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Security in the Sahel and the end of Operation Barkhane | IISS - Sept. 5, 2022 |

In early 2022, France began withdrawing its forces from Mali and re-configuring Operation Barkhane, its counter-insurgency mission that has been under way in several Sahelian countries since 2014. The last French military unit left Mali on 15 August. The soldiers remaining in the Sahel will no longer play a direct combat role in regional armed conflicts and instead will support and train local forces. Russia, meanwhile, has become a new security actor in the region. These are the most consequential geopolitical shifts that have occurred in the Sahel since 2012, when a secessionist uprising by Tuareg and Islamist non-state armed groups in northern Mali nearly toppled the government and spilled into neighbouring Burkina Faso and western Niger. [Tuareg fighters were Gaddafi's mercenaries with heavy arms, ousted by NATO air power giving Sunni Islamists and the dozens of tribes an incentive to fill the void in Libya ... quagmire]

France's failure in Mali is yet another case, like the nearly two-decade intervention by the United States in Afghanistan, in which a Western power has intervened in an armed conflict abroad and proved unable to deliver on its goals regarding stability and security. In January 2020, France raised the number of soldiers committed to Barkhane - primarily special-operations forces - from roughly 4,000 to 5,100. But it began withdrawing after a Malian military junta consolidated control over the government in May 2021. France's failure to define achievable objectives for Operation Barkhane beyond conducting strikes against jihadists leaders and providing Malian forces with general counter-terrorism support and capacity building meant that the mission could have continued aimlessly for the foreseeable future.

The rift between Paris and Bamako grew soon after the junta took power and established security ties with Russia. The rift became permanent when the Wagner Group - a Kremlin-linked private military company - deployed mercenary forces to the country in late 2021. This development prompted several European Union countries to withdraw from the French-led Task Force Takuba, a multinational special-forces unit created in 2020 to contribute to Barkhane's mission. The task force disbandedshortly after.

A year earlier, US left Afghanistan in the dark of night and caught not only its NATO allies by surprise which had battled and failed to establish a democracy with Anglo-Saxon moral principles in twenty long years.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 16th, 2023 at 02:18:56 PM EST
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