France Ends Military Operations in Burkina Faso
12:13 GMT 20.02.2023 (Updated: 13:40 GMT 20.02.2023)
France had been maintaining a military presence in five Sahel region countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger – within the framework of Operation Barkhane since 2014. In August 2022, however, local authorities demanded that French troops leave Mali and just several months later, Paris put an end to the Barkhane op.
French military operations in Burkina Faso have been officially terminated, Burkinabe Armed Forces have announced after the French military base lowered its tricolor. The news opens a new chapter in the struggle against Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda* and Daesh* in the country.
The French special forces had to leave the former colony's territory as a result of Burkina Faso's decision to end a bilateral military accord that allowed Paris to maintain its military presence on the West African state's soil. In January, Ouagadougou gave France one month to totally withdraw its troops from the country.
The termination of the French operation in the country follows a dramatic deterioration
in relations between Paris and Ouagadougou, including Burkina Faso's request for France to recall its ambassador
after mass protests.
However, according to Burkinabe government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo, Ouagadougou's decision to get rid of the French forces "does not mean the end of diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France."
Over the course of the past two years, Mali and Niger have also seen protests
against the French military presence in the African states.
The protesters in Burkina Faso deemed Paris "not the ideal partner" for their state and demanded that the French ambassador and the country's troops "free Burkina".
France totally withdrew its troops from neighboring Mali on August 15, 2022, as requested by the Malian government earlier that year. Bamako terminated Malian-French defense agreements in 2022, blaming its former metropole for supporting terrorism
inside the country.
Two days after the withdrawal, Malian authorities provided the UN
with evidence of Paris' support for terrorists, whom the European country declared it came
to fight against.
In the framework of Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region launched in 2014, France had a military presence in Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger. French President Emmanuel Macron declared the end
of the operation in November last year; however, French forces are still active in the region.
Since France became involved in the Sahel region with the declared goal of fighting terrorism, it has been repeatedly accused of failing to implement what it initially planned to do.
In 2022, Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maïga accused
the former metropole of carrying out "a de-facto partition" of the country.
Operation Barkhane "contributed to the sanctuarization of our territories for the terrorists who had time to take refuge and reorganize themselves in order to come back in force," he said.
Moreover, in March 2022, a UN probe identified that an airstrike
by the French forces had taken the lives of 19 civilians.
In an interview with Sputnik
, historian Dr. Vasily Filippov, lead researcher at the Centre for Tropical African Studies at the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated that
the people of Sahel had begun to realize the true intentions of France's military operations in the region.
"[The French] plundered and continue to plunder the countries of the Sahel: uranium, gold, diamonds. People are gradually realizing that this is not helpful for Malians, but just robbery. And that is why it is said more and more often that France is kind of a collective 'exploiter' that robs Africans and West African countries," the expert argued.
* Daesh and al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations banned in Russia and many other countries.