France will resume military operations with the Malian armed forces

“Following consultations with the Malian transitional authorities and the countries of the region, France has taken note of the commitments made by the Malian transitional authorities”, which were endorsed by the Economic Community of African States of l ‘West (Ecowa). Paris also issued a statement in which it said it had “decided to resume joint military operations as well as national advisory missions, which had been suspended since June 3”.

After the second putsch in Mali in nine months, culminating in the passage of colonel Assimi Goïta at the head of a state, France declared that it would suspend joint operations with the Malian armed forces, with which it had fought for years the jihadist insurgents.

The putschists were then put under pressure by the international community to adopt a transition period that would be limited to 18 months and led by civilians. But on May 24, Colonel Goïta, who remained the real strongman of the transitional government, flouted this commitment by arresting President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. He was then proclaimed president of the transitional government by the Constitutional Court.

“France remains fully engaged, with its European and American allies, alongside the countries of the Sahel and international missions ”, to fight against jihadist groups operating in the Sahel, the Defense Ministry said in its July 2 press release. French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that France would gradually withdraw from the Sahel.

The French counter-insurgency operation Barkhane (currently 5,100 troops) will end and be replaced by a new mission, which will focus on the fight against terrorism and support for local forces. But “this transformation does not mean that we are going to leave the Sahel or that we are going to slow down our anti-terrorism operations ”in the region, declared Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces, on July 2.

“We (the Europeans) have a collective responsibility to secure the southern flank of Europe. We cannot allow the Sahel, and Africa more broadly, to become a zone of refuge and expansion for terrorist groups affiliated with Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda, ”she said. .

To reduce the number of troops in the Sahel, France relies heavily on the group of European special forces Takuba, which was created at the initiative of Paris to accompany Malian units in combat.

“Today, we see no movement, reluctance or questioning related to the political situation” in Mali, said Parly. She added “it is of the utmost importance that we consolidate Takuba, because it will have a major role to play in the years to come.

Takuba currently has 600 troops in Mali: half are French, while the rest are Estonian, Czech, Swedish and Italian. Romania has also committed to participate.

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