MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – The French military’s plans to wrap up its operation in Mali within weeks are overly optimistic, judging by past Tuareg uprisings in the country, a prominent expert on Mali and a former Russian envoy to the country said on Thursday.
The three rebellions, which took place between 1962 and 2009, lasted between two and five years each, said Evgueni Korendyasov, who was Russia’s ambassador in the West African country between 1997 and 2001.
Last week France launched the deployment of 2,500 troops to Mali to help the country's army contain a sudden advance of Islamists from the Tuareg heartland in the north.
The capital, Bamako, could have fallen within a week, were it not for the French aid, said Korendyasov, who now heads the Center for Russian-African Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that France’s involvement is expected to end within several weeks, but the estimate is unrealistic given that the Islamists, while contained, suffered no major defeats, and that West African countries tasked with peacekeeping in Mali are in no hurry to deploy their forces due to a lack of funding, Korendyasov said.
He dismissed a scenario voiced in the media about Mali's possible split into separate states, saying it was “unproductive” in the long run.
“The solution can only be obtained through talks about bigger autonomy and representation for the Tuaregs,” the pundit said.
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