Other Topics
    NewsAfrica“France Out” posters and photos of Putin: Moscow gains weight in Africa as a new military ally

    “France Out” posters and photos of Putin: Moscow gains weight in Africa as a new military ally

    Captain Ibrahim Traore, President of Burkina Faso, during the ceremony for the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Thomas Sankara, held in Ouagadougou on October 15, 2022.OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT (AFP)

    In the Nation Square of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, it is the day of the demonstration. Thousands of citizens have come there to express their support for the Government of Captain Ibrahim Traore and his recent decision to expel the French military from the country. Russian flags and photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin accompany the national banner and banners reading “France Out!” The atmosphere is euphoric.

    In just under a year, French troops have been expelled from two key countries in their security strategy in the Sahel, Mali last summer and Burkina Faso this February. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of anti-French sentiment sweeping the region. Paris’s once-glorious influence in West Africa is faltering as Moscow makes a move and emerges as a military ally of choice.

    “We are very disappointed with France. If they wanted to, in two days they would put an end to terrorism in the region, but all this violence is in their interest to keep us under their yoke,” says Yeli Monique Kam, coordinator of the M30 Naaba Wobgo citizen movement. “Everything is controlled by Paris or French companies, cooperation, currency, aviation and even our biometric data, and meanwhile our population does not get out of misery. It’s good enough,” she adds vehemently. The collective, which bears the emblematic name of the last Mossi king who opposed the old metropolis, has published its “decolonization plan”, which includes rejecting cooperation and even banishing the French language from the educational system.

    Read Also:   Chad's transitional prime minister announces the formation of his new government

    Diversify alliances to stop terrorism

    The failure of the former Burkinabe authorities and their French military ally to stop the advance of jihadism that today gangrene a country that has lost control over more than half of its territory is at the origin of popular unrest. From the first hours of his coup, Captain Traore announced his intention to diversify his alliances to face terrorism, opening the door to a closer collaboration with Russia, his first seller of arms and vehicles military. This rapprochement has materialized in recent months with a visit to Moscow by the Prime Minister, Kyelem Appolinaire de Tambèla, and numerous gestures of complicity. But for the moment, the arrival of mercenaries from the private company Wagner, close to the Kremlin, has not crossed the red line that the West marked in neighboring Mali.

    “I doubt they will bring Wagner’s. It could happen, but Burkina Faso is not Mali, the people here are very proud of their sovereignty,” says a source specializing in security issues. Two weeks ago, Captain Traore himself joked in an interview with Burkinabe Radio Television (RTB) about the alleged presence of Russian mercenaries in the country, asking where they were. “That rumor has been created so that everyone stays away from us. But when the country finds itself in this blockade situation, endogenous solutions must be developed. Wagner? We already have our Wagners, the volunteers we are recruiting are our first Wagners, ”he assured.

    Read Also:   A BBC documentary denies the Governments of Spain and Morocco about the jump to the Melilla fence

    The enlistment of 50,000 civilians to fight side by side with the army and the introduction of new means, such as drones and helicopters, reinforce the government thesis that an offensive against the jihadist groups operating in the country has been underway since last November. linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. But this has caused a change in strategy for the terrorists, who have now set their target on the Volunteers for Homeland Defense (VDP), whose training and means are still insufficient. The last two attacks by the radicals, last Thursday and Sunday, caused 19 deaths, of which no less than nine were civilian volunteers.

    In neighboring Mali, however, they have decided to go down the path of military cooperation with Russia to replace the French troops, expelled last summer. The presence of some 1,400 Wagner mercenaries, especially in the center of the country and the Gao and Menaka regions, is already being felt. The contractors participate in joint operations with the Malian army, sometimes causing large civilian casualties. UN experts recently called for an independent investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by these troops, in particular the Moura massacre in which some 300 people were killed in March 2022. Malian authorities have responded by expelling Malian soldiers from the country. Guillaume Ngefa, head of Human Rights of the UN mission in Mali (Minusma).

    “Russia’s move is clear,” warns a European diplomat. “It repositions itself in Africa on the memory of Soviet support for young African countries and gains access to important natural resources; on the other hand, faced with the isolation it suffers from the West due to the invasion of Ukraine, it uses grain diplomacy, arms sales and military support to conquer markets and win allies”, he continues. Lavrov’s visit, his second to Africa this year, also took him to Mauritania and Sudan, a sign that Moscow places the continent in an important position in its foreign policy. All eyes are on the next Russia-Africa summit to be held at the end of July in Saint Petersburg, a new step in this strategy, which will serve to measure Putin’s growing influence.

    Read Also:   Defending the right to health in a country of wars and epidemics

    The anti-French sentiment that encourages the military regimes in Mali and Burkina Faso to turn towards Russia is also simmering in other countries in the region, such as Niger, which has become the new reference center for European defense strategy. and fight against irregular emigration in the Sahel; Guinea, where Colonel Mamady Doumbouya commands; and even in the historically Francophile Ivory Coast and Senegal. In the latter country, Ousmane Sonko, the main opposition candidate to the current Macky Sall regime, with strong options to present a battle in the presidential elections in February 2024, also galvanizes his followers with an anti-colonial discourse.

    The existence of pro-Russia propaganda and activists throughout the region points to an agitation network in the pay of the Kremlin. But the problem is much deeper. “It is a question of sovereignty, of raising awareness”, says Yeli Monique Kam. “Or is it that these pro-Russian activists are responsible for the fact that France has done nothing but loot us for decades? Are a few fooling us all?” she wonders.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Latest Posts

    Read More