First Published: 2012-11-13

 

West Africa army await UN Mali go-ahead

 

Senior official says ECOWAS military force’s intervention against Islamic radicals in Mali will be done in phases, pending UN approval.

 

Middle East Online

By Cecile Feuillatre - PARIS, France

Ouedraogo (L) said the full force would not necessarily be deployed at once

A West African military force assembled to intervene against Islamic radicals in Mali is ready to be deployed as soon as the United Nations issues a green light, a senior official at the centre of the preparations claimed Tuesday.

"The military force is fully ready. Once the UN gives the go-ahead, deployment can start immediately," Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told journalists here.

Ouedraogo, a former prime minister of Burkina Faso, is the president of the commission, or permanent secretariat, of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

His comments contradicted the scepticism expressed by some military experts on the readiness of ECOWAS to send in a force capable of sweeping Islamists out of northern Mali, a vast desert area that has fallen under the control of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

ECOWAS leaders meeting in Nigeria agreed on Sunday to deploy a force of up to 3,300 men. A detailed plan of action, backed by the African Union, is due to be presented to the UN by the end of the month and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has said deployment could come as soon as early December.

Ouedraogo said the full force would not necessarily be deployed at once.

"That will not be a classical war, there will be special operations and it will be done in phases," he explained.

The African force being assembled will have logistical support from France and the United States, who have been lobbying hard to get ECOWAS to take action and to ensure Algeria does not stand in their way.

"We have requested air support and all our partners have promised their support," Ouedraogo said.

Doubts about whether the mooted intervention will go ahead have been fuelled by the ambiguous stance adopted by Algeria, the biggest military power in the region.

Algiers reacted to Sunday's ECOWAS declaration by saying that it believed negotiations with the rebel groups in northern Mali -- who are mostly led by Algerian nationals -- could still deliver a settlement.

Ouedraogo said Algeria had indicated it would not stand in the way of military intervention and, in that case, would close its border with Mali, which measures around 1,700km (1,100 miles), in order to try and deny militants an escape route.

The ECOWAS official appeared sceptical about the chances of a negotiated settlement.

"Any political dialogue will be with groups who recognise the unity of Mali and the secular character of the state," he said. "There will be no discussions with terrorist or mafia groups."

The Islamists in northern Mali have imposed a strict version of sharia law in the areas under their control, which has led to cases of unmarried couples being stoned, thieves having hands amputated and suspected drinkers being whipped.

 

Push on IS capital Raqqa gathers momentum

Ailing Bouteflika 'doing well' despite health scare

Iraq forces look to build floating bridge in Mosul

Boosting presidental powers will 'stabilise' Turkey, says PM

Film on Syria's White Helmets wins Academy Award

Key Egyptian legislator says poverty more dangerous than terrorism

UN chief says disregard for rights 'spreading'

GCC geopolitics spike military sales at IDEX

Saudi Aramco to invest $7 billion in Malaysia oil refinery

ISIS has brought Saudi Arabia and the United States closer

Erdogan ‘not welcome’ to campaign in Austria

Morocco to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

Shia leadership struggle ahead after Khamenei and Sistani

The huge risks of Trump’s call to ‘take’ Iraqi oil

Trump set to zero in on Hezbollah in bid to curb Iran

Time bomb of unemployment among Arab youth

Woman journalist says targeted by hardliners in Sudan

Iran's Ahmadinejad writes open letter to Trump

Iran's Rouhani to run for re-election

Kurdish reporter killed while covering Mosul battle

Libya govt secures ceasefire after Tripoli clashes

Saudi Foreign Minister in landmark visit to Iraq

Iraqi forces push deeper into west Mosul

Suicide attacks kill 42 in Syria's Homs

Top US commander in secret Syria trip

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas for being ‘biased’

UN considers Syria sanctions over chemical attacks

Saudi Comic-Con slammed as ‘sin’ in online backlash

Jordanians protest government price hikes

Baghdad coordinated anti-IS airstrikes with Damascus says source

New Hamas Gaza leader makes first public appearance

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Jordanian F-16 crashes in Saudi, pilot survives

Suicide bomb attack on rebels kills 51 near Al-Bab

Iraqi PM says air force strikes IS targets in Syria

Iraqi forces enter IS-held west Mosul

UN slams light sentence for Israeli soldier

Saudi king seeks investment on rare Asia tour

UN Syria peace talks begin in Geneva

Saudi minister discusses hajj with Iran

136 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seek German asylum since coup

New Hamas ‘strongman’ could spell fresh Israeli conflict

Suicide car bomb kills eight outside Yemen army base

Fired Turkish academics protest ‘unjust’ dismissals

Iraqi forces jovial after Mosul airport entry