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French troops leave Mali

France announced on Monday that all of its troops battling Islamist militants in Mali since 2013 have now left the country. The decision to withdraw was originally made in February, following the deterioration of relations between Paris and Bamako.

France and its military allies said in February that after almost a decade of fighting Islamist insurgents around the region of West Africa, they will now be moving their forces from Mali to the neighbouring Niger instead.

“Since this morning […] this redeployment has been effective with the departure from Mali of the last French soldier of Operation Barkhane,” the Élysée Palace announced in a statement.

“France remains engaged in the Sahel, in the Gulf of Guinea and the Lake Chad region with all partners committed to stability and to the fight against terrorism,” it said.

Coups in Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso have weakened France’s alliances in its former colonies and emboldened jihadists who control large areas of the backcountry. They have also opened the way to greater Russian influence, e.g. the mercenary Wagner Group, which the Kremlin has used as a destabilising factor.

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