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Fri Jan 18, 2013, 05:29 AM

Mali Islamists tougher than France anticipated - envoys

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - French troops' initial clashes with Islamist militants in Mali have shown that the desert fighters are better trained and equipped than France had anticipated before last week's military intervention, French and other U.N. diplomats said.

The realization that the fighting could be bloodier than anticipated in the weeks -- or months -- ahead might make Western countries even more reluctant to get involved alongside France. French officials, however, hope it will rally their allies behind them, diplomats say.

"The cost of failure in Mali would be high for everyone, not just the people of Mali," an African diplomat said on Thursday. Like the other diplomats, he spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military and diplomatic issues.

>

The diplomats were speaking after French forces had their first encounters with Islamist fighters in recent days. The ground war appeared headed for escalation on Thursday as French troops surrounded the town of Diabaly, trapping rebels who had seized it three days ago.

Read more: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/18/uk-mali-rebels-un-idUKBRE90H08K20130118

17 replies, 2402 views

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Reply Mali Islamists tougher than France anticipated - envoys (Original post)
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 OP
azurnoir Jan 2013 #1
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #2
RitchieRich Jan 2013 #5
daleo Jan 2013 #14
SCVDem Jan 2013 #3
alcibiades_mystery Jan 2013 #6
MrYikes Jan 2013 #4
Blue_Tires Jan 2013 #11
Enrique Jan 2013 #7
MynameisBlarney Jan 2013 #8
Blue_Tires Jan 2013 #12
samsingh Jan 2013 #9
Alamuti Lotus Jan 2013 #16
samsingh Jan 2013 #17
kelliekat44 Jan 2013 #10
Alamuti Lotus Jan 2013 #13
grahamhgreen Jan 2013 #15

Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 06:46 AM

1. why is it that western countries always seem to think these conflicts will go easiily

or quickly, so the rebels are better equipped and trained than France anticipated - quelle surprise

one would think that after the past 50 years lessons would be learned but no it seems not

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 06:49 AM

2. Yeah. Its not like this hasn't happened about a gazillion times....

They are either idiots or doing it on purpose. I'm not sure which option is more worrisome.

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 07:39 AM

5. "home by Christmas"

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 09:43 PM

14. Arrogance of military types?

Racism? The need for a good war, no matter what the cost?

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 06:57 AM

3. What was the last French ground war?

Dien Bien Phu?

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Response to SCVDem (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 07:52 AM

6. The French fought in Algeria after Indochina

And French troops have participated in numerous UN actions since then. French units also fought alongside US troops in Afghanistan.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 07:00 AM

4. so what's the fighting all about

I mean outsiders came in, mined all the gold, etc. and the people of Mali got nothing. So why would they fight?

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Response to MrYikes (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 02:50 PM

11. diamonds?

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 08:55 AM

7. "better trained and equipped"

they can thank the American taxpayer for that.

But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation’s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most — taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials.

“It was a disaster,” said one of several senior Malian officers to confirm the defections.

Then an American-trained officer overthrew Mali’s elected government, setting the stage for more than half of the country to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. American spy planes and surveillance drones have tried to make sense of the mess, but American officials and their allies are still scrambling even to get a detailed picture of who they are up against.

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Response to Enrique (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:36 AM

8. I really wish

that our govt. and military weren't so eager to train people like that.

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Response to Enrique (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 02:54 PM

12. I still think there will be a war in my lifetime where

BOTH countries are completely trained, equipped, re-supplied, and after the peace, re-built by U.S. corporations...

Only then will American global dominance be truly complete

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:43 PM

9. who is training and equipping the militants?

for what purpose?

i think France is doing the right thing by stepping in.

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Response to samsingh (Reply #9)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 12:25 AM

16. there's a few answers to that

 

that is, different answers with regard to different formations of the Islamic Coalition in Mali.

The primary element is the Ansaraddin (also spelled Ansar Dine in some reporting) force led by Iyad ag Ghali, a veteran commander of the local Toureg resistance struggle for at least 20 years. His cousin is a commander in the so-called al-Qai'dah in the Islamic Maghreb, which is made up of the remnants of the Islamic resistance (Armed Islamic Group and Salafist Group for Preaching & Combat, along with several smaller formations that grew and shrank in influence over the course of the fighting) against the French-backed military dictatorship in Algeria. Though the latter organization fanned out across the Sahara after it re-branded itself following a rapprochement with the 'home office' (I never quite understood the conflict between al-Qai'dah and the Algerian militants prior to a couple years ago), it remains primarily run by Arab citizens of the regions it is active. There is a splinter of this organization called the Movement for Oneness (Tawhid) & Jihad in West Africa (translated and abbreviated as MOJWA in most reporting) that is mostly black fighters from West Africa with ambitions beyond the Algerian/Tunisian/European focus of AQIM (as their "West Africa" name would indicate).

I'm not sure what is left of the more nationalist MNLA. These fighters did some of the heavy lifting at first, but came on the losing end of fighting with Ansaraddin and MOJWA.

After a Toureg rebellion in the 90s ended with a fragile peace treaty (negotiated by Libyan Col. Qadhafi), many of the commanders of this struggle were hired by Qadhafi, presumably just to keep them occupied and relatively out of trouble. These black Africans were then targetted hunted down by the racist armed formations of so-called "revolutionaries" in the new NATO Republic, and found their training and armaments more of use back home in Mali.

Many of these fighters have gained experienced in conflicts against the Mauretanian/Moroccan/Algerian/Tunisian military dictatorships, others gained experience on the ground after the fighting began. The Wahhabi GCC dictatorships have a mixed role in the conflict; Ag-Ghali at first had some limited support from some factions of the Saudi government (this ended last summer for reasons I am not aware of), but Qatar backs the present NATO invasion (Qatar supports any NATO intervention, they might as well be named as a satellite office of the aggression pact).

The forces of the Malian military junta collapsed almost immediately, so success emboldened the fighting groups as a whole, as have their current successes against the provisional French invasion force. Armaments were brought back from some fighters who were based in Libya before the NATO invasion, and as mentioned, the Malian military forces in the northern provinces surrendered or retreated immediately, leaving the resources of the defeated state for the use of the resistance factions. The fighters have ties well outside of Mali, other individuals and organizations that are in opposition particularly to the governments in Mauritania and Nigeria have lent considerable support, as have certain businessmen inside Mali that are opposed to the military junta.

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Response to Alamuti Lotus (Reply #16)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 08:00 AM

17. thanks for sharing

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 02:43 PM

10. And how many of the hostages were killed by the bombing? nt

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 09:41 PM

13. the Islamic Coalition has *gained* territory since intervention began

 

and proved that they have the strength to take over Algeria's largest natural gas field.

The military junta has virtually collapsed under the weight of its own internal divisions and corruption, and the French force is too timid to take the field (preferring to drop bombs on cities from a mile in the air). So, the opposition has made gains. This trouble follows the embarassing French defeat in Somalia as they tried to snatch one of their spies that was arrested years ago.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 12:06 AM

15. Duh.

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