France stands to lose some of its greatest advantages in the long term. As a country that prides itself on its political stability, it will have fewer chances to build new institutions that can lead to better lives for generations to come. France’s colonial record leaves France ill equipped to contribute to the region’s development, and promises to become more difficult to manage after a decade of his successes with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.
Since last January, France has put an estimated 1,000 soldiers into the combat zone of the Sahel, a sprawling region covering a vast swathe of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. The deployment is part of Operation Barkhane, an eight-year-old initiative that France hopes will eventually bring down jihadist violence and foster stability for its citizens and others.
Barkhane is Europe’s greatest military effort since the deployment of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force to Bosnia in the 1990s. Designed to be conducted entirely by French forces, the force was built up in tandem with the African Mission in Mali, or AMISOM, which has also mounted operations in the region. During 2018, Barkhane conducted 40,000 operations and helped the UN deploy more than 17,000 personnel to help improve security in the region. It also provided intelligence, information and communications technologies and training to local forces in a strategy called “collective security.”