Four months ago, We wrote in this newspaper about the threat of French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview with “Le Journal du Dimanche” newspaper after the Malian coup, which took place on May 24, about his country’s forces withdrawal from the country if the African country veered towards “radical Islamism” after the second coup in nine months.
Macron stressed he had “conveyed a message” to the leader of the West African countries that ” He will not back a country where there is no longer a democratic legitimacy or a political transition.”
“I had told Mali interim president Bah Ndaw that France will withdraw its troops if Mali turns towards radical Islamism,” Macron told the French newspaper during his visit to Rwanda and South Africa.
Three days after Macron’s statement, France announced the suspension of the joint military operations with Malian forces, according to a statement released by France’s Armed Forces ministry.
Through this decision, Paris denounced the coup. “Requirements and Red lines have been set by ECOWAS and the African Union to clarify the framework for the political transition in Mali,” the Armed Forces Ministry said stressed in a statement.
“While awaiting these guarantees, France has decided to suspend, as a temporary measure, joint military operations with Malian forces and national advisory missions for their benefit.”
However, we said in our analysis that ” Despite France’s recent action, I am sure that it will retract it sooner or later.
Strategists note that the international community is not applying the necessary pressure, measures, and sanctions on the Military Council in Mali to restore power to civilians.
Some explain this non-strict position towards Bamako by the partnership that unites the two sides in confronting the jihadists in the region, considering that the African country is seen as a fundamental equation that cannot be overcome in confronting terrorism in the African coast.”
What’s important is what we said that France would retract its decision and its withdrawal is only just talks. This strategic intention appeared in France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly’s statement, in which she said that “If Mali commits to a partnership with these mercenaries, then Mali will isolate itself and will lose the support of the international community which is heavily engaged in Mali.”
This warning came after the accusation issued by Mali that France “abandoned” it, justifying it by resorting to “other options,” which Paris rejects, stressing that “its armies will not leave Mali” and that it is still “determined” to continue its battle against terrorism alongside the Malian forces.
What happened is that France did not take strategic precautions to balance words and intentions; Its media outlets were threatening to withdraw, while its underlying intention is to stay there, albeit by reducing the number of armies.
What was not taken into account were the sovereign choices that Mali could make without consulting France.
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla gave a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, in which he accused France of “abandoning” his country “midway” with its decision to withdraw Barkhane forces, justifying his country’s search for other partners, including “Russian private companies.”
That was the main reason behind increasing the tension between Mali and France.
“The new situation resulting from the end of Operation Barkhane puts Mali before a fait accompli, abandoning us mid-flight to a certain extent, and it leads us to explore pathways and means to better ensure our security autonomously, or with other partners to fill the gap which will certainly result from the withdrawal of Barkhane in the north of the country,” Maiga said during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Maiga also added that France’s withdrawal was “unilateral” and did not take into account the “tripartite link … between the United Nations and Mali, as partners with France” in establishing stability in the region.
The Malian Prime Minister’s speech endorses what international reports have confirmed that his government is close to contracting with a thousand armed elements from the Russian private security group Wagner, who are present in several countries, including Libya and the Central African Republic, which European countries accuse, by the way, of working for the Kremlin in regions, Where it does not want to appear officially.
Contributed by: Mohamed Helba