"An unnamed Elysee Palace official quoted by AFP said on Sunday that French armed forces had been surprised by the fighting quality of the Islamist militants they were up against. " -- BBC.
"What has really struck us is how up-to-date their equipment is, and the way they've been trained to use it," the official said.
"At the start, we thought they would be just a load of guys with guns driving about in their pick-ups, but the reality is that they are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-armed.
"From Libya they have got hold of a lot of up-to-date, sophisticated equipment which is much more robust and effective than we could have imagined."
Libya. What a surprise. And beside that they've got other outside help too. The NYT has a story which would make a humdinger of a movie.
The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection ...
For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators' breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa's usual suspects. It was Iran.
Raise your hands everybody, those among you who were truly surprised. Who among you thought the punchline was going to be, "it's Canada!"? Now that would have been a shock. But "it was Iran" kind of falls flat on its face. Except maybe in certain circles where surprise is perpetual.
OMG the Mali war is internationalized! OMG the guns walked across the Mexican border. OMG the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose again. OMG a trillion dollar coin is a bad idea. OMG someone beside David Gregory has a box magazine in Washington DC. OMG they sell suit zoot suits in Australia.