In early April, French troops have begun to withdraw from Mali. So far, 100 out of the original 4,000 troops deployed to Mali in January have left. With French elections nearing in July, French officials hope to have half of the troops leave by July and 1,000 left by the end of the year. These remaining 1,000 troops will stay there permanently. UN chief, Ban Ki-moon argues for 11,000 UN peace troops should be deployed to Mali after the French leave. The EU has also been providing training to Mali soldiers as well as assisting in monetary aid. In the short time being there, the French military has been relatively successful in moving out insurgents from the North. However, has this been enough? Small levels of resistance still occur in Gao. There is also no guarantee the Islamic militants will not return. Although out of the major cities and towns, these groups are hiding in isolated, desert areas. The French never planned on staying too long, but are they leaving too soon? Without having control of their borders and the military not yet strong enough, the French’s efforts will go to waste.
The French involvement in Mali is not widely supported by French civilians. The French will leave. Measures need to be taken by the Mali government as well as the international community to allow for a successful Mali to exist in the future. A peace agreement should be the first priority of leaders. Cooperation with the Taureg people is crucial to stop Islamist militants from entering Mali. Azawad is a major buffer zone between Mali and other North Africa regions where rebels are hiding. It is through this area in which drugs and other illegal items are being transported. Without secure borders, the government is at risk for failure. A compromise is also crucial in order to prevent further future ethnic conflicts from arising.
There is no doubt that Mali still needs assistance. The UN should follow up with Ban Ki-moon’s suggestions of peace troops to be sent to Mali. These troops should be sent to patrol the border. This recommendation is not very feasible considering the size of the border. The search for the rebels should also continue beyond Mali to other regions of North Africa. It is in the areas where the Islamic groups are hiding and getting their supplies.
The large-scale military operation needed to secure Mali both internally and externally is not likely to occur. Peace discussions have yet to be discussed with the Taureg people. Domestic issues are also a major factor in holding Mali back such as a low GDP and a young population. Overall, it is hard to be optimistic about Mali’s future.
"Mali Crisis: French Troops Begin Withdraw". BBC News 9 April 2013. Web. 14 April 2013.
"France Begins Withdrawing Troops From Mali". Al Jazeera 9 April 2013. Web. 14 April 2013.