Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed that the eight-year-long Operation Barkhane would soon come to an end. However, the highly unpopular war won’t truly be over: he revealed on Friday that only half of the 5,100 soldiers will be coming home as the rest rebase southward.
France’s “forever war” in West Africa won’t be ending anytime soon, judging by recent comments from the French head of state.
“We will remain committed, but to remain committed is also to adapt,” Macron told reporters on Friday after a summit with leaders of the G5 Sahel nations, which include the former French colonies of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.
“This reconfiguration will begin in the coming weeks. In line with the shift in threat to the south, it will mean a reduction in our military footprint primarily in the north,” Macron said. “There will also [be] a dimension of reassurance … to remain permanently ready to intervene rapidly in support of partner forces,” he added, referring to air support from Niger and Chad.
In mid-June, Macron announced the end of Barkhane after what he called a “coup within a coup” occurred in Mali, one of the primary battlefields of the War on Terror-style campaign. Malian Col. Assimi Goita, the mastermind behind the August 2020 coup that led to the creation of a tenuous interim government between military and civilian leaders, arrested and removed from office the president and prime…