AFRICA: Food for Thought

January 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

Why Mali Matters

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

For more than a decade we’ve been told how important it is for the U.S. and its allies in the war on terrorism to stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan. If nothing else, one argument went, U.S. presence in those countries keeps them stable and keeps them from being turned into terrorist bases.

Since then the argument has been made for U.S. intervention in Yemen, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya. The key is keeping offshoots and allies of the terrorist group, al Qaeda, from gaining in a foothold around the Horn of Africa or the Muslim dominated countries of North Africa.

An op-ed piece in the New York Times today (Jan. 15) argues that now the U.S. must help the French military in its battle against terrorists, insurgents and Islamic extremists in the North African state of Mali. Written by Vicki Huddleston, who was U.S. ambassador to Mali from 2002 to 2005.

She maintains that its important that the U.S. do what it can — without committing combat troops — to prevent Mali from becoming “a launchpad for terrorism.”  The rebels in northern Mali have made common cause with Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamist state as well as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has kidnapped several westerners in the desert ares of North Africa.

The Voice of America has a piece that identifies some of the major players among the Islamic coalition fighting the French. It also gives a brief summary of how Mali got in such a mess —  starting with a military coup last March. Reuters also has a simple, easy to follow timeline of the Malian conflict going back to last March’s military coup.

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

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Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, Unconventional Warfare. Tags: , , , , , , .

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