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Good Reads: Mali jihadis, and the consequences of military intervention

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Adama Diarra/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A vendor sells goods to militiamen from the Ansar Dine Islamic group stopped at a roadblock near Gao in northeastern Mali on June 18.

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Spawn of Qaddafi

For many of the folks who formulate America’s foreign policy in the halls of Washington, plotting the downfall of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in October 2011 was an easy decision.

Mr. Qaddafi was not much liked by fellow leaders in the Arab League or by fellow leaders of the African Union. This may have been because Qaddafi tended to see himself as the only true leader of both Arab nationalism and of a unified African continent. Qaddafi also funded, armed, and trained numerous rebel groups – from Darfur rebels to Malian Tuaregs – to help destabilize neighbors he either disliked, or simply wanted to overthrow.

One could see how that would get old, fast.

Yet overthrowing Qaddafi, and scattering all those armed, funded, and trained rebel groups to the four winds has also had its consequences – most notably in the West African nation of Mali. In April, Tuareg fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and their Islamist allies from Ansar Dine swept through all of the cities of northern Mali and effectively declared their own republic. The weapons they used – with the exception of the ones taken from fleeing Malian soldiers – mainly came from Libya.


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