Hollande’s decision to launch air strikes in Mali is leading his nation and others to change their view of him. French President Francois Hollande’s sudden move against jihadists in Mali shows that he is is capable of making bold decisions. Meanwhile as his troops move into Mali, Islamist militants are pushing forward.

Northern Mali

As part of France’s Operation Serval, Hollande ordered 200 troops to be flown from Chad to Mali’s capitol city of Bamako. Over the weekend, he also ordered a company from the 2nd marine infantry regiment of France to be moved to Bamako. Gunships, helicopters and fighter jets from France also rolled into Mali.

CNN reported today that Islamist militants are gaining ground in one town. They took control of Diabaly, a central town in the country. According to Reuters, the rebels have essentially declared war on France. “France has opened the gates of hell for all the French,” a spokesperson for the MUJWA Islamist group reportedly told Europe 1 radio. “She has fallen into a trap which is much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia.”

Another spokesperson for the militant group reportedly said that France has attacked Islam itself and said they will attack the nation in Bamako, Africa and even in Europe.

Meanwhile the U.N. Security Council prepares to discuss the war in Mali, which has gone on for several months as Islamist rebels continue to seize territory. As the U.S. News reports, several nations in addition to France are joining the fight. The U.K., the U.S. and the European Union are all providing support in different ways.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield points out the risks associated with Hollande’s decision to go to war in Mali are great. Not only does France face risks to its military, but also to its relations with other African nations and even the possibility that the rebels could attack France on its own soil. However, France has held Mali as a colony until its independence in 1960, and the nation’s interest in that part of Africa is still large.