“Mali, the lost war against terrorism” on France 5: journey to the heart of a state destabilized by jihadism


Image taken from the documentary


Bamako, Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu, Gossi, Telataye and Kidal. Each of these cities bears witness to a part of the war launched by jihadist groups in northern Mali in 2012, which have since continued to destabilize the whole country. A decade later, filming in most of these localities is a high-risk operation, as the jihadist threat is so entrenched there.

Even more so for French journalists who, since the junta came to power in 2020, have become the pet peeves of a military regime that has made French anti-political protest the main instrument of its propaganda.

Because he manages to tell all this, the documentary Mali, the lost war against terrorism is a performance. Throughout 2022, the French Nathalie Prévost and Olivier Jobard, journalist and documentary photographer, criss-crossed Mali to meet the major players in this political and security crisis rooted in their city, their stronghold or their stronghold. .

Collective failure

Put together, the testimonies, facing the camera, of leading political and religious actors, leaders of armed groups, jihadist fighters, traders, breeders and young people tell of a collective failure. The impotence of a young failed state in the face of war and its shift from democracy to dictatorship, against the backdrop of France’s inability to defeat terrorist groups there, after nine years of military operation “Barkhane”, to the point of having been summoned by the junta to definitely pack up in 2022.

In the North, on the French bases of Gao and Gossi, the soldiers met by the authors nevertheless stubbornly defend the official French discourse tending to make “Barkhane” pass for a tactical victory. “We did the job”, believes one of them. But, a few minutes later, the dusty faces of out-of-school children in a school literally split by war, in an area abandoned by the Malian state as well as by NGOs and by Paris, tell another story. That of a war that weapons have not been able to stop, to the point that, in Mali, “Al-Qaeda now extends over an area larger than France”and the consequences of which will affect future generations.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Mali: France announces its withdrawal with the end of the military operation “Barkhane”

With always licked images, which pay homage to the beauty of this semi-desert country, the documentary of the French duo illustrates the rocking of Mali towards an even more uncertain future. The rare testimony of a combatant and a repentant from Al-Qaeda, enlisted to take revenge on a predatory State, and the patrol of the perpetrators, embarked alongside the former armed Tuareg rebel groups, recently reunited to face a State, here again, increasingly hostile, demonstrate this brilliantly.

Mali, the lost war against terrorism, documentary by Nathalie Prévost and Olivier Jobard (Fr., 2023, 70 min). In replay on France.tv


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