The defense minister says that the end of ‘Barkhane’ does not change the “objective” and reiterates her anti-terrorist commitment
MADRID, 11 (EUROPA PRESS)
The Government of France has announced this Friday the death in northern Mali of the main person responsible for the murder of journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon in 2013, the result of an operation of the ‘Barkhane’ operation, the same as the French president on Thursday , Emmanuel Macron, promised to finish looking for new cooperation formulas in the fight against terrorism.
The French president revealed a “profound transformation” of the country’s military presence in the Sahel, which also includes the imminent end of the ‘Barkhane’ operation, launched in 2014 and a basic pillar of French strategy in a region marked by the recent years due to growing insecurity.
Defense Minister Florence Parly, who has also raised an “evolution” of French military involvement in the African region, has confirmed in a public statement a military operation that resulted in the death of several terrorists last Saturday, including an Al Qaeda leader in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who is credited with the murder of journalists Dupont and Verlon.
The minister explained that the military had detected “the preparation of a terrorist attack in Aguelhok”, a town in the Kidal region, in northern Mali, and that they proceeded to “eliminate” “four terrorists”, including Baye ag Bakabo, “responsible for the kidnapping” of the two workers of the RFI station. “This neutralization puts an end to a long wait,” said Parly, who has expressed his support for the family and friends of Dupont and Verlon.
Previously, the minister has emphasized in an interview that, despite the end of ‘Barkhane’, the authorities “do not change the objective, which will continue to be the fight against terrorism”, before emphasizing that “the enemy adapts without stopping to the operational and action models of the military that are on the ground, so it is important to change them to vary their effects. “
Parly has argued in statements to the television channel FranceInfo that the situation in the Sahel “is a major problem for the populations of the Sahel countries and for the security of Europeans.” “What changes is the approach,” he defended, referring to Macron’s announcement.
“We have always said that (the operation) ‘Barkhane’ was not eternal and that our military system has to adapt constantly,” he said, while emphasizing that the announcement of the French president “is not a surprise”, but part of a job “started a long time ago”.
Parly also stressed that Paris has carried out “extremely important operations” against organizations operating in the area, including affiliates of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, adding that during 2020 there were “great successes”, including deaths from the AQMI leader.
“We consider that the security situation in the area continues to be very difficult. The jihadists are reorganizing, but the objective is to make this reorganization take place in the most complicated way possible. To do so, it is necessary to hit the heads of the leaders of these terrorist organizations, “the minister argued in the interview.
In this sense, he stressed that “the fundamental achievements in recent months, which began in January 2020 during the Pau summit, have made it possible to increasingly accompany the Armed Forces (of the countries) of the Sahel so that they can assume security of the area “.
“We have gradually moved from an organization in which France intervened to a great extent, often alone, to one in which we are not only not alone, because we have attracted Europeans to us, but also because there are more ties with the Sahelian Armed Forces, “he said.
“There were major operations in the fall and winter (of 2020) in which the armies of France and the Sahel countries constituted a final group of many thousands of soldiers who fought together. Thus, they acquired capabilities that allow us to evolve the devices”, has explained.
IT WILL KEEP A “VERY SIGNIFICANT” ROLE
For this reason, he reiterated that “what is important to understand is that France continues to be militarily involved in the Sahel”, given that it will continue to maintain its presence so that the ‘Takuba’ force maintains its operations, while the specific number of military personnel deployed will be ” discussed “with regional partners.
However, he stressed that France’s military role will continue to be “very significant” given that “it is necessary to maintain the fight against terrorism.” “This work will progressively allow the armies of the Sahel to be in a position to respond. Unlike the situation of 18 months ago, when they suffered extremely serious setbacks, now they are in a position to respond,” he added.
For its part, the parliamentary group France Insoumise has called for a “parliamentary debate” on the end of the ‘Barkhane’ operation in the Sahel, after criticizing the “vagueness” of Macron’s statements and “the rush he seems to have” to carry carry out the plan.
Macron explained on Thursday during his appearance that the French presence in Mali “no longer adapts to the reality of the fighting,” so he sees it necessary to modify a strategy that currently involves more than 5,000 troops, after the last reinforcement approved in 2020. .
Mali, like other Sahel countries, has been registering a growing number of jihadist attacks in recent years by both the Al Qaeda affiliate in the region and the Islamic State, which has also increased intercommunity violence and caused the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
However, the May coup has been added to the equation in the case of Mali, which evidenced the internal struggles that still persist since another recent coup, that of August 2020, which resulted in the overthrow of the then president. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The current president is Assimi Goita, leader of the military junta established after the first coup.