n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Progress in northern Mali does not resolve the political situation in the south - : West Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 05
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The January 2013 French-led intervention in northern Mali to drive out Islamist fighters has transitioned from a conventional military offensive to a counter-insurgency- and counter-terrorism-styled campaign. By mid-April 2013, this campaign had become strategically designed to contain or eliminate Islamist holdouts in the mountainous region running along the Algerian border. Another simultaneous goal is to secure vulnerable northern cities such as Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, from raids by highly mobile groups of Islamist fighters. These two goals require a combination of aggressive and protracted military patrolling and garrison duties, both of which require long-term commitments of troops. For this reason, France now seeks to extricate itself from the front line, handing over security operations to African regional actors (like Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria), and to the Malian military itself.

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