France Recolonizes Mali...
"...to rapturous welcome from thousands of people who gathered in a dusty square next to a 14th century mosque to dance, play drums and chant, “Vive la France!” The muezzin of the mosque, whose singing calls residents to pray five times a day, wore a scarf in the colors of the French flag around his neck, as he shouted, “Vive Hollande!”"But even as thousands of people gathered outside the mud and wood mosque here to greet Mr. Hollande, hailing him as the city’s, and their country’s, savior, questions remain about what, exactly, France has accomplished aside from chasing Islamic extremists from the cities and into their desert and mountain redoubts.[---]
“These Islamists, they have not been defeated,” said Moustapha Ben Essagouté, a member of one of the city’s most prominent families who lined up to greet Mr. Hollande here. “Hardly any of them have been killed. They have run into the desert and the mountains to hide.”
Mr. Hollande, speaking to French and Malian troops gathered here, praised the alacrity of their victories.
“You have accomplished an exceptional mission,” he said. But, he later added, “The fight is not over.”"
"American military and counterterrorism officials applauded the speed and efficiency of the French-led operation, but they voiced concerns that the militants had ceded the northern cities with little or no resistance in order to prepare for a longer, bloodier counterinsurgency.[---]
"Longer term, and the French know this, it’s going to take a while to root out all these cells and operatives," Michael Sheehan, the Pentagon’s top special operations policy official, told a defense industry symposium on Wednesday.
The senior United States intelligence official said that the real measure of success would not be geographical, but whether follow-up operations in the north would be able to degrade Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Islamist groups."
"For now, the people of Timbuktu were grateful. They waved French and Malian flags, danced and sang to the thumping rhythms of djembe drums, which were banned under the harsh version of Shariah imposed by the Islamist group that took control of the city. Men and women danced side by side.That happened in Iraq, too, right after the Americans invaded, but it turned really nasty later on. Oh well, I think by now, ten years on, a lot of Islamist cells and leadership have been taken out. It's gonna be a long war.
As the diminutive Mr. Hollande, ringed by security guards, plunged into the crowd, shaking hands and smiling, some waved banners that said “Papa François, the mysterious city welcomes you.”
“Hollande is our savior,” said Arkia Baby, a 24-year-old college student, who wore a purple batik dress of a style banned by the Islamists. “He gave us back our freedom.”"
In the meantime, the Mad Mullahs and Ahmadinejad, must be fuming over their impotence, and just a wee bit distracted.