Gregory Mann, a West African historian, Columbia University professor, and reporter for the blog Africa Is A Country, has been covering Mali for some time now, and in his latest piece he gives us the informed perspective that is often missing in the accounts of mainstream reporters, who are only now scrambling to catch up to a complicated story:
The news is changing fast, but, three things emerge from the haze. First, fierce fighting in the North and the East, with French forces in the lead, will open up a whole new set of dangers. With Islamist forces on the attack, foreign intervention was necessary, and many Malians at home and abroad welcomed it enthusiastically. Still, this remains a dangerous moment all around. Second, while the latest crisis might not break the political deadlock in Bamako, it has already changed the dynamic. And third, despite the sorry state of mediation efforts to date—both within West Africa and beyond—savvy diplomacy is needed now more than ever.
Read the whole thing. It’s well thought-out, and you can impress all of your friends with all of your background knowledge.