• Before posting an article from a specific source, check this list here to see how much the Orange Room trust it. You can also vote/change your vote based on the source track record.

MALI: France’s newest Quagmire

J. Abizeid

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
MALI: The French Quagmire...


(Reuters) - French forces fighting Islamist rebels in Mali seized the airport and a bridge at the rebel bastion of Gao on Saturday, the biggest military success so far for an offensive against al Qaeda-allied insurgents occupying the country's north.
The United States and Europe back the U.N.-mandated Mali operation as a counterstrike against the threat of radical Islamist jihadists using the West African state's inhospitable Sahara desert as a launching pad for international attacks.
In their overnight advance on Gao involving special force troops backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, the French killed an estimated dozen Islamist fighters without suffering any losses or injuries, the French army said.
The speed of the French action in a two-week-old campaign suggested French and Malian government troops intended to drive aggressively into the north of Mali in the next few days against other Islamist rebel strongholds, such as Timbuktu and Kidal.
There have been 30 French air strikes on militant targets around Gao and Timbuktu in the past 36 hours.
News that the French were at the gates of Gao, the largest northern town held by the Islamists, came as African states struggled to deploy a planned 6,000-strong intervention force in Mali, known as AFISMA, under a U.N. mandate.
French army spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said French forces were still coming under fire from rebels inside Gao.
"At the moment, there are still contacts, some harassment operations by terrorist groups who are firing in the direction of the airport from residences or seeking to blend in with the population," Burkhard told Reuters.
He said both the bridge and airport runway were undamaged.
In Paris, the French defense ministry said that Malian and French troop reinforcements were being brought up and that troops from Chad and Niger, who have experience in desert warfare, would also be flown in shortly to Gao.
To the west, French forces pushed towards Lere, on the road to Timbuktu, without so far encountering resistance.
For two weeks, French jets and helicopter gunships have been harrying the retreating Islamists, attacking their vehicles, command posts and weapons depots. The French action had stymied a sudden Islamist offensive launched in early January that had threatened Bamako, Mali's capital in the south of the country.
Washington and European governments, while providing airlift and intelligence support to the anti-militant offensive, are not planning to send in any combat troops.
FRANCE TAKING THE LEAD
At an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, AU leaders called on the United Nations to provide emergency logistics and funding to allow the African force for Mali to deploy.
AU officials say AFISMA is severely hampered by logistical shortages and needs airlift support, ammunition, telecoms equipment, field hospitals, food and water. It also required training to operate in Mali's desert and arid mountains.
There appeared to be some embarrassment among African ministers and leaders that the continent was having to rely on a former colonial power, France, much criticized for past meddling in Africa, to take the lead in the military campaign in Mali.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said France's intervention was "justified".
"If Africa can't do it, somebody else should do it," Mushikiwabo told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.
France, which dispatched its military to Mali at the Bamako government's request, already has 2,500 soldiers on the ground in its former colony.
Around 1,900 African troops, including Chadians, have been deployed to Mali so far. Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Niger and Chad are providing troops while Burundi and other African nations have pledged to contribute.
While the French and Malians thrust northeast in a two-pronged offensive towards Gao and Timbuktu, Chadian and local forces in neighboring Niger are preparing a flanking thrust coming up from the south.
A large column of armored vehicles and hundreds of Chadian troops rolled out of the Niger capital Niamey on Saturday, heading northwards towards the Mali border.
ISLAMISTS "IN RETREAT"
Malian army officers said there had been no direct fighting in recent days as the Islamist insurgents pulled back to avoid deadly French air strikes that have destroyed rebel vehicles, command posts, fuel depots and stores.
"They are all hiding. They are leaving on foot and on motorcycles," Malian Army Captain Faran Keita told Reuters at Konna, about 500 km (310 miles) southeast of Gao.
Konna's capture by the Islamist insurgents on January 10 triggered the sudden French military intervention to aid Mali. Reporters there saw charred rebel pickup trucks that had been blasted by French air strikes. Munitions lay scattered about.
The question remained whether the Islamists would fight to hold Gao and Timbuktu or withdraw further north into the trackless desert wastes and mountain fastnesses of the Sahara.
"We have stopped their offensive, they are in retreat - that is clear. Whether they are in retreat to regroup, what their next intentions are or what has been done to their total strength, that is not clear," a U.S. official in the region, who asked not to be named, said.
On Friday, the Islamists blew up a road bridge on the main road south from Gao to Niger, but military officials from Niger said the Chadian and Nigerien forces could still reach Gao by other routes when they advanced.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande by phone on Friday and expressed support for France's military operation in Mali.
At a conference of donors for the Mali operation to be held in Addis Ababa on January 29, the AU is expected to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in logistical support and funding to assist the deployment of the African intervention force.





 
  • Advertisement
  • J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    http://www.expatica.com/fr/news/french-news/two-weeks-of-french-intervention-in-mali_256661.html



    Two weeks of French intervention in Mali

    A chronology of key events in the West African state of Mali since France sent troops to take on armed Islamist groups occupying the north of its former colony:
    -- JANUARY 2013 --
    - 10: About 1,200 Islamists capture the government-held central town of Konna and say they will push farther south. Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore asks France for help.
    - Witnesses say foreign troops and weapons have begun arriving by transport plane at an army base in Sevare, 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of Konna.
    - 11: With French support, Malian government troops launch an offensive against Islamist rebels.
    - French President Francois Hollande confirms French troops are actively supporting the offensive.
    - 12: French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announces the death of a French helicopter pilot.
    - 13: French airstrikes target Islamist bases in the northern regions of Gao and Kidal.
    - Algeria has authorised French warplanes to use its airspace for bombing raids on Mali, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says.
    - 14: Rebels abandon key northern bases. Residents in the towns of Gao, Douentza and Timbuktu report all Islamists have fled, though a rebel spokesman calls it a "tactical retreat".
    - However, Islamists seize the town of Diabaly in government-held territory, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital, Bamako. They vow to "strike at the heart of France".
    - 15: France engages ground troops for the first time, to retake Diabaly. Hundreds of soldiers from France and Mali head to the town, which witnesses say is bombarded by French fighter planes.
    - Hollande says the French intervention has three objectives -- "ending terrorists attacks", as well as "securing Bamako, where we have thousands of citizens, and help Mali to restore its territorial integrity."
    - 16: The crisis takes on a new international dimension with a massive hostage crisis at a gas site in Algeria's remote south-eastern desert, perpetrated by Islamists claiming to avenge France's military intervention in Mali.
    In Mali itself, French troops head towards the north, battling rebels on the ground.
    - 17: In Algeria, the army carries out an assault on the gas site, freeing some 600 Algerian hostages, according to the Algerian news agency APS, but killing many hostages, according to a kidnapper.
    - Paris announces that some 1,400 French soldiers are deployed on Mali's soil. The number of French troops involved in Operation Serval is expected to reach at least 2,500.
    - About 100 Nigerian and Togolese soldiers, the first contingents of the African-led AFISMA force, arrive in Bamako.
    - The Malian and French armies retake Konna.
    - 19: Algerian special forces storm the remaining part of the gas complex, bringing an end to the four-day hostage drama. At least 37 foreign hostages and one Algerian hostage have been killed, along with 29 hostage-takers.
    - West African leaders ask the UN to "immediately" provide money and logistical support for the AFISMA force.
    - 20: French troops buttress their position as they prepare the drive north, moving into the key central towns of Niono and Sevare. The French defence minister says the mission's goal is "the total reconquest of Mali".
    - The Islamists are reported to be abandoning positions in the centre of the country and converging on the mountainous region of Kidal, their northernmost bastion.
    - 21: French and Malian troops recapture the key towns of Diabaly and Douentza.
    - Paris says 2,150 French troops are on the ground as US logistical aid begins.
    - 22: France directly attacks Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), striking several targets including a "terrorist command centre," according to several French sources.
    - 23: Two human rights organisations demand a probe into accusations of abuses carried out by Malian troops, especially against people who look like Arabs or Tuaregs.
    - African soldiers head towards the centre of the country. More than 2,300 French troops under Operation Serval are on the ground in Mali.
    - 24: A new group, the Islamic Movement of Azawad, announces it has split from Ansar Dine and wants talks to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    French and Malians close in on Gao

    [vbtube]m_MeqFukVEA[/vbtube]
     
    HannaTheCrusader

    HannaTheCrusader

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Eventually the salafis will blend in the population and will wait and hit the french troops

    Something along what happened to the USA in Somalia......

    It's a guerilla war......had to completely win
     
    Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Eventually the salafis will blend in the population and will wait and hit the french troops

    Something along what happened to the USA in Somalia......

    It's a guerilla war......had to completely win
    The French brought it unto themeselves, they supported the al-Qaida in Libya. next time a terror attack hits the West, we should tell them that they only have themeselves to blame.
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    [vbtube]WkzXTgslFNE[/vbtube]
    WOW…
    13 minutes explaining what’s been happening during the past 20 years and what is about to happen in the next 20 years…
    Arming the terrorists in Syria wile destroying the rebels in Mali to protect its imposed president using human rights as an excuse….
    Mali’s newly discovered Gold and Uranium mines.
    France playing the American imperialistic game while America’s objective is to block/limit China’s energy supply mainly from Iran…

    And here we are busy with our sectarian wars…
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    France at war?

    NYT headline suggests France is at war.
    Question: Did someone attack France? Or, did France join the criminal imperialistic club?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/world/africa/france-mali-intervention.html?_r=0



    January 26, 2013

    French Capture Gao Airport in Move to Retake North Mali

    By LYDIA POLGREEN and SCOTT SAYARE

    KONNA, Mali — French special forces took control of the airport in the Islamic rebel stronghold of Gao, the French government said Saturday, meeting “serious resistance” from militants even as they pressed northward.
    Gao is one of three main northern cities in Mali that has been under rebel control for months, and the capture of the main strategic points in Gao represents the biggest prize yet in the battle to retake the northern half of the country.
    French airstrikes have been pounding the city since France joined the fight at Mali’s request on Jan. 11. French troops also took control of a bridge over the Niger River on Saturday, and the capture of the airport allowed a company of French soldiers to be airlifted in on Saturday afternoon, according to Col. Thierry Burkhard, the French military spokesman.
    Another French company was on the road to Gao from Sévaré on Saturday night, and Malian and other African forces had begun to arrive, he said.
    He stepped back from an earlier statement by the French Defense Ministry that declared the city freed by French forces, acknowledging that the statement was “a bit overdone.” Noting Gao’s 70,000 inhabitants, he added, “it’s not with a detachment of special forces that you take over a city.”
    But with reinforcements streaming in, the battle for Gao appeared imminent.
    Soldiers from Chad and Niger are expected to arrive soon, the French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said in a statement. They will be part of a contingent of 1,900 African troops who have already arrived in Mali, fighting alongside the 2,500 French soldiers deployed here.
    Gao’s mayor, who had fled to Bamako, the capital, returned to his city on Saturday, Mr. Le Drian said.
    In Washington, the Pentagon said Saturday that the United States would provide aerial refueling for French warplanes. The decision increases American involvement, which until now had consisted of transporting French troops and equipment and also providing intelligence, including satellite photographs.
    Gao, 600 miles northeast of the capital, had been under the control of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, a splinter group of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
    Al Jazeera broadcast a statement from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in which the group said it had withdrawn temporarily from some cities it held, but would return with greater force.
    Little information has come from the other two main cities under rebel control — Timbuktu, the fabled desert oasis, and Kidal, northeast of Gao — for the past 10 days because mobile phone networks have been down.
    Konna was overrun by Islamic fighters on Jan. 10, prompting France to intervene, and a clearer picture has begun to emerge of the fighting. Residents and officials here said that at least 11 civilians had been killed in French airstrikes.
    Charred husks of pickup trucks lined the road into the town, and broken tanks and guns littered the fish market, where the rebels appeared to have set up a temporary base.
    France’s sudden entry into the fray has left the United Nations and Ecowas, the regional trade bloc, scrambling to put together an African-led intervention force that had been in the planning stages. The Mali Army, which has struggled to fight the Islamist groups, has been accused of serious human rights violations.
    From Konna, it is easy to see why the Malian government pleaded for French help after the Islamist fighters took control of the town. Just 35 miles of asphalt separate Konna from the garrison town of Sévaré, home to the second-biggest airfield in Mali and a vital strategic point for any foreign intervention force.
    Residents said their town fell to the rebels when 300 pickup trucks of fighters, bristling with machine guns, rolled in and pushed back the Malian Army troops who had been guarding the town after a fierce battle.
    Amadou Traore, 29, a tire repairman, said residents had heard that the Islamist rebels had surrounded the town before the attack, but he had been confident that the army would keep them at bay.
    “We thought there was no way for them to enter into the town,” he said. “But they came in the night. They told us, ‘Tomorrow we will go to Sévaré.’ ”
    A woman who lived in his compound was hit by a bullet, he said. They tried to take her to the town clinic, but the doctor had fled. “There was no doctor, no nurses,” Mr. Traore said. “After two days, she died.”
    Baro Coulibaly fled her house along the main road into town, moving with her husband and six children to the relative safety of the town center, where they stayed with her in-laws. They hunkered down for days, hearing the sound of French bombs and rebel bullets ricocheting around the mud-walled dwellings.
    “Nobody could get in or out,” Ms. Coulibaly said. “We were so afraid we barely ate or slept.”
    Residents said they heard that the fearsome Tuareg leader of the Islamist group Ansar Dine, Iyad ag Ghali, had led the attack on their town, but no one saw him. The rebels spoke many languages, the residents said. Some were light-skinned Arabs and Tuaregs, a nomadic people, while others were dark-skinned people who spoke the local languages of Niger, Nigeria and Mali.
    Boubacar Diallo, a local political leader, said that only a few rebel fighters came at first. Later, hundreds more joined them, overwhelming the Malian soldiers based here. He said he never saw them pray and scoffed at their assertion that they would teach the Muslim population a purer form of Islam.
    “They say they are Muslims, but I don’t know any Muslim who does not pray,” Mr. Diallo said.
    The fighters took down the Malian flag and raised a banner of their own, a white piece of paper printed with words in Arabic — “Assembly for the Spiritual Ideology to Purify the African World” — and pictures of machine guns.
    After the Islamist fighters fled, Mr. Diallo took it down and replaced it with the Malian flag.
     
    Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    And it seems France are winning.
     
    Danny Z

    Danny Z

    Legendary Member
    I prefer to have the french forces take Mali from those bajam that destroyed tumbuctu history than let them create a new Taliban rules country.
    []
     
    Last edited by a moderator:
    Venom

    Venom

    Legendary Member
    Russia to West: We Told You Not To Overthrow Qaddafi!


    On Wednesday Russia blamed Western countries for creating the current turmoil in Africa by arming Libyan rebels, Timothy Heritage and Gabriela Baczynska of Reuters report.

    "Those whom the French and Africans are fighting now in Mali are the [same] people who ... our Western partners armed so that they would overthrow the Gaddafi regime," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference.

    The toppling of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi led to "perhaps the greatest proliferation of weapons of war from any modern conflict," Emergency Director of Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert told The Telegraph.

    Those weapons stockpiles were raided by both sides, and both sides had connections with radical militants.

    In 2011 Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times noted that the main rebel group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), had formed a "merger" with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) in 2007.

    And the well-armed Tuareg rebels who fought on Qaddafi's side subsequently returned to northern Mali where they, along with jihadist groups including AQIM, declared the Texas-sized area an independent country in April 2012.

    Now France has 2,300 troops on the ground in Mali to retake northern Mali, and several Western countries (including the U.S.) are providing logistical and intelligence support for an offensive that looks like it will take a while.

    "The situation in Mali feels the consequence of events in Libya," Lavrov said. "The seizure of hostages in Algeria was a wake-up call."

    A senior Algerian official told The New York Times that the militants who seized an oil field in Algeria last week bought their weapons in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

    Lavrov noted that the unrest across the Middle East could play into the hands of radical militants.

    "This will be a time bomb for decades ahead," he said.

    Although the U.S. is not sending arms directly to rebels, most of the weapons being sent by Saudi Arabia and Qatar were purchased from the U.S. and are being funneled to the opposition by the CIA.

    “The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” one American official familiar with the situation told the New York Times.

    American officials now acknowledge, the successful toppling of Assad may lead to armed and organized brigades of jihadist rebels competing for influence in the power vacuum that Syria would become.

     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    Russia to West: We Told You Not To Overthrow Qaddafi!


    On Wednesday Russia blamed Western countries for creating the current turmoil in Africa by arming Libyan rebels, Timothy Heritage and Gabriela Baczynska of Reuters report.

    "Those whom the French and Africans are fighting now in Mali are the [same] people who ... our Western partners armed so that they would overthrow the Gaddafi regime," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference.

    The toppling of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi led to "perhaps the greatest proliferation of weapons of war from any modern conflict," Emergency Director of Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert told The Telegraph.

    Those weapons stockpiles were raided by both sides, and both sides had connections with radical militants.

    In 2011 Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times noted that the main rebel group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), had formed a "merger" with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) in 2007.

    And the well-armed Tuareg rebels who fought on Qaddafi's side subsequently returned to northern Mali where they, along with jihadist groups including AQIM, declared the Texas-sized area an independent country in April 2012.

    Now France has 2,300 troops on the ground in Mali to retake northern Mali, and several Western countries (including the U.S.) are providing logistical and intelligence support for an offensive that looks like it will take a while.

    "The situation in Mali feels the consequence of events in Libya," Lavrov said. "The seizure of hostages in Algeria was a wake-up call."

    A senior Algerian official told The New York Times that the militants who seized an oil field in Algeria last week bought their weapons in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

    Lavrov noted that the unrest across the Middle East could play into the hands of radical militants.

    "This will be a time bomb for decades ahead," he said.

    Although the U.S. is not sending arms directly to rebels, most of the weapons being sent by Saudi Arabia and Qatar were purchased from the U.S. and are being funneled to the opposition by the CIA.

    “The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” one American official familiar with the situation told the New York Times.

    American officials now acknowledge, the successful toppling of Assad may lead to armed and organized brigades of jihadist rebels competing for influence in the power vacuum that Syria would become.

    Not that I don’t agree with the verdict, the fact remains, the west knows exactly what they’re doing. What other excuse France would have today in order to move its troops to Mali and put its hands on the country’s minerals and natural recourses if Kaddafi was still alive controlling the radicals and keeping them in check.
    History never stops repeating itself from the Tripartite Aggression and the Suez War, to Suddam moving into Kuwait and the 9/11 events, all such events were “convenient” excuses for the west to take over the rest of the world not necessarily by force, sometimes by invitation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis
    Nasser was the perfect example who stopped the Muslim Brotherhood only to become the victim of the MB own enemies…
    [vbtube]7rhoBupYrag[/vbtube]

    [vbtube]-qNlZh49jTA[/vbtube]
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    If they can restore control in Mali why can’t they do it in Syria?

    If they can restore control in Mali why can’t they do it in Syria?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/27/mali-troops-enter-timbuktu

    Mali conflict: French and Malian troops begin restoring control in Timbuktu

    Malian military source says troops met no resistance as they entered Timbuktu and were working towards securing the town



    A French military convoy makes its way through the desert towards Timbuktu. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA


    French and Malian troops have begun restoring government control over Timbuktu, the latest gain in a fast-moving offensive against Islamist fighters allied to al-Qaida who have occupied northern Mali.
    The rebels have retreated northwards to avoid relentless French air strikes that have destroyed their bases, vehicles and weapons, allowing ground troops to advance rapidly with armoured vehicles and air support.
    A Malian military source told Reuters that the French and Malian forces reached the gates of Timbuktu late on Saturday without resistance from the insurgents who had held the town since last year.
    The advancing troops were working on securing the town, a Unesco world heritage site and labyrinth of ancient mosques, monuments and mud-brick homes, ready to flush out any fighters who may still be hiding among the population.
    "Timbuktu is delicate. You can't just go in like that," the source, who asked not to be named, said.
    On Saturday, troops recaptured Gao, which along with Timbuktu was one of three major northern towns occupied last year by Tuareg and Islamist rebels whose ranks included fighters from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
    The third town, Kidal, remains in rebel hands.
    The US and Europe are backing the UN-mandated operation as a campaign against the threat of jihadists using Mali's Sahara desert region as a launching pad for international attacks.
    One Timbuktu resident now outside the town said a friend inside had sent him text messages saying he had seen government troops on the streets, but gave no more details.
    The rebels in the town provoked international outrage by destroying ancient shrines sacred to moderate Sufi Muslims.
    They also imposed strict sharia law, including amputations for thieves and the stoning of adulterers.
    Malian government control was restored in Gao after French special forces backed by warplanes and helicopters seized the town's airport and a key bridge. Around a dozen "terrorists" were killed in the assault, while French forces suffered no losses or injuries, the country's defence ministry said.
    The rebels appeared to be withdrawing further north into the trackless wilderness of the Sahara, from where some military experts fear they could wage a guerrilla war.
    Officials said the mayor of Gao, Sadou Diallo, who had taken refuge in Bamako during the occupation, had been reinstalled at the head of the local administration while French, Malian, Chadian and Nigerian troops secured the town and the surrounding area.
    As the French and Malian troops push northwards, African troops from a regional intervention force expected to number 7,700 are being flown into the country, despite delays caused by logistical problems and the lack of airlift capacity.
     
    cedarheart

    cedarheart

    Legendary Member
    No one really care about Malian, Malian history, democracy, human condition, etc this is all about commodities, strategic interests, and keeping Africa under the boot
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    We’re supposed to believe the French are the Guardian Angels in Mali protecting the innocent from the bad guys...
    Apparently there are no good people in Syria and Bahrain to protect…

    No one really care about Malian, Malian history, democracy, human condition, etc this is all about commodities, strategic interests, and keeping Africa under the boot

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323644904578267713772082382.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    In Mali, French Troops Step Up Role
    By DREW HINSHAW in Sevare, Mali, and SAM SCHECHNER in Paris

    French troops over the weekend accelerated a campaign to dislodge al Qaeda-backed militants from the main towns of Mali's north, signaling a significant shift in battlefield strategy as they outpaced African soldiers who were supposed to lead the offensive.
    A proposal debated for months in the United Nations would have handed the job of liberating Mali's rebel-controlled north to African troops, but on Sunday, French military pushed by ground and air more deeply into that swath of desert. French tanks raced to Timbuktu, which militants have occupied since April, turning the famed caravan city into a desert outpost for the Saharan insurgency known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
    In Gao, the largest city in the country's north, Mali's army spent Sunday looking for embedded insurgents, said Diarran Kone, a spokesman for Mali's Defense Ministry, after French and Malian forces set up base on the town's outskirts. Their arrival marked a major advance in the two-week campaign.
    "Since yesterday the Malian army has been in Gao, controlling the airport," he said. "Police actions are under way."
    Rebels destroyed cellphone towers in the north, making independent verification of the advance difficult.
    The latest assaults extend what France calls Operation Serval, after the African wildcat known for its startling leaps to capture prey. As part of the operation, well-equipped French forces appear to be jumping directly toward strategic centers deep in the north, while leaving the task of securing and holding the territory to reinforcements from Mali and allies including Chad and Niger.
    "The goal is that the multinational African force that is being assembled…can take over," French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters Saturday. He added that France doesn't "have the intention of staying, let's be clear."
    It remains unclear, though, how long French troops will have to wait for its African allies to catch up.
    For nearly 10 months, African generals have planned to send about 3,000 West Africa troops to help Mali's military regain the north, alongside another 2,000 troops from Chad. Even after an unexpected rebel advance, the French government had said it would limit its role to helping a weak Malian army repel the southern progression of Islamist militants, who controlled the northern half of the African country. Conquering Mali's north would be a mission for the African coalition, the French government had said.
    But weeks into France's military campaign, West Africa's troops have yet to reach combat zones, French and African officials say,
    Nigeria's Defense Ministry had announced plans to move 900 troops to Mali by Jan. 19. Currently, only about 200 troops are in the country, based at the airport in Mali's capital, Bamako, nearly 500 miles from Timbuktu.
    Bereft of beds, bullets and vehicles, thousands of African troops remain in their home countries. A Chadian contingent wound up in neighboring Niger, prevented from crossing into Mali after suspected rebels bombed a bridge.
    Nigerian generals say theirs is the only West African military country with a cargo jet, and supplies have been slow to trickle into the makeshift base behind the capital city airport.
    "We're waiting for these big planes to bring them some vehicles," said French Maj. Eric, who asked to be identified by first name only, per French army protocol, and who is helping coordinate the French-African mission.
    Increasingly, French officials see Mali and African armies as a force that will help hold French gains in the vast country, rather than as a front-line presence. "They need to be armed, trained," said Col. Emmanuel, a spokesman for the French operation in Mali, also identified by first name only. "Mid-February, they'll be in place."
    France's air campaign received a boost over the weekend after the U.S. agreed to help refuel French jets in flight. That assistance has allowed France to expand its campaign across the north of Mali and to provide close air support to ground troops, officials said.
    In the weekend assaults, al Qaeda-backed militants lost "numerous" mobile units, and saw logistics sites destroyed, the ministry said, adding that there are now 2,500 French troops in Mali as part of the operation.
    In recent weeks, residents of the sprawling town of earthen wall compounds have described militants digging trenches, and whole bunkers, under roofs made of sandbags, even covering their pick-up trucks with branches to shield them from the gaze of French fighter jets.
    Despite the strikes, aimed at taking out militant logistical sites and armed pick-up trucks, militants still have assets in the north—and are holding seven French hostages there. French officials have insisted they won't negotiate with the Islamic militants for their release.
    "We won't get involved in the logic of blackmail," Mr. Ayrault said during his remarks to reporters on Saturday.
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/27/us-mali-rebels-idUSBRE90O0C720130127

    Liberated Malians celebrate, French-led forces clear Timbuktu


    2:50pm EST
    By Adama Diarra and Richard Valdmanis
    GAO/SEVARE, Mali (Reuters) - Residents of Mali's northern town of Gao, captured from sharia-observing Islamist rebels by French and Malian troops, danced in the streets to drums and music on Sunday as the French-led offensive also drove the rebels from Timbuktu.
    The weekend gains made at Gao and Timbuktu by the French and Malian troops capped a two-week whirlwind intervention by France in its former Sahel colony, which has driven al Qaeda-allied militant fighters northwards into the desert and mountains.
    In Gao, the largest town in the north where the Islamist insurgents had banned music and smoking, cut off the hands of thieves and ordered women to wear veils, thousands cheered the liberating troops with shouts of "Mali, Mali, France, France".
    French special forces backed by Rafale fighter jets and Tiger helicopters had helped capture the town early on Saturday.
    Among the celebrating Gao crowds, many smoked cigarettes, women went unveiled and some men wore shorts to flout the severe sharia Islamic law the rebels had imposed for months. Youths on motorcycles flew the flags of Mali, France and Niger, whose troops also helped secure the ancient town on the Niger River.
    "Now we can breathe freely," said Hawa Toure, 25, wearing a colorful traditional African robe banned under sharia for being too revealing. "We are as free as the wind today. We thank all of our friends around the world who helped us," she said.
    French and Malian troops also arrived at the weekend at the fabled Saharan trading town of Timbuktu, more than 300 km (190 miles) to the west of Gao, and were working to restore government control over the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    A Malian military source said the French and Malian troops had met no resistance up to the gates of Timbuktu and controlled the airport. They were working on flushing out any Islamist rebel fighters still hiding in the city, a labyrinth of ancient mosques and monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys.
    "Timbuktu is delicate, you can't just go in like that," the source, who asked not to be named, said.
    A third northern town, the Tuareg seat of Kidal, in Mali's rugged and remote northeast, remains in rebel hands.
    The United States and Europe are backing the U.N.-mandated Mali operation as a counterstrike against the threat of radical Islamist jihadists using the West African state's inhospitable Sahara desert as a launch pad for international attacks.
    FEARS OF GUERRILLA WAR
    Fighters from the Islamist alliance in north Mali, which groups AQIM with Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine and AQIM splinter MUJWA, had destroyed ancient shrines sacred to moderate Sufi Moslems in Timbuktu, provoking international outrage.
    They had also applied amputations for thieves and stoning of adulterers under sharia law.
    As the French and Malian troops push into northern Mali, African troops from a continental intervention force expected to number 7,700 are being flown into the country, despite delays due to logistical problems and the lack of airlift capacity.
    France sent warplanes and 2,500 troops to Mali after its government appealed to Paris for help when Islamist rebels launched an offensive south towards the capital Bamako early in January. They seized several towns, since retaken by the French.
    In the face of the two-week-old French-Malian counter offensive, the rebels seemed to be pulling back north into the trackless desert wastes and mountain fastnesses of the Sahara.
    Military experts fear they could carry on a grueling hit-and-run guerrilla war against the government from there.
    A leader of Mali's main Tuareg insurgent movement, MNLA, whose initial separatist rebellion in the north was hijacked by al Qaeda and its local Malian allies, offered help from his group's desert fighters to the French-led offensive.
    Speaking at Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh said the MNLA was preparing to attack the withdrawing al Qaeda-allied Islamist forces and its leaders, whom he said were hiding in the Tidmane and Tigharghar mountains in Kidal region.
    At Konna, 500 km (312 miles) southeast of Gao and recently recaptured from the rebels, some people were still afraid.
    "No-one believes the rebels will give up without resisting. They may be regrouping for an attack, there is fear of a guerrilla war," said Salou Toure, a middle-aged resident of Timbuktu who had fled that town three months ago.
    "WE CUT HIS THROAT"
    In Gao, the atmosphere was jubilant. Malian army Colonel Didier Dacko declared the town "liberated"."I thank France and all friendly nations for helping Mali," he told the crowds.
    Gao Mayor Sadou Diallo, who had taken refuge in Bamako during the Islamist occupation, was triumphantly reinstalled.
    Around a dozen "terrorists" were killed in the taking of Gao, while French forces suffered no losses or injuries, France's defense ministry said.
    Youths in the city said there were still some rebels and rebel sympathizers around, but they were being found. "Yesterday, even, we found one hiding in a house. We cut his throat," one man said, asking not to be named. "Today we found another and we brought him to the army."
    Human rights groups have expressed fears of violent reprisals being taken against lighter-skinned Malians suspected of sympathizing with the Islamist rebels, who have many Tuaregs and Arabs in their ranks.
    At an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, outgoing AU chairman Thomas Boni Yayi, president of Benin, criticized Africa's slow response to the Islamist insurgency in Mali.
    "How could it be that when faced with a danger that threatens its very foundations, Africa, although it had the means to defend itself, continued to wait," Yayi said.
    OFFERS OF FUNDS, HELP
    Around 1,900 African troops, including Chadian, have been deployed to Mali so far as part of the planned U.N.-backed African intervention force, known as AFISMA. Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Niger and Chad are providing troops. Burundi and other nations have pledged to contribute.
    The United States and Europe, while providing airlift and intelligence support to the anti-militant offensive in Mali, are not planning to send in any combat troops. Washington agreed to fly tankers to refuel French warplanes.
    The AU is expected to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in logistical support and funding for the African Mali force at a conference of donors to be held in Addis Ababa on January 29.
    European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs told Reuters in Addis Ababa he believed enough funds would be offered to sustain the African troop intervention for a year.
    Piebalgs added the latest estimated cost of the operation he had seen was 430 million euros ($579.42 million).
    (Additional reporting by Cheikh Diouara in Gao, Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, Richard Valdmanis in Sevare, Mali, Nathalie Prevost in Ouagadougou, Joe Bavier in Abidjan, Richard Lough and Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Wri
     
    Booyakasha

    Booyakasha

    Legendary Member
    Tfeh.

    [FIELDSET="Qatar"]Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?

    Oil-rich gulf state Qatar has a vested interest in the outcome of the north Mali crisis, according to various reports that have been picked up by French MPs, amid suspicion that Doha may be siding with the rebels to extend its regional influence.
    By Mark Thompson (video)
    Ségolène ALLEMANDOU (text)

    Since Islamist groups exploited a military coup in the Malian capital of Bamako in early 2012 to take control of the entire north of the country, accusations of Qatari involvement in a crisis that has seen France deploy troops have been growing.

    Last week two French politicians explicitly accused Qatar of giving material support to separatists and Islamists in north Mali, adding fuel to speculation that the Emirate is playing a behind-the-scenes role in spreading Islamic fundamentalism in Africa.

    THE MALIAN CRISIS

    MALI
    Timeline: the Malian crisis
    French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Communist Party Senator Michelle Demessine both said that that Qatar had questions to answer.

    “If Qatar is objecting to France’s engagement in Mali it’s because intervention risks destroying Doha’s most fundamentalist allies,” Le Pen said in a statement on her party website, in response to a call by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani for dialogue with the Islamists.

    ‘Cash from Doha’

    The first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups came in a June 2012 article in respected French weekly the Canard Enchainé.

    In a piece title “Our friend Qatar is financing Mali’s Islamists”, the newspaper alleged that the oil-rich Gulf state was financing the separatists.

    CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE

    It quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

    A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”


    The presence of Qatari NGOs in north Mali is no secret. Last summer, in the wake of the separatist takeover, the Qatari Red Crescent was the only humanitarian organisation granted access to the vast territory.

    One member of the Qatari humanitarian team told AFP at the end of June that they had simply “come to Gao to evaluate the humanitarian needs of the region in terms of water and electricity access.”

    Deeply entrenched

    Regional geopolitical expert Mehdi Lazar, who specialises on Qatar, wrote in French weekly news magazine L’Express in December that Doha’s relationship with predominantly Muslim north Mali was deeply entrenched.

    ANALYSIS

    MALI
    Is Mali's Captain Sanogo losing control of the ship?
    “Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrassas, schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

    “Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.”

    Qatar’s foreign policy is also motivated by religion, wrote Lazar, and success in Mali would “greatly increase the Emirate’s influence in West Africa and the Sahel region”.

    “If the Qatari influence in the current situation in Mali turns out to be real, it must be seen in the context of two branches of a global competition,” he wrote. “Firstly, competition with Saudi Arabia to be the centre of Sunni Islam; secondly, in terms of competition between the Sunni and Shiite branches of the Muslim faith.

    “It would be an extension of the effort Qatar is already making in Egypt, Libya and in Tunisia.”

    Lazar does not believe, however, that Qatar will get directly involved in the conflict unfolding in Mali, however, and that rather than getting its hands dirty, Doha will try to position itself as mediator in future negotiations between the Malian government, the various rebel groups in the north of the country, Algeria and France.

    http://www.france24.com/en/20130121-qatar-mali-france-ansar-dine-mnla-al-qaeda-sunni-islam-doha
    [/FIELDSET]
     
    Rafidi

    Rafidi

    Legendary Member
    Tfeh.

    [FIELDSET="Qatar"]Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?

    [/FIELDSET]
    a very nice revelation.Qatar should know that the West gets to decide which salafists,where and when support must be given to the terrorists and takfiris.and if the West decides today to go against the terrorists and rebels in syria,qatar does not possess the decision making to continue its support to destabilize syria.

    and i hope the west gets to learn that they do not own the right to decide who to brand a "terrorist" or "freedom fighter" at their convinience,and where and when as it suits their interests,in total disregard for human rights, life and values.
    "
     
    Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    The title of this thread is wrong, France is winning the war and is not in a Quagmire.
     
    Top