A story began in January 2013 is ended since no more than two months with the announcement by Emmanuel Macron to withdraw the troops from Mali, by underlying anyway the France's will of remaining involved actively in the Country. After about 60 days the dilemma is become this: if and how mauch will Paris succeed in influencing the politics and the fate of the troubled Country of Sahel, now ruled by the transitional military council of Assimi Goïta and that after two military coups d'état wasn't able to give a date to the election. Anyway, in ordert to better understand not the reasons that lead Paris to choose the withdrawal of the troops from Mali, but which fate could await the Country, it is necessary to understand how the European military operations, ruled by France, wasn't able to succed and seemed to have brought Bamako even more closer to the Russian sphere of influence.
The beginning of the military operations in Mali by France started in January 2013 with Operation Serval, whose aim was that of contain and let go the Jihadists located in the cities in the north of Mali. The following year the moment for the Operation Barkhane arrived, which counted a contingent of 5000 units and whose aim was that of leading operations of counterterrorism in Mali but more in general in all the complex area of Sahel. In the next years it was Paris to become promoter even more pressing of the creation of a joint working contingent in Mali; Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Ciad and Nigeria. So in 2020 the Takuba Task Force is born, ruled by Paris but with the partecipation of other european nations such as Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Estony.
The judgement on the conduct of Barkhane and Takuba is surely complex, even if having seen how France found herself again in 2022 obliged to choose for the withdrawal of her own troops, it is thought to define them absolutely disastrous. Anyway, from one side we can surely exstablish how from a tactical point of view the conduct of the two Franch and European missions in the Country was effective and moderate. An efficacy that, however, wasn't able to resolve the crucial problem that worries Mali and the Sahel from different years: the probelm of national security. In the last years the growing rooting of the Jihadist component at a local level goes with a political and governance crisis that goes out the Nation's borders, hitting also the nieghtbour Ciad and Burkina Faso.
Manoeuvring diplomatically in a situation so complex as the Malian one has been surely complex for Macron, who has inherited the conduct of his predecessor François Hollande, after a series of coups d'état in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ciad. An aspect which caused significant disagreement between Paris and the Assimi Goïta's council. The current situation in Mali is however extremely critical; with the withdrawal of the French troops, the responsability of the maintenance of the inner security is totally dependant from the results of the Malian Military Forces (FAMA) that are even more counting on the Russian military support. Only two weeks ago the Bamako government announced to have received from Moscow two helicopters for fighting MIL Mi-24P “Hind-F”, delireved at the presence of the Minister of Defence Camaro at the airport Bamako-Senou. Not only the Malian regular forces, however, another important component for that which concerns the resolution of the terrible abuses of human rights that are happening in Sahel and Mali will be also the result of the fights between Jihadist groups as Support Group of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Big Sahara (EIGS).
It is in fact the news of last week that of the massacre of Moura, in the central region of Mopti, where about 300 civil people was killed, as the report Human Rights Watch said during that which Bamakoo defined however a military operation against Jihadists. Operation that on the basis of the first reenactments saw the participation of the already knowkn Russian mercenary group of Wagner Company. Today is evident how politically in Mali a competition for the influence on the Country is happening between france, who is slowly leaving her direct grip on the land, but who still tries to keep an important role and Russia, who is conducting an Africa policy more and more active and linked mainly with the support of governments and councils who have troubles. It is not a case that also Turkey is beginning to recreate his own arsenal in favor of the council of Goïta. That there is competition has been obvious during the last vote to the UN Security Council concerning a resolution for the opening of an independent survey on the massacre happened in Moura in the last days. In this case Russia and China voted against, maintaing that " there is no necessity for a survey which seems to be very premature". An axis, that between Russia and China that seems more and more strong also in Afrika.
The crisis in Sahel embittered in terms of violence from one side, but on the other side it is become difficult to understand from a geopolitical point of view. The obliged French withdrawal from Bakamo has underlined some fundamnetal themes about the role of European Countries in Afrika. First of all how regimes and Afrikan government are trying more and more to increase and diversify its own partner of international politics but also how the political dialogue in region of this kind has to take into account both the regional as well as the continental aspects. In this case France finds herself in an uncomfortable position, "defeated", seen the result of the military and diplomatic operations made for 9 years in Mali but especially in competition with other powers that are considered enemies from a geopolitical point of view. In all this now, the Malian Armed Forces find themselves to answer to a security need formally alone due to the fact that the French withdrawal of the last February and that of Europe of about one week ago now create problems to the future presence of ONU in the Country.
Translated by Veronica Luzzi