By Chris King •
Updated: 24 Sep 2023 • 21:53
Image of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Credit: Victor Velter/Shutterstock.com
THE President of France, Emmanuel Macron, announced this Sunday, September 24, that French troops will be withdrawn from Niger.
Speaking on TF1 and France 2, the head of state said: ‘We are ending our military cooperation in Niger. The soldiers deployed there will also return by the end of the year’.
He added his belief that Operation Barkhane in the Sahel had been a ‘success’. ‘The French ambassador to Niger as well as the diplomatic staff present there will also return to France’, Macron indicated, according to leparisien.fr.
Thierry Vircoulon, the coordinator of the Observatory on Central and Southern Africa at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), suggested: ‘There was nothing else to do, it was the only solution from the start’.
After the forced withdrawals from Mali and Burkina Faso in August 2022 and early 2023, which led Paris to strengthen its presence in Niger, the country had become ‘the new French support point’ in this region he pointed out.
Vircoulon said he believed that after this announcement: ‘France’s war against jihadism is officially over. France no longer has any future in the Sahel’. There are currently around 1,500 French troops deployed in the region, supporting Nigerien troops in their fight against jihadist groups.
Macron’s announcement was a French ‘admission of helplessness’, Thierry Vircoulon claimed. ‘The putschists are pushing France out and the President of the Republic has no other option than to withdraw his troops. Otherwise, it is called military occupation’.
French presence in Africa will now be focused on other countries such as Senegal, where approximately 400 soldiers are currently deployed. Another 900 are on the Ivory Coast. ‘The troops in Chad are mainly used for intelligence’, added Vircoulon.
At the end of July, a military junta led by General Abdourahamane Tiani overthrew Mohamed Bazoum, the current Nigerien president.
At the time, the putschists justified their action by saying: ‘This follows the continued deterioration of the security situation, poor economic and social governance’.
Since then, tensions between Niamey and Paris have continued to increase. Niger had notably accused France of preparing an armed intervention, which Paris continued to deny.
At the end of August, the putschists also ordered the departure of the French ambassador from Niger. Earlier this Sunday, Niger banned French aircraft from its airspace.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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