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.

 

Post-coup Turkey continues military shake-up

ISIS claims deadly bombing in Syria Kurdish city

Morocco arrests 52 suspects planning to set up ISIS branch

HRW accuses Syria, Russia of using banned cluster munitions

Cirque du Soleil calls off 40 shows in Turkey

Clinton camp accuses Trump of inviting foreign spying

Coalition opens formal investigation into Syria civilian deaths

Pope to journalists: 'World at war', but not a religious war

Turkey warns post-coup crackdown ‘not completed yet’

Egypt top Muslim cleric denounces murder of French priest

Russia denies meddling in US election campaign

Syria regime kills 16 civilians in Aleppo assault

Killer of France priest was 'Syria obsessed time-bomb'

Netanyahu defends war record after protest by parents of dead soldiers

44 dead in double bomb blast in Syria Kurdish city

Marketplace bomb in Yemen kills 7

Kuwait jails Shiite MP for insulting Arab Gulf states

Iran presidential election set for May 2017

Bahrain tries prominent Shiite cleric

Turkey planning anti-Gulen army purge before coup

Turkey issues more arrest warrants for journalists

Israeli raid kills Hamas member said to be behind attack

Saudi condemns "in the strongest terms" deadly attack on France church

Egypt has asked IMF for financial support

Shabaab says suicide bomber was ex-Somali MP

Bahrain refers 138 ‘terror’ suspects to court

Brutal attacks reignite political friction in Germany

Weakened army still faces twin challenges in Turkey

Turkey detains top generals, prominent journalists in widening purge

Hamas 'summer camp' trains dozens of young people for war

Palestinians seek to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour Declaration

UN hopes Syria peace talks can resume late August

Israeli authorities destroy 11 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Libya demands explanation over presence of French troops

ISIS claims attack on French church in Normandy

Erdogan accuses EU of not paying up under migrant deal

Study: Height down in some MENA countries

Iran denies presence of three Al-Qaeda operatives

Iran caps salaries in bid to end scandal

Kerry says US-Russia talks on Syria 'making progress'

Erdogan to visit Russia on August 9

More than 3,000 lost in Mediterranean in 2016

13 killed in Somalia suicide bomb attacks

Panama Papers reveal Italian bribes' paid to Algerian officials

Syria regime advances on rebels in Aleppo