The United States may be withdrawing troops from Afghanistan but what is being ignored by the US traditional MSM is increases US military presence in Africa. The latest action involved the use of drone strikes assistance to the French against Islamist groups in Northern Mali. While the focus in the news are these armed militant groups, they fail to mention that the area is rich oil and uranium. The Guardian has a a guide to the conflict.
U.S. weighs military support for France’s campaign against Mali militants
by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post
The Obama administration is considering significant military backing for France’s drive against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mali, but its support for a major ally could test U.S. legal boundaries and stretch counterterrorism resources in a murky new conflict.
The United States is already providing surveillance and other intelligence help to France and may soon offer military support such as transport or refueling planes, according to U.S. officials, who stressed that any assistance would stop short of sending American combat forces to the volatile West African nation.
At the same time, the administration is navigating a thicket of questions about military support and how far it could go in aiding the French without violating U.S. law or undermining policy objectives.
Direct military aid to Mali is forbidden under U.S. law because the weak rump government there seized power in a coup. U.S. moves are further complicated by uncertainty about which militants would be targeted in an assault.
The loosely affiliated web of Malian militants in the country’s north includes members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). But other fighters are longtime foes of the Malian government and pose no direct threat to U.S. interests.
France is in its fifth day of an offensive to oust rebels that have held much of Mali’s northern region since March, an area larger than Afghanistan. The strikes have reportedly killed 11 civilians, including three children fleeing the bombardment of a camp near the central town of Konna. The United Nations estimates as many as 30,000 may have been displaced since fighting began last week. The United States has backed the offensive by helping transport French troops and making plans to send drones or other surveillance aircraft. It is aiding a fight against Malian forces that it once helped train, only to see them defect and join the Islamist rebellion. We discuss the latest in Mali with Al Jazeera correspondent May Ying Welsh, who has reported from Mali’s north, and with freelance journalist Hannah Armstrong, a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, who joins us from the Malian capital of Bamako.
Who said Pres. Barack Obama wasn’t a war hawk?