Britain is ‘spineless’ for sitting out Mali campaign

Britain has been accused of being spineless in its refusal to become further involved in the French military action taking place in Mali.

Bernard-Henri Lévy, France's most influential thinker and a leading proponent of liberal intervention, issued the statement amid increased anxiety in Paris at France's isolation in the military campaign in northern Africa.

"The English airplanes were with the French airplanes to liberate Libya," he said.

"Where are they today when we need to liberate Mali and stop the creation of a Jihadist state on Europe's doorstep?"

The philosopher branded the British response, which has been restricted to equipment rather than troops, as "spineless".

David Cameron offered French president Francois Hollande extra assistance on Sunday night, including 330 military personnel providing logistical, surveillance, intelligence and transport support.

"The UK has great interest in the stability of Mali," defence secretary Philip Hammond said.

"The role of British troops is clearly not a combat role. The French have taken the lead and supporting them is a sensible and right thing to do."

The defence secretary later raised questions about how on top of his brief he was when he wrongly stated Mali was a majortiy Christian country with a "significant Muslim minority".

In fact, it is 90% Sunni Muslim and five per cent Christian.

Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktuon yesterday, ending a ten-month period of strict Islamist rule by al-Qaida-linked militants.

The city, which for centuries was a major centre of learning and trade, did suffer the loss of several irreplaceable ancient manuscripts dating back to the 12th Century, however, after militants set fire to a museum before leaving.