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In an interview at Sunday newspaper, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, did not rule out the departure of French special forces based in Burkina Faso. The French contingent based on the outskirts of Ouagadougou has played a key role in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel in recent years.
The revision of France’s general strategy in Africa questions all the components, ” including special forces “said the Minister in the columns of the JDD. In the entourage of the minister, it is estimated that since the presence of Saber is not secret, ” there’s no reason not to talk about it “. With this interview, the minister therefore puts the departure of the special forces on the table.
In the country, the French presence has been strongly criticized in recent weeks during anti-French demonstrations in Ouagadougou. And these protests were followed by strong criticism from the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso towards international partners. “ Relationships weren’t always fair “, he launched during his policy speechwithout citing a country.
The response from Paris was quick: “ Evoking, in return, a departure from the Saber force is a way of putting pressure on Captain Traore “says a close collaborator of Sébastien Lecornu.
Reorganization of the French military system in Africa
Still, Saber is a very special military object. If the contingent is not very large, around 300 operators, its location in Kamboisin is ideal for its missions: eliminating high value-added targets of terrorist groups operating in the three-border area.
For the French forces, finding a new base in the region will not be easy. Paris plans to develop its entire military system in the Sahel and West Africa by next summer. And in this context, the Minister of the Armed Forces is expected on site in early 2023 to raise the issue.
« We are working on an organization in the format of our existing military bases. They will have to keep certain capacities, to protect our nationals for example, but also to turn more towards the training of local armies “, also explained Mr. Lecornu. And to add: It is no longer a question of fighting terrorism “in place” of our partners, but to do it with them, by their side “, he says.