In an interview with RIA Novosti, Choguel Maïga accuses France of preventing the entry of the Malian army into the city of Kidal, but also of having handed it over to non-governmental armed groups.
Asked on October 8 by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti about a potential foreign financing of terrorist groups in his country, the Malian transitional Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maïga first referred to the consequences of Gaddafi’s fall from power in Libya, linked to the NATO intervention in 2011: “You know, the terrorists first came from Libya. Who destroyed the Libyan state? It is the French government with its allies ”, declared the head of the Malian government, referring to“ terrorists from elsewhere ”in Mali.
Choguel Maïga then pinned the links between armed groups and France, accusing Paris of having allowed non-governmental forces to control the Malian city of Kidal, without specifying dates. “Arrived in Kidal, France prohibited the Malian army from[y] enter. It created an enclave ”, assured the leader. According to him, the French “took” two assistants to the head of the terrorist organization Ansar Dine (described by AFP as a “nebula jihadist affiliated with Al-Qaeda”) in order to “form another organization”. The French are also, according to the Malian Prime Minister, “gone to seek the leaders of the MNLA” (the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, Tuareg insurgents). Paris would thus have formed an organization of combatants to whom it would have “handed over Kidal”, according to Choguel Maïga.
The Malian government so far has no authority over the Kidal region. However, it is France which created this enclave
“The Malian government so far has no authority over the Kidal region. However, it is France which created this enclave, a zone of armed groups which are trained by French officers. We have the proof, ”summed up the head of government in the same interview.
These accusations are reminiscent of comments made in 2019 by Nicolas Normand, former French ambassador in Bamako. Speaking to RFI about the aftermath of Operation Serval in January 2013 which preceded Operation Barkhane, he declared: “In principle, Operation Serval in January 2013 was an excellent operation. That is to say, it was necessary to prevent the various jihadist groups united from surging towards the south and possibly towards Bamako. The problem is that France then believed to distinguish between good and bad armed groups. […] The French army went to look for this group – it was the MNLA at the time – these Tuareg separatists, from a particular tribe which was in the minority even within the Tuaregs, the Ifoghas. This group, we went to look for it and we gave it the city of Kidal. And then, later, there were the Algiers accords [en 2015], who put these separatists on a sort of pedestal, on a par with the state. This is a major mistake. “
RT France tried to contact the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get a comment on this on October 8, but has not yet received a response.
Cold snap on Franco-Malian relations
In any case, the remarks of the Malian Prime Minister to RIA Novosti come in a context of tensions between Paris and Bamako, linked in particular to the redefinition of the French anti-terrorism operation Barkhane in the Sahel. After the announcement, on June 10, of the “end of the operation [militaire française] Barkhane as an external operation ”(as it had existed since 2014), the Malian Prime Minister had accused Paris of having abandoned his country“ in full flight ”on September 25.
More recently, on October 5, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdoulaye Diop summoned the French ambassador to Mali, Joël Meyer, on October 5. Bamako motivated this decision following “unfriendly and derogatory remarks” made by Emmanuel Macron on the “institutions of the Republic of Mali”. “The State must return with its justice, its education, its police everywhere, in particular in Mali”, the French president had declared earlier on France Inter, while addressing the security situation in the Sahel region.