n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - AFRICOM's footprint expanding in West Africa - : West Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 03
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A defining point for the United States' (US) strategy for West Africa may have been reached following the surprising escalation of violence in Mali. Here, on 11 January 2013, French forces struck dramatically at Islamist extremists who have been in control of the north of the country since early-2012. To add further impetus, a group connected to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attacked a natural gas facility in Algeria, taking numerous hostages, including many foreign citizens. Any plans for ransoms or political leverage over the Mali intervention were quickly ended when the hostage crisis was violently ended, resulting in the deaths of the militants, along with many hostages. Possibly having had its hand forced by the combination of these events, the US has committed to support the intervention both logistically, and with surveillance and reconnaissance assets. US drones appear to be an imminent reality in the skies over West Africa.

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