As the UK sends 330 personnel to assist France's military intervention in Mali, there are real concerns that, like Afghanistan, the UK will be mired in another intractable conflict. However, the strategic conditions are very different for this to happen and it is wrong to assume there will be mission creep.
The attacks on Algerian gas installations and the Mali insurgency has led the UK Prime Minister to describe this as a 'generational struggle'. However, what is happening across the Sahel region is a different terrorist challenge altogether, requiring a reappraisal in strategy.
As French troops continue to engage Islamist rebels in Mali, questions are being raised over how long they will stay, and the real commitment of the president to ending France's long history of interventionism on the continent.
The French assault on militant jihadists in Mali reflects a recognition in Paris that the long-brewing Islamist trouble in North Africa is something that has started to spiral out of control, and has potential to have a direct impact within France.
With the northern part of Mali now under militant hands, regional countries are being left with no option but to provide a credible threat to intervene militarily. But will neighbouring states be able to sustain their intervention?
After nearly a year in Somalia, Kenya is preparing to commence its assault on Kismaayo, Al-Shabaab’s strategic and financial outpost, and the current front line of the concerted counter-insurgency campaign in southern Somalia. With Merca just fallen, could this prove the boon to the KDF’s expeditionary gamble?
The Congo crisis is central Africa’s most complex and destructive conflict, and one for which there is no quick fix. Co-ordinated local, regional and international peace talks and humanitarian interventions are a starting point, but ultimately it is the people of the DRC who will have to resolve their country’s fundamental problems.
France has announced its willingness to contribute an additional 500 troops and about ten helicopters to the EUFOR Chad/CAR mission. Regardless, logistical issues loom large on the horizon and will provide a critical test for European Security and Defence Policy.