The Situation in Mali

The Situation in Mali continues with little end in sight. The already fractured conflict added another group this last week.

The new group, which calls itself the Islamic Movement for the Azawad and is led by Alghabass Ag Intalla, a prominent leader of the Tuareg ethnic group, becomes at least the sixth group to be fighting in an increasingly complex battle to control northern Mali.

via Faction Splits From Ansar Dine in Northern Mali – NYTimes.com.

Mali, perhaps known best for the city of Timbuktu, has been in conflict since last year when a group of Tuareg declared independence for the region of Azawad(which does contain the only city in Mali most of us have heard of). The Tuareg are a seminomadic people that live in the Saharan Desert as a minority in a number of nations.

Since then, the conflict has splintered. On one side, the government of Mali with support from multiple area countries incide Economic Community of West African States and France with some US support. The government of Mali is a small bit of a misnomer though, since they have had two military coups in the last year. Essentially the government of Mali is the military of Mali.

Photo by Gina Gleeson, used under CC-BY 2.0 license.
Photo by Gina Gleeson, used under CC-BY 2.0 license.
On another side is the Tuaregs. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) is the group that started the chage. Inside this group are people who fought on both sides of the Libyan civil war. While originally in opposition to the Mali Government, they have now realigned due to the rise of the third (and most fractured) side.

This side is largely composed of Ansar Dine are largely Tuareg, while others such as Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa include a number of foreign fighters.

This is the conflict that is part of what lead to the Hostage situation in an Algerian natural gas complex. If left unresolved, it will continue to cause instability throughout Northern and Western Africa.

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