France and its allies announced on Thursday that they were withdrawing troops from Mali due to a breakdown in relations with the ruling junta, after nearly 10 years of fighting a jihadist insurgency.
The Mali deployment has been fraught with problems for France. Out of the country’s 53 soldiers killed serving in West Africa, 48 of them died in Mali.
“Multiple obstructions” by the ruling junta meant that the conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali, said a statement signed by France and its African and European allies. “We cannot remain militarily engaged alongside de-facto authorities whose strategy and hidden aims we do not share,” President Emmanuel Macron told a news conference, saying that he “completely” rejected the idea that France had failed in the country.
The decision applies to both 2,400 French troops in Mali, where France first deployed in 2013, and a smaller European force of several hundred which was created in 2020 with the aim of taking the burden off the French forces.
Macron said that French bases in Gossi, Menaka and Gao in Mali would close but vowed that the withdrawal would be carried out in an “orderly” manner. France initially deployed troops against jihadists in Mali in 2013 but the insurgency was never fully quelled, and now new fears have emerged of a jihadist push to the Gulf of Guinea.
Source: France 24