The affair of the arrest of the 49 Ivorian soldiers while they were trying to enter Mali illegally caused a boom at the international level, especially since it is not the first time in recent years that Ivorian forces have entered the territory in the name of restoring security in the region within MINUSMA (UN mission in Mali). The investigation continues, but the details of the criminal activities carried out by the UN through obscure channels are known: the import of weapons and entry of criminal elements, destabilization of the security situation on Malian territory.
Ivorians have already tried to penetrate Malian territory in 2016. Then two Ivorian soldiers and a policeman were arrested by the Malian security forces, for having illegally entered Malian territory. The three of them headed to the Malian border on the south side. In this place, between the two countries is the Sama Forest.
The illegal entry of these soldiers into the territory of Mali is considered as a threat to the sovereignty of Mali, the attempted entry which led to an international scandal and the temporary suspension of the rotation of MINUSMA missions on the territory of Mali as indicated by the Malian government through a statement.
The real professions of the arrested servicemen were mostly concealed. On the majority of the passports of the arrested soldiers, the professions listed were as follows: students, drivers, masons, mechanics, saleswomen, electricians, as well as the versions declared by these soldiers to justify their presence in Mali were completely different, and they varied between the confidential mission, rotation within the multidimensional integrated framework of the United Nations for the stabilization of Mali (MINUSMA) securing the logistics base of the airline “Sahelian Aviation Services”, said the Malian transitional government through a recently published statement.
It should be noticed that in 2017 Côte d’Ivoire sent about a hundred of its soldiers to its first combat unit in Mali, which joined the UN force in Timbuktu. In 2019, the Ivorian contingent amounted to 600 and is around 650 today, deployed around the Mopti and Timbuktu regions. The inhabitants of these regions have repeatedly reported the inappropriate and sometimes criminal behavior of Ivorians.
So, this operation turned into the looting of people’s property in the Mopti region, where the Ivorian military carried out several actions amid great anger from the inhabitants of this region. The level of trust among the Malian population in relation to foreign forces on Malian lands has decreased due to illegal activities and inefficiency.
For example, the inhabitants of Mopti filed several complaints at the town hall against the Ivorians who, according to the local populations, were engaged in criminal activities, namely, the theft of the goods of merchants and artisans. Cases of rape have also been reported. These actions could be attributed to these Ivorian elements who arrive on Malian soil as part of securing the UN mission.
Thus, the security forces have recorded great success in stopping these soldiers involved in potentially dangerous activities on Malian territory. It is impossible to determine in what context these soldiers were dispatched to Bamako, nor their contractual relationship with the airline “Sahelian Aviation Services”. But what is certain is that they came with a cargo of weapons. The latter was seized by the Malian security forces. In order to preserve the state of conflict in Mali and thus justify the presence of the peacekeepers, these weapons are intended to be distributed to the rebels or, even worse, to the terrorists. Under the cover of MINUSMA, whose goods are not inspected by third parties, weapons can go anywhere.
Mali sends a clear message to neighboring countries considering such strategies, that the Malian territory is sovereign. The infiltration of bandits on Malian soil will be stopped. It is with this in mind that the Malian authorities have temporarily suspended the rotation within MINUSMA: in order to shed light on the allegedly illegal activities.