A new statement from Mali’s interim government says that they are preparing a full-scale invasion of the northern half of the nation (sometimes called Azawad), saying that this is “inevitable” after the Ansar Dine movement rejected mediation efforts.
Mali has been promising “total war” against Azawad for months now, since a group of Tuareg secessionists chased the military out. The Tuaregs have abandoned their initial goal of statehood because Ansar Dine, an al-Qaeda still group, has set up shop in the region and is trying to turn it into a Taliban-style state.
Whether the Malian military can actually follow through on this is another matter. The Tuareg movement was able to more or less bowl over Mali’s troops in a matter of weeks, and Ansar Dine’s militant factions were too much for them to handle. France is openly warning that they believe NATO will eventually get sucked into the Malian Civil War.
In the meantime, UN chief Ban Ki-moon is pushing a new round of sanctions against northern Mali, saying the region is becoming a safe haven for terrorists. As one of the most impoverished regions on the planet, almost no trade flows out of there to begin with, so it is unclear what impact such sanctions could even theoretically have.