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no reaction from the junta in power

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In 2022, the first French soldier killed on a mission will therefore have been in Mali. As in 2021 and who knows, maybe still in 2023. It is a 24-year-old brigadier, Alexandre Martin, a native of Rouen and having spent his entire career in the Army, within the 54th regiment artillery from Hyères. He died on Saturday January 22 around 5 p.m. “following indirect fire” of mortar on the base of Gao, in the east of the country, more than ever the nerve center of Barkhane since the decision to evacuate the sites of North.

Immediately taken care of, the young artilleryman quickly succumbed to his injuries, bringing to 53 the number of French soldiers who have lost their lives since France’s engagement in the Sahel in 2013. Proof that the jihadist enemy is more active than ever. despite the blows, another mortar attack took place the next day, Sunday January 23, targeting a mixed base of Menaka sheltering at the same time elements of Barkhane, the Task Force Takuba (European special forces), the Minusma (UN blue helmets) and the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA). This time without casualties.

READ ALSO : France and Mali, very convenient mutual adversaries

To date the identity of the various assailants remains unknown but the region is accustomed to beatings from elements of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), affiliated with al-Qaeda. There was no comment from the Malian authorities except the freezing cold that now dresses relations with France. In the verbal escalation that began months ago between the two countries, an additional step has been taken since the announcement of new sanctions decided by the members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against the junta. . It is a question, let us recall, of making yield the military junta led by colonel Assimi Goïta, which announced its intention to continue the “transition” for at least five more years.

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With the exception of Guinea, also led by the putschist Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, the thirteen ECOWAS countries have not gone too far, at least on paper: closure of their borders with Mali, embargo on trade (excluding basic necessities) and financial transactions, suspension of financial aid and freezing of Malian assets at the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO).

Everyone plays with time

A rather severe economic embargo whose consequences would already be perceptible in the supply circuits. As it has done for months, for now, the street supports the junta. And overwhelm the “cursed French”. Via Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, Paris is suspected of pulling the strings of ECOWAS and wanting to openly attack the sovereignty of the country. At the end of December, Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maïga publicly mentioned his wish for a “proofreading” defense agreements between the two capitals, with in particular the question of the overflight of the national territory by the planes of Barkhane.

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READ ALSO : No offense in Paris, Wagner in Mali, it was not a bluff!

To date, the thinly veiled threat to ban them has not materialized. But that of Emmanuel Macron to leave ” really “ the country if by chance the Russian paramilitaries Wagner were to set foot there no more… However, these latter now number in the hundreds, accompanied, if not supervised, by instructors from the Russian armed forces “ legal. » There is therefore a good chance that the type of shaky compromise in force will continue in the coming months. All the actors play with time, the weariness of the adversary and why not good news to exploit on the anti-jihadist front. For the moment, they are not very good and are destabilizing the whole region. At the end of the day on Tuesday, confusion reigned in Burkina Faso, apparently struggling with a military putsch.

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