Threat of Islamic Militant Comeback in Mali Threatening French Withdrawal Plan


Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon/wikimedia

The French may not be leaving Mali as quickly as they would like.

French President Francois Hollande had said that he wants the number of French troops in Mali to be cut to 1,000 by December from the roughly 4,000 troops that are there now. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that a UN peacekeeping force could be made up of African soldiers that are already assisting Malian and French forces.

However, despite plans for a UN peacekeeping force recent attacks by Islamic militants and the political situation in Mali mean that the French troop reduction could be delayed.

From Reuters:

Last weekend Islamist militants launched their second attack on Timbuktu in a fortnight, shortly after French President Francois Hollande insisted the elections must take place as scheduled and unveiled the plan to slash troop numbers.

Launched in January, the French-led offensive quickly succeeded in pushing a mix of Islamists out of their northern strongholds and remote mountain bases, hitting the local leadership of the al Qaeda-linked groups.

But new clashes have followed a handful of suicide attacks and raids on towns won back from the rebels, underscoring the task of securing the country as France prepares to hand over to the Malian army and a 7,000-strong regional African force.

The nightmare scenario is that of a repeat of the Afghan war, where Taliban insurgents have prevented a full pull-out of NATO-led troops after a 13-year conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives.

While it is understandable that the French would like to avoid their own Afghan war there is the possibility that Islamic militants will return to northern Mali after the number of French soldiers is reduced. It is easy to see why those living in northern Mali who experienced the rule of Islamic militants would not be reassured by a mere 1,000 French troops, a U.N. peacekeeping force, and a disorganized Malian military that is facing accusations of human rights violations.

As well as the possibility of Islamic militants returning there is also the ongoing issue of slavery to worry about, with some Tuaregs who are seeking independence in northern Mali but who have distanced themselves from Islamic militants continuing the practice of slavery. Despite the French-led intervention 250,000 people still live in conditions of slavery in Mali.

From The Guardian:

The recent French intervention in Mali does seem to be paying some security dividends with most of the Islamist fighters driven out of the main urban areas. But many slaves and ex-slaves say they still do not feel safe, since a new Tuareg group, the Islamic Movement for Azawad, is in control of the remote town of Kidal. 

The unfortunate reality for the French government is that if they wish to leave Mali in a safer, more secure, and politically stable situation they may have to stay longer than they initially anticipated, which will almost certainly have effects on the government's popularity in France.


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  1. What’s French for “Mission Accomplished”?

    1. ? votre tour, am?rique?

    2. Nous abandonnons!

    3. kapitulieren?

  2. And if there’s one thing that pisses a Frenchman off, it’s not being allowed to retreat!

    1. They need for Germany to send an army to Mali, so they can surrender.

  3. The unfortunate reality for the French government is that if they wish to leave Mali in a safer, more secure, and politically stable situation they may have to stay longer than they initially anticipated, which will almost certainly have effects on the government’s popularity in France.

    What’s French for ‘wag the dog’?

    1. See Tim’s post, above

  4. Actually, the reason they can’t leave is the change they found under the seat cushions won’t pay for the gas, and the US is getting tired of carrying hitch-hikers.

  5. Unpossable! The French were just going to swoop in and kick some butt!!

    Next step = US troops in Mali. And dronez, needs moar dronez, because dronez makes folks all around the world, love us more. Because freedom.

  6. Why do we give a shit whether the French withdraw? Oh, right, because our government’s love of fucking with other countries means we might get drawn into another unfinished French conflict. That worked out great last time.

    1. Episiarch| 4.3.13 @ 1:35PM |#
      “Why do we give a shit whether the French withdraw?”
      Well, there’s the schadenfreude in watching the ‘cowboy’ French getting stuck in the swamp.

      1. Especially since the French have direct experience with how fucked things in North Africa are. They obviously didn’t learn, whereas we haven’t been back to SE Asia since.

        1. Uh, dude, we never left Korea. Granted, that’s not southeast Asia, but you get my point.

          1. Or Japan, but still not SE Asia.

          2. Singapore, that is SE Asia but it’s not exactly a huge presence.

            1. We’re in Singapore? Why? To fend off the imminent Malaysian invasion?

              1. Naval base. We would go there for American holidays sometimes when I was a kid.

                1. Oh, I see. To fend off attacks from orangutans in Borneo, huh?

  7. So you can not go in because BLOWBACK, you cannot leave because SLAVEZ, if you stay QUAGMIRE.

    Why do you hate the French, Monsieur Feeney?

  8. They were only going for a withdrawal plan because they forgot to bring condoms.

    1. They must avoid premature evacuation.

    2. I’m afraid I accidentally blew my wad on what was supposed to be a dry-run, if you will, and now I have quite the mess on my hands.

  9. The French love intervening in North Africa like we love intervening in Central America.

    Also, as much as I want make an Algeria 2: Electric Boogaloo joke, it doesn’t really apply.

  10. “Threat of Islamic Militant Comeback in Mali Threatening French Withdrawal Plan”

    That’s close to the actual headline which said “War Dims Hopes for Peace”

  11. When you think about it, isn’t the solution for the French to go in and destroy the government of Mali? Set up an anarcho capitalist state and ensure that the people in Mali have access to weapons and free trade and the whole thing should solve itself. If not, why not?

    1. Still hanging out in the AnCap thread John?

      1. It is a serious question. Why wouldn’t that work? What are the jihadists but a collective self defense organization?

        1. It’s not a serious question, it’s heckling people you disagree with.

    2. This would be way better than anything they would actually try.

  12. Shit, I could’ve told them that months ago.

    However, since this war is being waged for French Socialist warboners, and if the US gets involved it’ll be Obama banging the drum, at least we won’t have to be annoyed by the media bombarding us with all those pesky civilian casualties and “High Cost of War” infographics. Viva Leftist Hypocrisy.

  13. This is shocking. Nobody could have seen this coming.

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