Mali: countdown to military intervention
Refugees who have fled the fighting and harsh Islamist rule in northern Mali wait in neighboring Niger. Military experts from Africa, the United Nations and Europe have drafted plans to retake control of northern Mali, as West African nations prepare a request for armed intervention. But aware that they would be vulnerable to drone and aircraft attack in the open desert, the Islamist militias are likely to try to stay in the cities, towns and villages—placing the civil population at risk. Secret peace talks are said to be underway in Burkina Faso, but hopes for a negotiated settlement to the crisis remain slim. The world has paid little note, but northern Mali—an area the size of France—is on a countdown to a dramatic widening of the war, with the potential to spill beyond Mali's borders.
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