POSTED ON July 6, 2023

TSC Insights: France’s Missed Moments In Mali

Why did France fail in Mali? French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to withdraw his country’s remaining troops from Mali in August 2022 followed a nearly decade-long military mission to combat jihadist insurgents, particularly in the country’s north. France’s failure reflected an inability to define clear and achievable counterterrorism objectives during Operation Barkhane, misaligned public opinion and relations within France and Mali, and indecision among senior policymakers regarding the political status of Sahelian governments. France missed a clear window to withdraw from Mali in early 2021 amidst a possible negotiated settlement between Mali’s then-democratic government and Jamaa’t Nusra’t al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), an affiliate of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and the Sahel region. Had France seized this opportunity, Paris could have overcome the “mission creep” of Barkhane, an operation lacking clear strategic outcomes or conditions of victory, and concluded the operation successfully giving the government a badly needed “win” in Africa.



For tailored research and analysis, please contact: