The French president on Wednesday announced an end to the nearly decade-long Barkhane counter-terrorist mission in Africa.
Operation Barkhane had not been operational since February after France announced its military withdrawal from Mali. The last French troops left their base in the Malian town of Gao on Aug.15.
Simmering tension built up between Mali and France and European allies following reports that the transitional junta deployed private military contractors from the Russia-backed Wagner Group to Mali.
In a speech in French city of Toulon, Emmanuel Macron said France was not abandoning the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, but a new strategy would be worked out with African partners.
“I have decided in coordination with our partners, to make official the end of the Barkhane operation as a consequence of what we have experienced in recent months,” he said.
“Our military support for African countries in the region will continue, but according to new principles that we have defined with them.”
Our commitment alongside our partners in Africa must now be focused on logistics cooperation and support for their armies, he added.
“Basically, our partnership only makes sense if it is a true partnership that responds to the explicit needs coming from African armies and if it complements economic, political and administrative partnerships in these countries,” the French leader said.
Macron said exchanges are planned with African nations and regional organizations in the coming days on changing the status, format and mission of French bases in Africa.
“Our interventions must be better limited in time and from the beginning. We do not want to remain engaged for an unlimited time in foreign operations,” he said.
The mission was launched in 2013 to stem an insurgency in Mali linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups that have created havoc in the tri-border area. Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania were the other countries in the partnership.
At least 5,500 French troops participated in Operation Barkhane at its peak.