French troops withdraw from Mali
France has withdrawn the first 100 French troops deployed in Mali. Overall, the French government has sent 4,000 troops to the African country.
According to RT, fears are mounting that Mali will become a drawn-out war, spilling into the African regions and fueling terrorism. In addition, France 24, reported that Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, will discuss in Bamaco the possible ways to cover that security vacuum in Mali, after the withdrawal of the French troops.
On 6 April, the French government announced their intention to leave 1,000 troops on the ground in the African country. It is said that France will continue to conduct anti-terror operations in the northern mountainous part of Mali near the Algerian border. Fabius told reporters that, “France has proposed, to the United Nations and to the Malian government, a French support force of 1,000 men which would be permanent, based in Mali, and equipped to fight terrorism.”
Last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the deployment of 11,200 troops and 1,440 police as part of the UN peacekeeping mission after the withdrawal of the French troops. Ban also called for the creation of a second force to fight militants asking from France to be part of this force.
According to France 24, there is a plan circulated by the UN, of AFISMA troops transferring control to a UN peacekeeping force. This plan has the backing of Washington and Paris.
On 16 March, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet told journalists in Bamako that the transfer of AFISMA to a UN stabilization mission could be done in July.
US about the African forces
However, the US Department of Defence has said that the African troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are incapable of maintaining the security in Mali after the withdrawal of the French troops.
On 9 April, Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defence for special operations, told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee, “right now, the ECOWAS force isn't capable at all. What you saw there, it is a completely incapable force. That has to change.” Regarding the Malian official army Sheehan added, “it's a very weak army, notwithstanding all the aid that we provided them over the last five years or so. It remains to be seen how it will evolve and develop into a professional force.”