Macron to announce withdrawal from Mali
After a 9 year 'operation,' France is expected to withdraw from Mali as rejection towards the former colonizer heightens.
Based on expectations, French President Emmanuel Macron will be announcing the withdrawal of his forces from Mali as relations between his country and Mali reach their peak amid a longstanding rift.
This decision will be expected this week, according to Reuters and AFP, which cited diplomatic and security sources. Furthermore, the decision was also likely to overlap with a meeting between the European Union and the African Union in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
This is a major strategic shift for France, ending a 9-year-long presence in the country that Macron argues was necessary for European "security."
“If the conditions are no longer in place for us to be able to act in Mali – which is clearly the case – we will continue to fight terrorism side-by-side with Sahel countries who want it,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday.
French government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, told reporters that “Tomorrow evening (Wednesday), there will be a meeting between the French president and the heads of the states of partner countries to our presence in the Sahel region in the fight against terrorism."
The allies weigh in
Belgium has ruled out deploying some 250 troops to Mali after it was reported that French President Emmanuel Macron would announce that Paris would withdraw its troops from there and redeploy them in another nation in the Sahel region.
Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder told a committee in the Belgian Parliament that security conditions would not permit the deployment "because of the current stance of the (Malian) junta", and her office confirmed her words.
Belgium was supposed to join Task Force Takuba, a military operation led by France that has some 900 soldiers, despite the Malian public opinion opposing such operations be carried out on their soil.
Several EU member states had joined France in the Sahel, with Parisian aspirations that this would curb international criticism of France over interfering in its former African colonies.
Denmark announced it was withdrawing its contingent of elite soldiers in late January, and Norway has abandoned a planned deployment, leaving France nearly alone in its former colonies in which it is interfering.
West African leaders decided to impose new tough sanctions on Mali, including border closures and a trade embargo after its military rulers delayed a return to civilian rule.