French President Emmanuel Macron announced this Thursday the end of the “Barkhane operation” “as a foreign operation” and its “profound transformation” in order to launch a new international anti-jihadist alliance in the Sahel. Launched in August 2014 and currently involving 5,100 military personnel, it aims to fight terrorism and insurgent groups in this African region and represents an important support for the weak local armies in their fight against the jihadists.
“The continuation of our engagement in the Sahel will not be done in a constant framework,” Macron advanced at a press conference at the Elysee Palace prior to the G7 and NATO summit. “The form of our presence, that of foreign operations involving more than 5,000 men for several years, is not the most appropriate to the reality of the fighting,” explained the French president, who considers that it is necessary to adopt “a new framework ». This announcement comes a few weeks after Mali’s second coup in nine months.
- Numerous casualties.
55 Gallic soldiers have died since ‘Operation Barkhane’ began in 2014
- Political effect.
The withdrawal of the military occurs one year after the French presidential elections
Macron is now betting on the end of the ‘Barkhane operation’ to “allow support and cooperation with the armies of the region that wish to do so.” He also wants to launch “an international alliance associating the states of the region and all our partners strictly focused on the fight against terrorism.” This new tactic will not mean the end of the French presence in the Sahel, although in the coming weeks there will be a withdrawal schedule and the number of troops that will be reduced in the area.
Macron explained that the fight against terrorism will be carried out with “special forces structured around the ‘Tabuka operation’, launched in April 2020 and in which European units participate to train Malian troops, with, obviously, a strong French component and African, European and international forces ”. Its objective will be “to carry out interventions strictly in the fight against terrorism,” said the president.
Seven years after the deployment in the Sahel and one year after the presidential elections in France in 2022, Macron is committed to reducing the number of troops in the region. ‘Barkhane’ is a multilateral military operation carried out by the French Armed Forces with the collaboration of the armies of the five countries in the area -Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad-. Since it began, 55 French soldiers have died during its development.