Mali turns to Rwanda for help, after Russia

APA - Bamako (Mali)

The Head of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMas), who paid a three-day visit to Rwanda, was received by President Paul Kagame.

How to replace the French army? - Mali, which has just denounced its military agreements with the former colonial power, in response to the ongoing withdrawal of French soldiers from its territory, is looking for new allies. After having called on Moscow, or rather on Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Company-- according to several media and diplomats-- Bamako has just sent the head of its army to Rwanda in order to obtain Kigali’s help in the fight against jihadist groups.

Greeted by his Rwandan counterpart, General Jezn Bosco Kazura, the Chief of Staff of the Malian army, who stayed in Kigali for three days, was received by President Paul Kagame.

“The case of Mozambique is really impressive,” General Oumar Diarra acknowledged, referring to the deployment since July 2021 of a thousand Rwandan soldiers to Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, to fight the jihadist group that had invaded the region, “Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a” commonly called ‘Shebabs,” but which has no links with the Somali group of the same name, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

The jihadists in Mozambique are an affiliate of the Islamic State organization and belong to the Central African province they share with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Responsible for several attacks in northern Mozambique, the Mozambican Islamists made the headlines in March 2021 when they surprised the world by occupying the port city of Palma, forcing the Mozambican president, Filipe Nyusi, to call on the international community for help.

The Rwandan troops that arrived in Mozambique a week ahead of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces in Mozambique, quickly announced that they had recaptured areas that had been under the insurgents’ control. In December 2021, supported by Rwandan forces, the Mozambican army recaptured the port city of Mocimbo da Praia, which had been in jihadist hands for a year.

According to security sources who told Apa news, the Rwandan units, which are reputed to be disciplined and well-equipped, quickly succeeded in forcing the insurgents to retreat to rural areas, to adopt a guerrilla-style fight.

The Head of the Malian army, who did not explain whether he too wanted Kigali to send soldiers to Mali, just said that his visit to Rwanda was a move aimed at “strengthening the capacities of the Malian army to operate on its own in defending the national territory.

Since France announced the withdrawal from Malian territory of all elements of its Barkhane operation, which in 2014 took over from Serval, which was launched in January 2013 to drive Islamists out of northern Mali, which they had occupied for nearly a year at the time, Bamako has launched several military offensives in parts of the country.

Supported by Russian “instructors,” the official name for Russian fighters in the country, the Malian military has reportedly recovered several towns from the jihadists of the ‘Groupe de soutien à l’Islam et aux Musulman’ (JNIM, Arabic acronym) and their enemy brethren of the Islamic State in the Sahel.

In early April, Mali’s general staff said the army killed more than 200 jihadists in Moura, a village in the Djenne circle (central Mopti region.) According to several rights organizations that have called for an investigation into the events, these operations have led to “allegations of crimes against civilians.” The Malian army has categorically denied such accusations.

In a statement dated April 5, the Malian military headquarters said that “respect for human rights and international humanitarian law remains a priority in the conduct of operations...” But he did not elaborate on why Bamako has prevented a Minusma fact-finding mission from being sent to the field. With its mandate due to be discussed in June at UN headquarters, Mali is no longer in favor of continued presence of the UN Mission on Mali soil.


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