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As Mali Forces Are Accused of Torture, US Pledges Increased Funding

US ties to Mali military coup, French invasion only grow stronger

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (2nd L), U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell (3rd L), U.S. Senator Christopher Coons (3rd R), Force Commander Major General Shehu Abdulkadir (2nd R) and U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (R) pose for a picture at the Malian air base, where French soldiers are based, in Bamako February 18, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer)

Following recent allegations that the Mali army has been conducting widespread human rights violations in the nation's French-led and U.S.-backed conflict, the U.S. announced today that it will once again directly fund the country's military after a new round of elections.

In an interview with the Associated Press this week, Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly said that the military-led government is investigating claims that their armed forces have targeted both Arab and Tuareg minority families in a hunt for rebels in the nation's increasingly complicated conflict.

Reports have surfaced that many have suffered torture, killings and reprisals over false accusations of aiding rebels.

While promising to investigate the allegations, Coulibably said, "it's hard" to conduct a thorough investigation of these particular claims, adding, "We can't, in the name of avoiding discrimination, let an Arab or Tuareg go just because he's Arab or Tuareg, if he is guilty."

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said Tuesday, "The first responsibility to avoid this kind of reprisal ... rests with the Malian authorities themselves."

U.S.-backed French forces invaded the country earlier this year, in accordance with the Mali military, in an attempt to violently wrest power in its former colony and current 'trade partner' from disparate political factions.

French forces have received continued aid from the U.S. for the operation as reports of widespread innocent civilian causalities—including children—have surfaced. Many commentators have shown that the conflict has quickly gone the way of quagmire with no sign of resolution in the near future.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Monday that the U.S. is likely to resume direct support for Mali's military in addition to the French campaign, should new elections take place in the military coup controlled nation.

The U.S., which has been indirectly funding Mali's military objectives through aid to France's intervention, is technically prohibited from directly assisting Mali's armed forces due to its military coup last March. On a recent trip to Mali Senator Christopher Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, was asked by reporters if increased U.S. support for Mali's military could materialize. He responded, "After there is a full restoration of democracy, I would think it is likely that we will renew our direct support for the Malian military."

Before last year's coup in Mali—led by a U.S.-trained Malian army captain—the American military had been providing combat training to several Malian army battalions, Reuters reports.

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