Article Published by; TheMaghrebiNote
The Jihadis in Mali have been affected by the French invasion of Mali and operation they named Operation Serval.
Not only did Al-Qaeda and its allies had to deal with big casualties, but also their operational capabilities have been weakened heavily.
Although looking at the changes and the strategic adjustments that Al-Qaeda and its allies have made, something suggests that they are now adapting to the new reality that they face.
Following the Al-Qaeda manual after being pushed out of Northern-Mali, the Jihadis have applied a Guerilla Warfare campaign – ambushing the UN-forces and the French Army where they least expect it.
Over the last few months, we have seen the Jihadis conduct several attacks on UN-forces stationed in Northern Mali, leaving especially the Chadian forces to face a great number of Casualties.
Furthermore the different organizations, two of them being officially linked to Al-Qaeda facing their ideological differences have adjusted some of the roles appointed to each group. AQIM together with Ansar Al-Dine are running most of the Guerilla Warfare campaign in Northern Mali, especially the Timbuktu-area and Kidal region.
Al-Mourabitoune, Red Beard & Mokhtar Belmokhtar and their role
Mokhtar Belmokhtar and his ally, Omar Hamaha also known as “Red Beard” now seem to be lesser focused on Mali, although they have carried out attacks this year, their main position is to carry out attacks in Niger targeting French interests. On 21st November, Al-Mourabitoune claimed responsibility for an attack in Niger that left 1 person dead – it was Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi, a close ally of Oumar Hamaha who claimed responsibility for the attack. Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi along with his friend Omar Hamaha were both announced dead by the French in airstrikes, Abu Assem Al-Muhajir, the former spokesman of Al-Mourabitoune had denied that claim in an interview with ANI. Although now it seems that Abu Assem Al-Muhajir was arrested by Nigerien forces boosted by the fact that it was Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi who claimed responsibility for latest attack and not Abu Assem.
Its important to note that Oumar Hamaha had already pledged his allegiance to Mokhtar Belmokhtar hence its perfectly logical for a top-figure in the former MUJAO, Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi to become spokesman for Al-Mourabitoune, Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group
Ansar Al-Dine and their importance for Al-Qaeda
Ansar Al-Dine in Mali function as a very important group when it comes to the existence and effectiveness of Al-Qaeda in Mali and its future.
Initially Ansar Al-Dine in Mali functioned as an umbrella group for Al-Qaeda, very much like Harakat Al-Shabab in Somalia. A group that can formally function and appear as a local movement seeking local goals – and before the French intervened, this tactic was applied by Al-Qaeda in order to prevent a possible international intervention.
The effectiveness of that tactic that was applied by Al-Qaeda before the intervention now seem to be pointless, for that reason it would be very likely that Ansar Al-Dine sooner or later will be tied under Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – although one thing that still is important for Al-Qaeda is Iyad Ag Ghali, his regional influence & power and his love for the implementation of Islamic governance in the region.
Al-Qaeda in Mali seem at the moment to be very much beat down in light of Operation Serval and also upcoming struggle under Operation Barkhane – although it seems Al-Qaeda and its allied have prepared for this, as Abu Mus’ab Abdelwadod (Abdelmalek Droukdel), leader of AQIM said in a video released by AQIM’s media wing, Al-Andalus media foundation named “French Invasion of Mali, a proxy war”:
“If you want it a war then we are ready, and we will attain victory through the power and might of Allah, as he said in his book; “Those who were certain in their return to their lord said, how many times a small army vanquished a mighty army, indeed Allah is with the patient”
Pledging that their few numbers will not keep them away from continuing fighting this war, despite the great losses.