Sahel. Burkina Faso overwhelmed by resentment against Paris


The fist raised from the top of his 13 years, Aliou Sawadogo was carried in triumph by the crowd gathered in Kaya, capital of the Center-North region, and he is celebrated by all the media of the “land of upright men” . The teenager, armed with a simple traditional slingshot, established himself as the new hero of the Burkinabe nation, the one who managed to shoot down a small drone of the French army, himself deployed to monitor a demonstration of this popular anger which has won over the whole region. In Kaya, an important “Operation Barkhane” device was blocked for more than two days. At the cry of “Free the Sahel” or “No more military convoy of invasion and French recolonization”, hundreds of Burkinabés even demanded to inspect the contents of about fifty vehicles in transit to Niger, along the coast. ‘a road axis that has become more and more impractical for locals as well as for rare tourists, insecurity obliges. “We are in a very complex situation. Day and night we are losing our soldiers at the front and we do not understand what is going on. And strangely, we see French army trucks crossing our country in the direction of Niger. We are simply asking the French army to tell us what is inside these trucks, we are demanding to see it ”, had, for example, explained to the Burkinabé media Roland Bayala, spokesman for the Coalition of Patriots of Burkina Faso (Copa-BF), which has made the fight against “French imperialism” its hobbyhorse.

against the soothing press releases from the French authorities

Burkina Faso is on edge. Everywhere in the country, the rumor swells: Paris would be the conductor of this chaos which does not cease to nibble all the strata of the company. The former colonial power, under the guise of its “war on terrorism”, would itself deliver weapons to jihadist groups whose influence continues to grow, contrary to the soothing communiques of the “Barkhane” force. And, in the almost general indifference of the “international community”, the Burkinabe armed forces are paying an increasingly heavy toll at the heart of this already lost conflict.

On Friday, November 19, when the French convoy clashed with the Kaya demonstrators, the country was barely completing a three-day national mourning, one more, to honor the memory of the some 60 dead, mainly gendarmes, who fell during the war. ‘an attack perpetrated in Inata (North). Since 2015, in the wake of the fall of the government of Blaise Compaoré, overthrown by a genuine popular revolution, Burkina Faso has got rid of a dictatorship, but the activism of the armed groups which swarm the area known as the three borders, to horse with Mali and Niger, has already caused the death of around 2,000 people and nearly 1.5 million displaced.

The Russians of the Wagner group set up in the Central African Republic

“The insecurity is such that residents of northern Burkina are forced to pass through Nigerien territory to reach Ouagadougou,” chokes a union leader based in the capital: “Since the start of the French intervention in Mali in 2013 , armed groups have infected the entire region. Obviously, everyone is wondering how such a feat was made possible, and which international powers are supporting them, ”he adds. Resentment is palpable across the Sahel, at times fueled by weak and contested local governments themselves. Thus, the Malian Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, accused Paris of having stood alongside groups considered to be “terrorists” (the Tuareg fighters of the MNLA), while reproaching the former colonial power for “full abandonment”. flight ”, while France has begun a redeployment of its fighting forces in the Sahel, and is communicating its will, in the medium term, to halve them. In Mali as in Burkina Faso, the demonstrations of anger vis-à-vis France are accompanied by slogans favorable to Russia, while the private Russian military company Wagner, considered as a relay of influence of the Kremlin, s’ is established in the Central African Republic and is discussing with Bamako to gain market share in the juicy security business of a region in free fall.

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