Friday, December 28, 2012

Wait Listed

With action against the jihadis in northern Mali scheduled for the fall of 2013--without direct French help--the Central African Republic really shouldn't get their hopes up for French help with their difficulties.

The CAR wants their former colonial ruler to help them:

The president of the Central African Republic appealed on Thursday for France and the United States to help push back rebels threatening his government and the capital, but Paris said its troops were only ready to protect French nationals.

The exchanges came as regional African leaders tried to broker a ceasefire deal and as rebels said they had temporarily halted their advance on Bangui, the capital, to allow talks to take place.

Insurgents on motorbikes and in pickup trucks have driven to within 75 km (47 miles) of Bangui after weeks of fighting, threatening to end President Francois Bozize's nearly 10-year-stint in charge of the turbulent, resource-rich country.

French help is supposed to be one of those privileges of membership in the French zone.

But France is busy withdrawing their semi-fighting force from Afghanistan.

And Mali is ahead of CAR for whatever France can spare:

Al Qaeda leaders in northern Mali are pretty certain that the French are going to invade using a force of 3,000 Mali soldiers trained and led by French and African officers and 3,300 more from neighboring states. A force of 400 European officers and NCOs will begin upgrading the training of the African troops next month and a French general with extensive experience in Africa has been appointed to lead the training and combat mission The foreign contingent, organized by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), now has the approval of the UN to clear the Islamic terror groups out of Mali. ... That invasion is now scheduled for next September, or even later.

I have my doubts that the Mali contenders for power will want to send so many of their best trained and equipped troops north. But we shall see.

And French help will be restricted to training, perhaps advisers (?), logistics, and air power, rather than sending in a French Foreign Legion regiment that I figured would be necessary to do the job in any reasonable amount of time. But we're well beyond that factor, I suppose.

Of course, if Syria goes belly up, they get to the head of the line in French zone intervention priorities. Which means the Mali jihadis have plenty of time to lop off limbs, burn old parchment, and blow up cultural monuments deemed un-Islamic.

And CAR can welcome their new SELEKA overlords.

Or is there even a French zone any more? France's president said that protecting regimes is no longer a priority of the French: "Those days are over."

UPDATE: We bugged out and the French like the idea of having a "French zone" in Africa more than they like making an effort to defend the pro-French governments that make up the zone:

Rebels are closing in on the capital of the impoverished Central African Republic, threatening to topple the weak government and push yet another African nation into civil war, failure, or outright collapse, The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting.

The former French colony joins a string of countries stretching from Mali and the Ivory Coast to Congo and South Sudan where war and turmoil have created waves of refugees and power vacuums for warlords or criminal groups to exploit. Several of the countries are former French colonies, raising questions for Paris about whether to get involved in the conflicts.

The United States evacuated its embassy in the CAR capital Bangui overnight, sending the ambassador and around 40 other staff to Kenya due to the deteriorating security situation, the AP reports.

Not that I think we should intervene. For all I know, the rebels are the good guys. Or at leas just different bad guys.

But my faith that the French would ultimately commit a Foreign Legion regiment to salvage the bad situation in northern Mali where a jihadi sanctuary has developed was misplaced. Those days are over, it seems.

Oh, there's not mention of America's role in that operation, but my memory of that is that American aircraft helped airlift the forces in.