Deep background on Mali

If you are interested in what’s happening across northern Africa, especially Mali, here are two articles with more in-depth reporting than you will see anywhere else.

Adam Garfinkle in American Interest:

The articles in one sentence: the situation in Mali is vastly, phenomenally more complicated that you realized with implications going far beyond Mali that you hadn’t thought about.

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Mail update – U.S. starts supply flights, French forces retake city

Just a short recap of the last few days.

The U.S. has started flying supplies into Mali on behalf of the French forces (Reuters – U.S. beings transporting French troops, equipment to Mali). There are reportedly two flights a day to Bamako, the capital.

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Superb background article on fighting in Mali

Via Meadia points to a great background article in the blog, “Africa is a Country.” Their post is France in Mali: the End of the Fairytale. Lots of good info to help understand what is happening there.

Mr. Mead introduces the post’s author this way:

Gregory Mann, a West African historian, Columbia University professor, and reporter for the blog Africa Is A Country, has been covering Mali for some time now, and in his latest piece he gives us the informed perspective that is often missing in the accounts of mainstream reporters, who are only now scrambling to catch up to a complicated story:

The article explains the context of the fighting over the last week or so. A few highlights (for me at least):

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France starts air operations in Mali

A quick survey on developments in Mali:

Wall Street JournalFrench Join Africa Battle With Islamist Rebels – Paris Puts Troops on Ground, Asks U.S. for Drones to Help Fight al Qaeda-Linked Insurgents Gaining a Foothold in Mali

France has put boots on the ground. They have requested the US provide surveillance drones. Speculation in the article, or perhaps it is a trial balloon, indicated the US will assist. Several countries near Mali have troops on the scene.

WSJAs Nations Plot an Offensive in Mali, Rebels Edge South

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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.

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War plans in Mali are shaping up

If you want a depressing visual that shows the trouble brewing in Africa, check out the map sketched by Via Meadia in Walter Mead’s post War Plans for Mali Leaked.

That long green area in the north half of Mali stretching into center Niger is the area of influence for the jihadist group that controls northern Mali. That green area in the northern two-thirds of Nigeria is the area controlled by Boko Haram. 

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Looks like a nasty storm brewing in Mali

Actually, it’s a war that is brewing there.

This headline by Walter Russell Mead explains the problem: International Jihadis Descend on Mali. He says:

What is certain is that all over the world jihadis and jihadi wanna-bes have a new destination: northern Mali, where the ill-judged war in Libya has created a safe haven for some of the worst people in the world.

Northern Mali is controlled by a few factions of the jihadis. That makes it a great place to go if you want to plan and train without interruptions from bombs, missiles, and visits from heavy-armed & highly unfriendly soldiers.

The basic plan by France, with some level of approval from the U.N. Security Council, is taking shape. Continue reading “Looks like a nasty storm brewing in Mali”

Downward spiral in Mali – rebel alliance unfolds

The alliance between the local Tuareg rebels in northern Mali with the Ansar Dine militants from Libya has ended.

Walter Russell Mead summarizes developments in his post The Longest Afterparty Ever? Libya and Mali.

The concise summary: Continue reading “Downward spiral in Mali – rebel alliance unfolds”

Unintended consequences – Ripple effects in Mali from Libyan war

Developments in Mali are interesting to me because I have traveled there in the past.

News in recent months is sad. Previous post describes a coup by the military leaders.

Walter Russell Mead reports in AQ Sympathizers Proclaim Islamic Republic in Northern Mali that several factions have banded together to declare an Islamic Republic in the northern portion of Mali.

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