- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mali — engaged in a bloody fight with Islamist extremists for control of the country — is nonetheless hesitating to grant the United Nations permission to send a peacekeeping force to help establish calm.

“We do not have a clear green light from the government of Mali yet for a peacekeeping operation,” said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, in a BBC report.

Thousands of troops from France and African nations have been fighting a ground war against Islamist militants for weeks. The latest is the troops have taken back northern Mali territories that fell to the militants in April 2012, BBC reports, and Islamist rebels have taken to the Sahara Desert to hid.

But militants could be hiding in the open — hiding right among the civilian population in Mali markets, the BBC reports. And they’re hardly giving in. Over the weekend, one spokesman for the Islamist fighters said: “We are dedicating ourselves to carrying out more attacks against France and its allies,” BBC reported.

U.N. peacekeepers are deployed after the fighting ends. Despite the recent fighting, Mr. Eliasson said the time was nearly right for a peacekeeping force.