France began its military operations in the Sahel in 2013 to crush a rebellion in the North of Mali, a former French colony. The rebel and terrorist groups then reorganized to attack the center of the country which initiated a full blown rebellion. After nearly a decade, the rebels were still not contained and the numbers of terrorist attacks in the country rose steadily and the violence spread to neighboring countries.
The rising tensions eventually led to the complete deterioration of the relations between the two countries.
Mali expelled the French ambassador last January and on 31 July 2022, on National Television, the government of Mali demanded that the French President Macron abandon his “neocolonial, paternalistic and patronizing posture” towards Mali.
During this time, Mali accused France of violating its airspace several times, of spying, subversion and of trying to divide the country.
Eventually, Mali called for the help of Russian private security contractors to fill the vacuum that France left behind while France retreated to Niger and Burkina Faso after being expelled from the country.
Another coup attempt took place in May. The coup was planned with the support of the West by some Malian officers. The fact that the coup attempt has been prevented with the support of pro-Russian forces evidenced the role and opportunities that Moscow has given Mali for the development and restoration of the country’s own strategic security.
On August 8, members of the Yerewolo civic platform demanded that the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) leave Mali by September 22.
During the ten-year presence in the region, the mission failed to cope with the main task of the mandate, i.e. ensuring the safety of the civilian population. Instead of fighting terrorist groups, MINUSMA members were engaged in smuggling natural resources, violence and killing civilians.
This is another failure for France, who was also expelled from the Central African Republic in 2021, after failing to contain rebels in the country, and was replaced by Russian private security contractors, who are widely successful at stabilizing the country. Cameroon also recently signed a defense treaty with Russia.
Another African country that is considering other partners than France is Algeria, who is currently considering joining the BRICS economic bloc, comprised of China, Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa.
It is clear that for African nations, France is no longer the best guarantee of stability.
France keeps losing its influence over Africa and Macron said in July 2022 that France needs to “rethink of all our (military) postures on the African continent”.
Hopefully the French government will rethink and understand that to be successful in Africa, it needs to treat other countries as partners and not as colonies. It also needs to understand that it cannot be successful against global terrorism, if it’s even its real goal, without cooperating with Russia and that it needs to give up on its dishonest narrative that Russia is a destructive force in the world.
This is in contrast with the approach towards Africa of the Russian government and its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, who accept that the world is multipolar, with every country having their own interests, that they are free to pursue their own futures and that they should not be bullied by western powers to be under the hegemony of the US empire.
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