Mali Gold Rush

Fighting has erupted in the west African state of Mali. Around 5000 rebels known as Tuareg soldiers were hired by Colonel Ghaddafi as a mercenary army to protect his puppet regime. Although Tuareg rebels resisted Libyans revolutionaries but they could not hold on to their positions under NATO firepower. They left their leader to hide in a drain like a rat. They are now returning for another unfinished war with Mali Army. The prize for Mali’s victor is an amazing list of world’s most valued minerals. Mali is 1.25 mln sq km (more than twice of BD) and a population of nearly 15 million (10% of BD). A GDP of USD 6Bn makes Mali one of the poorest countries in the world. 90% of Malians are Muslims. Islam came to Mali in the 11th century. Under the Mali Empire this country had once been a center for trade (trans Sahara trade) and Islamic learning in the 14th century. Famed Timbuktu with a rich history of different cultures coming together happens to be here. The famine of 18th century is said to have wiped out 50% of Timbuktu population. Today, Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world with 50% of its population living on less than 1.25 dollar a day. It is surrounded by Algeria, Niger, Cote de Ivorie, Senegal and Mauritania. Mali’s main economic activity is agriculture. Its mineral resources are some of the most wanted in the world. There are proven deposits of gold, uranium and salt. Mali however could not recover from the lack of investments during French colonial era. Trade shifted from trans Sahara to the coasts which reduced Mali’s importance. Following independence from French colony Mali found corrupt governments in succession. Its military is fragile and is fully dependent on regional security alliances (with international backing) for holding power. Tuareg soldiers are desperate to find employment after the loss of their patron. They are back from Libya armed with grenades and rocket launchers. But these mercenaries proved to be terrible planners. Its highly unlikely that they will be able to devise any strategy to take control of Mali’s rich resources.

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