- Ukraine and the Russian world
- (Russian) world: limited or not?
- Comparison between Asia and Africa
- Russian African Roots
- Reasons of Malian Adjustement
- Propaganda or Proper Junta
- Stressful Trust
- Ops is for Operas
- Automat or Autonom?
- Hubris or Blessing?
- France Global Policy
- Freedom is a Trick
- International Grandiose Delusions
- Military order or Democratic Chaos
by GNADOU Athytheaud, 2022-01-29
Was the 2021 Coup d’État in Mali facilitated by pro-russian forces. Is mali in a new cold war scheme, or is it one of the signs of a hot war spreading from Eastern Europe to Western Africa? Is Mali in the same situation as Russian influenced or dominated Eastern-Ukraine? If Ukraine was under Russia threat for its proximity with Western geopolitical influence (NATO – EU), why Mali would have been concretely attacked by claimed Russian-backed insurrectionnal Malian armed forces?
2. UKRAINE AND THE RUSSIAN WORLD
Geographically, Ukraine is strategic for Russia because it was once part of the Moscow-led Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, Ukraine is part of the Russia « near abroad », in the same way as other post-Soviet independent states. Historically, Ukraine is considered as a center or the heart of the Western-Russian nucleus, being home of the Kievan Rus’, the European political source of Russia history, with its Slavic, Baltic and Finnic origins.
Politically, Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic, could have been part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR or Russian SFSR), fellow USSR member. Today, Ukraine is not part of the CIS, the political union of some of the former USSR republics which became independent after the disbanding of the Soviet Union ; Ukraine is nor part of the CSTO, the military organization of Eurasia, of which Russia is of course member and the acknowledged powerful leader.
Basically, is Ukraine the womb from which Russia come from? Would the link between Russia and Ukraine be Russia umbilical cord? This is not exaclty true as Russia has several origins from which we could consider that among its extreme geopolitical points are Ukraine in the west and Mongolia in the east. This is why in the case of a Russian power, Moscow should never ignore both Ukraine and Mongolia, there are the two arms of its transcontinental body, going from European Union eastern borders to China, with Siberia and Central Asia being Greater Russia body trunk.
Of course, Scandinavia and Baltic in the north-west part of Russian boundaries are fundamental to Russia security and trade, as well as the Caucasus, Turkey, Mesopotamia and the Levant in the south-west, or Japan, Koreas and China in the far-east.
3. (RUSSIAN) WORLD: LIMITED OR NOT?
Giving the vulnerability induced by the geography of the Russian federation in its middle-south, because of the lack of natural boundaries between Siberia and Central Asian steppes, it is a key point for Russia to strenghten its security in Kazakhstan. This is why the Russian military intervention in nearly-in-rebellion Kazakhstan, this in the framework of CSTO prerogatives, was vital to secure the Eurasia innerland from public troubles. But where does this Eurasian interland stops ? If it stops at the Tian Shan and Himalaya mountains, as well as at the southern boudaries of CIS, then is it counter by neutral Turkmenistan (associate state of CIS and not part of CSTO), and tumultuous Afghanistan (observer state of CIS)?
While Turkmenistan was part of USSR and maintain friendly relations with Russia and former Soviet republics, Afghanistan was a key point for the Great Game between Russian and British empires, meaning their imperialist confrontation in Eurasia. Afghanistan, in fact, was at the time the buffer state between Russian dominions and British colonies, separating Central Asia (comprising Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirgystan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan) from British Raj (now partitioning between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).
4. COMPARISON BETWEEN ASIA AND AFRICA
While Afghanistan have been for a period a Russian ally state led by a democratic king, the monarch was overthrown by a more soviet-compatible military coup d’État, establishing the landlocked country as a die-hard communist puppet-state. Ultimatelly, the increasing atheist influence of Moscow would trigger ethnic, sincere religious reaction, turning the country into a war between muslim conservative warriors, the mujaheddins, provided in weapons, money and assistance by the american Central Intelligence Agency, and the USSR-assisted central power of Kabul. Afghanistan, formerly part of the influence zone of the Soviet Union became doublely landlocked, both geographically and politically, only to see new doors open to its holy cruisade against communism, helped in this way by United States and fellow benefactors.
In 2020-2021, Mali, a sub-saharan West African country, landloked and majority-muslim as Afghanistan, have been the scene of a military coup d’État, parallel to the 2021 Taliban invasion of Afghanistan. This operation created the fury of France, which was since colonial times the main foreign power in the country, and which could naturally pretend to be a key actor in the West Africa region. The difficulty before the eyes of French leaders is the existence of countries in the region which are not, as Mali and other french colonies, french-speaking independent countries ; this led to other powers influence (mainly USA for Liberia and Sierra Leone, and UK for Ghana and Nigeria). Other former empires as Germany, Portugal, Spain or Italy could also pretend to a participation of their interests in the region future. And now, after non-European inclusion in the African game, as Japan, China or India, a new one seems to make his way to the ring, and he is both European and Asian: Here is Russia.
5. RUSSIAN AFRICAN ROOTS
It should be an error to say that the Russian Federation is a brand-new player in the field of international relations in Africa, it would be first a denial of the USSR activism in the continent during the 20th century, and second, a forget of the new global policy of the now-independent from Soviet Union Russian state. Russia and USSR, or post-Soviet States have always been strong partners of independent Mali and Africa in general, and 80% of Malian troops were formed in USSR and its successor states.
Can the country led by President Vladimir Putin be judged as responsible for the coup d’État in Mali ? If France western allies consent to follow Paris disappointment in the Malian affair, it is because they tend to consider the presence of Russian mercenaries in Bamako, Mali capital city, as a questionable coincidence. First, the cooperation between the new power in Bamako and the Russian private security company Wagner was denied or minimized, then the ongoing marginalization of Mali by its regional neighbors, and the escalation of hostility between Bamako and Paris led to a probable agreement between Mali and Russia, in the form of national armed forces partnership, excluding any private security companies involvment. In the context of a Malian state trapped in a decade-long war against both northern regions secession attempts (Azawad) and transnational organized crime plus terrorism in Sahara-Sahal region, France army help was first welcome, it was a war against evil.
6. REASONS OF MALIAN ADJUSTEMENT
Now, after a endurant confrontation between France, Mali government and their allies against local terrorists factions, where civil from all parts of the countries are suffering, and the efficience of the French intervention (Barkhane operation) is discused among the population, Malian people started to ask questions about the conflict itself? Against who are they really fighting, for who and for why are they dying for ? We can not deny the reality of the terrorsit threat in Mali, originating in the northern part of the counrty, where the Sahara desert lies, or where it melt with the Sahelian steppes.
Therefore, the persistence of the French military and politicians to justify the war by the war give the opportunity for Malian insurgents and French skeptical opposition to consider that the French interest was in a war-related status quo. Such thesis itself should easily be said as untrue and irrelevant. Nevertheless, the sole way for France to prove their good intentions was to truly eradicate the oppresors of Mali people and governement ; the reluctance or the difficulties to do so only put Paris in an unconfortable position between terrorists and Mali, as France was strongly an opponent of negociations between Mali government and their terrorist opponents to manage the crisis and its public symptoms (hostages takings, pre-civil war, multi-ethnic conflicts into a multiethnic state, democratic unstability). Worse, France is now accused by a majority of Malian people of being amnigious, or ubiquitous to the point of being capable of sustaining the rebel factions to justify its presence by interventions . . .
Wait, and Russia, what is Russia interest in this affair? If we should as journalists condemn anti-French propaganda, is it a duty to also prevent anti-Russian accusations ? Is the list of strong anti-French claims, which we could consider as a form of propaganda, that have encourage French authorities to consider that a strong geopolitical power is pulling the disinformation strings behind the scenes? Why would have Russia organize such a machination, against a civil Malian governement, the one which have been overthrown, with which it have no particular political ties and doesn’t share any obvious animosity with?
7. PROPAGANDA OR PROPER JUNTA?
In fact, there is suspicion about the junta which is now controlling Mali, with strong and increasing popular support : elements of the new military power have been trained in Russia. Such assertions could be considered, but giving the scale of an entire army, the short passage of two or three elements among its large troops, in one particular country, which in fact is not the smallest and does attract many internationals military students from many countries, can not be a proof to accuse a country of being the perpetrator of a overthrown in Africa. To give an example, Guinea, a French-speaking neighbour country of Mali have experienced a similar coup d’État ; in this case, it is not few elements but the leader of the insurrection, new ruler of the country which himself have been formed in France ; it is neverthelss not a reason to accuse France of being behind the coup. In fact, it is the isolation of the new military governement of Mali both by France, Western African states which have accelerate the marginalization of Mali politics.
When I say marginalization, it means that Mali is now surviving with the necessity of going into the margins of diplomacy ; instead of traditional relations, the Mali governement is in the necessity to innovate to protect its motto : « One People, One Goal, One Faith » . The complication point is that Mali is now feeling an obligation to adopt its independence principles, against the country from which it gained it. The goal of France and Mali seems to be different ; do the peoples have to take their own way, giving their separated faiths concerning regional peace? To be clear, when I say independance , it is not in the sense of absolute freeodom and unresponsabilty towards other countries and mankind, but in the sense of assumed responsability and decision autonomy. The decision autonomy implies to choose for the best interets of the country, and in respect of moral, logic and legislation. It could be said that only legal concerns should run states direction ; it would also be said that the majority of events which have occured in history of nations and peoples have been forgd by moral motivations, and logical calculus, far beyond judiciary concerns.
8. STRESSFUL TRUST
This is not a pretext to say that legal codes ruling States relations are useless or of no importance, at the contrary, they are the instruments that organize these relations, and protect every parts and agents from uncertainty of interpretation, and the chaos created by the absence of basis. In the case of the Mali distanciation with France, it is the basis of their relations which have been troubled ; the basis of relations is trust ; and the Mali peoples and junta-government publicly explained that they can trust anymore in France government about their intention in Mali.
Could in return France believe in Malian top military officers sincerity in pre-coup and post-coup d’État context, when the latter are more and more indulgent, or I will say, pragmatic towards the terrorists as they decide to negociate peace with them? It is a quiproquo or malentendu which is pulling France and Mali apart from each other ; each of them think that the other is cheating on him, the French would be complaisant with the terrorists and traffickers, and Mali both with the latter and Russia at the same time.
9. OPS IS FOR OPERA?
It is simple to see that France can not be said associated with terrorists groups which significantly targeted France in the 2010’s with several terror attacks, this in the context of war in Syria and Libya, and future French military intevention in Mali (Operation Serval in 2013, followed by Operation Barkhane) to eradicate this threat, and then in the Central african republic (Operation Sangaris).
For Mali, we have described the intervention context, for Libya and Syria, it is set in the post-Arab springs context, with some protests or revolts taking place against the Syrian head of State Bashar al-Assad. The President of Syria has been since supported by Russia, including in the battlefield, while France and the international community (meaning France allies in the affair) were strong opponents of the al-Assad regime, and participated in the military conflict, not as best allies of the Syrian Arab Republic armed forces, but officially to prevent ISIS expansion in Iraq and Syria, giving that ISIS and fellow terrorist groups shared the ambition to destroy and supplant the Syrian central power. Can we say that the current situation of Libya would have been the one promised to Syria without the Russian assistance to the legal Syrian government?
To be honest, it is only the volte-face of the then highly interventionist democrat President of the United States Barack Obama, to not follow the more determined French President François Hollande, in the escalation of war in the form of a international coalition intervention in Syria, as it was the case in Lybia for the overthrowing of its then leader Muammar Gaddafi, that prevented a French full intervention in Syria , in the context of the French armed forces Operation Chammal. In Central African Republic, after some criminal groups started to set attacks on the central governement via agressions of the civil population and the army or national law enforcement officers, the Central African republic leaders unilateraly decided to definitely suppress the threat with a strong response to the troubles, and to only organize « reconciliation » after control of the territory. In fact, the only possible reconciliation is the conciliation of public policy with the national interests, meaning protection of population, homeland, and establishment of general order.
10. AUTOMAT OR AUTONOM?
The Central African Republic decisions, for some reasons, led to some embarrasment in Paris governmental headquarters, precisely when the Central African president Faustin-Archange Touadéra decided to ask for the cooperation of Russian armed forces in this effect. As in Mali and Syria, this Russian official or unnoficial intervention imposed itself after long disappointment against the supposed France and allies supposed guilty implication in the local troubles.
In Syria, where President Nicolas Sarkozy initiated the French campaign against al-Assad government, in Central African Republic where President François Hollande organized the Operation Sangaris, in Mali where President Macron decide to maintain the french military troops and face backlash from disillusioned local populations and tensions with their consecutives governments, the French position have always been weakened and destabilized by the local reactions, which found their safety thanks to an alliance with Russia.
Then, one question can be asked ; why is Russia always above the ruins of France bilateral relations, rebuilding a new geopolitical construction far away from usual regional bilateral interests? Could we see it as coincidence, or serious undermining of France presence in Middle East and Africa? I could answer by saying that France is seriously in danger of marginalization in these cases where its very-own current strategy is to isolate unstable or labelled-undemocartic nation-states.
The first countries to have experiment this method are Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire in French) and to some points Libya, which is simultaneously in Africa and the Arab world. Since that, every nation which encounter France grief about its own stability and democracy functionning is in the need of protect its security, even if its attitude is a barrier for their acceptance according to international community standards.
11. HUBRIS OR BLESSING?
Now, are post-2010s Libya and Ivory Coast the two sources of terrorism and global destabilization of peace order, providing men from Libya, and logistical support from Ivory Coast ? If terrorists and mercenaries often came from Libya to attack Mali, Burkina Faso and other Western Africa countries, does the main base of the support of these transnational criminal groups really come from the State in Ivory Coast, a country of which the President, Alassane Ouattara, infortunately was the model for the recentlly destituted President of Guinea (2021 coup d’État in Guinea), Alpha Condé, in their search of unlimited presidential terms and powers over the population and the law.
The minimal chance for Ouattara, Ivory Coast controversial leader is the support of France, through military bases and presence. This is the coalition of France and Ivory Coast, plus the ECOWAS (Economic Organization of Western African States) against the newly independent countries of Western Africa (Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso) that almost create a fictional feud between Ivory Coast+France and Mali & Co + Russia. Nevertheless, we should precise there is, for Mali or Russia, any intent for confrontation with France and its allies, and we should believe that France diplomacy is not turn in a conflictual purpose; all we hope is for advancement of peace through development and initiatives, not interventionism and totalitarism.
Moreover, we should say that if the position and reputation of France is in risk in Africa, it is not because of a rivalry with Russia but because of its association with Western Africa constitution-killer and or people-slaughter presidents.
Simultaneously, Senegal, a strategic State both for France and Ivory Coast is the stage of a war between central governement and Casamance independantists (with 2 deaths and 9 hostages among the national army soldiers, held by the separatists) ; the President of Niger, which is respectful of democracy and Niger people, decided to left the Presidential Palace just after the Coup d’État in Burkina Faso, lacking confidence in its own regular troops.
12. FRANCE GLOBAL POLICY
France, in itself, can only have strenght with allies, a condition which can be ignored when you are pretending to rule the country, but not when you are effectively in charg of its governance. France is geopolitically sustainable as long as its allies are ready to help its global policy, and theirselves strong enough to support their missions. If Russia was really in a non-direct war against France interests, it would have in this case plan a weakening of France allies, or the separation and discord of France from its allies.
French international partners are known, consisting mainly in EU and NATO countries, and the Francophonie (association of cooperating French-speaking states and territorial divisions). A more simple way to determine the allies of France is to see which nations and organisations agree or support France in its confrontation with the new Mali/Guinea/Burkina Faso governments. By this, we can see that the regional power crushing the Sahel States post-coup d’État ambitions is Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast, considering Alassane Ouattara strongly and logically condemns the coups and their leaders.
If we are relevant about the force relations between countries, which are based on multilateral agreements about bilateral and international relations, we could recognized that, historically, some countries developped or maintained preferential links, or were more in the position of vassals with some of their counterparts. Therefore, in the context of post-WWII independance movements in Africa and Asia, and the incitations to globalization (including with the concept of most favoured nation) among others, the relations between countries have changed, putting for example India from colonial dominions to equal interlocutor of the UK, including in the Commonwealth (association of english speaking country with historical bonds to Great Britain), and suppressing favoritism in global trade. But while South-East Asia former French colonies acquired independence with violence, French-speaking African former colonies achieved a consensual independence where France remained the most favoured nation, to the point that Western and Central Africa was and is still name « Le pré-carré de la France »(France reserved domain/area, French sphere of influence).
13. FREEDOM IS A TRICK
Mali or Central African republic partnerships with France were in this regard important and functioning, even if some blames could have been expressed, the relations were cordial and inspiring for the future ; because there were respect and trust, or nobody couldn’t see yet the signs of their fragility or absence. Dead is the trust, gone is the respect. If the relationship between France and the Francophonie is of vital importance for France, then France political leadership should mature to better suit the new era to come, or it will simply drown in its restricted waters. While Syria was after the partition of the Ottoman Epire, in the wake of WW1, placed under French influence or control (Sykes-Pikos agreement), Syria, as well as other French controlled territory became independant in the second half of the 20th century, sovereign and capable of decision autonomy, responsible before the international law of acts for their own good.
The political context of a country is something which should be with no exception be considered with the greatest attention, especially when the country is not yours. But in the organization of free, democatic and global world, which country can be yours, and which country could not be yours? What and who could be free from freedom and democracy? Who can be free from the world? Is it with this assumed stance than the international community can prevent any state, group or individual to act in illegal or unnaceptable ways, towards individuals, populations and other nations, which thus are permanently under the potential threat of the hand of global justice and force?
14. INTERNATIONAL GRANDIOSE DELUSIONS
While the respective analysis of contemporary Syria, CAR and Mali could shown some distances between their ruling and international community expectations, it is mainly their acquintances with Russia which put them in direct confrontation with France and allies (didn’t I said international community?). The anxiety of dealing with Russia came from the fact that the Russian Federation have since the early 2000’s and more strongly in the 2010’s put itself in the margins of global acceptance (war in Chechnya, war against Georgia, support of Syrian regime, intervention in Eastern Ukraine, annexation of Crimea).
And now, France main grief against Russia is to have potentially participated, directly or indirectly, in Mali and Central African Republic, in the establishment of new regimes ; if this assertion can be at least heard for Bamako after the 2021 coup d’état, it could be listen in Bangui, where unlike in other locations in the francophone Africa, free, legal and open elections, respectful of the constitution, have been held, with, the participation of female leader from civil society, and the inclusion of several political groups in the governmental process.
15. MILITARY ORDER OR DEMOCRATIC CHAOS?
It is, above all, the refusal by the described countries, of the usual scheme of a tempered central governement which accept the destabilization in its own country by rebellious, terrorists, criminal factions, which created the gap between France, which promoted status quo, and the local African and Syrian governments who decided to destroy their respective security threats, or to negotiate with it but only with the recognition of the sovereignty and supremacy of the government over its territory and decision.
In fact, the interventional scheme of France in Mali and Cental African Republic could have been interpreted as a new tutel, where the local goverment margin for manoeuver would have been low and maximally reduced. If the French authoritises intentions could have been good, it was the means which were divergent for both French and local powers. With a persistence of the critical situation, the difference of means became a true difference of motives, to not say a dichotomy between them. If France was not antagonist with Mali, CAR or Syria, the fact that Russia is now teaming with the three countries could become a sign of hostility between these countries and France only if Russia and France were not holding anymore friendly relations with each other.
So the questions is asked : are Russia and France friends or partners anymore ? Should they cooperate regarding the African continent matters, and if they would doing so, would it be detrimental to African nations assisted by Russia ? To be honest, the implication of France in Western Africa is weakened by the neo-independences in the sub-region, and the French-government hostile reaction to the new local powers is a symptom of the curiosity France constituted in the continent future. Will Africa need a hostile France in the next centuries? Would France, to stay credible in Africa, should become a little brother of Russia, meaning the intermediary who will do the dirty deeds? Will France betray USA to propose itself as the operational military subcontractor France is for United States since 1945, and is willing to be for Russia in 2045, this to one goal: don’t lose Africa, doing the error of thinking of the moving continent as a static property?
If there were frictions between France and Russia, an entente between the two countries could be at the detriment of the french-speaking new clients of Moscow in Africa ? Because we should not forget that the main point of the implementation of the nuclear constellation in Africa is the monopoly position of France (and behind NATO) as the former most favoured nation or organization in the region ; could Mali, Guinea or Burkina Faso, or Côte d’Ivoire, ask for now or in the future, for services providing by Russian military forces? Will Russian military cooperation be based on moral principles, as the global policy of the Kremlin towards unstability, disworlder (global or world disorder) and imposed unipolar planet, independent from the will of potential criminal clients?
Considering the growing troubles in the Sahel region (Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, etc), would it be in the best interests of France or Russia to clearly be in conflict against each other in the region, directly or indirectly ? Who would be disavantaged by such geostrategical frictions, between France plus NATO and the Russian-Eurasiatic bloc.
Or should we consider that events which occured in Caucasus (Armenia-Azerbaijan 2021 conflict), in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan) or in Mali and Burkina Faso are all not directed against some States influence areas? The knowing of the diplocodex, meaning the indirect confrontation of powers in every field of the world, should be the best way to understand in which direction the world is going right now. K1FO can only propose itself as a secure guide for everyone, including for concerned political leaders, intelligence analysts and business executives.
Chief Editor K1FO, Director GEVOS
K1FO is wholly-owned by GEVOS.