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Tannock: Mali mission must succeed to prevent disaster

Mali’s Al-Qaeda-backed violence is no Arab Spring – and its terrorists are no liberators, a senior European Conservatives and Reformists group MEP said today. London MEP Charles Tannock, spokesman of foreign affairs in the European Parliament, was speaking during an emergency debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Mali’s Al-Qaeda-backed violence is no Arab Spring – and its terrorists are no liberators, a senior European Conservatives and Reformists group MEP said today.

London MEP Charles Tannock, spokesman of foreign affairs in the European Parliament, was speaking during an emergency debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

He said: “The situation in Mali has rapidly become one of the most pressing and alarming issues facing the world, both in humanitarian terms and in the wider context of international security.

“The atrocities reported in northern Mali of widespread sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and public amputations have shocked us all, not to mention the cultural desecration of Timbuktu and other heritage sites. The Al-Qaeda backed Ansar Dine, along with Islamist allies AQIM and Mujao, risk overtaking Mali, destroying that country’s legitimate government, and plunging the Malian people into islamist dictatorship.

“Already we are in the grips of a refugee crisis. This is no Arab Spring, and the terrorists are no liberators. Such an outcome would be catastrophic not only for Mali, but for Africa and the wider world as well.”

Mr Tannock said the ECR in the parliament endorsed France’s military campaign. While nobody liked the sight of planes dropping bombs on any country, he said, we must appreciate the exceptional circumstances of this operation. It had been instigated at the express request of the legitimate government in Bamako, overwhelmed by the terrorists. Crucially, Ecowas troops were reportedly arriving within days, to ensure that the operation would be jointly African led and jointly executed.

He told MEPs: “We must ensure that the intervention in Mali achieves its aims quickly and successfully, with the utmost care taken to avoid civilian casualties. Algeria must be thanked for allowing military overflight rights and UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to be congratulated for his assistance to French President Hollande, another sign of European states working together to help an African country achieve the objectives of peace, stability and freedom that we in Europe too often take for granted.”

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