Soldiers of the French military mission in Mali fold a French flag at an undisclosed military installation on Aug. 11. (Etat Major des Armées/AFP/Getty Images)

The withdrawal of the last remaining French troops from Mali this month has inflicted a serious blow to Western military efforts to curtail a growing Islamist threat spreading across the Sahel region of Africa.

The failure of the French military mission, which included up to 5,000 soldiers in what became known as Operation Barkane, demonstrates the perplexing difficulties of waging a counterinsurgency campaign against regional remnants of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. It also raises concerns that Russia and China might step into the geopolitical void left by frustrated and impatient Western governments.

As the United States ponders the lessons of its 20-year struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, which ended in a chaotic exit one year ago, France is reconsidering its own strategy in coping with the proliferation of Islamist militants in many of its former African colonies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los próximos 29 y 30 de junio tendrá lugar en Madrid una nueva cumbre de la OTAN. La reunión coincide con el 40 aniversario de la adhesión de España a la Alianza Atlántica y con los 25 años de la primera cumbre celebrada en nuestro país, en 1997. Es también la segunda cita de este tipo que se celebra en 2022. La primera tuvo lugar en Bruselas este pasado mes de marzo y fue convocada de urgencia para analizar la invasión rusa de Ucrania y consensuar una respuesta común a la agresión.

Las cumbres de la Alianza son las reuniones de más alto nivel que la organización celebra, y no tienen un carácter periódico, sino que son convocadas por motivos muy concretos.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Malian government’s conflict with jihadist insurgents has entered its tenth year with no resolution in sight. The government that came to power in 2021 has adopted a populist, anti-Western stance, blaming France, its long-time ally in fighting the militants, for the deadlock, while doubling down on offensive military action that has resulted in a surge in civilian casualties. Alienated by Bamako’s rhetoric and its decision to bring in the Russian private security company Wagner, France and other EU member states are withdrawing their troops from Mali, except for those deployed in the UN’s mission there. Although the Malian army has recently won limited victories in the country’s centre, the departure of its best equipped allies could shift the conflict’s momentum, energise militants and worsen the protracted humanitarian crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters at a demonstration organized by the pan-Africanist platform Yerewolo to celebrate France’s announcement to withdraw French troops from Mali, Bamako, February 19, 2022

In an April communiqué dressed up as an interview with Jeune Afrique, the Francophone African weekly of record, Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, assured the paper’s readers that there is no “new cold war” underway in today’s world. There is only the imperative to defend “our system which favors freedom, which defends the self-determination of states, their independence, their sovereignty in opposition to authoritarian regimes, whether in Russia, in China, in Iran or in North Korea.” Nuland did not clarify who the possessive “our” refers to, but most Jeune Afrique readers would think she meant the West.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators march in Yangon, Myanmar, on July 3. (Stringer/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

The United Nations recently condemned coups in Mali in West Africa and Myanmar in Southeast Asia — and called for regional organizations ECOWAS and ASEAN to manage the crises. In May, Mali, a member of the Economic Community of West Africa, experienced its second coup in 18 months. And the civilian government of Myanmar, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was overthrown in February.

With mounting pressures from the United Nations and the risk of retreat from others in the international community, many countries expect these regional organizations to do more to prevent unconstitutional changes in government. However, our research shows how established organizational cultures and principles temper the ASEAN and ECOWAS responses to the coups — and how that might unintentionally benefit coup leaders.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this file photo taken on 18 September 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita (C), president of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People), arrives at the funeral of former Mali President General Moussa Traore in Bamako. MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

Que sait-on de ce coup d’Etat au Mali, le second en neuf mois ?

Le lundi 24 mai, le président de la transition Bah N’Daw, son Premier ministre Moctar Ouane et quelques autres responsables maliens ont été arrêtés et conduits au camp militaire de Kati, près de Bamako. Cette arrestation a été décidée peu après la nomination d’un nouveau gouvernement, dont la composition a été âprement négociée pendant plus d’une semaine mais dans lequel ne figuraient plus les colonels Sadio Camara et Modibo Koné, respectivement ministres de la Défense et de la Sécurité. Ces deux officiers de la garde nationale sont aussi membres dirigeants de l’ex-Comité National de Salut du Peuple (CNSP), le groupe à l’origine du coup d’État du 18 août 2020 et officiellement dissous en janvier 2021.…  Seguir leyendo »

Retired Col. Maj. Bah N’Daw, right, is sworn into the office of transitional president and Col. Assimi Goïta, left, is sworn into the office of transition vice president on Sept. 25, 2020, in Bamako, Mali. (AP)

Mali appears to have had yet another coup d’etat. Since 1960, when Mali gained independence from France, there have been five coups — and only one peaceful transition from one democratically elected president to another. This includes two coups in the past nine months, including this one. The 2012 coup was a surprise because for 20 years, Mali had been viewed as a democratic model for emerging democracies and presidential elections were just weeks away. Since then, coups seem to have become commonplace.

Why? Because since at least 2012, the country has been roiled by ongoing political crisis. Military officers and political leaders are elbowing each other for political control and access to the spoils of power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Montage based on the blurred broadcast of a witness in Al Hassan's trial before the ICC © ICC-CPI / Thijs Bouwknegt /

“There is risk of identifying the expert – private session please,” sighed presiding judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua on 15 October. It was the end of the first block of expert testimony in the trial of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Al Hassan is on trial for 7-year-old atrocity crimes in Timbuktu, Mali, nearly six thousand kilometres away from the seat of the ICC in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Zapping between the channels of the ICC courtroom, video-links, private and public sessions, judges have now heard the first fifteen prosecution witnesses. It is laudable that evidentiary examinations take place at all against the uncertain odds of the COVID-19 pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

La caída del presidente Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK) tras el golpe de estado en Mali plasma el fracaso de la estrategia securitaria internacional en el país. El descontento social ha aupado una toma de poder que agrava las múltiples crisis de este territorio clave para la UE en la contención del terrorismo y la migración. Aunque el cambio de régimen parece dejar a Francia y Occidente sin un aliado primordial en el Sahel, ¿amenaza realmente a sus intereses?

La población de Mali ha dicho basta. Harta del mal gobierno, la pobreza y la violencia que desangra al país estos últimos años, gran parte del pueblo maliense ha aplaudido el derrocamiento del presidente, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK), a manos de militares comandados por el coronel Assimi Goita.…  Seguir leyendo »

Malians supporting the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta gather to celebrate in the capital, Bamako, on Aug. 21. (Baba Ahmed/AP)

In Mali, after weeks of large-scale demonstrations demanding that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta resign, the military settled the matter. Amid international condemnation of last week’s coup deposing Keïta, thousands of Malians celebrated in the streets.

With a military junta running the country, are Malians ready to give up on democracy? Here’s what Malians themselves have to say, based on a recent Afrobarometer survey.

The March-April 2020 survey revealed textbook conditions for a popular uprising as well as strong popular trust in the military — factors that may explain why many Malians seem to welcome, or at least accept, a coup as the country’s best chance to escape a downward spiral of corruption, poor services and economic failure.…  Seguir leyendo »

Malian security forces observe the arrival of former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan at the airport in Bamako, Mali, on Saturday. (AP)

On Aug. 18, a group of military officers forced Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, to resign. Among other concerns, the officers expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of ethnic violence in the country.

While the coup officers and regional leaders discuss how Mali will return to civilian rule, our research suggests an unintended consequence of the coup: Will the U.N. peacekeeping operation in Mali, MINUSMA, be able to continue its efforts to prevent the country’s security situation from deteriorating further?

So what is the United Nations doing in Mali?

MINUSMA deployed to Mali in 2013 as part of an international effort to restore order to parts of the country ravaged by conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, center, the spokesman for the soldiers identifying themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, holds a news conference at Camp Soudiata in Kati, Mali, on Wednesday. (AP)

We heard the gunfire and rumbling of the military vehicles before we saw them. As the troops rolled into Mali’s capital city of Bamako on Tuesday, they chanted “baara bana!” in our local language of Bambara, which literally means “the job is over”.

That morning, mutinying troops from an army base in Kati, near Bamako, stormed the residence of the president, and arrested both President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, along with other high-ranking government and army officials. Throngs of mostly young Malians excitedly joined the clamor. Many of these young people welcomed the coup as scores of young people are completely disillusioned with the corrupt regime, unemployed as a result of our country’s economic collapse or restless due to covid-19.…  Seguir leyendo »

Press conference in Kati after the military arrested Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and he officially resigned. Photo by ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP via Getty Images.

The coup in Mali is not a putsch by disgruntled soldiers in a distant land. It is an extended European neighbourhood and matters to Britain. The UK already has three Chinook helicopters deployed in country and 250 British troops are scheduled to take up UN peacekeeping duties in December in what could be the ministry of defence’s most dangerous deployment since Afghanistan.

This coup was not unexpected as it followed months of mass protests against alleged corruption, a worsening economy, disputed legislative election results and deteriorating security in this West African country. Mali’s military is struggling to stop the insurgents, some of them now also affiliated with the ISIL (ISIS) armed group, despite UN, EU, French and regional military support.…  Seguir leyendo »

A crowd of people cheer Malian army soldiers at the Independence Square after a mutiny, in Bamako, Mali August 18, 2020. Picture taken August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Moussa Kalapo

A la faveur d’un coup d’Etat ayant vu l’arrestation du président malien Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta et de son Premier ministre Boubou Cissé, les militaires ont pris le pouvoir au Mali le 18 août 2020. Ce coup est la dernière expression en date d’une crise politique majeure, marquée depuis début juin par de nombreuses manifestations qui réclament la démission du président Keïta. Les partenaires régionaux et internationaux de Bamako demandent, en toute légitimité, que l’ordre constitutionnel soit restauré. Ils doivent maintenir la pression sur les militaires afin que ceux-ci tiennent leur engagement de restituer le pouvoir aux civils dans les plus brefs délais.…  Seguir leyendo »

Security forces drive through the Mali capital of Bamako on Wednesday, a day after soldiers fired into the air outside President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s home and took him into custody. (AP)

Soldiers and armored vehicles appeared on the streets in the key garrison town of Kati, Mali, on Tuesday morning, just outside the capital, Bamako. What began as an apparent faceoff between mutinying soldiers and army loyalists has resulted in the arrest of senior officers and government ministers.

By Tuesday evening, mutinying soldiers arrested President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. It’s unclear whether this mutiny began as an organized attempt to topple Keïta or if it resulted from isolated grievances. What is clear is Keïta’s time in power is over.

What just happened?

Mali’s troops have been engaged in an ongoing conflict in central and northern Mali — but have frequently gone unpaid and hungry under Keïta’s leadership, due to corrupt diversion of wages.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anti-government protesters demonstrate in the Malian capital of Bamako on July 10. (Baba Ahmed/AP)

Political protests in Mali escalated last week after government security forces arrested several leaders of the M5_RFP group, a coalition of religious, civil society and opposition leaders. Security forces shot live rounds at protesters, killing several and stoking angry crowds. A government crackdown led to the deaths of at least 11 protesters.

Nearly 30 years and three democratically elected presidents after Mali’s 1991 transition from military rule, protesters have once again taken to the streets demanding real change. Here’s what you need to know.

Who is protesting and why?

Protests began June 5, with more demonstrators and more violent government crackdown each week.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le président du Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (G), donne l'accolade à Mahamadou Djery Maiga (D), vice-président et porte-parole du Conseil de transition de l'Etat de l'Azawad, le 20 juin 2015 à Bamako. AFP/Habibou Kouyate

Cinq ans après sa signature en juin 2015, où en est la mise en œuvre de l’Accord pour la paix et la réconciliation au Mali ?

En juin 2015, le gouvernement malien et deux coalitions de groupes armés issus du Nord du pays, la Plateforme, alliée au gouvernement, et la Coalition des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA), fédération de mouvements entrés en rébellion contre l’Etat, signaient à Bamako un accord pour restaurer la paix et la réconciliation au Mali. Après moins d’un an de négociations souvent indirectes, le texte définitif a été largement imposé aux acteurs, sous la pression d’une équipe de médiation internationale dont l’Algérie était chef de file et qui comprenait, entre autres, la Mission des Nations unies pour la stabilisation du Mali (Minusma), la Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Cedeao), l’Union africaine, l’Union européenne, ainsi que les Etats-Unis et la France, initialement inclus comme « amis de la médiation ».…  Seguir leyendo »

Dans la ville de Kayes en 2013. Photo Joe Penney. Reuters

Kayes a connu ces dernières semaines plusieurs manifestations de jeunes en colère qui accumulent depuis plusieurs mois des frustrations du fait du couvre-feu lié à la pandémie de Covid-19 mais également à cause de la situation politique, sociale et économique du pays en général et de Kayes en particulier. La mort de trois jeunes, dont l’un abattu par un policier dans la nuit du 11 au 12 mai, a accru les tensions. Un commissariat et des postes de police ont été saccagés.

Le 13 mai, les manifestants s’en sont pris à un autre symbole de l’Etat en mettant le feu à la préfecture de Kayes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le 11 novembre a été inauguré, à Paris, un monument en mémoire des soldats « morts pour la France » loin de leur pays depuis 1963. Si on examine le contexte dans lequel sont morts les 549, et hélas bientôt 562, soldats dont le nom y est inscrit, on s’apercevra que presque tous sont tombés en luttant non contre des Etats, mais contre des organisations armées. Aujourd’hui, et pour ne considérer que le Sahel, nous affrontons Ansar Eddine, Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI), la katiba Macina et la katiba Al-Mourabitoune réunies dans un Groupe pour le soutien de l’islam et des musulmans (GSIM), ainsi que l’Etat islamique dans le Grand Sahara (EIGS).…  Seguir leyendo »

In March, armed men attacked a village in central Mali, killing at least 130 people and burning their homes, part of a cycle of escalating violence between ethnic groups. Soon after, a retaliatory attack was launched on a village dominated by the ethnic group suspected of the first attack. All this comes in the aftermath of a 2012 civil war; several Islamist militant groups are trying to drive national and local government elites out of their areas.

With the government doing little to resolve the violence, on April 17, live on national television, members of Mali’s parliament submitted a motion of no confidence against prime minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga of the Alliance for Solidarity, Convergence of Patriotic Forces (ASMA-CFP) party.…  Seguir leyendo »