News / Europe

Europe Mulls Options in Mali

Europe Mulls Next Step as French Troops Launch Mali Operationi
X
January 16, 2013 8:08 PM
France has launched a ground assault in Mali that will likely put its troops in direct combat against Islamist militants in the north of the country. As its soldiers headed toward the action on Wednesday, France's European neighbors mulled how best to give their own support in the escalating conflict. Although European foreign ministers are to meet Thursday, Selah Hennessy reports from London that experts say they are unlikely to join France in combat.
Selah Hennessy
France has launched a land assault in Mali that will put its soldiers in direct combat with Islamist militants in the north of the country.  As its soldiers headed north on Wednesday, France's European neighbors mulled how best to give their own support in the escalating conflict.

European foreign ministers are due to meet Thursday to discuss the crisis but experts say they are unlikely to join France in direct combat.

France has 800 troops already on the ground in Mali. Their numbers are set to swell to 2,500 - a sign that France is wading deeper into the military conflict now going on in its former colony.

French army soldiers stand on armored vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations, January 15, 2013.French army soldiers stand on armored vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations, January 15, 2013.
x
French army soldiers stand on armored vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations, January 15, 2013.
French army soldiers stand on armored vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations, January 15, 2013.
But so far it is unclear what help France will get from its European neighbors. Logistical support has begun to trickle in.

Belgium sent a C-130 transport plane to Africa’s west coast on Wednesday with 35 soldiers onboard - another C-130 and two medical helicopters are also on their way.

On Tuesday a British RAF C-17 cargo plane, loaded with military equipment, landed at Mali's airport in Bamako. Germany, Italy and Denmark are also giving logistical support.

On Tuesday European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said stability in Mali is important for the whole of Europe.

"We are directly impacted by the situation there. Because terrorist groups based in northern Mali use this territory that they control for all kinds of traffic, for drugs and arms smuggling," she said. "They've taken many hostages, many of them originated from European member states. So under no circumstances can we be indifferent to the situation."

She said the European Union (EU) will speed up and adapt plans that were made in December to train Mali’s military for battle with Islamist rebels.

Hundreds of European troops are set to help in the training - but the conflict’s recent escalation raises questions over whether European troops will be brought onto the battlefield, says Paul Melly, a French Africa expert with Britain's Chatham House.

Foreign Troop Commitments to Mali

  • France 2,000 on the ground, 500 more committed
  • Chad to send 2,000
  • Nigeria to send 1,200
  • Benin to send 650
  • Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Togo have committed 500 each
  • Guinea and Ghana are also sending troops
  •  
"The Europeans were going to be working alongside the Malian units they were training," he said. "They were not going to be just back in training bases - even under the original plan. And now the Malian army could well face situations where it is in combat pretty soon and if it’s got European advisors alongside they may themselves also be in the theater but we do not know exactly, the details have yet to be confirmed.”

The Islamist militants seized control of northern Mali after a March coup toppled the Malian government and left a temporary power vacuum. 

​The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, has been planning an intervention force for months, with the support of the United Nations.

Melly says those troops - not more from Europe - are what is needed.

"I’m not sure that a shortage of European soldiers on the ground is really the issue," he said. "The French have indicated plans to deploy up to 2,500 but they want, everybody wants West African forces to then take over a large part of the actual military operation on the ground because that’s what had originally been planned.”

ECOWAS Chair Alassane Ouattara said Wednesday that the group wants to deploy troops quickly.

  • A French soldier holds his weapon in the village of Sarakala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • Goats walk past a French military convoy refuelling in Markala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • People cross a strategic bridge over a dam on the Niger River secured by French forces in Markala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • A Malian soldier checks the identity of people crossing a strategic bridge over a dam on the Niger River secured by French forces in Markala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • French military vehicles drive to the north of Mali, at an undisclosed location, January 16, 2013. (French Army Communication Audiovisual Office)
  • French helicopters are towed to the military side of Bamako's airport, Mali, January 16, 2013.
  • A motorcyclist waves his support as French troops in two armored personnel carriers drive through Mali's capital Bamako on the road to Mopti, January 15, 2013.
  • French soldiers walk past a hangar they are staying at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.
  • French soldiers test equipment at the Malian air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.
  • French air force technicians work on a Mirage F-1 fighter jet at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.
  • A French soldiers lies on his mattress in a hangar at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid