So Chad or Mauretania it is
The tuareg take-over in Mali unleashed all sorts of bearded youth with Kalashnikovs, jihadists coming from all countries east and west. Reports from Gao of a large group of Nigerians saying they are Boko Harum.
I don't think the tuareg-led rebellion movement MNLA anticipated this, at least not the extent of it. And they certainly didn't imagine that one of their own leaders Iyad Ag Ghaly would come out as a new-born hard core islamist tieing up with Aqim and demanding sharia not only in Azawad but all of Mali (and therefore being opposed to independence). He did appoint the Aqim leader as new governor of Timbuktu. Totally crazy.
AQIM leader named Timbuktu governor (Magharebia.com)
Now MNLA has promised to eradicate all foreign armed individuals from their territory, and disarm the rest. But they show reluctance to do so - and are playing a game where they use Aqim to get leverage for support. "Why should we have to do this alone?"
Fighting jihadists will be much harder than running out the malian army.
I think the latest tally is 22 people kidnapped. One Brit/SA, one Dutch, one Swede, six French, seven Algerians, one German, two Italian, two Spanish and the latest one Swiss lady, the last westerner in TB2. And noone is looking to pay a ransom. Sarkozy is desperate for some progress before elections; he may cut a deal with MNLA?
Mauretania was asked yesterday to intervene by a Mali envoy, but they would probably only do that in cooperation with MNLA - how would Bamako fancy that? (The MNLA have their command centers in Paris and Nouakchott).
On top of it all there was a coup d'etat in Bamako and noone knows how that will develop.
South Libya there is fighting between tobou and arabs. Tobou demands for independence; that would spill over into Chad and Niger as well.
Perhaps the maps will be re-written quite a bit in the coming decade?
Interesting times ahead. Ideally, MNLA will hold their word and take control of their desert, chasing Aqim back into Algeria and other neighbouring countries. With some assistance from Mauretania and, perhaps, French and US lurking in the background.
Worst case, north of Mali will be like Afghanistan, with jihadism spreading in all directions.
edit: the sad state of the Malian army Mali : quelle armée pour la reconquête du Nord ? | Jeuneafrique
For some entertainment, here's Jeremy Keenan's take on it all: Algerian DRS is behind it all, including the purported beheading of Malian soldiers at Aguelhoc in March. With Us & UK backup, of course. They were all training for the job at the DRS led AQIM training camp in Tassili n'Ajjer Menas Associates: Algerian troops in Mali
(anyone seen this camp on the plateau?).