Sport France facing the Malian quagmire

14:00  13 january  2021
14:00  13 january  2021 Source:   lemonde.fr

Mali: M5-RFP asks for explanations after the attack on Bounti

 Mali: M5-RFP asks for explanations after the attack on Bounti © AFP - DAPHNE BENOIT Soldiers of the Barkhane force (illustration image). In Mali, civil society and the political class react to the events of Bounti. On January 3, an air strike had hit this locality in the center of the country, causing about thirty victims. The Malian Ministry of Defense and the French Operation Barkhane explained in a statement on January 8 that French fighter jets had neutralized a group of terrorists from the Katiba Serma.

France ’s plans to assist the US in this battlespace and potentially even replace it to a degree if Trump goes through on his intentions to withdraw from the country “very soon” might inevitably lead to Paris getting caught in a second Malian -like quagmire , albeit this time it would be fighting against actual

But Mali has all the potential of being a quagmire . It has been unstable for decades, battling a separatist movement in the north led by the Tuaregs, a largely nomadic people. That movement gained strength in the last two years when the Tuaregs were joined by two jihadist groups, including one

Editorial. The “Serval” and then “Barkhane” operations, where 5,100 soldiers were engaged, admittedly put several jihadist leaders out of order, but they did not prevent either the increase in violence between civilians or the Islamist breakthroughs. in central Mali.

Editorial of the "World". What is France doing in Mali? Eight years after the military intervention launched by François Hollande to stop a jihadist column threatening Bamako, the answer to this question appears less and less clear. The promise of the reconstruction, thanks to the protection of French soldiers, of a Malian state capable of curbing the Islamist threat and of responding to the justice and security needs of the populations, was shattered with the failure of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose ineptitude was sanctioned, in August 2020, by a military coup.

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In Mali , French troops face a formidable enemy in a hostile Saharan environment. The conflict could last months. France is using air and ground power in a joint offensive with Malian soldiers launched on January 11 against hardline Islamist groups controlling northern Mali .

Mali Mess France drags US & UK into intervention quagmire .

The French "Serval" and then "Barkhane" operations, in which 5,100 soldiers were engaged, certainly put several jihadist leaders out of state to harm; they also made it possible to avoid too much porosity between the Sahel and the Libyan quagmire. But they have prevented neither the increase in violence between civilians, nor the Islamist breakthroughs in central Mali, nor the contagion in neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.

Substantial troops mobilized

Even before the recent death of five French soldiers - which brings the toll to fifty "dead for France" since 2013 - the risk of getting bogged down in an area as large as Europe was so obvious that The army itself had begun to consider restricting its presence. Such a prospect, difficult to formalize in the aftermath of these human tragedies, can no longer be ruled out. Certainly not in the form of a brutal withdrawal, which would be an encouragement for the jihadists and a further shock for a country that has already suffered too much. But both military and political considerations are now pushing in the direction of downsizing.

After eight years of Mali campaign, France seeks exit strategy

  After eight years of Mali campaign, France seeks exit strategy Eight years after France sent troops to Mali to prevent jihadists from overrunning the country, it faces tough choices over how to keep pursuing Islamist extremists without becoming bogged down in a potentially unwinnable war. Five French soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs in Mali over the past 10 days, bringing to 50 the number of troops killed across the Sahel since France launched a campaign to clear northern Mali of jihadists in January 2013. The latest victims included Sergeant Yvonne Huynh, the first female soldier killed since the French intervention began.

A Malian man reads a newspaper headlined Long live France !, praising the French military intervention, as he waits to donate blood in Bamako. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images. Gregory Mann for Africa is a Country, part of the Guardian Africa Network.

A Malian Army spokesman says French special forces are taking part in the operation. Militant islamists took control of vast swathes of desert in Mali 's north With the northern border region near Mauretania secured by the Malian Army, the rebels may find themselves pinned down between the border and

Operation "Barkhane" once again shaken by attacks

Firstly because "Barkhane" mobilizes substantial troops who would be useful elsewhere, given the proliferation of theaters of tension in an uncertain world. It is also useful to send the message to the authorities in place, not always loyal, that the protection of Paris is not due and that their own soldiers must take over.

The two fears that motivate the French intervention - migratory wave and terrorist contagion affecting France on the one hand, takeover of a French-speaking country by Islamists, with threat of extension to the entire Gulf of Guinea. on the other hand - must be reassessed. None of the multiple terrorist attacks targeting the Hexagon is linked to the Sahelian events, and there is nothing to confirm that an increase in the power of the clerics would cause more emigration than the current chaos.

Dark experience

While Paris, in 2013, flew to the aid of the Malians in the face of an enemy perceived as a branch of global jihadism, French soldiers are now fighting jihadists rooted locally, thriving on ancestral conflicts and on the revolt against the absence of a state. The influence of religious leaders in political life and among the military in power is such that the Islamization of the Malian Republic seems difficult to avoid.

Paris now plans to negotiate with "certain elements" of the jihadist groups. The grim experience of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan calls for extreme caution, as do Russia's ambitions in Africa, ready to profit from a French setback. But breaking the deadlock in Mali, if it necessarily involves France, can no longer be solely military. Political, it must take into account all the sensibilities which coexist in this country and preserve the democratic freedoms dearly acquired.

"We went around the dial": France is looking for an exit strategy for operation "Barkhane" in the Sahel

France deserves continued US military support in Mali .
The loss of three French soldiers in Mali this week is a solemn reminder of that nation's commitment to Western security. France's counterterrorism effort, codenamed Operation Barkhane, deserves continued U.S. military support. © Provided by Washington Examiner The soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device targeted their patrol in the terrorist stronghold that marks the border intersection of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

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