France out of West Africa, supposedly ending 8-years of muddled military mission,

Alex Thurston, non-resident fellow at the Quincy Institute, and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati.

On November 9, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the end of Operation Barkhane, France’s eight-year-old counterterrorism mission for the Sahel.

What comes next for France’s military posture in West Africa remains vague. Meanwhile, the Sahel slides further into chaos, but it is doubtful that open-ended French deployments could have prevented that slide indefinitely — and in any case, France wore out the political welcome that would have been necessary to sustain its deployments. Few in Washington will be celebrating Barkhane’s end, but neither should they overstate Barkhane’s successes, all of which proved fleeting.

Macron, presenting France’s new National Strategic Review in a speech before cabinet ministers and top military brass in the city of Toulon, said that France has no “calling to remain engaged, without time limits, in exterior operations.” For that reason, he explained, he was ending Barkhane. France will now pivot to a country-by-country approach “according to the needs that will be expressed by our partners: equipment, trainings, operational partnerships, accompaniments in strategic duration and closeness.”[…]

The collapse of Barkhane came about due to political friction between France and Mali. French forces entered Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to disrupt jihadists who had conquered territory in Mali’s north and were advancing into the center of the country. After the initial disruption of jihadist control, France launched Barkhane to combat jihadism across the region. Barkhane was, at its core, an assassinations program, eliminating — with a fair amount of success — top jihadist leaders.

Yet jihadist violence rose and expanded within Mali and into parts of neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Anti-French sentiment surged in all three countries. Critics charged that France had failed to bring security and had come to play a neocolonialist role in propping up unpopular leaders; conspiracy theorists claimed that France itself abetted insecurity and played double games. Läs artikel