For more than half a year, a territory the size of Texas has been ruled by Sharia law. Women are not allowed outside their homes without male escort. Ancient tombs and temples are being destroyed for "contradicting pure Islam". "Crimes" such as possessing cigarettes, playing soccer or wearing "indecent clothes" are being punished by canning. Theft is punished by cutting an arm off. And those convicted of infidelity are stoned to death.
The black flags of Al Qaeda flow freely in the towns of Northern Mali, and the leaders of the African branch of the movement, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have cast deep roots there. The area is awash with terrorist training camps where international jihadists are being trained. The rumours are that the majority of them come from Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, but there are also some Pakistanis, and fundamentalists from Europe.
The analogy to Taliban Afghanistan comes naturally. And naturally, the existence of such a place just a couple of hours' flight away from Europe poses a serious security threat not just for the entire region, but for the world at large. In this situation, the international intervention against the Islamists in Northern Mali was as undesirable, as it was unavoidable. And despite the controversial history of the French military interventions in Africa, president Francois Hollande may not have had much of a choice when he received a request from his Malian counterpart Dioncounda Traore to send troops against the incoming Islamists.
( And thus, the war beginsCollapse )