As the United States “winds-down” efforts against Islamic terrorist organizations in Asia, the French are ramping-up against Islamist militants in the African nation of Mali. The French are using fighter jets to pound al-Qaida linked training camps in the northern part of the country.
The Republic of Mali has been in turmoil for about a year after soldiers overthrew the democratic government in March 2012. In part, this was related to the so-called Arab Spring in the region. After the overthrow, Mali rebels took over great portions of the northern part of the country calling for an independent state. As I understand it, rebel forces in the north joined with Al-Qaida linked fundamentalists, formed training camps and dropped their insistence for an independent state. Instead, they started moving forces south to take over more area and more of the countries population.
You did not hear about this in the US news, but the French unilaterally committed to send troops to Mali on Friday and fighter jets bombed areas in the north. The fight against al-Qaida and Islamic fundamentalist organizations – it seems – will continue as nothing but the venue changes. From the UK Guardian.
Islamist militants are fleeing major towns in northern Mali after two days of air strikes by French troops, which sources say have left scores of rebels dead.
French fighter jets have pounded insurgent training camps, arms and oil depots as the French defence ministry confirmed reports of Islamist deaths, together with at least 11 civilians including three children.
“Mali is now at the mercy of the French army,” said a well-connected Malian official in Bamako. “They are bombing the north, they have killed many terrorists. The Islamists have been running into the desert – they have deserted Gao and Timbuktu.”
Residents in Gao confirmed French jets had struck the airport as well as the building that served as the base for the town’s feared Islamic police. “The planes are so fast you can only hear their sound in the sky,” Soumaila Maiga told Reuters. “We are happy, even though it is frightening. Soon we will be delivered.”
Be certain this is a complicated story, and I’ve admittedly provided only brief background since I know only what I’ve read in three or four articles and one video. If interested, you should certainly research on your own. That said, I found it interesting the French took action so quickly with Britain and the United States providing help with logistics and communications only.
For the last four months, many in Mali have been complaining about military intervention by other west-African troops and they are not happy about French intervention either. Others are happy fighting that has been pushing south may not push them from their homes.
Update: Just this morning, news is reaching the US press. The New York Times has the following…
Matching military power with diplomacy, France called a meeting of the United Nations Security Council for Monday, one day after Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country’s dramatic intervention in Mali had succeeded in blocking an Islamist advance toward the capital that could have had “appalling consequences.”
French forces, he said in a radio interview late Sunday, were now “taking care” of rear bases used by Islamists who took control of much of the north of the country last year after a military coup in the capital, Bamako. The duration of the French operation was “a question of weeks,” Mr. Fabius said, unlike, he insisted, the American-led military campaign in Afghanistan.
Ahh yes, French intervention equals short-term and good, where US actions in Afghanistan has been long and bad. The approved standard now is to bomb the living crap out of the area and move on claiming victory. Let’s keep that in mind shall we? The New York Times did not mention the 11 civilians and three dead children mentioned by the UK Guardian.