Congress presses Obama administration for answers on Mali intervention

“We should not hold the continued movement toward democracy hostage to the success of the military operations, we should not hold military operations and planning hostage to the completion of the restoration of democracy, but we must keep all … of these things clearly as objectives and goals moving simultaneously.”

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The African Union and Western African nations, however, have called on the U.N. Security Council to rapidly authorize an African-led military intervention in the country.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the security council last week that “fundamental questions” remain about how to fund, sustain and equip the proposed 3,300-troop force. Carson mirrored those concerns Wednesday.

“The military concept proposes an Africa-led effort,” he said, “but several key questions must be answered to ensure that this effort is also well-planned and well-resourced. These issues include outstanding questions about necessary force levels, the capabilities of the Malian and international forces to accomplish the objectives of the mission, cost and funding needs, logistical requirements, operational timelines, planning for minimizing impacts on civilian security and the humanitarian situation, and ensuring that the proposed military action is adequately linked to a sufficiently detailed political strategy and end-state for military operations in the north.”

The Obama administration suspended U.S. aid to Mali – including military aid – following the coup. The United States however is helping the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) develop its military intervention plan and has been expanding its secret intelligence operations in Africa to spy on terror groups in northern Mali and across the continent.