France will pursue its military counter terrorist operations in Mali against Islamist insurgence despite the ousting of the country’s President two days ago by a coup d’état, the French armed force minister Florence Parly announced.
“The Barkhane operation, asked for by the Mali population and authorised by the U.N. Security Council, continues,” Florence Parly wrote on her offical Twitter micro blog.
Barkahne is an ongoing anti-insurgent operation which started six years ago (August 1, 2014), and is led by the French military against Islamist militiants in Sahel region. At present France located around 5 000 miliatry there, under operational command of headquarts in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.
“Barkhane brought a remarkable tactics success, but it has not reached the strategic victory yet” said the French military expert Arnaud Danjean in his recent interview to Le Figaro newspaper.
The operation is lead in cooperation with five countries, and former French colonies, which has entered new partnership with a former metropol: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.These countries are collectively referred to as the “G5 Sahel”. A crescent-shaped dune in the Sahara desert named Barkhane became the name of this military mission.
There are aslo around 100 Estonian troops focus on protection for the Barkhane base, undertaking checkpoints, providing escorts and conducting patrols. The need for strengthinging vigilance was put forward in 2019, when troops thwarted a suicide car bomb and gun attack at the Gao camp. Six Estonian personnel were injured in the incident.
Al-Qaeda warlord in north Africa, Abdelmalek Droukdel, is pronounced dead by French authorites after an operation in Mali.
Defence Minister Florence Parly said Droukdel along with members of his inner circle were neutralised in the north of the country on June 3.
French forces had also captured a senior Islamic State group commander in Mali in anther operation in May, she said.
The Minister described actions as “daring operations” had dealt “severe blows to the terrorist groups”.
Droukdel was in charge of all the al-Qaeda affiliates in north Africa and also commanded al-Qaeda’s Sahel affiliate, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), which has been active in the north of Mali and Burkina Faso.
The captured Islamic State group commander, Mohamed Mrabat, was a jihadist was a long recored and had a senior role in the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, she said.
ISGS has been active in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
France hopes the United States will not diminish support for French military operations in West Africa, where jihadist groups affiliated with Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are increasing their activities.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the appeal as Defence Minister Florence Parly was due to meet U.S. counterparts on January 27 to discuss the crisis in the Sahel.
Last year the Pentagon announced plans to withdraw hundreds of military personnel from Africa as it redirects resources to address challenges from China and Russia after two decades focused on counter-terrorism operations. Those changes are following an ongoing global troop review spearheaded by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The possibility has alarmed France, which relies on U.S. intelligence and logistics for its 4,500-strong troops in the Sahel.
“I hope they will be rational to keep this partnership … and that good sense will prevail,” le Drian told reporters.
The U.S. currently has 6,000 military personnel in Africa. Although some experts say a re-positioning of forces is overdue, many U.S. politicians and experts share French concerns about jihad spreading in Sahel region.
The French Defence minister Florence Parly (pictured) expected to arrive to the Sahel on Sunday January 19 with her counterparts from Estonia, Sweden and Portugal, the countries ready to support Barkhane’s trooops in the fight against jihadist armed groups.
“I am going to the Sahel on Sunday, I will be accompanied by the Swedish Minister for Defense, as well as by the Estonian Minister for Defense and finally the Portuguese Minister“, said Florence Parly on Europe 1.
“We will continue to support our Sahelian partners and, in addition, we are calling for internationalization, for partners to join us to help the countries of the Sahel to fight this fight,” she added.
Estonia has confirmed its participation in the future coalition of special forces (“Takuba”) which France has taken the initiative to support by 4,500 troops of Barkhane in the Sahel. Sweden and Portugal could also be present.
“We are not alone and there will certainly be more of us there when, in the summer, this Takuba force, which will be made up of European special forces, will be able to accompany the Malian armed forces,” said Florence Parly.
“Barkhane does not act alone. The last operation that we conducted recently, more than 50% of the forces that were involved in this operation were partner forces, Sahelian and European. ”