French president calls for beheading of Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadi groups in the Sahel. Emmanuel Macron spoke after participating by videoconference at the Ndjamena summit with his counterparts from the G5 Sahel.
The event was an opportunity to take stock of the actions carried out since the Pau summit a year ago in France. And the French president also announced that there will be no reduction in the French military operation Barkhane in the coming months.
“In the coming months our military presence in the Sahel will not change and we will launch other major operations,” said Emmanuel Macron. The Barkhane force will thus remain composed of a little more than 5,000 soldiers, and the reinforcement of 600 men decided a year ago in Pau remains therefore topical.
However, in recent weeks, strengthened by the successes achieved against the Islamic state in the Great Sahara, designated enemy number one, the Elysée Palace has reflected on reducing France’s military footprint. The mission has been accomplished, the head of state congratulates himself. After a year of effort, the terrorist group is now permanently weakened.
The military effort has resulted in victories and has made it possible to save the Sahel a second time. To withdraw massively from Barkhane would be a mistake, President Macron explained, adding: “We would weaken the efforts made so far.”
If Barkhane, in its current format, thus remains in place, the president will not give up on further development. New decisions will be taken in the summer at a future summit, he says.
Until then, the French head of state wants military results, this time against Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the high hierarchy of katibas affiliated to the group, particularly that of Iyad Ag Ghali and the katiba Macina of Amadou Koufa, a prerequisite to hope in a few months a French disengagement.
The arrival of 1,200 Chadian soldiers, very seasoned, will help to relieve Barkhane in this region. The European Takuba force will be able to provide support.
The objective is to eliminate only those groups that threaten the stability of the region, says Emmanuel Macron, calling for a political leap after, he hopes, a military leap in the Sahel.