Hampered in their anti-jihadist military action in Mali by an increasingly hostile junta, France and its European partners cannot “stay as they are” in this country, Paris warned on Friday, confirming the climate of uncertainty in the region.
Last Saturday, a French soldier was killed during a mortar attack against the Gao camp, in northern Mali, in this context of extreme tension between Paris and Bamako.
We study what is the best way for us
This Saturday morning, on France Inter, the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly declared: “We cannot stay in Mali at any price. The conditions of our intervention are made more and more difficult. »
“We are discussing with our European partners and studying what is the best way for us. We must determine the new conditions,” she said.
Paris has been militarily engaged in Mali since 2013 at the cost of 48 dead (53 in the Sahel) and billions of euros.
The general staff of the armies had indicated this week the disengagement of French soldiers in Mali “not on the agenda at this stage”.
We can’t stay the way we are
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on RTL radio had also warned: “Given this situation, given the breakdown of the political framework and the military framework (in Mali), we cannot remain as it is”, in deploring the growing “impediments” to the mission of “European, French and international forces”.
“It’s not just a French decision, it’s a collective decision and we have already started discussions with our African partners and with our European partners to find out how we can adapt our system according to the new situation. “, he added.
France has already rearticulated its system in 2021 in Mali, reducing its military presence in the north and highlighting the group of European special forces Takuba, created on its initiative.
However, relations continue to deteriorate between the Europeans and the Malian junta which came to power following a putsch in August 2020 which called on the group of Russian mercenaries Wagner and asked the Danish forces, engaged in Takuka, to leave the country.
On the ground, jihadist groups affiliated, depending on the area, with Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group, have retained a strong power of nuisance despite the elimination of many leaders. And the violence spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, before descending south into northern Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Ghana.
“We must continue the fight against terrorism (…). It has spread throughout the region, it is not only present in Mali”, underlined Jean-Yves Le Drian, before adding: “We must organize ourselves to continue to fight terrorism with all those who want fight it well with us. »