France has deployed thousands of troops across the Sahel in a War on Terror-style campaign against Islamist militants. The campaign, which began in 2013, has seen the deployment of French, Estonian, Swedish, and Czech troops to the nations of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced an end to Operation Barkhane, the ambitious multi-year Paris-led counter-terrorism campaign in western and central Africa.
“The time has come: the continuation of our commitment in the Sahel will not be in the same way,” he said, suggesting that Paris could not keep working with governments in the region which choose to negotiate with Islamist militants, or which fail to retake control of areas liberated from terrorism. “We are there in support of the countries, not as their substitute,” the president added.
Macron’s comments follow the recent deterioration of ties between Paris and the new authorities in the nation of Mali, which witnessed a military coup last month. France announced the suspension of joint military operations with Malian forces on 3 June, ostensibly as a precaution over the security situation in the country.
“We will have to hold a dialogue with our African and European partners. We will keep a counter-terrorism pillar with special forces with several hundred troops…and there will be a second pillar that will engage in cooperation, and which we will reinforce,”…