France has been at war in Mali for just more than a week, and though you might not know it from much of the media coverage, France is winning. This fact has been overlooked in a good deal of commentary on the fighting for three reasons. First, the Islamist rebels the French set out to fight have proved surprisingly resourceful. Second, the Malian army has turned out to be hopeless. Finally, the seizure and murder of Western oil workers in Algeria by a group associated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has shown that the Islamists have some strategic depth.
Despite all this, Paris achieved its initial war aims in fewer than 10 days. It blocked the Islamist advance on Mali’s capital, Bamako, and forced the rebels to retreat. France has achieved all this before deploying the 2,500 troops it has promised, while incurring only one battlefield fatality. But French officials seem unwilling to press home their military advantage unilaterally. Last Saturday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a meeting of his West African counterparts that they should now “pick up the baton” in Mali. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
Sign up for two weeks of free access with your credit card. Cancel any time during the free trial and you will be charged nothing.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Diplomatic Fallout: At U.N., Russia Is Now the Indispensable Nation
- Playing Many Sides, Sudan’s Bashir Tries Again to End His Isolation
- Greece’s Reversal Puts China’s Mediterranean Plans Back on Track
- Strategic Horizons: Making Libya a U.N. Protectorate Would Be Wise but Impossible
- Next Up in Somalia’s Fragile Transition: Bridge Political Divides