On June 13, French soldiers from the “Barkhane” force and European special forces “Takuba” officially left the military base in Ménaka, in northeastern Mali, and handed it over to the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa). According to the French military, this is the second to final step in the departure of the Barkhane anti-jihadist force from the country, and by the end of the summer the foreign army will finally leave the country.
It should be noted that last February, Barkhane forces and Task Force Takuba officially announced their withdrawal from Mali, after the Malian government demanded that the Europeans leave the country “without delay.” The decision by Malian authorities is often associated with the fact that Operation Barkhane, launched in 2014 to fight terrorism in the Sahel countries, has not achieved its goals, as the number of terrorist attacks has only increased over the years of military intervention. French soldiers have also been repeatedly accused of executing civilians and collaborating with terrorists.
In addition, Colonel Abdoulaye MAÏGA, spokesman for the Malian government, reported more than 50 deliberate cases of violation of its airspace and spying on Malian army bases by foreign aircraft and drones of the French armed forces. Such a violation of the country’s sovereignty has not gone unnoticed by the Malian government and has even been discussed at the UN Security Council.
It should also be remembered that last April the French left their base in Gossi, following which the Malian army discovered a mass grave near the mentioned base. However, the French army provided no proof of their innocence and blamed Russian “mercenaries” for this.
It is clear that Malians are unhappy with the foreign presence in the country and share the government’s view. For example, on June 14, the inhabitants of the town of Ménaka gathered in mass in the Place of Independence, celebrating the departure of the French; the manifesters also carried anti-French posters: “Ménaka is not for the French,” “The French get the hell out of here”. Apparently, Malians are waiting for the final withdrawal of European forces from Malian soil, as recently there has been significant anti-French sentiment in the country.