The US is planning to consolidate its position in Africa with a new drone outpost in Niger, with the stated purpose of providing unarmed surveillance support to French efforts in Mali and keeping tabs on al-Qaeda elements on the continent.
The robotic unmanned aircraft would likely be based in Niger, on the eastern border of Mali, where French forces are currently waging a campaign against Al-Qaeda, AFP reported, quoting an anonymous official.
If the plan is approved, up to 300 US military servicemembers and contractors could be sent to the base to operate the drone aircraft, the New York Times reported. US Africa Command is also considering another location as an alternative to the base in Burkina Faso, the official said.
[link to rt.com
The US Ambassador suggested the base would be in Northern Niger - convenient to Libya...
The one city in Northern Mali that has not been "liberated" is Kidal - the only city in Northern Mali that is overwhelmingly Tuareg.
Here's an excerpt from an RFI article -
Mali, Timbuktu and Gao are now in the hands of French forces and Mali. Nigerian and Chadian soldiers are in turn entered this Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in the town of Ansongo. But another great northern city is in a particular situation, since jihadists have gone but always escapes the control of the Malian government and its allies. This city is Kidal. MNLA rebel movements and MIA claim to have resumed Monday.
What will be the fate of Kidal? The city will she witnessed a military reconquest? And if so, by whom?
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the new Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), composed of dissidents Ansar Dine, plead for negotiations.
They need to be involved in the fight against the jihadists. But they can still be heard in Bamako, where Tuareg rebels are still seen as those who opened the gates of hell Mali?
"Between Paris and Bamako, we do not put the same content in the term terrorist. MNLA but did nothing to improve his image by saying that he came to Kidal Malian army to prevent from entering, "says a diplomat.
Kidal is in a particular situation. Unlike Gao and Timbuktu, the city is populated almost exclusively by Tuaregs. A possible rise in the area of the Malian army supplies more than elsewhere fears of retribution.
[link to translate.google.com