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The Bataclan and the battle for music

Anyone who walks out onto any stage – in Paris, or London, or Madrid, Melbourne, Mumbai and Osaka – is now in the front line of a battle. Music itself is on the front line. Take courage. We’ve got to win. The alternative is too bleak to contemplate: a life without joy, relief, togetherness. A life without music.

SEYDOU CISSÉ of GANDA IZO – “We should have followed the MNLA from the start”

Here’s an amazing news story: http://maliactu.net/mediation-dans-la-crise-malienne-nous-preferons-ouaga-a-alger-dixit-moussa-ag-attaher/ On February 9th last, the MNLA and the Ganda Izo held a joint press conference in Ouagadougou and issued a joint statement announcing a future collaboration between the two movements. The two groups also expressed strong support for Burkina Faso’s mediation in northern Mali and denounced any attempts by…

Does the Touareg question have an answer?

Touareg boy watching Camel Race, Tin Essako, Jan 2001

A few years ago, on a beautifully calm Saharan evening, I was drinking tea with an old Touareg musician in a garden near Tessalit in the far north east of Mali, a place that has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The musician’s work was gaining popularity throughout Europe and North…

What does Morocco want from Mali?

The big story to emerge from the inauguration of Mali’s new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which took place in Bamako’s 26 Mars stadium on September 19th, was the arrival of Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, for the celebrations with a delegation of 300 dignitaries in tow. So stark and brash was the nature of this…

The Ouagadougou Accords – Peace in our time?

An accord between the government of Mali and groups representing the Touareg-led rebellion in the north, primarily the MNLA and HCUA, was signed two days ago in Ougadougou at end of several weeks of intense negotiation. Le Monde has a concise and fairly comprehensive report on this possibly historic event. So is this peace in our time?

Northern Mali – Options, what options??!!

The Rubik’s cube-like complexity of Mali’s problems, especially in the north, presents one of the greatest conflict resolution challenges in recent African history. Success relies on solving a short list of pressing problems, each of which look like a challenge fit for gods not men.

GUNS, CIGARETTES AND SALAFI DREAMS – The roots of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

Mokhtar Belmokhtar

There are facts about Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that are reassuringly hard and verifiable. The organisation exists. It’s run by Algerian Arabs. It’s made a home from home in the north east of Mali, on Tinariwen’s native earth. It earns millions and millions of euros from kidnapping westerners. No one knows exactly how much. Every now and then it chops the head off one of its victims. All in the service of a dream that has become a nightmare for the people of the Sahara