3 French soldiers killed in Mali today: Tanerii Mauri, Dorian Issakhanian and Quentin Pauchet. As a first gesture of good will, i’d extend my condolences to their families in this terrible ordeal (yes, including the Polynesian, i’m a centrist).Almost nine years have passed, and some of those who cheered for the soldiers of Operation Serval in Bamako, Timbuktu or Gao now berate French soldiers of Barkhane ops. Ungrateful Malians? Yes, but there’s always more. Dynamics in Africa are always influenced by the 70 tops average IQ.
Harassed by French forces, jihadist groups are certainly unable to reconstitute sanctuaries in the Sahel (a “caliphate”), but the violence has spread to new areas, notably in central Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso. As a result, Wakandans in Bamako, which are, as we all know, always terrible planners, wonder what Barkhane is for, and conspiracy theories, sometimes carried by prominent local figures, flourish on social networks. The accusations range from “pillaging Mali gold”, sometimes uranium or Silver, to “muh soldiers children rapers”. The first accusations are ridiculous, as there are no current French miners in Mali, and the only two companies exploiting something there are both English Canadian (not even Quebecois, lel). Regarding the second accusation, i won’t ever bother answering, nobody wants to touch them. .
Inexorably, Barkhane assumes the role of scapegoat. The Malian population could call its own army to account as geostrategic player, but it does not (cause’ they’re dumb). The Malian army is the blind spot of the drama currently being played out in the Sahel. It is largely absent from the speeches of some and others. From Malian public opinion, therefore, but also from the official French discourse. Thus, next to the 4,500 men of Barkhane, next to the 13,000 Blue Helmets of the Minusma, next to the 5,000 soldiers of the G5 Sahel still under construction, a new device is evoked: Operation Takouba. Special forces from several European countries should soon be deployed within the local forces themselves. But there is little or no more talk about the Malian army.
Most of this is of course due to the absolute joke that is the Malian army: more than a hundred men have been killed in attacks by armed groups in the last weeks, particularly in areas where the Malian military has tried to regain a foothold. The assailants were able to seize the weapons that had been supplied to them by Bamako’s foreign allies. And we are not even speaking about the fact that the officers literally rob soldiers of the pay that is given by the French taxpays (yes, you read it correctly, French pay for Mali Wakandans soldier, with a yearly contribution of at least 7M€ ).
These repeated attacks also risk undermining an extremely fragile institution from within. In 2012, the joint offensive of Tuareg independence rebels and jihadist groups in the north of the country had caused the collapse of the army, followed by a coup d’état in Bamako led by a group of non-commissioned officers against the government then led by General Amadou Toumani Touré. Accused of corruption and inertia, the high military hierarchy had, at the time, been violently rejected by junior officers and the troops. This of course has lead to another coup d’état this is, which will probably make the French Army leave before the end of 2022. All the new leaders are literally all together to make the French leave.
Since the start of French intervention in Mali in early 2013, the reconstruction of the Malian army has been a priority for Paris. This effort is led, at great expense, by hundreds of European instructors deployed within the European Union Training Mission (EUTM). Far from fantasies about the alleged will to appropriate local resources, the former colonial power is on the contrary seeking to hand over to local forces, to reduce the sail, failing which it will be unable to leave the area completely without risking compromising the long stabilisation effort. This priority is a question of common sense: only the Malian forces will be able to re-establish lasting security in their country, and ensure it themselves, sovereignly, in the long term.
Yet this is to no avail. A large part of Malians are wary, even fearful of their own army : they prefer to be raped by Arab jihadists than organise. Instead of reassuring, the soldiers in Bamako are very often synonymous with greater insecurity in the eyes of the population, who do not hesitate to demonstrate against new army installations in one area or another. The deployment of Malian soldiers is very often an assurance that problems will arise, either because of the sweeps and the ensuing blunders, or because of the jihadist attacks that are bound to follow…But for many Malians, the failure of their army is ultimately that of the Barkhane force, infinitely better equipped and better trained than the soldiers in Bamako. Aware of the limits of its troops, Malian public opinion turns, and turns against the former colonial power, which in its eyes has become an ally and accomplice in the rise of insecurity.
Wakandan logic. Never trust a 70 IQ person.