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article imageUN Security Council approves military intervention in Mali

By Ken Hanly     Dec 21, 2012 in Politics
Bamako - The United Nations Security Council has approved employment of African-based forces to Mali for a year. The resolution also demanded that the military stop interfering in government affairs and that order be re-established through elections.
The Security Council also said that steps must be taken to ensure that military forces are adequately equipped and trained for their task. Peace talks should also continue.
The head of UN peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous reported that the military operation is unlikely to begin until next fall. A group of west African nations(ECOWAS) has already agreed to provide 3,300 troops for the mission and were simply awaiting UN approval.
After a spring military coup led by US-trained Captain Sanogo, first Tuareg rebels and then Islamic militants including Ansar Dine took over the north of Mali. Ansar Dine have imposed strict Sharia law in the regions they control. Western media invariably link Ansar Dine with Al Qaeda although some experts deny the connection: In April 2012, Salma Belaala, a professor at Warwick University who does research on jihadism in North Africa said that this association was false, claiming Ansar Dine was opposed to Al Qaeda.
However, almost always radical Islamist groups are routinely said to be Al Qaeda-linked since this automatically justifies actions against them. There are ongoing talks between the rebels and representatives from neighboring countries to explore a negotiated solution. Unlike the Tuareg, the Islamic rebels are in favor of a united Mali. Their main aim is to impose Sharia law throughout the country.
In the south, the military coup leaders arrested the prime minister and forced him to resign. They now claim to have given up control of the government but it is clear that they still are in control behind the scenes. If any government official seems to be a threat to their power, one can see what happens. Western officials are worried about plans for a military operation in the desert. The Islamists will no doubt be well established by the fall, even though reports say that many oppose their harsh rule. The U.S. has expressed concern for the plans.
The Security Council resolution calls for a "national dialogue" and has required the African Union to report back every sixty days on political progress in Mali and military readiness as well. The Council wants military plans to be further refined before troops are actually deployed.
The positive vote was spearheaded by France which has long been calling for intervention. At one time Mali was a French colony, so it still has interests there. Aid groups have warned that military intervention may cause huge humanitarian problems for the region.
More about UN Security Council, Mali, Ansar Dine
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