The signing of a cease-fire with the Malian government could mark the entry secular MNLA rebels in battle.
While French soldiers were working yesterday to drive the Islamists concentrated Diabaly, 400 km north of Bamako, the Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) renewed their offer of support. According to the French Robert Dulas , a specialist Tuareg MNLA close, an agreement is being discussed.
The MNLA is really able to help?
They have the best fighters and they have an extraordinary knowledge of the field. But they have more ammunition and fuel. This is the reason why they did not fight when Gao and Timbuktu were taken. They expect with Westerners. Their position is ideal. They are a force of 1100 to 1200 men. They could take pincer Islamist militias who fled to the south. The opening of the second front would stop the spread of these fighters in the no man's land in Algeria, Niger, Nigeria and Libya.
France is ready to build on this extra strength?
When the fighting will move into the area of the Azawad over Gao and Timbuktu, their help will be needed. Must be familiar with the area to get involved. It's like Afghanistan. Contacts have been made with France, things are finalized. But it is not simple. There are difficulties to help a movement that is still considered a rebel.
Exactly, how can it be associated with an approach that aims to reinstate the territorial integrity of Mali?
MNLA's claims have evolved. Today, he wants an agreement for a more equitable management of northern Mali. A meeting was held in Ouagadougou on January 21 between all parties to the conflict in Mali. It has not been canceled. The MNLA could use that time to meet the Malian authorities and implement a cease-fire. Therefore, nothing would prevent his men to go to war alongside the French troops and ECOWAS. This would be a turning point in the conflict.
A cease-fire between Bamako and the MNLA would fall political tensions with the secular and democratic. The integration of the MNLA within coalition forces would allow Touareg to be with people of Azawad to avoid overflows Malian military as was the case in the past. Tuareg populations, Songhai and Arab northern Mali were never considered by Malian full Bamako.
Who are the fighters MNLA?
They are men of the desert with the principles and values which have always said they were fighting terrorism. There are three or four colonels who have returned from Libya with their teams after the fall of Gaddafi. But for the most part, these are fighters who were close to Ibrahim Ag Bahanga Tuareg rebel leader killed in a road accident in August 2011. Bilal is Acherif Ag, the spiritual son of Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, which is now headed.
What exactly was your role with the MNLA?
I helped to achieve a diplomatic tour to open doors for them in Europe and the United States. It was the people and in particular policies that include the Tuareg MNLA were secular and totally against the implementation of Sharia. In France, they were received at the National Assembly, the Senate, Foreign Affairs and in different departments. They were also able to establish contacts with Nigeria and Algeria. Subsequently, they were perceived differently. Switzerland also has established contacts with them and contributed to the drafting of consensus.