Monday, January 28, 2013

French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Three - French Advancing in the International War


French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch One - The French Counterattack
French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Two - Geography as a Barrier to the Islamists
French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Three - French Advancing in the International War
French-Islamist Mali War Maps Batch Four - Final French Drive to Victory and Cartoon Propaganda Maps


The French-led counterattack against Islamists in northern Mali, also known as Azawad, is so far succeeding with French and Malian forces recently taking the city of Gao.

The war has taken on an international component on multiple levels.  France is leading an international coalition of African armies and Western military logistical support.  Meanwhile, some of the Islamists rebels are international and have attacked locations in Algeria as retaliation for the French-led military action.

Le Monde and the Guardian have put together a good regional overview map which shows the conflict area, the range of the Tuareg, smuggling routes, arms flows coming out of Libya after the fall of Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the political health of neighboring countries, and resource locations.

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The Times has put together a map showing the range of various allied west African Islamist terrorist groups.  Notice how far the attacked old fields in Algeria are from Mali.  The vast emptiness of the Sahara creates an ungoverned space which small groups of Islamists can quickly take over as a safe haven.  Due to the extreme lack of population, Islamists here do not really have to worry about creating a functioning country of their own and can focus on war.  It is only when Islamists took over Gao and Timbuktu, the two major cities of northern Mali, that they had to slow their advance and give time and money to governing.

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The France-based AFP created a map showing refugee outflow from the conflict zone.  About 150,000 Malians have fled from the north with 30,000 of those fleeing since the start of the French counterattack on January 11.  The Saharan Desert creates a natural boundary of the north which only 1,500 have decided to cross to seek shelter.


The AFP has made a great map showing contributions to the French-Mali alliance by various African and Western militaries.  African countries are giving additional boots on the ground who can hold territory as the French advance.  Meanwhile, Western contributions are light and restricted, except for Belgium, to offering transportation support.  Even though these countries do not seem to eager to get involved in another war, they are paying their respect to France through this support.  Of special note is the United Arab Emirates support to France.


The French-coalition seems to be working as the alliance is taking cities once held by the Islamists.  The assault for Timbuktu while the Gao front seems all but won.  Although it is too early to tell, it seems that the French are focusing on winning in the eastern front in order to cut off Islamist retreat into Niger, where the Islamists could link up with Boko Haram.  Islamist retreat from Timbuktu would be much harder as it would be forced through the desert in the south and east are cutoff.

From Facepunch



1 comment:

Adrian said...

"Islamist retreat from Timbuktu would be much harder as it would be forced through the desert in the south and east are cutoff."

Desert navigation shouldn't be a problem for Tuaregs, the desert shouldn't be an impediment to their retreat. Most likely they have stashed fuel supplies and water in spots in the desert that they have marked on their GPS devices. At least that is how the smugglers do it.