Hollande has reiterated that it would not get directly involved in the Mali conflict. The Government of Mali recently clashed with rebel groups, who already occupy the northern half of the African country. But French president, François Hollande, said on Friday, that he is ready to offer military support if Government of Mali requests it.

Northern Mali

Hollande, while addressing foreign diplomats in Paris, Mr. said that any move by France will be in accordance with the three resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, as well as the Franco-Mali military agreements. The UNSC last year passed the resolutions to prepare the ground for foreign military intervention in Mali. However, the French daily Le Figaro reported the presence of French helicopters and soldiers near the city of Mopti in central Mali on Friday. The city of Mopti is on the line that separates the territories controlled by the government and rebels.

Mali is a coup-wracked, famine-stricken African country on the verge of collapse. Islamic extremists took control of the northern part of the country last year. Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, is marred with political instability, murder, kidnapping, corruption and smuggling. Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have made Mali their base.

After the NATO-led operations in Libya, the terrorists smuggled weapons to Mali, therefore they are now well-stocked. The North African affiliates of Al-Qaeda finance their operations by kidnapping foreigners for ransom and smuggling rackets. Any military operation in Mali will certainly be messy.

The problem in military operations in such countries is that even if United Nations or France help the local government eliminate most of the terrorists and destroy their weapons, the terrorists easily shift their base to neighboring countries. That’s because in most cases, neighboring countries don’t have a strong military or government. The same trend was witnessed during the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan, when terrorists shifted their base to neighboring Pakistan; and during the Libya operations, when the Al-Qaeda affiliates relocated to Mali.

Currently, fourteen French military advisers are conducting an audit in Mali to analyse how France can help the  Government regain control over the northern region. The advisers told French Hollande that recent attacks by the Islamic extremists towards south should be addressed immediately.

The U.S. military planners are also thinking of a multinational military operation in Mali. The international military force would be led by thousands of West African and Malian troops, and will receive extensive support from the State Department and the Pentagon. The U.S. officials said that the operation could begin next year.