British troops have begun operations in Mali as part of a United Nations mission to counter jihadist groups in the country. UK forces began arriving in February and have, with BBC cameras in tow, started their long-range patrols of the country’s sparse regions. The way the cameras captured it, those involved in these initial patrols seem confident, but also a little uneasy.
That’s no wonder. Mali is in a difficult spot. The weak central government is protected by a multinational force from Islamist threats which gather around. In 2013, the Islamists swept through the country, capturing and burning Timbuktu, imperilling the survival of the state.
Mali survived thanks to a French intervention which continues to this day and a multifarious coalition of African Union members, UN peacekeepers and reluctant, inevitable American assistance. These forces may play well together but they are seemingly all deficient in ways which are as debilitating as they are individual.
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