"For the past year, Mali has been mired in overlapping security, political, and humanitarian crises. Islamist extremist groups expanded their presence in the country's vast, Saharan north following a March 2012 coup d'état that overthrew Mali's democratically elected government and led the military chain of command to collapse. The insurgents include Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, along with at least two loosely allied groups. In the capital, Bamako, located in the south, the interim government formed in the wake of the coup has suffered from internal divisions and military interference, and must contend with an economic recession and revenue shortages. Insecurity in northern Mali has displaced over 350,000 people and exacerbated regional food insecurity and poor humanitarian conditions. […] The situation in Mali challenges U.S. goals of promoting stability, democracy, civilian control of the military, and effectively countering terrorist threats in Africa. It also raises questions regarding the strategic design and effectiveness of previous U.S. efforts to do so. Looking forward, Congress may consider issues related to how, and to what extent, to support French and regional military deployments to Mali; whether unilateral U.S. action is required or wise; how to assess previous U.S. security engagement in Mali and the region; and future U.S. aid, including humanitarian assistance. Congress may also consider the possible implications of the situation in Mali for broader U.S. counterterrorism and good governance efforts in Africa and beyond."
CRS Report for Congress, R42664