Current Weather
The Spy FM

Malians In The South Want Islamists Out Of The North

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
December 3, 2012

In the southern part of Mali, which includes the capital Bamako, it’s not hard to find people who are angry about the Islamist militants who have taken over the country’s north.

But there’s little reason to believe the Islamists will be ousted soon. The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet this week to discuss plans for a 3,300-strong regional force to enter Mali. But it is unlikely any sort of military operation will take place in the near future.

The West Africa nation was split in two earlier this year, after a military coup toppled the government in Bamako. That left a power vacuum in the north, and the Islamist militants seized a Texas-sized swath of the nation.

On a recent day, 62-year-old Aramata Maiga sat huddled with other women displaced from the north, in a small hall in the center of the capital, sharing a pot of rice. Maiga fled the northern city of Gao when rebels stormed into her home.

“I left Gao because they are killing people over there,” Maiga says. “They are killing soldiers, they are killing citizens. They don’t make a difference among the people. They are killing everyone.”

Aramata owned a shop in Gao, where she sold women’s clothing. The rebels took everything, leaving only the chairs. She now shares a room in Bamako with her five children.

“We are living in hell here in Bamako,” she says. “I am even ready to go and fight myself now just to free my place.”

More than 400,000 people have fled cities in the north of Mali since the coup in March.

The minority Tuareg separatists, nomadic herders who have fought for independence for more than 50 years, initially took control of the region. But they were soon pushed out by al-Qaida linked rebel groups who swept through the vast, cattle herding desert. The Islamists have been accused of looting, raping and imposing strict forms of Sharia law.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the region is a haven that could allow terrorists to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions.

Mariam Cisse left her 10 children in the northern city of Timbuktu. She now lives with nearly 40 other displaced people at a relative’s house, high on a dusty hilltop in the suburbs of Bamako.

“The children are malnourished with lots of sicknesses,” Cisse says. “When the rebels arrived, they raped the girls and took them into the bush to spend months there. There’s nobody there to fight them. We are there on our own.”

Different militia groups say they are intent on starting a civilian rebellion. Disorganized and underfunded, they say if the international community won’t step in, and the Malian army can’t or won’t act, they will go it alone. The people of Mali are also tired of waiting.

“If there is a well-organized force with good training [and] with the right weapons, I think personally I would be with them,” said a mother of three who didn’t want to give her name.

Like many in Mali, she fears speaking openly, but says it is time for Malians to take action themselves.

“They have weapons, and if I have to take a weapon and be in front of them and fight why should I not do it?” she says. “This is my country; I don’t have any other country. I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

The woman says she knows other people, and not just those from the north, who feel the same way. Many in the capital say they are prepared to go to war to reunite the country. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

Listen Live Now!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

12PM to 1PM Fresh Air

Fresh Air

This one-hour program features Terry Gross' in-depth interviews with prominent cultural and entertainment figures, as well as distinguished experts on current affairs and news.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center