Fifteen days ago I reported on the French intervention in Mali, Operation Serval, and the progress they have made in that time. Since January 14th, French and Malian forces have taken back two of the remaining major urban centers in Northern Mali: Timbuktu, Gao, and are on the verge of recapturing the distant Northeastern town of Kidal.

France has also increased the troop presence from roughly 400 troops on the ground three weeks ago to roughly 2,100 as of January 30th with another 1000 supporting from neighboring countries. The Islamists have  now been pushed back to their Saharan desert hideouts – a portion of Mali the size of Texas.

The issue at hand is that the French government has already declared that this was going to be a quick campaign to retake the North and hand over the reigns to the Mali government. With the remaining cities taken from the Islamists, there is little left for French troops on the ground. The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has already declared that their soldiers will be pulled out of Mali very soon. The original plan was to recapture territory, not to eradicate the threat of AQIM and their allies. France has no desire to undertake a counter-insurgency campaign throughout the Saharan desert.

French and Malian Troops Recapture Remaining Islamist-controlled Cities