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Published On: Tue, Jan 15th, 2013

Chaos in Mali draws French troops, U.S. to provide assistance

Hundreds of French troops arrived in the African country of Mali Friday to carry out raids in an attempt to try to prevent al-Qaida’s North African affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM, from establishing a base of operations in Mali.

Mali  Image/CIA

Mali Image/CIA

It has been widely reported France began its air campaign to halt the movement south of al-Qaida affiliated extremists, who have held Mali’s northern area since April.

French President Francois Hollande says he  intends on staying in Mali until stability is restored, which could be an extended time, according to a Reuters report Tuesday.

African troops, starting with Nigeria, are expected to send troops to the region starting tomorrow. West African forces numbering about 3,000 are expected to be deployed.

What will be the United States role in Mali?

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday that U.S. and French defense leaders are hammering out details of intelligence, logistics and airlift assistance the United States will provide to French forces, according to a DOD press release Jan. 14.

“We have a responsibility to go after al-Qaida wherever they are”, said Panetta. “We’re going after them in Yemen and Somalia. And we have a responsibility to make sure that al-Qaida does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali.”

However, Panetta said to reporters there is a limit  to the help the United States will provide, clearly stating, “There is no consideration of putting any American boots on the ground at this time”, according to a VOA report.

“We’ll continue to work with [the French] to ensure that ultimately we do stop AQIM and that the responsibility for assuring security in that region will be passed to the African nations to provide a more permanent security for the sake of the world,” Panetta said.

The secretary said while al-Qaida members in Mali do not appear to pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, “we’re concerned any time al-Qaida establishes a base of operations that, while they might not have any immediate plans for attacks in the United States and in Europe, that ultimately … still remains their objective. And it’s for that reason that we have to take steps now to ensure that AQIM does not get that kind of traction.”

With current numbers of French troops at 750, Paris has said it plans to deploy 2,500 soldiers in its former colony to bolster the Malian army and work with the intervention force provided by West African states.

North Mali was seized last year by an Islamist alliance combining al Qaeda’s north African wing AQIM with splinter group MUJWA and the home-grown Ansar Dine rebels.

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Algeria hostage crisis over, death toll unclear, atleast 11 militants killed - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Islamist took the hostages at a BP plant in response to the French retaliation towards the extremists in Mali. […]

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