The United States of America has designated Iyad ag Ghali as a terrorist leader under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.
Reports say the notorious Iyad ag Ghali is the terrorist leader of Ansar Dine, a global terrorist group. Ghali was instrumental in the takeover of northern Mali and is working with al-Qaida operatives in Mali.
According to the US State Department, as a result of the action, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Ghali has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are prohibited from doing business with him. The U.N. also added Ag Ghali to its global sanctions list.
The UN listing requires all member states to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against Ghali. The UN action demonstrates international resolve in eliminating Ghali’s violent activities in Mali and the surrounding region.
Who is Iyad ag Ghali
Iyad ag Ghali is the leader of Ansar al-Dine (AAD), an organization operating in Mali which cooperates closely with al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Ghali founded AAD in late 2011 because his effort to take over a secular Tuareg organization failed due to his extremist views.
Ghali has received backing from AQIM in AAD’s fight against Malian and French forces, most notably in the capture of the Malian towns of Agulhok, Tessalit, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, between January and April 2012.
Before the French-led intervention in January this year, Malian citizens under AAD’s control had faced harassment, torture, or execution.
Before founding AAD, Ghali directed a 1990 rebellion against the Malian government.
In 1991, he became the secretary general of an MPLA splinter group before becoming the Tuareg community’s leading negotiator with the Malian President’s office after the 1992 peace accords.
In 1999 and 2003, Ghali served as an intermediary in the release of western hostages held by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (a precursor organization to AQIM).
In 2006, Ghali took command of the rebel fighters responsible for attacks on military bases in Kidal, Mali.
In Timbuktu, Ghali imposed strict Sharia law and forced thousands to flee. Some were tortured and executed.
US responds to evolving crisis in Mali
US asserts the evolving crisis in Mali is one of the most difficult, complex, and urgent problems West Africa has faced in decades.
Mali’s problems reflect the fragility of governance in the region, the lack of economic development especially in northern Mali where the absence of meaningful opportunities for people to engage with their governments, and the widespread desperation that exists in an unforgiving, arid region with chronic food insecurity.
According to US government,presence of extremists in northern Mali poses a threat to the entire Sahel region and beyond.
The security situation in northern Mali has changed over the last month due to French intervention and US remains concerned about the continued presence of terrorist and extremist groups, including AQIM and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).
The French are disrupting and dislodging terrorist enclaves, and liberating northern towns and populations after more than a year of terrorist occupation, he said.
Efforts to address the surge of extremism
The US is partnering with countries throughout the region to support their efforts to strengthen border security and their capacity to respond to threats. US regional counterterrorism support is coordinated through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
The primary goal of the program is to address the threat of AQIM. As AQIM has expanded its reach through the flow of arms, supplies, and fighters from North Africa into the region, US assistance and support through the partnership continues to evolve to meet the changing threat.
Democratic elections will give the Malian Government the credibility it needs to effectively partner with regional militaries, negotiate with northern populations, and reassert civilian rule.
US welcomed Malian National Assembly’s January 29 unanimous approval of a political road map to restore democracy and promote national reconciliation.
The US urges the interim Malian Government to implement the plan seriously and expeditiously.
The US continues to unequivocally state that coup leader Captain Sanogo and the rest of the military junta members must remove themselves – completely and permanently – from Malian politics.
US response to the challenge
The US has imposed targeted travel sanctions on 87 individuals who were involved in the coup, who supported its authors, or who continue to impede the restoration of democracy.
US says any continued interference in Mali’s progress towards the restoration of democracy is unacceptable and risks the imposition of further sanctions from the United States, partner counties, and international organizations.
Tuareg rebellion that started in northern Mali in January 2012 is part of a longstanding cycle of rebellion and failed attempts to address these grievances.
US outlines that stopping northern Mali’s cycle of instability will require a serious and sustained effort by Malian authorities, non-extremist northern groups, regional actors, and international partners to address the legitimate political and economic grievances of non-extremist northern groups from Timbuktu to Gao to Kidal.
The US strongly supports the resumption of negotiations with all parties who have cut ties to terrorist organizations, have renounced violence, and who recognize, without conditions, the unity and territorial integrity of the Malian state.
The conflict in Mali exacerbated an already difficult humanitarian situation caused by drought and poor harvests followed by flooding.
Since the start of the fighting in Mali, more than 400,000 people have become refugees or internally displaced.
This includes over 240,000 people displaced within Mali and nearly 170,000 refugees in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Algeria, he noted.
US Response to the humanitarian crisis
The United States continues to work to mitigate the effects of this humanitarian crisis.
In fiscal year 2012 and to date in fiscal year 2013, the United States provided more than $120 million in humanitarian assistance to address the emergency in Mali, he reported.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently issued its 2013 consolidated appeal, seeking more than $370 million to assist 4.3 million vulnerable Malians countrywide, Mr. Carson said.
The violence in Mali has displaced nearly 500,000 people from their homes, and 4.5 million more are suffering from dwindling food supplies.
The United States has already provided more than $378 million to meet the escalating humanitarian needs in the Sahel.
The US asserts that only a democratically elected government will have the legitimacy to achieve a negotiated political settlement in Northern Mali, end the rebellion, and restore the rule of law.
The outbreak of conflict in northern Mali was caused by clashes between Government forces and Tuareg rebels.
Tuareg rebels launched a new rebellion in the north on 17th of January. Since then, troops have clashed with rebels in several northern towns.
Tuareg nomads are present throughout the Sahel region of Africa. Both Mali and Niger have battled Tuareg uprisings in the last decade.
The Sahel has regularly been afflicted by food insecurity as drought, poor harvests and rising food prices have left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
The Sahel belt of Africa stretches from Senegal to Eritrea.