France, European allies begin military withdrawal from Mali

2022-02-17 20:03:49
France, European allies begin military withdrawal from Mali

France and its European and African allies have announced they will begin withdrawing troops from Mali after nearly 10 years fighting in the west African nation.

A statement signed by France and its allies and published on Thursday said that “multiple obstructions” by the ruling military government meant that the conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali.

The allies “decided to commence the coordinated withdrawal of their respective military resources dedicated to these operations from Malian territory,” the statement said.

On his part, French President Emmanuel Macron said “We cannot remain militarily engaged alongside de-facto authorities whose strategy and hidden aims we do not share.”

The decision applies to both France’s Barkhane force in the Sahel and the Takuba European force that Paris had been trying to forge along with its allies.

Mali’s government recently expelled France’s ambassador, the latest sign of mounting tensions between the West African country and its former colonial power.

Earlier in February, Mali expelled France’s ambassador. The move came after outrageous remarks by Le Drian who claimed that Mali’s government is "out of control" and "illegitimate".

Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop appeared on the country’s national TV to announce the expulsion of the French Ambassador.

Thousands of anti-French demonstrators poured into the street of the Malian capital, Bamako, to cheer at the expulsion of the French ambassador.

A French drawdown would mean the European special forces Takuba task force would also leave.

Countries in West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in France’s supposed counter-terrorism efforts and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.

The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.

Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.

Anti-French sentiment is rampant in Mali and Burkina Faso. On the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital, many say that France is actually trying to keep the country weak so the former colonial power can exploit secret gold and oil reserves in the Sahara.

A survey last year from Malian statistician Sidiki Guindo found that only 26.1 percent of Bamako residents had a “favorable” opinion of France, while 88 percent said they liked Russia.

African nations that suffered under French colonial rule still remember France's colonial- era crimes, despite the passage of decades since their independence from Paris.


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