The Washington Post - 24.10.2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1

A12 EZ RE T H E  W A S H I N G T O N  P O S T.T H U R S D A Y , O C T O B E R  2 4,  2 0 1 9

The World


Putin looks to court

Africa with summit

Russian President Vladimir
Putin courted dozens of African
leaders Wednesday at the first-
ever Russia-Africa summit while a
pair of nuclear-capable bombers
made an unprecedented visit to
the continent, reflecting Moscow’s
new push for clout.
Speaking at the two-day
summit, attended by leaders of
43 of Africa’s 54 countries, Putin
hailed the continent’s “enormous
potential for growth” and
negotiated deals to tap its riches,
including uranium and oil.
Putin said Russia’s annual trade
with African nations had doubled
in the past five years to top
$20 billion and voiced confidence
that it could double again “at a
minimum” in four or five years.
Russia has worked in recent
years to expand its influence in
Africa, taking advantage of the
seemingly waning U.S. interest in

the continent under President
Russia is building on its status
as Africa’s largest arms supplier. It
has signed military cooperation
agreements with at least 28
nations on the continent, the
majority in the past five years.
Putin noted that Moscow has
written off $20 billion in debt — he
did not specify the period — and
given aid to African nations. He
said Russia is willing to help tap
natural resources and offer its
technologies to the continent.
— Associated Press


Panel on Easter attacks
cites lapses by spy chief

A parliamentary committee in
Sri Lanka that investigated the
April Easter suicide bombings has
concluded that the country’s spy
chief was primarily responsible
for the intelligence failure that led
to the deaths of 269 people in the

In a report released Wednesday,
the committee said that State
Intelligence Service chief Nilantha
Jayawardena received
information on attack plots as
early as April 4 — 17 days before
the blasts — but that there were
delays on his part in sharing the
intelligence with other agencies.
The report said Jayawardena’s
responsibility was compounded
by the fact that he had asked
higher-level officials nearly a year
earlier to bring investigations of
Mohamed Zahran, the ringleader
of the April 21 attacks, under his
sole purview.
Sri Lanka’s National Security
Council met on April 9, with the
Defense Ministry asking
Jayawardena for a briefing on
Zahran, to which he responded
that he would send a note later,
the report said.
Zahran, the leader of a local
Muslim group, was among those
who carried out in the attacks.
The committee also said an
open spat between President
Maithripala Sirisena and Prime

Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
that led to a political crisis last
year contributed to the security
The report said the State
Intelligence Service did not alert
the military to the threat of attacks
until April 19. The next day,
Jayawardena called the national
police chief to say there was a high
probability that an attack would
occur April 21.
— Associated Press

Zambia logs first polio case
since 1995: The World Health
Organization said Zambia has
reported its first case of polio
since 1995, in a 2-year-old boy
paralyzed by a virus derived from
the vaccine. The WHO said the
case was detected on the border
with Congo, which has reported
37 cases of polio traced to the
vaccine this year. The U.N. health
agency said there is no
established link between the
Zambia case and the Congo
outbreak but said increased
surveillance and vaccination

efforts are needed. Nine African
countries are battling polio
epidemics linked to the vaccine.

Hong Kong government
formally pulls unpopular bill:
Hong Kong authorities have
formally withdrawn an
extradition bill that sparked
months of protests that have
since morphed into a campaign
for greater democracy. Secretary
for Security John Lee told the
semiautonomous Chinese
territory’s legislature that the
government had suspended the
bill because it had resulted in
“conflicts in society.” There are no
signs that the bill’s withdrawal
will dampen the protests, which
have snowballed into the city’s
biggest political crisis in decades.

Gantz gets chance at forming
Israeli government: Former
Israeli military chief Benny Gantz
has been officially tasked by
President Reuven Rivlin with
forming the next government, but
he has few options after last

month’s elections left him in a
near tie with Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu
was given the first opportunity to
form a government but said this
week that he had failed to build a
61-seat majority. Gantz faces steep
odds, too, raising the possibility
that Israel will hold a third
election in less than a year. Gantz
has 28 days to form a coalition.

8 killed in Egypt rains: Heavy
rains that pummeled Cairo and
other parts of Egypt, causing
massive traffic jams and flooding
key roads, left at least eight people
dead, including four children,
authorities said. Schools and
universities in the greater Cairo
area were closed. Five of the
deaths occurred in three Nile
Delta provinces, according to the
Interior Ministry. Authorities in
northern Sinai reported two
deaths. In the Mediterranean city
of Alexandria, the rain caused a
building to collapse, killing a 7-
year-old, according to authorities.
— From news services



mopti, mali — The girls don’t
know each other, but they live in
identical plastic tents about a mile
apart. They’re both 12, struggling
to adjust here, pining for what
they can see only in their dreams.
“The cows, goats and sheep,”
said Hamsa, a daughter of Fulani
“Our house made of stone,” said
Mariam, a daughter of Dogon
Their families escaped to neigh-
boring camps this spring after
gunmen stormed their rural vil-
lages in central Mali, spraying bul-
lets into bedrooms and torching
grain huts. Their people had
shared that land in a fragile peace
for decades before the terrorists
invaded, setting off a surge of vio-
lence between the two communi-
Islamist militants who once
tried to conquer Mali by force are
striking again with an insidious
new strategy, security analysts
say: Fighters linked to al-Qaeda
and the Islamic State are provok-
ing feuds between old neighbors
— the Fulani and the Dogon — and
gaining ground by offering to pro-
tect victims of the conflict they’re
stoking. Now a record number of
people are fleeing their homes in
this West African nation twice the
size of Texas.
The extremist groups “broke
down systems that usually deal
with intercommunity violence,”
said Dennis Hankins, U.S. ambas-
sador to Mali.
Chaos has spilled south into
countries previously unshaken by
terrorism, including Burkina Faso
and Benin, and threatens to turn a
growing swath of West Africa into
a refuge for Islamist groups who
have lost territory in Syria and
Iraq and aim to rouse followers
Mali has sent a third of its
armed forces into the restive Mop-
ti region, where they’re backed by
soldiers from France and the Unit-
ed Nations, as well as American
intelligence and logistics. The bat-
tle fought on some of the world’s
harshest terrain shows no sign of
abating, experts say, as extremists
appeal to communities in need by
claiming they can offer services
the government has failed to sup-
Malians who flee to Sevare, a
dusty garrison town in Mopti, di-
vide into camps by ethnic group.
But inside those concrete walls,
common sentiments emerge: Peo-
ple say they don’t actually hate
their neighbors. They’re not sure
how this happened — how dor-
mant tensions could explode into
Like many from both communi-
ties, two girls in plastic tents are
gripped by the same desire.
“I really miss my village,” said
soft-spoken Hamsa, who lives in
the Fulani camp, where she busies
herself with the French alphabet.
“I hope we can return soon,”
said chatty Mariam, who lives on
the Dogon side and prefers num-
The fighting that upended their
lives has killed 817 civilians since
January, up from about 574 in the
previous year, according to the
Armed Conflict Location & Event
Data Project. Between January
and June, 150 children were killed,
per U.N. figures.
And at least 140,000 people
have been forced from their
homes this year, according to a
September report from the Inter-
nal Displacement Monitoring
Center — a nearly sevenfold up-
swing over the past 12 months.
Among them are the Dogon,
who hunt, farm and practice a mix
of religions in central Mali, and the
Fulani, who are primarily Muslim
and herd cattle across West Africa.

The groups have tangled over the
years, especially as climate change
has shrunk fertile land.
Tensions boiled over in March
when gunmen surrounded a Fu-
lani village, setting dwellings
ablaze and killing nearly 160 peo-
ple. Then an ambush on a Dogon
community in June claimed doz-
ens more lives.
Leaders from both ethnic
groups have denied involvement
in the attacks, which followed
smaller bursts of tit-for-tat vio-
lence, but villagers from both sides
said in interviews they were cer-
tain the other was responsible.
They criticized the military for fail-
ing to shield them. (The govern-
ment has said it lacks the resources
to patrol the vast countryside.)
Fueling the fight was an enemy
in the shadows, according to West-
ern officials and security analysts.
Unknown gunmen have targeted
Dogon chiefs and Fulani imams in
recent years, eliminating leaders
who had negotiated harmony be-
tween the ethnic groups for gener-

The al-Qaeda branch JNIM and
the Islamic State in the Greater
Sahara publicly urged the Fulani
to join their ranks for protection,
sparking accusations the herders
were harboring terrorists.
The Fulani denied the claim
and accused the Malian military of

arming Dogon hunters to destroy
Amid the confusion, no one was
there to help Hamsa and Mariam
when the conflict reached their
doorsteps. Both families fled in
March, unsure of where they were
going. Both girls have nightmares.
Both lost relatives.
“My grandparents,” the Fulani
daughter said.

“My uncle,” the Dogon daughter

Devastating chain reaction
The story of how Hamsa and
Mariam found themselves in
neighboring settlements starts
eight years ago and 1,400 miles

northeast with the fall of the Lib-
yan government.
Mercenaries once employed by
Moammar Gaddafi flooded back
to their native Mali in 2011 with
machine guns and grenades, un-
leashing a devastating chain reac-
Some of these ethnic Tuareg
rebels forged a shaky partnership
with Islamist militants in a quest

to claim Mali’s north, which failed
after France stepped in. (The reb-
els signed a peace agreement with
the government in 2015.)
But terrorism is a stubborn
menace. It crept to Mali’s more-
populated center. Extremist lead-
ers weakened in the Middle East
called on Africans to take up the
“From [Afghanistan] to Iraq to
Yemen, to Somalia to western and
central Africa,” Islamic State lead-
er Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said in a
recording released in September.
“Sacrifice your lives if you have to.”
This cause is tempting to some
young men, who analysts say have
grown desperate for food in recent
years as opportunity dried up in
Mali’s center and the government
focused on securing the capital
city, Bamako, about 400 miles
Criminal gangs in their neigh-
borhoods were clogging main
roads, killing at random as they
trafficked drugs. Herders couldn’t
move livestock, and farmers
couldn’t sell crops.

Mali became “a haven for many
terror groups to stage and launch
attacks across the region,” Gen.
Thomas Waldhauser, former head
of the U.S. Africa Command, said
in a February speech.
Tourism dried up in the region
known for historical mosques,
camping under the stars, dwell-
ings carved into sandstone cliffs
and a celebrated music scene.
(Bono performed at a Timbuktu
festival with Malian group Tinari-
wen in 2012.)
Now foreign governments warn
tourists to avoid Mali. “Do not
travel,” reads the U.S. State De-
partment’s advisory, and if you do:
“Draft a will.”
Under mounting pressure,
Prime Minister Soumeylou Bou-
bèye Maïga and his entire govern-
ment resigned in April.
His replacement, Boubou Cissé,
ordered roughly 15,000 troops to
the country’s center this spring in
response to the escalating blood-
shed. (His predecessor said Mali
lacked the manpower to stop the
conflict, but critics accuse the
country’s leaders of taking too
long to integrate former Tuareg
rebels into their forces after repel-
ling the takeover.)
Violence spiked again Oct. 1
when extremists ambushed two
army outposts, killing 25 soldiers
and stealing their equipment.
And people in makeshift camps
wonder when they can go home.

Two girls, same confusion
Hamsa, the daughter of Fulani
herders, misses the clay.
She used to dig for beige earth
after a downpour and sculpt little
families of cows.
It’s harder to find at her camp,
which UNICEF runs with the Ma-
lian government. About 150 peo-
ple from her ethnic group share a
space the size of a football field.
Sheep graze around their tents —
reminders of home.
A bus brought her 74 miles to
Sevare, which has a military base,
a bar named after Facebook, a
photo studio and some 40,
people trying to carry on as nor-
Extremists bombed a regional
counterterrorism headquarters
here last summer, and last month
a bus hit a land mine outside town,
killing 14. (Al-Qaeda’s JNIM re-
leased a rare apology on social
media — the mine was intended, it
said, for French soldiers.)
“It’s difficult to say what
brought us here,” said Hamsa’s
father, Drissa Bolly. “I’d never in
my life experienced ethnic vio-
lence. I don’t know who did this.”
Across town, Mariam, the
daughter of Dogon farmers, hears
similar confusion from her moth-
“It’s a misunderstanding be-
tween communities,” Aissata
Toupema said. “I cannot explain
Both families fled when gunfire
rang out in the dark. Neither saw
the attackers. Just buildings on
Both hunkered inside their
tents on a recent Tuesday as a
sandstorm blasted Sevare. They
packed together with new room-
mates, waiting for the sky to clear.
On these slow afternoons, Mari-
am thinks of her mare — a gray
beauty with white spots. She miss-
es brushing the horse, who didn’t
have a name. There’s only a stray
dog here.
Hamsa tries to focus on school.
Teachers help her recite French
letters. (Mariam looks forward to
math class.)
Neither knows anything about
the terrorists.
“I had a lot of freedom,” Hamsa
“I pray we can find peace,” Mari-
am said.

‘It’s a misunderstanding between

communities. I cannot explain it.’

Islamists once tried to take Mali by force. Now, in a new strategy, they are stoking feuds between
neighbors and offering protection. Perplexed families displaced by the chaos just want to go home.


TOP: Hamsa Bolly, 12, plays with other children at a camp for the displaced in Sevare, Mali, where she lives with her family of
Fulani herders. Nearby at another camp, Mariam Minta, also 12, lives with her family of Dogon farmers. They are among the
estimated 140,000 people forced from their homes this year by violence in central Mali. ABOVE: Mariam, left, misses math class
and her family’s stone house. Hamsa, right, misses her family’s cows, goats and sheep, but tries to stay busy studying French.

“It’s difficult to say what brought us here.

I’d never in my life experienced ethnic violence.

I don’t know who did this.”
Drissa Bolly, father of 12-year-old Hamsa
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