Mali needs international help to defeat Al Qaida
The growing crisis in Mali needs prompt international action to both support the restoration of civilian rule, as well as to launch effective action against the radical Islamists who have seized control of the northern half of the state. The current state of confusion should not be allowed to continue. The destruction of civilian rule by the military would normally be a matter for the Malians to worry about, but the failure of the military to stop the Al Qaida allies capturing and keeping half the country makes the issue an international priority.
A coup in March this year led by Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo toppled the long-established President Amadou Toumani Toure, and appointed an interim president. The government was run by Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra, who was an ally of Sanogo, but recently seemed to be distancing himself from the military leader. This is why Sanogo acted this week and arrested Diarra, replacing him with a long established senior civil servant, Diango Cissoko.
The US and the UN Security Council, as well as France which takes a close interest in Mali, have all insisted that any support will be dependent on the army going back to its barracks, and the restoration of civilian rule. The problem is that while the constitutional niceties are being imposed on Mali by the great powers, Al Qaida and its allies in the north are digging in and will be increasingly hard to dislodge.