Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War
May 18, 2012: Mali still has a shaky interim government that ends its 40 day rule on May 22nd. ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) wants the temporary rule extended 12 months so new elections can be held. The March 22 coup leaders still exist, along with hundreds of armed followers. These guys threaten to take power again or at least try to. They are held back, in part, by being blamed for the northern two-thirds of the country seceding to form a separate Tuareg and Islamic radical controlled country. ECOWAS wants to send peacekeepers to deal with the situation in northern Mali, as well as disarm the coup members. Naturally the coup group and the armed rebels in the north object to this. ECOWAS is still talking about sending peacekeepers to Mali but it may be a month or more before these troops actually arrive in Mali.
In the north the MNLA (Liberation Army of Azawad), which represents the most militant and heavily armed Tuareg rebels, is losing ground to Islamic radical groups. The smaller, less well equipped ally is Ansar Dine, an Islamic radical group containing many former (or current) al Qaeda members and technically an ally of MNLA, has been growing rapidly. Islamic terrorists from Algeria, Nigeria, and other areas are coming to northern Mali. A growing number of Tuareg see this as an invasion and the MNLA is breaking into factions over this issue. Islamic terrorist control in the north is spotty because they do not have as many followers (armed and unarmed) as MNLA (who comprise most of the northern population). The north contains only about 12 percent of Mali's population and is largely barren desert. The Islamic terror groups are making themselves unpopular in the north by forcing everyone to live a strict (no tobacco, alcohol, music, video, shaved men, and unveiled women) Islamic lifestyle rules. The Islamic radicals have also damaged some non-Islamic cultural sites. There are a growing number of anti-Ansar Dine demonstrations. This has caused the Ansar Dine to back off a bit because many of the Tuareg men in the north have weapons. While most of these guys did not join the MNLA rebellion, they still back the idea of a Tuareg controlled northern Mali and increasingly see outsiders (as most of the Islamic terrorists are) as invaders rather than allies. The Tuareg population is also suffering from increased banditry. Before the MNLA uprising the soldiers and police controlled crime and at least kept the main roads safe. MNLA has not established that kind of security, and food and other goods, which have to be trucked in, are in short supply.
May 15, 2012: Islamic terrorists stopped a food aid convoy from entering the northern city of Timbuktu because women were involved in the aid effort. After hours of negotiations, and threats by the people in the city, the convoy was allowed in.
May 3, 2012: Several days of fighting between army rebels (who ran the March 22nd coup) and the Presidential Guard. The rebels won and the attempt to reinstate the elected government was defeated. In the wake of this incident there are several armed militias in the capital, all ready to fight if they see a chance for victory.