France Takes Mali's Last Rebel City; Next: the Hard Part
A force of African nations will try to keep militants from mounting comeback
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2013 12:13 PM CST
A French soldier directs helicopters near Timbuktu, north Mali.   (ECPAD), Arnaud Roine)

(Newser) – France is wrapping up the first phase of its Mali mission: Its forces took back the last big urban center once held by Islamic militants, reports Reuters. The success in Kidal follows similar operations in Gao and Timbuktu over the last three weeks, and now France is getting ready to turn over operations to an African force. Those troops will be charged with rooting out militants in the desert in the hope of preventing a counterattack. "Now it's up to the African countries," says the French foreign minister. "We will leave quickly."

Things might be going well, but the idea that militants bent on taking over the government can be flushed out so easily is "highly unrealistic," writes William Lloyd George at the Daily Beast. The Los Angeles Times rounds up similar skepticism, based on the precedent in Libya. In Timbuktu, meanwhile, the latest reports suggest that the city's priceless trove of ancient manuscripts has survived mostly intact. Earlier reports, including this one from the BBC, raised fears that militants had done some serious looting before fleeing the city. National Geographic quotes a tour guide on the significance: "The manuscripts are the city's real gold. The manuscripts, our mosques, and our history—these are our treasures. Without them, what is Timbuktu?"

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Jan 30, 2013 2:44 PM CST
"Next: The Hard Part": Keeping America out of it.
Jan 30, 2013 1:56 PM CST
Yawn. I don't even care what's going on in Libya anymore--wait, I mean "Syria"--no wait, I mean "Egypt"--no wait, which African country is NATO dismantling this week? Oh right. It's Mali who has something the corporate overlords want this week. Got it.
Jan 30, 2013 12:53 PM CST
seems to be the norm! they know their style of conflict will bankrupt us, as if it hasn't's time WE sat back and watched. Apparently Viet Nam didn't teach France anymore than it did us! But, God bless the POW'S & MIA'S we both left behind. sorry, a reply to finkster