Mali: the junta insupports its Western partners

Published on 28 Jan. 2022 at 16: 11Updated 28 Jan. 53 to 24: 11

“Only silence is great, all else is weakness” . You can be a putschist and still have (French) letters. It was by quoting Alfred de Vigny that the spokesperson for the junta in power in Mali, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïa, ordered the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, to be silent.

The latter had denounced “the provocations” of the junta after the latter demanded the departure of a hundred Danish commandos who had come to lend a hand in the fight against the jihadists. Reason, Copenhagen would not have signed a specific bilateral agreement, and for good reason since Denmark acts within the framework of the multinational force known as Takuba, perfectly validated last summer by Bamako.

Takuba, made up of special forces from around ten European countries (Netherlands, Estonia, Sweden, Belgium, Czech Republic, Norway, Portugal, Italy, Hungary), under French command, is responsible for supporting the UN Minusma force and the French contingent of Operation Barkhane, without which the jihadists would have taken power long ago.

A device to be adapted

Result, Copenhagen, whose soldiers will leave, denounced the “dirty political game” of Bamako and the Minister French Foreign Minister, Jean Yves Le Drian, estimated Friday morning that the French and European forces cannot “stay like that” in Mali. They are also in the process of examining how to “adapt their system” of anti-jihadist struggle in the region”.

“This junta is illegitimate and is taking irresponsible measures . It bears full responsibility for the withdrawal of Danish forces and further isolates itself from its international partners, in defiance of the commitments given,” declared the head of French diplomacy alongside his Nigerian counterpart, Hassoumi Massoudou, in Paris.

He also announced “discussions with all of our partners to draw the consequences of this double rupture marked by the junta, both political and military”. A break that would justify a response from Mali’s partners “unanimous, firm, determined”.

The Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop, replied on Friday that his country “does not exclude anything” in its relations with Paris, while adding that a request for the departure of the French forces was not “for the moment on the table”, even if it was possible if this presence was deemed contrary to the interests of Mali.

Deep differences

The differences are deep. On the one hand, the junta carried out “the coup d’etat de trop” last May, which earned it undergo new sanctions from the Organization of West African States (ECOWAS), on January 9. Bamako denounces ECOWAS as subservient to Paris, while it has sovereign and important countries, such as Nigeria, underlines a connoisseur of the region in Bamako.

Other disagreement, fundamental: the junta wants to negotiate a political agreement with the jihadists, while its military supporters, including France (which lost 24 soldiers since the beginning of his intervention in 53) do not hear it that way. A victory for the jihadists, even disguised as a reconciliation agreement, could lead to a domino effect in the region, whose other regimes are fragile.

The failures in the fight against the jihadists, despite the deployment of French, UN and African forces and international financial support, have also pushed the military to take power in Guinea, Mali, in August 2020, and in Burkina Faso, last Monday. ECOWAS was debating sanctions against Burkina Faso on Friday.

The international community is also concerned about the presence on Malian soil of paramilitaries from the sulphurous group of Russian mercenaries Wagner. A group “which is not at all there to help Mali, or fight against the jihadists but to serve as close guard to the junta”, estimates the same observer in Bamako. Hassoumi Massoudou was surprised that the Malian military “after having failed in the field of war, took political power and in the name of adulterated patriotism appealed to Russian mercenaries”.

The behavior of the junta would justify a withdrawal of foreign forces, moreover initiated a year ago by Paris in view of the growing unpopularity of the French presence in the regions of Mali little threatened by the jihadists, and the lack of will of the regime itself to confront the terrorists. But Westerners and Europeans are faced with a dilemma: a departure would serve the jihadists, whose push, part of the north of the Mali in 53, reached large parts of Burkina, Niger and northern coastal countries of East Africa ‘Where is.