The war waged since January 2013 in Mali by the French forces against the jihadists is not comparable, by its duration, its scale and the number of victims, to the interminable conflict in Afghanistan, including the United States and its European allies. struggle so much to extricate themselves.
A parallel, however, can be drawn between these two military operations carried out in the name of the fight against terrorism, with the support of bombers and armed drones in distant and perilous theaters. Each air strike, decided on the basis of incomplete information or without the essential humanitarian guarantees, can turn into a massacre and disaster for the soldiers who intervene on the ground. With the consequence of catalyzing the anger of the population against “the occupier”. And to fuel the murderous propaganda of those we are fighting: the Afghan Taliban or, in the Sahel, the katibas (brigades) jihadists affiliated with ISIS or Al-Qaida.
There is no point, therefore, to hide the face. What happened in the village of Bounti on January 3, when a wedding found itself the target of three bombs dropped by Mirage 2000s, deserves much more explanation and detail than the average response from the French force Barkhane. The 19 identified civilians (out of at least 22 killed) who died there, “the vast majority protected against attacks under international humanitarian law” according to a report by the United Nations Mission in Mali published on Tuesday, engage the responsibility of France and its G5 Sahel allies (Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mauritania, Niger). Discrediting the UN investigative method, repeating that the hundreds of testimonies collected are not… “evidence”, and not entering into the matter of possible reparations to the families of the victims, is not an acceptable response from the victims. ‘an army that claims to be there to protect populations from the Islamist embrace.
The conduct of a modern war against insurgents who are often invisible because they are drowned in the population and masters of attacks is a very heavy burden. It involves overwhelming responsibilities, and the example of Afghanistan has shown how much foreign forces, when they are not transparent about their possible mistakes, put the local authorities and those they are in an untenable position. come to defend. The French army now has, with this UN report, a compelling opportunity to respond once again to the accusations leveled against it. She must seize it.