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During Libya’s civil war, Gaddafi recruited mercenaries from neighboring countries like Chad. One group that Gaddafi looked to in particular was the Tuaregs. After Gaddafi’s death, many Tuaregs went to northern Mali, where they helped form the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, a group that advocates for the independence of the northern region of Mali. Militants with links to Al Qaeda have since pushed them out of the region:
The Tuareg rebels, largely armed by the remnants of deposed Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s arsenal, have since been pushed out by their onetime allies, the Islamists, proving no match for the firepower and determination of the jihadist fighters who now reign uncontested over northern Mali. Some of those Islamists are homegrown members of Ansar Dine, a group that has been supported by Al Qaeda, experts say. Others are believed to be part of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate known by the initials A.Q.I.M. that has a presence throughout the Sahel.
These Islamic extremists are causing unrest in the region and their actions have not gone unnoticed. France and the U.S. have both shown an interest in intervening in Mali, and it now looks as if an international force is being put together to remove Islamic extremists from northern Mali.
In fact, the U.S. has positioned itself as a key player in whatever international force that gets organized. The AP reported last week that American officials were working with the African Union and ECOWAS, going so far as to send “planners” and is considering supporting countries that contribute troops to the effort.
The administration’s failure in Mali has been its inability to leave it alone. Even were one to be inclined to think that a foreign invasion would be able to remove Islamic extremists and establish peace, other nations have already expressed an interest in such an endeavor. If the U.S. were to get more involved then we can only expect the anti-American rhetoric in the region and among Al Qaeda’s ranks to grow stronger. Mali is an example of an annoying tendency this president has exhibited throughout this presidency, his insatiable need to do something in the light of events abroad.