Some of us don't automatically think of the incredible tools we have at our fingertips to get a better idea of the context of things that are happening. However, today they were talking about the reconquest of Gao on the news and how important it was to control the bridge on the Niger River. And it finally struck me that I can see it all with Google Earth.
so much achieved and at the same time so little - how much is the capture of bridges etc. and the liberation of cities worth against a guerilla army that will just retreat into the vast spaces only to search for the next weak spots? I hope that their network isn't as well knit in Africa as in the Mideast and that they've been at least a bit shatterd...
German media complain that the French/Malinese are not very supportive towards reporters, so possibly it's the same old again. and maybe that's the reason why there's so little about the treasure of books that is said to have been destroyed, too.
All of the reporters are complaining about not being allowed access to the front. Then again, where is the "front"? The Islamists disappear before the armies arrive. After having destroyed what they can, of course.
Yes, well that is what has been said in France as well all along. Every single overseas military operation is always to benefit the interests of the acting country and never out of altruism. I think that pretty much everybody knows that, but they are just as willing to live with this huge hypocrisy as they are willing to live with all of the little hypocrisies of their everyday lives.
And as for the less informed people who are indeed still sometime rather naive, it is just the usual case of ruling the world with fear. Point at the menacing bogeyman, and your subjects will huddle around you for protection.
Tonight was a pleasant moment of peace on television during the Victoires de la Musique awards (French equivalent of the Grammy Awards) when Amadou & Mariam won the award for the best world music album. Due to geopolitics, it would have been nearly impossible for them to lose as they sang about peace in Mali, but it was nevertheless richly deserved. The award was presented by Youssou N'Dour, minister of culture of Senegal.
Their first Victoire a number of years ago was for Dimanche à Bamako.
I have been trying to follow up on this topic closely in media, however it wasn't until today that I learned the loss in manuscripts fortunately hasn't been as severe as first expected due to cunning locals, see e.g. world.time.com/2013/02/04/timbuktus-ancient-libraries-saved-by-locals-endangered-by-a-government/ - I'm a bit disappointed this hasn't been bigger news over here in Germany, as if it was just an incident to highlight the crudeness of the rebels and not really a concern about the treasure itself...
Yes, they did a pretty good job of hiding the important stuff, just like the Iraqis managed to hide most of the treasures of the museum of Baghdad the same way.
The reconstruction of the destroyed tombs will be more problematic. It is totally ethical to recreate them since they were just built out of mud anyway and were rebuilt and repaired many times over the centuries, but I fear that Mali will have more important priorities in the coming years until tourists will finally start coming back.
I saw an interesting report on France 24 the other day. According to the reporter, most of the "professional fighters/jihadis" leave across the Algerian border as the French & Chadian troops arrive, leaving behind young kids who have been brought into the fighting.
a couple of days ago there was a radio report about the start of the French/German training mission for the Malinese army: seems they'll try to put an emphasis into the building of an esprit de corps, since almost all soldiers who had been trained during a similar American mission a couple of years ago and who subsequently were 'spread' as multipliers to different units had defected to the jihadists instead...
The French troops are now in Bangui and some stores opened for the first time in 48 hours. There are about 300 corpses lying in the streets, now being picked up by the local Red Cross under banners that read Joyeuses Fêtes.
It looks like several more European countries are going to be sending a few troops to the CAR, but they are in no hurry. It reminds me of the war in Bosnia, where the citizens of Sarajevo kept saying "I hope that a bomb falls on the country and oil starts spurting out." When there are few or no riches to be exploited, the world doesn't mind watching people slaughter each other.
The number of victims in Bamako remains vague, but it looks like it will be at least 20.
Some of the most interesting information about this attack concerns the rivalry between Daesh/ISIS and Al Qaeda. The Bamako attack was carried out by a branch of Al Qaeda, apparently just to show that they still exist in spite of the huge growth of the "upstart." The news also mentioned that of the 200 or so French jihadists who have been killed in Syria, the vast majority of them have been killed in battles with Al Qaeda. These two groups have identical agendas and yet they despise each other.