saturday 1ah October in Ouagadougou, one of the nightmares of the French authorities, did not come true. A nightmare slowly instilled by Russia that would probably have made Vladimir Putin happy, who for ten years was involved in a large and varied enterprise of confrontations with Europe in general and France in particular on the African continent.
Saturday, in Burkina Faso, the result of the coup launched the day before by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, 34, and other disgruntled young officers against the junta that has ruled the country for eight months. was still uncertain. The coup leaders then accused France of offering protection to the one they decided to overthrow, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, a 41-year-old “veteran”. In the streets of the capital, demonstrators waving Russian flags then attacked the symbols of the presence of the former French colonial power: the embassy, high school, French institute, cultural center, Kamboinsin barracks, where French special forces have been stationed since 2013 in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, and the following year exfiltrated ousted former President Blaise Compaoré, a longtime Paris ally.
construction of a narrative
What if the anger of a population exhausted by jihadist violence in the north and east of the country (2,000 dead, 10% of the population displaced) were added to the battle being waged by the soldiers? And that the situation degenerated into looting and even violence against the around 3,000 French people living in the capital? All under the distant but very interested gaze of Moscow? For months, Russia has been using social media and a few battalions of activists to blow on the embers of anti-French resentment that has been smoldering in Burkina Faso and neighboring Mali since their respective independences more than sixty years ago. “For the first forty-eight hours, our priority was to deliver a double message. First, France is not taking sides in an internal Burkinabe crisis, and second, the red line that must not be crossed is the security of our nationals.reports an official French source. Fortunately, the Burkinabé soldiers’ agenda did not join that of the pro-Russian anti-French movements, and calm quickly returned. »
The worst was averted, but the images of the attacked embassy and devastated French Institute are all clear signs of hostility towards France. Parallel to a growing influence from Moscow? When the coup plotters led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré finally prevailed, their leader declared on Radio France International: “Russia is a country like any other. We are already in partnership as you can see. » If the Russian flags waving in the streets of the capital were brand new, “We have found no trace of direct Russian involvement in this coup”the diplomat reassures.
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