since French troops invaded Mali, the French government has been
hoping to pawn the long-term occupation off on the United Nations. UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seems
on board with that request,
however, and has issued a report on the tens of thousands of troops
he believes the UN needs for its war.
recommendations include 11,200 troops as a bare minimum to control
and protect certain
“main” towns that are perceived to
have the highest risk. He then calls for a “parallel force” at
least as big to continue the offensive war against northern rebels.
with most of the protracted international wars prosecuted in Africa,
the UN envisions most of the troops being contributed from the other
dirt-poor African nations in the surrounding area. Yet past wars,
particularly in Somalia, have showed that while these nations can
contribute troops for the right price, they are rarely combat-ready,
setting the stage for even longer wars while they wait for those
troops to get trained.
nations have offered to send training units to Mali, but in a country
this size with so many rebels and so much territory between towns for
them to hide in, there is no reason to think the rebel factions will
be easily uprooted, and to the contrary the deployments may encourage
more insurgents from around the region.
Sees ‘Al-Qaeda Threat’ in Tunisia
Increasingly Dominate Politics, But AQIM's Influence Unclear
of various sects are increasingly ruling the roost in post Arab
Spring Tunisia, with the moderate Islamists dominating the parliament
and Ansar al-Sharia, a banned Salafist faction, demanding the
ouster of those seen as insufficiently conservative.
opposition figure Shokri Belaid’s assassination earlier this
set the stage for
all kinds of political infighting, and a rushed schedule to hold new
elections under the constitution.
US African Command (AFRICOM) seems to be using this to push for more
involvement in the country, arguing that this amounts to an attempt
by al-Qaeda to establish a presence in the nation.
the local flavor of al-Qaeda, which is al-Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb (AQIM), has so
far seemed confined primarily
to Algeria and northern Mali, and rhetoric aside there is no evidence
they have serious influence in Tunisia. Since AQIM is itself just a
re-branded version of the Algerian rebels, their interests have been
primarily local, as have a number of other Islamist factions.
of these groups may have similar ideologies, but with their interests
focused inside their own nations, they aren’t necessarily good
recruitment targets for al-Qaeda’s global vision, and the AFRICOM
warning seems more about reiterating that they perceive “threats”
in virtually every nation than a realistic assessment of the