend and ally mainly because Ansar Dine was inspired by al Qaeda but was always composed of Mali peoples, mainly Tuareg, northern Arabs and some Fulani. Although most Malians are Moslem few want anything to do with Islamic terrorism. But the Fulani have always seen themselves as a people apart, an attitude common with the nomadic peoples from the Sahel (the semi-desert area between the Sahara and the much greener areas to the south). That makes joining FLM more attractive to young men, especially since the Fulani have also been involved with smuggling for a long time and that is seen as an acceptable profession. Another thing that sets the Fulani apart is that still think of themselves as nomadic and thus don’t really believe in borders.



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