Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/23 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 09/24 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/25 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 09/25 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/23 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 09/25 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/25 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 09/25 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/24 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/25 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 09/24 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/23 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 09/24 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 09/23 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/24 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 09/23 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 09/24 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 09/23 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 09/24 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 09/24 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 09/24 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Africa

US Africom ready to consider requests for Mali military support

media US General Carter Ham AFP

The US's African command, Africom, is expecting to provide support for the planned west African military intervention in northern Mali, a top US general said on Wednesday. According to US intelligence, any military intervention force will encounter an estimated 800-1200 “hardcore” fighters.

Interview: US General Carter Ham 14/11/2012 - by Daniel Finnan Listen

“It won’t be a surprise to us,” US Africa Command General Carter Ham told RFI. “It’s likely that they’ll ask us for some assistance in intelligence. It’s likely they will ask us for some help in logistics, equipping the force.”

Ham says they are ready to “seriously consider” any requests, although nothing specific has been asked for yet. He expects those discussions to take place when the Ecowas grouping of west African countries presents its plan for military invention to the UN Security Council.

The head of the US Africa Command says their intelligence from the region is “imperfect”, but they estimate there are between 800-1,200 “hardcore” fighters in northern Mali as well as “supporting entities and sympathisers”.

The African Union has backed the Ecowas plan to send 3,300 troops into northern Mali. It will be discussed by the UN Security Council before the end of the year.

A number of armed groups have occupied Mali’s northern territory since a military coup in March. According to Ham, the most worrying of those is Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).

“Ultimately if left unaddressed, this terrorist network will present an imminent threat to my country and to others,” he says.

It is "very likely" that some of the fighters who participated in the attacks on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, in which ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, had "some linkages" to Aqim.

Ham says that Africom has “clear indications” of Aqim working with the Nigerian armed Islamist group Boko Haram.

“Aqim is in our estimation Al-Qaeda’s best financed affiliate," he says.

But the general is unsure that providing air support for the military intervention in northern Mali will be called for.

“When you start to get into capabilities that are very visible and very kinetic, the question of being African-led needs to be addressed,” he says. “But that certainly needs to be a consideration.”

Ham does not entertain any discussion of using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, over northern Mali. Neither does he confirm or deny that bases in Nema, Mauritania, or Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, would be convenient for providing US support.

He is also cautious about what training for Malian troops the US could provide. He says the US is legally prevented from training soldiers from the Malian army because leaders of March's military coup remain in positions of influence within the government.

“We’re certainly looking for indications that the interim Malian government recognises that the presence of the military coup leaders is unhelpful,” says the four-star general. “At least for the United States it presents a legal barrier to interaction.”

Ham says that Algeria will play a “key” role to helping to resolve the crisis, whether there is Ecowas military intervention or not. Algeria opposes the use of armed force in Mali.

Algeria’s suggestion of separating those groups with political aims and those with “terrorist motivations” could be a way forward, he believes.

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.