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Arrest of a terrorist leader, Barkhane’s farewell gift?

Arrest of a terrorist leader, Barkhane's farewell gift?

It was on the night of Saturday June 12 to Sunday June 13, on the border between Mali and Niger, that it was picked up. His name: Oumeya Ould Albakaye.

According to the press release, he “was the leader of the EIGS for Gourma, in Mali, and for Oudalan, in the north of Burkina Faso. He organized several attacks against various military bases in Mali, including that of Gao. He led networks for implementing improvised explosive devices. He was also responsible for a large number of abuses and retaliatory actions carried out by the EIGS against the Malian and Burkinabè populations.

War trophy and French snub in Mali

For an important catch, it really is one, even if the person concerned is far from being one of the emirs of terrorism in “Sahelistan”, of which the most wanted remain Iyad Ag Ghali, of the Support Group for Islam and to Muslims (GSIM), and Amadou Koufa, of the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), after Mokhtar Belmokhtar (presumed dead since November 2016), Abdelmalek Droukdel and Abou Walid Al-Sahraoui were killed by Barkhane.

This capture of Albakaye comes as French soldiers have been packing for some time after being declared persona non grata by the Malian transitional authorities, who preferred to leave the protective wings of the Gallic Rooster to take refuge between the big paws of the Russian Bear.

One after another, the main bases of Barkhane and the European Takuba force are being dismantled. The latest, that of Ménaka, in the northeast of the country, in the famous area known as the three borders, transferred no later than June 13 to the Malian Armed Forces (Fama).

This is the penultimate stage of a withdrawal which will take place in good order, according to France. There is little more than Gao’s PC to close the loop. The tricolor soldiers are supposed to definitively leave the quicksands of Mali before the end of the summer for a “rearticulation of the device”, according to the official formula of Paris, which would take into account the extension of the terrorist danger towards the Gulf of Guinea.

What fate for the “precious package”?

Until then, while carrying out its withdrawal, Barkhane will therefore continue to operate, and the capture of Oumeya Ould Albakaye is an illustration of this. The precious package should also in principle be handed over to Malian officials as is customary.

Incidentally, one wonders if, if not poisoned, such a gift is not a little embarrassing for Assimi Goïta, coming from a France which he accuses of all the sins of Mali and against which he instructed since his arrival in business a trial for lack of jurisdiction for not having defeated terrorism despite ten years of continuous presence.

In reality, beyond the altogether symbolic aspect, we must beware of rejoicing beyond measure at this arrest. First, because it takes much more than that to neutralize the terrorist hydra whose multiple heads, like that of Albakaye, grow back as soon as they are cut off.

Then, because these prisoners of war are sometimes the object of“goods exchange” as we saw on October 8, 2020 with the release of former Malian Prime Minister Soumaïla Cissé, Sophie Pétronin and two Italian hostages against the release of a hundred terrorists who were detained in Malian prisons.

We will therefore not be surprised that one day the person who is in the process of reflecting between four walls on his fate is released for obscure reasons.

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