Mali Conflict Explodes into Ground War, Hostage Crisis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • France launches ground campaign in Mali
  • Islamist militants seize gas complex in Algeria, with dozens of hostages
  • Britain prepares for a new Falklands war

France launches ground campaign in Mali

'In Amenas' gas facility in Algeria, where militants are holding hostages
'In Amenas' gas facility in Algeria, where militants are holding hostages

It's been almost a year since France was advocating military action in Mali ( "13-Jul-12 World View -- France expects the West to deploy military forces in Mali"), and two weeks ago the plan was to take some action possibly next September. Then last week, France was going to train Mali's armed forces and conduct some air strikes, but the operation would be over in a few weeks, and there would be absolutely no French combat troops in Mali.

All that planning is now out the window, after the Islamist militants started moving to take control of the entire country. France sent combat troops into Mali on Wednesday to assault Islamist rebels. The ground troops are thought to be necessary because any delay in following up on the air strikes would allow the rebels to withdraw into the desert, reorganize and mount a counter-offensive. France is getting some support from other countries. Britain and Germany are supply military transport planes, and the U.S. is considering logistical and surveillance support. Reuters

Islamist militants seize gas complex in Algeria, with dozens of hostages

Islamist militants had promised revenge for France's military action in Mali, and on Wednesday they kept their promise by seizing a gas production facility operated by the Algerian state oil company, Sonatrach, along with the British oil company BP and Norway's Statoil. About 20 foreign workers are being held captive, including 7 Americans, are being held hostage. The militants are associated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

An Algerian analyst that I heard interviewed on the BBC on Wednesday said that Algerian security forces knew that some sort of retaliation was coming, and that an attack on such an obvious target should easily have been prevented. He pointed out that several of the top level officers in AQIM have backgrounds in Algerian intelligence services, and so Algerian security forces may have been complicit in the capture of the gas facility. He said that Algeria was opposed to any kind of Western intervention in Mali from the start, and they were particularly opposed to intervention from France, so this may have been their way of getting revenge. BBC

Britain prepares for a new Falklands war

In 1982, Britain's armed forces recaptured the Falkland Islands in a two-month battle, after an invasion by Argentina to take control of Las Malvinas -- Argentina's name for the Falklands. Argentina has never given up its claims to the islands, and president Cristina de Kirchner has become increasingly strident in those claims. Fearing a new invasion by Argentina, Britain's military planners are actively considering military options to be used, if they become necessary. These options could involve the deployment of the Royal Navy’s Response Task Force Group, a flotilla comprising destroyers, a frigate, a submarine and commandos. However, some analysts outside of Britain are suggesting that if Argentina captured the islands again, as they did in 1982, then Britain would no longer have the military capability to dislodge them. Telegraph (London) and Russia Today


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