The U.N. Security Council has approved a motion that provides regional groups 45 days to draw up specific plans for military intervention designed to oust rebels in northern Mali
The northern region of Mali, sometimes called Azawad, is now occupied and governed by militant Islamists who are linked by many to Al Qaeda. The region was lost by the central government after a coup by U.S. trained Captain Sanogo in March of this year. Ironically, the coup was defended on the grounds that the central government had not ousted rebels in the area. The resolution was unanimous, no doubt because of the association of the rebels with Al Qaeda.
The leader of the coup stepped down in May and transferred power to a civilian government but the coup leaders still have considerable influence in the new government. Originally, much of the north was captured by Tuareg rebels who proclaimed an independent Azawad. However, no country recognized Azawad and shortly thereafter, the Tuareg were ousted in turn by radical Islamists.
The Security Council also urged the transitional government and the rebel groups to find a peaceful solution, even while African nations are being asked to prepare detailed recommendations for deployment of an international force within Mali. Mali had agreed to stationing of troops earlier, as reported in Digital Journal. The recommendations are to include the number of forces needed and the estimated cost.
The radical Islamists in northern Mali are imposing a strict version of Sharia law in areas they control. There are many reports of human rights violations. Some historic religious artifacts have been destroyed in Timbuktu. Women found to be pregnant and unmarried are subject to severe punishments.
There are reports that children are also being bought to serve as soldiers with the families being paid as much as $600. More than half the population in Mali live on just over a dollar a day. The Islamists also ban drinking, smoking, watching sports on television, and listening to music.
The UN has been calling for detailed intervention plans for six months already. Even after the details are submitted, a second resolution will be needed to authorize the deployment. The rebels will have plenty of time to consolidate their positions and prepare their defenses.