The last few weeks have seen conflict in a place most Americans have probably never heard of – Mali. I recommend everyone pull out a map of Africa and look toward the northwest just in case France gets in over its head. Yes, France, our NATO ally has intervened in Mali because the government there was about to be overwhelmed by al Qaeda. Yeah, see that, too. Al Qaeda is not dead just because bin Laden took a few in the head. That manifestation of evil is still killing people around the world.
The next time you are staring at your computer screen, search for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM. You’ll find out that AQIM is alive and well and trying real hard to take over Mali. Our State Department has already declared them to be foreign terrorists. The group is known for brutality such as beheadings and was born out of the Algerian civil war. The Council on Foreign Relations has a worthwhile summary at http://www.cfr.org/north-africa/al-qaeda-islamic-maghreb-aqim/p12717.
An Associated Press report has a West African force of 1,000 troops and 2,150 French troops already deployed into Mali (http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/01/22/2150-french-troops-in-mali-germany-balks-at-aid.html?ESRC=eb.nl). I’ve seen no reports that the United States is involved. Germany is hesitant to help France. Nonetheless, a NATO ally is now fighting an al Qaeda based insurgent force trying to depose the lawful government of Mali. AQIM also staged the assault on the gas refinery in Algeria that resulted in at least three Americans dying with others being held hostage until the Algerian military assaulted the compound. So even though we are not yet fighting in Mali, Americans are dying nearby and being killed by the same enemy as that faced by the people and government of Mali.
So what does all this mean? I don’t know. However, I do think we all should brush off our world maps and realize that even if we declare victory and leave Afghanistan, the war against Islamic terrorists is not yet over. Not by a long shot.