Keyword: operation Serval
French troops who routed jihadists in Mali in 2013 are now waging attritional campaign against shadowy fighters who use 'hit and run' tactics.
When French troops intervened in Mali in early 2013 the aim was to shore up a faltering regime and help bring stability and strong government to the former colony. Instead just over two years later the African nation seems on the edge of a political catastrophe. There has been a growing number of attacks and armed clashes in the country and the United Nations mission that replaced the French military operation has suffered heavy casualties. Meanwhile there has been little or no political progress domestically as everyone waits for the signature of a peace agreement which will result in a de facto partition of the country. Thomas Cantaloube reports.
Eighteen months ago Mediapart reported from Mali on its attempts to rebuild itself after France's military intervention to thwart an imminent terrorist takeover. At the time there was cautious optimism within the fractured African country that it could construct a more positive future. Now Mediapart has returned to Mali and the mood is very different. The cautious hopes about the future have largely given way to frustration amid the return of old-style politics and corruption. Meanwhile the country remains under the effective control of international institutions and foreign countries. As Thomas Cantaloube reports from the capital Bamako, the lack of real progress in Mali also symbolises a French vision of foreign affairs that is strong on military intervention but short on political content.
The French military intervention against Islamist forces in Mali has been widely welcomed by the country’s population, and has produced a radical change in what were often strained relations between the two countries. While the Islamist rebels have been pushed back to the far north of Mali, Operation Serval is now due to begin winding down next month, leaving a series of new and major challenges ahead. Many in the country are hoping France, the former colonial ruler, will play an important part in meeting them. For beyond securing the country from further Jihadist attacks, Mali needs to be rebuilt, from its vital infrastructures to its political institutions, discredited by an aging and corrupt elite. Could the country now find itself under the trusteeship of France? Thomas Cantaloube reports from the Malian capital Bamako, where the ghost of colonialism haunts the path to a brighter future.