France and its partners confirm a “coordinated withdrawal” from Mali
After a working dinner at the Élysée Palace attended by some thirty African and European leaders, France, its European partners and Canada announced on Thursday, February 17, the withdrawal of military forces from Mali after nine years of military intervention against jihadists. Some 2,500 to 3,000 French soldiers will remain deployed in the Sahel after the withdrawal from Mali.
The decision was made after a meeting on Wednesday evening at the Élysée between African and European partners to discuss the situation in the Sahel. The Barkhane and Takuba forces will therefore leave Mali in a “coordinated withdrawal”.
“Due to multiple obstructions by the Malian transitional authorities,” the countries believe that the political, operational and legal conditions are no longer met to effectively continue their current military engagement. “We remain committed to supporting Mali and its people in their efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability,” the joint statement said.
“This withdrawal will result in the closure of the Gossi, Ménaka and Gao outposts, and will be carried out in an orderly manner, with the Malian armed forces and the United Nations Mission in Mali,” said the French head of state, who added that the withdrawal of French troops would take four to six months. About “2,500 to 3,000” French soldiers will remain in the Sahel after the withdrawal, added the spokesman of the General Staff, Colonel Pascal Ianni.
Asked by a journalist about this military withdrawal, the French president said he “completely rejects” the notion of failure in Mali. “What would have happened in 2013 if France had not made the choice to intervene? You would have for sure a collapse of the Malian state,” he said.