The peace talks with the northern separatists (led by the MNLA) are not going well. Both sides have factions that are not willing to compromise. In the north some separatist factions are getting violent). In the south the government also has disputes over how to run the country. Foreign donors are applying more pressure about the endemic corruption. Threats are made to withhold aid if there is not a major crackdown on corruption. Many of the wealthy families are unwilling to give up the old (and very corrupt) way of doing business. But the foreign aid is desperately needed and donors worldwide have shown increasing willingness to stop giving if the stealing doesn’t dramatically decline.
In the north locals (both Tuareg and non-Tuareg) are accusing the UN of being unfair in dealing with the various factions. Some Tuareg want independence but most are willing to settle for some degree of autonomy. The non-Tuareg don’t want to be persecuted and are generally pro-government (although some, particularly Arabs, back Islamic terrorist groups). There are still several major Islamic terrorist groups active and these are getting stronger because they have sanctuaries in southern Libya.
January 27, 2015: In the north (Gao) UN peacekeepers opened fire on demonstrators killing three of them. The protest was about a UN plan to create a buffer zone in the north that would require pro-government militias to surrender more of their weapons that former rebel Tuareg groups. The peacekeepers opened fire after the Mali Army troops who were supposed to be dealing with the crowd withdrew and the protesters began throwing rocks and fire bombs at the peacekeepers. This is all about local politics and doubts about who you can really trust. The peacekeepers are also concerned about the Mali Army, which is not getting better fast enough.
January 26, 2015: In the capital a senior army general was shot and wounded. The victim was the senior ethnic Arab officer in the army and remained loyal to the government even though most other ethnic Arabs (who tend to live in the north) backed the separatists. It’s unclear who the shooter backed. He could have been an Islamic terrorist or an ethnic Arab who saw the general as a traitor. The wounded general is expected to recover quickly.
January 25, 2015: In the north (Timbuktu) soldiers who encountered a group of gunmen robbing travelers on a rural road and in the subsequent gun battle three soldiers were killed and the gunmen got away. It is not known if the gunmen were Islamic terrorists, bandits or what. One of the vehicles used by the gunmen was seized and the investigation continues.
January 24, 2015: The third gunman (Amedy Coulibaly, a Mali native) involved in the January 7-9 Islamic terrorist shootings in Paris, France was buried in France because Mali refused to let his body into the country for burial (as the family wanted). Coulibaly (a career criminal before he was radicalized) worked in coordination with the two ethnic Algerian Islamic terrorists who attacked the offices of published Charlie Hebdo and killed twelve people there. Coulibaly, in another part of Paris, killed a policewoman then went into a Jewish supermarket and killed four Jews there. But an ethnic Mali employee of the store quietly led most of the 15 people still in the store into the walk-in freezer to hide them. He turned off the freezer and the lights downstairs and then slipped out of the building. The store employee was initially arrested by police as he fled but soon convinced the police what was really going on in the store and the gunmen was killed and all the people in the store rescued. The Moslem store employee was hailed as a hero and the French government soon rewarded with French citizenship. This was a big deal in Mali.
January 21, 2015: In the north (near Gao) a crowd of angry Tuareg attacked peacekeepers guarding an airport. The demonstrators were angry at the UN for ordering peacekeeper helicopter gunships to attack Tuareg gunmen the day before. In the face of this peacekeepers were ordered to retreat from the airport to their base. The very angry demonstrators vandalized the airport. Elsewhere in the Gao area gunmen from the MNLA (the main Tuareg rebel group) attacked pro-government militia and that battle left at least 26 dead.
January 20, 2015: In the north (Tabankort) peacekeepers were fired on by an MNLA vehicle mounting a machine-gun. The peacekeepers fired back and demanded that the MNLA men stop firing and respect the ceasefire. The MNLA men refused. The peacekeepers then called in two Dutch helicopter gunships which destroyed the MNLA machine-gun equipped truck. The MNLA said the gunships killed five of their men. After that MNLA called on its civilian supporters to demonstrate against the UN and the peacekeepers.
January 19, 2015: The EU (European Union) agreed to send a training mission to help the Mali Army, which needs a lot more training to become effective.
January 18, 2015: The government declared Mali free of Ebola. This comes after 42 days in which there were no reported cases of the disease (which takes 21 days to show up in an infected person). Since October seven Malians died from Ebola but the government took prompt, aggressive and effective measures to treat those who were infected, isolate them to prevent further infection and effectively monitor the borders to keep any more cases out. Since last year Ebola has infected over 21,000 people (mostly in West Africa) and killed over 8,000 of the infected so far.
January 17, 2015: In the north (Kidal) Islamic terrorists attacked a peacekeeper base with a suicide bomber and rockets, killing one peacekeeper from Chad and wounding another.
January 16, 2015: In the north (Tenenkou) twenty Islamic terrorist gunmen on motorcycles attacked the town killing two soldiers and a civilian. Soon the troops forced the attackers to flee. Further north (in Tabankort) MNLA and pro-government militiamen clashed.
January 10, 2015: The new prime minister (since the 8th) appointed seven new ministers. This is the third prime minister in 17 months. The constant turnover in the government is the result of many factions not being able to agree on a common strategy.
January 9, 2015: In the north (Kidal) seven peacekeepers were wounded by a roadside bomb.
January 6, 2015: At the UN Mali and four of its neighbors appealed for intervention in Libya because southern Libya had become a sanctuary for Islamic terrorist groups that were increasingly active in nearby countries because of those sanctuaries. At the moment no one is willing to intervene in Libya.
January 5, 2015: In Central Mali (Nampala) Islamic terrorists from AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) attacked an army base killing eight soldiers and taking several others captive. The attackers lost at least two dead. Several hours later reinforcements arrived to take back control of the base. Nampala is near the Mauritanian border, 520 kilometers north of the capital. AQIM has not been this far south in two years.