Rebels in northern Mali have been imposing harsh Islamic law, prompting a broad call for military intervention in the region. (Google Images)

The New York Times is reporting that the likeliness of conflict erupting in northern Mali has increased after months of hoping otherwise. A militarist intervention could be necessary to reclaim northern Mali from Islamists who have been holding the area since March. The BBC says that the Islamic groups took over after the Tuareg rebellion in January and now have imposed harsh Sharia law under which people have allegedly been stoned to death and amputated.

According to The New York Times:

“These basic details have yet to be worked out, officials conceded. Yet they emphasized that previously reluctant partners, including Mali itself, were convinced of the military imperative after months of inconclusive meetings and discussions. On Oct. 12, the United Nations Security Council, led by France, passed a resolution declaring its ‘readiness’ to respond to Malian demands for an international force and asked that a detailed plan be submitted in 45 days. That resolve was reiterated at an international summit here last week.

‘There is no alternative,’ said Jack Christofides, a top official in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which is playing a leading role in planning a possible operation. ‘For some of these more radical groups’ occupying northern Mali, he added, ‘it’s going to take military force.’

As many as 7,000 to 10,000 soldiers may be needed to take back and hold the north, United Nations officials have said, and the barriers to compiling such a force are evident. Nigeria, with the largest army in West Africa, is tied up with a fight against its own Islamist radicals. Algeria, often considered to have easily the most efficient force in the region, has been reluctant to get involved, though it may be coming around, officials said.”

Read more about this story at The New York Times and the BBC.

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