French officials today announced what the called the “final phase” of their invasion of Mali, invading the eastern city of Kidal, which they claimed as the “last major town” held by the rebels.
The only problem with that, beyond the fact that there is a broad northern desert beyond Kidal, is that Kidal had been lost by the rebels days ago by Tuareg secessionists, and the rebels were already gone.
The rebels, on the other hand, have moved into the mountainous regions around the northern desert, safe from French air strikes and setting up what could likely be a very ugly insurgent war.
French hopes to pull back and leave the region occupied by African forces is likely to be difficult as well, with the AU troops deployed to the region mostly untrained and under-equipped. Though they may be able to provide nominal presences, they would likely be overrun in the face of a rebel counter-attack as quickly as the Malian junta was in the first place.