In the ongoing struggle between northern Mali’s secessionist Taureg fighters and a local Islamic jihadist group, Ansar Dine, the Islamists claim to have driven all remaining rebels from a third and final large town in the region. If the reports are accurate it would complete their control over a lawless area that may serve as a stronghold for al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups in the Maghreb.Surely we can find a way to blame George W. Bush
Strengthened by the return of experienced and well-armed Tuareg soldiers hired by Libya’s Muammer Gaddafi, the secessionists worked with Asnar Dine in January to beat back the feeble Malian national forces. Their alliance, however, was superficial – divided by fundamental tribal and religious differences, it took only a few weeks before the two groups violently turned on each other.
The defeated national forces, for their part, were unsatisfied with the democratically elected president’s efforts to combat the rebel attacks and overthrew him to establish a junta that refuses to hold elections while the north remains occupied.
In the background of this depressing landscape are the civilians who, backing neither rebel force, face increasingly alarming resource shortages and are resorting to extreme measures to secure food and water.