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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid