Credit: Africa TalksCredit: Africa TalksYesterday, French officials renewed their commitment to withdrawing French troops from Mali within weeks. Since that announcement a number of developments have revealed what sort of violence and instability we should continue to expect should in France's former colony.

Today, the first suicide bombing of the Malian conflict was reported in the city of Gao. A group linked to Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed the attacker and injured one bystander. That Islamic militants are changing tactics should not come as a surprise. The fact that Islamic militants have been pushed backed by the French-led intervention does not mean that the conflict is over. In the coming weeks it is likely that Islamic militants will use tactics that will demoralize the local population and pose a danger to the better-equipped French and Malian militaries.

As the Islamic militants continue their changing campaign against French and Malian forces they will be doing so thanks in part to French funds. A former U.S. ambassador to Mali revealed that some of the Islamic militants that the French are fighting received support from the French for years thanks to ransoms paid by the French government in one of the best recent examples of why a policy of not negotiating with terrorists is worth pursuing.

In Bamako, gunfire broke out as Malian troops tried to suppress mutinous paratroops loyal to deposed president Touré who don’t want to be redeployed. There have been concerns that the Malian military is too ill disciplined too take over from the French. The recent firefight in Bamako is the latest evidence that these concerns are well founded.

The French are now in the unfortunate situation that many intervening military forces face after initial victories. To leave soon would leave Mali in the hands of a military that is not prepared to fight against Islamic militants. In addition, to leave within a matter of weeks would almost certainly end up violating the French government’s commitment to staying in Mali until political stability is achieved. On the other hand, to stay would commit France to a guerrilla war without well-defined victory conditions in partnership with an unprepared and unpredictable Malian army.