French President Macron announced the end of the military operation in the African Sahel region. Since 2014, the French army has been leading operation Barkhane to push the rise of jihadist rebel movements in Mali, Niger and Chad, among others.
“Were stepping down in an organized way,” Macron said at a press conference on the eve of the G7 summit in Cornwall, UK. The military operation will be replaced by a “wider international mission”, which will soon be announced more details. The President therefore speaks of a “transformation” of the fight against terrorism.
“regional partners” will play a more important role in that new operation. Macron stressed that France would at least not work with governments negotiating or engaging with Islamic extremists.
Currently, France has 5100 troops in the Sahel region, supported by dozens of British, Danish, Estonian and Swedish troops. The anti-terror operations have killed 41 French soldiers over the past seven years.
In February, Macron said to consider reducing the number of French troops in the Sahel region. Then he said a “mass withdrawal would be a big mistake.” In a virtual summit, the government leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger Macron pressed the heart that a hasty withdrawal could lead to major security problems.
Since then, it hasnt been quieter in the Sahel region. In May, the recently re-elected President of Chad died on a frontline visit and feared of increasing instability in the country. In Niger and Burkina Faso, jihadist militias regularly conduct deadly attacks on villages.
In Mali, last month, a coup détat was committed by soldiers for the second time in nine months. France then suspended military cooperation with Mali. According to Macron, there is insufficient confidence in the Malian powers to resume joint operations.
The Dutch Army was active in the UN Mission in Mali between 2014 and 2019. Four soldiers were killed.