World media split on Mali intervention

French soldiers equipping a French Rafale fighter with A2SM ammunitions before its departure for a base in Chad
Image caption France said that if it had not intervened, the Islamists could have advanced as far as the Malian capital

African media commentators have been generally muted about the French military intervention in Mali, where however, one paper hailed President Francois Hollande as a saviour.

In the wider world, support for France's actions is mixed, with some Chinese and Middle Eastern writers expressing suspicion about France's motives.

And in France, some commentators warn that the involvement of troops from a former colonial power is fraught with dire consequences.

The Russian press appears supportive of the offensive, intended to help the Malian government to free northern Mali from Islamist control, but Chinese pundits suspect the French president of using military action abroad to prop up his popularity at home.

Pan-Arab dailies also question the motives of Paris, with one newspaper accusing France of trying to gain access to the region's natural resources.

African comment

Mali's Le 22 Septembre

The support by Great France - the France of human rights, justice and freedom, Francois Hollande's France - is to be commended…Hail Malian President Dioncounda Traore, hail Francois Hollande and our national army.

Mali's Le Republicain

Mali's saviour is called Francois Hollande… Even though he was judged for his noticeable sympathy for [Tuareg separatist group] MNLA... his quick and decisive action has now reconciled the two countries.

Hacen Ouali in Algeria's El Watan

By closing its border and opening its air space, Algiers is openly entering into the conflict... Algiers, which at the start of the Malian crisis gave the impression of being reluctant and cautious regarding the military option to put an end to the terror which extremist groups are imposing on northern Mali, is finding that it has been "incorporated" into a war, into a large-scale international military operation.

Mustapha Hammouche in Algeria's Liberte

The day after the French intervention, journalists and national 'observers' were asking questions about the fact that the authorities and their French ally have thus sprung into action, flouting the Algerian preference for "dialogue"... So, was the destruction of shrines in Timbuktu, the rape of women and amputations performed on young Malians in Gao not enough to justify the urgent need for an intervention? If it were possible to ensure peace through "dialogue" with Islamist groups, we would know it, not least in this country.

Burkina Faso's L'Observateur Paalga

The international community must seize this opportunity to definitely put an end to these rebels who have not stopped sowing death and destruction in northern Mali.

Guinea's Guinee Conakry website

To get rid of enemies like them, we should not be satisfied with only air strikes… Ground troops will also be necessary to finish the job… France must collaborate with African troops to get rid of and fully neutralise the Islamist terrorist groups.

Clare Byrne in South Africa's Business Day

Mr Hollande had been under fire over his foot-dragging on the reforms needed to turn around the French economy and his flip-flopping on policy. But "Flanby", as Mr Hollande is nicknamed after a brand of wobbly custard, has disappeared, replaced by a decisive "chef de guerre" who bit the bullet while the world wrung its hands to prevent Mali being overrun by Islamist fundamentalists.

Western Europe

Francois Sergent in France's Libération

The political class is applauding this easy victory by the French armed forces but, on the third day of a war which has already caused dozens of deaths... Hollande must explain himself on the aims of his intervention... Today the French troops will perhaps be well received by a population which is exhausted and broadly opposed to the Islamists. But the Malians will not put up with the presence of troops from the former colonial power for long, and rightly so.

Jean-Paul Pierot in French daily l'Humanite

Although we may concede that the offensive by jihadist militias no doubt hastened the decision by the Elysee (French presidency), which, it is true, has been welcomed by a non-negligible part of Malian and African public opinion, France is running serious risks in the continuation of a confrontation with Islamist forces… Many indicators are on "red" and point to a difficult fight, which will have to involve the whole international community and must not be limited to the din of arms but must include development, without ever losing sight of the most important aim: the Malian people being the masters of their own destiny.

Raymond Couraud in French daily L'Alsace

Francois Hollande had no choice. By dint of repeating that it is no longer "Africa's gendarme", France had left states which were unable to defend themselves to their own devices... The Islamist threat was played down, just as France and its allies were unable to assess the collateral damage of Gaddafi's downfall.

Italy's La Stampa

There's a war to be won only an hour's flight from the Mediterranean and Europe, an extremist thorn stuck in the far-extending fields of oil, gas, phosphate, and uranium, along the new drug routes, and along the path of illegal migrants who come up from the heart of Africa. A war on the borders of the Arab Spring revolutions, which has become Islamic... Such is the game to be played out today on the Mali game board. And the West, distracted and wary, so far lacks the best cards to sit at the table.


Maksim Yusin in Kommersant

With the aggravation of the conflict, especially when the armies of African countries will launch an offensive to the north, more serious aid may be needed from France's allies in Nato.

Russia's Africa envoy Mikhail Margelov in Nezavisimaya Gazeta

The lawless conduct of Islamists turns the region into a hotbed of terrorism and organised crime and poses a threat to the statehood of Mali and stability in neighbouring states. Such a spread of a criminal hotbed protected by al-Qaeda aggravated the aftermath of events in Libya, which resulted in the invigoration of Islamism along the arc from Sahel to the Horn of Africa.

Former Russian ambassador to Mali Yevgeniy Korendyasov in Izvestiya

Undoubtedly, along with a terrorist threat, Europeans are concerned about drug trafficking through the Tuareg areas to the north of Africa and further on to Europe.


Li Wentao in Renmin Ribao

Success on the battlefield will not necessarily bring stability to the region… Africa's political malaise will be difficult to eradicate if a resolution is not sought for problems at the root level.

Wu Xinxin on China Radio International

Amid a worrying domestic economic situation, incumbent President Hollande has only been in power for half a year, but he faces a drop in his own support rate. He also hopes that people can shift their domestic focus overseas, while also hoping to rely on victory in combating foreign terrorism to score more political points.

Pan-Arab press

Abd-al-Bari Atwan in Al-Quds Al-Arabi

Oil is the reason for every Western military intervention in Muslim countries… Mali is poor in oil but is adjacent to large oil and gas fields in Africa, Algeria and Nigeria... Mali also has large amounts of uranium and other precious metals.

Tariq al-Hamid inAl-Sharq al-Awsat

The justification provided by the French for military intervention in Mali is in fact a condemnation of France and the international community for their failure to support revolutionaries in Syria... Syrian President Assad is a threat not only to Syrians, but to security in the Middle East, which in turn threatens the security of France and the West.

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