Obama Sends Troops to Operate Niger Drone Base, Support French Campaign in Mali
February 24, 2013 • 9:43AM

On Friday, Obama advised Congress that he has signed an order to deploy 100 soldiers to operate a US drone base in Niamey, the capital of Niger near the border with Mali, to support the French-led intervention. Upwards of 300 soldiers could be deployed to fly Predator surveillance drones, but officials have not ruled out the eventual use of armed drones for missile strikes, as well. Since taking office, Obama has increased the number of drone bases in Africa, as he has expanded the use of lethal drone warfare in many countries.

While the Russian government has provided minimal aid to Mali, and supports Frances campaign against the jihadist insurgents, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also linked the spread of terrorism in North Africa to western support for the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime in Libya. In an interview from February 10, Lavrov said: "In Mali, France is fighting against those it armed against Gadhafis regime in violation of the U. N. resolution (arms) embargo."

Guerilla warfare has increased in the region in recent weeks, with five bombings having taken place in towns of Northern Mali which had earlier been cleared by French forces. There are indications that the UN Security Council is seriously considering a proposal to fund an Africa force of over 8,000 troops to continue the campaign against the jihadists insurgents when French troops leave. However, there remain many doubts as to whether the African troops are properly led, trained, or equipped for such a task.