So, when I think is Mali like Afghanistan, I tend to say no because:
- Who is the Pakistan in this analogy? Maybe Libya played the role of outsider feeding/fostering unrest, but not anymore.
- Indeed, the neighbors seem to be constructive. Imagine a world in which India and Pakistan and Iran were working together to support the government of Afghanistan and the NATO effort? Yeah, unrealistic, but Mali, as far as I can tell, is getting help from multiple countries in the region to regain control of the north.
- Does Mali have poppies or the equivalent? Afghanistan has been greatly complicated by the reality that poppies are one of the very few profitable exports with efforts to substitute/eradicate/minimize raising all kinds of problems.
- While the various groups that seized the north share some identities with the people who reside there (Tuareg, Muslim), they apparently wore out their stay quite quickly and don't have the reservoir of support that the Taliban has had among certain tribes within the Pashtuns.
- Limited trust/capacity at the center. Afghanistan has Karzai, and Mali has a new military regime promising to have elections soon.
- A crappy "security sector." Afghanistan's police systematically abuse the populace. Mali's military seems to be killing folks who have little to do with the various separatist groups.