International Security

Mali PM Accuses France of Secretly Arming Terror Groups

Malian Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga has accused the French government of secretly arming Islamist terrorists to maintain the conflict in the country and justify the French military occupation.

Maiga’s statement, to which the French press has maintained a deafening silence, is an indictment of the French state and its NATO allies. Two French presidents, François Hollande of the Socialist Party and Macron, and their allies have been waging war in Mali since 2013. Yet Maiga, installed in power by the Malian army that enjoys the support of Paris, accuses them of using criminal methods to justify a bloody war in his country.

Maiga blamed French forces that arrived at the beginning of the war in Kidal, in the north of the country, where several militias hostile to the central Malian power in Bamako were active.

“France created an enclave in Mali, it formed and trained a terrorist organization in Kidal,” he said, adding: “Having arrived in Kidal in 2013 during the offensive against the armed groups in the northern regions, France prohibited the Malian army from returning to Kidal.”

“Ansar Dine, the leader of an international terrorist organization, a branch of Al Qaeda in Mali—the French took his two deputies to form another organization… The Malian government so far does not have authority over the region of Kidal. However, it was France that created this enclave, a zone of armed groups trained by French officers. We have proof of this”, he continued.

To back up his accusations against Paris, Maiga recalled that the war in Mali started from conflicts between militias that fled Libya after the war waged against that country by Paris, London and Washington in 2011 in alliance with Al Qaeda. “You know, the terrorists first came from Libya,” he said. “Who destroyed the Libyan state? It was the French government with its allies.”

Maiga also responded to Macron’s threats to slow the withdrawal of French troops and the arrival of Russian forces requested by the Malian regime. Macron had said he wanted France to “withdraw (its) military bases as soon as possible,” but then claimed that this withdrawal would require a total transformation of Malian state policy: “This implies a return of a strong state and investment projects, so that young people do not turn, as soon as the terrorist groups return, to the worst.”

Calling this comment “blackmail,” Maiga said, “This blackmail cannot weaken our determination to protect our territory, our country. This blackmail will not be a reason to stop cooperation with reliable partners like Russia… If we conclude an agreement with Russia, practice shows that it is a reliable partner. We are a sovereign state and that gives us the right to cooperate with any state in the interest of our people. This is our only goal!”

Maiga’s accusations against Paris are not simply based on information from the Malian state, but also on the words of senior French officials. Indeed, the former French ambassador to Mali and Senegal, Nicolas Normand, had already criticized the war in Mali—Operation Serval and then Operation Barkhane—in 2019, in terms that support Maiga’s accusations on several points.

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