The French Minister of the Armed Forces expressed deep concerns about the deteriorating situation in the Sahel during a recent interview published on the website of the French newspaper The Parisian. The minister emphasized the resurgence of jihadism in the region and warned that the Sahel is at risk of collapse.
Sébastien Lecornu rejected the notion that the withdrawal of French troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, and soon Niger represents a failure of French policy in the Sahel. Instead, he argued that it is a failure for the affected countries themselves, insisting, “It’s a failure for the countries in question.”
He pointed out the Malian government’s preference for the Russian mercenary group Wagner over the French army and noted the negative consequences, with jihadists now surrounding the Bamako region.
Lecornu expressed concern about the potential disintegration of the Sahel region and cautioned that this situation would have dire consequences for the involved governments. He stated, “The Sahel risks collapsing on itself. All this will end very badly for the juntas in question.”
He defended France’s role as a security solution for the Sahel and highlighted the success in neutralizing most jihadist cells and protecting thousands of civilians before the decision to withdraw. Lecornu lamented that terrorism has resurged in Burkina Faso since France’s departure, with approximately 2,500 deaths attributed to terrorism following a coup d’état in September 2022.
Lecornu warned that Mali is on the brink of partition, and Niger is heading in a similar direction. He questioned whether it is France’s fault that some local actors prioritize internal conflicts over countering terrorism, emphasizing his disbelief in this notion.
In related developments, President Emmanuel Macron recently announced the withdrawal of 1,500 French soldiers from Niger by the end of the year and the recall of the French ambassador to Niamey, Sylvain Itté, in response to demands made by the military leadership that assumed power on July 26.”