THE ENTIRE DEBATE WITH ANDRÉ BOURGEOT, CNRS RESEARCHER, SPECIALIST SAHARAN-SAHELIAN AFRICA, TUESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2013
France has declared “war against terrorism” , launching Friday, Jan. 11 armed intervention in Mali. The decision to intervene was taken following a coordinated attack by armed Islamists allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Kona, lock between the northern and southern Mali. Northern Mali, a region mostly desert, is since the end of June 2012 under the full control of these armed groups, which advocate a rigorous enforcement of sharia (Islamic law). The French intervention aims to stop their advance towards the south, including the capital Bamako.
André Bourgeot, CNRS researcher, specialist in African Sahara-Sahel has answered your questions.
Max: Why France she now operates in Mali?
It intervenes in emergency for two reasons: there was a raid on the southern jihadist groups whose objective was the conquest of the city Sévaré which lies south of the front line. Gold Sévaré there internationl airport aun. If Sévaré fell into the hands of the jihadists, it would have been impossible for the Malian military and possibly military CADD Sévaré to reclaim land to the north.
Sévaré taken, one might think that Bamako has also been taken by armed jihadi groups. If this were the case, under these conditions, Mali rocked a Salafist state type. And the consequences were extremely serious. This is the first part of the context of the military.
On the political front, the interim president of the Republic of Mali, Professor Dioncounda Traore has sought military intervention of France with President François Hollande . Precisely to stop the advance of jihadists.
Thirdly, this procedure is also done in the framework of resolution 2085 of the UN. In terms of international legitimacy and legality in relation to the French Constitution, these two elements have been met.
Lou: Mali was really on the verge of falling into the hands of Islamists when France intervened?
Speaking of Mali as Mali and say he was going to fall, it seems premature, because it meant the conquest of Bamako. But there was a risk of implosion if Sévaré Mali fell into the hands of jihadists and would have initiated a process of conquest of the south.
Jean: France seems to have been surprised by the organization and coordination between the Islamists. What can you tell us about these Islamist groups?
First, I am surprised at astonishment of France against the organization and against the resistance of jihadist groups. So there was an underestimation of the forces and capabilities to fight these armed groups which, for now, have demonstrated their unity and solidarity as the three groups, namely AQIM Mujao and the Ansar Eddine were set to push south frontline and conquer Sévaré.
Guest: To come or the rebels? Is there a relationship with Libya?
No. Direct relationship with Libya for the Malian Tuareg have left Libya when Colonel Gaddafi was assassinated that constituted the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.
jihadist But the nebula is composed of several nationalities and several ethnic groups.
MATL: French intervention is unlikely Does not cause a radicalization or momentary strengthening jihadist movements (facing the outside intervention)?
Probably. In any event, there is a risk of stagnation.
Visitor: This intervention risk does not cause divisions between different populations in northern Mali? The Touareg can we fear operations “revenge” in view of the responsibility of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which is allied with the Salafist factions at the beginning of the insurgency?
If there was settling of accounts, it would be on an individual basis. As mentioned there was when the takeover by jihadists.
Guest: Why is there so much MNLA struck by the UN, despite the fact that it is aligned with the jihadists to conquer the north of Mali? How can you trust a group that calls for a republic in itself?
This is a good question that challenges everyone and we are entitled to ask why the international community continues to consider the MNLA as a contact representative while on the political, diplomatic and military, there is not much .
In addition, its composition is mainly Tuareg, while the population of northern Mali are mainly composed of Songoyes, Fulani, Bozo and the Arabs.
Visitor: What were the motivations of a sudden of Ansar Dine and Mujao to tackle the south while they were stationed for a year in the north?
This is part of the extension will to power central to establish an Islamic republic in Mali.
Triton: What “reservoir” of recruitment has rebellion in the north? Can fear an influx of local fighters as Afghanistan?
Influx seems daring. But there is a contribution of elements from several different countries, this is likely.
MATL: What are the important policy challenges posed by Mali, not only for France but for the entire region?
Issues on extractive resources, ie including oil and gas on the site Taoudenni which straddles three countries, Mauritania, Mali and Algeria. Then, since uranium has been discovered in the Adrar des Iforas. But these three extractive resources are not yet ready to use. However, Mali is the third largest gold producer in Africa. These are issues géostragégiques.
If there was implosion of Mali by making the central government by armed groups jihadists, there would have negative consequences for all countries in the sub-region.
Caller: Hello, the uranium deposit is operated by Areva in Niger few hundred kilometers east of the combat zone. Do you think there is a link between the intervention and the possible protection of this vital energy source for France?
In any case, the hypothesis is not at all rule because there will be an impact on the entire sub-region.
MATL: How do I remove the Mali political vacuum in which it is currently immersed? How the current military intervention she will reaffirm political unity in the country?
The French military intervention possibly with the contribution of foreign troops will not solve the political problem for both Mali and the Malian institutions.
Currently, Mali, tricéphal political power: the power of the president, the military coup embodied by Captain Aya Sanogo and a third emerging power that is the High Islamic Council and also the power of the Prime Minister.
In this context three-headed political power comes the coup perpetrated by Captain Sanogo has forced former prime minister Sheikh Modibo Diarra to resign. For now, we see that there’s new prime minister Diango Cissoko is a great clerk of the State. He did not have a strategy of conquest of power, unlike its predecessor. As a result, we can say that the current political headed, on the one hand, the President of the Republic acting, and the other the military.
Guest: The politics of former President Touré and the rout of the army seem to debate in Mali. To what extent are affected democratic institutions and the people’s trust? How quickly restore democratic unity?
Undoubtedly, political institutions suffer greatly from the politico-military situation that currently prevails. The responsibility also lies with the political class that was not up to the challenges. Responsibilities are not to charge former president, they are numerous.
Guest: France may play a role in the reaffirmation of political unity Mali?
It is not the role of France to interfere in the political affairs of Mali, otherwise it’s back to the Françafrique.
Guillom: Can fear a Malian party or the army is based on the French intervention to consolidate his power?
There is always opportunity to exploit for partisan existing situations.
Cristian Dragnea : What do you think of dissension within the Malian army? What is the position in time of the faction Sanogo?
The dissensions of the Malian army have considerably weakened to the point that it seems that the Red Berets, who were sidelined during the coup of 22 March 2012, were not asked to regain the northern Mali.
Frédéric: France can she expect the support of the Malian population during and after the military operation (information, guides, etc..) As was the case in Libya. If not, how can we hope that we will not go into a quagmire in Iraq as the U.S. and Afganistan?
For the time being, but it was not until five days after surgery, the Malian population as a whole was very sensitive to the French military intervention that supports and she desired. At that point the red white and blue flags are sold in some streets of Bamako and even purchased.
Nico: Are jihadist groups receive significant support from the Malian population (especially the population of the area they control)?
No. There is no significant support from the people concerned. There may be some elements that are part of the logic of power, but overall jihadist forces do not have popular support. There is a salafisation by force already for two or three months. Even three to four months.