There were headlines this weekend about a big military defeat for Islamist militants in Somalia. But even as international forces tackle Somalia, there is growing concern that a new area of lawless anarchy is emerging in northern Mali. I am currently at a conference in Morocco, and the security types here are talking openly about the need to intervene in Mali. A report from the respected International Crisis Group made the same point a few days ago.
The central government of Mali lost control of the northern half (or, by some reckonings two-thirds) of their country back in April. The region is now said to be under the sway of Islamists, who are allowing “foreign fighters” and jihadists to operate freely. The upsurge of violence in nearby Libya has focussed attention on how Mali is serving as a base for radical Islamists across north Africa. Read more