Roundup on Mali’s Iyad Ag Ghali

The northern Malian Tuareg leader Iyad Ag Ghali has had a long and complex career. He is currently the head of Ansar al Din (Arabic: “Defenders of the Faith”), part of the Islamist coalition that controls northern Mali and a player in negotiations with the Economic Community of West African States. Throughout 2012, as crises have unfolded in Mali, news organizations, analysts, and other actors have profiled Iyad Ag Ghali with an eye towards attempting to understanding the role he plays in those crises, and the role he might play in Mali’s political future. Here are some key English-language biographical resources on the man and his career:

  • Wikipedia page.
  • At New York University’s The Revealer, Joe McKnight’s four-part series on Iyad Ag Ghali: read part one, part two, part three, and part four.
  • BBC (July 17, 2012): “Iyad Ag Ghaly – Mali’s Islamist Leader.”
  • France24 (June 29, 2012): “Mali’s Whisky-Drinking Rebel Turned Islamist Chief.”
  • AFP (April 5, 2012): “Mali Rebel Iyad Ag Ghaly: Inscrutable Master of the Desert.”
  • Foreign Policy (October 22, 2012): “The Man Who Brought the Black Flag to Timbuktu.”
  • Peter Beaumont (October 27, 2012): “The Man Who Could Determine Whether the West Is Drawn into Mali’s War.”
  • International Crisis Group (July 18 2012): “Iyad Ag Ghali’s Thwarted Personal Ambitions and the Islamist Agenda.” (pp. 12-13 in “Mali: Avoiding Escalation.”)

And a few French-language resources:

  • Slate Afrique (April 6, 2012): “Iyad Ag Ghaly, le Nouveau Maître Islamiste du Nord.”
  • RFI (July 18, 2012): “Au Mali, Iyad Ag Ghali Cherche à Redorer Son Image.”
  • Jeune Afrique (June 7, 2012): “Iyad Ag Ghali, la Charia a Tout Prix.”

What do you make of this man?


Africa News Roundup: Refugees in Darfur, Clinton and Nigeria, Meles Zenawi, Kenya’s Elections, and More


All 25,000 people living in a refugee camp in Sudan’s Darfur region have fled amid fighting between armed militia groups and Sudanese government forces, U.N. officials said Friday.

Many of the refugees have sought shelter in nearby Kutum town or the Zariba area, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said, but lack water, food and sanitation.


A UNAMID statement Monday said the violence began after an incident on August 1, when three armed men carjacked the local district commissioner and his driver and shot them dead.
“Subsequently, on the same day armed men surrounded Kassab, looted the market, burnt down the Sudanese Police post in the camp and reportedly killed four persons (three civilians and one police officer) and injured six others,” the statement said.
Security continued to deteriorate over the following days in Kutum town, Kassab camp and another camp, Fataborno, “including fighting between the armed elements and government forces, as well as looting and displacement of civilians,” it said.

Map of Kutum. And a story from IRIN: “Chad: Darfur’s Forgotten Refugees.”

A New York Times editorial on the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan:

Sooner rather than later, both sides also have to deal with even more fundamental challenges: improving governance, ending human rights violations and eradicating corruption. Sudan and South Sudan are inextricably intertwined. If the two can carry out the [recently announced oil transit] fee deal, they will have a better chance to resolve other critical issues.

AP reports that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Nigerian security officials to  “create an ‘intelligence fusion cell’ that would combine information from the military, spy services, police and other federal, state and local agencies.” The US is apparently ready to enhance its intelligence cooperation with Nigeria.

A video is circulating showing French hostages held by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole traveled to northern Mali this week to meet with Iyad Ag Ghali, leader of the Islamist militia Ansar al Din.

As rumors of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death circulate, the Ethiopian government says Meles will return from his sick leave in September. Think Africa Press asks, “What Might A Post-Meles Era Bring?”

Arrests of journalists in Djibouti.


Kenya needs to improve security to ensure that voters are not deterred by recent grenade and gun attacks and threats by a coastal separatist movement to disrupt the election due next March, the head of the electoral commission said on Friday.

What else is happening today?