Plans for the deployment of Algerian forces to Mali are well under way. Menas Associates has now received photographic evidence and confirmation from a reliable source that France is preparing an army base at Hombori in Mali — 247 kms southwest of Gao — for the Algerians. The base is more or less on the front line of the Sahel’s Three Borders area where Islamist extremists are gaining the upper hand over the French, allied and G5S forces.
As we mentioned at the time, France pressured Algeria to amend the Constitution in November 2020 to enable the Algerian forces to be deployed overseas for the first time. Paris wants to draw down its own military forces in the Sahel and especially before France’s April 2022 presidential election. However, with the unreliability of local Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabé forces, it is desperate to find alternative forces. The Chadian battalion deployed to the Three Borders region cannot be counted on following the death in April of President Idriss Déby and the subsequent military coup. The Algerian army has therefore become something of a last gasp alternative. This explains the pressure to amend the Constitution and hold early elections in order to establish a new and compliant parliament which will rubber stamp the relevant legalisation against a backdrop of almost universal domestic opposition from Algerians.
Hombori in Mali – where Algerian troops may be based
We understand that neither the army high command nor the intelligence services are happy with this proposed plan and especially because it will be so unpopular. Algeria is currently so politically and economically weak, however, that it cannot resist such pressure from France and the US.
There will be serious difficulties confronting any Algerians troops when they arrive in Hombori. Its own the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS) intelligence services created the Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO) which is one of the key jihadist movements in the Sahel. It also has close relations with Iyad ag Ghali, the overall leader of the dominant Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) jihadist group, who is a long-time DRS agent. It is almost inevitable that any Algerian armed forces in the region will therefore find themselves embroiled in difficult and dangerous conflicting interests, albeit of their own original making. It is therefore unsurprising that there is a complete blanket of secrecy over these planned moves.