Chad is fighting alongside France, the Malian government and others, hunting down the al Qaeda linked Islamist rebels who took control of the northern half of Mali in 2012.
The Chadian soldiers were killed on Friday, during heavy fighting in the remote Ifoghas mountains region. According to Chad’s military 65 rebels were also killed in the operation. Large numbers of rebels are thought to be hiding out in remote areas such as this, after fleeing from major cities in the face of French air strikes.
The United States recently announced that it has deployed surveillance drones to neighbouring Niger, to help locate and track Islamist rebels in northern Mali. A force including 100 US personnel to be based in Niger will share intelligence with the French military, which is leading a combined force including the Malian army and soldiers from several other African states.
Some have suggested that the war in Mali is being used as a convenient cover by the US government for their real intentions – establishing a strong military presence in oil rich Niger and Nigeria.
Around a month ago, for example, Zero Hedge wrote:
“Nothing. Mali is one of the most irrelevant countries in West Africa from a resource standpoint, and what happens inside of it is certainly irrelevant from a greater geopolitical standpoint. What is more important is what this map doesn’t show, specifically the name of the country located a few hundred miles to the south: Nigeria.
Now Nigeria is important: very important. Or rather, Nigerian light sweet, one of the highest quality crudes in the world, is.”
They continued the theme this week, writing:
It appears that Nigeria will be drawn into the fray far sooner than even we expected following today’s news that Islamist militants from neighbouring Nigeria abducted a French family of seven, including four children, in northern Cameroon on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande said. Next up: Al Qaeda is mysteriously discovered to be aiding and abetting “evil” insurgent Malians out of Nigeria, and the French campaign, with the generous and stealthy support of the US, shifts slowly but surely southward to its ultimate destination: liberating all that Nigerian light sweet oil.