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Islamists on the March in Mali: Canada sends 1 cargo plane

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Fowler warns of ‘absolute chaos’ if Mali violence escalates

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Published Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 12:03PM EST

Last Updated Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 10:25PM EST

Canada will send "logistical" support to French forces fighting Islamist militants in Mali, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday, but critics like former diplomat Robert Fowler are urging Ottawa to play a bigger role before the conflict escalates.

Harper said Canada will send a Royal Canadian Air Force C-17 cargo plane to Mali for a period of one week – on direct request from France.

Fowler, who was held captive by al Qaeda members in the region for five months, said he was “disappointed” by the announcement.

“I would have wished for more,” Fowler, who was kidnapped in December 2008, told CTV’s Power Play.

Al Qaeda-linked military extremists have been battling with government forces in Mali since a military coup last March, and now control much of the country's north, including the garrison town of Diabaly, which was taken on Monday despite an intense bombardment by French special forces.

"The establishment of a terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of grave concern to the broader international community, including Canada and our close allies," Harper said in a statement Monday.

He said Canada will help France with logistical support for future missions designed to shut down the rebels' advancement, though Canadian servicemen and women will not take on a combat role.

Harper said the French government requested heavy-lift aircraft support from Canada on Monday, in order to transport equipment to the Malian capital of Bamako, which lies about 400 kilometres from the fighting.

"The Government of Canada will support our allies in this request and will be providing one RCAF C-17 transport aircraft in a non-combat role to support operations for a period of one week," Harper said. "The RCAF aircraft will not operate in any combat zone."

But Fowler said stronger military intervention is necessary in Mali to prevent terrorists there from fanning out to other parts of Africa.

“My captors told me exactly what their game plan was,” Fowler said.

Their objective was to “spread the chaos, anarchy and turmoil” from Somalia’s coast on the Indian Ocean to Africa’s Atlantic coast, he said.

“One 8,000-kilometre band across the fattest part of Africa of absolute chaos,” Fowler said.

“If it does happen, we will have a humanitarian emergency the like of which will make Darfur look like a very small thing and then we will have to intervene. It’s easier to intervene sooner, rather than later and more expensively.”

Harper said Canada will also continue to provide humanitarian and development assistance funding to Mali.

"While the Government of Canada is not -- and will not be -- considering a direct Canadian military mission in Mali, Canada is prepared, consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution, to provide limited and clearly defined logistical support to assist the forces that are intervening in Mali," he said.

Earlier Monday, the French embassy in Bamako ordered the immediate evacuation of all French nationals from the town of Segou, which lies about 80 kilometres from the now militant-occupied town of Diabaly.

Last week, Harper met with Thomas Boni Yayi, president of the Republic of Benin and chairman of the African Union. The African leader called on NATO to join the African Union troops currently stationed in Mali.

In December the United Nations Security Council supported a proposal to send an African-led force of 3,000 troops into Mali, but also called for broader international support for the initiative.

Read more:http://www.ctvnews.c...8#ixzz2I0yiFBbt

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Guess you didn't hear, but the lockout is over.

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If the U.S won't go in, other common wealth countries won't go in. Also there is no economic interest for the united States to help out because those countries have no resources. This is exactly why the United States is a corrupt country. They go to Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq. Oil rich countries. But for Syria, Mali, nothing. shortly after Libya was taken down, US Troops goes in, "protects the Oil rigs from terrorists" in Libya. frack you USA.

Thank the French army for providing assistance. A country like the US, should be helping out Mali, a country that really needs assistance. I don't expect Canada to help out in a milatery way.

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If the U.S won't go in, other common wealth countries won't go in. Also there is no economic interest for the united States to help out because those countries have no resources. This is exactly why the United States is a corrupt country. They go to Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq. Oil rich countries. But for Syria, Mali, nothing. shortly after Libya was taken down, US Troops goes in, "protects the Oil rigs from terrorists" in Libya. frack you USA.

Thank the French army for providing assistance. A country like the US, should be helping out Mali, a country that really needs assistance. I don't expect Canada to help out in a milatery way.

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So France is the new USA now, meddling in other countries internal matters?

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If the U.S won't go in, other common wealth countries won't go in. Also there is no economic interest for the united States to help out because those countries have no resources. This is exactly why the United States is a corrupt country. They go to Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq. Oil rich countries. But for Syria, Mali, nothing. shortly after Libya was taken down, US Troops goes in, "protects the Oil rigs from terrorists" in Libya. frack you USA.

Thank the French army for providing assistance. A country like the US, should be helping out Mali, a country that really needs assistance. I don't expect Canada to help out in a milatery way.

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If the U.S won't go in, other common wealth countries won't go in. Also there is no economic interest for the united States to help out because those countries have no resources. This is exactly why the United States is a corrupt country. They go to Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq. Oil rich countries. But for Syria, Mali, nothing. shortly after Libya was taken down, US Troops goes in, "protects the Oil rigs from terrorists" in Libya. frack you USA.

Thank the French army for providing assistance. A country like the US, should be helping out Mali, a country that really needs assistance. I don't expect Canada to help out in a milatery way.

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Afghanistan is not oil rich. The USA did not spearhead the operation in Libya and sent minimal support. In the last 15 years, the USA has sent troops to Somalia, Chad, Nigeria, Sierra Leonne, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Haiti, etc... Many of these countries have few resources. Military support did not help.

Do you really think it would best for the people of Mali for the US to invade? Or is it likely to just turn the country into a mess and result in a huge backlash agaisnt the USA? Is recognizing this "corruption"? Basically your argument is if the USA goes in they are a corrupt imperial nation. If the USA stays out they are a corrupt nation that only goes in to secure resources.

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Jeezus this Harper is an interventionist nutjob.

He'll have us on the Islamist crap list yet.

I really wish we could summon the will to make this guy go away.

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like who? Russia?

I never said invade Mali, but to help out, fight terrorists. A war The country has declared on against, long time ago.

Canucks.com is so good at saying, "Get their before China does."

HIilarious.

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The US declared "war on terrorism" .. does this not quality as "terrorism"?? .. if so, are they not being remiss in taking action? .. even a few drones to take out the "rebels" leadership? .. all in a days killing, no?? .. c'mon Brenner .. nuke em ..

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There should be an intervention (in fact there is aleady an UN resolution for it) - the world shouldn't allow Mali to turn into yet another terrorist hotbed. However, US foreign policy under Obama is not the same as the Neo-con led Bush years - he seems quite happy to let NATO allies take charge while providing support. While I am sure the flag waving hawks who with the "USA #1" signs (who also moans about deficits) would not be pleased, I think given the US economic realities, its probably the right thing to do...

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1 plane is better than 0 but this is embarassing. Just 1 plane?

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The situation is dire it seems.

Humanitarian situation in Mali deteriorates after latest wave of fighting – UN

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43924&Cr=+mali+&Cr1=#'>

15 January 2013 – The latest round of military clashes over the weekend between the Malian army and radical Islamist groups have sparked a new wave of displacement and led to a worsening of the humanitarian situation in the North African country, the United Nations warned today.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (), more than 30,000 people fled their homes over the weekend, coinciding with the declaration of a state of emergency by the Government and the beginning of a French air operation in support of the Malian army, bringing the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to over 200,000.

“The degradation of the sanitation, shelter, health and food security conditions which has been observed over the last nine months in the North is likely to be aggravated as the number of IDPs increases,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, after which the country underwent a military coup d’état, in March.

The renewed fighting comes at a time when OCHA estimates that 4.2 million Malians will need humanitarian assistance this year. These include some 2 million food insecure people and hundreds of thousands of malnourished children.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees () stressed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to access areas in the North as fighting continues. In Bamako, the capital, many families are struggling to make ends meet as the security situation deteriorates.

“Many families live in small rooms in bad conditions with no electricity or direct access to water. They generally lack space to accommodate all family members. The needs for money, food and shelter are huge,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards, adding that the agency is in the process of working with partners on income-generating activities to ameliorate the situation.

UNCHR is also assisting Malians who have left their country for neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania by providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene structures, healthcare and education.

“Refugees are telling us they fled the ongoing military intervention, the absence of subsistence opportunities and basic services, and the imposition of Sharia Law,” Mr. Edwards said. He added that UNHCR remains short of funds for the Mali crisis with only $77.4 million received of the $123 million sought to help refugees and IDPs in 2012. For 2013, the agency anticipates needs at a further $195.6 million.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme () warned that chronic problems of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country will only be worsened by the conflict. The agency has so far managed to move emergency food to 270,000 conflict-affected people in the North, including 70,000 IDPs. However, it states that persistent insecurity is severely limiting its work.

WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs added that the agency would continue to monitor the situation and work closely with its partners to reach more than 400,000 crisis-affected people in the cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, which have been some of the most affected areas.

As the number of displaced people increased, there is also a growing concern for children as they are at high risk of being separated from their families and are more vulnerable to many forms of abuse, including military recruitment and sexual violence, noted the UN Children’s Fund ().

“A major concern is of children being used in the fighting,” said UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado. “Children were often used in the first wave of fighting, which significantly raised the risk of injury and death.”

In addition to humanitarian concerns, there is also a need to protect the country’s cultural sites, which have previously been attacked during the fighting. The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (), Irina Bokova, today launched an to all military forces in Mali “to make every effort to protect the cultural heritage of the country, which has already been severely damaged.”

In anticipation of military operations, Ms. Bokova mobilized the agency’s Emergency Fund to protect the four sites in Mali that are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Efforts include developing preventive measures and the training of armed forces on the prevention of illicit trafficking.

UNESCO has already provided the topographic features relative to the location of sites to the concerned military staff, as well as information for soldiers to prevent damage to cultural heritage. The information has been shared with police and aid workers.

“Mali’s cultural heritage is a jewel whose protection is important for the whole of humanity. This is our common heritage, nothing can justify damaging it. It carries the identity and values of a people,” Ms. Bokova said.

“The destruction of World Heritage sites in Mali in 2012, especially the mausoleums in Timbuktu, sparked a wave of indignation across the world, helping to raise awareness of the critical situation facing the Malian people. The current military intervention must protect people and secure the cultural heritage of Mali,” she added.

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getting sick and tired of islamists...

a plague infecting humanity. these are the same vermin the west blindly supported to overthrow gadaffi. Look at the failed state libya has become now.

its a little ironic. islamist trash are allies in syria, libya, enemies in mali, afghanistan, iraq. and this isnt past historical examples, this is today, right now.

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Brace for retaliation???

Islamic terrorists linked to al Qaeda attacked an Algerian gas facility Wednesday, killing one British and one French worker and taking numerous hostages possibly including seven Americans.

A spokesman for the group, Qatiba, which translates as Those Who Sign with Their Blood, told Mauritanian news web site Sahara Media Agency that jihadists seized the gas facility at In Mounas in eastern Algeria and took hostages.

The group said the attack was in retaliation for Algeria's decision to allow French aircraft to use its airspace in its military intervention in Mali that began last week.

The spokesperson, pictured in a black turban and an automatic weapon in front of a jihadist flag, said his group was holding 41 foreigners hostage including seven Americans, as well as French, British and Japanese nationals. He said that seven of the hostages were being held in the sites' factory and 36 in the residential area of the oil refinery.

The spokesman added that there were 400 Algerian soldiers on site, but said his group had not targeted the soldiers in their attack. None of the information from the Mauritanian site could be independently verified.

Norwegian oil company Statoil and British company BP confirmed their facilities at In Amenas in southeastern Algerian came under attack at 5 a.m. local time Wednesday.

"Contact with the site is extremely difficult, but we understand that armed individuals are still occupying the operations site," said BP spokesman Robert Wine.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said State was in touch with Algeria about the attack.

"The best information we have at this time is that U.S. citizens are among the hostages," Nuland told the Washington Post.

The French and British governments confirmed that two citizens from their countries had been killed. Japan said some of their citizens were involved as well. A Norwegian woman said her husband called her saying he had been taken hostage.

Six were wounded in the attack, including two foreigners, two police officers and two security agents, Algeria's state news agency reported.

Algerian forces surrounded the kidnappers and were negotiating for the release of the hostages, an Algerian security official based in the region told the Associated Press, adding that the militants had come from Mali. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Hundreds of Algerians work at the plant and were taken in the attack but the state news agency reported that they have gradually been released in small groups.

Wednesday's attack began with the ambush of a bus carrying employees from the gas plant to the nearby airport but the attackers were driven off, according to the Algerian government, which said three vehicles of heavily armed men were involved.

"After their failed attempt, the terrorist group headed to the complex's living quarters and took a number of workers with foreign nationalities hostage," said the statement.

Al-Qaeda's influence in the poorly patrolled desert wastes of southern Algeria and northern Mali and Niger has grown and it operates smuggling and kidnapping networks throughout the area. Militant groups that seized control of northern Mali already hold seven French hostages as well as four Algerian diplomats.

The natural gas field where the attack occurred is more than 600 miles from the Mali border and 60 miles from Libya's deserts.

BP, together with Norwegian company Statoil and the Algerian state oil company, Sonatrach, operate the gas field. A Japanese company, JGC Corp, provides services for the facility as well.

Statoil spokesman Lars Christian Bacher said the company had 13 Norwegian employees and a Canadian on the site and two of them have suffered minor injuries, but he would not comment about the situation of the others.

Algeria's strong security forces have struggled for years against Islamist extremists, and have in recent years managed to nearly snuff out violence by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb around its home base in northern Algeria. In the meantime, AQIM moved its focus southward.

AQIM has made tens of millions of dollars off kidnapping in the region, abducting Algerian businessmen or political figures, and sometimes foreigners, for ransom.
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