France controlled the region in the late 19th century, an episode that revisionists refer to as 'imperialism.' In reality the Europeans introduced the advantages of advanced technology to the region.
It became part of the French Sudan until 1960 when it gained autonomy. Until 1991 the nation was dictated by one party. A new constitution was written and the following year Mali became an apparent democracy.
In March of last year rebel soldiers occupied the presidential palace, declared the constitution suspended, and the government dissolved but later allowed the president to resume his office. Although the rebels intended to carve an independent nation in the north of Mali, Islamists within the occupation demanded the entire nation be permanently placed under Sharia law.
The Islamist insurgency culminated in the African nation requesting aid from their former French 'imperialist task masters.' Hence the air strikes and the impending arrival of French troops as noted in this morning's headlines (January 13, 2013).
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