The Conflict In Mali

The storm over Mali. Al Qaeda in Africa. The French in Mali. And the stakes for all.

Malian soldiers helped by French troops, move a broken helicopter out a hangar to make room for more incoming troops at Bamako's airport Tuesday Jan. 15. 2013. (AP)

Malian soldiers helped by French troops, move a broken helicopter out a hangar to make room for more incoming troops at Bamako’s airport Tuesday Jan. 15. 2013. (AP)

If you can draw the African nation of Mali on a map of the continent, you’re probably in the top .01 percent of the geography-aware.  But the world is talking Mali right now.

A big, poor, arid country.  Half in the Sahara Desert, half in West Africa.  Home to Timbuktu, and the Tuareg “blue people,” who know the desert.

Home lately to Al Qaeda, fighting for a new base straight south of Europe.  Target right now of French troops fanning out across the desert to fight.

This hour, On Point:  It’s 2013 and we’re talking about battles over Timbuktu, Al Qaeda, the world, and Mali.

-Tom Ashbrook


Adam Nossiter, reporter for the New York Time, he’s been on the ground in Mali covering the conflict.

Assoumane Maiga, native of Mali, he returned from Mali in August after a year of working in humanitarian aid. Graduate research associate in agricultural  communications at Oklahoma State University. (@assoumane)

Seth Jones, associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation. (@sethgjones)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “France carried out new airstrikes overnight against Islamist fighters in central Mali, as Paris pledged on Tuesday to commit more troops to a potentially protracted campaign against extremists pressing south from a jihadist state they have forged in the desert north of the country.”

Reuters “France will end its intervention in Mali only once stability has returned to the West African country, French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday, raising the prospects of a costly, drawn-out operation against al Qaeda-linked rebels.”

The Christian Science Monitor “French airstrikes in Mali last week have jolted the West’s attention. The strikes and more planned deployments by France and other African states, are designed to halt the progress of Islamist rebels in Mali, and deny radicals an Afghan-style haven for jihad against Europe. Journalist Peter Tinti has lived in West Africa for the last three years and arrived in Bamako today. Here’s his first briefer from the capital.”

Photos From Mali

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