After the French intervention in Mali, the whole conflict escalated into one that (finally) draws widespread international attention. New updates on the Twitter feed #Mali were scarce before the French took action, now, it’s exploding and when spambots are involved you know a topic is really important.
The intervention seems to be going as planned and Konna and Douentza are back under government control and the allied forces are pushing further North. Now, the African nations of ECOWAS send their troops and currently there are forces from Chad on the Niger – Mali border (Eastern Mali) to invade the country and they will probably try to take Gao for MUJAO.
But there is a flip side to this successful intervention. The Islamists are expanding the conflict across the borders of Mali. Last week Islamists, under command by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, took over one hundred hostages in a gas plant in southern Algeria, near the border with Mali. The Algerian government took hard action and killed numbers of hostage takers and hostages as well. Belmokhtar promised there will be more of the same in the near future and not only in the region but inside the countries that are participating in the intervention as well. This is a direct threat to the Western world and must be taken seriously. The conflict in Mali could spill over into neighbouring countries, which is a real danger since the borders of northern Mali are hard to control thoroughly and the Islamists can move rather freely from one country into another. In Nigeria soldiers, under way to Mali, were attacked. The entire region can become a battlefield and when that happens, France and the African states won’t be able to restore stability and they’ll be needing more help. This would mean that more Western states have to commit troops and then the Jihadists have yet another, and in their eyes even better, reason to attack the Western states from within. Of course this is all very iffy, but there is a chance this could happen. And when this happens, there’s more than a regional conflict the world has to deal with. Let’s hope it will not come that far.