France training terrorists in Mali and other African countries
Hundreds of protesters rallied recently in Mali’s capital to demonstrate against the French military presence in the West African country and demand for the total withdrawal of French troops.
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga said last month that he has evidence that France has been training terrorist groups operating in the nation.
Maiga said French troops had created an enclave in Kidal, a town in the desert region of northern Mali, and handed it over to a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda.
He said the Malian military was banned from entering the territory.
Tensions between France and its former colony Mali have grown since reports last month that the Sahel state was close to a deal with Russia to help its fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIL or ISIS).
Leaders of countries in West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in France’s supposed counter-terrorism efforts and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.
The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.
Anti-French sentiment is rampant in Mali and Burkina Faso. On the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital, many say that France is actually trying to keep the country weak so the former colonial power can exploit secret gold and oil reserves in the Sahara.