Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Mali coup is 'spill-over' from EU-led war in Libya

As EU countries face calls to arm rebels in Syria, security experts have noted that the putsch in Mali is partly a consequence of the EU-and-US-sponsored war in Libya.

"What we are seeing in Mali is one of the peripheral, spill-over effects of the removal of [late Libyan leader] Gaddafi," a senior EU diplomat dealing with African security told this website on Tuesday (27 March).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Ex-Gaddafi mercenaries using Libyan arms want to carve out a new domain in north Mali (Photo: BRC)

He explained that soldiers in the west African country seized power because they were unhappy that ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure was sending badly-prepared conscripts to fight losing battles against Touareg tribes in north Mali.

The Touaregs launched a rebellion in January under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. The EU contact said many of them used to work as Gaddafi mercenaries and have come back from Libya with new weapons after looting arsenals and picking up some of the equipment air-dropped for Libyan rebels by anti-Gaddafi-coalition countries, such as France and Qatar.

The Mali putsch leader, captain Amadou Sanogo, was himself trained by the Pentagon and wears a US marine corps pin on his lapel.

The EU source noted that the "Mother's Coup" began after protests by mothers of conscript casualties in the town of Kati, 15km outside Mali's capital, Bamaku. He added that the junta on Tuesday reopened some border crossings mainly to import beer to keep its soldiers happy.

For his part, Gilles Yabi, a Senegal-based analyst for the think tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), told this website: "There's a direct connection between the situation in Mali and the fall of Gaddafi. Libya's borders have not been controlled at all and the flow of weapons out of Libya have not been controlled at all."

The ICG says the Mali coup is a "disaster" because it will help the Touaregs, as well as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) - an Islamist insurgent force also in north Mali - to establish power bases. The EU's counter-terrorism supremo, Gilles de Kerchove, has frequently described AQIM as a prominent threat to European security.

On Libya, the EU source said European diplomats are scared to use roads outside Tripoli and Benghazi due to roaming armed gangs. An EU foreign relations spokesman noted that they fly between the two cities, but said this is mainly to save time.

The Libya spill-over comes amid EU and US soul-searching on how to handle the Syria crisis.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as Syrian opposition group the Syrian National Council, want the West to give arms to Sunni Muslim rebels to help them fight President Bashar Assad's tank and artillery brigades.

With international talks on Syria to resume in Istanbul on 2 April, another security expert told EUobserver that outside forces have already intervened.

Alastair Crooke, a British former MI6 officer who now runs an NGO in Beirut, said Sunni Muslim Gulf states are bringing in Western-made communications equipment and former anti-Gaddafi Libyan fighters into Syria via Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.

"Communications equipment seized [from rebels] in [the Syrian town of] Homs is really state-of-the-art stuff that allows you to make encrypted calls over the Syrian system without being identified ... I am sure of those details," he said.

Crooke poured cold water on reports that Nato countries' special forces are operating in Syria, however.

"It would be too much of a risk to actually put, for instance, CIA officers in Syria. It's not like Libya, where there was a solid base in the Benghazi port and airport and helicopters from ships could take people in and pull them back. If you put serving military personnel into the field you have to be able to exfiltrate them. But if you tried to fly into Syria from Lebanon or Turkey, the Syrians would shoot you down."

Libya slowly coming back to normality, says EU official

Shops are opening on the streets of Tripoli and more women and children are to be seen, EU envoy Agostino Miozzo said Tuesday upon his return from Libya. Weapons proliferation and an array of international aid efforts will be the biggest challenges ahead, however.

EU reviews safety of Libya diplomats

The EU's foreign service is considering whether to temporarily close its office in Benghazi after the killing of the US ambassador to Libya.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides