Senators McCain, Whitehouse Visit War-Torn Mali, Tweet Photos

Arizona Senator John McCain and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse arrived in Mali Tuesday, kicking off a two-day trip to assess the country’s fight against terrorism. McCain has tweeted numerous photos of his time on the ground thus far.

The two senators arrived in Bamako, Mali’s capital, and met with the country’s acting President Dioncounda Traore (pictured above) and interim Prime Minister Diango Cissok. The US cannot offer direct assistance to Mali until an election takes place establishing a new government and urges the protection of human rights. Elections are scheduled to take place in July.

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of over 14 million. Rebels took control of the northern half of Mali by April of last year and declared the secession of a new state. The French staged a military intervention at the beginning of this year, and Mali has since restored most of its territory.

France’s military efforts are now entering into their third month. McCain pledged further US assistance to the French mission, including equipment, training, and technology. The US has used drones to monitor the situation and provide intelligence to French forces.

McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for six years who went on to become a politician, first entering the House of Representatives before going on to win four terms in the Senate. He won the Republican nomination for president in the 2008 campaign but lost the general election. He has advocated for a strong US military presence around the world and champions the need for the US to fight for freedom on behalf of less powerful nations.

Since arriving in Mali, McCain has sent out several tweets praising the interim leadership in Mali…

…and the competence of France’s forces.

McCain has also expressed the need for freedom of the press in the war-torn African country.

Whitehouse’s twitter feed has been mum about the trip to Mali. Instead, the senator has sent out tweets regarding the BRAIN initiative announced by President Obama earlier today.

While the US is supporting efforts to stabilize Mali, neither McCain nor Whitehouse have pushed for a stronger American presence on the ground.

[Featured image by DioncoundaTraore2012 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]