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article imageFrench leader quells talk of quick Mali pullout

By Larry Clifton     Feb 26, 2013 in Politics
Bamako - Tuesday, France’s government said French forces deployed in Mali are currently involved in “very violent fighting” in the mountains of north Mali and warned that any talk of a quick pull out would be premature.
France’s defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the French intervention to halt the advance of Islamic extremism in Mali has already cost about $133 million (€100 million), according to an AP report.
Nevertheless, Le Drian maintained that protracted fighting in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains has intensified and that the weak Mali military lacks the ability to carry the fight to Islamist extremists hunkered down in the rugged terrain.
French troops who entered the fray on Jan. 11 are learning that, as in Afghanistan and other Middle East wars, Islamic extremists disappear before and during major offensives by melding into local populations only to rejoin the fight another day.
Le Drian said, “we are now at the heart of the conflict,” in protracted fighting in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.
While French troops are finding it difficult to rout extremists from the caves and crevices of mountains, some analysts say more radical Islamists from Niger are likely to join the fray now that a major European force has boots on the ground in Mali. Some say the Mali intervention is a grossly over-simplified military conflict that will lead to a broader war in west Africa.
French forces have already been sent to Niger to secure uranium mines and President Obama has deployed armed American troops in Niger, insuring that war-weary U.S. troops are now involved in the conflict.
In any case, French forces are not pulling out in the foreseeable future and more may be required to join the fight as French troops get bogged down in the war against Islamic extremists.
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