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The French colonial designs in Mali

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Mali is breaking apart. After the devolved northeastern region of Kidal, where the presence of the French army failed to prevent mafia-like groups interested in exploiting the region's immense gold reserves from taking control, the Malian government now appears to be losing its grip on the equally resource-rich neighbouring region of Timbuktu.

As Mali slowly disintegrates, France - which claims to be working to protect the unity and territorial integrity of Mali as part of Operation Barkhane - and the United Nations - which is supposed to be doing the same with MINUSMA - are turning a blind eye. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) are also staying idle, partially because the authorities in Paris deem them unfit to manage conflicts and crises in French-speaking Africa.

But what is behind the looming collapse of the Malian state? Is it the natural outcome of deep-rooted local problems, or is there something more sinister at play? Could it be that a former colonial power, which is rapidly losing its influence on the African continent and facing major economic and financial problems as a result, is deliberately creating the conditions for the country's disintegration?

Mali has been in turmoil since a coup in 2012 cleared the way for Tuareg separatists to seize towns and cities of the north. Al-Qaeda-linked fighters then overpowered the Tuareg, taking control of northern Mali for nearly 10 months until they were thrown out by a French-led military offensive.

On paper, the French military is currently in the country "to fight terrorism" and help it regain its authority over the northern regions. But, of course, the real reason behind Paris' decision to continue risking the lives of French soldiers in a faraway country is to protect French economic and geostrategic interests - namely........

© Al Jazeera