“Their return is making it harder for the west African country”s new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his foreign backers to stabilise the northern desert despite the incentive of more than $3bn in international aid for the area.” Western analysts keep thinking that Muslims can be bribed to give up jihad. They persist in this no matter how much evidence to the contrary.
“Revival of Islamists in Mali tests Paris, UN,” from Reuters, November 14:
Nine months after they were scattered across the Sahara by waves of French air strikes, Islamists in Mali are making a comeback – naming new leaders, attacking UN peacekeepers and killing two French journalists.
Their return is making it harder for the west African country”s new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his foreign backers to stabilise the northern desert despite the incentive of more than $3bn in international aid for the area.
Mali imploded last year when Tuareg separatists tried to take control of the north. Their rebellion was soon hijacked by better-armed and funded Islamic militants linked to Al Qaeda before the French intervention in January.
Increasingly blurred lines between the Islamist militants, separatist rebels and gangs of smugglers has complicated the task of calming the area and Keita’s party has allied itself with leaders of some armed groups in a bid to wield influence.
Experts are starting to worry that France will get bogged down in an open ended war if UN peacekeepers cannot pick up the baton.
“Mali is entering a guerrilla war, waged by sleeper cells and fighters who returned from southern Algeria, Libya and Niger,” said a French former diplomat and counter-terrorism expert who blogs under the name Abou Djaffar.
Last month, two Chadian UN troops were killed in a suicide attack in the remote town of Tessalit. Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, has been hit by a series of rocket attacks, while French special forces have taken action against Islamists north of Timbuktu for the first time in months.
But it was the killing of two French journalists, seized in broad daylight in the northern town of Kidal on November 2, which sent shockwaves through France. Al Qaeda-linked fighters said the killings were a response to France’s Mali operation although analysts say it may have been a botched kidnapping….