The anti-jihadist force “Barkhane” has transferred the base in Tessalit, in the north of the country, to the Malian army, as part of the restructuring of its operations in the Sahel, the French general staff announced on Tuesday (November 16th).
“After that of Kidal, the hold occupied by the“ Barkhane ”force in Tessalit was transferred on November 13 to the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA). The last French soldiers left the site on November 15th », indicates a press release from the general staff: “This transfer was gradual, controlled and closely coordinated with the FAMA and with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma), of which a contingent of several hundred soldiers is permanently deployed in Tessalit. “
Paris undertook in June to reorganize its military system to fight jihadists in the Sahel, notably by leaving the northernmost bases of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu and Tessalit) and by planning to reduce its personnel in the region by 2023. region with 2,500 or 3,000 men, against more than 5,000 today. The Kidal base was handed over to the Malians in mid-October. Now remains that of Timbuktu.
“Very good conditions for dialogue”
Relations between Paris and Bamako deteriorated on September 25, when the Malian transitional prime minister, Choguel Maïga, accused France, which had been militarily engaged in Mali since 2013, of“Abandonment in mid-flight”. Critics supposed to justify the possible recourse to the Russian private security group Wagner, described as close to President Vladimir Poutine, to compensate for the reduction in the wings of “Barkhane”. The European Union (EU) has found ” a consensus “ among its 27 member states to sanction the company of mercenaries, announced in this regard, Monday, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.
But the French army insists for its part on good relations with the forces in Bamako. “The Malian and French units trained together for several weeks to share their know-how and prepare for full consideration of the influence by a company reinforced by the FAMA”, she assured. “Various reinsurance procedures were notably able to be implemented”, she added, greeting the “Very good conditions for dialogue with partner forces”.
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