The main headlines from Mali still concern the military forces which recently seized power from the government. However, their story seems to be a minor sideshow to the rebel activity occurring in the country’s north. The major struggle has for many years been the fight against Tuareg rebels who are seeking to seize a homeland for themselves. Until recently the rebels had had little in the way of success.
That has all changed since the rebel forces have been bolstered by Libyan militias and al Qaeda operatives (although this is denied), while at the same time the Malian army has been weakened by poor leadership, lack of resources, and general dissatisfaction. Since the army’s coup last week, resistance against the rebels has all but collapsed, and the Tuareg rebels have seized various cities in northern Mali, now including Timbuktu.
The international community is venting its disapproval and implementing sanctions against the coup leaders, but ignoring what seems to be a far greater problem, the seizure of northern Mali by the rebel forces. By the time proper government is restored, the problems with the rebel forces may be insurmountable. Meanwhile, a humanitarian crisis is brewing in Mali and neighbouring countries as the result of recent drought.