France and African countries are eager to receive soon the green light from the UN for of an international intervention force in northern Mali that is under total control of Islamist insurgents. However, this urgent call is facing skepticism from Washington, which is questioning the capacity of Bamako and its neighbors to complete the operation, according to diplomats.
“The United States are not satisfied with preparations for the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African) for this mission, they have no confidence in the ability of African troops and the Malian army to do the job, “said a Western diplomat.
Washington” he added, “would like to move forward with two different missions: one to support the Malian army and to facilitate political dialogue the other is to fight terrorist groups” like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which took the control of northern Mali.
Bamako and ECOWAS have submitted to the UN plans for an international force of 3,300 men and ask the Security Council to allow rapid deployment. The Council shall decide on the basis of a resolution prepared by France, who hopes to see its adoption before Christmas.
For the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, who testified Wednesday before a Senate committee, ECOWAS plans “do not meet several essential questions mainly the abilities of Malian and international forces to achieve the objectives of the mission “and its funding.
During closed consultations Wednesday to the Council, France and the African countries, including South Africa, have led to rapid adoption of the resolution.
The text, which must be submitted by its 14 partners in Paris shall authorize force in Bamako, called International Mission Support for Mali (Misma).
European instructors will endeavor to rebuild the Malian army, rundown, in anticipation of a reconquest of the north that can not begin until the fall of 2013, according to the head of operations peacekeeping Herve Ladsous.
Meanwhile, the resolution called for a national dialogue to Bamako and reconciliation between the Malian government and Tuareg secessionist North.
Washington treats the crisis as “a problem of terrorism,” says one diplomat, everyone agrees on the threat posed by the presence in northern Mali of terrorist groups like AQIM.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has published a report that highlights plenty risks of the operation, especially in terms of violations of human rights, which angered Africans.
Under these conditions, the negotiations on the resolution may be difficult although a Western diplomat said there was “no fundamental objection to the French approach, outside the United States.”
In the end, another diplomat said, “there will be a resolution authorizing force, but it will be complicated.” “This is a poker game, the Americans will not veto,” he adds.
UK and Germany, are in favor of the authorization as a precaution with priority given to the reconciliation policy on the military side, and Russia and China should not oppose it.
Questions arise, however, on the transition from training to the reconquest of the north, or the financing of an operation that would cost at least 200 million euros. Paris asked the General Secretariat of the UN estimating a possible UN logistical support to the operation, which is also funded by the European Union, the United States and France.
About the author: Said Temsamani
Senior Fellow at the Meridian International Center and member of the National Press Club, Washington DC. Said Temsamani is a political analyst who follows events in Morocco and across North Africa.