Archive

Tag Archives: Mali

Eric Schmitt and Scott Sayare | The New York Times

A Malian soldier discovered the body of an Islamist in Gao on Friday, where fighting has flared in recent days.

A Malian soldier discovered the body of an Islamist in Gao on Friday, where fighting has flared in recent days.

WASHINGTON — Opening a new front in the drone wars against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama announced on Friday that about 100 American troops had been sent to Niger in West Africa to help set up a new base from which unarmed Predator aircraft would conduct surveillance in the region.

The new drone base, located for now in the capital, Niamey, is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where insurgents had taken over half the country until repelled by a French-led force.

In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about 100 people. A military official said the troops were largely Air Force logistics specialists, intelligence analysts and security officers.

Mr. Obama said the troops, who are armed for self-protection, would support the French-led operation that last month drove the Qaeda and affiliated fighters out of a desert refuge the size of Texas in neighboring Mali.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, signed a status-of-forces agreement last month with the United States that has cleared the way for greater American military involvement in the country and has provided legal protection to American troops there. Read More

Associated Press

(French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD/ Associated Press )

(French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD/ Associated Press )

WASHINGTON — Plans to base unarmed American surveillance drones in the African nation of Niger highlight the Obama administration’s growing concern about extremist influences in the volatile region. They also raise tough questions about how to contain al-Qaida and other militant groups without committing U.S. ground forces in yet another war.

In the short run, a drone base would enable the U.S. to give France more intelligence on the militants that French troops are fighting in neighboring Mali. Over time it could extend the reach not only of American intelligence gathering but also U.S. special operations missions to strengthen Niger’s own security forces.

The U.S. and Niger in recent days signed a “status of forces agreement” spelling out legal protections and obligations of American forces that might operate in Niger in the future. Read More
Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung, and Craig Whitlock | The Washington Post

Islamic extremists grab more territory in Mali: French military forces step up their campaign, launching airstrikes for the first time in the central part of the country.

Islamic extremists grab more territory in Mali: French military forces step up their campaign, launching airstrikes for the first time in the central part of the country.

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. Read More

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,435 other followers