Despite France’s many military counter-terrorism initiatives in the African Sahel, terrorist attacks and the influence of terrorist groups continue to rise. On March 27, 2020, nearly two months after the heads of State of France and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) assembled at the Pau Summit to address this ongoing challenge, 13 States announced their support for the creation of a special European military force to support counter‑terrorism operations in the region. This has raised many questions about the drivers, opportunities, and challenges involved in the new French strategy.
Outline of France’s new military strategy
The strategy aims to strengthen the French security role in the region by:
Drivers of the new strategy
The key drivers are:
Opportunities for counter-terrorism efforts under the new strategy
The most important are:
Threats to counter-terrorism efforts under France’s new strategy
Perhaps the most important are:
France’s military counter-terrorism strategy in the Sahel faces growing challenges. If its efforts stall, the resolve of the Sahel States to continue to cooperate with France will weaken. Furthermore, failure to achieve progress will fuel hostility towards the French presence in the region and will give new international powers such as Russia the chance to play an alternative security role.
 Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Mali, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK.
 Ahmet Berat Çonkar, Development and Security Challenges in the Sahel Region, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (April 10, 2020), p. 14.
 Sergey Sukhankin, “France to Lead Joint Effort in War on Terrorism in Sahel Region”, Terrorism Monitor (The Jamestown Foundation), vol. XVIII, issue 10 (May 15, 2020), p. 5.
 Krzysztof Danielewicz, “Task Force Takuba – nowe siły w rejonie Sahelu” [Task Force Takuba – New Forces in the Sahel Region], Security in Practice, April 23, 2020. Available at: https://securityinpractice.eu/task-force-takuba-nowe-sily-w-rejonie-sahelu/.
 Sergey Sukhankin, op. cit., p. 5.
 Ahmet Berat Çonkar, op. cit., p.14.
 Krzysztof Danielewicz, op. cit.
 Sergey Sukhankin, op. cit., p.5.
 Ann Schmauder, Zoe Gorman, and Flore Berger, “Takuba: A New Coalition for the Sahel?”, The Clingendael Spectator, June 30, 2020. Available at: https://spectator.clingendael.org/en/publication/takuba-new-coalition-sahel.
 Hamdi Abdalrahman, “Al-Sāḥel al-Ifriqī…Ta’athur Faransī wa-Ṣu’ūd Rūsī [The African Sahel: The French Falter and the Russians Rise], Future for Advanced Research and Studies, December 17, 2019. Available at: https://futureuae.com/ar/Mainpage/Item/5146.
 The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, Regional Overview: Africa, 12–18 April 2020, April 22, 2020. Available at: https://acleddata.com/2020/04/22/regional-overview-africa12-18-april-2020/.
 Flore Berger, “Sahel – A New Battlefield between IS and Al-Qaeda?” The Africa Report, June 4, 2020. Available at: https://www.theafricareport.com/29184/sahel-a-new-battlefield-between-is-and-al-qaeda/
 Sergey Sukhankin, op. cit., p.6.
 Elin Hellquist and Emma Sjökvist, Accompanying Partners During Military Operations Early Expectations For Task Force Takuba, Swedish Defence Research Agency, June 2020.
 Finabel European Army Interoperability Centre, “Task force Takuba: An Illustration of European Solidarity?”, April 23, 2020. Available at: https://finabel.org/news-flash-task-force-takuba-an-illustration-of-european-solidarity.
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