World News Brief, Tuesday October 16

UN Security Council approves plan for military intervention in Mali against Islamist extremists; Philippines signs peace pact with Muslim rebels to end 40 years of conflict; South Korea apologises for undetected defection of North Korean soldier; Turkey grounds Armenian plane on way to Syria; African Union chooses new head; and more

Top of the Agenda: International Community Reacts to UN Mali Resolution

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved (AP) a French-sponsored resolution that paves the way for military intervention in Mali to retake the north from Islamist extremists, giving organizations like the African Union and West African regional body ECOWAS forty-five days to map a detailed plan. The al-Qaeda-linked fighters threatened to "open the doors of hell" (AlJazeera) for France, whose president François Hollande said the country would remain undeterred, although it will not be committing any combat troops (France24). Algeria, which has itself held talks with the militant Ansar Dine group but resists becoming a proxy of the West, gave a guarded welcome (Reuters) to Friday's UN resolution. Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels took control of the north after Mali's president was overthrown in March.


"We must expand the humanitarian response to this crisis, and not allow it to slip off an international agenda that has been completely preoccupied by events in Syria. We must ensure that refuge is provided to those people who need it, that uprooted populations do not become targets for exploitation, manipulation and recruitment by armed groups, and that their capacity to remain economically active is maintained. We cannot remain indifferent to their plight. Without an adequate humanitarian response that allows people to live safely, with dignity, and with a vision of a future, disaffection and despair can themselves become factors in the perpetuation of conflict," writes António Guterres for the New York Times.

"A decade of growing U.S. military involvement on the continent has not only failed to curb instability and the growth of so-called 'terrorist' groups; the United States' actions in Somalia and Libya have directly fed the formation of such organizations. And 'training' foreign militaries has hardly stabilized things. Indeed, Amadou Sanogo, the Malian army captain who overthrew the civilian government in the wake of the Tuareg offensive, was trained by the U.S. military. Sanogo attended the Defense Language Institute in 2005 and 2007, a U.S. Army intelligence program in 2008, and an officer-training course in 2010," writes Conn Hallinan for Foreign Policy in Focus.

"Washington has a different plan. The U.S. wants to follow the model it is using to fight Somalia's Shabab movement. In the last four years, the U.S. has spent some $600 million to rent an African proxy force of 20,000 Ugandan, Ethiopian and Kenyan soldiers to invade Somalia and battle Shabab. Washington plans a similar strategy in Mali, led by its sexy new star, Africa Command. Nigeria is expected to play a key role; Morocco and Algeria may contribute troops. All this seems like a lot of effort to combat a bunch of Saharan tribesmen and troublemakers in pickup trucks in a place whose main city, Timbuktu, is a synonym for remoteness and obscurity," writes Eric Margolis for the Nation.



Philippines Signs Peace Pact With Muslim Rebels

The Philippines signed a peace plan with the country's largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, after lengthy negotiations (Telegraph) to end the forty-year conflict. The pact provides a new autonomous region in the south, where Muslims are a majority in the mainly Catholic nation.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea's defense minister apologized publicly on Monday (Yonhap) for the undetected defection early this month of a North Korean soldier, and announced disciplinary measures again fourteen military officials for the incident.


Turkey grounds Armenian plane on way to Syria

African Union names new head



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