The loss of the town of Diabaly was a major blow to morale, coming after the French invasion that was supposed to ensure the victory of the southern Malian junta. For people in Diabaly, the way the loss happened really doesn’t inspire confidence.
“We were surprised to learn that our soldiers ran away,” noted one local. Indeed, when explosions ushered in the rebel invasion of the southern town, the junta forces beat a hasty retreat, and they only came back after French troops ousted the rebels.
Mali’s military, like many in the region, relies mostly on Western hand-me-downs, and the troops returned to their Diabaly camp to find it looted of what little of value was there. Not weapons, of course, because the rebels have much better arms looted from the NATO regime change in Libya.
The French military’s vision of African troops doing most of the heavy lifting in the war will mean a scramble to get the junta geared up for the challenge, but with summary executions and torture seemingly a way of life for the military’s leadership, making them even more powerful seems like it will cause more problems than it solves.