End of operations of the French Sabre force in Burkina Faso

After the denunciation by the transitional authorities of Burkina Faso of the 2018 defense agreement between Ouagadougou and Paris, the Burkinabe army announced on Sunday 19 February the end of the operations of the French force Sabre in Burkina Faso.

In a press release, the General Staff of the Burkinabe Armed Forces announced the organization on Saturday 18 February of a solemn flag-lowering ceremony marking the official end of the Task Force’s operations from Burkinabe soil. The ceremony took place at Camp Bila Zagré in Kamboincin.

As a reminder, Paris took note in January of the Burkinabe government’s decision to end its military pact with France, giving them one month to leave the country. France, a former colonial power, had been in the running in Burkina Faso for several months. Last December, the Burkinabe authorities had asked Paris to replace the French ambassador Luc Hallade, notably because he had reported a deterioration of the security situation in the country.

The news of the withdrawal of this special French unit in Burkina is set against the global context of demonstrations against the presence of French forces in the country, while terrorist attacks are on the rise. According to the Burkinabe, France is not playing fair with Burkina in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.

For years, French military operations have followed one another in Africa, with the role of supporting specific operations in the Sahel against terrorist groups. The latter control 40% of the territory of Burkina Faso, with more than 2,000 dead and 2 million displaced. For many inhabitants, the French army did not solve the problem. Instead, it served to create a surreal suspicion of collusion between Paris and Islamist groups.

It should be noted that in the same context, Mali accused France of violating its airspace and delivering arms to Islamists at a UN Security Council meeting on 18 October 2022.

However, Burkina Faso, like Mali, is reviving defense cooperation with Russia. The transitional Prime Minister, Appolinaire Joachim Kyelem de Tembela, visited Moscow in early December 2022 as part of the military cooperation between the two countries to obtain light weapons.

Unlike France, Russia is a partner demanded by the people of Burkina Faso, as it is in Mali, after the rise in strength of the Malian forces, which over the past two years have experienced a dynamic strengthening and modernization thanks to the partnership with Moscow.