France's war in Mali
Once held up as a model of democracy, Mali was thrown into turmoil after a March 2012 military coup in the south brought down the democratically elected government. The power vacuum allowed Tuareg rebels allied with Islamist militants to seize the northern half of the country – a vast desert region roughly the size of France. In January 2013, French troops, backed by soldiers from Chad and Niger, launched a campaign to drive out the Islamist groups and restore Mali’s unity. Six months later, a UN peacekeeping mission began deploying in northern Mali, tasked with supervising a fragile peace and a troubled return to democracy.