Pentagon announces military aid to France; Americans ask: ‘What are we doing in Mali?’

Muslim rebels have taken over a northern Mali town. France is waging war on the Islamists. The U.N. Security Council meets today to discuss the turmoil.

The Brits offered support this weekend.

Canada is pitching in.

And late Sunday night, President Obama dropped this letter on Capitol Hill.

On January 11, 2013, French forces conducted an operation in Somalia in which they attempted to rescue a French citizen being held hostage by al-Shabaab. United States forces provided limited technical support to the French forces in that operation, but took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage. United States combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed. These aircraft did not employ weapons during the operation. The U.S. forces that supported this operation left Somalia by approximately 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 11, 2013.

I directed U.S. forces to support this rescue operation in furtherance of U.S. national security interests, and pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.

People on both sides of the pond are wondering:  “What are we doing in Mali?”

For their part, the jihadists have vowed to fight a “long war” with the West.

New Holy War, same as the centuries-old old Holy War.

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