[…] In 2013, when President François Hollande launched the largest French foreign military operation in Mali since the Algerian war, the goal was to rout the jihadists in the north of the country.
It was supposed to take a few weeks. Eight years later, with the escalation of the conflict, there is no end in sight. The fighting spread across Mali and into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, a battlefield four times the size of France itself. Last year was the bloodiest yet, killing some 6,200 people. […]
“At present, it does not seem that local forces can stand on their own feet,” says Elie Tenenbaum, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations. “They suffer from endemic corruption, incompetence in the upper echelons and material deficiencies – they still badly need French and foreign aid.”
But Macron said he did not intend to wage an “infinite war” in the Sahel and called on EU countries to offer more support for the operation, both to help him to lead the campaign and to give it international coverage. […]
The growing resentment in these countries towards the former colonial power risks driving more people into the arms of the jihadists. The conundrum is that they have to stay long enough to provide some stability, but the more they do, the greater the fuss for them to leave.
With the presidential election slated for a year from now, Macron’s party will become increasingly wary of how this protracted war would play out in an election campaign. Although support for the operation was high at first, it steadily declined as the French forces became more bogged down. A recent poll shows that a small majority of the public is now opposed to the operation. Läs artikel