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End of Barkhane in the Sahel: what is France’s new strategy?  – World

No more large bases, as in Gao, Mali, and 5,100 men scattered over immense regions, supplied by heavy logistics convoys exposed to IEDs, improvised explosive devices buried on the tracks by the jihadists. Make way for lightning and technology with the Special Forces, some 300 commandos of Operation Saber based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, ready to be dropped at night on a bivouac of al-Qaeda leaders, supported by their helicopters combat or eliminate high value-added targets designated by US satellites and powerful drones.

If the workforce of Barkhane will decrease in Mali, now led by a junta that has not given in threats of Barkhane’s withdrawal made by Emmanuel Macron, it is probably from neighboring Niger that the fight against the GAT, the armed terrorist groups, will continue, no longer with men on the ground, but with the Mirages 2000 and the drones armed with missiles stationed in Niamey, the capital considered. in Paris more stable and friendly than Bamako, accused of negotiating secretly with the Islamists.

Get out of this mess

The French President has, in fact, rebounded from his standoff with the Malian putschist colonel who refused to resign, by withdrawing the soldiers of Barkhane faster than expected, both to keep his word and to take this opportunity to come out with the forms of this bee-eater. Barkhane had become an incongruity at a time when the Americans will have, after Iraq, definitively packed up in September from Afghanistan. Barkhane was, on a reduced scale, an American-type operation but with limited French means, which had been very imprudently initiated, in 2014, by François Hollande and his minister Le Drian, reinforced by the previous Operation Serval which, it , was a lightning expedition.


This Thursday, Emmanuel Macron has decided to put an end to this headlong rush where victory is not at gunpoint and the risk of further losses cannot be ruled out, as the presidential elections loom. After the death in April of Chadian President Idriss Deby which provided the first contingent of African soldiers, and the putsch in Mali, the situation in the Sahel became uncertain, if not out of control, in the long term, with a rupture of confidence between African and French officials, whose permanent military presence is often considered by the urban population as an occupying force.

Mali is a French affair

Despite French insistence, the sending of European soldiers to constitute the Takuba force, supposed to support the Malian troops on the ground, remained very meager compared to the stated ambitions. In European capitals, it is estimated that the terrorist and migratory risk from the Sahel remains minimal, still considering that Mali is a French affair, a former colonial power.

With the departure of Barkhane, it is not certain that the training provided by European soldiers to Malian soldiers will continue. Therefore, the Barkhane device no longer had any reason to exist in its current form. At the clear request of the African regimes, French military support will be able to intervene almost piecemeal, through lightning strikes and the provision of information against jihadists who will become, after the coming rainy season, more and more more offensive.

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