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French drawdown would accelerate Sahel security trends

Friday, April 9, 2021

Significance

There were suggestions in February that France might reduce the size of its military commitment in the run-up to a Sahel summit in the Chadian capital N’Djamena. However, at the February 15-16 summit, Macron reaffirmed the French commitment to counterterrorism in the Sahel. The prospect of French forces leaving the region is shaping the calculations of Sahelian leaders, jihadists and other local actors.

Impacts

  • French casualties or Sahelian political upheavals could prompt Macron to scale down Barkhane prior to elections in France.
  • French public ambivalence on Barkhane may give additional impetus to anti-France protests in the Sahel.
  • Heads of state in Burkina Faso and Niger are extremely unlikely to embrace anti-French or anti-Barkhane stances.
  • The JNIM group may benefit from Islamic State’s brutality by presenting itself as a more pragmatic actor amenable to agreement.

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