[Update on 06/12/12: the videos below are no longer available on Vimeo. The full film is available on Youtube]
Do you like the newspaper Echorouk and his often manipulated articles? Then you’ll love Echorouk TV and its documentaries! The media group, close to the Algerian regime, broadcasts a documentary whose catchy title can be translated as « Timbuktu the heartland of the Taliban of Africa », no less. In this film, one can find a more or less strutured mounting, the use of other unsourced videos from the internet without an explicit mention of their origin, and sometimes an exaggerated comment by the narrator. The fact remains that this document has the merit to show life in the Timbuktu region, under the control of both the MNLA and Ansar al-Din movements. As such, it deserves to be better dissected by specialized observers of the Sahel. Other warnings, this document was filmed in April and sequences have already been broadcasted separately.
Here’s a quick summary of this film, which is currently available in four separate parts.
The journalist met first with the representative of the MNLA (Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad) in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Along with him, he crossed the border to get to Mali. There are excerpts of meetings with officials from Mali, the foreign minister and chief of staff of the Malian presidency, places are not specified.
In Azawad (Northern Mali), a person says that along with Islamist movement Ansar al-Din (AD) and MNLA, there was also the Islamist movement Ahl Al Sunnah Wal Jamaa, better known under the name of Boko Haram. Another witness said that the original name of Ansar al-Din was the Islamic Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. the credibility of these witnesses is difficult to assess.
A MNLA unit shows its armed forces. The Tuareg movement controls many small towns and villages around Timbuktu. The city has fallen after negotiations with the Malian army units, who have evacuated their barracks. The Islamist Ansar al-Din arrived after the fall of the city. Some say that there were prior agreements between AD and MNLA, others say that AD was installed among the civilians in the MNLA by a surprise maneuver. A witness said that most Christians have left the city of Timbuktu.The MNLA shows a fighter defector who left AD due to the presence of hundreds of foreign fighters in it (as translated by Echorouk).
Negotiations at the airport in Timbuktu between the Arab Front (Berabeesh tribes), members of the MNLA and Tuareg tribal leaders (Again, this was filmed in April). The journalist talks about the presence of foreign fighters with European nationalities (Information to be confirmed).
Film of the release of the Swiss hostage woman in April 2012. Preceded by a meal and discussion with Burkinabe General and AD’s negotiator Sanda Ould Bouamama. The journalist talks about a ransom of 10 million euros. The Burkina Faso’s official told him to stick to the facts.
Demonstration in Timbuktu with people carrying placards « Where is the Malian state? ». They criticize the attitude of Captain Sanogo and Bamako’s authorities, feel to have been forgotten.
My overall impression is that the MNLA was in a wait & see posture against the Islamists, who had a higher resolution. To be watched closely…
Baki @7our Mansour