Source: North Africa United
Alassane Ouattara President of ECOWAS and President François Hollande are agreed on the need for action in the Sahel, writes Jean-Pierre Bejot in the Diplomatic Despatch quoted on Fasonet.
The situation worries French political and military leaders. A month ago, the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that African military action conducted under the auspices of ECOWAS and “possibly” the African Union was “inevitable and desirable.” France “would support” the action to “avoid by all means this part of Mali becoming a ” Sahelistan ” which events are coming together to make a reality. This statement could not be clearer.
The first step of this procedure will not begin before the end of the francophone summit because the occasion will be used to explain what is happening and find support for this operation and not be a forum to denounce “interventionism by the French in Africa “.
The aim is to achieve an indictment against the” occupiers “in northern Mali. A mission of the International Criminal Court (ICC) visited Mali in August 28, 2012 to “gather as much information as possible about the crimes perpetrated by the Islamists and the Tuaregs in northern Mali”. There is a long list of summary executions, rapes, massacres of civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, torture, looting, forced disappearances, destruction of symbols of the state, churches, mosques and mausoleums. The ICC is acting at the request of the Malian government.
The head of the mission is Amady Ba, the Senegalese judge, former Director of the judiciary, in charge of international cooperation (division responsible for investigating and prosecuting) the office of the ICC prosecutor since 2008.
France which chairs the UN Security Council, is thus putting the case for intervention into overdrive . In a report published by RAIDS (September 2012), Jean-Marc Tanguy tells us that on French side, “everything is ready” and the Special Operations Command (SOC) deployed in the field since 2008 forming a dedicated group of special forces, called Sabre forces. Tanguy says that “its exact outlines and bases are unknown” but everyone knows that, overall, the French conventional bases are located in Dakar and Ndjamena and the COS has taken up residence in Ouagadougou.
In this perspective, the COS has depleted the other land where it was on a mission to retrieve a “forty operators.” “The reality of the means of COS in the Sahel, Tanguy wrote, is difficult to discern. In recent months,it sent more than half of its GRA action group. Much of the reconnaissance teams of the 13th RDP are also mobilised, with a large fleet of VPS Special Patrol Vehicles, manufactured by Panhard which replaced the LATV-P4 – all-terrain light vehicles – manufactured by Peugeot. ” CPA 10 – Parachute Commando Air 10, which reports directly to the COS – “could also be part of” the force.”The COS has simply never conducted a hunt on this scale before” said Tanguy.
Beyond the COS, conventional forces are put to work in transportation and information, the size of the area forcing combined actions between ground forces and air assets. Drones (manufacture by EADS) will be put into action, starting from the base of Sigonella during “Operation Harmattan” against Gaddafi’s Libya it comprises ATA transport aircraft, assault Twin Otter 3/61 “Poitou “Mirage F1CR (reconnaissance / bomber) and CT Mirage (bombing) based in N’Djamena; Gazelle helicopters, etc..
France thus prepares the ground and it remains now for to ECOWAS to launch its special force of 3,300 troops with the UN Security Council’s blessing. In a high-risk operation with the military and political success difficult to calculate. It is in the regions of Nouakchott and N’Djamena, where the force displays its credibility and sovereignty.
FYI: French, British, Italian and Spanish Special Military Units Established to Target Al-Qaeda in the Sahel and via StratRisks: Ambitions of France: Installation of Military Base in Libya For Recolonization?