Africa, Europe, News Watch, Side Feature

Russia is in a hurry to curry favor with the United States. This time on the African continent

In the capital of Mali, Bamako, hundreds of citizens held a protest action demanding the withdrawal of the French military contingent from the territory of the country.

Demonstrators gathered near the Africa Tower, one of the symbols of Bamako, and chanted slogans demanding the withdrawal from the country of French troops stationed in Mali since 2014 as part of Operation Barkhane.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated after claims that Wagner PMC soldiers will be stationed in Mali, the situation has escalated even more amid harsh rhetoric from officials.

France on January 12 submitted a draft resolution on sanctions against Mali to the UN Security Council (UNSC). The document was blocked due to the veto of China and Russia.

The French military operation Barchan in Mali is actually a continuation of Operation Serval launched by France in 2013 in response to the changing political situation in its former colony. The only difference is that in addition to Mali, the scope of its implementation extended to four neighboring states – Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

As we know, since the end of the 19th century, after decades of desperate Muslim resistance, the territory of present-day Mali, like a number of other countries in West Africa, was colonized by France. In the 60s of the 20th century, it gained independence as part of the decolonization policy under the auspices of the UN, as an implementation of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, according to which, in return for support in World War II, the Europeans promised the United States equal access to the exploitation and plunder of their colonies.

Having gained formal independence, Mali left the French Community, which served as the French colonial legacy in Africa. However, after the military coup of 1968, France managed to restore its influence and return Mali to its sphere of interests within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The United States continued to work to seize dominance in the region, including by creating economic, political and ethnic problems.

In 2012, the Tuaregs living in northern Mali, having seized weapons allegedly intended for rebels in Libya, with the support of some jihadist groups, rebelled and announced the creation of an independent state of Azawad.

The military, accusing the president of failing to put down the uprising, carried out a coup d’état. In such a situation, France sent its military contingent to Mali, under the pretext of protecting its citizens, preserving the country’s territorial integrity and liberating it from the Islamists.

The agreement between the ruling military junta of Mali and PMC Wagner testifies to the intention to replace the French military with Russian mercenaries. And, despite Moscow’s denial of its connection with the Wagnerites, everything points to the fact that, as in the case of Syria and Libya, Russia in Mali agrees to diligently serve American interests.

Abu Ibrahim Bilal
Member of the Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir in Ukraine