Intervention against al-Qaida in Mali discouraged
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. military commander in Africa warned on Monday against any premature military action in Mali, even as he said that al-Qaida-linked terrorists have strengthened their hold on the northern part of the country.
Army Gen. Carter Ham said that military intervention would likely fail and would set the precarious situation there back “even farther than they are today.”
The African Union and United Nations are discussing the funding, troops and other assistance necessary to take back northern Mali from the extremists that took control there earlier this year.
“Negotiation is the best way,” Ham told an audience at George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute. “Military intervention may be a necessary component. But if there is to be military intervention, it has to be successful, it cannot be done prematurely.”
He said the plans will begin to play out in the coming weeks.
Ham's comments provided greater public detail on the worrisome coordination between al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which bases its operations in Mali, and the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is based in Nigeria. The growing linkage between the terror groups, Ham said, poses the greatest threat to the region.
The Africa Union has been pressing the United Nations to take immediate military action to regain northern Mali, and Ham said that military intervention may well be necessary. But he said the African-led collaborative effort that has worked in Somalia may be the right model to use in Mali. That effort generally involves intelligence and logistical support from the United States, as well as funding and training, but the fighting is led by African nations and does not include combat troops on the ground.
The terrorist group is the best financed al-Qaida affiliate, and officials have long said that it has been collaborating with Boko Haram. On Monday, Ham said that al-Qaida is providing financial support, training and explosives to Boko Haram, and “the relationship goes both ways.”
At the same time, Ham noted that Libyan mercenaries who left the country after Gadhafi's ouster have been sending heavy weapons into Mali. With that, he said, it's not unexpected to see militant training camps being set up in the ungoverned spaces, and militants increasing their recruiting efforts.
Boko Haram has made it known that the groups wants to expand its activities across the region and Europe, and it is blamed for more than 760 killings this year, according to an Associated Press count.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- FBI agent, 2 others sentenced in contractor kickback scheme in Utah
- Obama vetoes union election bill; streamlined election process to move forward
- Indiana governor wants changes to religious-objection law
- Benghazi panel formally requests private interview with Hillary
- Experts skeptical of N.D.’s new oil train safety checks
- Appalachian miners wiped out by coal glut they can’t reverse
- Christie rails against high N.J. estate tax
- Police: Prisoner who stole gun, fled hospital found in D.C.
- Privacy and private parts: Nude neighbor exposes law’s limit
- Mysteries of dark matter come to light in Science study
- Mining for tourists? A dubious economic savior in Appalachia