In January, French officials promised to turn Mali into a “terror-free” and flourishing democracy, and bragged that they figured the war would take “only a few weeks.” As the war escalated, they quickly changed it to a promise to have much of the force withdrawn by year’s end.
Today, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed France’s new timetable for Mali – forever. Fabius says that the new plan is to cut some of the occupation forces but to keep at least 1,000 combat troops deployed “permanently” in Mali.
The plan centers on the assumption of having a UN mission of 11,000-plus troops fighting what seems to now be an open-ended war, and France says their own deployment will center on supporting them as well as “fighting terror.”
France officials say they believe they will have the plan for a permanent deployment, along with the UN’s backing for its own large, poorly trained force, within the next two or three weeks. Getting permanent war approved, at least, seems to be on a firm schedule.