The UN is investigating charges that some of its Mali peacekeepers are guilty of corruption and “sexual misconduct” (which apparently includes rape, prostitution, or other mistreatment of women).
Niger continues to have problems dealing with al Qaeda terrorists. The current Niger government dates from 2011, when a period of military rule ended. The government has little real control over most of the country, and this has allowed several Islamic terrorist groups to use cash and intimidation to set up bases in some remote areas. NATO and U.S. military assistance has helped to locate where these terrorist operations might be but the Niger government is reluctant to stir up tribes that may be willingly hosting terrorists (usually for a price). U.S. Special Forces advisors tend to agree with the Niger officials and are trying to work out a more gradual and less disruptive approach to getting the terrorists out. Meanwhile, these terrorists plan and carry out raids inside Niger and in neighboring countries.
September 23, 2013: Al Qaeda announced that it had finally replaced two leaders (Algerians Muhammad al Ameen Ould al Hasan and Abou Zei) who had been killed by French troops in northern Mali earlier this year. The replacements are Algerian Saeed Abu Muqatil and a Mauritanian named Aderrahmane. That it took so long to find replacements supports French claims that they are doing some serious damage to the Islamic terror groups that came to Mali.
September 19, 2013: France declared that al Qaeda had been beaten in northern Mali and that French troops would stay for as long as al Qaeda threatened to make a comeback in Mali. That could be for several years or longer.
In Mali the three main non-terrorist rebel groups in the north agreed to peace talks with the government to deal with the issues that triggered the Tuareg and Arab rebellion in the north (that was eventually hijacked by Islamic terrorist factions) last year.
September 16, 2013: Some Chadian peacekeepers (about 160) have abandoned their base in the northeastern town of Tessalit and headed south for the Gao. The officer leading the deserters says they have not been paid nor received money for accommodations. Corruption among African peacekeepers is a common problem.
September 15, 2013: In the northern city of Kidal, Tuareg civilians threw rocks at vehicles carrying Mali officials who flew in from the south. A June 18 peace deal had the MNLA (Tuareg rebels) leave Kidal, their last stronghold. The MNLA had controlled Kidal since March 2012, as they tried to establish a role in governing the largely Tuareg north. MNLA had been forced out of Kidal by Islamic terrorists for nine months and regained control in January 2013. French and Chadian troops had been in Kidal for over six months and have been joined by some other African peacekeepers. The hundreds of MNLA rebels were supposed to return to their homes but some stayed around Kidal and many turned to crime to survive.
September 11, 2013: For the first time since the June 18 peace agreement Mali troops skirmished with MNLA rebels. Three soldiers were wounded.