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Many assume that ethnic identity plays the main role in holding African political parties together. Yet as Elischer shows in this careful analysis of ten African countries, the picture is more complicated.
Although France quickly achieved its goals in Mali, the Islamist and Tuareg militants it fought are still at large, having swiftly retreated into the northeastern part of the country. The most likely outcome of the French operation, therefore, is not an end to West Africa's problems but their spread into neighboring Niger.