The French intervention in Mali has reached what appears to be a turning point today
with French troops spearheading the seizure of the airport in the historic Malian city of Timbuktu. This is the latest reported development in their bid to liberate that occupied city from militant Islamist forces that have occupied and dug themselves into the northern part of that country.
Working under the auspices of United Nations Security Council the French military undertook this current military operation of freeing northern Mali, a territorial area that is roughly the same size as France, from the clutch of these Islamist forces. Forces which include Al-Qaeda who have overrun northern Mali after the transpiration of quite a large conflict there. The Malian Army had proven ineffective when it comes to carrying out this task of engaging these forces on its own. This was mainly due to the fact that it does not possess the ability to project conventional force to strike the enemy in a decisive fashion as do the French.
Furthermore the Malian state looked, for a time, like it faced a possible defeat altogether when those Islamist forces were closing in on Bamako, the country's capital city.
This entrance into Timbuktu has closely followed these French forces recent liberation of Gao, the country's most populous city. There residents were relieved to be freed from the clutch of the occupiers and showed their support by openly celebrating in the streets in their thousands the arrival of the French forces. One expects the French will receive a similar welcome upon their 'official' entrance, with their Malian allies, onto the streets of Timbuktu.
Timbuktu was the site of many ancient United Nations World Heritage sites that were purposely destroyed by these Islamist forces under the pretext that they were blasphemous. This author has pondered
whether or not heritage sites like the ones in Timbuktu, and other ones of such cultural and historical significance that are threatened all across the world over, have internationally recognized rights that the international community has in turn an obligation to defend if and when these heritage sites and monuments come under attack by such malevolent fascist forces.
Paratroopers are, as I write, scouting the city limits of Timbuktu in order to determine whether or not it is safe at present to walk the streets there. Some have speculated over whether or not some Islamists have remained and are trying to blend in with the civilian population in order to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians or the French and Malian forces there in the coming days.
Nevertheless throughout the course of this operation, which is still under a month old, the French have proven to be very successful in driving the Islamists out of the country's major population centers. Latest reports indicate the majority of these Islamist forces have retreated to hideouts in the desert. The French success was achieved through extensive use of air power that directly supported the 1,000 French soldiers who are fighting alongside some 200 Malian troops.
France should be given the due credit for putting its troops on the line to aid the Malians in their time of need to defend their country and liberate it from the forces that were not only assaulting its sovereignty, but also its very existence.