The French government is deploying surveillance drones to the northern Malian region of Azawad today as part of their continued push for an international invasion aimed at imposing the rule of Mali’s ‘transitional government’ on them.
Along with the drones, French officials are said to be in “secretive talks” with US officials in Paris this week, preparing a strategy for starting the war against the region. NATO officials hope to see African ground troops at the lead of the invasion, but plan to commit considerable resources as well. German officials say they expect to contribute to the “training” of African troops for the invasion.
The UN Security Council has already approved the idea of invading the region in general terms, but is still waiting for the invaders to come up with a specific plan before final approval is given.
The Malian government lost Azawad to Tuareg secessionists early this year, after the Tuaregs returned with weaponry looted from Libya. The Tuaregs quickly ousted the government, and the Malian military held a coup in the south. The Tuaregs eventually lost control of Azawad to regional al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar Dine, which is hoping to turn Azawad into a Salafist state.
French officials are playing up that al-Qaeda link in the push for war, claiming Azawad is like late 1990’s Afghanistan. Given how poorly the international invasion of Afghanistan has gone, starting in 2001 and still nowhere near “victory,” this example might not be the most persuasive argument for action, however.