The multinational MINUSMA and French Barkhane deployments to Mali involve the use of several indigenous European platforms, particularly the Eurocopter Tiger. Therefore, they represent a useful opportunity to evaluate some aspects of European expeditionary capabilities
The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is estimated to generate up to $23 billion per annum globally in illicit profits. Remarkably, it is still being treated as a wildlife crime rather than a form of organised crime, ignoring the financial dimension. A financial approach to tackling IWT is urgently needed.
The EU reached a deal with Mali earlier this month for the return of asylum seekers from Europe and to tackle the local ‘root causes of immigration’. However, the deal will only work if internal security in Mali is supported. And there, the story is less than encouraging.
New approaches are needed to address Nigeria’s massive corruption problem. Engaging the banking sector, the key facilitator of the theft of the nation’s wealth in this struggle, should be an urgent priority.
There have been many reports circulating that Qatar is directly or indirectly supporting terrorist groups in Mali, having asserted its influence in the rest of North Africa. But there would be no logical reason for Qatar to be involved or gain in meddling in Mali's affairs.
As the UK sends 330 personnel to assist France's military intervention in Mali, there are real concerns that, like Afghanistan, the UK will be mired in another intractable conflict. However, the strategic conditions are very different for this to happen and it is wrong to assume there will be mission creep.
The attacks on Algerian gas installations and the Mali insurgency has led the UK Prime Minister to describe this as a 'generational struggle'. However, what is happening across the Sahel region is a different terrorist challenge altogether, requiring a reappraisal in strategy.
As French troops continue to engage Islamist rebels in Mali, questions are being raised over how long they will stay, and the real commitment of the president to ending France's long history of interventionism on the continent.
The French assault on militant jihadists in Mali reflects a recognition in Paris that the long-brewing Islamist trouble in North Africa is something that has started to spiral out of control, and has potential to have a direct impact within France.