Mali: Update. French airstrikes targeted the fuel depots and desert hideouts of Islamic extremists in northern Mali on Monday. A military spokeswoman said that French forces plan to hand control of Timbuktu to the Malian army this week. Five hundred French soldiers left Timbuktu on Monday, beginning a staged withdrawal.
A group of Touareg rebels said they had captured Islamist leaders Mohamed Moussa Ag Mohamed and Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed as they fled toward the Algerian border. Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, a spokesman for the MNLA rebels, who seek autonomy for Touareg tribesmen, confirmed the capture of the men, adding, “They have been questioned and sent to Kidal.”
Comment: Press sources reported that the men were important figures in the Islamist administration, charged with enforcing Sharia punishments, including amputations of hands and feet. They apparently are now in French custody.
Phi Beta Iota: The contrast between French power with precision and moderation, and the American approach to Africa that is expensive and indiscriminate, could not be starker. The US military has too many trigger pullers and not enough thinkers. It lacks integrity across the board (strategy, policy, acquisition, operations, and of course intelligence).