One of three extremist rebel groups battling French, Malian, and African forces in Mali have split in the wake of punishing air strikes and a push back from French-led troops against the insurgency, according to the Associated Press .
Ansar Dine, controlling the northern city of Kidal, has split into two factions, with one of the factions making the case that it is ready to negotiate to end to the conflict, and could go so far as to fight its former allies.
Here's the latest on the war in Mali.
* The other two factions fighting French-led forces are al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). Together with Ansar Dine, the groups control northern Mali, including the major cities of Gao and Timbuktu.
* The new faction, to be called Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), will focus on autonomy and according to another AP report , was never as strongly linked to the extremist ideology of other groups.
* Reuters is reporting that at least 160 troops from neighboring Burkina Faso have linked up with Malian and French troops, the first of a number of regional African troops that are being sent in to uproot the rebels from their strongholds.
* Reuters estimates the allied rebel groups have roughly 3,000 fighters on their side.
* It's estimated there will roughly 5,000 African troops sent in to reclaim northern Mali, an area the size of Texas.
* Another report from Reuters indicates that Libya is calling for peacekeepers to be deployed in Mali after a presumptive victory by France and the African powers in ousting rebel fighters. Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdulaziz, attending the African Union summit in Ethiopia, called for the U.N. Security Council to place a limited force in the area, which could remain unstable without "preventative diplomacy."
* The minister cited the possibility of insecurity affecting the entire region, saying that "strategically what those extremists want is to expand the operation in other areas, in neighboring countries to divert attention from northern Mali," according to Reuters.
* Although French forces initiated the counteroffensive, diplomats have stressed the importance of African troops being involved in the conflict. Abdulaziz advocated that a peacekeeping force should come from neighboring African countries.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.
- Politics & Government
- Unrest, Conflicts & War