Without France's military operations in the Sahel "there would probably no longer be a Mali ... Burkina Faso, and I'm not sure there would still be Niger", French President Emmanuel Macron told French publication Le Point.
Macron is referring to the former colonial power's interventions in the mid-2000s, Operations Serval and Barkhane. French troops were moved from Mali to Niger after its military leaders cut ties with the former colonial power.
He said the interventions were done "at the request of African states" and were "successful" as his policy is facing scrutiny in the face of losing the allyship of last remaining ally, Niger, and increasing negative sentiment from Africans.
He went on to explain that while these operations reflect France’s “honour” and “responsibility”, France could no longer remain involved “when there is a coup d’état, and the priority of the new regimes is not to fight terrorism” even though this is “tragic for the states concerned”.
In the interview, Macron defended his administration's policy in the Sahel as one of partnership rather than focusing on security.
France refuses to acknowledge coup leader General Abdurahman Tchiani's announcement that all military deals between Niger and France are terminated, and more than a thousand French troops remain stationed at a military base there.