If you know anything at all about Mali, it is probably because you are a fan of world music, in which Malian musicians such as Salif Keita, Oumou Sangaré and the Tuareg band Tinariwen are prominent and have built a substantial fan base in Europe. Even then, Mali’s politics have probably passed you by.
So it is useful to read this short, clear, expert backgrounder, which debunks all the myths. It turns out that the conflict isn’t primarily about resources, neo-imperialism or religion. It’s about saving the Malian state:
At least 9 out of 10 Malians are Muslim, they are grateful for the French intervention, and they want no part of the intolerant, totalitarian project reserved for them by the coalition of Islamist groups now controlling Mali’s north.