Photo: 35e RAP - officiel , via Wikimedia Commons | Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

With the end of Operation “Barkhane”, Paris changes its Sahel strategy

(dpa) – French President Emmanuel Macron has officially declared the end of the anti-terrorist operation “Barkhane” in Mali after the last French soldiers left the West African country in August.

Photo: 35e RAP – officiel, via Wikimedia Commons | Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

Macron announced on 9 November in Toulon, in the south of France, that France would continue to be involved in the Sahel region but would change its strategy. Instead of missions without a time frame, there should be temporary missions based on a broad partnership. Tensions in Mali had led to the end of the “Barkhane” mission.

“Our engagement in Africa must focus on a logic of cooperation and support for the armies there,” Macron said. “We will launch a phase of exchanges with our African partners and allies in the coming days to develop the status and missions of the current bases in the Sahel and West Africa.”

A strategy for this should be in place within six months, he said. Around 3,000 French soldiers will continue to be stationed in Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso even after the “Barkhane” exit.

Several armed groups are active in the Sahel region, which stretches south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Some have sworn allegiance to the terrorist groups Islamic State (IS) or Al-Qaeda. In addition to anti-terrorist operations, the EU training mission EUTM and the UN stabilisation mission MINUSMA are also underway in Mali.

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