France's Withdrawal from Mali: What Next?

After more than nine years, Operation Barkhane, an anti-insurgent operation led by the French military in Mali, has officially ended, and France has withdrawn its last soldiers. The operation aimed to fight Islamist terrorist groups in the region. Since the military junta came to power in the West African country, relations between Bamako and Paris have deteriorated drastically. Commentators take stock.

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L'Opinion (FR) /

No longer on the front line

Over the years, France has been pushed into a role that it hadn't originally planned to play, analyses L'Opinion:

“If military missions abroad drag on, it is a sign of political failure. They become a surrogate army for local rulers who can no longer defend themselves and, above all, are unable to resolve conflicts politically. ... The French government now seems to have come back to its senses a little: it recently restructured training and logistical support for African forces. It is no longer the task of the French army to be on the front line.”

France Inter (FR) /

Say goodbye to colonial practices

France has lost credibility with its incoherent behavior, France Inter points out:

“You can't call for an exemplary democratic process in Mali and at the same time support a dynastic succession in Chad. You can't support a military regime in Burkina Faso for decades - that of Blaise Compaoré - but threaten the one in Bamako. Such contradictions cost us dearly, even though France is one of the few countries in the Western world that has made Africa a strategic priority. But Paris must purge its past and abandon its colonial practices if it wants a future in Africa.”