News / Africa

US Prepares to Help France in Mali - With Caution

US Prepares to Assist French in Malii
X
January 15, 2013 3:29 AM
Pentagon officials say the United States is preparing to offer aid to France as it carries out airstrikes against Islamist militants in northern Mali. The Pentagon has already given French forces intelligence information to help repel the militants’ advance, but it appears to be wary of any further action that might cause further chaos in the region. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

US Prepares to Assist French in Mali

Luis Ramirez
Pentagon officials say the United States is preparing to offer logistical support to France as it continues to carry out air strikes against Islamist militants in northern Mali.  The Pentagon has already begun to assist French forces with intelligence to help push back the militants’ advances, but the U.S. is warning against action that may bring further chaos to the region.  
 
French fighter jets have been carrying out air strikes around the clock, hitting training camps and other positions held by Islamist rebels in the north of the vast West African country. 
 
Pentagon officials last week said they are close to finalizing a decision on what type of logistical support to offer France for Mali.  Officials said the U.S. is already providing intelligence gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles operating in the region. 
 
Speaking on a flight to Europe, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta commended France for taking the lead in the fight to rid North and West Africa of militants including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb group. 
 
“We have a responsibility to make sure that al-Qaida does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali.  We’ve been very concerned about AQIM and their efforts to establish a very strong base in that area," he said. 
 
Panetta said he promised to help France, but said that support will be limited.
 
“It’s basically kind of in three areas that we’re looking at.  One is to obviously provide limited logistical support.  Two is to provide intelligence support.  And three, to provide some airlift capability as well," he said. 
 
Analysts say there is a reason for Washington not to push for a more direct role in the conflict.  Thomas Dempsey is a retired U.S. Army colonel who works with the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies.  
 
“We need to be careful, in a well-intentioned desire to counter violent extremists, that we do not fan the flames of civil conflict in northern Mali, that we don’t encourage local groups to take up arms against each other, and that we don’t make the violence worse," he said. 
 
The U.S. aim is to go after al-Qaida-linked militants in Africa.  In keeping with President Obama’s new defense strategy, it wants to do so without direct intervention, focusing instead on training the militaries of allied partner nations. 
 
France’s immediate goals are to push back the militants’ advance in order to allow African peacekeepers to move in and start securing northern Mali for an eventual return to government control.  
 
But after last year’s military coup, there is no functional, legitimate government in place to retake control.  And there is no long-term plan in place, which Dempsey says makes it difficult for the United States to offer more direct assistance. 
 
“You need to know where you want to end up before you start.  I’m not convinced that everyone involved here has a clear picture of where you want to end up," he said. 
 
The French intervention has come at the request of Mali’s interim leaders.  Next will be the task of replacing those leaders with a legitimate and stable government that is able to take control of the North.
 
Before that happens, analysts say Mali will have to resolve political problems that include long-simmering grievances of Tuareg separatists whose rebellion last year led to the coup and the Islamists’ takeover of the north.  
 
Jennifer Cooke is an Africa specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research group in Washington.  
 
“Dislodging the Islamists from the north, that will be another very complicated and long term process.  The bigger problem will be the political one.  What process can restore legitimacy to the government in Bamako?  What eventual political framework can hold Mali together and can secure the North, because the North will be very difficult to secure through military means only.  You’re going to need a political arrangement," she said. 
 
Cooke says it is a process that could take years.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: whyres2112 from: Martinez, CA
January 14, 2013 10:11 PM
The US should offer assistance in proportion to what the French army has provided in our war in Afghanistan. I believe they pulled out before we did, for the new French prime minister made his political gains at the expense of his nations military cooperation with the US. I think they are getting about as much as would be expected considering they pulled out on us in Afghanistan. If you want to make a strong alliance with the US, and you want our support in such an operation, you need to have been a stalwart ally in our time of need as well.

Don't bail on us, and we will have your back when you need us.

In Response

by: Stef from: France
January 15, 2013 6:11 AM
French army has lost 90 soldiers in Afghanistan during 10 years. Millions of Euros have been spent as well.
With UK, we were the third army with such geat losses. So, try to inform yourself before telling such crap.


by: Thooj Ying
January 14, 2013 9:33 PM
Please,please, help France help the world free terrorist. If no terrors the world will happy.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
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 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.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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