News / Africa

Mali Residents Wary As French Troops Withdraw

Mali Residents Wary about French Withdrawali
X
April 12, 2013 12:07 PM
France has pulled its first 100 soldiers out of Mali, part of a gradual draw-down. It intervened in northern Mali, three months ago, to halt an Islamist advance south and reclaim territory occupied by the al-Qaida-linked militants since last April. The French now plan to hand over security for much of the region to an eventual UN stabilization mission of African troops. VOA's Anne Look reports from Gao where fighting continues to flare and residents say they are not sure the Malian and African troops are ready to do it alone.
Anne Look
France has pulled its first 100 soldiers out of Mali, part of a gradual drawdown to bring their 4,000 troops there down to just 1,000 by the end of the year.

Three months ago, France intervened in northern Mali ago to halt an Islamist advance south and reclaim territory occupied by the al-Qaida-linked militants since last April.

The French now plan to hand over security for much of the vast, 800,000 kilometer region to an eventual United Nations stabilization mission of African troops that could number more than 11,000.

French military patrols roll through Gao's neighborhoods like clockwork. It is textbook counterinsurgency. Residents say it is reassuring. But they are leaving.

The French have done most of the heavy lifting in this war. Only time will tell whether those air strikes and desert sweeps have rooted out most of the insurgents or simply sent them underground to bide their time until the big guns leave.

The Malian army has struggled to fend off the small groups of jihadists who have been sneaking back into Gao to mount attacks since the city's liberation on January 26.

Gao residents, like Imam Hama Maiga, say they are not sure the Malian army can keep them safe.

"We need to be able to trust our men, the Malian army. We need to cooperate with them…. And, whatever training it is that the French have, we want our army to have the same so that they can take over the security of this country," said Maiga.

In Gao, the Malian army is still working to win the trust of the local community, and vice versa.

At a neighborhood gathering, the mother of one of three young men beaten by Malian soldiers at a checkpoint brought up the incident to Lt. Col. Nema Sagara, army second-in-command in the north.

"The three youth ran after the military had called on them to stop. When someone flees, the soldiers think it is an enemy," Sagara explained. "The soldiers at these posts had been fired upon the night before and that is why they beat up the youth. But it could have been worse, they could have fired on them. Tell your children. When, we tell you to stop, stop."

France is gradually turning over security in parts of the Gao region to West African regional troops from Niger and Senegal.  Analysts say these regional soldiers are not much better equipped or better trained for this type of asymmetrical warfare than their Malian counterparts.

Gao's residents say all they can do is wait and see.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid