EU Takuba force leaves junta-held Mali

The French-led EU Special Forces Task Force Takuba has officially ceased operations in Mali, France announced on Friday, ending a year-long anti-jihadist effort that soured after two strikes military states overthrew the civilian government.

Takuba, operating with the French mission Barkhane, was created after President Emmanuel Macron requested more help from European allies for the counter-terrorism campaign in the Sahel.

French army spokesman General Pascal Ianni told reporters that Barkhane and Takuba had shown what “Europeans can achieve together in complicated security environments”, with field experience that would be essential. for future joint operations.

But “the reorganization of the French military presence in the Sahel (…) led to the end of Takuba’s operations in Mali from June 30,” he said.

Announced in late 2019, Takuba at its peak brought together nearly 900 elite soldiers from nine of France’s allies – Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands , Portugal and Sweden.

Alongside the Barkhane force which at one point reached 5,100 soldiers, Takuba aimed to train and strengthen local armies trying to counter bloody insurgencies linked to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group.

But despite tactical successes such as the assassination of some top jihadist leaders, the governments of the so-called G5 Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – have struggled to limit attacks on military and civilian targets. . .

In Mali in particular, two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021 led to diplomatic tensions with France.

The deterioration accelerated when the ruling junta in Bamako developed closer ties with Moscow, bringing in servicemen who France says are mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group.

Macron announced in February a full withdrawal of Barkhane and Takuba from Mali, but said French forces would remain in the Sahel in a new configuration.

Since then, IS-linked jihadists, once thought to be in decline in power in the Sahel, have extended their reach while carrying out an unprecedented series of massacres of civilians.

Mali remains supported by a United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, which has some 13,000 soldiers and nearly 2,000 police.

The mandate of MINUSMA was renewed Wednesday for a new year by the Security Council.

However, the force no longer benefits from French air support, the offer of which was rejected by Mali.

(AFP)

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