World News: France Moves to Withdraw Troops from Sahel Region

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Operation Barkhane, initiated by former President François Hollande, with the goal of curbing radical Islamicmilitias in Northern Africa, has continue for eight years. The billion euro annual debt, coupled with the pandemic has made the operation expendable.

As the question arises surrounding the withdrawal of French forces from Operation Barkhane in the Sahel, France's ambiguities regarding these former colonies are also emerging. Explanations.


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A former colonial power, France has often had an ambiguous attitude since the independence of those who were these African possessions. Between the desire for emancipation and cooperation hidden in a form of interference that did not mean its name, Paris has seen, and still sees, in the countries of Africa at of the West in particular, both a set of economic partners and a buffer space supposed to protect France from the Islamist movement that has taken place in the Sahel.

The military operation Barkhane, initiated by former President François Hollande in 2013 with the idea of securing the area in view of the presence of radical Islamist militias able to threaten the national territory, is now a source of questioning on the part of the French General Staff but has reached the countries concerned, namely the G5 Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad).


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Leaving or Staying

By redrawing the geostrategic lines of forces in the Sahel, the action of the French force, which gradually extended beyond the froths set by the initial mission that was North Mali, highlighted the complexity of resolving the issue of Islamist terrorism. And questions about the usefulness of the French presence to ask themselves acutely.

Financially and costly, geographically outdated, Operation Barkhane carries with it all the ambiguities of The African policy of France: Let the G5 powers manage the security of the area concerned by effectively agreeing to lose control of operations and its objectives; maintain the presence of French forces at the risk of seeing the emergence of a kind of neocolonialism.


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The initial ambiguity then turns into a corneal problem fueled by a hexagonal public opinion less and less inclined to accept a military operation costing nearly one billion euros per year regardless of the human losses of around 50 soldiers killed to date.  

For the increase in human casualties in the context of the fight against jihadism in the sahelian area far from France, also questions a public opinion quick to question the relevance of such an operation.

Launched on the premise of a fight against Islamist movements on their own territory, Operation Barkhane quickly turned into a decentralized war waged by France on a sensitive continent, exposing France to a long and complex conflict, with no real way out except to entrust the G5 with the management of operations without guarantee, today or tomorrow, that the terrorist threat will be extinguished.

Cultural Spheres and Pandemic

Politically risky, given the human or financial stakes it reveals, Operation Barkhane has everything from poisonous gift. Because behind the desire to eradicate Islamist terrorism in its initial bases, another element has tarnished the relevance of this operation.


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Recent attacks on French soil not by fanatical individuals from the Sahel but by westernized men or men close to Western cultural spheres have called into question the need to wage a conflict away from its bases. In addition, in the context of a Covid-19 pandemic, other priorities appear to be emerging within the public and the executive.

Does this mean that the Barkhane force will cease operations for an imminent or scheduled return? The theses put forward do not support this solution.

But a possible redefinition of the mission, a refocusing of its geographical action and a greater latitude granted to the G5 Sahel could probably be envisaged in order to limit the effects of an operation with diminishing popularity and effectiveness if not disputed at least surrounded by a halo of doubts so far but for how long?

 

 

 

Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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