Le Front de Libération de Macina ?
Mali is abuzz with a new concept: The Macina Liberation Front, purportedly a new terrorist organisation, referred to in a recent document published by Human Rights Watch who holds them responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in central Mali: the regions of Mopti and Segou. Malian press as well as RFI (Radio France Inter) has picked up on this, and the spin is in full spin as it were… The Independent (the Malian one, not the UK version) has the lurid headline: ‘Mopti, the Venise of the North, in a state of psychosis, last weekend’. (This may be slightly exaggerated, since I just spoke to a Mopti friend of mine who said she had never heard of it).
Of course I, as a hotel owner in the region, have every reason to play down something like this and I am aware that my opinion is unlikely to be taken seriously . Nevertheless, I will add my little dissenting voice to the overwhelming clamour of the MINUSMA specialists and the Human Rights Watch people, who write their reports mostly from the safety and comfort of Bamako.
But his statement , those of RFI and of all other commentators make the fundamental mistake of not pointing out - either by ignorance or by expedience- that the regions of Mopti and Segou have the geographical dividing line of the river Niger running through them: all the large cities and administration centres are situated to the east of the river Niger and they follow the main road leading to the north i.e. Segou, San, Bla, Mopti, Djenné, Sevaré, Mopti. The eastern regions also include the entire Dogon country. These are the regions that have 'been spared' and they still are.