BAMAKO, Feb. 6 (Xinhua)

French soldiers clashed with armed rebels near Gao in northern Mali on Tuesday after the coalition forces of French and Malian troops had recaptured the major towns in their battle against the al-Qaida backed Islamist groups in the west African
country, military sources and locals said.

France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le
Drian confirmed the clashes in Paris on
Wednesday and said it was an indication that “a real war” occurred in Mali. “Yesterday there was a confrontation with some Islamists near Gao at a time when our soldiers who were being supported by the Malian forces were patrolling the towns that we have captured,” the French defense minister said.

The town of Gao was recaptured by the
French forces who were supported by the Malian and other African troops. He said a residual group of the rebels fired rocket-launchers in Gao region.”Therefore there’s a real war. It’s a war
which today has enabled us to identify
the hide-outs of the Islamists and we
shall pursue them,” Le Drian added. After several months of diplomatic
negotiation, France decided on Jan. 11 to intervene in Mali after the rebel groups captured the town of Konna in the Central region and were heading towards the capital, Bamako. France has deployed 4,000 soldiers to Mali.

The Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS) members as well as some other African nations have
pledged to dispatch anonther 4,000 to
support the Malian government to regain ruling to the northern region that was under the rebels’ control. But the French defense minister said Wednesday that the French troops have
reached the maximum. “We have 4,000
soldiers and we shall not go beyond that. But we shall start reducing them so that the African troops can take over,” the minister said when he spoke on Europe 1 station. “With 4,000 French and 4,000 African troops, we shall progressively start to hand over to African soldiers very soon,” he added.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
said in an interview with Le Metro daily
newspaper that the French soldiers may
start withdrawing from Mali as early as
March. “I think that as early as from March, if everything goes according to plan, there will be a reduction of the number of French troops,” he affirmed. However, Le Drian clarified in his radio
interview that “the French soldiers will
continue remaining in Mali until the
country regains its territorial integrity
and sovereignty (…) and until the moment when the Malian and African forces will be in a position to fully take over the operation against the Islamists”

In a related development, France wants a United Nations peacekeeping force to be in place in Mali by April, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday. When asked if it is possible for the Mali mission to be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force by April, Fabius said yes.

“Our experts and partners are aiming for
that,” he said. After UN Security Council talks on Mali, French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud on Wednesday called on the Security Council to deploy an international peacekeeping operation in Mali to take over from French forces.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le
Drian on Tuesday ruled out a long-term
deployment of French troops in Mali
following positive progress made during
France’s three-week military intervention against Islamist rebels. During his one-day visit to Mali last
Saturday, French President Francois
Hollande stressed that French soldiers
would return home once the conflict-torn state has restored sovereignty and a U.N-backed African military force could take over from the French soldiers.

France has already poured 3,500 soldiers
into the West African country and carried out air strikes since Jan. 11 in the rebel-held northern half of Mali.


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies


  1. kyallkelvins says:

    Might sound like a coded message to the rebels. It can get worse than anyone’s imagination, hardly conclusive.

  2. freeegulf says:

    bringing in the UN is not a sound idea. these peacekeepers will come in, with most of the contingents unprepared to fight, and will mess everything up.
    now is not the time for peacekeeping. AFISMA should be supported with armaments and funding, they will do a far better job than the good for nothing UN PKO. there is no peace to keep at this stage of the conflict.
    Had UN peacekeepers been sent to Somalia, rather than the AU force currently there, we would have had another disorder like in 93/94. The money that will be earmarked for the UN PKO, should be used to fund AFISMA. They, the UN forces are way too expensive and not worth it.
    It is the same sad story in DRC, and Kabila should ask the UN to withdraw their forces from the Congo. Either a regional stabilization force, or an AU led peace enforcement force should replace them. the UN in D R Congo is more or less useless to the people of Congo as far as peace and security re the major issues affecting Congo. and they will be just as useless if deployed in Mali, leading to more chaos and billions dollars wasted with no stability to show for it.
    Yes, France don’t want to get bogged down in Mali. However, they should back AFISMA and continue to give air and intelligence support to the African forces. obviously, some of the contingents need more training and the Malian army can do with some mentoring. all these can be achieved without complicating the conflict with a UN force.

    • peccavi says:

      I agree

    • beegeagle says:

      Indeed, Freeegulf, yours truly opined along those lines before now – asking what would replace the UN force if, as is almost certain, they are fated to engage in CTCOIN operations.

      Elsewhere, BEEGEAGLE wrote:


      An idea which is 100% premature and is guaranteed to squander the gains made by the ongoing conventional onslaught against the terrorists.

      Right here in Africa, the DR Congo PKO namely MONUSCO has had little or no impact even after it was granted a more robust mandate. We saw M23 rebels stroll into Goma a few months ago right under the noses of UN peacekeepers either because of a lack of commitment to the cause or a skewed interpretation of their mandate or both.

      The attritionist guerrilla warfare stage of the conflict in Mali is about to start. The peace has not nearly been won. What would peacekeepers be doing there? There are two things which are peculiar to the forthcoming altercations – desert warfare and urban guerrilla warfare, both entailing ambushes, suicide attacks and roadside IEDs. How many of the peacekeepers would be coming with the requisite skills and experience and how many are able to stomach and operate in those perilous conditions without any of their vital national interests at stake? Are the UN trying to reverse the gains made so far with this crazy idea?

      In the AFISMA collective are an assortment of African national armies which are fully committed to the cause – nextdoor neighbours or near neigbours all situated no more than two republics r from Mali and with national security interests at stake.

      Confirmed – Niger and Nigeria-based terrorists have training and logistics linkages with Malian terrorists and their nationals have been found fighting with MUJAO and Ansar Dine.

      – Grave implications for national security as it concerns nextdoor Senegal, CIV, Niger, Guinea and Burkina Faso entailed by way of spillover attacks or refugee crises

      – Near neighbours Togo, Gambia and Benin, small nations with limited military means with which to handle a spillover onto their territories

      – Latent state of armed conflict in Chad whose racially mixed population could see the north of the country becoming a place of refuge for uprooted Malian terrorists

      The reasons which are sure to bring about much greater commitment on the part of AFISMA troops are all too clear to the observant.

      If the U.N have that much money to spare, provide funding for Chad, Nigeria and Niger to deploy 2,000 troops each while other AFISMA nations in combo provide 3,500 additional troops. Anchor the desert operations around the Malian, Nigerien and Chadian forces with a supplementary role for Senegalese and Nigerian troops in that facet of the operations AND anchor the urban warfare around Nigerian and Chadian troops, with supplementary roles for Guinean, Senegalese and Nigerien troops.

      Deploy other troops to the unravelling central region – Douentza, Sevare, Konna, Diabaly, Mopti, Segou etc.

      Then, EQUIP lavishly according to allotted tasks. They do not need troops from outside Africa in that theatre at all. The U.N should use its HEAD for once. It is always all about their hearts – human rights concerns, humanitarian concerns !!

      end of quote

  3. beegeagle says:

    Since we wrote that,

    – a landmine attack has killed four Malian troops and left five others injured

    – terrorists have engaged French and Malian troops around Gao and fired rockets into the town

    – MUJAO have come out to declare their commitment to guerrilla warfare centred on the ambush of military convoys and landmine attacks.

    Siddon look mode activated 😉

  4. freeegulf says:

    marshal beeg, well said. u re so on point! the UN is already eyeing this Mali conflict. i really don’t know what they want to achieve there. same UN force that would not even save a civilian been raped or killed right in front of their positions. same UN that would end up spending billions without even trying to protect the local civilians from militias and rampaging soldiers.
    had it not being for the Nigerian and Guinean contingents in Sierra Leone, the so called robust peace keeping would have been another farce. the Indian contingent did a good job in SRL too. but it is rare to see contingents that are prepared to stop insurgents and militias unleashing terror on innocent civilians.
    The UN PKO need to come up with modern up to date ways of tackling troubled spot. as it stands currently, they re more or less useless.

  5. beegeagle says:

    Ask yourself, Generalissimo, how would a bloody UN peacekeeping force have responded when terrorists fired rockets into built-up areas in Gao district this week? Engage them vigorously like ECOMOG in Monrovia and Freetown and AMISOM in Mogadishu OR do the expected – offer a timid reprimand and call for restraint in what amounts to hollow sanctimony?

    MUJAO are saying – not like we did not know how it was going to pan out, reason why France are quitting now that the bruising CTCOIN operations are about to commence, THAT they shall be fighting asymmetric battles hereafter.

    An absolute majority of the armies sending combat troops to Mali are highly familiar with the following hardware systems

    – Panhard AML 60/90
    – Panhard VBL scout car
    – Panhard M3 APC

    Let the UN pay the French to supply AFISMA units with these systems while additional funding for cage armour, NVGs, airconditioned tents and AWD vehicles is provided by the UN. They, ECOWAS and the AU can share the wage bill and operational costs.

    That is as much as the UN should get involved. AFISMA must refuse to operate under any manadate which falls short of the degree of latitude which ECOMOG enjoyed. There is no peace to be kept in Mali. All that is on the horizon is WAR

  6. jimmy says:

    THE DAY THAT THE U.N. establishes a presence in MALI IS THE DAY THAT THE ISLAMISTS will be coming to GAO, KIDAL. AND TIMBUKTU..Last year we witnessed the impotence of the u.n. the Eastern CONGO @ GOMA where the incidence of rape and murder of underage girls reached HORRIBLE proportions while u.n troops stood by . This will be the same except IN CASE OF RAPE ,amputations , floggings and execution by Stoning will occur.

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