French President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday that France will close three military bases in the Sahel region of northern Mali by 2022 and withdraw about half of the troops from the country. This is part of the reconfiguration of its military engagement in Africa as the Islamist jihadist threat moves farther south.
France has been heavily involved in the Sahel for the past eight years through Operation Barkhane. It helps its former colony fight al-Qaeda- and Islamic State-linked jihadist insurgencies in the semi-arid region Sahel region.
Macron made the announcements during a news conference with Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum at the end of a G5 Sahel summit in Paris. The other leaders of the G5 Sahel attended the conference virtually.
“Our enemies have abandoned their territorial ambitions in favor of spreading their threat not only across the Sahel but across all of West Africa,” Macron said after the video summit.