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Released Aug 30, 2011 | WikiLeaks | Edited by CrethiPlethi

Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure followed his annual formal New Year,s greeting to the diplomatic corps with a lengthy private discourse on the problems he is facing in the north of Mali. While acknowledging Mali’s own shortcomings and without mentioning particular nations, in indirect references he voiced considerable frustration with many, in particular Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, Europe, and to a certain extent, the United States.


Source: WikiLeaks

Reference Created Classification Origin
10BAMAKO11 2010-01-07 15:27 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bamako

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAMAKO 000011

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2020
TAGS: ML PGOV PREL PTER
SUBJECT: MALIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES DIPLOMATIC CORPS ON
NORTHERN MALI

Classified By: Classified By: CDA Peter Henry Barlerin, for reasons 1.4
(b) (d).

SUMMARY

¶1. (C) Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT)
followed his annual formal New Year,s greeting to the
diplomatic corps with a lengthy private discourse on the
problems he is facing in the north of Mali. While
acknowledging Mali’s own shortcomings and without mentioning
particular nations, in indirect references he voiced
considerable frustration with many, in particular Algeria,
Mauritania, Niger, Europe, and to a certain extent, the
United States.

PROBLEMS OF THE NORTH

¶2. (C) ATT,s brief formal televised speech touched on
issues ranging from climate change to regional security
challenges (lamenting in particular that he had been so far
unsuccessful in bringing together Sahelian heads of state for
their long-awaited conference). At its conclusion, he
dismissed the media to make a lengthy private address to the
assembled diplomats on the problems of the north, speaking at
times from prepared remarks and at others extemporaneously.

¶3. (C) The threat from drug, cigarette, and other
traffickers is a problem for all of the Saharo-Sahelian
region, which includes Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Libya,
Niger, and Chad. ATT characterized the May 23, 2006 attacks
on military bases in Menaka and Kidal and the December 20,
2008 attack on a Malian military base in Nampala as
essentially traffickers attempting to clear smuggling lanes
across the Sahara desert of security forces. He lamented
the fact that so much attention had been devoted to Tuareg
rebel Ibrahim Bahanga, and the “cause” of the rebel movement,
which he claimed did not represent the Northern Malian
mainstream.

¶4. (C) Mali, with some 700,000 square kilometers of
harsh, inhospitable desert, finds itself as a crossroads.
One of Mali’s great mistakes, ATT said, was to agree to
demilitarize the north following peace agreements with the
Tuareg rebellion in the early 1990s and to reinforce this
move to demilitarize following the Algiers Accords in 2006.
As things now stand, the Malian army is confined to bases in
the cities of Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal. The Government has
failed to set up the special mixed units which were to have
incorporated former Tuareg and Arab rebels.

NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING

¶5. (C) ATT said the government had committed another
error by failing to announce the mid-October discovery of a
Boeing 727 that had been found abandoned and destroyed by
fire at a remote landing strip in Northern Mali, presumably
after carrying drugs. He said that this failure left an open
field for rumor mongers who claimed Malian government
complicity. ATT said that while there may have been
complicity, it was at a low level, and that these claims are
being investigated. Had there been high level complicity,
there were any number of airports which could have been used.
Mali has lodged complaints with Interpol and other
international bodies. To date, he said, the Malian
Government knows nothing about the origins of this plane.

¶6. (C) Regarding the recent indictment of three Malian
citizens in New York, ATT pointed out, rather forcefully,
that the Government of Mali had not been informed. If
asked, the Malian Government would have wanted to participate
in the investigation. Whatever the results are, however,
Mali will cooperate. He said the three suspects appeared to
be simple people who did not seem capable of being involved
in such a conspiracy as was reported in the press.
Note: On January 6, DEA Paris provided electronic copies of
passports, driver licenses, and other documents taken from
the suspects at the time of arrest, as well as permission to

BAMAKO 00000011 002 OF 002

release a copy of the indictment to the Malian authorities.
Charge delivered printouts to Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Secretary General Al-Mamoun Keita. Keita said it would be
very helpful if DEA could send a delegation to Bamako to
brief on the case, and said he would inform the Presidency
immediately of the receipt of the documents. End note.

PROBLEMS WITH NEIGHBORS

¶7. (C) Turning to relations with neighboring countries,
ATT stated that Mauritania, Algeria, and Niger have all been
given authorization to pursue terrorist or criminal elements
crossing their borders into Mali “all the way to Bamako”, if
necessary. He said he does not want Mali to become a
battlefield for other nation’s conflicts. The problems of
terrorism are not Malian problems, but Mali will help within
its means. Mali has already paid a heavy price. The June
10, 2009 assassination of Malian Colonel Lamana Ould Bou,
during which he was shot five times, three in the head, in
front of his wife and children at his home in Timbuktu shows
the kind of people with whom Mali is dealing. The July 4,
2009 ambush of Malian troops was a mistake owing to the
inexperience of the troops, but nevertheless, there are 34
families who lost their major breadwinners. How many orphans
does that make? Mali has paid a very dear price.

¶8. (C) ATT criticized the response of other countries to
hostage takings. He said that with the exception of French
hostage Pierre Camatte, all of the hostages purported to be
held in Northern Mali were kidnapped in other countries, some
from very far afield. And yet, once the hostages disappear
these other countries simply assert that they have been taken
to Northern Mali and wash their hands of all efforts to gain
their liberty. Why is the problem of ransom payments and
release of prisoners only a Malian problem? For my part, he
said, I will never go to the Salafists with sacks of money —
whether it is our own money or someone else’s — because to
do so would only perpetuate the problem. He also criticized
Western news media, who he said did the bidding of the
Salafists by disseminating news about the hostage takers’
demands.

UNWILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE

¶9. (C) ATT said that the joint command center which was to
have been set up in Tamanrassett, Algeria has, as of yet,
failed to be realized. There has been little or no
intelligence sharing among neighbors. He reiterated that the
Malian government has been trying to organize a summit of
heads of state of the Sahelo-Saharan region for a long time
but so far has been unsuccessful. He vowed to keep trying,
“because I have talked about it so much that everyone asks me
when it will take place.”

¶10. (C) ATT said Mali is appreciative of “certain
countries” that have helped provide training, trucks and
other equipment, uniforms, fuel, and food, to support Malian
army troops in the North. Nevertheless, Malians are the ones
not only who have to pay for but also to procure arms and
ammunition. The ultimate solution for security in northern
Mali is development, not military action. ATT said Mali has
to help populations living in areas that are under-governed
or not governed at all to find a way of earning a decent
living within the limits of the law. Mali needs an
effective presence of the national guard, the gendarmerie,
and the police to be able to allow development to take place.

¶11. (C) Comment: ATT,s remarks were a familiar litany of
frustrations with stodgy regional cooperation and a resulting
sense of grievance at a lonely struggle against a problem not
of Mali,s making. His plea for greater development as the
ultimate solution for the north has been annually presented
in recent years by the Foreign Minister with a broad denial
of legitimate security concerns for the conduct of
development activities, making his emphasis on enhanced
security measures a noteworthy and welcome departure.

BARLERIN


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