When France sent its forces into Mali, a former French colony, after armed Islamists took control of the West African country’s northern cities, their mission was supposed to last only a few weeks.
That was seven years ago.
Since then, the terrorist threat has spread across a vast sweep of land south of the Sahara known as the Sahel, and France’s counterterrorism fight has spread with it. As a result, more than 10,000 West Africans have died, over a million have fled their homes and military forces from West Africa and France have suffered many losses.
And still, the battle is hardly finished. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, a potent armed group with loose ties to the Islamic State, has been conducting sophisticated attacks in the border regions of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. In the past four months, militants have raided four major military outposts in Mali and Niger, killing 300 soldiers.
France now finds itself stuck in the Sahel, much like the United States found itself in Afghanistan and Iraq — spending years and billions of dollars on fighting highly mobile Islamist groups in difficult, unfamiliar terrain, with no end in sight. Läs artikel