January 18th, 2013
08:46 AM ET

France says cooperation on Mali crucial

By Jill Dougherty

In order for its offensive against Islamists in Mali to succeed, France needs the assistance of the United States and other countries, a French official told CNN.

"We really need the help of everybody and when countries such as Morocco and Algeria are opening their skies to our planes," the official said. "That's crucial because that's a mark of full solidarity for our mission - which is needed, it's really needed."

Mali was one of the most successful democracies in Africa until last year, when a coup toppled the president and Islamists capitalized on the chaos by establishing themselves in the north. There, they imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia law by banning music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also damaged Timbuktu's historic tombs and shrines.

The International Criminal Court has launched a war crimes investigation amid reports that residents have been mutilated and killed for disobeying the Islamists. The United Nations has noted accounts of amputations, floggings and public executions such as the July stoning of a couple who had reportedly had an affair.

France unleashed a military offensive against the militants last week, a mission that President Francois Hollande says is designed to "destroy" the terrorist groups that have taken root in the northern part of the huge African nation.

The operation could last weeks or much longer, the French official said. Much will depend on the involvement of the international community.

The United States is navigating one tricky quandary: How does it help in the battle against the militants without violating its own policy? U.S. policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because the fledgling government is a result of a coup.

No support can go to the Malian military directly until leaders are chosen through an election, said Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman.

"We are not in a position to train the Malian military until we have democracy restored," she said this week. "But we're not precluded from assisting allies and partners in trying to restore security to that country."

So far, the United States has only shared intelligence from satellites and intercepted signals with the French, defense officials said. The Pentagon is also considering sending refueling tankers so that French jets can fly longer, more sustained combat missions, according to the officials.

"We've had a number of requests for support from the French in support of their operation," Nuland said in a State Department briefing Tuesday.

"They've asked for information sharing, they've asked for support with airlift, they've asked for support with aerial refueling. We are already providing information and we are looking hard today at the airlift question, helping them transport forces from France and from the area into the theater."

The United States is training African forces being deployed. By this weekend, trainers will be on the ground in African nations that are contributing forces, the State Department said.

If the African troops are not well-equipped, motivated or need much more time to be deployed, that could affect the French mission.

France is sending 2,500 troops to Mali, from French military facilities in Africa and from France. Paris quickly deployed troops since it has permanent bases in Gabon and Djibouti.

It also has a few hundred troops in Ivory Coast as a result of the international peacekeeping mission two years ago. It has a permanent battalion of 800 to 1,000 in Chad.

A few hundred more will come directly from France.

"We want, and it's in the interest of everybody, to get back to the track of the U.N. process and of the deployment of an African-led operation, which was the whole idea of the last resolution of the U.N. Security Council," the French official said. "So we hope we will receive support from the African troops and others. But our troops will be there as long as necessary."

France has requested assistance from the United States. The official said it is getting "full political support" from the White House and the U.S. State Department.

"We have very good cooperation in intelligence, and they just have announced that aircraft transport will be provided by the U.S. and, as far as I know, they are still considering the question of a refueling plan. So they are on board," the official said.

"We are aware of their internal debates," the official added, "and that's understandable, but the discussions are ongoing all the time at all levels between France and the United States. So, so far, the cooperation is good."

Leaders from other countries have offered troops or logistical support for the offensive.

A Canadian military transport plane departed for Mali on Tuesday, where it will transport equipment and personnel. Two British military transport aircraft have been assigned to help with the French troop deployment, but no British forces will be in a combat role.

The Nigerian army said it plans to deploy 900 soldiers within 10 days as part of a U.N.-mandated African force to fight the insurgents.

Events in Algeria could have an impact on Mali "one way or another," the French official told CNN.

Algeria has been facing a civil war against Islamists for several years, and France has been trying to draw the world's attention to that threat, the official said.

The Algeria hostage-taking crisis could lead some countries to conclude that the only answer is for Western and African countries, and even moderate Islamic countries, to unite to fight terrorism. Others, however, the official said, might conclude that it is too dangerous, that it is a "vicious cycle and maybe it is better not to intervene."

A few years ago, there were a few hundred terrorists in southern Algeria, the official said, but now there are a few thousand. "We don't want to see tens of thousands of those terrorists in the coming years."

CNN's Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

soundoff (71 Responses)
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  4. BigGuyWithABigChopper

    Those planes are pretty cool.

    Good thing that France is taking charge in protecting it's former colonies.

    January 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  5. SADIA QUERESHI

    PORKISTANIS HERE AT THERE BEST ... SO GLAD MY GRAND PARENTS DIDNT MOVE TO PORKISTAN ...

    January 21, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

      I take it you're not Muslim, then?

      January 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  6. Dr. Jeff Dorsey

    "No support can go to the Malian military directly until leaders are chosen through an election, said Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman."
    The State Department made a mistake on April 22nd 2012 when it declared that a Military Coup had taken place. It made no such mistake in Honduras when to protect US interests it declared that a coup had taken place but that it was not a few years back even when a "military coup" which in fact it was. Having come to a mistaken determination, the State Department has painted the United States into a corner, you might say that this is the State Department's Fiscal Cliff of its own making. To keep the Salafists from coming back after they are chased out, the only army that's going to be there permanently is the Malian Army, it should be restructured along US lines according to its wishes, after having thrown out most of the 78 generals linked to the corrupt former president who left to enjoy his family fortune on the Corniche in Dakar (Senegal's Cote d'Azur).

    State appears to have bogged itself down in its mistake. It is time for President Obama to overrule Hilary Clinton, accept that a mistake has been made, and rescind this bad decision which it took State 28 days to arrive at. No one's asking those responsible to eat crow, just to admit that they'd made a mistake, so that the US can step up to the plate and bash the Salafists over the fence to the places that they came from. Elections can follow the reconquest of the North, which is in accord with the will of somewhere between 73% and 92% of the Malian people.

    January 20, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  7. Corregidor

    short and concise JohnParryJones. France, within the past decade has not been sympathetic to U.S. interest or political interests. We have spilled enough blood and sacrificed more than most nations. France needs to grow some backbone.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  8. Fondue

    HINDU KALI – GODDESS OF VIOLENCE/TERRORISM

    A recent report by United Press trust of India (UPI) stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India. Another of AFP's recent reports say: hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi because goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune. Bloodthirsty Kali is worshipped openly the length and breadth of India. Kali's statue stands naked astride the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Shiva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in other manifestations. The priest of Delhi, Kali Bari, says that a child sacrificed to Kali ensures a man the birth of a son. Human sacrifices are also made to these gods or goddesses, either to appease them or to ask favours of them.

    January 20, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
    • Bibi the Papa MeowMeow BumBum Packer

      Phony piece of information . . . .just so you know we don't care about you stupid people . . . this is a smoke screen to make what we are doing in Mali to sound serious . . . . Think about it: Do we, the government, care if you are fed? Do we care if you have a job? Do we care if you have to pay $4.50 for a gallon of gas?

      What makes you think we care about you dumber than dumb Americans who would be held by some towel head???

      I love it when we confuse people and I love it more when we can wage war against the towel heads to steal their resources and kill their women and children.

      Remember, globalism and zine-0-ism is the same thing.

      We are the masters of de-stabilizing the world because we are on a mission of world domination.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • NASHVILLE

      salwaar with tampon alert AKA PORKISTANI

      January 21, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
  9. Sacre Bleu

    Bizarre child-burying Hindu ceremony in India

    CNN:
    Indian police have charged 80 people for burying children alive in an ancient Hindu ceremony known as "the festival of pits." The ceremony, in which children - some less than a year old - are buried alive briefly and then dug up, happened on Monday in southern Tamil Nadu state, The Asian Age reported on Thursday.

    Every two years, parents who have vowed to bury their first-born if they are blessed with a child, take part in the Kuzhimattru Thiru Vizha ceremony. The children are drugged to make them unconscious and placed in shallow "graves" in temple courtyards. The pits are covered with leaves and dirt and the children are pulled out after Hindu priests chant a brief prayer - lasting up to a minute.

    January 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • NASHVILLE

      salwaar with tampon alert AKA PORKISTANI

      January 21, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
  10. French Pizza

    We have been fighting a war for the past ten years with no end. Our soldiers have shed blood to no end. Their families are suffering. Has even one Indian soldier sacrificed his life in helping the Americans, NATO and western countries in fighting this war? The answer is a resolute NO. Folks, just think about it, 1.2 million Indian Army soldiers are sitting in trenches doing what???? Sure the heck beats me. Americans are now questioning the US Congress as to what they are doing to correct this unsustainable relationship with India.

    January 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  11. Thinker

    All hostages in Algeria will be free, only if. US release blind Egyptian Sheikh and Pakistani scientist Dr. Afia Siddqi

    January 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  12. Thinker

    Make world Jihad virus free.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  13. Thinker

    Rent Paki soldiers.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  14. Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

    Screw France!

    January 20, 2013 at 12:02 am | Reply
  15. Michel Meyer

    So, if I understand some of the poster here correctly, the mighty USA with the biggest defense budget of the whole world is not willing to give some basic help (without asking to be paid for) to help France fight these wahabi arabo-berber-narco-islamist thugs invading and destabilizing the friendly secular Republic of Mali ?
    Looks like Americans and Anglo Saxons in general dislike more the french than the islamist and wish them to fail in this struggle.
    Then later you will complain about anti-americanism on the rise in France.

    But I forgot that the US is aleady donating millions of $ to such reliable allies as Pakistan, Egypt or Israel...

    January 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  16. Re-posted With Intent To Educate Muslims Bloggers

    Renowned Muslim activists and generalists have decried the silence of the corrupt muslim governments over the continued “brutal murders of innocent peoples by their tyrants like 100 Shia were murdered in Pakistan by Sunni majority” and said all minorities should be given the right to self-determination.

    “Pakistan, Yemen, Benghazi, Somalia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and almost all muslim countries are poverty ridden, uneducated, and bloody occupied by al Qaeda fighters, or some other types of muslim terrorist groups.

    Under the military rules in these countries, freedom of speech is non-existent and human rights abuses are wide spread by Islamic mullahs. A survey said 5 out of 10 grown up musalman has never heard words like "Job", 'Education", "Election" or "Democracy".

    Lives of muslims in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Benghazi, Algeria, Syria are made miserable by gun-totting army personnel or terrorist groups, who routinely harass, extort money, commit raps, or terrorized people with impunity, adding that disappearances are almost a daily occurrence as also kidnapping, arrests, fake encounters and torture. Mass graves of minorities have been discovered in these muslim counties and the conscience of the world remains un-stirred................

    Tourism in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria have virtually reduced to zero, while terrorism has gone through the roof. More and more young muslims are becoming terrorists to support their families, and become vulnerable to be exploited by mosque mullahs also known as terrorist recruiters. All mosques are becoming terrorist recruiting center too in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Benghazi.

    The apathy towards minorities of muslim countries like Pakistan, Somalia, Benghazi, Yemen, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, especially in the western world, is because of their pursuit of oil interest in the Middle East, where these USA, EU countries are more eager to “secure their oil supply with crook Arabs of Saudi Arabia, UAE than human rights in poor muslim countries"............

    January 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Jesus Christ what is wrong with these muslims?

      January 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        Please Phunnie boy, do leave Jesus out of this. It is one thing to try to make me look like a fool but another to blaspheme.

        January 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • George Patton

        Okay phunnie boy, I will leave Jesus out but I want to hear one time I Love Hillary from your mouth. I am waiting !!

        January 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bibi BaBum Bum Mossad Master

      this post makes all muslims look terrorists. I am ashamed to be a muslim, if things are true in above post.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  17. massoud

    Germany has asked France to return their Gold holdings that are in storage in France and from what I understand France is having difficulty in accounting for the very large German Gold deposit that France is holding . Mali is one of the largest Gold producing Nations in the World, Mali is also a former colony of France, something fishy here .

    January 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  18. Matt

    I know the French and we will all know when they are upset, if they feel betrayed and offended. They will leave NATO again and we will not see them for another 20 years. That will leave Europe without an aircraft carrier and the rest of the EU will have to increase there defense budgets which Gates already complained about. To make up for the shortfall if the French leave NATO. If the French and ECOWAS fail, Mali becomes another Afghanistan pre 9/11 and one way or the other we all will be drawn in just as the case with Afghanistan. If Clinton had been able to travel to Africa and not got sick, I think the African deployment would have happened earlier and al-Qaida would not have pushed south. The saw the inaction and took the initiative. They knew at some point the African force would be deployed so they push south into the tropical grass lands and tried to deconstruct the Malian Army. They would fall back and fight a tactical retreat but it provide a buffer to the northern stronghold and without an indigenous security force you have no one to handover too. The fighting is tough but they are conducting a tactical retreat, it is the same as in Marjah, trying to bog down the offensive. It was a smart move by al-qaida. It will take a few weeks to consolidate the south, a few months to retake the population centers in the north clear and hold. it will take years to train up the Malians to a level in which they can take over and to deconstruct the terrorists in the desert, Mali was always going to be a small foot print the Legion and French military as being used as shock troops, with the larger ECOWAS force and Malians to hold the cleared areas. If you don't fight them in the desert they will hit the population centers and force out the Malians and ECOWAS, as they did before. For the long range desert patrols, hit and run in the Sahara, you will need special forces, not just the Legion and French SF, UK SAS, JSOC, EU, perhaps the UAE and Qatar. I would rather fight them in the desert, that in urban areas like Iraq or the villages in Afghanistan. I think 2 years and the Malians will have a buffer, Iraq and Afghanistan took 5 years each, Mali 2 years. And that will be the end of al-Qaida in North Africa. And not a moment too soon, after 13 years they are starting to get on my nerves. So the end will be in 2015/16. Bush and Cheney wanted to know how it ended before they left and that is understandable, they knew Iraq was over, that there was a 5 year plan for Afghanistan and would be out at the end of 2013. The war on terror ends in North Africa, what happens if the next admin give up. I will go an see the French, in fact I will go an fight with them in North Africa.

    January 19, 2013 at 2:33 am | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Leaving NATO is the best thing that the French can do for themselves, their country and humanity on the whole! The did it in 1967 under Charles De Gaulle and they need to do it again. Great Britain needs to do the same but since it has no decent or humane leaders, that's unlikely to happen!

      January 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  19. JohnParryJones

    France needs us = France saves money by conning us. And its anti-U.S. government will go back to hating us as soon as Mali is over.

    January 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Reply
    • Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

      And Americas anti-French public will continue to hate them as always. When it comes to 'solving' the world's ills, we con only ourselves.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:06 am | Reply
    • Cheerios

      yep...just like the French "conned" you by helping you carry your water in A-stan. You're a moron.

      January 24, 2013 at 7:20 am | Reply
  20. Jack

    I once saw a special on the people in Timbuktu. Special women were trained to navigate the deserts. Women who saw the shapes of dunes and shadow, who had an innate sense of position in a featureless landscape. Their apprenticeship started as children. Now, GPS allows anyone to find their way. Cut off GPS or encrypt it and most of the terrorists will be taken by the desert. The natives would be fine.

    January 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  21. hmmm

    The headline is somewhat misleading because France are trying to gather different sorts of support for this mission from a number of countries including among others Morocco, Algeria, the UK, Nigeria and Ghana. Not all these countries are putting men on the ground and while they would like US help it's certainly not true to say that they believe the war is unwinnable without it. France have been prepared to lead the way – as they did in Libya – in this war on terror and not just stand by as many thousands of innocent people get slaughtered (as they may have done in the past). It also seems reasonable to ask for American help when some of the terrorists they will be up against will be US trained Malian soldiers who have deserted and joined the rebels. In fact you could say that the French are going in to sort out a mess that has, in part, been inadvertently caused by the USA.

    January 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  22. Capitalist1

    This sounds an awful lot like how Vietnam started...

    January 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • GOD of all WAR GODS

      I am wondering why the Frenchies didn't have to go to the UN first...you know- like we always have to do.
      must be a language thing

      January 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Reply
      • Bibi BaBum Bum Mossad Master

        It's a zine-0-ist thing . . . .LOL . . . sure 'nuf!

        January 19, 2013 at 6:41 am |
  23. Pastare

    So a french official says we need the help of everybody. It's actually transformed into "We need the help of the USA to succeed"?
    Geez...
    How professional.

    January 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  24. A 5th Marine

    France needs U.S. help to succeed in Mali, you say. What's wrong with the French armed forces? Can they no longer fight their own battles without the "great" Americans holding their hands? If this is true, it appears to be incompetence at it's worst! Then again, France didn't win WW1 on it's own either.

    January 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    • paul

      Neither USA

      January 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • the big lie

      no country has won a world war by themselves
      and they weren't called WWI and WWII until after the wars were over

      January 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  25. hmlutgvbnmjg

    (...)WHY WAS IT SO GOD DAMN HARD TO GET OUT OF AFGANISTAN IN THE FIRST PLACE ANS: NO INTENTION TO ACTUALY WIN/FINISH/EXIT/ect. FOR THE BUSH ADMIN(...)

    January 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • the big lie

      so what has the great obama done then...he's had 4 years to get us out

      January 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  26. hmlutgvbnmjg

    (...)NO BALANCE(...)

    January 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  27. hmlutgvbnmjg

    (...)LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT: ROMNEY SAID THE WORD MALI DURRING HIS TELIVISED CAMPAIGN DEBATE I SAID ROMNEY PRESIDENT AMERICA MORE WAR THEN OBAMA WON AGAINST EVERYONES PLANS FOR ROMNEY TO BE PRESIDENT NOW BEFORE OBAMAS SECOND TERM THE U.S. IS DIVING HEAD FIRST INTO ANOTHER GIANT WASTE OF MONEY WAR THAT CANNOT BE WON IN MALI–HMMM...GO FIGURE.(...)

    January 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  28. huklutreu

    (...)IMF head should have been a Mexican(...)

    January 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  29. huklutreu

    (...)FRANCE IS DOING A GREAT JOB ALL BY THEMSELFS(...)vietnam has ok food(...)

    January 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  30. George Patton

    America should provide our drone expert services at reasonable price to all our allies, not just France. Hey it's like killing two birds with one stone, making some money and getting rid of Islamist terrorists.

    January 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Here goes Phunnie boy again, posting his Tea Party nonsense under my name. As the true George Patton here, one should know by now by now that I never post anything stupid, profane nor right-wing!

      January 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        you phunnie boy what are you up to? Can you just go somewhere else and make your liberal statements? I am the real George Patton and I did not make above posts. I am one hundred percent for providing drones and training to eliminate terrorists off the face of the Earth.

        January 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bibi BaBum Bum Mossad Master

      Yeah Georgie . . . . let's kill all the towel heads. Kill everyone of them but don't think about killing us doli heads. I know you have posted that before. So get it straight. Towels are out and need to be killed off and doli heads are in and keep the money coming.

      January 19, 2013 at 6:43 am | Reply
  31. navychick63

    Why should we help them they hate us and spit on us in France.

    January 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • paul

      Nobody spit on americans in France... the reverse is not true

      January 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • the big lie

      everybody hates us until they need us...it's kinda like my x-wives. They all hate me until the money is due.
      lets face it...we are the best at most everything and some things that we really shouldn't want to be the best at.
      The world is jealous – BUT they will all call for that $$$$ and help in a war.
      I hope the French just kick their Arces

      January 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  32. George Patton

    This is the biggest bunch of idiocy I've seen here yet. If France can lo longer fight it's own wars then they shouldn't start them in the first place!!! Now the right-wing idiots in Washington will drag this country into that conflict as well since they don't have enough sense to stay out of it. In fact, we should never have made the mistake of getting into WW1 on behalf of the French. Had Germany won instead, WW2 probably would not have happened.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      phunny boy, are you trying to make me look nitwit? I didn't say this.

      January 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        Oh yes I did, Phunnie boy! We need to stay out of this idiotic war but then again, you Tea Partying fools love the though of us going off to another useless war. Grow a brain, will you and please quit the Tea Party Movement!!!

        January 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • George Patton

        no I did not, and I swear on the grave of fake George Patton's mother.

        January 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  33. Ron_H

    Dear United States, somehow we only packed our white flag for this trip. Can you come bail us out?

    January 18, 2013 at 10:02 am | Reply
    • paul

      Dear USA, keep your money stay far from us and everything is going to be OK

      January 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  34. Hahahahahahahah

    Translation: Come on USA!!! Pay for our Protection!!!!! Hahahahahahahahahaa

    January 18, 2013 at 9:41 am | Reply
    • BigShiz

      I think you should stop smoking the meth.

      January 18, 2013 at 9:52 am | Reply
      • Bibi the man

        @ bigshiz . . . keep up the good work. demean anyone who doesn't go along with our plans to destroy American and any country that gets in our way. We are the israelies, you and me bigshiz, and we don't like our goyim to think. We like em stu-pud. Dont we? Yuppers! We sure do.

        We want our stu-pud Americans to keep sending us money and to kill our enemies no matter what.

        So what if America is broke . . .we're not done looting the dumb Americans.

        Yeah, keep up the good work bigshiz!

        January 18, 2013 at 10:50 am |
      • BigShiz

        Bibi the gay Muslim pretending to be a Jew. The pretty funny hommie.

        January 18, 2013 at 11:10 am |

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