First off today I wanted to point you to several interesting takes on the events in Algeria and Mali that provide useful perspectives that differ a bit from the Western media's received wisdom.
- Natalya Vince, "In Amenas – a history of silence, not a history of violence" argues that much of the commentary on the Algerian response has focused on Algeria's supposed violent heritage, compressing modern Algerian history into the war of independence and the troubles of the 1990s and ignoring everything in between. A useful antidote to much superficial commentary.
- The Mauritanian blogger who blogs at Dekhnistan offers "A Disaster 50 Years in the Making," arguing that the roots of the situation in Mali lie not just in the Libyan civil war or the rise of Al-Qa‘ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but in the years before French West Africa achieved independence, when nothing was done to alter colonial boundaries that combined Tuareg and Amazigh north with sub-Saharan south in such countries as Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Chad. While, farther east, we welcome the separation of Sudan and South Sudan, the specter of Al-Qa‘ida has become the primary focus in Mali.
- Related to the above, an article in Libération reminds us that not all of the northern rebels are Islamists, and that the Tuareg separatist group that started the whole affair the MNLA, are still in the mix: "Le Nord-Mali entre Touaregs et jihadistes" (in French).
- "How the French Air War in Mali Really Went Down" offers what appears to be considerable detail about the French (and other Western) operations over Mali in the current campaign.