French troops in the north are leading the efforts to disarm Tuareg militias, which is one condition of the June 26 peace deal. Unofficially the French are also expected to ensure that Mali soldiers from the south (who are from different tribes and ethnic groups) do not abuse the Tuareg and Arab majority in the north. Not all weapons are being taken as many Tuareg regularly travel the thinly populated countryside where the risk of encountering bandits or Islamic terrorists still exists. But the treaty bans unauthorized heavy weapons (machine-guns, mortars or simply more small arms than were needed to deal with bandits). Getting these weapons out of circulation also makes local conflicts (over land, family matters or whatever) less lethal.
Meanwhile the Islamic terrorists are distracted by budget problems. AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) has long been most active terror group in the north but is now showing up in the south, mainly to deal with the growing drug smuggling operations. This is the major source of income for Islamic terrorists in the region and even Ansar Dine is getting involved. For over a decade the main product being moved north was cocaine from South America, but now opium and heroin from Afghanistan is showing up. There is also a lot of locally produced cannabis and hashish that is also sold locally and in North Africa. AQIM has come to dominate the drug smuggling because of their ruthlessness. To deal with AQIM and their drug smuggling, an international counter-terrorism operations in Sahel (the semi-desert area just below the Sahara) are mostly in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso was created after 2013. Led by France and the United States and working closely with local forces the pressure has forced Islamic terror groups to concentrate more on raising money and avoiding detection and destruction. While some purist Islamic terrorists disagree with this approach, most Islamic terrorists understand that without cash their numbers would be a lot fewer and there would be fewer weapons and other essential items (like explosives for bombs) available.
In the north reconstruction of damaged Moslem shrines has begun, using local craftsmen, photos and half a million dollars donated by foreign aid groups. This effort is necessary because in 2012 Ansar Dine (a largely Malian Islamic terror group) ran Timbuktu and destroyed dozens of ancient tombs of Moslem clerics and scholars worshipped by Sufi Moslems. To some conservative Sunni Moslems, Sufis are heretics and their shrines are to be destroyed whenever possible. The destruction of the tombs was condemned by many Moslem leaders worldwide, and the ICC (International Criminal Court) declared it a war crime. These Moslem shrines were big tourist attractions to visitors of all religions. So the restoration addresses religious and economic concerns.
July 17, 2015: In the south, on the Ivory Coast border, a week of searching by soldiers found two Islamic terrorist camps, which were seized and destroyed. Several Islamic terrorists were killed and two soldiers were wounded. A lot of equipment was captured along with weapons and documents. The camps were apparently used by Ansar Dine and many locally recruited Islamic terrorists.
July 13, 2015: In the south soldiers encountered and arrested twenty men (two French, five Malian and the rest Mauritanian) near the Ivory Coast border. Interrogations revealed that they were Islamic conservative preachers affiliated with a Pakistani group called Tablighi Jamaat. While officially non-violent Tablighi Jamaat urges Moslems to adopt the same form of conservative Islam that Islamic terrorist groups seek to impose by force. This leads to many Islamic terrorists who got started after spending time with Tablighi Jamaat preachers.
July 10, 2015: In central Mali (Mopti) troops arrested two Ansar Dine couriers carrying messages between Ansar Dine groups in the area.
July 5, 2015: In the north (near Kidal) a French raid killed an AQIM leader (Ali Ag Wadossene) and captured two of his men. Two French soldiers were wounded. Wadossene had been released in 2012 in exchange for a French citizen kidnapped by Islamic terrorists in 2011.
July 2, 2015: In the north (outside Timbuktu) AQIM men attacked a UN aid convoy, killing six people and wounding six others. Five of the dead were peacekeepers from Burkina Faso. Overall UN peacekeepers have suffered 42 dead since they arrived in 2013. This is the highest casualty rate of all current UN peacekeeping operations.
July 1, 2015: In the south, near the Ivory Coast border and Fakola, troops found and killed Islamic terrorists belonging to Ansar Dine. The three dead are believed to have been involved in the Fakola attack.
June 30, 2015: Ivory Coast has sent more troops to the Mali border to inhibit movement of any Islamic terrorists that might be operating up there. France has a military base in Ivory Coast that specializes in logistics, bringing in supplies and equipment by ship and then getting to where it is needed in the region. Ivory Coast troops coordinate with their Malian counterparts on the other side of the border during operations to seek out specific groups of Islamic terrorists.
June 28, 2015: In the south, on the Ivory Coast border, Islamic terrorists from Ansar Dine attacked the town of Fakola and did some looting before troops arrived and drove the attackers away. There were no deaths on either side but some of the attackers may have been wounded. A June 10th attack at the nearby town of Misseni left one policemen dead and was also carried out by Ansar Dine.
June 27, 2015: In the south, on the Mauritanian border Ansar Dine gunmen attacked an army base outside Nara but were repulsed after nine Islamic terrorists and three soldiers were killed. The dead men appeared to be from the local Peuhl tribe. Islamic radicals have been preaching and recruiting in the area for several years.
June 26, 2015: In the south (Bamako, the capital) police and intelligence operatives disrupted an Ansar Dine plot to carry out a large attack in the city. Six people were arrested and $11,000 in cash and documents were seized.