Well-Trained, Well-Armed Rebels Awash in Libyan Arms
Virtually the whole northern half of Africa is awash in weapons looted in the wake of the NATO war for regime change in Libya, and all those weapons are making the French invasion of Mali a lot less convenient than they’d figured.
“At the start, we thought they would be just a load of guys with guns driving about in their pick-ups, but the reality is that they are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-armed,” noted one French official. “From Libya they have got hold of a lot of up-to-date sophisticated equipment which is much more robust and effective than we could have imagined.”
They perhaps should have imagined this, as the Tuareg secessionists that initially took northern Mali did so with weapons from Libya, quickly overwhelming the Malian military. The Islamist factions then quickly defeated the Tuaregs. This makes it difficult to imagine why France would assume the group would be any worse armed than the Tuaregs were.
At any rate, France has sent only a few hundred ground troops, and is planning to rely on troops from Senegal and Niger for most ground fighting, while launching air strikes against the northern cities in the open-ended war. This means France will likely be able to pound the region at its leisure, barring significant anti-aircraft weapons having found their way into northern Mali, but any efforts to actually occupy it will be very much more difficult.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
- US Escalates ISIS Strikes, Pentagon Says They Can't Bomb Way to Victory - September 30th, 2014
- White House Presents Failed Yemen Intervention as 'Model' for ISIS War - September 30th, 2014
- Turkey Seeks Parliament Mandate for War in Iraq, Syria - September 30th, 2014
- White House Scoffs at Notion of Congress Voting on ISIS War - September 30th, 2014
- East Syria Economy in Ruins as US Destroys Privately-Owned Refineries - September 30th, 2014