Security in Sahel


G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) face the growing threat of terrorism and organized crime, which are leading causes of destabilization in the region.

Given these shared challenges, France has developed a strategy focusing on several issues, as underlined by the French President in his speech to ambassadors in August 2018: “These are the complementary 3Ds of Diplomacy, Development and Defence […]. We have started to roll out the first operations for education, agriculture, the wider economy, in several countries in the region where every gain in territory from the enemy must be accompanied by new projects giving economic, educational and life opportunities for populations which, at a point in time, could have been won over by the enemy.”

Two initiatives in particular respond to these challenges:

  • The Sahel Alliance, which is based on the principle of reciprocal accountability between major development partners and G5 countries;
  • The G5 Sahel Cross-Border Joint Force, which reflects Africans’ wish to take their security into their own hands.

France is one of the countries that support both of these exemplary initiatives.

G5 Sahel: a political decision by Africa

—The Sahel Alliance: the second focus of the Sahel initiative

Operation Barkhane in Mali

Operation Barkhane, which involves 4,000 French soldiers, was launched on 1 August 2014. It follows Operation Serval, which was initiated at the request of the Malian government to help stop the jihadist offensive against Bamako. Barkhaneis the military component of France’s strategy in the Sahel. This strategy aims at ensuring that G5 Sahel partner States are able to independently take responsibility for their own security. It also seeks to encourage partner countries to take ownership of the fight against armed terrorist groups in the Sahelo-Saharan strip. The Barkhane force can run continuous and simultaneous operations throughout its zone of action, which covers all five G5 Sahel countries.

Updated: February 2019