Macron ends Operation Berkhane, lays out strategic defense priorities in Africa

Macron ends Operation Berkhane, lays out strategic defense priorities in Africa

France is ending its Barkhane anti-jihadist mission in Africa after over a decade, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday (9 November), and added that a new strategy would be worked out with African partners.

Macron’s declaration came in a wide-ranging speech reviewing France’s strategy where the president also underlined the importance of its nuclear deterrent, as well as relations with Germany and the United Kingdom despite recent tensions. The French leader also laid out his strategic defense priorities for France in Europe and Africa in the coming years, not least in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a growing international assertiveness of China.

The ending of the Operation Barkhane was the “consequence of what we have experienced” in recent months, and a new strategy would be worked out within the next half-year, Macron said in the speech on military policy to top generals and diplomats aboard a helicopter carrier in Mediterranean naval base at Toulon.

Macron also indicated that future strategy would be based on a far closer cooperation with African armies to make France’s own deployment lighter and more dynamic. “Our military support for African countries will continue, but according to new principles that we have defined with them,” he said. French forces have faced growing hostility because many in Africa see them as the ineffective occupying force of a former colonial power. While Macron pulled troops out of Mali this year as relations soured with the country’s military rulers, around 3,000 French soldiers remain in Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. The French president said that in the coming days exchanges would be launched with African nations and regional organizations and allies “to change the status, format and mission” of French bases in Africa.

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