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Operation Serval alias Newcombe?

(BRUSSELS2) British troops are said to be on the way out. At least that's what the generally well-informed Times says. The conservative British daily has information that units of the army, the Royal Air Force and even the navy are on "red alert" (high readiness) to deploy at the request of France. The Operations Headquarters - based in Northwood - has until the end of the week to finalize contingency plans for any operation in Mali. Codename "Newcombe" - the name of a British serviceman engaged in operations in Palestine and Egypt alongside TE Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia).

Decisive element: the hostage-taking of In Amenas

It wouldn't be surprising. The (British) National Security Council is meeting on Tuesday (22 January) to consider British aid to the French intervention in Mali. Before the deputies of the House of Commons on Monday, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that he wanted to " work with Malians (to) prevent the development of terrorism at the gates of Europe ". Similarly, the dispatch of special forces to combat Al Qaeda terrorism, after the hostage-taking of In Amenas, he announced that he wanted to " engage British intelligence and counter-terrorism assets in an international effort to root out and dismantle the network that planned and ordered the brutal assault on In Amenas ". It should, in fact, be emphasized that, despite the claims displayed (against French intervention in Mali), this hostage-taking was mainly aimed at British interests in the country: it was a site of BP (British Petroleum) which been targeted in a pre-planned attack. And several Britons are among those who died.

Political ulterior motive?

If the British commitment in Mali - or elsewhere - is confirmed, it therefore seems more the consequence of the hostage taking - which rang the bell in the eyes of London - than the desire to help the French. Nor should we deny a preponderant political element in this acceleration of the timetable in London. At 24 hours from Cameron's speech on Europe - which intends to translate the desire to repatriate certain Community skills at the national level - there is also the desire not to let the French go it alone in Mali and throughout the Sahelian zone. with their "continental" friends and thus justify this Europe of Defense that London fears so much.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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