CRF Blog

Mali: Counter-Terrorism and the Benefits of Doing Nothing

by Sophia Khan

As pressure mounts over a deteriorating northern Mali, Al Jazeera’s Robert Grenier discusses counter-terrorism and the benefits of doing nothing.

Regional experts estimate that AQIM’s southern katiba (battalion) numbers no more than 300 fighters from throughout the region, and AQIM has not demonstrated any appreciable extra-regional threat since its formal creation in 2007. In recent years, its activities have largely been confined to kidnapping-for-ransom and other local criminal pursuits.

But as an al-Qaeda “franchisee”, it is according considerable attention by al-Qaeda’s main enemy, the United States. And in the logic of post-9/11 America, the friend of my enemy is also my enemy. It thus becomes significant that Ansar al-Dine is alleged, indeed asserted by many supposed experts, to be an “affiliate” of AQIM. But what that should mean as a practical matter is not at all clear. [more]