France will reduce its military operations in the Sahel and focus on the fight against Islamic terrorism, but will continue to cooperate with the military of African and international allies on the southern edge of the Sahara. French President Emmanuel Macron , Said Thursday.
Since Macron’s predecessor François Hollande sent troops to Mali to prevent the country from falling into the hands of jihadists eight years ago, Paris has maintained a large army in the region, currently with more than 5,000 people.
Just like the Americans who have fought the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the Islamic State in Afghanistan since 2001, Exit nowMacron made it clear that France is dissatisfied with the Sahelian government’s failure to effectively manage the territories retaken by the jihadists in military operations.
Macron said: “It is not France’s job to replace the countries in the region forever.” Said at a press conference in Paris Before the G7 Summit of Major Democracies in the UK this weekend. “The time has come.”
He did not give the number of troops or timetable for the reduction of the French army, but said that Operation Crescent Grass will end in its current form and be replaced by a “new framework” with two pillars: by France and its allied special forces Led a continuous campaign against Islamists. Terrorists, and cooperation with the armed forces of the Sahel and Gulf of Guinea countries.
In February, Macron postponed his previous plan to reduce troops in the Sahel, but warned that he eventually hoped to do so. Avoid “Infinite War”.
France’s presence in the region is becoming increasingly unpopular because its business has aged and has triggered anti-French protests in some cities. Many politicians and ordinary citizens still doubt that their former colonial powers have maintained a strong cultural, economic, diplomatic and political influence in Africa.
In recent years, the French army has killed several Islamic leaders, and many observers believe that their presence is essential to maintaining a situation where there is little stability in the region.However, violent incidents, including the massacre of civilians by Islamic extremists, have changed from North to Central Mali Cross the border into Niger and Burkina Faso.
Extremist groups associated with Al-Qaida and ISIS have used long-standing community tensions to fill in the gaps in the absence of most governments in the region to occupy large tracts of territory.
France has been criticized by the Sahelians and European diplomats in the region for providing verbal services to improve governance, while still focusing primarily on security responses-although it is widely accepted that there is no military solution to the problems in the Sahel.
Macron once again rejected the idea of negotiating with Islamists who killed French soldiers and citizens, even though locals who were tired of violence often liked such negotiations.
Despite Macron’s warning, the Mali and Burkina Faso authorities have negotiated and facilitated some temporary ceasefires in the area. Depending on the date and circumstances, the men in the area may be smugglers, bandits, national militias or jihadists. .
Additional reporting by David Keohane in Paris