Macron And Africa-France Relations,

Paul Ejime, author and former diplomatic/war correspondent

Macron, after threatening to pull French troops out of the Sahel, and accusing the Malian junta of veering toward “Radical Islamism,” now says that France will “transform” its military operation in the Sahel.

He has provided very little details, but the reading in defence quarters is that France plans to replace Barkhane Mission in the Sahel with a France-led European Takuba Taskforce, which has U.S. support, and to which countries such as Sweden, Estonia and Czech Republic have already committed. The taskforce will require strong commitment and foot-on-the-ground participation of host countries.

In general terms, relations are lopsided between France and its former African colonies from which Paris benefits to the tune of an estimated Euro-500 billion annually, including from so-called “colonial tax.” Apart from the political control, the strong influence which Paris wields in many of these countries includes its right of first refusal to the exploration/exploitation of mineral resources and management of their economy through the CFA franc currency tied to the Euro and which is literally managed by the French Treasury.

France has more than 10,000 troops in 23 Francophone African countries with which it has defence/military pacts. Five of the countries, Gabon, Cameroon, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Djibouti have permanent French military bases, while Chad is the headquarters of the largest non-permanent French contingent of 5,100-Barkhane forces with about 4,500 of the troops deployed to restive Mali. […]

It is baffling that despite the deployment of the French Barkhane forces and the 15,000-strong UN Mission, MINUSMA, Mali remains in security turmoil with its mineral-rich northern region as the epicentre of terrorism, as well as separatist and Islamist insurrections in the Sahel. The situation is such that more than 60% of the entire Malian territory including the north and central regions is a hotbed of insecurity from where the Islamist jihadists continue to launch sporadic deadly attacks on neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

So, what difference will the Takuba Taskforce make?

The reduction or withdrawal of foreign forces could either complicate or ameliorate the security situation in the Sahel. However, a lasting solution to the chronic instability in Mali and other former French colonies in Africa must necessarily address the deficiencies in their socio-economic and political governance systems, to allow these nations to manage their resources and defence architecture without undue outside interference. Läs artikel