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Day to day posts on this site.

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.

What do the Touareg want?

Camel procession Essouk 2007 (c) Andy Morgan

A nation or people rarely if ever think as one. In the case of the Touareg, difference and disharmony is exacerbated by their vast desert habitat and dispersed nomadic lifestyle

The sandstorm of war in northern Mali

The situation along the demarcation line that separates Islamist-held northern Mali from the south of the country is agonizingly confusing. How can we look through the sandstorm that surrounds the current Islamist advance south towards Mopti and the Malian heartlands.

Ansar ud-Dine speak out…at last!

Iyad Ag Ghali - Leader of Ansar ud-Dine

Ansar ud-Dine speak up…at last! The Touareg lead mujahedeen group currently controlling large tracts of northern Mali have finally posted their ‘Political Platform’, on their website. It’s one of the most illuminating and troubling documents that I’ve read so far during this entire crisis.

Algeria plays a master’s game in northern Mali

A few days ago, the pro-Azawad website Toumast Press reported that Algerian army personnel were in Gao training fighters belonging to Ansar ud-Dine and MUJAO,  the Islamist militia who recently drove the Touareg separatist  MNLA from the city.  They also reported that the Algerians have been sending heavy weaponry to the city under the guise…

Have we seen the last of One Eyed Jack?

Since the accords between the NMLA and Ansar Eddine were rejected by the NMLA political leadership at the end of May, it’s been fascinating, if not painful, to watch the contortions of the NMLA leadership as they attempted to accommodate Ansar Eddine, a movement with which they had plenty in common ethnically, but very little ideologically or strategically.

LETTER TO THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS – Make ’em happy to pay!

Here’s a letter I just wrote to the London Review of Books in response to an excellent essay on the future of the newspaper industry by John Lanchester, which you can read here: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n24/john-lanchester/let-us-pay Dear LRB, This excellent essay is a very good example why good print journalism should, must, nay, will, I believe, survive.  …

HAITI – Tap tap magic

Haiti Tap Tap

The Tap Tap is the local transport in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti.  As the country struggles with every cataclysm and curse known to a nation, it’s public transport system remains one of the beautiful in the world.  How about that for a paradox?! Tap Taps are decorated with a baffling mix of…