Mali Awaits the Al-Qaeda Offensive
With much of the country, exactly 50%, in the hands of the al-Qaeda affiliated and well armed terrorist group, the Mali military awaits nervously. Nervous because it was only last year that it controlled all of Mali, roughly the size of Texas. The African nation was then invaded and a coup occurred that effectively caused 4500 of its 9000 man army to desert and flee out of fear. Many now are paid by the wealthy al-Qaeda group. The remaining Mali army, about 4000, are armed with APCs and some tanks, but their confidence is shaken, just as its current government is, which has begged for help from the Uganda and other stronger African nations to provide military help. So far, there has been only talk and few troop deployments to help Mali survive. The Mali government has asked NATO for assistance, the UN, and America for the same help.
The Islamist group have sent recon patrols into the town of Mopti, along the Niger River, some 250 miles from the country's capital of Bamako. Obviously, testing the defenses and resistance of the Mali army. Internally, the Mali government is equally on unstable ground when the Army forced the resignation of the Prime Minister in Dec., 2012. The Mali army insists they can retake all of Mali back, which most feel is wishful thinking unless outside help comes. The Mali army consists of about 20 artillery guns, 70 APCs, 12 T-55, 21 T-34 (WW2) and 18 T-62 tanks. All are Russian made.
America is considering the least bad option, using Predator drones to attack the group. The UN did agree to send peacekeeping troops, but peace seems to be not on the mind of the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM group that seized much of Mali. They have been conscripting kids and paying foreign mercenaries, building up their arsenal by buying SA-7 missiles and creating three military bases in remote areas for training and support.
It is like the final act is about to fall on Mali, if it does, it will be the first country controlled by al-Qaeda.