Top of the Morning: Annan’s Transition Plan Takes Shape; Islamist Rebels Capture Key Mali Town; Massive Flooding in Bangladesh

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Secular and Islamist Rebel Factions Clash in Northern Mali

Northern Mali has been under the de-facto control of an alliance of secular nationalists from the Tuareg ethnic group and Islamists militants affiliated with al Qaeda. That alliance frayed in recent weeks as the Islamist faction attempted to impose Islamic law on some areas under its control. In the town of Gao, that disagreement turned into open fighting between an Islamist group and the Tuareg MLNA that left at least 20 people dead. The Islamist faction seems to have taken control of the town. “The battle follows weeks of tension between the separatist Tuareg-led group MNLA and well-armed local Islamists who helped it seize the northern two-thirds of Mali in April but whose goal is to impose sharia Islamic law across the country. One witness said the former governor’s residence in Gao which the MNLA had turned into the “palace” of the northern territory it calls the independent state of Azawad, had been heavily damaged by heavy arms fire during the battle” (Reuters

Massive Rains Displace 250,000 in Bangladesh

Rainy season is hitting Bangladesh, with predictably devastating results. “At least 100 people have died and 250,000 left stranded by flash floods and landslides in Bangladesh set off by the heaviest rain in years, police and officials said on Wednesday. The low-lying and densely populated country, which is in its wet season, has been battered by five days of torrential downpours. The deaths took place late on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Most were caused by landslides, others by wall collapses, lightning strikes and surges of floodwater. Army, police and fire brigade personnel were helping in rescue efforts. Weather officials said more rain was expected over the next few days… At least 23 people were killed in and around the southeastern port city of Chittagong, while 36 died in Bandarban in an area known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts.” (AlertNet

The Next Kofi Annan Plan for Syria: Form a ‘Unity Government’

Kofi Annan is gathering all the relevant diplomatic actors (except Saudi Arabia and Iran) in Geneva this weekend for a last-ditch effort to secure a peace in Syria. At the heart of this proposal is forming a post-Assad “transitional government.” As always, the key determinant of the success of the plan is the extent to which Russia presses Assad to accept it. So, what do you think of this posturing from the Russian Foreign Minister? “Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei V. Lavrov, said at a news conference in Moscow on Thursday that Syria needs a period of political transition but reiterated Moscow’s resistance to any plan being imposed by the international community. ‘In order to overcome the Syrian crisis and to finally establish stable rights and norms which satisfy all groups in the Syrian population, it is necessary to have a transitional period, this is obvious,’ Lavrov said…’The meeting in Geneva was intended to support Kofi Annan’s plan and it must set the conditions for the end of violence and the start of an all-Syrian national dialogue, and not pre-determine the contents of this dialogue.” Lavrov said.’”  (DayPress