French forces hurriedly swept into Mali last Friday after the acting government in Mali came under a surprise attack by the coalition of radical Islamist rebels the day before. The rebels already control the greater part of Mali, and their attack prompted interim President Dioncounda Traore to call for emergency intervention.
France had always favored swift intervention in Mali in its current crisis because of its deep economic interests there, the potential for significant political benefits, and grave security concerns. The European Union had already agreed on December 10 to send a team of experts in to help train Mali’s frail army, and the Economic Community of West African States (ecowas), had already committed to sending 3,300 combat troops. But various challenges had forced the international community to push back intervention until around September 2013.