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Main focus of Tuesday, January 15, 2013

France's bold offensive in Mali

The French air force attacked rebel bases in northern Mali on Sunday. (© ECPAD/AP/dapd).

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday welcomed France's military intervention in Mali. The French armed forces joined the fight against the Islamist rebels on Friday at the behest of the Malian government. Commentators admire the courage of the French President but note that the intervention entails great risks.

Le Figaro - France

Hollande showing due resolve in Mali

France's military intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali is entirely warranted, the conservative daily Le Figaro writes: "In helping Mali to prevent the Sahel zone from becoming a terrorist sanctuary, France is adopting the role cut out for it in its immediate environment. The determination which President Hollande has demonstrated in taking military action deserves praise. It makes clear that our country will not cede to Islamist blackmail and will not abandon its allies in the face of external aggression. This is about adhering to our principles without being distracted by those who ceaselessly question our intentions in Africa. In addition, the actions of our forces have been condoned by all of our partners. It would be saddening if the legitimate concerns sparked by all armed intervention were to result in the resolute action generally being called into question in our country." (15/01/2013)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Military deployment the lesser evil

France's intervention in Mali is a necessary evil, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant writes: "President Hollande quite rightly fears that a Salafist, terrorist state that is only a five-hour flight away would pose a threat for all Europe. Because the entire region could fall into Salafist hands after Mali. A 'Sahelistan' on Europe's doorstep would be unacceptable. ... 'Operation Serval' was inevitable. How dangerous the initiative will be for French hostages in Mali remains to be seen. France will have factored in this risk, as with the risk of terrorist attacks in France. But sometimes there is no alternative and intervention is the lesser evil. No one wants another Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. ... The biggest question now is: who will rebuild Mali and how once the Salafists have been driven out?" (15/01/2013)

La Vanguardia - Spain

Intervention with uncertain outcome

With their military intervention in Mali the French have averted the danger of radical Islamists assuming power for now, the liberal-conservative daily La Vanguardia points out, but says the risks of such combat operations are not controllable: "The risky French intervention - which has been criticised as neo-colonialist by the Algerian press - is being conducted under the pretext of helping secure a failed state. But with such operations you only know how they begin, not how they will end. However it is also true that non-intervention would have led to the extremists taking over the country, with all the repercussions that would have for the region. The first few days of combat have prevented this for the time being, but truly saving the country will be a tremendously difficult task." (15/01/2013)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

France may intervene, but not the US

France now has the backing of the UN Security Council for its military operations in Mali. The conservative daily Lidové noviny finds it strange that no one is objecting to this intervention whereas the US is always faced with protests when it undertakes such action: "Since 1960 the French have intervened more than 50 times in Africa. They fought in Chad and in the undeclared war with Libya, protected the regimes in Djibouti and in the Central African Republic against rebels, prevented a coup in the Comoro Islands and fought in Ivory Coast. Whether it was about defending economic interests, protecting French citizens or demonstrating France's strength as a major power, the tenants at the Élysée Palace, both on the left and on the right, have often revealed a propensity for unilateral action. ... But no one has ever protested. ... If the US intervened with such vehemence there would be never-ending protests in Europe. And the US embassy would be besieged by infuriated diplomats - above all French ones." (15/01/2013)

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