It’s been eight years since French troops were deployed to the Sahel. In the intervening years the region has grown less stable, with attacks by armed groups spreading from Mali to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Nearly three million people are currently refugees or internally displaced in the region, and 13 million face food insecurity in 2021 (a 76% increase since 2019).

This year sees the “Europeanisation” of the military intervention. Task Force Takuba, which has an initial mandate of 3 years to fight Jihadist groups in the Sahel, is now operational, bringing together special forces from a coalition of European countries to bolster the thousands of French and other troops already deployed in the region. In April 2021, EU foreign ministers approved a new common Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.

What’s Europe’s exit strategy? How can France (and Europe) avoid a new “forever war” in the Sahel? In a recent Friends of Europe report, Crossing the Wilderness: Europe and the Sahel, senior fellow Paul Taylor argues that the EU must apply “tough love” by linking financial support to strict conditionality in terms of governance reforms, cracking down on corruption, disbanding “self-defence” militias and ending widespread human rights violations, etc.

Want to learn more about the Sahel conflict? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

At the end of March, we spoke to João Gomes Cravinho, Portugal’s Minister of Defence. We asked him about Europe’s Sahel strategy:

What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from Ivan asking whether the EU’s Sahel strategy properly takes into account climate change, and the predicted environmental pressures on region over the coming decades.

To get a response, we put Ivan’s comment to Paul Taylor, Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe and author of a recent report on the Sahel. How would he respond?

Next up, we had a comment from Afreeca on our sister platform, Debating Africa. She argues that “even security can be corrupted”. Does the EU’s strategy effectively tackle corruption in the Sahel? How would Paul Taylor respond?

Finally, we had a comment from Diogo arguing that the EU should loudly and consistently condemn human rights abuses wherever they occur in the world. Is the EU doing enough to stop human rights abuses in the Sahel, not just by rebels but also by pro-government militias and security forces?

How can Europe avoid a “forever war” in the Sahel? What should be the EU’s Sahel strategy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Creative Commons (BY-SA-3.0) – Thomas Goisque

66 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Gazzada çoçuklar insanlar ölüyor. İsrail ordusunu durdurun 😢😳😠

  2. avatar

    We should stay out of all middle East issues as they only lead to more mass migration of people who don’t want to intigrate

  3. avatar

    Either counter growing Chinese influence in the continent or pull out and let Africa grow organically without interference from the West or letting the West bleed for an otherwise senseless war or a strip of land that used to some old continent a century ago.

    In the current configuration France is begging to get stuck in a quagmire and the tax payers are paying their hard earned cash to bomb kids overseas.

  4. avatar

    Europe cannot do anything by itself. If the big boys playing around push the EU to a certain direction that is a planned path, not a coincidence. Can the EU become independent of US, Russian, Middle East and other influence? I don’t think so…

  5. avatar

    by ending capitalism? imperialism? françafrica?

  6. avatar

    Geen wapenleveringen meer zonder officiële aanbesteding met toestemming van de VN, en al de buurlanden.

  7. avatar

    Que l'”union” s’en aille crever ailleurs que sur mon sol…. On a pas oublié le traitement que vous avez dispenser à la Grèce. Attali a oublié de rédiger les traités qui permettrait de sortir de l'”union”.. Mais bande de demeurés que vous êtes. Ce ne sont pas les états qui se sont installés dans l'”union” la prostituée.. Mais bien ce gros étron avide qui s’est imposée dans chacun des foyers du continent. Et qu’y fait elle? Elle y vole tout.. Et jette les gens à la rue jusqu’à ce qu’ils en crèvent…Alors ce n’est l'”union” qui détient la légitimité des peuples à être là ou ils sont.. Donc c’est la grosse et avide celle qui voudrait se penser “union” qui va se prendre un coup de pieds au fondement et aller crever sa misère ailleurs que sur mon sol.. La preuve en est.. Le Royaume Unis se trouve toujours là ou ils s’est toujours trouvé.. C’est la grosse qui a dégager de son sol.. Et aucune des catastrophes annoncées ne s’est révélée être vrais. Encore un mensonge de la grosse. Et une utopie malfaisante qui s’étiole.

  8. avatar

    Can EUROPE stay HOME and not make the WAR ? Why i say that, Because everytime when war is finish, after is the same like before, the bads guys comming back and takes the command from Country !!!! Look at Afganistan the war was for nothing and the peoples was killing for nothing, because the Talibans comme back and bring the Afganistan !!!!

  9. avatar

    Intervention creates power vacuums that are usually filled with something worse than what was there before. Don’t intervene, let Darwin decide.

  10. avatar

    You are importing a civil war into Europe! Assholes!

  11. avatar

    Europe cannot do anything by itself. If the big boys playing around push the EU to a certain direction that is a planned path, not a coincidence. Can the EU become independent of US, Russian, Middle East and other influence? I don’t think so…

  12. avatar

    by ending capitalism? imperialism? françafrica?

  13. avatar

    Stay out of it… That can help. ;)

  14. avatar

    what most extreme religious need is the god emperor japan treatment after world war ii

  15. avatar

    just retreat from the world and they will beg for the racist to come back

  16. avatar

    Dismantle Europe for the better of all its countries and our children. Bring back true free trade. Stop these sociopathic power games.

  17. avatar

    only send peace keeping troups and medicine sans frontiers

  18. avatar

    I’m against our still colonial trading attitude towards many nation including africa.
    So while military can be good there, without a reform in the above I feel we are just protecting our own interests and not so much trying to help others.

  19. avatar

    Let’s just say. Europe is selective when it comes to fight against Jihadists. Only when it serves them , their agenda. Hypocrites.

  20. avatar

    1. Stop trying to steal their natural resources

  21. avatar

    Jihadist is an excuse this is a new way of kolonialism….it is a a good excuse….. to steel al their resources….

  22. avatar

    By ending the “forever colonialism”!

  23. avatar

    And I thought the Sahel decided to increase its presence in the EU. At least it looks that way.

  24. avatar

    if the europeans promise to pull out of africa,can the africans then please promise to pull out of europe?;;;please,,,

  25. avatar

    They can avoid it by to stay away there. These people need a chance to solve their own future

  26. avatar

    Europe cannot even control its outside borders.

  27. avatar

    Invading Africa for oil, gold and daimonds. Telling us it’s for the ‘freedom’.

  28. avatar

    What, no vax passports for the Sahel? No LGBT education for kindergarteners? How will we reduce their meat consumption? Who will free the women of Mali from the tyranny of traditional marriage?

  29. avatar

    Maybe there’s no vacuum that nobody should fill and Western powers should just get the hell out of the others’ territories.

  30. avatar

    Europe should show more solidarity with France which fight against terrorism and islamism in Africa..

  31. avatar

    It’s French problem, not EU one. France got colony’s wealth poured out of there and into France and now wants everyone to pour resources back in? You break it you pay it….

  32. avatar

    What is the common denominator in all these problematic countries worldwide? Yes, the White Elephant in de corner…

  33. avatar

    It s not a French problem. Why France would be alone to pay for European security.. Would Europe be happy to have a border with terrorist state…

    • avatar

      Olivier Dutreil it’s ex- french colony. Their policy of decolonization and lack of empathy in the 20th century are what caused radicals and failed state system(De Gaulle’s bulling policies?). Eastern Europe should not pay for western Europe’s colony segregation and etcetra.

    • avatar

      Calm down, calm down, will soon have new arrivals of terrorist from Afghanistan as well …

    • avatar

      Borislav Valkov colonisation brought hospitals roads schools…. Algerian agriculture was the first African one. GDP PER CAPITA now below what it was in the 60 ths.. Change your software about colonisation. Most African countries are unable to manage themselves. Where is the progress ans see what Asian countries have done during the same time

    • avatar

      Olivier Dutreil that’s what I xpect from white supremacist. Tell me how many universities did you build for the centuries of colonization(you’ll find out that the few builded are builded in the last decades of collonialism)? How many local banks? How many factories? Should I remind you that the apartheid lasted till the 1990s? It’s easy to speak about GDP(when you export raw materials) but there are more interesting indexes like Gini Index, Human development index and so on….

    • avatar

      Borislav Valkov apartheid was in SA not in French colonies.. Am fed up about this anti white heterosexual bla bla.. Who is doing better?

  34. avatar

    NATO/USA/EU, are always looking for enemies, please Europa stay home . Every time theEU sets foot outside Europa , wars or conflicts are created for different reasons .

  35. avatar

    Yeah just put the French in charge, they will surrender in 3-4 days

    • avatar

      They are in charge there

    • avatar

      Dawid Wella and they haven’t surrendered or collaborated yet, must be a record

    • avatar

      Dawid Wella probably explains why there has been zero progress

    • avatar

      The alternative is for it to end up in Russian and Turkish hands

    • avatar

      Dawid Wella I couldn’t care less, leave them to it

    • avatar

      Chris Coward That’s what I think. So much for helping “in the region”. If those mental R-tards want the Russians there let them do the work. Just make sure they can’t get here after they are done fubar-ing their country up.

  36. avatar

    If we don’t do it, Wagner and the Chinese will do it.

  37. avatar

    The Russians proved themselves in Syria. It would not be bad to coordinate together there.

  38. avatar

    Get out and build the wall. If they want the Russians there apparently they don’t need no cooperation with the EU. Oh yeah rigth. Except for development funds and migrants of course.

  39. avatar

    EU should come home!Obviously EU involvement is useless.

  40. avatar

    First Europe should not let France to fight alone.

  41. avatar

    I wonder if “forever wars” are “forever profit wars” to whoever gets the defence sales contract. Maybe defence corporations should be nationalised and negotiations be used instead. Those fighting are fighting for or against something. There must be a root cause. Only when the root cause is identified can a plan of negotiation be created and offered in talks for peace.

  42. avatar

    What’s at stake? The west pillaging Africa or Russia pillaging Africa, same same but different. Actually, it may as well be them. Their turn to get a bad name for it and waste some army there.

  43. avatar

    Lorsque la France est intervenue au Mali les djihadistes opéraient au Nord du Mali, au moment où les Maliens l’ont priée de retirer ses troupes le djihad s’était étendu à 75 % de son territoire et touche maintenant le Burkina Faso et le Niger. L’action de la France est un échec et les Maliens en ont eu assez.

  44. avatar
    JT HK

    Other than waste military resources to maintain presence of France and European allies in Mali, what good has the Mali people and European states have achieved? If Europe can avoid a “forever war” in the Sahel, how come it cannot avoid the outbreak of a war at the heart of Europe? Stop cheat the people. This is an ITC era, people can access all over the world and empower themselves with equal access to information. No people can prosper if their people are under prolonged brainwashing with political ideologies and fed with fake news.

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