News / Europe

France Takes Bold Action to Counter Islamists in Africa

This picture released by the French Army shows French soldiers of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment during a briefing before flying to Bamako, the capital from Mali, at the N'Djamena airport in Chad, Jan. 11, 2013.
This picture released by the French Army shows French soldiers of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment during a briefing before flying to Bamako, the capital from Mali, at the N'Djamena airport in Chad, Jan. 11, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
French troops sustained their first losses, after launching a military offensive against Islamist radicals in Mali and a failed hostage rescue attempt in Somalia.  Both developments represent a new, more muscular reaction by the French government to the Islamist threat in Africa.

In less than 24 hours, France has launched two offensives against Islamists in East and West Africa, and sustained its first casualties. At a news conference in Paris Saturday, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced the death of a French helicopter pilot during an operation against Islamist insurgents in southern Mali.

Le Drian defended France's military action in Mali, saying that a terrorist offensive in the West African country threatens the security not only of the region, but also of Europe. Like President Francois Hollande, who announced the intervention on Friday, he said the operation would last as long as necessary.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talks to the press in Paris on Jan. 12, 2013.French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talks to the press in Paris on Jan. 12, 2013.
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French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talks to the press in Paris on Jan. 12, 2013.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talks to the press in Paris on Jan. 12, 2013.
Le Drian said the intervention came at the request of the Bamako government and other African states, following intelligence reports that three Islamist groups were preparing a major offensive in southern Mali. Besides beating back the Islamists, he said France also aims to secure Mali's stability and protect the lives of French and European nationals there.
 
Le Drian also said one French soldier was killed killed and another was missing in a separate military operation in Somalia - an unsuccessful attempt to rescue a French national held hostage there for more than three years. The defense minister reported 17 Islamists were killed, and he said the hostage also died. In Somalia, however, al-Shabab insurgents said the hostage is still alive and in their custody.

Le Drian said the two operations were not directly linked, but that the Islamist advance in Mali reinforced the power of other radical groups holding hostages in Africa.

French Army photo shows a French fighter pilot preparing to take off at Kossei camp in Chad, Jan. 11, 2013.French Army photo shows a French fighter pilot preparing to take off at Kossei camp in Chad, Jan. 11, 2013.
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French Army photo shows a French fighter pilot preparing to take off at Kossei camp in Chad, Jan. 11, 2013.
French Army photo shows a French fighter pilot preparing to take off at Kossei camp in Chad, Jan. 11, 2013.
The French offensive marks a reversal in Hollande's initial policy of supporting Bamako in training and logistics, but not intervening militarily in its former colony.

In an interview with France 24 television, a member of the Malian radical group Ansar Dine threatened reprisals against France.

But the government's strong action in Africa has drawn support across the political spectrum. In a Twitter note, British Foreign Secretary William Hague praised the move, as did former Senegalese Minister and think-thank head Cheik Tidiane Gadio. Gadio told RFI radio that France is not acting like a former colonial power, but as a defender of human rights in a country where terrorists are taking over.  

Hollande's predecessor as president, Nicolas Sarkozy, also intervened militarily in West Africa, carrying out airstrikes in Ivory Coast in 2011 that helped end a longstanding conflict there.

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by: Lu from: LA
January 13, 2013 1:23 PM
African rebel troops have better surrunder, they can not match. The consequence of fighting is african people die.

by: Mau
January 13, 2013 10:49 AM
"France is not acting like a former colonial power, but as a defender of human rights in a country where terrorists are taking over."

That's exactly what the colonial powers do; act friendly towards the people they want to exploit and take advantage of.
Like Malcolm X once said about the white man,

"nowhere in history has he been brotherly toward anyone, the only time he's brotherly towards you is when he can use you, when he can exploit you, when he can oppress you, when you will submit to him..."

The article itself mentions the positive political response this move has gotten. Unsurprisingly, the response comes from other european colonialist powers. And the alleged support from African states most likely comes from corrupt government officials who don't give a damn about their own countries. No self respecting man, especially the African man, would ever ask for anything of any European nation that has oppressed them in the past; other than to stay out of their business.
France; rather Europe in general has done enough damage to Africa already, and their history proves it, so it's not a matter of personal opinion or biased feelings.

But these facts and ideology alone, have been enough to get more than one extraordinary man assassinated. So I'd like to remember the great heroes and revolutionaries of the African continent such as Sankara, Lumumba, Cabral, Machel, just to name a few; whose ideals and hopes for a better Africa are and will continue to be trampled by heinous demonstrations of hypocrisy such as these.

by: Chris from: L.A.
January 13, 2013 2:08 AM
What do you people not understand?

"the intervention came at the request of the Bamako government and other African states ... following intelligence reports that three Islamist groups were preparing a major offensive in southern Mali. Besides beating back the Islamists, he said France also aims to secure Mali's stability and protect the lives of French and European nationals there."
In Response

by: Alexandru Fira from: Romania
January 14, 2013 1:17 PM
Well, for those who protest against foreign intervention against the islamist rebels, I wish you to live the rest of your lives under the islamist regime.

by: peter from: USA/African
January 12, 2013 6:22 PM
France is there to occupied Mali. Infact most of the people they cliam to have killed are civilians. Ofcourse Africa is still not free. But atleast African are now getting up to free themselves. France will never do anything good in Africa. The partners of the French are the Arabs in these areas who came there during Slave times. Why is France now turning against the Islamist? France is fighting for Europe (LIE)? Germany don't need French fighting for them.

by: Socius from: Canada
January 12, 2013 5:00 PM
"Bold" action indeed. Bombing a rag tag group of poorly armed and poorly trained militants from a jet where they can't be hit back. Really brave of those Frenchmen! Haha.
In Response

by: sochi
January 14, 2013 5:27 AM
That's not true. Those militants were able to take down an aircraft with machineguns. You wouldn't consider machineguns to be "poorly armed" if you're taking fire from it from a plane or copter. It also takes a lot of balls to fly plane, let alone fly it in a combat mission where you can get shot down.

by: JAMES C LANGELLE from: CALIFORNIA
January 12, 2013 4:56 PM
"There is the lieutenant of the 4th Regiment Damien Boiteux helicopter gunships (RHC) Pau who was evacuated from the nearest medical facility before succumbing to his injuries,"

OPERATION WOLVERINE--MALI

http://militarybureau.blogspot.com

by: Matthew Hannon from: Vermont
January 12, 2013 4:13 PM
Vive La France.

by: hajji92
January 12, 2013 4:06 PM
Here we go again!!France stay out!This is'nt your colony anymore-so what are you going to do?Install your puppet in the seat after you run the so called "terrorists" out,then rape the region of it's resources or strategic importance-havent we seen this M.O. before!
In Response

by: freamanz from: Earth
January 12, 2013 4:54 PM
Bravo : hajji92,Could not have said it better.Nice to see a smart one every once in a while
In Response

by: Ted36 from: Canada
January 12, 2013 4:29 PM
Would you be happy if violent terrorists were taking over your country? (Where have you been if you doubt that they are terrorists?) Would it be any consolation to you that these terrorists claimed your nationality or would you rather someone from outside rescued you?

Your statement about what France is likely to do to abuse the situation is pure assumption.

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