A Map of the Bewildering Mali Conflict

With French troops committing to a wider ground confrontation with Islamist rebels in Mali, it's worth trying to get a handle on the scale of the conflict. Some observers expect French forces to get bogged down battling a full-blown insurgency, and the reason can be summed up with one bedazzling map:

graphic-mali-conflict-area-615.jpgFrance 24/dpa

If nothing else, the graphic above reveals the scale of the task Paris has set itself. French marines are dealing with no fewer than half a dozen actors in the region -- not all of them hostile, but still confusing. Airstrikes have been geographically distributed, a testament to how diffuse the rebels are (reports suggest the Islamists have stockpiled munitions and supplies around the country in preparation for an extended engagement).

UN-backed forces are still weeks away -- which raises one question: Just what are the French getting themselves into?

Presented by

Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Global

Just In