Mali Islamists Willing to Cut al-Qaeda Ties

Ansar Dine Would Back International Dialogue, Elections

In an attempt to forestall the US-backed invasion of northern Mali, the Islamist faction Ansar Dine has reportedly told Algerian officials that they are willing to sever all ties with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and hold elections.

Ansar Dine has deployed two factions, one to Algiers and another to Burkina Faso in an attempt to kickstart international negotiations on the status of Azawad, the northern two-thirds of Mali which are in a de facto state of independence since early this year, when Tuareg secessionists ousted the Malian military before being themselves ousted by Ansar Dine.

France and the United States have been pushing for a plan to invade Azawad, with the goal of imposing on the region the rule of the “interim” government of southern Mali, installed by the military junta after the loss of Azawad led to a coup.

Ansar Dine has sought to install a Taliban-style theocracy in Azawad, but now says they are willing to “play the democracy game” and have promised a statement in the next few days aimed at placating Western concerns that the region could become a breeding ground for terrorists.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.