French President Emmanuel Macron Announces End of Barkhane Operation in Mali
On Wednesday, November 9, following tensions with the military junta in Bamako, French President Emmanuel Macron officially declared an end to the “Barkhane” operation in Mali. Following the announcement, he stated that France’s new “roadmap” on the African continent will be “finalized within six months.”
France has spent nearly a decade in the country fighting against Islamist insurgents. Operation Barkhane began in August 2014, with French troops entering the Sahel region of Africa to aid nations in the area in their fight against terrorism. The operation, which is the largest French overseas project, maintained a budget of 600 million euros per year.
Announcing the new French defense strategy, Macron stated, “We will launch in the coming days a phase of exchanges with our African partners, our allies, and regional organizations to evolve together the status, format, and missions of the current French military bases in the Sahel and West Africa.”
He explained, “this strategy will be finalized within six months…It is essential, and it is one of the consequences that we draw from what we have experienced in recent years in the entire Sahel region.”
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After nine years of presence, the French army left Mali in August at the behest of the ruling junta, which is now cooperating—even though it denies it—with the sulfurous Russian paramilitary force Wagner.
The decision to discontinue the Barkhane operation has no immediate effect on the French military presence in the Sahel, which currently consists of roughly 3,000 soldiers in Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso after having reached a peak of up to 5,500 soldiers.
Macron stated that “Our interventions must be better limited in time; we do not have the vocation to remain engaged without a time limit in external operations.”
Furthermore, he stated, “Our military support to African countries in the region will continue, but according to the new principles that we have defined with them, “It will be declined at the level of each country according to the needs that will be expressed by our partners.”
Paris must contend with an increasingly hostile African public opinion, where competing powers, led by Moscow, exert more influence through social media and official media.