February 1, 2013
Victory in Mali? Not Even Close
Gwynne Dyer, Winnipeg Free Press
As usual, a well-trained Western army has gone through a fierce-looking but virtually untrained force of African rebels like a hot knife through butter. Two weeks ago, the northern half of Mali was entirely under the control of Islamist militants, whose forces were starting to advance into southern Mali as well. So France decided on very short notice to send troops and combat aircraft to its former colony in West Africa. Today, every town in the north of Mali is under French control, and the surviving rebels have fled into the desert. But most of them did survive: after losing a couple of major clashes in the first days of the French drive northwards, the Islamist forces simply abandoned Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, the main towns of the north, as soon as the French forces came near. The...