Top stories from DAWNS Digest

Ethnic Clashes Erupt in Timbuktu

A troubling sign of what may come if the Malian army is unwilling or unable to maintain control. “Simmering ethnic tensions boiled over in Mali on Tuesday as the army hunted down suspected Islamist fighters and residents took revenge on shops belonging to the Tuareg and Arab minorities. Reports from the Saharan city of Timbuktu said dozens of residents had attacked property owned by Tuareg and Arab traders whom they suspected of collaborating with the rebels. The al-Qaida-allied fighters evacuated the town last week as French and Malian forces closed in. There were fears that the Tuareg civilians could now be caught up in a bloody backlash, both from angry neighbours and from the army. Malian soldiers were deployed in Timbuktu on Tuesday but made little effort to stop widespread ethnic-based looting.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/VvymvG)

Mali Pledging Conference Nets $455 Million

It looks like the African-led intervention force will get most of the startup money it needs to begin a Mali intervention. “African and Western nations on Tuesday pledged more than $450 million to fund an African-led military force to fight Islamist extremists in Mali. Britain, meanwhile, announced that it has offered to send up to 200 military officers to help train a West African force in Mali, including up to 40 people that could be sent to Mali as part of an EU training mission of 500 personnel. At the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia, a top official, Ramtane Lamamra, said nations had pledged $455.5 million for the United Nations-authorized African-led Support Mission in Mali, or AFISMA. The AU says AFISMA requires an initial budget of $461 million. Additional support needed for Mali’s army and the West African bloc known as ECOWAS raises the overall financial need to near $960 million.” (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/WsLgbs)

Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself / My Name is Secretary of State John Kerry

The senator was overwhelmingly confirmed today to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. “Kerry, beaming, was warmly congratulated by his fellow senators after the vote. At the hearing of the Foreign Affair Committee, which he has chaired for four years, Kerry was visibly moved by applause and praise from his fellow senators. ‘I’m honored beyond words,’ he said, before making brief remarks about the importance of the committee going forward on issues like Middle East peace. Kerry, who became a U.S. senator 28 years ago, said he will make a final speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday. ‘What a privilege to work with you and now to work with you in a different way. I thank you very, very much,’ Kerry said.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/VoXsJc)