France to withdraw its forces after ten-year op — Analysis

President Emmanuel Macron said he “totally refuses” to call the French operation in Mali a “failure”

France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced the pullout of French troops from Mali on Thursday, insisting that almost a decade-long military operation in the West African country was not a failure.

France fled Mali because of disagreements with its generals, Macron said during a Paris press conference at the Elysee Palace.

“We can’t remain militarily engaged alongside de-facto authorities whose strategy and hidden aims we do not share,”He stated.

Two coups have occurred in Mali since 2020. After the military broke its pledge to hold elections in February 2019, ties between Paris, Bamako and Paris plummeted. The French ambassador to Mali was expulsed from the country in January.

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Macron claimed that, despite the withdrawal of his troops from Syria, he would continue to support them. “totally refuses”To call the French military operations at Mali a “failure.”Paris sent troops to France when Islamist militants advanced on the capital. This incursion helped to stop the collapse of the state, he claimed.

Paris, Mali launched Operation Serval on 13 June 2013. A year later it was replaced by the larger Operation Barkhane, aimed at tackling insurgency in the whole of the Sahel region, which – besides Mali – spans Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania.

Around half the French force in West Africa was based in Mali, with 5,100 soldiers at one point. France has been withdrawing some service personnel in the area with the goal to eventually reduce it to between 2,500 and 3,000 by 2023.

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“The heart of this military operation will no longer be in Mali, but in Niger,”Macron stated. The withdrawal of France’s forces from Mali will take four to six months, he said, adding that during this period there’ll be fewer anti-terrorist missions in the Sahel.

Paris’s move means Takuba, the European Task Force Takuba, will be also redeploying out of the country.

Paris hosted a summit of Western and African leaders on Wednesday, with Senegal’s president Macky Sall and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo also attending Macron’s press-conference.

“We have agreed with Europe that the struggle against terrorism in the Sahel can’t be the business of African countries alone, there’s a consensus on this,”Sall pointed it out. Akufo Adufo-Addo supported him and also insists that UN peacekeeping missions in Mali should be continued despite French withdrawal.

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