France’s aerial bombardment of rebel positions in northern Mali has prompted officials to express their worry over the trafficking of arms between Libya and the western Sahel country across Tunisian and Algerian territory.
In an interview to France 24 on Saturday, January 12, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki made his concerns clear.
“The situation in Mali has always worried us because we are begining to know that our own jihadists are found in connection with terrorist forces. One has the impression that Tunisia is becoming a corridor between Libya and Mali,” said Marzouki of arms trafficking across Tunisian soil for the benefit of Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali.
“We follow very closely what is happening in this hornet’s nest because it is a hornet’s nest that may threaten the security of all countries, including Tunisia,” he added.
Marzouki met with Abdelkader Ben Salah, Algeria’s council of the nation speaker, yesterday on the occasion of the revolution’s two-year anniversary. During the meeting, both officials stressed the importance of establishing a common strategy to tackle what the presidency’s office characterized as a “security challenge for the countries of the region” in a press release issued yesterday.
While high-level officials have emphasized Mali’s potentially destabilizing effects on the region, some protesters gathered yesterday in front of the French Embassy amidst celebration of the revolution’s second anniversary to demonstrate against France’s military intervention in Mali.
Holding black flags of the Islamic caliphate, they shouted, “Hollande, coward, Malian people will not be disgraced.”
One of the protesters, who refused to give his name or affiliation to Tunisia Live, expressed his anger over those killed by the French military and called on Muslims to avenge this “mass murder.”
French President Francois Hollande has made clear the need for military intervention to support belaguered Malian troops and halt the advance of rebel forces.
“Mali is facing an assault of terrorist elements from the north, which the whole world now knows [for its] brutality and fanaticism… I, therefore, in the name of France, responded to the request for assistance from the President of Mali, supported by West African countries,” announced Hollande on January 11.
French warplanes have targeted rebel outposts for six straight days in an effort to stop rebels in their southbound push towards the Malian capital of Bamako.