Launched two years ago and truly operational since April 2021, the Takuba intervention force has ceased its operations to fight jihadists in Mali. The last contingents of European special forces that made it up left the country on 29 June.
This outcome had been predictable for several months due to the coups in Mali and the tensions between Paris and the ruling junta in Bamako, which led to the decision to end Operation Barkhane. During a press briefing on Friday July 1, the spokesperson for the French armed forces, General Pascal Ianni, confirmed the cascading impact on the European partnership: “The reorganization of the French military system in the Sahel (…) led to the end of the operations of the Takuba task force in Mali as of June 30. »
Ten European countries and 800 soldiers engaged
“Operation Barkhane and the Takuba task force demonstrate what Europeans are capable of accomplishing together in complex security environments”, added General Ianni. The establishment of Takuba was however laborious. The former Minister of the Armies Florence Parly had to fight a lot to convince the European countries, some having to obtain the agreement of their respective parliaments after long procedures.
Ten countries and 800 soldiers, including large contingents of Czechs, Estonians and Swedes, ended up being committed. Their mission responded to a request from the Malian armies after extremely deadly attacks in 2019. It consisted in helping the Malian forces to gain autonomy and accompany them in combat against jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group in the region. region known as the three borders (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger).
Ongoing discussions for military assistance
But, given the deterioration of relations with Bamako, the need for a new force does not exist, the French general staff act. However, “discussions are ongoing” between Paris and several countries in the region on their needs in terms of military assistance, confirmed General Ianni, as the jihadist threat extends towards the Gulf of Guinea.
Another collateral victim: the Minusma. While killings and terrorist attacks are on the increase in Mali, France confirms that it no longer intends to carry out reassurance operations for the benefit of the contingents of this United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. Which means that Barkhane no longer provides air support. France should close Gao, its last military base in Mali, “towards the end of summer”probably by the end of August.