[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
THE TUAREG REVOLT AND THE MALI COUP
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH,
AND HUMAN RIGHTS
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
JUNE 29, 2012
Serial No. 112-173
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois BRAD SHERMAN, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
RON PAUL, Texas RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
MIKE PENCE, Indiana ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
CONNIE MACK, Florida THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska DENNIS CARDOZA, California
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
TED POE, Texas BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
DAVID RIVERA, Florida KAREN BASS, California
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
ROBERT TURNER, New York
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director
Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska KAREN BASS, California
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
ROBERT TURNER, New York
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State,
Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State............ 5
The Honorable Earl Gast, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for
Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development.............. 16
Mr. Nii Akuetteh, independent Africa analyst (former Georgetown
University professor of African affairs)....................... 32
Mr. Rudolph Atallah, senior fellow, Michael S. Ansari Center,
Atlantic Council............................................... 42
Mr. Dave Peterson, senior director, Africa, National Endowment
for Democracy.................................................. 57
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Johnnie Carson: Prepared statement................. 8
The Honorable Earl Gast: Prepared statement...................... 18
Mr. Nii Akuetteh: Prepared statement............................. 34
Mr. Rudolph Atallah: Prepared statement.......................... 45
Mr. Dave Peterson: Prepared statement............................ 60
Hearing notice................................................... 68
Hearing minutes.................................................. 69
The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress
from the State of New Jersey, and chairman, Subcommittee on
Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights: Written statement by
Michael Gabaudan, M.D., President, Refugees International...... 70
Written response from the Honorable Johnnie Carson to question
submitted for the record by the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas............. 76
Questions submitted for the record by the Honorable Christopher
H. Smith and written responses from:
The Honorable Johnnie Carson................................... 77
Mr. Nii Akuetteh............................................... 80
Mr. Rudolph Atallah............................................ 86
Mr. Dave Peterson.............................................. 89
THE TUAREG REVOLT AND THE MALI COUP
FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health,
and Human Rights,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 o'clock
a.m., in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon.
Christopher H. Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Smith. Good morning. The hearing will come to order.
Today's hearing will examine current U.S. policy and U.S.
policy options in response to the recent military coup in
Malawi and the larger revolt of the Tuareg people in Northern
The Tuaregs have been in conflict with the Central
Government in Bamako, Mali for many years, but following the
service of some Tuaregs as mercenaries for the late Muammar
Ghadafi of Libya, the acquisition of more sophisticated weapons
from the Libyan conflict and increasing ties to al-Qaeda in the
Islamic Maghreb, they now pose a danger, not only to Mali, but
also to Algeria, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and perhaps
Meanwhile, Mali, in recent years, has been a model of
African democracy, now finds itself struggling to resurrect
democratic governance and put the military back in its proper
role as part of the government. The downfall of Mali's
democracy could have a negative impact on the future of Mali as
well as the entire Sahel region of Africa.
Amadou Toumani Toure, popularly known as ATT, led a
military coup in 1991 that created a transitional government
and democratic elections in 1992. Mali's growing reputation for
democratic rule was enhanced in 2002 when President Alpha Oumar
Konare, having served the two terms permitted under the
Constitution, stepped down, and ATT, running as an independent
and leveraging his reputation as Mali's soldier of democracy,
was elected President.
Unfortunately, two issues eroded ATT's initial popularity.
The first was a political system in which there appears to have
been incentives for corruption. Certainly, there was a growing
public perception that the system was corrupt. The second was
popular anger toward the government's handling of the Tuareg
rebellion in the North. Weeks of protests at the government's
response to the Northern rebellion dropped ATT's popularity to
a new low.
On March 21, 2012, mutinying Malian soldiers displeased
with the management of the Tuareg rebellion, attacked several
locations in the capital of Bamako, including the Presidential
Palace, state television, and military barracks. The soldiers
said they had formed the National Committee for the Restoration
of Democracy and State, and declared the following day that
they had overthrown the government. This forced ATT into
As a consequence of the instability following the coup,
Mali's three largest northern cities, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu
were overrun by the rebels on 3 consecutive days. On April 5,
2012, after the capture of the town of Duwenza, the National
Movement for Liberation of Azawad, or the MNLA, said that it
had accomplished its goals and called off its offensive.
The following day, it proclaimed independence of their
homeland, Azawad, from Mali. The Islamic Group, Ansar al-Dine,
was later part of the rebellion, claiming control of swaths of
territory, although this control was disputed by the MNLA. On
May 26, 2012, the MNLA and Ansar al-Dine announced that they
had signed a pact to join their respective territories and form
an Islamic state.
Will this alliance last? Perhaps not. The MNLA is an
offshoot of a previous nationalist political movement and is
dedicated to a separate homeland for the Tuaregs and Moors who
comprise its membership. Ansar al-Dine, whose name means
``Defenders of Faith,'' is an Islamic group believed to have
links with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Islamic
Ansar al-Dine is dedicated to establishing Shariah law, not
only in Azawad, but also in the rest of Mali as well. Disputes
between the two groups already have resulted in gunfire
involving the supposed allies. As we hold this hearing, the
Economic Community of West African States, the African Union,
and the United Nations are discussing the viability of a
peacekeeping mission in Mali.
Such a mission would look to secure and protect civilian
institutions and help restructure the Mali military. However,
it will also focus on the situation in the North, which will be
a tremendously sensitive matter, especially if the mission of
the peacekeeping force is to retake territory from the MNLA and
Ansar al-Dine. To add further to the problematic nature of the
response of the Mali coup, and the Tuareg revolt, there is the
matter of providing humanitarian aid to the 210,000 Malian
refugees in Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Algeria.
Another 167,000 Malians are internally displaced. Many of
them are in remote areas and are difficult to reach with food
and medical supplies. There is the question of how effective
our aid efforts will be in such a challenging situation. But no
matter how difficult this matter is to address, there are too
many people affected for the United States to fail to provide
leadership in the effort to solve this political, and social,
and humanitarian crisis.
To discuss this effort, to devise a satisfactory solution
to a problematic situation, we have a very distinguished panel
of leaders, and in a moment, we will introduce them, but it is
my privilege and honor to yield such time as she may consume to
the ranking member, Ms. Bass.
Ms. Bass. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I especially want to thank
you for working with me today to hold today's hearing on the
very serious developments that are unfolding in Mali and the
Sahel. While we have held recent hearings on the economic
growth and investment opportunities that exist across the
continent as a result of AGOA, we turn our focus today to a
country and region in the midst of a crisis and one that
requires our focused attention.
Thank you as well for your continued leadership and I look
forward to working with you on this and other issues as we
touch upon, not only the continent's challenges, but the very
real opportunities that showcase Africa's rise and continued
emergence on the global stage.
Prior to the current crisis in Mali, many considered the
country a bright star in West Africa. Mali had been holding
free and fair elections since 1991 and Foreign Affairs extolled
the Malian Government as a ``reassuring symbol of Africa's
commitment to democracy.'' The United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights has also made positive remarks on Mali's
democracy, saying that Mali had a ``good record of democratic
elections over the last two decades.'' The U.S. Government
developed a strong and positive relationship with Bamako, and
our teams worked diligently on a range of efforts from
development to regional security. This, unfortunately, all came
to an abrupt and unfortunate halt in the brutal and bloody
events in late March.
Before the coup, Mali was an important partner in the
Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership. The Partnership was
established to strengthen regional government capacity to
address the growing threats posed by terrorists and extremist
groups, particularly those in the northern part of Mali,
including, and importantly, AQIM.
Our bilateral efforts through USAID were significant,
focusing on good governance, agricultural development, health,
education, and security assistance. The Millenium Challenge
Corporation also had significant investments. The MCC compact
was intended to serve as a catalyst for sustainable economic
growth and poverty reduction through key infrastructure
developments, including the Bamako-Senou International Airport,
a gateway for regional and international trade, and the Niger
River for irrigated agriculture.
These and other programs have been terminated due to legal
restrictions placed on countries that are experiencing, or have
undergone, non-peaceful or non-democratic transitions, and I
look forward to your testimony to see the impact of that
interruption in support. This has resulted, of course, in the
immediate halting of approximately $160 million in State
Department and USAID-administered aid, a gap that adds negative
pressure to an already dire situation.
Since the March coup, I have followed very closely what is
an expanding and complex set of events that has involved
numerous players and a constellation of actors and interests.
If there is to be sustained peace and stability in Bamako,
Northern Mali, and the broader region, I believe concerted
diplomatic efforts must be brought to bear in response to this
evolving crisis. All efforts must be made to get Mali back on
track toward a democratically-elected government. This must
include setting a realistic date for elections.
I urge our colleagues at the State Department and our
international partners to redouble efforts toward a mediated
solution, while working closely to preserve the unity and
territorial integrity of Mali. I believe Secretary Clinton and
Ambassador Rice have been unequivocal on this point.
I also want to express deep concern for the conflict in the
North, including what appear to be the advancing interests of
AQIM as well as the emboldened Tuareg movement.
With the fall of Tripoli, the flight of hundreds of
thousands from Libya, and the coup in Bamako, a political and
military vacuum has created conditions that have taken a deadly
turn. This includes the imposition of harsh Sharia law on local
populations and I hope that our panelists will address that to
the extent that that is happening and what is going on.
CRS reports that ``increasingly brazen presence of AQIM
commanders in Northern Mali, along with unconfirmed reports of
fighters from Nigeria and Pakistan, have raised acute regional
and Western concerns that Mali could become a launching pad for
transnational terrorist attacks.'' Some of these groups appear
ready to cut ties with AQIM and some of the more extreme
elements. We must work with our international partners toward a
solution that sees the disassociation of these ties and the
start of negotiations.
ECOWAS, the U.N., and others are leading efforts toward
addressing these very serious concerns extolled by various
factions. In closing, let me briefly highlight my serious
concern for the humanitarian crisis that is compounding a grim
and difficult reality throughout the Sahel. Refugees
International, Save the Children, Human Rights Watch reports
claim that armed conflict in Mali has compounded an already
desperate humanitarian situation in the Sahel, where over a
175,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
To date, the political and humanitarian crisis has led
325,000 people to flee their homes and a 180,000 to cross
borders to seek safety and basic access to food and water.
Fifty-nine percent of these refugees are children. Various
agencies have quickly scaled up its operations to address this
crisis, but additional resources are critical for an effective
and prompt delivery of aid, and hopefully also, you will
address that in terms of the interruption and the potential
impact on this.
I understand it is not supposed to be interrupted in this
area, but maybe you could address that. Displaced persons in
Northern Mali are particularly at risk as rebel groups have
prevented aid groups from operating in the region. Protection
and security concerns are also looming as frequent banditry,
kidnappings, and attacks on displaced populations and their
host communities threaten to undermine an already fragile
Humanitarian assistance must be accompanied with long-term
solutions that address the varied and complex threats that food
insecurity, climate change, and regional instability presents
in the Sahel region. Thank you and I look forward to today's
Mr. Smith. Ms. Bass, thank you very much. I would like to
now introduce our very distinguished panel, beginning first
with Johnnie Carson. Ambassador Johnnie Carson has been a
frequent witness before this subcommittee. He currently serves
as Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African
Affairs, a position he has held since May 2009. Ambassador
Carson has a long and distinguished career in public service,
including 37 years in the foreign service, including time as
Ambassador to Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
Ambassador Carson has also served as the staff director of
this subcommittee and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.
Ambassador Carson is also the recipient of numerous awards for
his service from the State Department.
We will then hear from Earl Gast, who is making his first
appearance before our subcommittee since taking over his
current post. He is USAID's Assistant Administrator for Africa
and has a 21-year career working with USAID and leading
development programming, especially in post-conflict in
transitioning societies. Prior to his position, Mr. Gast served
in Afghanistan, Columbia, Eastern Europe, and Rome. Mr. Gast
was also one of the first USAID employees stationed in Iraq.
He played an equally important role in developing the post-
crisis strategy for Kosovo, monitoring all mission operations,
most prominently, he received the agency award for heroism and
distinguished unit award. Thank you for your service and,
Ambassador Carson, if you would proceed.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHNNIE CARSON, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF STATE, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Ambassador Carson. Mr. Chairman, thank you very, very much
for the kind introduction and thank you also for holding this
very important hearing. I also want to acknowledge the presence
of the ranking member on the subcommittee, Congresswoman Bass,
and also Congressman Turner. We appreciate your support, and
assistance, and your interest in Africa.
Mali today is grappling with four overlapping crises that
have compromised its stability as well as the security of
neighboring countries in the Sahel. Mali is struggling to
restore democracy and constitutional rule, to bring an end to
the political rebellion of the Tuareg people, to actively
combat the radical Islamic threat posed by AQIM and Ansar al-
Dine, and to respond effectively to an expanding humanitarian
crisis in the northern part of the country.
A military coup d'etat on March 21 broke Mali's 20-year
tradition of democracy. In the aftermath, Tuareg groups that
were leading a rebellion in the North of the country since
January, used the political crisis to effectively partition the
country in two. The terrorism threat with which Mali had been
struggling prior to the outbreak of the rebellion has grown as
al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, and other
extremist groups have taken advantage of the power vacuum that
exists in the northern part of Mali.
Finally, the fighting and resulting instability has
exacerbated the situation of food and security in Mali and the
Sahel, and more than 370,000 Malians have been displaced. These
problems challenge not only the countries in the region, but
also run counter to U.S. principles of good governance,
civilian control over the military, and respect for human
rights. In addition, the vast territory of Northern Mali
provides a haven for AQIM and other extremist groups that may
prove increasingly effective at targeting Western interests.
These challenges are interrelated, yet the urgency of the
situation demands that we address them simultaneously. Our
engagement on Mali is based on two pillars of the
administration's African policy--strengthening democratic
institutions and advancing peace and security. We also support
the principle of regional ownership in the belief that
sustainable solutions can only be derived from communication
and cooperation with those most directly affected by the
On the political crisis, we are maintaining pressure on the
coup leaders and the military to respect civilian leadership,
to withdraw completely from politics, and to permit the full
restoration of a democratically-elected government. At the same
time, we are supporting the interim government in holding
Presidential elections before the end of the interim
government's mandate in May 2013, as no lasting solution to the
problems in Northern Mali will be possible without a legitimate
interlocutor in Bamako.
We believe the Tuareg rebellion is largely a political
problem that requires addressing the legitimate and
longstanding grievances of the Tuareg groups in Northern Mali.
We support regional and international efforts to negotiate a
resolution with these groups who have expressed a willingness
to enter into dialog with the Malian Government. We reaffirm
our commitment to the unity and the territorial integrity of
Mali and will provide unequivocal support for a negotiated
settlement along those principles.
The key to successfully containing the insecurity emanating
from Mali will be to immediately strengthen regional partners,
such as Mauritania, Niger, and Algeria, and in the longer term,
to work closely on a common international political approach to
legitimize, and then to strengthen the political and security
forces inside of Mali itself.
The humanitarian crisis will require a sustained and
coordinated response from the international community. We have
provided more than $315 million in humanitarian and food
assistance to those displaced by the conflict in the North and
those affected by the region's food crisis. We have provided
$13.5 million in support to the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of
the Red Cross, and other U.N. agencies to address the needs of
We are urging host countries to maintain their hospitality
toward Malian refugees and to maintain the principle of first
asylum. While the United States Government has made positive
strides in working with regional neighbors to resolve this
conflict, the ongoing and overlapping conflicts outlined above
are far from being resolved. If Mali is going to effectively
counter the Tuareg rebellion, the terrorist threats in the
North, and return to a democratic example in the region, it
will require sustained and dedicated efforts from the United
States Government as well as those in the international
Specifically, we will need to provide assistance consistent
with U.S. law to increase economic and development assistance,
and provide economic opportunities to disaffected young
populations across Northern Mali. We will need to continue to
build the capacity of Mali's neighbors to control and protect
their borders. Finally, we will need to help build resilience
in Mali's democratic institutions so that they are better able
to represent the Malian people and to withstand the kinds of
pressures that they have come under in the recent past.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear
before you this morning. This is a summary of my longer
statement, which you and the other committee members have.
Mr. Smith. And without objection, it will be made a part of
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Carson follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. I have to announce there are two votes on the
floor right now. We will take a very short recess and then come
back and hear Mr. Gast. Mr. Ambassador, thank you for your
Ambassador Carson. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. The subcommittee will resume its sitting. And,
Mr. Gast, again, I apologize for the delay, but the floor is
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EARL GAST, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR,
BUREAU FOR AFRICA, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Gast. Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and
Congressman Turner, thank you for inviting me to speak with you
today. We are deeply concerned about the ongoing situation in
Mali, the immediate threat to human lives and safety, prospects
for a peaceful and democratic society, and future opportunities
for economic prosperity. I would like to provide an update on
the current situation and how it has affected our development
program as well as outline the key factors that are needed for
development to progress.
Mali is facing a complex emergency that consists of a
political crisis, a major drought, and threats to internal and
regional security. These interrelated crises call for a careful
and comprehensive response. It is important to emphasize that
the situation in Mali is fluid and dynamic. Though we are
closely monitoring the situation and consulting with other
donors and key stakeholders, it is extremely difficult to get a
complete picture of the situation in the North.
As of early-June, 4.6 million persons throughout Mali are
facing food insecurity. It is estimated that more than 159,000
persons are displaced within Mali and an additional 182,000
have fled to neighboring Niger, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso.
In the North, violence and division are exacerbating the food
crisis and access to medicine and health services is
practically non-existent. Government revenues are one-quarter
the level they were just 1 year ago, and accordingly,
government provision of basic social services has fallen
sharply throughout the country.
Though USAID has made significant contributions to Malian
development through its long engagement in the country, and the
hard work and diligence of the Malian people, recent events
stand to reverse these gains. Prior to the coup, USAID's broad
development portfolio included activities to strengthen
democratic institutions, grow the agricultural sector, support
literacy and education, improve community health and health
systems, and manage instability and threats in the North.
And Mali had made significant gains over the past decade.
Annual economic growth had averaged more than 5 percent and
poverty had been reduced from 56 percent in 2001 to 44 percent
in 2010. In the same time period, child mortality had been cut
in half, Mali liberalized its cereals market, opened up trade
routes, and improved conditions for doing business.
Agricultural production increased, particularly in areas where
USAID has been active.
On April 10, 2012, the United States Government formally
terminated assistance to the Government of Mali, consistent
with coup restrictions in the appropriations act. The
activities that were terminated included public school
construction as well as capacity building for the Government of
Mali. However, USAID continues to address the emergency health,
nutrition, and food needs of the Malian people. To date, in
Fiscal Year 2012, we have provided more than $50 million to
address humanitarian needs within Mali.
Other lifesaving health and food security programs are
under consideration for resumption as part of a case-by-case
policy and legal review. In evaluating which programs can move
forward in light of the applicable legal restrictions, we
consider whether they provide essential lifesaving assistance,
whether they support children, whether they strengthen food
security, or advance U.S. foreign policy. We also consider
operational issues, including efficient oversight and
This case-by-case analysis ensures that there is careful
consideration of the context, including how to protect previous
U.S. Government investments. Before the coup, USAID was the
largest donor supporting Mali's planned April 2012 elections,
with activities that provided training of poll workers,
political party strengthening, elections monitoring, and voter
education. If the electoral support activities resume,
assistance would help support a foundation for free and fair
elections in Mali and a peaceful political exit from the
The only USAID-supported economic growth activities that
are continuing in Mali are those that address food security.
Agricultural assistance has focused on supporting farmers and
herders to increase production in the current planting season.
Particularly, in light of dire food needs, this assistance is
critical to improve access to inputs, increase production, and
increase resilience to drought. Some health sector activities
have been approved to continue in order to provide lifesaving
These programs include preventing maternal and child
mortality, identifying and treating malaria, and other critical
community-based health interventions. The restoration of
democracy with a return to a development focus in Mali is
important to the region and to Africa as a whole. Lives and
livelihoods are at great risk without the prompt resolution of
the current political, security, and food crises.
Under the right conditions, Mali has the potential to be a
major food producer for the region as well as advanced trade
and economic growth. Its history of partnership with the United
States to improve health, education, and living conditions is
noteworthy. As the situation evolves, we remain vigilant to
changes in the operating environment and the risks and
opportunities involved. While USAID can provide immediate
relief to the people, help set the foundations for democratic
elections, and provide basic services in the interim, Mali's
future development must be led by the Malian people.
This can only be achieved through a duly elected and
participatory government along with peace and stability. Thank
you for the opportunity to appear before you today and I
welcome any questions you might have.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Gast, thank you so very much for that
testimony. And without objection, your full statement, and any
other materials you'd like to have added, will be made a part
of the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gast follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Ambassador Carson, if I could just ask you with
regard to the peacekeeping mission, the estimates are that some
3000 peacekeepers would be needed. You did speak about it to
some extent in your testimony. If you could just elaborate on
whether ECOWAS can provide a sufficient number of troops. Where
will the money come from? How much do we expect that we might
bear, or provide I should say, to that effort? And when it
comes to the parameters of the mission, could give us some
details as to what U.S. policy and U.S. hopes and
recommendations would be for them, including the rules of
engagement for such a peacekeeping mission?
Ambassador Carson. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for
that question. We, ourselves, are waiting to hear from ECOWAS
about precisely what they plan to do, and how they plan to do
it, and how they intend to fund it. We have maintained an open
mind about what they are going to do, although we do recognize
that there are different scenarios of complexity that could be
undertaken. The reality is that ECOWAS should not undertake a
mission that is not properly planned, that is not adequately
financed, and one that does not adequately consider the long
Generally speaking, I think that it is important for ECOWAS
to think first about ensuring the safety and the integrity of
those officials in Bamako who are responsible for leading a
transition back to a full constitutional and democratically-
elected government. And I think that would be a much more
definable, limited, and supportable operation rather than
looking at the complexities of immediately trying to do
anything in the North.
One has to take into account that the government in the
South has no effective military now. It lost over half of its
equipment when it left the northern part of the country. And so
any effort to look at retaking the North would be a significant
undertaking for ECOWAS and for the states there. It must be
thought out carefully, and planned well, and resourced
appropriately. But I think the focus should be on the South at
Mr. Smith. Can I just ask you about rules of engagement? I
will never forget on a trip to Darfur, meeting with a Major
Ajumbo who was very upset with the rules of engagement of that
deployment, it was early in the deployment, and he had also
been deployed to Sarajevo during the Yugoslavian crisis, and
said, for him, it was like deja vu. It was like we were not
here to protect, we are here to provide the appearance of
protection. I never forgot those words.
And given the fact that, the U.N., and even the AU, but
especially the U.N., has had some major catastrophies, UNPROFOR
in Yugoslavia, for example, the problems in Rwanda when General
Dallaire certainly had sent that famous fax that went
unattended to at the United Nations, and of course, the killing
fields in Rwanda are infamous forever. And it might have been
in whole or in part prevented by adequate interventions.
So the rules of engagement are something that I know you
and all of us are very concerned about. What would be your
sense as to where this peacekeeping mission would be when it
comes to the rules of engagement?
Ambassador Carson. Mr. Chairman, I am not going to prejudge
what ECOWAS or what the AU will perhaps ask for as they go
forward, but I do want to underscore that undertaking a
military operation in the North of Mali, an area that is the
size of France, would require a major effort----
Mr. Smith. Well, I am speaking, Mr. Ambassador, even about
protection of other areas where hostilities could ensue.
Remember Srebrenica, the so-called safe haven where, within the
scope of a week, 8000 Muslims, in that case, were butchered as
the Dutch peacekeepers handed off protection of those men to
Ambassador Carson. Yes. No, understood. Again, I am not
going to presume even what the rules of engagement would be in
the South, but I do believe that there is probably, at this
immediate time, more of a role to be played in the South than
there is in the North, leaving open the prospect, at sometime,
that there will need to be an engagement in the North to help
reconstitute the state and to deal with the terrorist problem
that AQIM and Ansar al-Dine pose.
Mr. Smith. You know, I do have about a dozen questions, but
we do have votes at 12 o'clock and a second panel, so I will
ask only one to Mr. Gast. You talked about the $50 million, and
obviously, the situation in terms of protecting our own USAID
people, you know, has to be a very high priority and a concern.
How much are we providing for refugees and for IDPs? And what
is the unmet need, perhaps according to you, or HCR or any
other entity that has come up with a number?
Mr. Gast. Thank you for the question and it is difficult to
target just the IDPs because what we have is a crisis
Mr. Smith. And the refugees too.
Mr. Gast. What we have is a crisis throughout the Sahel and
I know, Congressman, that you are very concerned about the
situation. And there are 19 million people who are in need of
food aid throughout the Sahel. So before the coup had taken
place, and before the security conditions had worsened, and
before we had the refugees, the estimate of those who were food
insecure in Mali was about 3 million. And now that figure has
nearly doubled, about 5.5 million persons are food insecure.
Obviously, the IDPs who have remained in country, and
roughly a 140,000 are food insecure, and part of that larger
number. So part of our $50 million response, it is not just for
the 140,000 who are displaced internally, it is for the larger
population. PRM is supporting refugees, roughly a 160,000 to a
180,000, in Niger and Burkina Faso, and the amount of money
that they have programmed to date is roughly $10 million.
Mr. Smith. Thank you. Ms. Bass?
Ms. Bass. Thank you. Once again, I want to thank our two
representatives here for your testimony today and as I
mentioned to you, Mr. Gast, it was great to see you over here
and I appreciate you hosting us when we were in Uganda. It was
just a short time period, but it was very eye-opening;
appreciate that. And also appreciate the time the Ambassador
took the other day in giving me an overall briefing of the
I wanted to ask you a few questions about the Tuareg.
Ambassador, you mentioned that they are primarily a political
problem and I wanted to know if you could describe a little bit
more in detail about what you mean. What is the political
problem and then what might a solution be?
Ambassador Carson. Thank you very much. The Tuareg are only
one of many groups that occupy Northern Mali, but they are a
nomadic group that has felt politically marginalized by a
government which has been largely dominated by Southerners.
They have felt that their economic, and social, and political
needs have not been catered to. Not enough positions in
government and in the civil service.
Ms. Bass. Were they restricted from running for office or
Ambassador Carson. No.
Ms. Bass. No?
Ambassador Carson. No, they are not, but because they are
nomadic, issues of education were a part of this. But there has
also been a feeling that not enough development assistance has
flowed into the Tuareg regions, not enough money put into
education, not enough money put into health care, not enough
money put into roads and to infrastructure, and not enough
money put into economic development.
This is a political problem that has existed, not just
since Mali's independence over the last 10 years, but is a
problem that has existed going back to the era of French
Colonialism. The Tuaregs felt disadvantaged, even under the
French, and they have felt disadvantaged since independence.
They have frequently rebelled and in 2006/2007, the government
in Mali and the Tuareg came to an agreement called the Algiers
Accord, negotiated by the Algerians, to address some of the
many social, economic, and political marginalization issues of
The Tuareg felt that this agreement was not honored and
that led to a resumption of combat and fighting. But the
reality is, is that, this is a political issue, a feeling of
marginalization, lack of inclusion, and a lack of economic and
social services in the northern part of the country.
Ms. Bass. So if it wasn't dealt with appropriately when
Mali was doing well, what would you envision, you know, the
future being? How would, or should, can, it be resolved?
Ambassador Carson. Absolutely. Very good question. I think
there need to be more guarantees from the international
community to support those development projects, which the
government in Bamako agrees to undertake with respect to the
Tuareg. If, in fact, there is a political agreement that says
that there are going to be X number of schools, hospitals, and
kilometers of road built, X number of wells, I think that the
international community needs to come forward to serve as one
of the guarantors, one of the financiers of the projects that
On the political side, I think there needs to be more
transparency to ensure that more Tuareg citizens, more citizens
of the North who have Tuareg ethnicity, are included in the
civil service and are included in government positions. But on
the economic side, I think there is a way to ensure that money
is allocated and is appropriately used for the North. And I do
make a very sharp and clear distinction of the Tuareg issue as
a political issue.
Ms. Bass. Right.
Ambassador Carson. The issue of AQIM and Ansar is a
terrorist issue. They need to be handled separately. And we
should not, in the effort to respond to the Tuareg issue, drive
them into the hands of Ansar al-Dine or into the hands of the
Ms. Bass. Well, and it leads me to another question because
I believe you, or it might have been Mr. Gast, mentioned that
one of the things that needs to be done is we need to build
resilience in the institutions, but yet at the same time, we
are restricted, right? I mean, the aid that you talked about we
are limited to, I know, is the humanitarian aid, and we are not
allowed to contribute resources to the very thing that you
said. So my additional question is, do you think it is too
restrictive? Is there something that we need to do
legislatively to provide more flexibility?
Mr. Gast. So we are authorized to work on food security and
the big concern.
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Gast. The problem that we have is one of access.
Because it is so dangerous in the North because fighting
continues, it is very difficult for us to have access.
Ms. Bass. But I wasn't referring to the humanitarian part
because I understood that that was okay. It was the part about
us building institutions, the schools, you know, whatever, that
we are not allowed to now, right?
Mr. Gast. So we are not building schools.
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Gast. We are not supporting government operations,
which would include education, at this point. We are working in
the health sector because that is providing lifesaving support.
We are working, in addition to humanitarian assistance, food
security and working with private farmers and associations to
try and strengthen food security.
Ambassador Carson. Congresswoman Bass, may I just add to
that to say that we do have the capacity to use funding to help
the government move back toward democracy. And if there is a
roadmap and a timetable for the return to democracy, including
for support to elections, we have the latitude to work in that
democratic space. And certainly, after there is a return to a
civilian and democratic government, then we would be able to do
more beyond just support of elections and then look at ways to
put money into strengthening the other democratic institutions,
the independence of the judiciary, the capacity of the
legislature, strengthening civil society, and media.
But we do have the capacity, even today, if there is an
appropriate roadmap presented that is credible and that we
believe will lead toward elections, we do have the flexibility
to jump back in to that small democratic space to begin the
Ms. Bass. Okay. Thank you. I wanted to ask you about ECOWAS
and I wanted to know your opinion if the U.S. should push for
the formation of an international group on Mali that would
allow actors from ECOWAS, from SENSAD, the EU, Organization of
Islamic Conference, to all come together and engage on this? Do
you think that that would be useful? What role should the
United States play if it is?
Ambassador Carson. Congresswoman Bass, again, thank you for
the question. We believe that an international contact group of
Friends of Mali, if one wants to use that term, or some kind of
a grouping that helps to bring together key stakeholders and
participants in the process of helping Mali return to
democracy. We believe that ECOWAS needs to continue to play the
primary role as the leading subregional organization, but
ECOWAS does not, in fact, include several other very important
partners; partners who have long borders with Mali, and share
ethnic groups with Mali, who are not a part of this.
Two of the most important, of course, are Algeria and
Mauritania. We also need to ensure that other international
players who can play a supporting role can be a part of the
discussions and in that group I include the United States, I
include France, I include, particularly, the European Union.
Those organizations and countries that can be instrumental in
helping to facilitate and guarantee things like I mentioned
before with respect to being able to help fund, perhaps,
programs in the northern part of the country to deal with the
grievances of the Tuareg.
So there needs to be a place where all of these groups can,
in fact, come to the table and talk. I think this is something
that the ECOWAS leadership and the AU, the African Union,
leadership are working on and thinking about. And of course,
the other major player in all of this has to be the United
Nations. So what you are talking about does make sense and is
something that we are constantly encouraging so that all
important players and partners are at the table, with ECOWAS
continuing to be a lead in all of this.
Ms. Bass. Thank you very much.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Turner?
Mr. Turner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A question for
Ambassador Carson. We have had ethnic economic political
factors here for many years. The one wild card, it seems to me,
religious. Could you fill us in a bit on the background and
what are the factors at work here and is this being address or
should it be?
Ambassador Carson. Many of the problems of radicalism in
Northern Mali are a spillover from other countries. The AQIM,
which is al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, is comprised, not
simply of Malians, but its leadership is largely drawn from
individuals who have come from Algiers, from Mauritania, and
from Libya, and from other countries in the region.
We know that a number of AQIM leaders and supporters have
come down from Algeria, and as Algeria has effectively dealt
with its Islamic extremists and terrorist problem, many of
those people have drifted down across the Algerian border into
Northern Mali, which is a very, very large territory and very,
very sparsely populated, not traversed by many roads and not
inhabited by many towns, and so those individuals have come
into this large space.
Malians, as a whole, and especially including the Tuareg,
are moderate Muslims not extremists, but individuals who have
been open and tolerant toward Christians and others. So AQIM,
again, is very, very different and its agenda and politics are
quite different from those of the Tuareg as a whole.
Mr. Turner. Is their ideology gaining any traction in other
ethnic groups besides those that are coming down from the
Ambassador Carson. I don't think so. I think that both AQIM
and Ansar al-Dine are really relatively small groups. That
doesn't mean that they are benign. They are, in fact, dangerous
and lethal, but they are not representative of the vast
overwhelming majority of Malians in the North and they
certainly don't represent the majority view of the way Islam
should be practiced in Mali.
Mr. Turner. Thank you. I yield back.
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much. We are joined by Ms.
Jackson Lee, not a member of the committee, but we welcome her,
if you have a question or two.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much and I
recognize your courtesies of both you and Ms. Bass. I
appreciate being a former member of the committee and
appreciating the work. Let me say to the two witnesses, and I
was delayed with business on the floor of the House, but I am
delighted of your presence here, and I wanted to first,
Ambassador Carson, wrap questions together that then will
relate to Mali and the present status.
My initial question is to assess, basically, the health of
Africa as it relates to U.S.-African relationships, and are we
doing what we are supposed to do? And I will follow up now with
the present situation in Mali, and I certainly appreciate that
the Administrator Gast would also ask. As I recall, and I may
not be correct, that the Malian population is somewhat nomadic,
moving around, and so I am asking in this 2012 atmosphere
whether or not this new uprising conflict has created
population displacement, whether or not we are seeing a severe
impact, a more sever impact, on women and children, and then
lastly, it's a difficult role for the United States to play.
If you read the basis of the rebellion it is to suggest
that the government in place was despotic and unfair. How
conflicting is our position of supporting the existing
sovereign government to the issues of the values that we
promote, which are those of democracy? And I would appreciate,
I think there are three wrapped in there, and I appreciate your
answers. Thank you.
Ambassador Carson. Congresswoman Jackson Lee, thank you
very much for the questions. I will attempt to take a couple of
those on and then allow my colleague to address those which
concern humanitarian and refugee issues, but will also weigh-in
if required. Your first question was about the health of the
U.S.-Africa relations. I think that U.S.-Africa relations are
strong and vibrant, that the United States remains well-
respected and admired across the continent with the exception
of a couple of rogue states and rogue leaders.
Consistent polling that we do through large established
polling organizations as well as the polls that we do through
the U.S. Embassies and U.S. Government, show that the United
States is favorably liked by higher levels than almost any
other nation in the world. And in Africa, our polling is
consistently more favorable than it is in any other part of the
world--Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, or South Asia.
And that polling data is quite significant and we can share it
with you, but the relationship is healthy.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I would appreciate that. Thank you.
Ambassador Carson. The relationship is healthy. I think
that there is a great appreciation for what we do in the area
of development assistance. Our overall development assistance
to Africa amounts to somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.5
billion to $9 billion. This includes what we do in development
assistance, humanitarian assistance, and food aid through the
Millenium Challenge Corporation. And we continue to be the
single largest provider of development assistance across the
continent, and ours is open and transparent.
Equally, we have been very strongly engaged in advancing an
agenda which has just been redefined by the President and the
national security staff to do everything that we can to
continue to promote democracy and good governance across the
continent. And I would say that, despite the difficulties of a
Mali, I would say that democracy is on the advance across
Africa. One can look back over the last 3 years and identify,
not just one, or two, or a half a dozen, but dozens of
indications where this is, in fact, the case.
There have been successful elections in Nigeria, the
largest country in Africa; the peaceful transition and handover
of power in places like Senegal, where President Wade stood
aside after losing; and in Zambia where President Banda stood
aside to allow President Sata to come in; the movement away
from military regimes into democracy; Niger, where we saw 2
years ago, the return to democracy after a sitting President
attempted to hijack the Constitution, and then was overthrown
by a military government, and then returned to power, a
We also saw within the last 2 years, for the first time in
its history, democratic elections in Guinea-Conakry, which had
been under military and authoritarian rule since its
independence from France in 1960. Across the continent, we see
a commitment to democracy and we almost take for granted
elections in places like Botswana, places like Ghana, places
like Namibia, places like Mozambique and Mauritius, all of
which have democratic foundations, and which are making great
So the democracy agenda is moving forward. No question that
there are hiccups out there. They are a problem. But a part of
the second pillar of the administration's commitment is to do
everything that we can do to spur economic growth, trade, and
investment in Africa, recognizing that it is going to be the
creation of economic opportunities, driven by private sector
investment, that is going to create the jobs and create the
factories that are going to grow economies. And we are
committed in this area as well.
And I would argue that there is, in fact, a lot happening
there. One can look at the McKinsey Study Report, one can look
at reports from Oxford Analytica, the World Bank, which show
the strong growth of Africa as a market and potential market.
Everyone has heard that six of the ten fastest growing
economies in the world are in Africa. The return on private
investment in the African marketplace is higher than it is in
any other part of the world. And I could go on and on about
what is, in fact, happening there.
What we need to do is to sustain it and to push it forward.
And we are also engaged in two other areas, and that is to do
as much as we can to promote peace and stability across the
continent, and we are engaged in Sudan. We are engaged in
Somalia, just as we are engaged with the ECOWAS leadership on
And then finally, the preserve of my colleague here, and
that is to help to promote opportunity and to support the
initiatives that the administration has underway in promoting
greater food security, the green agricultural revolution that
Africa needs, and also to support global health. I think the
relationship is healthy.
I think that, despite what we see as the drumbeat of the
occasional headline of a distressing situation in one African
country, we need to reorient our thinking to not focus on the
one, or two, or three problems that we see in the 55 different
states across Africa, but to focus on the promise and potential
that we see in Africa, and recognize that this Africa is a
continent with 55 different states, and quite honestly, some of
those states have never been in turmoil, and some of those
states have always been democratic, and some of those states
are doing quite well.
Mr. Gast. Congresswoman, Mali, over the last 10 years, has
had significant growth; 5 percent, on average, year-on-year
growth. And that has helped to lift a sizable portion of the
population out of poverty, which is significant. Unfortunately,
a majority of the population has benefitted from that, but a
minority has not. And the minority that has not is in the
North. As Ambassador Carson mentioned, the size of the North is
approximately the size of France and the population of the
North, before the displacement, was roughly 1.5 million
So access is extremely difficult; opportunities for
employment, very few; opportunities for growth, given the harsh
terrain of the Sahara Desert, also very, very few; and that has
helped exacerbate the crisis in the North. Now, the problem is
that this crisis also threatens to undermine the progress that
has been made in the South with agriculture and with growth.
With the displacements and the inability of the government to
continue financing services that it would normally finance the
economy is going to contract.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, government revenues
are down considerably from last year. So it, at a time when it
is not being financed by external actors, cannot finance its
own needs. So we are very concerned about that. You raised the
issue of women and children, and unfortunately, women and
children do suffer far more greatly than the men in times of
crisis. And Mali has made significant gains over the last 10
years. It has been able to cut child mortality rates and
maternal mortality rates by half, but still, it ranks near the
bottom. Only Somalia has higher maternal and child mortality
rates. So we are concerned about that.
It is very, very difficult in this environment for us to
have access in the North. There are only a few actors,
international NGOs, that are operating in the North, and each
has to negotiate access with each community and rebel group
operating in the North.
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, both of you, for your
testimony and we do have----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you.
Mr. Smith [continuing]. Several members of the committee, a
number of questions we will submit for the record, and again, I
I would like to now invite our second panel to the witness
table, beginning with Nii Akuetteh. Mr. Akuetteh is an
independent policy researcher and analyst who specializes in
U.S. foreign policy, African development, and international
relations. He's often published in American journals on Africa
and appears on Aljazeera, Voice of America, the BBC, and other
television and radio outlets analyzing African issues.
He has done a stint as a Georgetown professor, a journal
editor, and leader of advocacy organizations working on three
continents. He created and led two organizations focusing on
democracy and the conflict in Mali.
We will then hear from Mr. Rudolph Atallah, who is a 21-
year veteran of the United States Air Force who retired as a
lieutenant colonel. He served in the Office of the Secretary of
Defense as Africa Counter-Terrorism Director, where his
responsibilities, included advising the Secretary of Defense
and other senior officials on counterterrorism policy and
strategy, and serving as an advisor to the State Department and
numerous Embassies across Africa.
He has been a featured guest on programs, NPR, C-SPAN, and
National Geographic Channel, where he discussed African
counter-piracy and successful resolution of the 2009 Maersk
We will then hear from Mr. Dave Peterson, who is the senior
director of the Africa Program for the National Endowment for
Democracy. Since 1988, he has been responsible for NED's
program to identify and assist hundreds of African non-
governmental organizations and activists working for democracy,
human rights, press freedom, justice, and peace. He was the
former executive director of the Project South Africa of the A.
Phillip Randolph Educational Fund, and a freelance journalist
in Africa as well as in Turkey.
He has visited more the 40 African countries since '84 and
has published numerous articles on African politics. Mr.
Akuetteh, if you could begin.
STATEMENT OF MR. NII AKUETTEH, INDEPENDENT AFRICA ANALYST
(FORMER GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS)
Mr. Akuetteh. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Ranking
Member Bass, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, I very much appreciate
this opportunity to appear before you and share my opinion, but
I am particularly grateful that you have taken the time to
consider an issue in Africa that I think is extremely important
and has a lot of dangerous potential and requires attention and
assistance. My full written statement I would like to request
to be part of the record.
Mr. Smith. Without objection, so ordered, as well as all of
your full statements.
Mr. Akuetteh. So I just want to summarize the main points.
My recommendation, looking at the Mali situation, is that the
U.S. should respond with two initiatives. One is that I believe
the situation is very urgent and dangerous, and the regional
body ECOWAS has stepped up. As I look at the situation and also
watch the news, I am reminded of the fires going on in Colorado
and the image that jumps to my mind is that the Pentagon, it
seems to me, will rush to the aid of the firefighters because
the Air Force Training Academy is threatened.
I do believe that this is an analogy for what is going on
in Mali. A lot of Malians are affected, a lot of West Africans
are affected, but I also think that important American
interests can be harmed if the situation deteriorates. And
therefore, it seems to me it is both ethical and very good for
the United States to help ECOWAS deal with the situation.
My second recommendation, and I listened carefully to the
presentation by the preceding panel, the Federal officials, it
seems to me that the elephant in the room is the potential for
terrorism in Africa, and United States' response, and U.S.
policy since 9/11, and the creation of AFRICOM. Now, I think
AFRICOM had a strong presence and programs with the democratic
government of Mali, and therefore, I think the U.S. Government
should take this as an opportunity to review the policies
followed since 9/11 to see areas that require improvement so
that Africa policy and U.S.-Africa relations can be stronger.
Good policy review, in my view, will require a
comprehensive exercise, but I do think there are things that
one can see even now. And among those is that, democracy should
play a much bigger role in U.S. policy, even when it comes to
dealing with issues of terrorism. The 55 African countries are
extremely complex, so of course, you always have grievances,
but it seems to me that democracy is the way to go rather than
strengthening Africa militaries. So I think U.S. policy should
emphasize democracy and de-emphasize, particularly, military
assistance except in emergency situations, and of course, the
thing to be avoided is that no U.S. troops required anywhere on
the continent except in very rare cases.
Also, I think the training that the United States gives
African soldiers, militaries, need to start with training that
asks them to respect the democratic institutions of their
countries. I do think that too many Africa militaries take for
themselves the right to determine who should govern their
countries or not. The continent has been moving away from that
and it will be good if U.S. military assistance and training
pushes soldiers to understand that they must respect the
democratic choices of their populations, that it is not their
job to select who runs their countries.
And I think that the United States' AFRICOM, there is a
question of where its headquarters are to be located. I think
that it would be a good idea if the headquarters are brought to
the United States because there is worry in many African
countries as to whether there will be large bases and military
headquarters. And therefore, I think to deal with those
worries, it would be good if, like some other U.S. commands,
they are based in the United States. I think that will go a
long way to ease worries about the U.S. military presence,
because the relationship between the two areas, the U.S. and
Africa, will thrive on civilian bases.
Mr. Chairman, I want to end here and I will look forward to
expanding on any of my points in the question period. I thank
you very much, again, for the opportunity.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Akuetteh follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much Mr. Akuetteh. I would like
to ask Mr. Atallah if he would proceed.
STATEMENT OF MR. RUDOLPH ATALLAH, SENIOR FELLOW, MICHAEL S.
ANSARI CENTER, ATLANTIC COUNCIL
Mr. Atallah. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Bass,
distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this
opportunity to come before you today and speak about this
important topic. And thank you for adding my analysis and
summary into the records. While I come today in a personal
capacity, the analysis and views, which are my own, were shaped
by my 21 years of military service. Between 2001 and 2003, I
spent extensive time with the Tuaregs in the North,
specifically in Gao, Kidal, and Tessalit. As a native Arabic
speaker I got the chance to sit down and speak with many of the
senior Tuareg leaders and local imams, so my ideas are shaped
by that time. Also, more recently, with my private company,
White Mountain Research, I have spent extensive time in the
region keeping track of the current situation.
To fully understand what is going on, I would like to just
dive into a brief history. The January 17, 2012, Tuareg
uprising is the fourth since Mali's independence in 1960 and a
continuation of, basically, a half a century of ongoing
differences between the Tuaregs and the Government of Mali. The
differences are between a Tuareg, whose identity is in their
Tamasheq language, and Bamako in the South. To understand how
we arrived at the current crisis in Mali, it is important to
briefly mention the third Tuareg rebellion, which was launched
in 2006 by a defiant Tuareg leader named Ibrahim Ag Bahanga.
The rebellion lasted for 3 years while Algeria attempted to
broker peace between the government and the rebels. In 2009,
Mali dispatched troops to the North to stop Bahanga and he was
exiled to Libya. He returned in January 2011. During his time
in Libya, Bahanga made contact with Tuareg officers and
tribesmen from Ghadafi's military. When Ghadafi's regime began
to fall, Bahanga convinced his tribesmen to abandon their
military posts and go after Ghadafi's weapons. Tuareg defectors
raided the large stockpiles of Ghadafi's arms and ammunitions,
loaded trucks, and jumped in convoys, and headed South.
Bahanga's ambitions to fuel another uprising in Northern
Mali took root among a well-trained and a well-equipped Tuareg
force. Bahanga was killed in a mysterious car accident in the
summer of 2011. And in October of that same year, in the oasis
town of Zakak, near the border of Algeria on the Malian side,
Tuareg youth, intellectuals, Malian Army deserters, Libyan-
trained Tuareg soldiers formed the Mouvement National pour la
Liberation de l'Azawad, or MNLA as we like to call it today;
Azawad being the land, or the northern part of Mali.
During this meeting, another Tuareg named Iyad Ag Ghaly,
who was leader in the first rebellion in the 1990s, and had
also joined Bahanga in the third rebellion in 2006, tried to
join the MNLA but they rejected him. And they rejected him for
many reasons. One, he plays both sides of the fence, and he has
done that before. He is one of AQIM has deep relationships with
them, and he has got very radical beliefs. So he went on to
form his own organization, of Salafist Islamic group called
Ansar al-Dine, or Defenders of the Faith.
MNLA's primary objective for liberating Azawad, as they
like to call it, was the creation of a secular democratic state
that represents all ethnic groups in Northern Mali, not just
the Tuaregs. It was fighting, basically, for culture, pride,
and self-determination. Despite its swift victory, MNLA's
agenda was quickly undermined by the threat of militant Islamic
dominance. At the helm of the threat was the Ansar al-Dine of
Ag Ghaly. And so with Ansar al-Dine putting a Tuareg face on
AQIM, if that didn't exist, there would be more resistance to
the Salafist presence and a broader support for MNLA.
In recent weeks, Tuaregs tolerant of Ansar al-Dine began to
learn the truth about the organization. Reports conveyed on 26
June from Tuareg families living in Timbuktu said that local
boys as young as 11 and 12 years old are being deceived and
lured into Salafist training camps over promises to receive
food and money in return for doing odd jobs. One father went to
one of these camps to bring his son back and was told by the
leader of Ansar al-Dine running the camp that he can have his
boy back after he had fulfilled his duties to Allah.
The harsh reality is, people without money rely on handouts
from Ansar al-Dine, which has full support of AQIM, is well-
funded, and well-equipped. In return, families have to send
their sons to newly militarized madrasas where they are taught
to fire AK-47s and are indoctrinated into harsh interpretation
of Islam. Two days ago, fighters from an AQIM splinter group
clashed with MNLA in the city of Gao. Reports indicate that 20
people were killed, and a day after the clash, leaders of the
various Islamist groups got together, took over Gao, and had
discussions that are still unknown. If the information is
accurate, we are getting down to a showdown between the MNLA
and the Islamists, which is unfolding as we speak.
Although the international community would never entertain
the idea of an Azawadian independence, efforts need to be made
to support MNLA and Tuaregs who oppose the extremist groups
from operating in the Sahel. Tuaregs are masters of their
environment. They can play a key role in stabilizing the region
by driving out these groups. And they have the will to do so,
but they can't do it on their own. Unfortunately, the present
situation is getting bleak. Mali is becoming a magnet for
foreign fighters who are flocking in to train recruits to use
sophisticated weapons pilfered and taken from Ghadafi's
So what is the endgame for the extremist groups? AQIM
leadership wants to take advantage of the shifting political
landscape in North Africa. To accomplish this goal, it has to
rely on its regional affiliate AQIM. However, the setbacks AQIM
has suffered over the last few years are significant. Its
ability to recruit is, basically, down to zero. To survive and
remain effective, AQIM needs money and soldiers. The Sahel has
become an ideal ground for both and the Tuareg function as
Until now, Mali's military has been ineffective to drive
out AQIM from the northern part of the country. The
international community and Mali's neighbors should not support
the current Bamako regime to conduct military intervention on
its own. This will be counterproductive and could force locals
to support Ansar al-Dine and AQIM. The best approach to counter
the crisis is to create a buffer zone around the areas where
the Salafists operate. The buffer zone should restrict movement
by air and ground of illegal goods entering and leaving the
On a larger scale, a systematic regional approach aimed at
targeting illegal drug trafficking, tobacco, and weapons should
be addressed to curb terrorists' access to money, and diminish
their cashflow to recruit, and buy more weapons. Further, an
effective information campaign is indispensable to discredit
AQIM and Ansar al-Dine and reinforce local distrust of their
motives. However, direct intervention by Western states will
reinforce the extremists' raison d'Etat and will exacerbate the
crisis. The solution must be brokered by regional actors and
guided by regional experts.
There also must be support for border control and
counterterrorism programs for the Sahelian states, where
intelligence collection and info sharing requires significant
improvement. Furthermore, these states do not have the ability
to respond to security threats in remote areas distant from
their capitals. This is the reason why Mali has been
ineffective at maintaining control of the North. Although
AQIM's southern zone battalion is no more than 300 strong, the
vast operational area makes it very difficult to target these
individuals absent of regional state collaboration.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to your
[The prepared statement of Mr. Atallah follows:]
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Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Atallah, for your very extensive
recommendations and the wisdom, I think, you bring to this
committee given, especially, your contacts in the North. Thank
you so much for that. I would now like to ask, Mr. Peterson, if
you would proceed.
STATEMENT OF MR. DAVE PETERSON, SENIOR DIRECTOR, AFRICA,
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY
Mr. Peterson. Thank you. Chairman Smith, Ranking Member
Bass, and members of the subcommittee. It is a great privilege
to testify before you this morning regarding the recent crisis
in Mali. In the 5 minutes I have been given this morning I
would like to make two essential points. The first emphasizes
the political importance of Mali. The second describes the
Endowment's efforts to contribute to the restoration of
democracy. I congratulate the committee for demonstrating its
concern about Mali by holding this hearing. Although I am not
able to speak to the strategic threat of al-Qaeda in the
Maghreb, and the Tuareg rebels to American interests, I would
like to emphasize the grave setback the military coup and
division of Mali has made to the democratic movement in West
Africa, and indeed, for the entire continent.
Mali was among the very first African countries to lead the
second wave of independence in 1991 when a popular uprising and
the military's refusal to fire on protestors led to the
downfall of the longtime dictator Moussa Traore, followed by a
sovereign national conference and free and fair elections in
1992. Although one of the poorest countries in the world, Mali
remained at the forefront of democratic reforms in the region,
pioneering a vibrant independent broadcast media and civil
society, adopting democratic innovations such as the public
democratic questioning space for government officials,
implementing one of the first decentralization reforms in
Africa, and leading ECOWAS and the AU in promoting democratic
government throughout the continent.
In 2007, aided by modest NED support, Mali hosted the world
conference of the Community of Democracies. Mali seemed to
disprove the contention that only rich countries can be free
and its relative stability for two decades served as a
touchstone for the slow, but steady democratic progress we have
seen throughout West Africa. This is not to say that Malian
democracy was perfect. Participation in elections has rarely
been above 30 percent. Corruption has grown steadily as a
problem, undermining faith in democratic government. Terrorist
activity and discontent among the Tuareg have repeatedly
plagued Mali. Yet, those of us working to support democratic
development in Africa were caught off-guard by the sudden
reversal of democracy's fortunes in Mali.
The coup was a huge blow to democracy, although the
resolute opposition of ECOWAS and the international community
has been encouraging. Unfortunately, the coup leaders seem to
be controlling the agenda and the capacity of ECOWAS to
intervene in a forceful way seems limited. Even worse, is the
secession of the North. Not only has the sovereignty of Mali
been abandoned, but the new rulers don't even pretend to
respect democracy. According to Sanda Ould Boubama, Ansar al-
Dine's spokesman in Timbuktu, I quote, ``Sharia has to be
applied whether the people like it or not. We will enforce it.
We are not asking anybody's opinion. We are not democrats. We
are servants of Allah who demand Sharia.''
In recent years, NED has supported programs by the
International Republican Institute to strengthen Mali's
decentralization and by the National Democratic Institute to
support the Malian legislature. USAID funding has also been
provided to NDI to assist the electoral process, but due to the
coup, that is currently suspended. Nevertheless, based on our
assessment that Mali was a reasonably stable and functioning
democracy prior to the coup, until recently, that country has
not been a high priority, given the vast needs across the
region. Obviously, this is no longer the case.
And with the blessing of the NED's Board of Directors, it
will be necessary to shift funding from programs budgeted for
other parts of West Africa to address the new situation in
Mali. Mr. Chairman, the Endowment does not design projects here
in Washington and attempt to implement them on the ground,
rather, we provide funding for proposals that are not formally
solicited that we receive from indigenous NGOs. We have already
received proposals and I expect staff to travel to Mali in the
coming months to assess the situation and meet with potential
Indeed, the outlines of our strategy for Mali are already
beginning to take shape. First, we will support the restoration
of democratic legitimacy in the South, and second, we will seek
ways to help Malians engage with the North to promote
reconciliation and ultimately, reunification and democracy. At
this stage it is difficult to estimate our budget for Mali, but
I would hope it would amount to at least several hundred
thousand dollars by next year.
The transitional government in Mali has agreed to hold
elections within a year and my colleagues at NDI who had been
working on the elections before the coup suggests that it would
be better for these elections to happen within the next 6
months rather than at the end of that time frame. Past
elections have been troubled by boycotts, fraud, and poor
management. And NED will seek to support domestic election
observation efforts and other transparency initiatives.
Disaffection with politicians and corruption has contributed to
low voter turnout and NED will also support projects that
provide voter education, advocate accountability, and promote
Malians were shocked and confused by the sudden
disappearance of their democracy and NED will seek to support
efforts to rebuild their understanding and commitment to
democratic values. Public opinion polling and focus groups can
probe what happened to Malian citizens' commitment to
democracy, and could serve as a basis for designing such civic
education programs. Mali has had a vibrant women's movement.
NED will particularly target programs mobilizing women as
voters and political leaders. Mali has had nearly 200 radio
stations, eight daily newspapers, and 40 periodicals, but
recent attacks against the press are troubling. NED will seek
to address this problem.
Human rights abuses have also reportedly escalated and NED
will consider support to Mali's well-established human rights
movement for human rights monitoring, education, and advocacy.
Finally, given the apparent problems with the Malian military,
notwithstanding the assistance it has received from the U.S.
military, NED will consider innovative proposals from civil
society organizations assisting with security sector reform.
In the northern part of the country, as has been noted, the
new rulers have little regard for democracy. Yet the Tuareg,
who have led the rebellion, represent an ethnic minority in the
North, and even among the Tuareg, the separatist's agenda has a
questionable level of support, and the radical Islamic agenda
of Ansar al-Dine and AQIM, even less. Few of the rebels seem to
have experience with governance and are more comfortable with
their nomadic traditions than the settled culture of towns and
villages. Although the presence of civil society and
independent media is thinner in the North than in the South,
NED will seek to support those organizations and radio stations
that do exist in the North on a range of initiatives.
Our experience in Somalia, for example, has found
considerable traction supporting radio broadcasts promoting
democratic values. Projects strengthening the capacity of
traditional leaders and other community authorities, vis-a-vis
extremists, have also had some success. Hundreds of thousands
of Malians are fleeing the North due to drought, locusts, and
the repression and bizarre edicts of the rebels. Projects
helping these internally displaced persons can protect their
rights in the vulnerable conditions in which they now find
themselves, enable them to participate in democratic processes
such as elections, as well as lay the foundations for their
eventual return home.
Mr. Chairman, the Malian crisis may be more effectively
resolved through the battle for hearts and minds than through
military confrontation. NED is not so presumptuous as to
pretend that our modest resources alone can fix what ails the
country. We trust that other international donors will also
become more involved. The crisis in Mali is unlikely to be
resolved easily, it may take many years, but as I hope I have
convinced you this morning, much can be done to address the
many challenges faced by its people.
There is already much in recent Malian history and
institutions that can provide the basis for democratic renewal.
Thank you and I would be pleased to answer your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Peterson follows:]
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Mr. Smith. Mr. Peterson, thank you very much for your
testimony and thank you for the great work that NED does
throughout Africa and around the world. Let me just ask you, we
have about 14 minutes left and then there is 1 hour and 20
minutes worth of votes, so I thought we would propose
questions, and as best you can, answer rapid fire, from the
three of us. Very quickly, to Mr. Atallah, you mentioned that
Tuaregs have seen flirtation with militant Islam as temporary,
when does this friendship, this alliance, break apart? Does it
You heard the earlier question that I had asked about the
ECOWAS peacekeeping, is 3000 enough? How quickly do they need
to be deployed to be efficacious in mitigating all this
horrible bloodshed and danger? Rules of engagement, could you
want to touch on that one as well? The issue of the Tuaregs who
have felt disenfranchised and discriminated for so long, have
we blown it? Has the West, the United States and others, not
taken their concerns adequately into consideration or were we
doing much on that? And finally, I have lots of questions, but
we are running out of time. Ms. Bass, if you could offer your
Ms. Bass. Sure. My questions center on AFRICOM and really
are directed to the first two speakers, because I kind of
heard, maybe something different, and I am not really sure,
because you were referring to difficulties within AFRICOM. You
mentioned that AFRICOM, maybe, should be centered here as
opposed to Stuttgart. You talked about, you know, the role of
the U.S. in terms of beefing up militaries, and maybe that
isn't the best way to go. Then on the other hand, you described
the serious security concerns. And so I am just wondering, kind
of, from both of you, if you could address AFRICOM, where you
feel it could be better; what could it do differently?
Mr. Atallah. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Bass, thank you for
your questions. I will try to address them as quickly as
possible just from my experience. First of all, let me start
off with the ECOWAS question. I completely agree with
Ambassador Carson. We need to take care of the South first
before we look at the--I mean, the North is obviously an
incredibly important question, but the South needs to get its
act together in order to effectively, you know, answer the
problems in the North.
Speaking specifically of the Tuareg, they are a secular
people. I have spent enough time with them to know. As an
example, back in 2002, there were militant Islamists coming in
from Pakistan that were trying to recruit from within the ranks
of the Tuaregs, primarily focused on the youth. The Tuareg
leaders that were with me said, ``This will never happen in our
culture. We are a tolerant people. We accept everybody. If they
are going to take the backbone of our people, our youth, then
we are going to fight them.''
The case still stands today, although you have an anomaly
right now, a guy named Ag Ghaly, who is on the Salafist side of
the house, he is the only one projecting an extremist face
within the Tuareg. Not a lot of Tuaregs support that. As a
matter of fact, recent days are showing a major rift between
them. So have we blown it? I think we could do a lot more for
them. Typical grievances that Ambassador Carson covered are
spot on. If you talk to Tuareg in the North, they say the fact
that paved roads end up Mopti, in the center part of the
country, embodies how we are left alone and nobody really
cares. They rely on tourism. That is part of their culture.
And so now it has all been hijacked by the extremists and,
you know, they have never had anything. They don't have, you
know, good health care, no infrastructure, all the things that
Ambassador Carson addressed. So in terms of how do we address
the North and what can AFRICOM do, I think we need to step up
the regional involvement. Better intel sharing. It has been
very weak; very, very weak. States don't trust states. Algeria
doesn't trust its neighbors and vice versa. We have to crack
the code on that because, actionable intelligence to go after
these individuals is key.
AQIM and al-Qaeda want to take advantage of what is going
on politically in North Africa and the region. I don't want to
eat up all the time, but one more point is, if you look at the
letters that came out of the Bin Laden compound, 17 of them
were already translated by CTC and West Point. Bin Laden was
very focused in working with AQIM as to hijack the Arab Spring
and start making missionaries. Their sole goal, essentially, is
to regroup, reinforce, make enough money, bring enough
recruits, and come back after the United States and its allies.
Something we have to pay attention to. AFRICOM can play a big
We need to tighten that noose around where the radicals are
working and take away, primarily, their cashflow, which comes
through drugs, extortions, kidnappings, and whatnot. And so,
effectively, not only intelligence, but having all state actors
work together, and I will leave it at that.
Mr. Akuetteh. Thank you very much. To begin with AFRICOM,
it is true that the problems in Mali just deteriorated very
fast since January, but some of us who have been admiring and
looking at Mali were concerned that before this time, for the
past few years, a lot of U.S. relations and activities with the
Amadou Toumani Toure government was largely military assistance
and military exercises. Nobody's prescient, but if you look at
that government's record, and as has been said, the problem
with the Tuaregs has been there for a long time. There were
eruptions even before independence.
So some of us thought that U.S. relations with Mali should
have emphasized democracy, should have emphasized ways to deal
with the Tuareg problem. I would call that democracy
reconciliation and development. Now, I am not unmindful of the
terrorism problems in Africa. I think terrorists have caused
havoc in Africa from the Embassy bombings, Boko Haram, and
others, but the idea is that, given the complexity of African
countries, perhaps emphasizing democracy, and development, and
reconciliation would quiet down problems in the area and then
you isolate extremists who have to be dealt with.
So frankly, some of us were concerned that, for the past
few years, the Amadou Toumani Toure government was incentivized
to ignore some of the internal problems and focus on military
engagement against the AQIM and the other groups in the North.
That has been the concern.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Akuetteh, in your testimony you suggested
that the U.S. military training is not providing respect for
democratic institutions, could you provide the committee the
information on that and does that also apply to human rights
training and anti-human trafficking training? Is the U.S.
military training sufficiently inculcating that attitude that
human rights matter; respect for democratic institutions? I
would love to get the evidence of that if you could provide
that for us.
Mr. Akuetteh. I would be glad to provide what I can come up
with. My concern has been that African soldiers, number one, if
I had anything to do with who gets trained, we would prioritize
soldiers in democracies, rather than soldiers who are serving
unelected strongmen, because that causes a problem. That is my
first concern. And then, of course, what exactly are they being
trained about? They should be trained to respect their
If I might make a quick comment on how quickly the problem
in Bamako gets resolved versus the problem in the North. I did
hear and listen carefully to what Ambassador Carson said, and
what Mr. Atallah has said, but part of my worry is the security
concern that, by the time the problem in the South, if we take
too much time, the problem in the North would have become much
bigger. And I do think, therefore, that ECOWAS needs the
support to get up to speed to make sure that things don't
deteriorate quickly in the North before the South gets its act
Mr. Smith. Okay. We do have, again, as I said to our
outstanding panel, a number of written questions we would like
to convey to you and if you could get back to us as quickly as
And thank you for your extraordinary insights. It provides
this committee a very, very useful way forward. Thank you so
very much. I am sorry that we do have to break. There is 1 hour
and 20 minutes worth of votes on the floor. The hearing is
[Whereupon, at 12:05 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.
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Material submitted for the record by the Honorable Christopher H.
Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey, and
chairman, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights
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