03 February, 2013

Mali Map Update 4: French Take Kidal, Other Towns

This is an update of our Mali conflict map - for the original story, see Mali Map: Islamist Control & French Intervention. To check for further updates, visit the Mali channel on Political Geography Now.

Updated map of fighting and territorial control in Mali during the January-February 2013 French intervention against the Islamist extremist rebel groups Ansar Dine and MUJAO. Reflects the situation as of February 2, when Kidal and other towns have been captured by French and African forces.
Updated map of territorial control and airstrikes in Mali, as of Feb. 2, 2013. Map by Evan Centanni, modified from Wikimedia map by Orionist, using images by Carport and NordNordWest (source). License: CC BY-SA.
French Troops Secure Kidal
After taking the two largest cities in Mali's north over the last week, the French military by Thursday had also secured Kidal, the last of the area's three major regional centers. The religious extremist rebels of Ansar Dine had apparently already fled the city, which was instead occupied by two moderate rebel organizations, the MIA and the MNLA, the latter of which originally took over the north last spring before being driven out by religious extremist groups.

The MNLA rebels, who were originally a Tuareg-led separatist movement (and even declared an independent country in their territory), have reemerged since the French intervention began, with an apparent willingness to negotiate for limited autonomy within Mali. If fact, they did not resist the French takeover of Kidal, saying they only refuse occupation by the Malian army itself, which they claim has long abused the Tuareg and Arab people of the far north. They also claimed control of a number of towns in the region this week, though journalists have not been able to verify these assertions.

Flag of Mali Country Name:  
• Mali (English, French, Bambara)
Official Name:  
• Republic of Mali (English)
• République du Mali (French) 
• Mali ka Fasojamana (Bambara)
Capital: Bamako
Meanwhile, two other major towns near Gao have also fallen out of rebel hands. Ansongo was taken on Tuesday by forces from Niger and Mali, while Ménaka was occupied by allied soldiers from Chad. The Chadian contingent makes up nearly half of the African foreign supporting force in Mali, and unlike the others is not a member of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

With the capture of all three major northern cities, and reports that most of the Niger River region has also been secured, the first phase of the intervention in Mali is coming to an end. The victorious French and Malian presidents made a celebratory visit to Timbuktu on Saturday, declaring that French soldiers would remain in the country only long enough for African forces to take over the peacekeeping mission.

The extremist rebels have apparently fled into the desert, with Ansar Dine (or what's left of it after its split with the MIA) believed to be hiding out in the mountains north of Kidal. The only town known to be under their control is Aguelhok, which was targeted by French airstrikes in recent days.

Besides the shrinking strongholds of Ansar Dine, several border areas appear to be under the influence of the MNLA rebels, though as mentioned before, they have not opposed the foreign intervention so far. MUJAO, the other major extremist group which had controlled towns in northern Mali, is apparently nowhere to be seen (for the moment anyway).

Original Story: Mali Map: Islamist Control & French Intervention

Further Reading: 
Islamists’ Harsh Rule Awakened Ethnic Tensions in Timbuktu
Niger agrees to host Mali-bound U.S. spy drones
Reuters Slideshow - Timbuktu Retaken

Additional Source for Map: France24 map - War in Northern Mali

Graphic of Malian flag is in the public domain (source).

2 comments:

  1. Pro-autonomy Tuareg rebels in Mali said on Tuesday they had occupied the town of Menaka, extending their control of the remote northeast as they position for talks with the government after the retreat of al Qaeda-linked insurgents via Reuters

    French officials Tuesday said about 1,800 Chadian soldiers have begun entering the city. The move comes about a week after French-led Malian forces took control of Kidal's airport.

    Earlier, a secular Tuareg rebel group, the MNLA, seized control of Kidal itself via Voice of America

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    Replies
    1. Sky News reported French Foreign Minister says the country's troops will begin withdrawing from Mali in March.

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