France Swings Into Action In Mali

Over the weekend, French President Francois Hollande ordered airstrikes against Islamist militias occupying northern Mali, thus escalating the crisis in the West African state. He also launched an unsuccessful mission to rescue a French secret agent being held hostage in Somalia.

Earlier today, Business Monitor Online published analysis on the unfolding events in Mali. The questions we answered include:

  • Who Currently Controls Northern Mali?
  • Why Has France Decided To Act Now?
  • Will The Airstrikes Be Effective?
  • How Have Other International Actors Responded To The French Mission?
  • Where Do Things Move From Here?
  • What Are The Downside Risks Of An Intervention?

One of the consequences of the fall of former Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi is that arms and militancy spread south across the Sahara into the land-locked African nation of Mali.

More broadly, there are concerns that Saharan Africa (the Sahel region) is becoming a safe haven and training ground for al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

The fighting in Mali has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, some of them into neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.
Hollande’s actions signal willingness by the French government to take a stand against regional Islamist militancy and maintain France’s involvement in its former African colonies.

However, Hollande is also taking a risk in starting a potentially open-ended mission at a time when France is struggling with domestic economic issues.

This Week’s Trivia Question

Last week, the theme was imaginary Japanese companies, and we asked which early 1990s thriller featured a plot by Japanese companies to dominate the US economy? (This book seems ridiculously dated nowadays, of course.) And for a bonus, which early 1960s novel portrayed a California and Western USA controlled by Japan following its victory in World War II?

The answers are Rising Sun by Michael Crichton, and The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.

This week, the theme is Venezuela’s political transition. Venezuela’s Supreme Court recently cited the case of which former senior US official being sworn into his position in Cuba as a possible precedent for allowing President Hugo Chavez to take the oath of office for his new term from the island state?