Friday, September 07, 2012

Douentza's Fall is Azawad's Fall

Azawad, the de facto independent republic and de facto newest country in the world, is about to fade into the sands of the Sahara.  The strategic town of Douentza, who's fall in April created a border and allowed for rebels to declare independence, was captured by Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) this past weekend.  The town was previously held by an Azawad-allied militia.  MOJWA's victory is a major defeat for those who desired Azawad's independence. 

MOJWA is an Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and is allied to Ansar Dine.  Both of these militant Islamist groups seek to rule all of Mali, not just the Tureg north, and impose Sharia law.  While Azawad forces have been key in winning battles in northern Mali against government forces, the Islamists move into the towns claiming to be allies but quickly impose their own rule.  The cities of Gao and Timbuktu have been slowly but surely purged of secular elements as the Salafist Islamists destroy Sufi Muslim shrines and impose Sharia law.  Now there is no significant city or town in the self-proclaimed Azawad under complete secular militia control.

Azawad's inability to control its own claimed and conquered territory is a sure sign to the world that the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad's efforts are not worth backing.  Whether it takes a long covert war or an all out Malian offensive, Azawad will become just northern Mali yet again.

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