The anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane in the Sahel is suspended by France



Wednesday’s address in Toulon by President Macron will officially put an end to France’s eight-year anti-jihadist mission in the Sahel.

Since February, when France announced its military pullout from Mali, Operation Barkhane has been inactive.

On August 15, the final French soldiers evacuated their base in the Malian town of Gao.

The Élysée Palace claims that Mr. Macron wants to outline new priorities that will now guide military missions in Africa.

BBC reported that, Operation Barkhane, which was started in 2013 to stop the progress of jihadist insurgents in Mali, peaked at 5,500 French soldiers participating. The cooperation also included Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

But faced with the continuing spread in the region of groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State – as well as a growing casualty list of French troops (58 dead) – military leaders and politicians in Paris became increasingly doubtful of the viability of the campaign.

Mounting hostility to France among local populations – fanned by social media and widespread disinformation – made the task a thankless as well as a dangerous one. The last straw was the 2020 coup in Mali, whose leaders accused France of interference and turned instead for security to Russian mercenary group Wagner.

Mr Macron, who wants to to draw a public line under the campaign, is expected to say that France is not abandoning the fight against Islamist militants in the region, but that its efforts will now take place under different terms of engagement.


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