The Obama administration’s decision to back the French-led offensive against al-Qaida-linked groups in the West African country of Mali has drawn support from several leading House Republicans, according to The Hill
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday: “When confronting a shared threat, we should have our ally’s back.”
Royce drove home the point that the main goal is to prevent al-Qaida-linked groups from gaining a foothold within the area’s ungoverned regions, which would provide them another base to attack the United States and its allies.
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While a number of GOP lawmakers back President Barack Obama’s decision, they draw the line at putting U.S. boots on the ground.
“The French are leading the way; we should help them where we can,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East and North Africa. “But everything has a limit, and we’ll see where that limit is.”
On Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon was not considering deploying troops into Mali.
Up to this point, the Pentagon has provided France with military logistical support and intelligence in their attempt to rid northern Mali of al-Qaida’s West African cell.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, supports the current effort to aid the French, but voiced concern that proposed Defense Department cuts could hinder the battle against future threats to homeland security.
“We have got to make sure we have the tools to do that,” Thornberry said.
Still, Thornberry did not waver in his belief the United States must be in the forefront in the battle against terrorism.
The United States, he said, “always has to be willing to do what it takes, unilaterally, to protect our interests.”
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