Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

La guerra de Mali

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Abro este espacio en la madrugada del 15 de enero de 2013, cuatro días después de que, en respuesta a la ofensiva insurgente en Mali hacia el sur, la aviación francesa respondiera el día 11 para impedir que todo el país cayera en poder de los grupos que desde comienzos de 2012 controlan el norte del país. Así informaba Al Yazeera:

Con el título France Sets the Stage for a Push into Northern Mali,  Stratfor publicaba un breve, pero interesante, análisis el mismo día 15, arrojando un poco de luz sobre los pasos siguientes de la operación. Este es un resumen del texto:

The French military on Jan. 15 stepped up its campaign against Islamist fighters in Mali, sending in additional troops. At the same time, a multinational logistics supply line for soon-to-be deployed French, Malian and West African forces was reinforced. The moves show that France is preparing itself for a wide range of scenarios in its fight against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Paris is also sending a clear signal that it expects the African nations set to contribute to operations to follow France’s lead and assist in the effort. 

Y esta su conclusión final:

The jihadists have reportedly abandoned most of their positions in the major urban areas of Azawad. The rebels left Timbuktu and Kidal during the night (as they did Gao earlier). Rather than present a concentrated and visible target for the French air force, the rebel strategy is likely to avoid a direct fight against superior firepower, relying instead on insurgent tactics against the French and their allies when and if they proceed into northern Mali.

El 16, François Heisbourg nos advertía en un tuit de un análisis suyo que ese mismo día publicaba el New York Times en sus páginas de opinión con el título «France to the rescue», fechado el 15. Although the future course of the fighting is laden with risks, skillful diplomacy can turn it into a major opportunity in the struggle against international terrorism, advertía.

Y añadía: The French intervention was prompted by the combined offensive towards Bamako, the capital of Mali, of the three jihadi organizations which seized control of the northern half of the country last year. This unforeseen attack prompted the president of Mali to ask France for immediate help.

mapa maliLa BBC ofrecía ese mismno día un Resumen general del conflicto, los Hechos principales, perfiles de los Dirigentes que intervienen, una referencia a los Medios y un Timeline o cronología con los datos esenciales que se iban renovando permanentemente. Algunos datos básicos sobre Mali, recogidos por la cadena estatal británica:

  • Politics: Mali was regarded as a model of African democracy until military seized power in March 2012. Tuareg rebels declared the independence of ‘Azawad state’ in the north, which was quickly taken over by al-Qaeda allies
  • Economy: Mali is among the 25 poorest countries. It is highly dependant on gold mining and agricultural exports such as cotton
  • International: The West African Ecowas group and Mali agree military force to recapture the north from Islamist extremists, with UN backing.

France’s Mali intervention a risk for ‘new’ Hollande?, se preguntaba la cadena estatal británica el 14 de enero. Esta era la respuesta de su corresponsal en París, Hugh Schofield:

For President Francois Hollande – and indeed for the whole of France – it is a different world this week after the decision to go to war in Africa.The president has become a new kind of leader.The abiding criticism of Mr Hollande has been that he is soft and overly consensual.But the rapidity of the move against the jihadists in Mali – and the green light to the failed rescue mission in Somalia – have revealed a man capable of bold and dangerous decisions.Not for the first time, foreign intervention has helped re-forge the image of a president who was floundering in the polls.

El mismo 14 de enero el Financial Times dedicaba tres artículos –Mali intervention creates dilemma for US, Air strikes keep pressure on Mali rebels  and Mali puts focus on French foreign policy-, un Q/A (Questions and Answers) y un editorial,  Towards Timbuktu, que abría con un mensaje de apoyo claro a Francia.

Por razones obvias, la prensa francesa ha seguido con enorme interés el conflicto de Mali desde sus orígenes. El 13 de enero, Le Monde informaba así de los bombardeos de su país sobre las bases de los islamistas:

Les raids aériens de l’armée française au Mali, dont l’objectif est de «liquider» les groupes armés islamistes selon l’expression du ministre de la défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, ont visé ce week-end le nord du pays, alors que le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies doit se réunir lundi 14 janvier à la demande de la France. Il s’agit d'»informer le Conseil et procéder à des échanges de vues entre membres», a indiqué la mission française auprès de l’ONU.

«L’aviation de chasse française a visé et détruit ce dimanche plusieurs cibles à proximité de Gao, a indiqué M. Le Drian. Des camps d’entraînement, des infrastructures et des dépôts logistiques constituant les bases arrière des groupes terroristes» ont notamment été attaqués. Le ministre des affaires étrangères, Laurent Fabius, a assuré que la progression des groupes islamistes vers le sud est stoppée et que la France a commencé à «s’occuper des bases arrière des terroristes» dans le Nord. M. Fabius a précisé que l’Algérie avait autorisé le survol de son territoire par les avions Rafale français qui mènent ces raids.


Mapa de los combates en Mali (Le Monde: 13 de febrero de 2013)

Para comprender el origen de la actual confrontación, hay que retrotraerse al golpe militar del 21 de marzo de 2012, como hace Gilles Yabi en el artículo de Jeune Afrique publicado seis días después en International Crisis Group. Concluía así:

La Cedeao, l’UA et l’ONU doivent peser de tout leur poids d’autant plus que la gestion internationale du conflit libyen l’an dernier est en partie directement responsable de la crise. Laisser les putschistes maliens s’installer dans la durée reviendrait à exposer le pays à une régression extraordinaire, et accepter une déstabilisation en cascade de la bande sahélo-saharienne.

A las pocas horas de la intervención francesa, el 11 de enero, Joshua Keating publicaba un breve comentario,  Mali and the return of Françafrique, en Foreign Policy, con mapas, background básico y referncias bibliográficas útiles para contextualizar los hechos en el marco de la presencia de Francia en el continente africano. Destaco, sobre todo, en el artículo las citas del nuevo  FP ebook We Never Knew Exactly Where, which features vivid firsthand Peter Chilson’s accounts of his travels in the very areas where internationally backed government forces are now clashing with Islamist militants, also revisits France’s role in Mali’s history, looking at how colonialism shaped the region’s political geography and led to many of its current problems:130109_0_ebook-cover-weneverknew

TO UNDERSTAND THE BROADER picture of Mali’s problems, it helps to look back to 1904, when the French organized 1.8 million square miles of rainforest, savanna, and desert — and some 10 million people — into eight colonies. The French dreamed of exploiting mineral and agricultural wealth by building a railroad from the Mediterranean Sea south across the Sahara into its sub-Saharan territories. Little stood in France’s way. Its great competitor, Britain, showed scant interest in colonizing the Sahara. So France went ahead and defined its colonies on paper, proverbial lines in the sand crisscrossing West Africa. The French redrew the lines countless times, dividing land according to stability and wealth but never carefully verifying the borders on the ground. Those colonies are now countries. Here they are, including their colonial names: Benin (formerly Dahomey) Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) Guinea Ivory Coast Mali (formerly French Sudan) Mauritania Niger Senegal.

Y añade:

 From Dakar, Senegal’s capital, the French ran the colonies as one block called l’Afrique-occidentale française, or AOF. On maps, the French shuffled and reshuffled West Africa in chunks big and small. They even used scissors. Take, for instance, the colony of Upper Volta, whose territory was reorganized and parceled out to Niger, French Sudan, and Ivory Coast a total of seven times. The French made the last change in 1947, establishing the borders that still frame independent Burkina Faso, which shares a 600-mile border with Mali. To add to the confusion, the French never planned for the independence of their African colonies, which means they poorly marked the ground between colonies that bordered each other. They drew the lines on paper without keeping track of the changes, as if they were writing a sloppy epic novel. Much of that paperwork is now lost. Even a 1963 U.S. State Department study of «boundaries in former French Africa» warns that «almost every local and French map is at variance on detail.

FPI Resources on the Situation in Mali (Received by e-mail from Foreign Policy Initiative on Jan 16, 2013)

As France continues operations against militant Islamist groups in Mali, North Africa has emerged as another front in the Global War on Terror. The transformation of Mali into a safe haven for terrorists is a threat to regional and international security. The task for the Malians, French, regional states, and international community is demanding, as the portion of country that is now under al-Qaeda-aligned extremist and Tuareg nationalist control is the size of Texas, and the nation’s democracy has been disrupted since the spring 2012 coup and ouster of President Amadou Toumani Toure. The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is monitoring the developing situation in Mali, and believes the following op-eds and blog posts will be helpful as U.S. policymakers and lawmakers deliberate how best to respond to the crisis in Mali.

FPI Resources
Additional Resources
  • The Road to Bamako – Hannah Armstrong – International Herald Tribune’s Latitude – January 16, 2013
  • France to the Rescue – François Heisbourg – International Herald Tribune – January 15, 2013
  • Mali: Vive La France – Elliott Abrams – Council on Foreign Relations’ Pressure Points – January 14, 2013

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