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Seidik Abba: on Wagner, “Burkina Faso will probably be very cautious”

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After the departure of the French troopers, will Burkina welcome the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group? That is the query that everybody is asking the day after the choice of Captain Traoré, the president of the Burkinabè transition, to shut the army base the place the French particular forces of the Saber drive had been stationed. Interview with essayist Seidik Abba who publishes Mali – Sahel, our personal Afghanistan? (Impression Editions).

RFI: Did the refusal of the French to assist the village militias VDP (Volunteers for the Protection of the Homeland) militarily and financially affect the choice of Ouagadougou?

Seidik Abba: Probably not. I feel that the figuring out issue was the evaluation made by the Burkinabè authorities of the truth that the presence of French particular forces on the Kamboinsin camp in Ouagadougou didn’t convey any actual added worth to the nationwide technique for combating towards terrorism. And the Burkinabè authorities have made an evaluation. For them, whether or not the particular forces are there or they aren’t there, it doesn’t change the state of affairs.

Will the Mali of Colonel Assimi Goïta emerge strengthened from the choice of Burkina Faso ?

Sure. Clearly, this resolution by Burkina Faso considerably breaks the diplomatic isolation of the army in Mali.

However, did Mali encourage Burkina Faso to take this resolution?

It is arduous to say, however there are indicators all the identical that lead one to suppose that Mali, if it didn’t weigh in on the choice, may at the least have impressed it, since we all know that the Burkinabè Transitional Prime Minister [Kyélem Apollinaire de Tambèla] traveled to Mali earlier than his journey to Moscow. We all know that Presidents Ibrahim Traoré and Assimi Goïta communicate to one another frequently.

► To learn additionally: Is Burkina Faso impressed by Mali in its relations with France?

How do you see the long run? Do you suppose that Burkina like Mali will undergo with the break with France and can welcome Wagner’s group of Russian militiamen or do you suppose that quite the opposite, Burkina will stay in a extra cautious method?

Personally, I feel that Burkina, given the relations it has with its neighbours, and given the excellent army cooperation it has with each Mali and Niger, and in addition given the connection it has with different international locations, as a result of Burkina has the particularity of being the Sahelian nation which has borders with 4 international locations within the Gulf of Guinea: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, that are on the jihadists’ agenda… Contemplating all this, I do not suppose that Burkina will alienate its good relations with its neighbors in favor of contracting out Wagner’s providers. And for the second, what Burkina defined was merely the request for the departure of the particular forces. The remainder of the army cooperation with France stays maintained. So they aren’t in a technique of whole rupture as we have now seen with Bamako. And I feel that’s the choice for Burkina, as a result of by contracting the providers of Wagner, it may alienate itself from the army partnership which may be very efficient with a rustic like Niger.

Sure, however a month in the past [le 13 décembre]on the Washington summit, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo gave a cry of alarm: beware, there are Russian Wagner militiamen on the Burkina-Ghana border…

Sure. We all know that the authorities of Burkina Faso reacted by saying that, for the second, this army presence has not been verified, that, for the second, they haven’t contracted the providers of Wagner, and maybe even although they haven’t any intention of doing so. It’s clear that Wagner, past Ghana, is inflicting some concern within the sub-region. Different international locations within the sub-region are additionally nervous about Wagner’s presence. And that is why, in my view, Burkina will probably be very cautious on this step earlier than contracting Wagner’s providers as a result of, by doing so, it may alienate the assist of different international locations within the sub-region. . And in my view, with regard to Wagner’s efficiency in Mali, it isn’t apparent, if we stability Wagner’s presence and cooperation with the international locations of the sub-region, that this stability tilts in favor of Wagner. The Burkinabè authorities, in my view, will select to advertise the development of the transnational response with the opposite international locations of the sub-region quite than bringing in Wagner, whose efficiency right now, 18 months after the beginning of their presence in Mali, doesn’t appear very apparent.

So, to take heed to you, the 4 international locations on the southern border of Burkina, particularly Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin, haven’t any cause to fret greater than that?

No, I do not suppose international locations have any cause to fret at this stage. Not like Mali, Burkina has a convention of defending sovereignty which, from my standpoint, limits the dangers of an arrival on its Wagner territory.

After this Monday’s resolution, has France definitively misplaced its hand in Burkina Faso?

In any case, France is in a fragile place. What is required right now is to shortly discover the means to regain management, since Burkina has not closed the door to any army cooperation with France. There are prospects, for instance the fight partnership that France is creating with Niger, that’s to say having blended French and Nigerien items, contemplating blended French and Burkinabè items. If we enter into a brand new technique, into a brand new army partnership, which might be more practical from the standpoint of outcomes, with Burkina too, nothing is but misplaced. We now have to search out the intelligence to proceed cooperation another way, as a result of all the stress is as a result of we do not see the added worth of the army presence. If France ever rearticulates its army presence within the Sahel, it may very well be a chance to fulfill Burkina’s nationwide wants, to have one other sort of partnership. All isn’t but misplaced. There are prospects, offered we alter paradigms and methods.

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