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391 words - January 18, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
Despite concerns spread by media over the alleged lonesomeness of the French troops engaged into an offensive against Islamist extremists in Mali since January 11, the international support has grown significantly for the last two days. Firstly, the establishment of the EU Training Mission to Mali (EUTM) was confirmed by a special foreign affairs session of the European Council in Brussels. Secondly, statements from tierce countries have multiplied; mostly as a result from the Mali-connected hostage-taking in the southern Algerian town of In Amenas which apparently caused a number of casualties among hostages, including Algerians and westerners.
The United States and the United Kingdom were the first countries which vowed official support for the French operations in Mali and brought some assistance, mostly intelligence, logistics and air transport. A number of commentators pointed out that the support has been chiefly political so far, inferring that the absence of any tierce troops on the ground proves this international solidarity is actually half-hearted. Yet they forget that the French military operations are being conducted at the request of the Malian government and that the latter has not made such a request to any other country; not to mention that the United States still refuses to bring any direct assistance to an "interim government" which toppled a previous and democratically-elected government.
Lastly, France has a long and credible experience in the conduct of multi-tasked military operations abroad. The kind of means that only countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are able to coordinate and project, according to military experts. In Libya, France's capacity to lead air offensive improved a lot, chiefly when one compares with two decades ago when her aircrafts were unable to strike targets in the dark during the Gulf war (Iraq-Kuwait), experts told DiploNews. And in the last seven days, France has shown her ability to project ground and air forces in Mali, simultaneously with the conduct of a special operation in Somalia. Such operations require coordination and planification skills of ground, air, space, intelligence and special assets only a handful of countries are capable of. The great winner of such a demonstration could be the Rafale, the omni-role and semi-stealth fighter aircraft built by Dassault Aviation and which could be finally exported to India and Brazil.
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