What to make of this?
Tuareg rebels in Mali say they have defeated government forces in heavy fighting for control of the key northern town of Kidal. Several government soldiers were killed or captured, a rebel spokesman said. The government admitted its troops had retreated and the president called for an immediate ceasefire. Fighting first broke out on Saturday when Mali’s Prime Minister Moussa Mara visited Kidal to show support for government forces based there. The renewed fighting threatens to end efforts to revive peace talks with the rebels, who belong to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).
Well, I don’t think there is much to make except some obvious points:
- Controlling Tuareg heartland in northern Mali and Sahara is going to be really hard. So presumably should expect that lots of attention will have to be devoted to the region over the coming decade.
- The paradox of devoting attention is that attention=targets. If the Prime Minister comes to visit, it means dozens of cars, inexperienced soldiers, journalists etc. become vulnerable. More troops barracked in the region also means more targets. The analytics people need to help determine the sweet spot of attention/targets. In Iraq and Israel building walls everywhere was part of the solution (for the occupying side). Seems unlikely to work that way in northern Mali.