Weekly News Roundup: AQIM’s bad week, Croatian weapons, and…the Sultanate of what?

A little late with the news roundup this week…But have no fear, all the stories you were dying to sink your teeth from the past week and a half (but forgot about until now) below!

West Africa

Mali: The Government of Chad reported that their forces had killed two key AQIM commanders, Abu Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokthar, in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains of northeastern Mali. Their deaths are not yet confirmed, but it is likely that at least Abu Zeid is out of the picture.

Also in Mali news, France announced it will maintain a troop presence in the country until at least July. Meanwhile, a third French soldier was killed in a raid in the Adrar des Ifoghas.

And Bruce Whitehouse over at Bridges from Bamako has an excellent post on upending conventional wisdom about Mali’s “Tuareg problem.”

Southeast Asia

Malaysia: Put this one in the books as one of the most bizarre conflicts of 2013. Malaysian armed forces are now attempting to dislodge a band of militants who invaded the island of Borneo on Feb. 9, claiming to be the royal army of the historic Sultanate of Sulu charged with taking back a chunk of territory called “Sabah” their ancestors once ruled. (Confused? A map and short background here.)

Thailand: Not far away, a Malay Muslim rebel group responsible for thousands of deaths since 2004 has agreed to peace talks with the Thai government.

Eastern Europe

Balkans: An oft-forgotten region once plagued by conflict made the headlines this week after the New York Times revealed Saudi Arabia was delivering weapons of Croatian origin to rebels in Syria. Arms traders sure do love globalization.

In addition, International Crisis Group has a new report out on Bosnia’s present challenges.

Just for fun

Famed realist Steve Walt places several “forgotten” conflicts in his “too hard box.”

And in the world of sports diplomacy, Rick Reilly at ESPN has a humorous take on quirky basketball star Dennis Rodman’s recent trip to North Korea.

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