Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the outlook for Mali after the initial phase of the military intervention. Part I looks at the military challenges ahead. Part II will examine the political and economic challenges ahead.
The initial phase of the French-led military intervention in Mali is over. The various fundamentalist groups that recently menaced the capital have been chased out of all major cities, and operations are now in full swing in the more-remote regions in the north where the militants have fled. But recent events have made clear that the conflict in Mali will pose challenges for the region for years to come.
At first glance, the military operations against armed groups in Mali have been extraordinarily successful. Precise air strikes and special forces raids have destroyed considerable amounts of weaponry and supplies and killed hundreds of anti-government fighters, among them reportedly two high-ranking commanders. Meanwhile, civilian deaths were limited, and casualties among French and Chadian forces -- the only two nations to have engaged in large-scale combat operations in the intervention so far -- have been modest.