By John Irish, Reuters, October 18, 2012
PARIS - President Francois Hollande is pushing hard for military action against al Qaeda-linked militants in northern Mali to quash what he believes is a growing risk of them launching an attack on French soil.
Yet even as Hollande's calls for intervention are prompting the fighters to threaten retaliation, back-pedalling by African nations and lukewarm support from Washington may hold up a resolution to the crisis. The situation poses a difficult challenge for Hollande five months into a presidency where he is already being tested by a jobs crisis and the euro zone's persistent debt troubles.
"Hollande is convinced that there is a real risk of terrorism in France. The longer the situation in Mali lasts the greater the risk," said a French diplomatic source. [....]
Al Qaeda warns Hollande against French hostage rescue
Reuters, October 20, 2012
NOUAKCHOTT - A leader of al Qaeda's north African wing warned France on Saturday that any attempt to forcibly rescue six French citizens held hostage by the militant group could lead to their death.
Speaking for the first time since he was made head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) earlier this month, Yahya Abu Hammam said Hollande had been ratcheting up rhetoric against the group. "He has promised his people that he will free the hostages without negotiations with the jihadists," Hammam said in an interview published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI. "I want to send a message to the relatives of the French hostages who are with us: The decision of war that Hollande seemed to have taken means that he has signed for their execution and he must be responsible for his decisions." [....]