The reform of the Malian security system tested by the mutations of the "defense / internal security" nexus in the Sahel

The obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Security System Reform (SSR) process, initiated in Mali following the 2012 crisis by the Malian authorities, overwhelmingly supported by international partners (Bagayoko, 2018), cannot be considered purely operational. In reality, a certain number of these obstacles come from the difficulty of taking into account, from a conceptual as well as a strategic point of view, the security dynamics currently at work in the country and more broadly in the Sahara area. Sahelian (even on the international scene). Dynamics whose nature nevertheless structurally influences the present and future missions of the various defense and security forces.
So it is first of all important not to underestimate the importance of the debates relating to the very philosophy that underlies the SSR approach, and which highlight serious divergences in perceptions. Indeed, the Malian actors and their international partners respectively adhere to different, even contradictory conceptions, not only of what covers the very concept of "security", but also of the mutual relationship which it maintains with the concept of " defense ".
International partners essentially promote an approach to SSR in line with
standards defined by the OECD, considering on the one hand that defense is only one aspect of security and, on the other hand, that the army has, almost exclusively, the vocation to intervene in outside the borders and the security forces (police, gendarmerie) to manage security inside the national territory. According to the official position of the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs (MDAC), on the other hand, the Malian concept of defense is very encompassing, and includes security issues. In support of this conception, Law 051 of 23 November 2003, relating to the organization of Defense, stipulates that "defense has military and non-military aspects and knows security issues". The official doctrine of the Malian army thus considers that defense missions can integrate security missions, which are likely to constitute components. This explains why there has long been great distrust among some Malian soldiers vis-à-vis the SSR, the word "security" referring to their eyes to a priority police approach to the reform. Furthermore, the idea that the primary mission of the army remains to protect and defend the government rather than the people, still seems to be deeply rooted in the military institution.
Interview, MDAC staff, September 2017.
The Malian Ministry of Defense has undergone a large number of reforms since 2012. In fact, as of December 2012, evaluation missions were carried out within the Ministry. First by a detachment of the French Forces of Senegal, which carried out an initial audit mission. In March 2013, the day after its establishment, the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) carried out a second audit mission, lasting six months, aimed at completing the first. At the end of this process, the Malian Minister of Defense formulated the objective to be reached by 2025 (i.e. at the end of a reform process lasting 12 to 15 years, requiring three military programming laws): an army capable of defending the integrity of the territory; an army capable of defending national sovereignty; an army capable of participating in the protection of people and property alongside the internal security forces. Based on this vision, three strategic axes have been defined: creating an army of needs flexible enough to adapt to the evolution of the threat; improve human resource management; be able to contribute to regional and international security. However, the 2003 force employment doctrine has remained valid and constitutes the operational reference point for the Malian army staff.
According to Professor Kissima Gakou, a former civilian expert at the MDAC: “the military tend to consider that the other components of the security system are inferior to them. This explains why, at first, they frowned upon the appointment of a high ranking officer from the Ministry of Security to ensure the executive management of the RSS process. SSR also refers to the concept of human security which, in the eyes of a number of soldiers, remains a sight of the mind. Legitimate violence and security are above all a matter of "hard power" (interview, Bamako, September 2017).
"The perception and, to a great extent, the reality are that the primary role of the security actors is to protect the government and only secondarily the population"
Currently, the missions of the Malian army are envisaged according to the different scenarios for the use of the following forces:
- the defense of the integrity of the territory against an external attack from state forces or non-state armed groups (terrorists or rebels) from abroad;
- defense against attacks carried out by terrorist groups (made up of individuals belonging to the national community and attacking, as the case may be, the population, expatriate communities or representatives and symbols of the State) or by groups armed forces from communities belonging to the Nation but seeking to call into question, to varying degrees, the territorial integrity of the State or at least the model centralized on
which it rests;
- interposition in a conflict between groups or individuals confronting each other within the framework of intra or inter-community conflicts;
- intervention in missions of maintaining order and managing public security disturbances upon requisition of political authority as a third category force;
- intervention within the framework of peace operations contributing to regional or international stability.
Thus, only two of the above missions (the defense of the integrity of the territory against a foreign enemy and participation in peace operations) imply an outward-looking intervention, the other missions being called upon to take place at the even within the national territory. An examination of the missions carried out by the Malian army since the start of the conflict in 2012 shows that it is indeed and almost exclusively on the national territory that the FAMa (Armed Forces of Mali) were called upon to intervene.
Such a posture is characteristic of states which, like Mali, are not regional powers and therefore have no ambitions in terms of external projection. Such a position is further amplified by the glaring lack of police (judicial as well as law enforcement) that the Malian state is struggling to deploy over large portions of the territory, and in the absence of which the army plays an increasing role in the national theater.
However, in a much more fundamental way, these evolutions actually indicate a deep mutation, even a major epistemological break with the conception based on the traditional "defense / security continuum", itself articulated around the distinction between internal and external threats and , consecutively, between military and police missions. Indeed, according to the Westphalian conception of security, which not only structurally governed the format of Western armies for centuries but also and consequently, that from which the post-colonial armies inherited, the military instrument was conceived as being almost exclusively dedicated to intervening outside national borders, whether its intervention was part of a defensive or offensive logic. This conception was theorized in Europe in the 1954th century by Hippolyte de Guibert (Caillois, 2004) who made a strict distinction between "public force inside and public force outside". However, “this distinction, which allowed the great European confrontations of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, is today unsuitable for peace in Africa (and perhaps elsewhere). [… It is thus necessary to call into question] the inappropriate prism that European categories constitute in the analysis of security questions, particularly when they are applied to Africa [because] unconsciously, the Western paradigm remains the competition of Nation-states, founding the need for "military" security (Vitalis, XNUMX, p.?).
Indeed, the current strategic environment requires, on the one hand, an increasingly frequent intervention of the armed forces within the framework of missions located within national borders (insofar as it is precisely in this space where the most serious threats are located, both to the security of the population and to that of the State) and on the other hand requires the suppression of transnational criminal threats.
Today, in Saharo-Sahelian Africa, the peculiarity of managing insecurity and conflictuality thus lies in the crossed intervention of the different categories of armed forces (military, police, gendarmes, national guard, customs, borders,…) in the fight against threats both internal and transnational. Thus, even though the current security and strategic environment in Mali is conducive to an increasingly frequent, even systematic, intervention by the army in Interviews, General Staff of the Armies, Bamako, September 2017.
Since 1991, the FAMa have sought to turn their activities more outwards, but the force structure (static defense points, lack of mobility of the troops) has nonetheless remained focused on control of the internal territory rather than on defense against external threats. Missions located within national borders, in parallel the missions of the security forces (police and gendarmes in particular), hitherto traditionally considered as circumscribed in the national theater, increasingly include an external dimension, due to the nature most of the threats embodied by groups whose criminal or delictual activities (trafficking in particular) call into question the authority of the State, but also the deployment of these various forces in theaters of external intervention, particularly in the framework for peace operations.
The issue of the geographical distribution and the mesh of the national territory by the various defense and security forces, largely linked to the processes of decentralization and deconcentration, also arises with more acuity: it refers to the question of redefinition or clarification of intervention areas, particularly in the context of the redeployment of these different forces in peripheral areas and at borders.
There is also a growing question of the monopoly of legitimate restraint by the Malian state: the role of non-state security structures goes, here again, beyond the defense / internal security distinction alone, as demonstrated on in the field, the tactical alliance of the FAMa but also of the French Barkhane force with certain armed groups or militias, characterized by their community affiliations and which consequently often cross borders (Guichaoua, Pellerin, 2017).
Finally, such developments suggest that, from now on, the differentiation between military missions and missions of the security forces (police / gendarmerie) actually resides in another criterion than that of the traditional internal / external distinction: that of the judicialization of the security necessary for the accomplishment of a certain number of missions, in particular the dismantling of criminal or terrorist networks, which implies, consecutively, to think about the distribution of competences between forces called to destroy the adversaries fought and those called to prosecute them criminally. In this perspective, the central role recognized for justice in criminal procedure must be made much more effective while at the legislative level, a clarification and a distinction between criminal acts of a criminal nature is necessary, in order to precisely delimit the distribution of competences between the military instrument (vowed to defeat, even annihilate an enemy) and the police instrument (vowed to put an end to acts breaking the law). Such a judicialization of security calls not only for the strengthening of the criminal chain (often considered to be of secondary importance compared to the reinforcement of military capacities) but also, more fundamentally, the institutional strengthening of justice, too often treated as a simple "sector" and therefore considered to be on the same level as those of the defense, police or customs, even though it is one of three powers (the executive, the legislative and the judiciary therefore ) on which are founded the States whose Constitutions affirm the separation of the capacities and the democratic character.
Far from being purely cyclical, the implementation difficulties which the SSR process in Mali is currently facing require a structural reflection on the current nature of the “security-defense continuum” in the strategic context of the Sahel, and consequently on the contemporary missions of the Malian defense and security forces. It therefore appears necessary to think about and strictly supervise these missions by recording them in a new national security strategy insisting on the neutrality of these armed forces as well as on their duty to protect civilians, in particular at a time when quality relations with populations increasingly constitute a guarantee of operational efficiency in the fight against various threats. More broadly, it seems essential to clearly include these missions in the framework of the rule of law, by strengthening the possibility for the judiciary to initiate proceedings against the armed forces, when they threaten them. rights and freedoms: in this regard, a clarification and convergence of the codes of military justice and the penal code appears necessary, the evolution of international law, the law of armed conflict as well as the normative framework relating to the rights of the Man inducing in particular a redefinition of the organization of the provost function exercised within the armies by the gendarmeries.
In the absence of such efforts to conceptualize and rationalize the security system at the strategic level, current developments could result in an objective return to the colonial and post-colonial situation (Bat and Courtin, 2012), which was marked by the priority use of the armed forces (military and police) as a political instrument for the suppression of populations and freedoms.
The Malian army is the product of the legacy of the colonial period, during which the indigenous armed forces were used to establish French domination. After independence, the colonial representation of security remained static and centered on the Palace of the Governor (now the Presidential Palace of Koulouba), protected as closely as possible by a militarized system whose main units were all located