France has begun withdrawing its troops from northern Mali as part of plans to reorganise its anti-insurgent forces deployed in the Sahel region under Operation Barkhane. French army bases in Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu will be closed by the end of the year and handed over to the Malian army. Air support will be maintained. But the current contingent of 5,100 French troops will be reduced to roughly 3,000. The initial focus was on the interior of Mali. But the reality is that terrorism is a cross-border phenomenon. In effect France’s intervention was aimed at imposing a reverse domino effect that would allow it to face the terrorist groups in the region – and to impose itself again in the Sahel. But there are few visible or effective results on the ground after eight years of war in Mali. And opinion has started to turn as Malians, as well as the country’s transitional authority, see the security situation in the country getting worse day by day.
SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION