This past week, the precarious situation in the West African country of Mali took a turn for the worse when an unexpected military coup d’etat toppled now former President Amadou Toumani Touré (in hiding) who ironically also took power in the 1990′s with a coup but was later democratically elected and re-elected into power.
Worst of all however, the 2012 coup d’etat led by Captain Amadou Sanogo has taken place during a civil war against the Tuareg militants up in the north of Mali which in turn has produced a growing refugee crisis.
The new Malian military junta faces a large array of problems including legitimacy and security which are now being compromised by disputing politicians and officials from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
ECOWAS spokespeople have confirmed that West African leaders will most likely use economic and political sanctions on the Malian military junta and even prepare a military delegation to pressure the coup d’etat leaders to return to the democratic way.
In addition to its new actions, ECOWAS has suspended its operation to send a delegation to bring the warring ethnic Tuareg militants and the Malian government to the negotiating table for a general ceasefire.
The Tuareg militant groups are well-armed and well-trained after many of their members gained experience and weapons in Libya during and after their service under the now deceased Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
These fighters-for-hire, along with other mercenaries, have returned to the country of Mali after the successful Libyan revolution in 2011 to make war as predicted by numerous political analysts and people.
The return of the hundreds of old and new militants was predicted to stir up old hatred yet again leading to violence between those who want an Azawad region independent of the Mali officials down in the south.
These Tuaregs who have taken up arms call themselves the Azawad National Liberation Movement.
The modern history between the ethnic nomads and the government is bitter and violent with countless uprisings and wars being fought around the issue of greater autonomy from what the Tuaregs perceive as a repressive and marginalizing Mali government.
Few amenities exist between the two sides despite a brokered peace deal in 2009 and an attempt at a disarmament talk in 2011.
Dozens of defections were reported by the military of Mali, mostly the defections of ethnic Tuareg soldiers who were serving in the Mali military.
The conflict has been expanding from around the towns of Aguel’hoc, Tessalit and Menaka to the outer and central regions where Mali’s military, once brazen and confident, now battle the rebels with tenacity.
Meanwhile, the conflict has already forced over 230,000 civilians in the northern parts of Mali to flee to neighboring countries or down to the southern parts of the country.
The United Nations Refugee Agency, which expected the worst, started to assist refugees with cargo flights and truck convoys carrying substantial amounts of food aid and other supplies.
Now the situation may become even more dangerous and unpredictable for both the world and the war-stricken refugees now that the Malian government has become suddenly destabilized and taken over by a military junta.