Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hundreds of French troops drive back Mali rebels

France goes in; we send the drones.

The sudden military operation is a reversal of months of debate over whether or not Western powers should get involved in a military bid to oust the militants, who took advantage of a coup in Mali's capital in March to capture the north. As recently as December, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned against a quick military operation. Diplomats said that September would be the earliest the operation could take place.

All of that went out the window this week when the fighters pushed south from the town of Douentza, which demarcated their line of control, located 900 kilometers (540 miles) from the capital. By Thursday, they had succeeded in pushing another 120 kilometers (72 miles) south, bringing them nearly face-to-face with the ill-equipped and ill-trained Malian military in a showdown that couldn't be ignored by the international community.

In a statement released Saturday, the bloc representing nations in West Africa, ECOWAS, said they had authorized the immediate deployment of troops to Mali. ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo said they made the decision "in light of the urgency of the situation."

In Washington, a U.S. official confirmed that the country has offered to send drones to Mali. The official could not be named because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Hundreds of French troops drive back Mali rebels

Also: Via Meadia,

France is at war in Mali, launching air strikes against jihadi forces threatening the country’s fragile (and not very impressive) government. Given the sharp limits on France’s ability to project power, French officials are in discussions with the Pentagon about possible American intelligence and logistics support.

And Robert Kaplan’s background.

AMERICANS aren’t paying much attention to Africa right now. Eclipsed by the violent politics of the Middle East and the turbulent economies of Europe, the world’s second-largest continent often flies under our radar altogether. Which is why, when something very important happened in the western African nation of Mali last April, it made few headlines.

No kidding…. so what would Chuck Hagel do?

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