So Why Did France Invade Mali Anyway?

An expert says the French hope to protect Europe's 'backyard.'

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Public support in France remains high for the mission. Almost two-thirds of the country support it, according to a Monday poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion, reported by the Christian Science Monitor.

But Roach questions how long that will stand, particularly if French troops start taking casualties.

The best case scenario involves a long, two-pronged approach, she says, of fighting off the Islamic militants as they hide among civilians, and push them back to arid, sparsely populated northern Mali.

A successful military campaign would have to be followed by resurrecting the Malian government to a state where it can defend itself.

This is an optimistic appraisal versus the worst outcome, of the French and Malians losing control of Bamako to the rebel fighters and Mali becomes under de facto Islamic extremist control.

The most likely situation, says Roach, is a combination of the two. Most of the fighters will be pushed back into the north, but some will remain blended in the civilian population. They won't be able to advance, but they also can't be pushed back.

[FLASHBACK: Despite Romney's Claims, Mali Is No Afghanistan]

It could lead to an eventual stalemate, she says. "I don't think this is going anywhere any time soon. The troops are very well dug in and for now, at least, they are unified and working together."

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