French President Emmanuel Macron urged U.S. President Joe Biden to show a greater military commitment to the fight against Islamic insurgencies in several theaters of conflict and especially in the Middle East and Africa.
The Trump administration made it a point to withdraw from what Trump had termed “America’s forever wars,” and slashed American troop presence to only about 2,500 in both Afghanistan and Iraq. But Macron said that now isn’t the time for the U.S. to abandon the fight against Islamic extremists.
Speaking to the French military in Brest Macron said, “I am certain that in the coming weeks, the new administration will need to make key decisions that will mark a greater commitment and awareness in the fight against terrorism [in Syria and Iraq].”
France has been involved in and will continue the fight against the Islamic State in the region, Macron added. The French currently have about 900 troops fighting in the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will rejoin the coalition in the near future, Macron said.
Additionally, Macron and other European allies want to see an improvement in the U.S.’s relationship with its NATO partners.
Meanwhile, French forces in Mali are facing increasing public discontent as security in the country deteriorates and attacks against civilians rise. After the Taureg insurgency began in Mali in 2012, it was quickly taken over by Islamic extremists. France began sending troops to the country in 2013 as part of Operation Serval which quickly turned into Operation Barkhane. There are now 5,100 French troops in the region. Nevertheless, once located only in the north, insurgents are now active throughout the country.
But with no end in sight, Malian civilians are growing frustrated by the lack of security.
On Wednesday, Malian forces dispersed protesters that had assembled in Bamako, Mali’s capital, to demonstrate against the French presence. The Bamako city government had banned the protest slated for the city’s center, citing coronavirus concerns, but protesters on motorcycles were able to slip past the barricades. Then security forces fired tear gas canisters, dispersing the crowd.
“Today we have understood that the authority needs popular support more than confrontation with the people. It is in this logic that we have decided to postpone today’s activity, but we are going to continue the fight in a different way and with authority,” Amadou Lamine Diallo, a spokesperson for the event organizers said, according to AfricaNews.en.
The already tense situation got worse earlier this month when a French airstrike killed 20 people. The French said that the dead had been positively identified as Islamic insurgents. But many of the people in the area said that those killed were civilians from a wedding party and not insurgents.
Eight years ago, French flags were flown everywhere in Mali, today they are few and far between.
Macron, however, remained upbeat about the ascension of the Biden administration.
Speaking about the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, Macron took to Twitter.
“Best wishes on this most significant day for the American people!” Macron wrote.
“We are together. We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet,” he said.
“Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!” he added.