French military forces, backed by air support from other as-yet-unnamed EU member nations, have deployed to Mali today, announcing a massive offensive aimed at retaking the country on behalf of the military junta that holds the southern third of the nation.
Though an African Union invasion to prop up the junta had been the initial plan, new military gains by the Islamist factions which hold the northern two-thirds of Mali have convinced France to move quickly and directly in entering the war.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says that the deployment was necessary to “stop the advance of criminal and terrorist groups,” with President Francois Hollande adding that the troops would stay “as long as necessary” to bring the nation under junta control.
Tuareg secessionists, bolstered with arms looted in the wake of the NATO war in Libya, initially took over the northern part of the country in March. In early April, the military took over the southern segment in a coup d’etat, vowing “total war” to unify the nation. The Tuaregs eventually lost to the Ansar Dine militant faction, which continues to rule the north. Though the international community initially took a dim view of the southern coup, officials have since abandoned calls for snap elections and have focused on imposing junta rule nationwide, insisting the Islamists are a threat to the entire planet.
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