William Molinié 08:05, January 23, 2022

Several "fake news" and videos have been circulating for several days on social networks, announcing joint operations between Russians and Malian armed forces having made it possible to "neutralize at least 107 terrorists".

This false information is intended to legitimize the new alliance between Wagner and the Malian junta in power.

DECRYPTION

This is the illustration, if proof were needed, of the information struggle that is being played out today in Mali.

Several accounts on Facebook and Twitter announced last weekend the "neutralization" of at least "107 terrorists" and the arrest of "fifty prisoners" on maneuvers "in northern Mali and western Nigeria".

"False information", confirmed as such by military sources, and which were transformed at the beginning of the week into images in a video which circulated on the messaging system.

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Fake Newspapers

The video, which lasts just over five minutes, is presented as a "news flash newspaper".

"Do you know that two-thirds of northern Mali has already been liberated? In less than a month. How long has France been in Mali?", questions the robotic voice of the fake presenter who invites Malians to " phone" their relatives who live in this region to "find out" about these operations presented as "Russian-Malian" and which allegedly took place on January 12.

In support, photos of Russians who appear next to soldiers of the Malian armed forces (FAMa).

The Press Release of Monday, January 17, 2022 from the General Staff of the Armies of #Malipic.twitter.com/pS4W9T6VPZ

— Malian Armed Forces (@FAMa_DIRPA) January 18, 2022

If there were indeed FAMA operations that day, they were carried out in the center of the country and by air, as indicated in a press release dated January 17 from the General Staff of the Armed Forces Malians, without however giving a quantified assessment.

"These are the type of videos that we have been observing for several months participating in Russian anti-French propaganda among the Malian populations", specifies a military source.

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The ruling junta needs Wagner to establish its legitimacy

"The junta needs an operational victory with Wagner to establish its legitimacy, at least its choice to have made this alliance", comments an observer from the region.

Hence, according to him, the appearance and multiplication of this type of fake news in recent days. 

Russia's manipulation of information in Mali has been documented and repeatedly pointed out.

Without specifically designating Wagner or Mali, Emmanuel Macron, this Wednesday, in his last speech of wishes to the armies of the quinquennium, mentioned the threat of "the use of mercenaries" or even "the unbridled use of disinformation".

Propaganda that fuels anti-French sentiment

On numerous occasions, the French intelligence services have detailed and warned about Russia's "hybrid strategy" in French-speaking Africa, where "this manipulation of information is very largely based on a pan-Africanist, anti-French and very mostly won over to their cause", we can read in one of these documents consulted by Europe 1. 

The modus operandi described is found in all respects in this new wave of propaganda: "Massive and coordinated dissemination of fake news, via pan-Africanist accounts or avatars, the text is a copy-paste guaranteeing respect for an established narrative, the The persuasive effect is more in the number of first airings than in the hard evidence provided,” the analysts write.

And even if the avatars and content used by propagandists are crude, it is enough to fuel anti-French sentiment in the region.

According to our information, the French authorities are also considering an information response, for example by using advertising spots in the Malian media.

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