peter tinti

independent journalist

Category: france

France Ups Ante in Mali, Sends More Troops

PRI’s “The World”

France is sending more troops to Mali, and other nations in the region are pledging to send their own soldiers to help fight the Islamist rebels that threaten the Malian government.

Anchor Marco Werman speaks with freelance journalist Peter Tinti in Bamako.

Click here to listen at PRI’s site

How the French got to airstrikes in Mali: A briefing from Bamako

CS Monitor

Five key questions about how Islamic militants took over northern Mali — and why the French are trying to stop them.

BAMAKO, MALI: French airstrikes in Mali last week have jolted the West’s attention. The strikes and more planned deployments by France and other African states, are designed to halt the progress of Islamist rebels in Mali, and deny radicals an Afghan-style haven for jihad against Europe. Journalist Peter Tinti has lived in West Africa for the last three years and arrived in Bamako today. Here’s his first briefer from the capital.

How did this crisis start?

It started when armed groups took over northern Mali – a vast desert expanse roughly the size of Texas – last year. Prominent among the groups are Islamist rebels linked to Al Qaeda who wish to establish a strict and violent version of Islamic law in the region.

Armed conflict and food shortages have driven more than 400,000 people from their home. The rising fear is that the conflict could destabilize the region, creating an ungoverned space and haven to launch terror attacks abroad.

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With French air strikes, has the war to retake northern Mali begun?

CS Monitor

Today’s expansion of the French air campaign beyond central Mali has left many wondering if the war has started – without much international coordination.

DAKAR, SENEGAL: France widened its military intervention in the African nation of Mali today beyond targets in the center of the country, sending fighter jets to the north to hammer training camps, infrastructure, and logistics depots used by Islamist rebels with ties to Al Qaeda.

“The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country, and Europe,” said France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on French television.

The French began air strikes on Friday to counter an ambitious rebel advance southward from their strongholds in the north. While France’s intervention appears to have the tacit support of the international community, the expansion of the French air campaign beyond central Mali has left many analysts wondering if a long-discussed war to retake northern Mali has begun in earnest – without much international coordination or planning.

“That’s the $64 billion question,” says François Heisbourg, special adviser at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. “I think all of this has happened so quickly between Thursday and today that the immediate objective of stopping the two [Islamist] columns and preventing the replenishment of the frontline [Islamist] forces has been the beginning and the end all of what the French are trying to do.”

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As French forces hit rebels in Mali, Paris wants to avoid Europe’s Afghanistan

CS Monitor

The poor showing by Mali’s Army against Islamist radicals in the key city of Konna this week has France worried enough to send troops.

DAKAR, SENEGAL:  French forces today landed in Mali to provide support to government forces even as fighting continued around Konna between Islamist rebels linked to Al-Qaeda, and the Malian Army.

The fighting takes place amid concerns that Al Qaeda-linked militants are poised to push south to the strategic, government-controlled cities of Sévaré and Mopti, where many residents have reportedly started to panic.

Analysts say the loss of Sévaré, which hosts a key military base and nearby airport, would make it even more difficult to retake northern Mali – a vast desert expanse where organized criminal networks have linked-up with jihadist groups, netting tens of millions of dollars through kidnapping and control of the lucrative cocaine trade, and often brandishing weapons smuggled from Libya after the fall of Mumar Gaddafi.

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* No disrespect to the great people at Monitor, but I would like to clarify to readers that it was not I who chose this headline.