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article imageOp-Ed: Foreign intervention unites Islamic groups in the north of Mali

By Ken Hanly     Jan 16, 2013 in Politics
Bamako - Usually the mainstream press simply describes the rebels in Mali as Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda linked. Yet at least four distinct groups are active in the northern rebellion.
NOTE: As noted by a commentator, the Tuareg did not unit with the Islamic rebels in opposing the French intervention. I was quite wrong. The Tuareg actually support the military intervention but they do not want the Malian army to move into the northern area until an agreement on autonomy is reached. See this Digital Journal article.
The group controlling the most territory is probably Anser Dine. This group is in favor of a unified Mali under strict Sharia law. They had agreed to peace talks but the conflict broke out a day before they were to take place. They are now postponed until January 21st. It is unlikely that you will even see reference to them in the mainstream press. Coverage will all be about the conflict. There will be what Chomaky has called manufacturing consent. The consent will be to support western and other military intervention.
Much of what is reported will be true enough but it will all be slanted towards painting a story of terrorists who must be stopped. There will be no talk of negotiation nor will there be the slightest indication that the situation might be complicated. There will simply be the bad guy terrorists who must be driven out or all killed. Among the prevalent stories will be the fact that some Islamic jihadists help finance their groups by kidnappings and drug and gun running.
AQIM operates in several countries including Mali. The press likes to pick up on this group since it has that frightening "Al Qaeda" term right in its name! A third group is MUJAO a jihadist group that controls some towns in the north. Finally there are the Tuareg group, MNLA, or the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. This group originally occupied most of the north until one of its main leaders joined Ansar Dine and that group swept through the north. The MNLA wants an independent state of Azawad in the north. The situation was complex in the north with many competing groups. Now all that has been simplified. They all are united in opposing the foreign intervention and the weak Malian government that requested and supports the move. NOTE: As a commentator points out the MNLA actually support the French intervention. No doubt they hope to regain influence in the region through siding with the those trying to defeat the Islamists after losing to them
Ansar Dine, the MNLA, and MUJAO all have strong roots in Mali and many were distrustful of the foreign fighters coming in from other areas where AQIM operates. Not now, they are all brothers united in holy jihad against the west.
This will probably be a long and extremely ugly conflict with the north never being free of constant terror attacks even if the central government is able to occupy the territory with the help of foreign intervention. Peace talks will be completely forgotten.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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