The military of France is leaving Mali, their former colony, giving up more ground on the wide and harsh battle-field of Sahel. With Russian mercenaries still present in the country, the southern flank of Europe is on step further out of control for the European Union. Almost a year ago, in April 2021, the crises in Chad shine a light on this diminishing influence for Western Europe in the Sahel, and it might be useful to have a quick look at the events of that days.
My article from 21.04.2021:
Idriss Déby, former president of Chad, was killed by rebels while he was with his forces in the north of the country. For 30 years he ruled the country, one of the poorest in the world, as dictator, now his son is to take over.
Today, Joseph Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is travelling to the Sahel to discuss ways to stabilise the situation in the increasingly chaotic region and what role the EU has to play. The problems of the Sahel are becoming an increasing burden for the European Union as well, and previous reactions on the part of European states have had little effect or are simply no longer sufficient. France is by far the most committed nation in this field; as a former colonial power, it also has the necessary knowledge and experience. The USA is also active in the fight against terrorism.
On the other hand, people, especially in Paris, are annoyed with Germany. Despite frequent vows to become more active in security policy, not much has been seen of it so far. In recent years, Berlin has been able to make do with the argument that it is only the erratic US President Donald Trump who is demanding this deployment from Germany. And, after all, we don’t have to take him seriously. That was wrong even then, and every year that nothing is done, the French take on a bigger mortgage.
Whatever the exact strategy of the EU in the Sahel, it should change quickly, and it should include all the big states of the EU. Otherwise, the southern flank will become Europe’s open wound.