SHARE
COPY LINK

UN

France backs military intervention in Mali

France will provide logistical, political and material support for UN-backed African military intervention in Mali, President Francois Hollande promised on Tuesday.

France backs military intervention in Mali
Photo: Magharebia

France will provide logistical, political and material support for UN-backed African military intervention in Mali, President Francois Hollande promised on Tuesday.

France is pushing for a UN Security Council resolution which will authorise west African countries to establish a force capable of reclaiming control of northern Mali from Islamic radicals.

Hollande's strong statement of support for the creation of such a force was made following talks here with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said he shared the French government's concern over the growing influence of Islamists in huge parts of north Africa.

French officials have repeatedly expressed concern that northern Mali is in danger of becoming a new Afghanistan, a breeding ground for Islamic militancy that could pose a threat to the security of western Europe.

Six French hostages are currently being held in the region by the north African branch of Al-Qaeda.

Mali's Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra last month asked the UN Security Council to sanction the creation of a military force capable of reconquering the north of the country, which has since March been under the control of Islamists who have capitalised on a political vacuum created by a military coup in the capital Bamako.

Hollande said France would present a resolution authorising the force to the Security Council "as quickly as possible."

Diplomats have cautioned that there are still major practical obstacles to overcome, including the composition, financing and military capacity of what is expected to be a force of around 3,000 troops.

"For the intervention, it is up to Africans to organise themselves to ensure it happens quickly and effectively," Hollande said. "The goal is to eradicate terrorism."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TERRORISM

‘Terrorists’ attack French soldiers in troubled Mali

French soldiers operating in troubled northern Mali were targeted by "terrorists" in an ambush on Sunday, the third attack in the country in just days.

'Terrorists' attack French soldiers in troubled Mali
Smoke and flames ascend from an army armoured vehicle in Gao, northwestern Mali, following an explosion on Sunday. Photo: STRINGER / AFP
The ambush underscores the fragile security situation in the West African nation as it prepares to go to the polls on July 29th.
 
A spokesman for the French military said there were no deaths among the French troops but it was not known if there were other casualties in the attack, which took place in the restive Gao region.
 
“French soldiers of the Barkhane military operation were ambushed by terrorists” near the town of Bourem, a Western military source told AFP, referring to the French mission in the country. 
 
A Malian military source confirmed the incident, which came two days after a deadly attack on the Mali headquarters of a five-nation regional force known as G5 Sahel.
 
Fatouma Wangara, a resident of Gao, said the French convoy was clearly targeted by a suicide car bomb.
 
“An armoured vehicle blocked the way and the car blew up,” she said.
 
Another resident told AFP that the area around the ambush had been sealed off by French soldiers.
 
The attack came as over 40 African heads of state are meeting for an African Union summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott with security high on the agenda.
 
'Hit the heart' of regional security
 
On Friday, a suicide attack on the headquarters of the regional Sahel force known as G5 killed two soldiers and a civilian in the Malian town of Savare. The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel, claimed Friday's bombing in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar. And on Saturday, four Malian soldiers were killed when their vehicle drove over a landmine in the central Mopti region.
 
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, whose country is part of the G5 and is hosting the two-day AU summit, warned earlier that security failings were hampering the work of the Sahel force. He said Friday's attack “hit the heart” of the region's security and lashed out at a lack of international help.
 
The G5 aims to have a total of 5,000 troops from five nations — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — but has faced funding problems. It operates alongside France's 4,000 troops in the troubled “tri-border” area where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet, and alongside the UN's 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.
 
Mali's unrest stems from a 2012 ethnic Tuareg separatist uprising, which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north. The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.  But large stretches of the country remain out of the control of the foreign and Malian forces, which are frequent targets of attacks, despite a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in mid-2015 aimed at isolating the jihadists.
 
The violence has also spilled over into both Burkina Faso and Niger.