Mali: “” Barkhane “ends a cycle of thirty years of external operations in France in Africa”

Elie Tenenbaum, researcher at Ifri, returns, in an interview with “world”, on the assessment of France’s action in Mali, whom he judges “negative”.

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The anti -terrorist operation “Barkhane” completed its withdrawal from Mali on August 15, but “France remains engaged in the Sahel, in the Gulf of Guinea and the region of Lake Chad”, repeated the Elysée in a press release published on the same day. For Elie Tenenbaum, Director of the Center for Security Studies at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), this transition must be the opportunity, for Paris, to change military paradigm in West Africa.

The Defense Questions Specialist, author of a report entitled “after” barkhane “: rethink the French strategic posture in West Africa” ​​, published in May, returns for Le Monde on the lessons to be learned from the nine Last years of operations in Mali and the ways to take to better meet security challenges in the region.

What assessment do you draw from the action carried out by “Barkhane” in Mali, between 2014 and 2022 ?

Beyond Operation Barkhane, which is only a military operation, it is necessary to look at the assessment of France’s action in Mali, and it is obviously negative. It was initially a question of stemming the progression of jihadism in the Sahel and of developing a strong partnership with the Malian army to make it rise in power. However, today, this strategic partnership is reduced to nothing, Bamako denounced all the defense agreements signed with Paris, “Barkhane” has left and jihadism has continued to extend to the region and to take root in societies. Burkina Faso continues to sink, with a total absence of state control. The situation in western Niger remains worrying. Northern Benin is in an advanced jihadization phase. The concerns are strong in Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. As for Ghana, the situation is less serene than the authorities claim it.

Admittedly, counter-terrorism has produced results in nine years. There was a real attrition in the ranks of jihadists and important leaders were eliminated. But we know very well that this is not enough. The leaders were replaced, the groups adapted to the “Barkhane” action methods and continued to recruit. In Mali, Burkina Faso as in Afghanistan, jihadism feeds on local governance problems, corrupt or non -existent justice, the absence of basic services and a predatory attitude of the security forces. As long as no answer has been given to these fundamental questions, the movement will continue to progress.

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