Jihad and Politics in North Africa

French intervention in Mali earlier 2013 quickly dislodged insurgents from their strongholds in the northern part of the country, but even before victory had been secured, Paris began making moves to bring its troops home. Most of the 4,000 French troops sent to Mali remain there today, but they plan to hand over security operations to a UN-mandated African force in the coming weeks. With continued unrest and regular attacks by insurgents, any withdrawal at this stage leaves northern Mali vulnerable to becoming a safe haven again for al-Qaeda and others.

The war in Mali is not merely fallout from the Arab Spring. Rather, it is a complex but not insoluble set of issues, with local roots and regional implications. A successful outcome in Mali is possible, but the solution requires Bamako to be inclusive and the West to be realistic by acknowledging that what is happening in Mali is about more than terrorism. The New America Foundation is pleased to welcome Middle East expert Eamonn Gearon for a discussion about the drivers of conflict in Mali and what the international community should do to manage them.

PARTICIPANTS

Eamonn Gearon
Professorial Lecturer, Johns Hopkins-SAIS
Senior Fellow, Middle East Policy Council
Author, The Sahara: A Cultural History

Peter Bergen
Director, National Security Studies Program, New America Foundation

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