Why the US Must Help France Save Mali

If not, it will become haven for terrorists: Vicki Huddleston

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2013 12:54 PM CST

(Newser) – The US is reportedly going to provide more tactical help to French troops trying to keep Islamist rebels from overtaking Mali, and a former US ambassador to the country says it can't come too soon. Helping France succeed is "in our national interest," argues Vicki Huddleston in the New York Times. The rebels in Mali have ties to the notorious Boko Haram group, as well as to Ansar al-Sharia, the militia thought to be behind the Benghazi attack that killed ambassador Chris Stevens.

"Until the French stepped in, the near-collapse of the military had threatened to turn Mali, a landlocked, desperately poor country, into a desert stronghold for jihadists," writes Huddleston. The US is spread thin in Afghanistan and elsewhere, so ground troops are off the table. But providing intelligence, money, and training—along with pressure on other African nations to intervene—is a necessary investment. If the US doesn't want Mali to "become a launchpad for terrorism," it "must not dither in doing its share." Click for Huddleston's full column.

Malian soldiers, foreground and rear, helped by French troops, push a broken helicopter out of a hangar to make room for incoming troops  at Bamako's airport on Tuesday.
Malian soldiers, foreground and rear, helped by French troops, push a broken helicopter out of a hangar to make room for incoming troops at Bamako's airport on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
French troops gather in a hangar at Bamako's airport in Mali on Tuesday.
French troops gather in a hangar at Bamako's airport in Mali on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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