On 8 October 2021 during an interview with Russian news agency RIA-Novosti (photo), Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maïga accused France of training the terrorists it claims to be fighting [1].

“We have proof of this. In our language there is a saying that when you’re searching for a needle in your room and the person supposedly helping you to look for it is sitting on it, you will never be able to find it. This is the current situation in Mali, and we do not intend to put up with it,” he added.

The Prime Minister then pointed out that the French troops deployed in his country have consistently prevented the Malian army from entering the Kidal enclave, a stronghold of the Tuareg rebellion where French officers are allegedly training jihadists of the Ansar el-Din front, an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

At the beginning of its intervention in Mali, in 2013, France restrained the advance of its own troops to allow time for the Qatari handlers of the Islamist militants to clear out.

Today, France asserts that the aim of its mission is to forestall the sprouting of an Islamic Emirate in the Sahel. However, Mali is inhabited in the North by Arab nomadic tribes and in the South by Black sedentary populations. Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi was the only one committed to reconciling Arabs and Blacks, after ten centuries of slavery. The overthrow of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya at the hands of NATO and the jihadists rekindled the animosity between those two populations, plunging Mali in particular into war [2]. Indeed, the framing of the French military mission in Mali leaves the door open for the possibility of supporting nomadic jihadists.

In the past, the French soldiers who supervised jihadist militants in Qatar and Libya, and who continue to do so in Syria, did not answer to the army general staff. They were attached to the Élysée and received orders only from the President of the Republic. The current status of this category of staff is not known.

According to media outlet Algeria Part, Algeria would be prepared to finance part of the security agreement, involvng a thousand Russian mercenaries, that Mali is currently negotiating with Dmitry Utkin and Yevgeny Prigozhin [3]. The latter two run the Wagner Group, a private military contracting agency, which according to Reuters is asking 9.15 million euros per month to train the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) and to ensure the protection of certain senior Malian leaders; a mission comparable to that which it is already carrying out in the Central African Republic [4].

Should this information be confirmed, it would explain the sharper tone between Paris and Algiers and the rumors of US disengagement in this region of Africa.

On his part, on 17 October Choguel Kokalla Maïga denied that Mali was negotiating with the Wagner Group, but admitted discussing with Russia regarding the training of the Malian Armed Forces and the protection of certain senior Malian leaders [5]

[2War against Libya: an economic catastrophe for Africa and Europe”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 4 July 2011.

[4"Le Mali proche d’un accord avec les mercenaires russes du groupe Wagner", John Irish & David Lewis, Reuters, 13 septembre 2021.

[5"Choguel Maïga : ’Notre gouvernement a compris que s’il ne compte que sur un seul partenaire, il pourra à tout moment être abandonné’ ", Morgane Le Cam, Le Monde, 17 octobre 2021.
(In English: "Our government has understood that if it relies on only one partner, it can be forsaken at any time".)