In comments today Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Michael Sheehan confirmed that the Pentagon is considering various ways to aid the Malian junta in reclaim the country from secessionists, including launching strikes against the northern Azawad region.
Mali lost the territory of Azawad after the US-imposed regime change in Libya, as large amounts of weapons were made available to Tuareg secessionists. The loss of Azawad led to a military coup in Mali, though they have nominally allowed a new “interim government” some power since then.
The reality, however, is that the junta remains very much in charge in southern Mali, terrorizing its critics and disappearing people seen as a threat to their ongoing rule. Azawad has seen problems as well as the Tuaregs have lost control of much of the region to the Islamist Ansar Dine, which has designs on creating a Taliban-style religious state.
The Malian junta has been pressing for foreign aid to help reclaim Azawad, and has said it would “welcome” a military intervention to that end. Having already seen the Libyan War spill over into Mali in such a destructive way, the US seems to be giving serious consideration to going after Mali as well. Exactly where the Mali war will spill over into is yet to be seen.
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