I know that there are many people that care about the situation taking place in the African country of Mali…..but that should change…..the US is about to enter into the fray in support of our ally, France………

Just in case you do not know where Mali is located…….allow me to help……..

Our French brethren have commenced a ground assault on the militants in Mali….in the North of the country……could this be a 6 day war or will it continue to fight on and on?  And what could be the results of the fighting?

………… the military action was expected to be “difficult” for France.

“Ansar al-Dine and other armed rebel groups that have control of the area know the terrain very well, and they have very sophisticated weapons,” she said, referring to the rebel-controlled northern part of Mali.

She said the first Nigerian contingent of about 190 soldiers was due to arrive in Mali on Thursday.

The parliament in Niger was waiting for approval to send its own contingent of more than 500 soldiers, currently waiting at the border, Al Jazeera’s Moshiri said.

For those who care — and we suggest you do — the democratically-elected government of Mali was thrown out in March by a faction of nomadic people living in the north of the country called the Tuareg. But the separatist Tuareg got more than they bargained for when they asked a local Islamist militant group, the Rebels of the Ansar Dine, to help. They helped all right: they called in their friends, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which swiftly moved to displace the Tuareg, imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia law on the moderate Sufi Muslims there in the north, and rendered Timbuktu — an ancient, bustling center of trade and tourism — a “ghost town.”

By the way, according to reports, the Ansar Dine and AQIM are apparently “flush” with weapons, thanks to the looting that occurred after the U.S.-led regime change in Libya. Furthermore, the leader of the Tuareg military coup, which opened the doors to what Bruce Riedel calls al Qaeda’s largest foothold “since the fall of Afghanistan in 2001,” was none other than Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, who came to the United States several times for “professional military education, including basic officer training,” according to The Washington Post.

“Three things emerge from the haze. First, fierce fighting in the North and the East, with French forces in the lead, will open up a whole new set of dangers. With Islamist forces on the attack, foreign intervention was necessary, and many Malians at home and abroad welcomed it enthusiastically. Still, this remains a dangerous moment all around.

“Second, while the latest crisis might not break the political deadlock in Bamako, it has already changed the dynamic. And third, despite the sorry state of mediation efforts to date – both within West Africa and beyond – savvy diplomacy is needed now more than ever.” - Gregory Mann, commenting on January 14 on the situation in Mali.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Mali, including in 2012, see http://www.africafocus.org/country/mali.php

For a recent article with additional background on previous U.S. counter-productive support for Mali’s military, see “French Strikes in Mali Supplant Caution of U.S.”, New York Times, Jan. 14, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com / direct URL – http://tinyurl.com/boxv8va

For an article with background on the U.S. role past and present, see “U.S. Prepares Support for French Military Intervention in Mali” IPS, January 15, 2012 http://allafrica.com/stories/201301150071.html

For a pair of articles from last fall, by Gregory Mann and Simon Allison, respectively supporting and opposing military intervention, appearing in African Arguments and in the Guardian, now moot but with much useful background, see http://tinyurl.com/cofaqvv and http://tinyurl.com/clh4bnt

Mali is a hop skip and jump from Nigeria and Nigeria is home to many oil fields which the US gets oil…….if Islamists are successful in Mali, it will be only a matter of time before they start looking South……..and then the US will certainly have just cause for intervention…….

Also the French have embarked into the same situation that sucked in the US in Somalia…..this could be disastrous in the end results…..

As I have said……..I want to be optimistic……but I am too old to be so……

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