Combating terrorism still "absolute priority" in Sahel - Minister
Sahel – Changes to Operation Barkhane – Reply by Mme Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, to a question in the Senate
Paris, 16 June 2021
As you recalled, on 10 June the French President announced the imminent end of Operation Barkhane and a profound transformation in our engagement in the Sahel.
I’d like to be very clear, first of all in recalling that we are present in the Sahel at the request of the G5 Sahel States. Moreover, we won’t leave the region, and alongside our Sahelian but also our European and international partners, we’ll continue our commitment against terrorism, which remains our absolute priority.
What we want is to change the approach. We want to move towards more cooperation with the Sahelians and gradually transfer responsibility for operations to them. Together with our European partners, we also want to cooperate even more closely, in order to support them, through training and operational support.
Finally, we’d like to work with the Gulf of Guinea countries, which are also exposed to the risk that the terrorist threat will spread.
This change will lead us to reorganize our presence significantly in military terms, relying in particular on the Takuba force, which brings together detachments of European special forces in support of local forces.
The practicalities and timetable of this transformation in our engagement will be specified in due course.
I’ll answer your question directly: we’re going to consult our partners first of all, because they’re the ones on the ground with us.
I’d like to stress to you that all the people we’re speaking to have confirmed to us their desire to continue the fight against terrorism. We’ll undoubtedly have an opportunity to come back to this, but this cooperation with our partners is the key to strengthening our collective engagement in the Sahel against terrorism./.