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Wednesday, 13th February 2013

Mali: Consequences of a War

Source: Oxford Research Group (UK)

From Developments in 2013:

At the start of this year, the EU was slowly planning its training mission for the Malian Army with the expectation that this would be a 12- to 18-month endeavour. It was also recognised that contingents from Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and other ECOWAS states would have very limited capability for expeditionary land warfare and would serve primarily as garrison forces. Serious action to regain control of northern Mali was not possible before the end of the hot rainy season in September. What western and other intelligence missed, or at least seriously underestimated, were two key factors.

Firstly, opposition to the Mali government and separatist aspirations in northern Mali are not solely rooted in Islamist ideology but have a far greater historical context stemming from an enduring sense of marginalisation that has led to many past rebellions, especially by the Tuareg. To see what is now happening in purely Islamist/terrorist terms is a widespread yet dangerous simplification.

Secondly, between April and December last year the rebels in northern Mali greatly consolidated their control, including the development of underground bunkers and dispersed facilities. They were anticipating air strikes as soon as they started the advance in early January, and it is possible that the recent advance was partly to incite an immediate French reaction, knowing that this would increase support for their cause, including greater potential for financial aid from private sources in western Gulf States.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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