War in Mali: France and African Allies Take on Islamist Militants

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In March 2012, separatist rebels and Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda exploited the political chaos following a coup in Mali and overran half of the northwest African country. Nine months later, after dawdling in the capital Bamako and handwringing at the U.N., a French-led intervention is striking back at the rebel militias. France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, is deeply invested in restoring stability to the country, but is hesitant to commit too many boots on the ground—those are being made up by Malian troops and a force comprising soldiers from neighboring West African countries. After initial successes, the coalition intervening may find itself pursuing a far more evasive enemy.

(MORE: France’s Next Move: With Mali’s Islamists on the Run, Time to Talk to the Tuaregs)

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(MORE: The Malian Front: France Wins First Round of the War, but Now What?)

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