Things have apparently settled down a bit in Mali, but at a transition point the danger is high.
Article reports that AQIM has started a PR campaign on Twitter. Oookay. Given the reported ability of intelligence assets to track electronic signals and what I see on my computer on how frequently my machine pulls down updates, I’m not sure that’s a particularly good move. Perhaps not a great idea for your fans and people in the field to be pulling down updates every few minutes.
4-22-13 – Wall Street Journal – In Nigeria Battle, Militants Reveal Bolstered Firepower
A battle last weekend in far northeast Nigeria reportedly left 180 fatalities. The article says the Boko Haram members received training from AQIM in Timbuktu last year in the use of rocket-propelled grenades. This firefight is the first reported time they used RPGs.
4-22-13 – WSJ-Europe cautions against Quitting Mali Too Soon
Mali was supposed to be a triumph in the war against global terrorism, but already it is at risk of becoming another unfinished war.
The Chadian and French forces are pulling back. The article credits the troops from Chad with successfully battling the militants. Those troops will be replaced by a U.N. peacekeeping force which has far less training and capability.
The editorial writers do not hold much hope for that effort:
Multinational African forces under the auspices of the U.N. have even less experience against jihadists than Chad does. And even where al Qaeda hasn’t been involved, the blue helmets’ record in Africa falls short of illustrious. The peacekeepers did little more than watch while nearly a million Rwandans were slaughtered in the 1994 genocide. More recently, human-rights groups have repeatedly reported sex-for-food abuses by U.N. peacekeepers in the Second Congo War.
The article points out the militants are in this for the long run. The danger is:
French and Chadian forces have been brave and effective in disrupting that work, and we are not making the case here for an endless intervention. But a drawdown that is too abrupt could leave northern Mali as defenseless against al Qaeda as it was last year.
4-25-13 – WSJ – U.N. Votes to Send Peace Force to Mali
The U.N. Security Council has approved a peacekeeping force of 12,600 troops for northern Mali. Half will come from a task force already in the country and the other half from new troops from other countries.
The article says the French are starting their draw down:
France, whose forces entered Mali in January, has said it plans to reduce its forces there to 2,000 in July and 1,000 by the end of the year.
The article gives a quick background, then notes the skirmishes between French forces and militants are of decreasing frequency.