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


48 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Asuman

    Gazzada çoçuklar insanlar ölüyor. İsrail ordusunu durdurun 😢😳😠

  2. avatar
    Chris

    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
    nullseccarebear

    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
    Gabor

    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
    Yoann

    by ending capitalism? imperialism? françafrica?

  6. avatar
    Anton

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

  7. avatar
    Didier

    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
    FloKarina

    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
    Pascal

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

  10. avatar
    Bruno

    You are importing a civil war into Europe! Assholes!

  11. avatar
    Gabor

    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
    Yoann

    by ending capitalism? imperialism? françafrica?

  13. avatar
    Piet

    Stay out of it… That can help. ;)

  14. avatar
    Twei

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

  15. avatar
    Tim

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

  16. avatar
    Michael

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

  17. avatar
    Yvonne

    only send peace keeping troups and medicine sans frontiers

  18. avatar
    Arnout

    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
    Rebecca

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

  20. avatar
    Martial

    1. Stop trying to steal their natural resources

  21. avatar
    Caner

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

  22. avatar
    Ali

    By ending the “forever colonialism”!

  23. avatar
    Filip

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

  24. avatar
    Kris

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

  25. avatar
    Guy

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

  26. avatar
    Luc

    Europe cannot even control its outside borders.

  27. avatar
    CK

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

  28. avatar
    Michał

    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
    Pedro

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

  30. avatar
    Olivier

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

  31. avatar
    Borislav

    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
    Karel

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

  33. avatar
    Olivier

    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
      Borislav

      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
      Franco

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

    • avatar
      Olivier

      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
      Borislav

      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
      Olivier

      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
    Franco

    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 .

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