Close to 100,000 Malian refugees huddle under makeshift tents in eastern Mauritania, swapping stories of jihadists’ brutal imposition of Sharia law in the northern regions. Their detailed accounts of persecution are sadly familiar: beatings in the street of women unaccompanied by men, of anyone outside their homes at night, and of those who display their adherence to Sufism, a peaceful tradition of Islam popular before the extremists arrived.
Ansar Dine has claimed control over northern Mali after driving out the Tuareg rebels. (The Tuaregs had initially worked with the group back in January to fight Malian government forces, though tribal and religious differences soon turned them against each other.) One refugee attests to the diversity of “heavily armed men of numerous races, nationalities, and languages.” Ansar Dine may be recruiting foot soldiers from as far away as Pakistan. American counterterrorism experts are increasingly concerned that the region could become a base of operations for international terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda.
Libyans, for their part, are far from enjoying happier, freer lives as a result of Qaddafi’s fall. As the Libyan Observatory for Human Rights has reported, disparate groups of militiamen have colluded to undermine the interim National Transitional Council’s attempts at order, carrying out revenge attacks, killings, abductions, and extortion against former Gaddafi supporters. Black Africans receive the brunt of these attacks because the militia suspects them of having worked as mercenaries for Qaddafi during the war.
Former rebel fighter Suheil al Lagi warns: ”This is not the new Libya we fought for and we may have to take up arms again if the corruption and greed continue. This time against the new government.”
The afterparty drags on. Via Meadia welcomes the positive result of Libya’s elections, but a lot of the heavy lifting remains to be done.