Saturday, January 12, 2013

Update on Mali: French Troops Intervene

Mali’s plea for aid was finally answered:  last Friday, French troops intervened.  Journalists Adam Nossiter and Eric Schmitt from The New York Times report that French forces engaged in a concentrated battle with the Ansar Dine militants who have controlled Timbuktu and much of northern Mali since the coup d’├ętat last March.  According to French President Francois Hollande, “French forces brought their support…to Malian army units to fight against terrorist elements….The terrorists should know that France will always be there.”  The French assault has changed the dynamic of conflict.
In contrast, Sanda Ould Boumana, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine, states, “Some planes came and bombed some civilians.  A woman was killed.  It’s a well-known scenario.  There wasn’t even combat.  Planes bombed a mosque.  That’s all.”  What seems to be a heroic effort by the West to restore peace and security can be alternately interpreted as foreign imperialist support for “a bunch of murderers.”  And here lies the crux in cultural—and world—security. 
Intervention in Mali by Western troops brings with it numerous implications.  For months it has been debated if, when, and how foreign nations should challenge the Islamist seizure of northern Mali, including the World Heritage Site of Timbuktu.  For right now, General Carter F. Ham, the top American military commander in Africa, states that the Pentagon is now discussing the various options to support the French efforts in Mali.  The Pentagon, however, is not considering sending American troops.  The “if, when, and how” is likely to remain a point of contention in the implementation of foreign policy.
Originally posted by Sally Johnson on CulturalSecurity.net.
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