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Pourquoi les Africains brûlent des drapeaux français et crient « Poutine »…
“African countries have renounced cooperation with France and turned to Russia amid a disinformation campaign on social media.
Shortly after the coup d’état in Niger, demonstrators in favor of the coup military were seen burning French flags and chanting “Russia, Russia” or “Viva Putin” in front of the French embassy in Niamey.
The images drew attention to a development that has not received the attention it deserves in the Western press: Russia’s growing presence and influence in several African countries.
In recent years, some African countries have renounced cooperation with France, whom they accuse of interfering in internal affairs, in favor of Russia, which supplies them with arms or even grain.
Niger, if the coup leaders prevail, would be just the most recent example, after Mali and Burkina Faso, of a country in the Sahel region that underwent a coup d’état after 2020 and then turned to Russia.
The Sahel is an extensive strip of territory that horizontally crosses the African continent, from end to end, and passes through countries such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, being one of the poorest regions of the continent, ravaged by conflicts and with a large presence of terrorist groups.
Niger was a French colony from the beginning of the 20th century until 1960, when it became an independent country. Today it is one of the main suppliers of uranium to French nuclear power plants, with about a third of the total in a country where 70% of electricity is generated by atomic reactors.
For many Africans, the colonial past weighs heavily against France. Added to this, in the post-colonial period, is the frequent support of the Élysée to African autocrats.
Furthermore, many people in Africa perceive President Emmanuel Macron as arrogant, which certainly does not improve France’s image.
Despite the perceived arrogance that accompanies it, it must be said that few French leaders have undertaken as much effort to improve France’s image in Africa as Macron.
In an unusual gesture for French leaders, he traveled to Rwanda to acknowledge that France bore major responsibility for the 1994 genocide, which left an estimated 800,000 dead.
Macron has ramped up financial aid to the continent, begun returning art looted during colonial times and provided military support to combat jihadist militants who have killed countless civilians in Africa (…)
OPERATION ON SOCIAL NETWORKS
Russia knows how to make use of anti-French sentiments in Africa. A recent investigation by British firm Logically has shown that widespread disinformation activity on social media has helped to promote anti-Western and pro-Russian positions on the continent.
Typical posts accuse France of neocolonialism, praise President Vladimir Putin and the Wagner Group mercenaries, and promote the well-known disinformation about the government of Ukraine, called “Nazi”.
The network, which operates on Facebook, YouTube and Telegram and is called Russosphère, is linked to a Belgian political activist, Luc Michel, according to researchers at Logically, a start-up specializing in analyzing and combating disinformation.
Russosphère, which defines itself as “a network in defense of Russia”, gained strength in early 2022, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Most of Michel’s operations in Africa promote Pan-Africanism and anti-colonialist sentiments as a rallying point to support Michel’s central thesis: that African countries would gain if they distanced themselves from their European colonizers and developed strong relationships with Russia,” write the researchers at Logically.
The argument is successful in several African countries because it is based on real and widespread feelings among the population.
“I think it is absolutely reasonable to assume that most people [no Níger] are pro-Russian at the moment,” commented Sahelian expert Abiol Lual Deng in an interview with DW.
She further notes that Putin upholds conservative social values that have wide appeal among many Africans.
SUMMIT IN ST PETERSBURG
In addition to the burning of French flags and pro-Russian chants, the result of Russia’s efforts for greater influence could also be seen at the recent Russia-Africa Summit 2023, held in St. Petersburg.
There, the coup leader of Burkina Faso and proclaimed “transitional president”, Ibrahim Traoré, described Russia as a “family” due to “the shared history in the fight against Nazism” and in view of the remnants of colonialism that still remain on the continent.
Burkina Faso, ruled by a military junta since the January 2022 coup against then-president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, has seen growing insecurity since 2015.
The military junta now headed by Traoré staged a mutiny in September, in effect a palace coup against the former leader, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
Mali’s interim president, Colonel Assimi Goita, thanked Putin for his military assistance.
“Mali has a military alliance with Russia. We appreciate your support and friendship. Thanks to Russia, we were able to strengthen our Armed Forces and our security services,” declared Goita during his speech at the summit.
Goita noted that Russia has proven to be “a reliable partner” that has always “respected Mali’s sovereignty”.
He stressed that Mali is now an “absolutely independent and self-sufficient” country, whose army can defend its “territorial integrity”.
Civilian deaths have increased by 278% since the Wagner Group mercenaries arrived in Mali in December 2021, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently claimed.
Mali has been experiencing a deep political and security crisis since 2012, when rebel and jihadist groups took control of the north of the country, which has deteriorated after the two coups d’état that took place in August 2020 and May 2021.
At the summit in St. Petersburg, Putin announced that his country had signed arms contracts with more than 40 African nations. He pointed out that part of the supply of weapons to these countries is done free of charge, since the ultimate objective is “to guarantee their security and sovereignty”.
By Alexandre Schossler
Extrait : Traduction/
« Opération sur les réseaux sociaux.
La Russie sait se servir des sentiments anti-français en Afrique. Une enquête récente de la société britannique Logically a montré que l’activité de désinformation généralisée sur les réseaux sociaux a contribué à promouvoir des positions anti-occidentales et pro-russes sur le continent.
Des messages typiques accusent la France de néo-colonialisme, louent le président Vladimir Poutine et les mercenaires du groupe Wagner, et promeuvent la désinformation bien connue sur le gouvernement ukrainien, qualifié de « nazi ».
Le réseau, qui opère sur Facebook, YouTube et Telegram et s’appelle Russosphère, est lié à un militant politique belge, Luc Michel, selon les chercheurs de Logically, une start-up spécialisée dans l’analyse et la lutte contre la désinformation.
La Russosphère, qui se définit comme « un réseau de défense de la Russie », s’est renforcée début 2022, peu après l’invasion russe de l’Ukraine.
« La plupart des opérations de Michel en Afrique promeuvent le panafricanisme et les sentiments anticolonialistes comme point de ralliement pour soutenir la thèse centrale de Michel : que les pays africains gagneraient s’ils se distanciaient de leurs colonisateurs européens et développaient des relations solides avec la Russie », écrivent les chercheurs de Logically. .
L’argument a du succès dans plusieurs pays africains car il repose sur des sentiments réels et répandus au sein de la population.
« Je pense qu’il est tout à fait raisonnable de supposer que la plupart des gens [au Niger] sont pro-russes en ce moment », a commenté l’expert sahélien Abiol Lual Deng dans une interview avec DW.
Elle note en outre que Poutine défend des valeurs sociales conservatrices qui ont un large attrait auprès de nombreux Africains. »
* NOTE 1
Du 2 au7 février 2023, attaque massive internationale de l’OTAN contre le géopoliticien Luc Michel et ses réseaux pro-russes de la ‘Russosphère’ : plus de 50 articles en 15 langues, émissions TV, « rapports » bidons …
* NOTE 2
« Luc Michel, tsar de la propagande russe en Afrique » (Euractiv, France) et « un des plus grands propagandistes du Kremlin en Afrique » (TéléMoustique, Belqique), disent les médias de l’OTAN : “A large social network that promotes anti-Western and pro-Kremlin ideas is helping Russia expand its influence at the expense of France in some of its former colonies in Africa. Called Russosphère (Russian Sphere), typical posts accuse France of modern-day « colonialism », eulogise Vladimir Putin, and call the Ukrainian army « Nazis » (…) Experts say that such misinformation drives mistrust between African nations and the West, and contributes to a lack of support for Ukraine on the continent (…) the surprising figure behind it: a 65-year-old Belgian politician…” (BBC, 02 2023).
* NOTE 3
The Belgian (Flemish) daily newspaper De Morgen already wrote in December 2022: “Michel will now act as a geopolitical entrepreneur to enlarge the Russian sphere of influence in Africa: “a group of independent entrepreneurs, we have invented the concept of hybrid warfare. We work with Russia, but we don’t pay for security services. A hybrid war feeds on different ways: military, diplomatic and communication. I do the latter. “And then there is the Belgian, the activist Luc Michel, with whom it all started. He, together with the ideologue Jean Thiriart (…) with the organization of the elections, shaped the instruments of the reconquest of the Soviet empire and created a space, from Lisbon to Vladivostok”. Michel is delighted with the results of the last referendums in the People’s Republics of Luhansk, Donetsk,
* Lire ausi :
Esquisse de la guerre hybride. L’action de Luc Michel en tant qu’ ‘entrepreneur géopolitique indépendant’
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