On January, French President Emmannuel Macron announced a new Coalition for the Sahel, which will rest on 4 pillars of action: counter-terrorism, military capacity-building, redeployment of state authority, and development. […]
Added to this, the EU is currently training large numbers of local troops in basic soldiering without exerting much pressure on the government in Bamako to introduce structural reforms. This is despite the fact the Malian Armed Forces (and government) have been accused of ethnic bias. This is particularly true “when it comes to relying on ethnic self-defence forces operating in the central and northern regions of the country to provide security where they cannot (or will not) operate .” Accelerating the growth of an unrepresentative force in the context of on-going conflicts between different ethnicities, especially in Mali could be extremely detrimental to long-term security. This, coupled with the many security-oriented strategies currently unfolding in the region, indicates a lack of a coherent strategy for international forces. […]
Yet, despite these challenges, the public debate in some countries about why so many organisations and countries are engaging in the region and what they hope to achieve has been lacking. France’s unwillingness to discuss its strategy for the Sahel has led a number of critics to claim that it lacks one and risks becoming bogged down in a fight it cannot win without significant new investments in soldiers and material. Some have even referred to Mali as “France’s Afghanistan” because they “no longer know what to do.” However, despite growing concern over its approach, there seems to be a continued unwillingness to engage with French and international public and civil society over its aims, strategy and the dangers of the current approach.
The same appears true of the UK. Many British soldiers, officials and commentators worried that the UK’s “Pivot to the Sahel” lacked sufficient consideration and was based more on political signalling, primarily for the benefit of France , than a belief that the UK could positively contribute to peace and stability in the region. Läs artikel