Why France is focused on fighting jihadists in Mali

As jihadist violence escalates in Mali, analyst Paul Melly considers if france can persuade the rest of Europe to join the deadly fight.

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has called on fellow EU governments to despatch special forces to the Sahel, to help curb militant attacks that have killed more than 100 Malian troops in recent weeks.

But France, too, is paying a heavy price for its role in the struggle against Sahel jihadism, with the death of 13 soldiers when two helicopters collided on Monday.

Altogether, it has lost 38 troops in this almost seven-year campaign.

Murderous ambushes

Extremist violence, sometimes intermingled with criminal trafficking or local community tensions, is disrupting everyday life and any hopes of development in this desperately poor region, which fringes the Sahara.

Image caption

European allies have been lending the Mali army some support

But the causes are complex and neither negotiations nor military operations have yet managed to restore security.

Indeed, the crisis appears to be getting worse.

Despite Sahelian countries’ creation of a joint force to tackle terrorism, and the presence of 4,500 French soldiers and…

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