Home LATEST NEWS France and its European partners withdraw militarily from Mali

France and its European partners withdraw militarily from Mali

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Due to the multiple obstructions of the Malian transitional authorities, Canada and the European states operating alongside the (French) Operation Barkhane and within the Task Force Takuba believe that the conditions are no longer met to effectively pursue their military commitment. (…) in Mali and have therefore decided to initiate the coordinated withdrawal from Malian territory of their respective military resources dedicated to these operationsthey point out in a joint statement.

We cannot remain militarily engaged alongside de facto authorities whose strategy or hidden objectives we do not share.and who use “mercenaries from the (Russian) Wagner company” to predatory ambitions, argued French President Emmanuel Macron during a press conference alongside the Presidents of Senegal, Ghana and the European Council. The Malian authorities continue to deny the presence of these mercenaries on their territory.

Paris and its partners, however, wish stay engaged in the region sahelian and extend their support to neighboring countries in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa to contain the jihadist threat. The settings of this reorganization will be decided2022″,”text”:”by June2022″}}”>by June 2022according to the joint statement.

We understand this decisionSenegalese President Macky Sall said in a joint press conference with President Emmanuel Macron. The fight against terrorism in the Sahel cannot be the sole business of African countries […]. We are happy that the commitment has been renewed to stay in the region and to rearticulate the systemhe added, while the French departure could potentially open up prospects for the jihadists.

The Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea are expansion strategy priorities jihadist organizations Al-Qaeda and Islamic State, underlined Emmanuel Macron.

France has been militarily present since 2013 in Mali, prey to jihadist groups which are also rampant in other Sahelian states. Paris intervened to stem the advance of radical Islamist groups threatening Bamako and then set up a vast regional operation, Barkhane, deploying thousands of soldiers to fight local franchises of al-Qaeda and the armed group Islamic State.

But despite tactical victories, the ground was never truly taken over by the Malian state and its armed forces.

The operation is not a failure, pleads Macron

An aggravating factor, the Malian government was overthrown in a double coup in 2020 and 2021, resulting in the coming to power of a junta which refuses to organize elections for several years and which surfs on a growing anti-French sentiment in the region.

The head of state completely rejects the idea of ​​a French failure in Mali, he reacted Thursday.

2013 if France had not chosen to intervene? You would definitely have a collapse of the Malian state”,”text”:”What would have happened in 2013 if France had not chosen to intervene? You would for sure have a collapse of the Malian state”}}”>What would have happened in 2013 if France had not chosen to intervene? You would for sure have a collapse of the Malian statehe argued, adding thatthen our soldiers achieved many successesincluding the elimination of the emir of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in June 2020.

Some 25,000 men are currently deployed in the Sahel, including around 4,300 French (2,400 in Mali as part of Barkhane), according to the Elysée. The country also hosts 15,000 UN soldiers in MINUSMA.

Concretely, the closure of the last French bases in Mali (Gao, Ménaka and Gossi) will takeat 6months”,”text”:”4to 6months”}}’>4 to 6 months detailed Emmanuel Macron.

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During this time […] we will continue to ensure the security missions of MINUSMAwhich will continue to benefit from French air and medical support on site, before the subsequent transfer of these means, he assured.

European soldiers participating in the Takuba special forces group will be repositioned alongside the Nigerien armed forces in the border region of Mali, he specified. Niger already hosts an air base and 800 French soldiers.

Assimi Goïta is surrounded by soldiers during a press briefing.

Colonel Assimi Goïta became Mali’s head of state in May 2021.

Photo: Getty Images / MICHELE CATTANI

Mali was at the heart of the French and European counter-terrorism system in the Sahel. Emmanuel Macron had already decided to begin a reduction in the French workforce in the summer of 2021 in favor of a less visible regional system, but this forced departure from the country forces Paris to accelerate this reorganization in other countries in the region threatened by the jihadist contagion. By striving to make the French presence less visible.

It is a question of refocusing on the requests of our partners where our contribution is expected, always in support and even more integrated […] We will define in the weeks and months to come the support that we will provide to each of the countries of the region on the basis of the needs that they will have expressed.and this support may include assistance with education and training, the supply of equipment, and even support for their counter-terrorism operationsconcluded Mr. Macron.

Since 2013, 53 French soldiers have been killed in the Sahel, including 48 in Mali.

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