Mon May 20, 2013 2:14AM
French troops in Mali appear to stay there indefinitely, despite their initial assurances of a short engagement. Many say that France is using terrorism fears as a pretext to consolidate control over West Africa. Ramin Mazaheri has more from Paris.
When France surprisingly went to war in Mali last January they repeatedly promised their offensive was only temporary. But, in a declaration that’s caused little surprise internationally, the French Defense Minister said France will keep around a thousand troops in Mali indefinitely, and that the force could “intervene in neighboring countries…to intervene in any terrorist activity.” For many, it seems that France is reverting to its longtime role as the self-appointed policeman of Africa, with the so-called “global war on terror” as justification. France is reportedly set to buy two drone aircraft from the United States for use in Mali. Critics note that drones are often used for extra-judicial assassinations outside of outside war zones. Many believe that France will create the same situation in Mali as they have done in Ivory Coast. For the last decade a UN-sponsored army, composed almost entirely of French soldiers, has protected French interests. In 2011, following a tightly-contested election, the force decisively protected Alassane Ouattara, ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s close personal friend, and ultimately sent incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court.