In and Out of Africa

France hopes to drive Islamist rebels out of Mali--and then go home. That may be wishful thinking

For four days in mid-January, Oumar Traoré hid in a field next to his hometown of Diabaly, in central Mali, and watched French warplanes pound Islamist rebels. "The French would wait until the rebels had to move. Then they'd hit them while they were running," says Traoré, whose neighborhood had become a rebel base. "The bombing was intense. There were burned trucks all around my neighborhood."

French fighter-bombers screaming 200 ft. (60 m) overhead might summon dark memories of imperial rule in France's former colonies of West Africa. But this time, the French and their allies say, neither the jets nor...

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