With the still-dramatically unfolding hostage-situation in southern Algeria, the fallouts of the French military in Mali have not been in the Maghreb’s backyard only, but in this region’s very midst.
Until last week, nobody expected the current turn of events. The game-changer was the decision taken by the largest Jihadi formation in northern Mali, Ansar al-Dine, to give up on negotiations with the central government and end its rapprochement with the more moderate Tuareg group, the MNLA. It Joined ranks instead with its old allies, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAW) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in their push southward towards the city of Konna, 600 kilometers north of the capital. Unable to halt the Jihadi advancing tide, Malian authorities called on France for help. For Bamako as well as for Paris, it was definitely out of the question to wait till next September for a West African force to be trained and readied for intervention. Time was of essence.
For North African nations, already struggling to cope with the various pressures of the post-“Arab Spring” transitions, the Mali crisis is an added source of anxietyOussama Romdhani