Afghanistan: such a predictable defeat

The Taliban at the gates of Kabul in September 1996, © Robert Nickelsberg

Interview with Gilles Dorronsoro, author of “The Transnational Government of Afghanistan – Editions Kartala

Alain Boinet for Humanitarian Challenges – What is the exact meaning of the title of your latest book “The Transnational Government of Afghanistan”?

Gilles Dorronsoro – The central hypothesis of the book is that under the guise of state-building, foreign operators (IOs, NGOs, NATO, etc.) have in fact governed Afghanistan for 15 years (until the 2014 withdrawal). This transnational government has in fact simultaneously built and deconstructed Afghan institutions, financing the army or development projects, but organizing a systematic bypass of institutions (PRT, militias in particular).

DH – You say that your book was born out of an ethical reaction, what do you mean by that?

GD – As early as the winter of 2001-2002, in a text for the journal Cultures et Conflits, I drew attention to the risks that Western countries were taking in Afghanistan by reinstalling political figures from the 1990s, who had been widely discredited because of their corruption and the violence perpetrated against civilians. Later, I worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (a Washington think tank) during Obama’s first term, when the surge (a massive infusion of military and civilian resources into the conflict) was being decided. Here again I have tried unsuccessfully to draw attention to the likely consequences of American policy. The blindness of the vast majority of experts, military and politicians to the consequences of the policies pursued created in me an “ethical reaction” or perhaps more simply a form of anger at the human and social cost of these mistakes.

DH – Your book came out after the Doha agreements of February 2020, between the United States and the Taleban, and before the date of evacuation of foreign troops fixed for May 1, 2021, is it already an assessment?

GD – The war is lost, which does not mean that the Taliban have won, but it is time to take stock of this intervention. Up to now, the negotiations have focused on the modalities of the American disengagement. This is now irreversible, which leads me to believe that the time has come to take a critical look at the American moment in the Afghan war.

DH – The subtitle of the book is: “Such a predictable defeat”. Among the causes that can explain it, what seems to you to be the main cause of this defeat?

GD – There are several major inflections in American policy and each time other decisions could have changed the course of things. It seems to me that one of the most decisive obstacles was the obstinacy in thinking of Afghanistan as a “traditional”, “tribal” country, allergic to the State, whereas the demand for a State is apparent from all the surveys. Westerners have missed the evidence of the social and political revolution that has been tearing the country apart for 40 years now. The Taliban have responded to the demand for statehood in their own way by mimicking (or caricaturing) the state, while Western forces have multiplied their false moves, starting with the ultra-violent practices of the special forces and the under-investment in justice issues.

DH – Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, wrote a strongly worded letter to Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani on March 4. An international conference of key countries is being organized under the aegis of the UN, as if peace were being sought outside the country that cannot be found inside. There is talk of an interim government between the Taleban and the Afghan government. There is talk of a 90-day cease-fire allowing foreign troops to evacuate, but there is fear of a new Taleban spring offensive. After so many failures, what do you think is the most likely outcome?

GD – The US is seeking to install an interim government and thus a ceasefire so that it can withdraw without major humiliation. Ashraf Ghani will most likely be left out of such a process, which explains his lack of enthusiasm, especially since he was not in the least associated with the negotiations between the Americans and the Taliban (which were concluded with an agreement in February 2020). Ashraf Ghani, who owes his position to American mediation and not to the verdict of the ballot box, is in a weak position with respect to American diplomacy, so I think it likely that he will eventually give in. The Taliban, if they get a firm guarantee from the United States that they will withdraw before the end of the year, have an interest in playing the game, as they will be able to avoid a ruinous war of cities.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

DH – After the withdrawal of foreign troops (US and NATO) from Afghanistan, what are the most likely political hypotheses and could we see an acceleration of the events?

GD – If we assume that a new government will be formed before the American withdrawal and that it will include Talibans, the most likely scenario is that the transition will fail for two reasons. On the one hand, the Taliban, after twenty years of war against the United States, cannot accept the risk of being disowned by the ballot box. However, they are clearly a minority in the country, so the most likely outcome is that they will refuse to go to the elections under various pretexts, which could lead to new arrangements or fighting. On the other hand, the idea of a merger or integration between the Taliban forces and those of the regime seems to me to be almost impossible (unless the Taliban form the backbone of the new army, which is prohibitive for the regime’s supporters, especially the Panjshiris).

DH – If the Taleban return to Kabul, they will be confronted with new realities that have emerged in the last 20 years: elections, media, universities, the status of women, development policy, not to mention the opium culture and how to deal with opposing forces.

GD – On some issues, drugs, development, compromise is possible. As far as opium is concerned, the Taliban have proved that they know how to do it. For development, they could continue their current practice: political control (and collection), but security assurance for the NGOs that have agreements with them. On other issues, conflicts are inevitable. For example, elections (other than symbolic ones) seem to me to pose an insurmountable problem, even if the Taliban have renounced the theocratic organization they had set up in 1996. This directly raises the question of the possibility of independent media, of an opposition and above all of an alternation of power, I am pessimistic on this point because the whole political culture of the Taliban is opposed to it. In the same way, on questions of gender or education, and therefore implicitly the status of the Afghan bourgeoisie, tensions will probably be high (we can fear a major exodus of executives who have worked for international operators).

DH – Is a new generalized civil war a risk?

GD – We are already in a generalized civil war and the Islamic State in its local version will never join a political solution. So, for sure, this actor will continue to practice violence (anti-Shiite attacks, targeted assassinations, attacks against institutions). As for the other actors, we can envisage a pessimistic scenario in which the departure of the United States precipitates a major offensive by the Taliban and the maintenance of resistance in the North. The duration of the confrontation will then depend, as is often the case in Afghanistan, on the support that the parties obtain. While the Taliban can count on Pakistani support, things are less clear for the groups in the North, which could constitute a pole of resistance. The Russians seem to prefer the Taliban option for the moment, and Indian support is not a given. The attitude of Western countries, starting with the United States, will probably depend on the attitude of the Taliban towards al-Qaeda.

Talks in Moscow in March 2021 between the Kabul government and the Taliban in the presence of the countries most concerned.

DH – To take a step back, after twenty years of war and in the face of political and military failure, couldn’t the Taleban have been involved from the start at the time of the Bonn agreements in 2001-2002?

GD – There was a possibility of amnesty and some form of reintegration of the Taliban after their military defeat, and the leadership of the movement seems to have been willing to return to Afghanistan with some guarantees. Another option was to take a hard line, but this would require decisive pressure on Pakistan, which was probably possible in 2002. But the policy followed was an in-between: neither amnesty nor pressure on Pakistan. The Afghan commanders opposed amnesty and the American military never understood the Pakistani game.

DH – This site, Défis Humanitaires, is particularly aimed at humanitarians. What lessons do you draw from your experience in the 1980s and since 2001 and what advice would you give them for the future?

GD – Afghanistan is one of the best places to observe the transformation of the humanitarian sector since the 1980s. To limit myself to one aspect, it seems to me that if humanitarian aid was sometimes amateurish in the 1980s, it was based on an extremely strong commitment and a desire to be with the population. The turning point of the 1990s, but especially 2000, which is not specific to Afghanistan, is the constitution of humanitarian bubbles where expatriates live among themselves with a shocking absence of contact with the population (apart from some mediators). Moreover, NGOs have become, with a few exceptions, the operators of the large international or national institutions and have lost the role of itching powder that was once theirs, which is probably a pity.

DH – What is your final word?

GD – Perhaps we can underline the evolution of the perception and the commitment of the United States. We remember that a decade ago, during Obama’s first term, NATO forces numbered more than 150,000 troops in a fight that was presented as existential for Western countries. The duration of this war since 2001 makes it one of the most costly for the United States: two to three trillion dollars and thousands of deaths. These facts are neither new nor questionable, but the extraordinary silence surrounding the defeat in Afghanistan raises questions. If we look back at the post-2001 speeches justifying this war, two themes stand out – the fight against the jihadists and the dominant position of the United States on the international scene. On both points, the American position has clearly deteriorated. In particular, the situation left by Western countries is unquestionably worse than it was twenty years ago. Al Qaeda, the main reason given for the invasion, is still, and increasingly, present in Afghanistan. Hundreds, if not thousands, of al-Qaeda fighters are stationed in areas held by the insurgency. While the Taliban have effectively pledged (at least as early as 2012) not to make Afghanistan the site of anti-Western attacks, Al Qaeda fighters now have an impregnable sanctuary.

 

 

For more on this topic, see Le Gouvernement Transnational de l’Afghanistan. Une si prévisible défaite, published by Karthala.

 

 

 


Who is Gilles Dorronsoro?

Gilles Dorronsoro is a professor of political science at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, PI of the ERC Social Dynamics of Civil Wars, and author of “The Transnational Government of Afghanistan, Karthala, 2021”

 

 

 


To learn more about Afghanistan:

Mali without taboos

Interview with Bruno Fanucchi, major reporter.

A demonstration demanding the departure of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, June 5, 2020 in Bamako © Baba Ahmed/AP/SIPA

Alain Boinet for Défis Humanitaires. Hello Bruno Fanucchi, thank you for accepting this interview for Défis Humanitaires. First of all, as someone who knows Mali and Africa well, how do you analyze the motives that led to the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita during the coup d’état of August 18 of last year? 

Bruno Fanucchi. There had been growing a long popular exasperation in Mali because President IBK was very out of touch with reality. His re-election in August 2018 was more than contested, but he did what was necessary to stay in power. This is fairly classic in Africa: leaders in power usually only hold elections if they are sure to win. His main flaw, which worked against him, is Karim Keita, his own son. He was elected deputy and president of the Defense Commission in the National Assembly, and indulged in some very “jet-setting” parties, which went around the world and shocked Mali. Karim himself ruined his father’s political career. He fled to Côte d’Ivoire on the evening of the coup d’état of 18 August 2020, where he was taken in by his good friend Hamed Bakayoko, who had just been promoted to Prime Minister in Abidjan. IBK’s main ball and chain was therefore his son.

In addition to this, there was the widespread corruption that Mali had known before him, which he allowed to continue and worsen, particularly in the justice system and the administration. This led to deep popular resentment, which resulted in the M5 movement and major demonstrations in Bamako starting on June 5. Finally, a handful of courageous young colonels decided to act and “recuperated” the movement to prevent Mali – which had become a failed state – from sinking into anarchy or the Islamists from taking power.

Without it being clear who really gave the order, the government then fired on the crowd on July 10, killing a dozen people and wounding more than 150. That was the wrong thing to do. Critics then focused on Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, who was accused of having “blood on his hands” and who had never assumed his responsibilities. This set off a firestorm and the power fell like a ripe fruit in the coup of August 18, 2020.

DH. The results of the previous legislative elections were contested. Did this event play a role in the coup? 

BF. That’s right: it was the trigger for this popular anger. The results were contested, but the government tried to delay for a few weeks by hiding the face and finally these results were proclaimed: some were cancelled, others confirmed. Hence the great confusion. The result was not long in coming: tens of thousands of Malians took to the streets. Popular exasperation was at its peak. Especially since it was the hot season and the temperature was sometimes between 40° and 45°. Even in Bamako, there are often load shedding, electricity cuts and water cuts. Hence, popular resentment is exacerbated and quite understandable. And when social anger rises, it quickly becomes irresistible and sweeps everything in its path.

DH. Last May 24, another coup d’état. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, spoke of a “coup within a coup”. For what reasons, now that the transition is in place, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who had led the first coup, decided to overthrow the President and the Prime Minister in place.  How to understand this?

Colonel Assimi Goita addressing the press at the Malian Ministry of Defense in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). Malik Konate, AFP

BF. Beware of the weight of words that have their importance. For me, this is not a coup d’état. One can speak of a “coup de force”, but a coup d’état which, in Africa, does not leave a single person dead, where there is not a single shot, and where the whole country goes back to work the next day after two weeks of general strike, I say: hats off! Apart from the political class, the vast majority of Malians have experienced this.

That it was a “coup de force”, that the West and international or regional bodies such as ECOWAS were obliged to condemn it diplomatically for form’s sake, is understandable. But to speak of a “coup d’état within a coup d’état”, as President Emmanuel Macron immediately called it, is only a formula and it was very clumsy… I was in Bamako at the time and, apart from the evening of May 24, when everyone was wondering and stayed at home, nothing happened: neither troops nor tanks in the streets. It was more a “Palace revolution”.

Let me explain. It so happens that President Bah N’Daw, himself a former military officer, a very respectable and honest person who had been recalled to put a “civilian” at the head of the Transition, was unfortunately unable to do much during the first nine months of the Transition.

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, he immediately reappointed him to form a new government, which was made public on May 24. This new government was very similar to the previous one, but two colonels who had participated in the first coup d’état of August 18, 2020 were excluded (Colonel Sadio Camara, Minister of Defense, and Colonel Modibo Koné, Minister of Security) without consulting Colonel Assimi Goïta, Vice President of the Transition, who was in charge of these two strategic sectors: defense and security.

As the real boss of the August 2020 “coup plotters”, Colonel Goïta – who at 37 years old already has a brilliant military record and a real record of service – thought it appropriate to immediately call the President and the Prime Minister to account and to upset the order of things a little.  To maintain the unity and cohesion of the army.

DH. Following the coup d’état of August 18, 2020, an ambitious program was drawn up in conjunction with ECOWAS: institutional reform, electoral redistribution, the fight against corruption and impunity, and presidential and legislative elections, all within a period of 18 months. There are now only 9 months left, is this program realistic? 

BF. We are already halfway through the Transition and, to put it bluntly, in nine months it has not done much, Malians have not seen any change. This Transition was led by very respectable people, but they did not prove to be up to the task. There are enormous burdens in Mali, in the administration, in the justice system, in all the bodies of the State, and not much has changed in 9 months.

Under international pressure to hand over power to civilian authorities after 18 months, the program of reforms was not tenable. It looks good on paper, but you can’t reform the constitution and make all these reforms in such a short time.

In order not to alienate the international community once again, the new president of the transition, who was sworn in on June 7, has also declared that the February 27, 2022 election date will be met. However, there are doubts about this… Let’s be realistic.

In his inaugural speech, Colonel Goïta announced that “two-thirds of the sovereignty funds of the presidency will be abolished,” or 1.8 billion CFA francs per year, which “will now be used to provide water and to create health centers for the most destitute populations throughout the national territory. This is a concrete announcement that I think will be followed by effects, while nothing had really changed in the life of the State these last 9 months. But the example comes from above.

DH. A former Malian minister says that the biggest problem in Mali is the centralized state. He advocates a decentralized unitary state that includes all components of Malian society and even customary and religious authorities. Is decentralization part of the solution? 

BF. Basically, he is absolutely right. Decentralization is an important issue, but it is a long process. I know well the former Prime Minister Moussa Mara, and he is a great supporter of decentralization. Already on the campaign trail, he is currently traveling all over Mali preaching security, decentralization, and the fight against corruption, but successful decentralization and a revised Constitution cannot be achieved in 9 months, we must be realistic. Perhaps we should tell the Westerners to stop putting pressure on the Malians, who must remain masters of their own country. That there may be other priorities even before decentralization, such as security.

Westerners must change their software and their glasses and stop telling Malians: “hold elections on February 27, 2022”!

To me, in a country where children have not gone to school for more than 7 years, the priority would be to reopen the schools, to redeploy the State administration throughout the country, and to ensure above all the security of the people in a country at war where villages die every day. Isn’t security the first freedom? Elections are good, but they are not necessarily the emergency in Mali.

The stigma of the attack on the Dogon village of Sobane Da, in central Mali, June 9, 2019. ©REUTERS/Malick Konate

Let’s look at what is happening in the north of the country.

My friend Coumba Traoré (also Secretary General of the Bamako Forum) has just spent three weeks in June in the north of Mali, in villages that have not seen an authority from Bamako since 2012! She gathered under the palaver tree, in 21 villages, the women of the North to listen to their grievances and make a documentary giving them a voice.

What do they expect? The basic public services that any state worthy of the name must provide to its most destitute populations: access to water and electricity to allow them to live in dignity, to stay and work on site and to feed their families. And thus prevent their own children from enlisting in the jihadist movements, which have no shortage of money to survive.

Colossal sums of money have been allocated to Sahel Alliance programs, but nothing, absolutely nothing, has reached these northern villages. This is the cruel reality: under the hot desert sun, international aid evaporates…

DH. In the past, the media have reported anti-French demonstrations in Bamako. What is the situation and is there any resentment among the population against French policy in Mali? 

BF. Anti-French demonstrations exist, but they are not very important. In Mali, they are mostly instrumentalized by some foreign powers, like Russia. We know how effective the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group are in the Central African Republic, and how they are able to manipulate the crowds skillfully, always against France: they pay a few people to hold banners and signs in the front row proclaiming “Death to France” and they wave Russian flags in the background, it is child’s play. With social networks, it goes very fast and unfortunately does a lot of harm. France has not taken the measure of this psychological and media warfare and has not taken any effective decision to defend itself and to organize the response on social networks.

The anti-French demonstrations were therefore largely instrumentalized and orchestrated, and then, because of the lack of a response, they became more widespread… Today, it is President Macron himself who is fueling the anti-French resentment of African youth, with his tweet condemning the pseudo coup d’état without appeal on the very evening.

I saw Malians, of all political persuasions, standing up against France and Macron. The Malians did not understand this policy of “double standards” of the French president going, in April to N’Djamena, to the funeral of President Idriss Déby and adoubting in Chad overnight the son of the president, who was never elected, but denouncing the following month in Mali a “coup d’état” that did not result in any death or gunfire. It is incomprehensible!

I would add that Macron has no lesson in democracy to give to Africa because he has lost all credibility after having endorsed an unconstitutional third term of office for Alassane Ouattara in Côte d’Ivoire and Alpha Condé in Guinea Conakry, despite hundreds of deaths and arrests in these two countries in crisis.

DH. President Emmanuel Macron, at a press conference on June 10, announced a new framework for Operation Barkhane. He specified that France could not substitute itself for state services and the sovereign choices of states. In a context of deteriorating security in Mali and in neighboring countries, how is this statement perceived?

BF. It was done in two stages. On June 3, France announced that it was freezing all military cooperation with FAMA. This was a very bad signal: how can we explain to the Malians that the French army is staying in Mali but no longer doing anything with the Malian national army? The French army is not at home and cannot behave as if it were in a conquered country…

This was a first mistake of taste. Even if it was intended to put pressure on him, this first warning shot fell flat: Colonel Assimi Goïta remained upright in his boots and did not change his political line for all that, happy and proud to have obtained that ECOWAS did not take economic sanctions against Mali, as it had done in 2020. As we know, it is always the people who pay for economic sanctions, not their leaders.

On June 10, President Macron made an announcement that some journalists have described as “the death of Barkhane. Let us be exact and precise: the transformation of Barkhane, whose boss, General Marc Conruyt, I greeted in Bamako, will be phased in until 2023, with a reduction in the number of troops and not a complete withdrawal of troops, as Macron had clumsily suggested.

This blackmail was very badly received in Mali and in the French army. French soldiers have done an excellent job in Mali since 2013 with Serval, then Barkhane. But any operation that lasts over time threatens to get bogged down, especially if we don’t put all the resources and political will into it. The transformation of Barkhane was something that everyone wanted to see, but to do it “on the fly” by linking it to the institutional upheavals in Bamako was another serious political error.

Macron has mixed and superimposed two agendas: it may indeed be popular to make the French believe that we are withdrawing from Mali on the eve of the presidential elections next April, but it damages our credibility in Africa. For two good reasons: reducing the size of Barkhane and giving it a new mission will take time and cannot be done overnight if we do not want to see Mali collapse in one fell swoop. Moreover, this announcement by the head of the army is hardly elegant or respectful of all our soldiers and officers who have fallen in Mali, and whose families may legitimately feel that they died for nothing!

French soldiers from the “Barkhane” operation leave their base in Gao, Mali, on June 9, 2021. AP

DH. The Covid-19 pandemic is deteriorating the economic and social situation everywhere and in Africa. The IMF estimates that 300 billion dollars should be injected to support African economies and France has taken strong initiatives in this direction. But, in the meantime, how do Malians live from day to day?

BF. I believe the priority for Mali is security. But there is an obvious social front. After two weeks of a general strike affecting mainly civil servants and bringing Mali to a standstill, the National Union of Malian Workers (UNTM) made a sensible decision the day after May 24. May 25 was a holiday in Mali, but from May 26 everyone went back to work and life resumed normally, there was no longer any strike. This is even extraordinary. This does not mean that the basic problems have been solved: low salaries, unemployment, corruption… All this unfortunately exists in Mali and has been further aggravated by the pandemic, because what keeps people alive in many African countries like Mali is the informal economy. When you can no longer go out and work, when there is a curfew, it is complicated. People who live on 1,000 or 2,000 CFA francs a day, if they no longer have any activity, they have nothing because there is no social insurance or unemployment benefits. One job in Mali supports at least 10 people. When you lose your job, it is a whole family that has nothing to live on. This is the harsh reality that Malians have to face.

DH. You were in Bamako during this “Palace Revolution” on May 24 to participate in the Bamako Forum, which is nicknamed the little “Davos” of Africa. What is this Forum and what is its interest?

BF. The Bamako Forum is an original think tank that has existed for more than 20 years. It was founded by Abdoullah Coulibaly, who created the Institut des Hautes Études en Management (IHEM) just before and always refused to be a minister. He is truly the man who made me love Mali, because he cares about the stability, security, peace and development of the country. This year’s theme was perfectly relevant: “Human capital: priorities for a successful transition in Mali”.

In addition to Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, a dozen members of his government were to attend the forum, all of whom had agreed to be present. It turns out that the government resigned the day before the Forum opened. No minister finally came. Only the Prime Minister, who was reappointed, took up the challenge and came to give the closing speech on Saturday, two days before the fateful date of May 24 when he was forced to leave office.

DH. What is the added value of this Bamako Forum?

BF. This Forum is above all a “big family”, but it does not only bring together Malians. It also brings together Africans, Europeans and even Americans… We meet leading personalities such as my friend Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Vice President of the National Assembly of Senegal after having led Senegalese diplomacy for 9 years in a row under President Abdoulaye Wade. He is a convinced pan-Africanist who created and presides over the Pan-African Institute of Strategy (IPS) in Dakar. Or like Professor Alioune Sall, president of the Institute of African Futures, who is a renowned and talented sociologist, who synthesizes the work of the Forum. These proposals and recommendations are traditionally handed over to the Malian president at a reception at the Palais de Koulouba at the end of the Forum.

As it brings together ministers, decision-makers, intellectuals, economists, and start-ups, this Forum has an aura and a great influence on the entire continent. This year, talented young Africans were awarded prizes in sectors such as technology, innovation or female leadership… Africa is indeed full of talent, but it is still necessary to know them and make them known.

DH. Isn’t there a contradiction between the daily military action against groups described as jihadists and terrorists and the intention of the Transition to negotiate with some of these groups? What is the short-term future?

BF. The future of Mali is not rosy, because the security problem is far from being resolved. But let’s not mince words either: you can only make peace with your enemies!

We will have to talk to our enemies, even the worst ones, whether they are called jihadists, terrorists… This precondition given by Macron to the Malians, ordering them “not to negotiate with anyone as long as French soldiers are there” does not hold water for a moment. And there have been hostage releases, such as that of former Prime Minister and opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé and French hostage Sophie Pétronin, which were obviously obtained in exchange for hard cash during negotiations with the kidnappers, even though any “ransom” has always been officially denied by the authorities in Paris and Bamako.

But what is more serious is the release of nearly 200 “terrorists” in exchange. The French soldiers of Barkhane, who continue to do the job in Mali, thus “neutralized” in June a certain Abu Dardar, who was among the jihadists released last October. That is the scandal. France has turned a blind eye to all this. Of course, one day we will have to talk to people who are neither sympathetic nor recommendable. How can we do otherwise?

We have also seen it in Afghanistan with the Taliban, in Somalia with the Shebabs and in Mali with those who are called “jihadists”, if you kill one, ten others rise up to avenge their brother. If we do not understand this logic, we will not understand anything and this war against “terrorism” will be endless.

DH.How would you like to conclude and what do you think of humanitarian action in Mali, of its raison d’être in such a degraded context ?

Supply in Kidal, Mali, ©Solidarités International

BF. On the political front, let Malians first reconcile and decide among themselves what the best solution is. If the presidential and legislative elections do not take place on February 27, it is not the end of the world. Of course, in the meantime, there have been massacres or killings every day for the past 8 years and settling of scores in Malian villages between traffickers or groups of different ethnicities. So there is a highway and work day and night for the humanitarian action that needs dedicated people and volunteers, as you were part of it with “Solidarités International”. All these volunteers do useful and efficient work, but it must be recognized and respected, and their lives must not be put in danger by boasts or orders that exacerbate anti-French resentment in the field. And they endanger the lives of Malians who take the risk of working with the French for a good cause because life is worth nothing in these countries.

Hats off to those who continue to engage in humanitarian action: there is so much to do, even if their action will never be more than a drop of water in this ocean of sand and needs.


Who is Bruno Fanucchi?

Bruno Fanucchi has been a long-time reporter for the “Parisien” newspaper and has been traveling for more

 than thirty years in Africa and the Middle East from Abidjan to Beirut, from Bamako to Cape Town, from Dakar to Jerusalem, Lomé or Libreville. A specialist in geopolitics, he has interviewed numerous heads of state or rebel leaders and covered elections as well as

 international summits or coups. In Paris, he chaired the Diplomatic Press and then the

Association of Defense Journalists, for which he organized several missions in Africa. Going to meet the political actors or committed decision-makers of the Continent, he is above all a man of the field: he works today for the economic website AfricaPresse.Paris and several magazines for the general public such as “Divas”.