France withdraws soldiers from Burkina Faso

France withdraws soldiers from Burkina Faso

Due to huge tensions with the interim government of Burkina Faso, France will withdraw its troops from the country within a month.

In the context of massive tensions with the interim government of Burkina Faso, France wants to withdraw its troops from the West African country within a month. “We have officially received the termination of the agreement,” the foreign ministry in Paris said on Wednesday. France will respect the one-month deadline, a ministry spokesman said.

The most recent agreement on deploying French troops to Burkina Faso was signed in 2018. France currently has around 400 special forces in the West African country to fight jihadist groups there.

Military junta approaches Russia

The military junta, which has been in power since September, has grown closer to Russia in recent months. With the help of Wagner Group mercenaries and anti-French campaigns on online networks, Russia is expanding its influence in Africa. France had already withdrawn its troops from Mali last summer.

The withdrawal of the military should take place by the end of February, according to the diplomatic press in Paris. The last material must be brought out of the country by April.

It is planned to transfer the soldiers to neighboring Niger, where 2,000 French soldiers are already stationed. Niger is considered one of the last French allied states in the region.

Burkina Faso’s interim government had already demanded the withdrawal of French troops within a month. However, French President Emmanuel Macron responded that he awaits clarification from interim President Ibrahim Traore.

Diplomatic relations in question

“We are just rescinding the agreement on the presence of French soldiers in Burkina Faso, not diplomatic relations,” a Burkina Faso government spokesman said on Monday.

However, the government of Burkina Faso had already asked for the change of the French ambassador in December. She accused the diplomat of making inappropriate statements about the security situation in the country.

Operational area in the Sahel zone

The deployment of French soldiers to Burkina Faso under the name “Sabre” (sword) was decided in 2009 in response to several kidnappings and an attack on the French embassy in Mauritania. One of the objectives was to defend French interests. In recent years, French soldiers have fought against various jihadist groups and killed several of their leaders.

Recently, however, anti-French sentiment has intensified in the Sahel. The government of Burkina Faso has openly stated that it wants to strengthen the partnership with Russia.