The geopolitical significance of the Sahara is becoming painfully clear, as unrest spills over borders and aggravates protracted regional crises.
Unifying the country will require widespread dialogue and international assistance.
French military gains in northern Mali will be fruitless unless they are included in a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of the conflict.
Even with recent military successes in Mali, the West still needs to develop more robust common security and burden-sharing arrangements.
The conflict in Mali has its roots in regional struggles, particularly in Algeria, against violent Islamist groups.
The unrest in Mali and the siege of Algeria’s gas field demonstrate that violent militancy is bound to grow and expand if left unchecked.
In anticipation of a nuclear renaissance, investors tempted by speculative price increases during the last decade have been searching for uranium in places off the beaten track.
The conflict in northern Mali cannot be solved by a military solution alone. Any effort to end the violence will have to utilize diplomatic and political components to address the grievances of the groups that have taken up arms.
The French military intervention in Mali illustrates what the fight against radical Islamists might look like in the future.
The fragile states of the Sahara and just below the desert pose significant challenges—not just for the United States and Europe, but also for the North African states themselves.