In March of this year, the African nation of Mali suffered a military coup that left the nation void of leadership. After a very short period three militant Islamic groups seized control of the northern sector of the country which has led to widespread horror. Al Qaeda, Ansar Dine and Islamic Maghreb has implemented their extreme interpretation of Sharia law in the north and begun the process of severe repression and destruction of historic sites.
The Tuareg people has long envision a greater nation that would include portions of a number of countries. The long term Tuareg has been infiltrated and taken over by Islamic terrorists.
Many of the insurgents fled Libya after the toppling of the Gaddafi regime. They served as his personal army of terror within that nation. Fears exist in bordering African nations that the situation in Mali could put their stability at stake. Already Nigeria is extremely concerned about the increasing violence in its eleven Islamic states in its northern sector. Chad, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and other nations along the boundary of the Sahara Desert also have had increasing problems with presence of Islamic extremist groups stirring unrest.
The United Nations Security Council has voted to take measures to force out the extremists from northern Mali. American drones have been involved but will not be sending troops. France is leading the charge for action against the rebels but also not be committing military personnel. The UN will most likely support a mostly African Union mission of 10,000 to 13,000 troops to assist the Mali army of taking back the lost territory.
The rebels strongholds are in the historically rich cities of Timbuktu and Gao. Over 300,000 people have fled the northern regions attempting to escape the brutality of the terrorist forces.
The area is home to some of the world's greatest monuments. Timbuktu has the famous building left from its age of enlightenment in the 1400's. The Great Mosque (photograph) was rebuilt in 1907. Similar to the Buddhist Statures in Afghanistan, the terrorist are in the process of destroying it and other buildings.
Salone.com writes of the horror:
"...... for the last six months has imposed a nightmare of public whippings, beatings, amputations and stonings on a helpless local population. The Islamists have drawn up ominous lists of unmarried pregnant women to be punished, the United Nations said; enforced marriages are being carried out; and children are being recruited to plant improvised explosive devices. "
Relief organizations estimate that a prolonged war in Mali could put over a half million people at risk of starvation and inability to have access to water in the arid region.