Abdoulaye Diop, Mali's minister of foreign affairs, said in a letter to the head of the UN Security Council that the country's airspace had been violated more than 50 times this year, largely by French forces. (Photograph: Reuters)
The government of Mali has accused France of numerous violations of its airspace and has requested that the United Nations Security Council investigate. French forces may have left Mali, but the colonizer hasn't changed the way it relates to African nations.
REPUBLIC OF MALI
One People - One Goal - One Faith
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
Koulouba, on August 15th, 2022
His Excellency ZHANG Jun, Ambassador,
Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China
to the United Nations
President of the United Nations Council
Your Excellency President,
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Mali, I wish to draw your attention to serious acts that are likely to undermine international peace and security.
Indeed, for several months now, national authorities have been witnessing repeated and frequent violations of Malian airspace by French forces, flying airborne vehicles such as drones, military helicopters and fighter jets, without authorization from the Malian authorities.
Since the beginning of the year 2022, the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa), equipped with new capacities, have recorded more than 50 deliberate cases of violation of Malian airspace by foreign aircrafts, particularly those operated by French forces, in various forms. In addition to acts of indiscipline characterized by refusal to comply with the instructions of the air traffic control services, there were cases of transponders being switched off in order to evade control.
There are also cases of tampering with flight documents, as well as cases of helicopters landing outside dedicated airfields zones, without prior authorization. Numerous flights of intelligence aircraft and drones flying at high altitudes have been recorded, which were engaged in activities considered as espionage, intimidation or even subversion. The table listing of aerial incidents since the announcement of the withdrawal of the Barkhane forces is herewith attached.
One of the most recent cases was the illegal presence of a drone of the French forces, on April 20th, 2022, over the Gossi base, whose control had been transferred to the FAMa on April 10th, 2022. The said drone was present from 11:45 a., evolving at medium altitude, to spy on our valiant FAMa. In addition to spying, the French forces were guilty of subversion by publishing images collected by their drone, showing killed civilians. From the results of the judicial investigation conducted by the competent Malian services, it has been found that the bodies had been placed there prior to the arrival of Malian forces in Gossi.This unfortunate communication was intended to tarnish the image of and to accuse the Malian Armed Forces, which are committed to the liberation of their territory and to the protection and safeguarding of their population, which has been suffering from a long-lasting crisis.
On April 21st, 2022, a Mirage 2000 patrol flew over a FAMa convoy on its way to reinforce the Gossi military base on several occasions without prior coordination. This maneuver was part of a plot to intimidate our forces.
On June 15th, 2022, the Malian Air Force Casa 295 tactical transport aircraft was harassed by a combat aircraft belonging to the Barkhane force, while the Malian aircraft was performing rotations between airfields located in Malian territory. The unknown French aircraft, which never announced itself on the radio, made dangerous maneuvers around the Malian aircraft, perceived as intimidation attempts.
In addition, on August 6th, 2022, the Barkhane force confirmed in an official statement that it conducted air operations against suspected terrorists in the Talataye area. However, these unilateral operations were not coordinated with the FAMa.
In addition, in the Lerneb area, in the night of August 6th, to 7th, around 3:30 a.m., a helicopter landed near Ougrich forest, south of Lerneb and Aratene, sub-district of Goundam, region of Tombouctou. Two elements of Ibrahim Ag Baba, lieutenant of Abou Talha, leader of the Timbuktu Emirate, boarded the helicopter to an unknown destination.
On August 8th, 2022, 37 km from Tessit, a Chinook helicopter flew over FAMas reinforcements from Gao moving toward Tessit in the opposite direction of movement. The Chinook, surprised in its activities, suddenly gained altitude. Cross-checks with partners from the East Joint Theater Command Post (PCIAT) could not confirm the origin of the aircraft.
On August 8th, 2022, at 12:55 p.m., a FAMa patrol left Labbezanga to search in vain for a package dropped by Barkhane three kilometers east of the post.
Through the process of transferring the Gao airfields and the northern airspace to the Malian authorities, since the announcement of Barkhane’s withdrawal, Malian military aircraft have been regularly hindered by delaying maneuvers aimed at reducing their effectiveness and lengthening their reaction times.
Faced with the multiplication of these acts of aggression against sovereignty and territorial integrity of a Member State of the United Nations, the Government of Mali issued statements No. 009 and 028 dated January 12th and April 26th, 2022, respectively, copies of which are attached, in order to draw the attention of national and international opinion. The Security Council has also been informed.
The Government of Mali has several elements of evidence that these flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them.
It should also be recalled that it was because of suspicions of destabilization maneuvers by France that the Government of Mali firmly opposed France’s request for air support to MINUSMA, so that France would not use the UN mission as a pretext to carry out subversive operations aiming at further weakening Mali and the Sahel region.
Under international law, the Government of Mali believes that these actions by France constitute aggression, which is defined, under the United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) dated December 14th, 1974, as “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations…”
Thus, the Government of Mali invites the United Nations Security Council, in its capacity of guarantor of international peace and security, to work to ensure that the French Republic immediately ceases its acts of aggression against Mali. Furthermore, France, a permanent Member of the Security Council, should comply with international legality by respecting the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter.
In the event of persistence in this posture, which undermines the stability and security of our country, the Government of Mali reserves the right to use self-defense, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
I request that you bring this letter to the attention of the Members of the Security Council for an emergency meeting on these matters and that it be issued as an official document of the Security Council.
Please accept, Your Excellency President, the assurance of my highest consideration.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Officer of the National Order
Abdoulaye Diop is Foreign Minister of the Republic of Mali.