Growing attention on Mali

Two major articles in the Wall Street Journal taking up a full-page in the first section.  The U.S. may get involved in Northern Africa.  Why?  An area the size of France with no functioning government serving as a safe haven for terrorists.  No wonder there’s growing interest.  (Both articles behind paywall.) 

The first article, Terror Fight Shifts to Africa, suggests senior level people might want to get official authorization for military action in the Sahara.  There’s a debate whether current authorizations are sufficient.

Second article, Mali Gambles on Warlord as Peacemaker, provides background on Ansar Dine and its leader Iyad ag Ghaly. Also provides background on the current bad guys, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.

Might be time to learn those names.

Ansar Dine is a movement that was an ally of AQIM when they jointly took over northern Mali.  Apparently Ansar Dine is a milder form of militant Islam.  On the other hand, they are apparently the group that blew up ancient buildings in Timbuktu that an important part of Islamic history for some people but which they consider heretical.  I’m still trying to figure out the picture.

Well, the article suggests that the leaders in the Mali government can work with Ansar Dine.

Walter Russell Mead discusses the articles in his post, The War on Terror We Aren’t Fighting Shifts to Africa.

Amongst his points are that the battles we will have are going to need to be fought in different ways in each country. More important and depressing point is that the war on terror isn’t over.

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