Pundit's Ideologies: Neorealism, fascist (similar to the Marxist social theory), and postmodern feminism. The military alliance of convenience, the marriage between secular Sufi Tuareg separatists and Sunni Islamists has abruptly ended as quickly as the marriage was declared. Breaking of the alliance began with a small local Islamist group, called The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, pushed out the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) out of a city called Gao. The NMLA originally dismissed small attacks like the one on Gao because they were poor strategic locations. When it was realized how easily the Tuareg forces were repelled, other Islamists groups, such as Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda broke their military alliance with the NMLA and attacked them. Not only has much of the NMLA forces have been scattered by numerous military defeats by Islamist factions, the President of Azawad was shot and flown out of the country. Normally, a string of military defeats crushes rebellions, but the Tuaregs are different, they want to fight for the right of sovereignty of their historical homeland. The problem with the NMLA accomplishing this goal is the fact they are poorly equipped, lacking in experience, and lack the resources that al-Qaeda can provide to local Islamist factions. With each day that passes, the more al-Qaeda realizes that the most ideal location to secure a launching point for their objective (the creation of a Wahhabi Caliphate state whose objective is to conquer the world under the banner of a single Islamic State) is in Northern Mali. Northern Mali has several unique factors to its advantage: It is the size of France, which is slightly larger than Afghanistan, but unlike Afghanistan, Islamists have complete control over this region, they do not need to go hiding in caves. They can hide in plain sight in urban environments around civilians. The local populace is not openly opposed to the Islamists. This was demonstrated by how civilians first fled when the Tuaregs took over, then again when the Islamists took over, given there are still civilians in Northern Mali, it is reasonable to conclude that civilian population is at the very least, passively discontent with the Islamists, and at the very most, are joining the ranks of the Islamists. The Islamists aren’t considered the only threat, Mali and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) considers the Tuaregs as big of a threat as the Islamists, and thus will be unwilling to ally with the Tuaregs to defeat the common enemy, expansionist religious extremists. Due to that the Tuaregs are consider an enemy too by ECOWAS and Mali, any invading force must contend with two enemies: an endless stream of young Tuareg men who wish to fight for their freedom as their fathers and grandfathers did, and a multinational terrorist organization whose goal is holy war to create a one world government. Because of the Tuaregs are consider an enemy by ECOWAS and Mali, they will take to the desert to fight anyone who opposes the creation of a secular Tuareg state. Given that most of Northern Mali is the Sahara Desert and Tuaregs are known as nomadic warriors, any invading force is going to have to deal with combating an enemy who has intimate knowledge of that land. The logistics for outside military powers, like the U.N., NATO, or the United States military operating this far into the African continent would be monstrously expensive and supply lines would be constantly harassed, to the point of it happening on a daily basis. The reason NATO and the UN are hesitant to get into a conflict in Syria is the logistics of an invasion. Invading Syria for a regime change would be stealing candy from a baby in comparison to invading the Sahara Desert to kill a bunch of guerilla fighters in a multi-factional war. The problem further complicates because NATO shouldn’t have a problem with the NMLA, but given that from the lenses of a UAV, Islamists are going to look exactly like the NMLA fighters when in the desert. Killing al-Qaeda members is something the United States military or NATO can spin into positive news propaganda, killing secular fighters who want a democratic state who are killing al-Qaeda members is a story that cannot be spun into positive news propaganda. Given the NMLA has been pushed down to the bottom in this war, the conflict now is between Islamists and Mali/ECOWAS. ECOWAS has already stated that it had three thousand soldiers on standby if they are needed to retake Northern Mali. There is mounting pressure in Mali’s capital for the Malian army to retake the north. It is only a matter of time before there is a Mali/ECOWAS invasion of Northern Mali. Northern Mali is a killing ground for any invading military force that does not practice a policy of total war against all targets, military and civilian. Despite the Mali/ECOWAS combined numbers are greatly superior to the Islamists, the Islamists have better equipment, funding, and overall better soldiers. Numbers are excellent in a war, but numbers mean very little when a sniper attacks a supply convoy travelling in the hot Sahara desert or a car bomb blows up outside a police station. If ten years of an occupying force couldn’t defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, there is no hope for uprooting al-Qaeda in Northern Mali. Which means they will only expand their territory in time, and as time progresses, this story will only continue to get more interesting.