Index

Index
The153 Club
The Agades Cross
People of the Sahara
Saharan Landscapes
Books on the Sahara(1)
Books on the Sahara(2)
Books on African Art
Saharan Salt Trade
The Gundi
Illizi Festival 2000
Sahara Freeze-up
Camel Cheese
153 Club Newsletter
153 News Update
Join the 153 Club
Today's African News

Père de Foucauld
L'Arbre du Ténéré 1
L'Arbre du Ténéré 2
Saharan Forts 1
Saharan Forts 2
Saharan Rock Art
Giraffe Engravings
Leo Africanus
Battuta's Saharan travels
Shabeni's Timbuktu
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
Heroditus & Pliny on Libya
Timbuktu, a poem

Joliba Trust
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 1
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 2
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 3
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 4
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 5
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 6

Old Michelin Maps
Early NW Africa Map 1
Early NW Africa Map 2
Early NW Africa Map 3
Early NW Africa Map 4
Early NW Africa Map 5
Saharan Exploration

Henry Barth 1
Henry Barth 2
Henry Barth 3
Denham & Clapperton 1
Denham & Clapperton 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 1
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 3
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 4

External Links

Jim Mann Taylor's Home Page
___________________________

 

 

 

Index

Index
The153 Club
The Agades Cross
People of the Sahara
Saharan Landscapes
Books on the Sahara(1)
Books on the Sahara(2)
Books on African Art
Saharan Salt Trade
The Gundi
Illizi Festival 2000
Sahara Freeze-up
Camel Cheese
153 Club Newsletter
153 News Update
Join the 153 Club
Today's African News

Père de Foucauld
L'Arbre du Ténéré 1
L'Arbre du Ténéré 2
Saharan Forts 1
Saharan Forts 2
Saharan Rock Art
Giraffe Engravings
Leo Africanus
Battuta's Saharan travels
Shabeni's Timbuktu
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
Heroditus & Pliny on Libya
Timbuktu, a poem

Joliba Trust
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 1
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 2
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 3
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 4
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 5
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 6

Old Michelin Maps
Early NW Africa Map 1
Early NW Africa Map 2
Early NW Africa Map 3
Early NW Africa Map 4
Early NW Africa Map 5
Saharan Exploration

Henry Barth 1
Henry Barth 2
Henry Barth 3
Denham & Clapperton 1
Denham & Clapperton 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 1
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 3
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 4

External Links

Jim Mann Taylor's Home Page
___________________________

 

 

 

153 News Update, Aug- Nov 2016

This update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety of sources.

Mali
Unfortunately little has changed in Mali as we reach the 5th year anniversary of the Toureg revolt in the north of the country, leading to a subsequent take-over by Islamic rebels, which in turn led to the counter attack and occupation by France in 2012, before handing control over to the UN mission which is still in place.
The IED attacks against the UN mission, and attacks against the Mali army as reported in the last newsletter not only are continuing, but are more frequent: there are also ongoing intercommunal and inter-rebel group conflicts. The Mali government has little authority in the north, and development has continued to stagnate.
The conflict has even extended to the west near the border with Mauritania with a significant attack in August on a military base outside the normal conflict area, and another on Timbuctoo in October, and another near Gossi. Then In November, Ansar Dine, an Islamic rebel group raided a prison in Banamba, near Bamako, and freed 21 prisoners, some of whom were presumably Ansar Dine members. Other attacks have taken place in the north with monotonous regularity with more frequent attacks outside the normal conflict areas.
In the capital Bamako there have been unrests with reported street protests, and at one point the government instituted social media controls. In Kidal there was a peace march in August: but the conflict continued in the north regardless.
A new rebel group has reportedly emerged associated allied with the ‘Islamic State’ movement in addition to the existing groups of Ansar Dine, and AQIM/MUJAO. The new group is led by Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi (possibly indicating his origin) and this group is called ISIS. Its base is not clear, and could either be in Burkina or Mali
Realistically, under the current circumstances of continued unrest the current UN mission is unlikely to be able to be withdrawn from the north for many years. Relief web reports that despite some returnees, there are still some 60,000 Mali refugees in Niger and 41,000 in Mauritania, and 32000 in Burkina. It also reports that refugee deaths are rising after a drop in 2015.
Captain Amadou Sanogo, the leader of the Putsch which took over the country in 2012 is to go on trial in Bamako at the end of November. In the ICC at The Hague, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, was sentenced to 9 years for his role in the destruction of the mausoleums and libraries in Timbuctoo.

Western Hostages
For the first time in many years a western hostage was taken in Niger. An American NGO worker, Jeffery Woodke, reportedly popular with the local people, was kidnapped in October in the Niger town of Abalak and taken towards Mali, despite having two guards.
No proof of life has yet been delivered but a claim by AQIM/MUJAO of responsibility has been reported. Interestingly another NGO group with a large escort was nearby in Niger at that time but left shortly thereafter by air.
On November 25th the 5th anniversary of the abduction of the South African Stephen Malcolm McGowan and the Swede Johan Gustafsson passed. But there is some news. The group ‘Gift of the Givers’ reported that they had been in negotiations for these hostages for over a year, and the AQIM branch had demanded 5m$ for each hostage, but their governments had, not unsurprisingly, declined. However, there was apparently some progress. These two hostages are reportedly still being held in Mali.
There is no news about Beatrice Stockly since a proof of life video was issued in June; and also no news about the Burkina Faso hostage, Kenneth Elliot. But some hostages taken in Libya during the period were quickly released.
Meanwhile, at the end of November, the French yet again announced that they had killed Moktar Bel Mokhtar of AQIM/MUJAO in southern Libya. I have lost count of the number of times his death has been announced. There was also a report at the same time that one of his wives had been arrested near Tripoli.

Niger
Despite the hostage taking, Niger by comparison to Mali, is still a haven of stability. There are still no reports of any significant rebel actions within Niger but a new rebel group announced itself, namely the Movement for Justice and rehabilitation of the Niger (MJRN), headed up by one Adam Tcheke Koudigan.
Koudigan, an inhabitant of the Termit region near Bilma which is populated by Toubou, is presented as the successor of Barka Wardougou, another rebel Toubou leader who in the 1990s led the rebel movement FARS. The conventional opinion is that this group is not a serious threat.
But Niger is still suffering from regular incursions by Boko Harem from Nigeria. Despite the military successes in Nigeria and Tchad the group still manages to launch occasional raids into Niger mostly in the south east of the country. In one incident in October the government claimed it had inflicted some 100 casualties on the movement during an attack.
In other areas of Niger, an attack on a military base at Banibangou near the Mali frontier in November killed five Niger soldiers: another 22 were killed in October in an attack on a refugee camp near Tahoua. It is presumed that both these attacks both originated from Mali.
In October, the prison at Koutoukal which holds several important captured jihadist leaders, was also attacked but the attack was pushed back by security forces. The prison is located only about fifty kilometres from the capital Niamey. This attack was prior to the similar attack on a prison in Mali.
In August there were rains in Niger which caused flooding and killed at least 50 people and made some 100,000 homeless. These rains even reached Agades. Rift valley fever was reported in November causing some 2 deaths. And in an ‘intertribal’ conflict near Tahoua, it was reported that some 18 people were killed and 50 wounded in a bizarre incident between agriculturalists and herders.
In Niamey in August the Grand Marche was closed and demolished by the government. It was allowed to reopen two days later. In September seven supports of the en-prisoned former leader Hama Amadou were released.
On the anti-terrorism front, the US announced that it was to construct a drone base in Agades at a cost of 50M$. Given that the annual income per head is about 500$ (figures vary) this is an amazing sum. The French are reported to be doing the same at Dirkou (but why? they have base at Madama) and even the Germans are planning to set up a support facility at Niamey.

Refugees passing through Niger to Libya
In November the Economist magazine published an article about the migrant flow from Africa and the Middle East, including a small section on the migrant/refugee traffic flow through Agades.
Interestingly the main points in this section almost exactly followed the short summary I provided in the last newsletter. (Perhaps the Economist editor reads the 153 newsletter?). It also referenced a recent book: ‘Migrant-Refugee-Smuggler-Saviour’ by Peter Tinti and Tuesday Reitano: this book includes a chapter on Niger and the migrant and drug trade through Agades, and describes it in detail.
This book contains much useful information, but I am sure that the desert professionals of our club will not agree with some of the statements made about desert travel in Niger.
The book claims that the town of Agades is now quite prosperous as a result of this desert trade: more so than when it handled tourists. This is in line with some other reports and specifically with the article in Newsletter NL-145 written by Henrietta Butler (pp.7-11.) Agades (and Niamey) have seen periods of prosperity before: will this outlast the migrant ‘trade’? This trade surely cannot continue indefinitely.
The book does however point out that until the migrants cross into Libya many of migrant’s travels within Niger are in fact quite legal due to the high percentage of such migrants coming from Niger itself and surrounding country nationals, who have a visa free travel regime within Niger.
Henrietta also points out that ‘point-voyages’ have resumed flights: Paris-Agades But after the abduction of Jeffery Woodke, it will be interesting to see how it prospers.

Tchad
Tchad has had yet another quiet period, compared to Mali.
There are no significant reports of rebel activity in any of the north, south, or eastern zones. But in the west operations against Boko Harem continued, and recently with more success. In November they claimed to have received no less than 1000 deserters, after smaller military successes in October.
Notwithstanding these successes, raids by Boko Harem from Nigeria still occasionally occurred during the period, but were significantly reduced in scale, and there have been no reported suicide attacks in the capital N’Djamena.
There has been one reported IED attack: but this could have been by drug smugglers. The Tchad army continues to be active in the north Lake Tchad area and reportedly occasionally participates in operations in Niger.
The Tchad President, Idriss Deby was sworn in again for a fifth mandate in August, despite protests and strikes in the capital and elsewhere, which took place despite a government ban. These strikes and demonstrations continued sporadically throughout the period. Amnesty has taken up the issue of some soldiers arrested by the government during the elections.
In the east of Tchad, an Australian company, Iron Ridge Resources Limited, started work on some gold mining prospects, based on several permits issued by the Tchad government.
In the far north of Tchad, near the Tibesti Mountains, no major incidents were reported during this period. Interestingly, Deby made a visit to Germany during this period where the Tchad frontier with Libya was discussed, and later received a visit in Niamey from Khalifa Haftar, one of the leaders in Libya.
Relief web reports some 384,000 refugees and 109,000 locally displaced persons still in Tchad. The reduction due to the military successes against Boko Harem are not known.
The oil industry in Tchad continues to be its main source of revenue: but as in many other African states the revenues are significantly reduced due to low price of oil world-wide.

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