France is stuck in Mali. The soldiers who control Bamako, since the putsch of August 2020 against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, are turning their backs on Paris and are initiating, under the benevolent gaze of Algeria, a rapprochement with Russia.
Admittedly, the break with the former colonial power has not yet been officially proclaimed. Nevertheless, the signs of distancing between the two parties are clearly visible. Witness the accusing speech of Choguel Kokalla Maïga, the Malian Prime Minister before the last General Assembly of the United Nations, targeting France and the protest this week by the Malian government against a “violation” of its airspace by a French military plane. .
Dismissed by France from the process of pacification of Mali in 2014, Morocco has since been content to play the role of spectator, waiting for the winds to turn in its favor. For the record, on December 16, 2014, Jean-Yves Le Drian, former Minister of Defense during François Hollande’s five-year term, refused in an undiplomatic tone a role in Rabat in reconciliation in Mali. “We don’t have to have a discussion on this subject with such and such. There is an Algerian mediation, we support it”, he had answered a question from the weekly Jeune Afrique.
French policy in Mali in a dead end
In statements to Yabiladi, Ali Ansari, an expert in Malian affairs, affirms that “the French approach in Mali, in force for six years consisting of relying exclusively on Algeria, contributes, without its promoters having had this objective in 2014, to serve the interests of the kingdom in the Sahelian zone”. “The peoples of the region oppose the French military presence, and not only in Mali. There were popular protests against France in Niger and Burkina Faso. The recent sanctions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against Mali are also rejected by the people,” he explains.
“In this context of France’s rejection, military and diplomatic support for Morocco by the French would have negatively affected its religious and cultural influence with religious dignitaries in Mali, such as Chérif Abouyé Haïdara and Imam Mahmoud Dicko.”
Ali Ansari |
The expert specifies that “the current situation favors the chances of Morocco”. “Its proximity to the United States, now the most important Western player capable of competing with Russia and China in the region, could offer Rabat an opportunity to play its role away from the tutelage of France, which is losing momentum. throughout the Sahel in the face of the emergence of new local and international actors”, he adds.
To support his analysis, Ali Ansari recalls that Colonel Assimi Goïta, the President of the Transition and Head of State, had sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulay Diop, to Rabat in October 2021, carrying a written message to the King Mohammad VI. “It was an initiative on his part attesting to his desire to continue discussions on security aspects with the kingdom”. In addition, Goïta, then wearing the clothes of vice-president of the republic, had gone to Morocco, in February 2021, where he had notably had talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, and the former inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces, General Abdelfattah Lourarak.
Unlike France, Morocco has not condemned the two coups in Mali, in August 2020 and May 2021, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta.