French soldiers heading to Mali, January 2013..
(photo credit: Reuters)
There is a long battle ahead in the West African country of Mali, according to French President Francois Hollande. This week, Hollande said that French troops would remain in Mali until the threat of Islamist extremists was eliminated. French forces on the ground will triple in the next few days from 700 to approximately 2,500 troops in order to stabilize the former French colony. Malian troops and other West African countries, such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, will now become part of a much larger French involvement in Mali.The response from the leader of the Movement for Jihad and Unity in West Africa Omar Ould Hamaha, one of the three Islamist groups operating in Mali, is that “France has opened the gates of hell.”