Thursday, January 17, 2013

Can Mali Be Saved From the Islamists?

From Con Coughlin and David Blair, at Telegraph UK:
France's President François Hollande is sending in troops in to prevent the creation of a terrorist super-state, but can they do it alone?

As hundreds of French troops are deployed to Mali to do battle with al-Qaeda-backed terrorists and another chapter in the long-running war against militant Islam develops, it is hard not to feel a sense of déjà vu.

It is now more than a decade since the UN Security Council unanimously approved the American-led campaign to destroy the terrorist infrastructure al-Qaeda had assembled in southern Afghanistan. There is nothing the world’s most notorious terrorist organisation likes more than to move into the ungoverned space of failed Islamic states, and southern Afghanistan proved the perfect hide-out from which Osama bin Laden and his cohorts could plot their diabolical attacks against the West.

Thanks to the success of Nato’s military intervention in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and its allies no longer enjoy that freedom: its terrorist infrastructure has been destroyed and the few survivors of bin Laden’s original organisation have sought refuge in mountain retreats.

But arguably the most depressing aspect of what used to be known as the war on terror is that no sooner has one group of Islamist terrorists been dealt with than another pops up. Since the elimination of al-Qaeda from southern Afghanistan in late 2001 we have seen variations of the movement take root in failing Islamic states such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and large tracts of North Africa.

Indeed, the ease with which groups of al-Qaeda operatives were able to set up new terrorist operations prompted General David Petraeus, the former CIA director, to liken the agency’s counter-terrorism campaign to a “whack-a-mole” policy, saying that “you need to hit all the moles at once”.
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