Brussels 10.06.2021 At a press conference, Emmanuel Macron announced this Thursday, June 10, afternoon, June 10, the end of the anti-jihadist military operation Barkhane in the Sahel, at least in its current form.(Image: illustration)
Reports citing military and diplomatic sources had indicated that an “adjustment” in the French presence would depend on the involvement of other European countries in the Takuba Task Force fighting armed groups in the Sahel alongside the Malian and Nigerien armies. Those forces have ramped up in recent months.
At the February summit, the leaders of the G5 countries had warned Macron against the dangers of a rapid pullout. Since then, the veteran leader of Chad and close French ally, Idriss Deby Itno, has been killed, while Mali has suffered a second coup that has badly strained relations with Paris.
Speaking of a “profound transformation”, the President of the Republic evoked “the end of Operation Barkhane as an external operation to allow an operation of support, support and cooperation to the armies of the countries of the region. who wish ”. The modalities of this new international cooperation will be worked out at a coalition gathering by the end of June.
“The lasting presence in the framework of France’s foreign operations cannot substitute for the return of the state and state services to political stability and the choice of sovereign states,” the president finally clarified.
“At the end of consultations (..) we will initiate a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”, he said during a press conference, announcing the “end of Operation Barkhane as a ‘foreign operation’ and the implementation of ‘an international alliance bringing together the states of the region’.
The “time has come” to initiate “a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”, declared the head of state during a press conference at the Elysee Palace.
Believing that France’s role had never been to replace African states, Emmanuel Macron indicated that discussions would take place in the coming weeks to set the “new framework” for intervention in the Sahel.
The “transformation” of Operation Barkhane will include the closure of French army bases and the priority given to the fight against the jihadists by the special forces.
The fight against terrorism will be carried out “with special forces structured around (operation) Takuba with obviously a strong French component – with several hundred more soldiers – and African, European and international forces”, which “will have vocation to make interventions strictly in the fight against terrorism, ”the French president said during a press conference.
These announcements are part of the political will already outlined by Emmanuel Macron to reduce the French military presence in the area in the medium term. Paris is deploying some 5,100 soldiers against jihadists affiliated with the Daesh group and Al-Qaeda, a major support for the weakened armies of the Sahel states who are struggling to fight them alone.
In mid-February, during a summit in N’Djamena with G5 Sahel partners (Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania), the French president announced that Paris did not intend to reduce “in the immediate” Barkhane workforce. However, he had outlined an exit strategy, in favor of European reinforcements ready to join them, while France has been fighting massively the jihadists in the Sahel since early 2013.
The situation has become more complicated in recent weeks, on the one hand with the brutal death of President Idriss Déby in Chad, and especially the second coup d’etat in eight months in Mali, the central country of Operation Barkhane.
In this regard, Emmanuel Macron also deplored that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “recognized” Colonel Assimi Goïta as president of the transition in Mali, after a second putsch, including seeing a “bad case law” for Africa and a “mistake”.