In the Sahel region, France has been the lead European state against terrorism by the Islamic State with the United States being active in the region as well, supporting French efforts. Recently, France has declared their intention of withdrawing from the region they have occupied since 2013 in an effort to aid Mali against the terrorist threats in south Mali but in recent years the Islamic State has infiltrated other countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso. France’s withdrawal plan will start in the coming year with the recall of 2,000 troops and this system will continue for a few years. While France has stated their intention to withdraw they have also said that they will continue to help their allies in the Sahel region against the extremist threats. 

The relations between Mali and France are very important recently because France’s intention of withdrawal could stem from the change of governments in Mali where there have been two successful coup attempts in recent years. President Macron has criticized the military state in Mali and this may have influenced the French withdrawal from the region. After the intention to withdraw was made by the French, Mali began looking at a private military company out of Russia, the Wagner Group to supply the protection against the extremist threat in the Sahel region. From this development a recent news report has discussed that Russia has given Mali evidence that France is training a known terrorist group, Ansar al-Din, that is also allegedly associated with al-Qaeda.

The relationship between Mali and France is very important and strategic in the Sahel region for a number of reasons. One is to successfully defeat the threat of extremism and protect the citizens of Mali as well as the neighboring countries. However, another important reason is the strategy and the need for influence in the Sahel region as well as continuing to support allies in Africa. The relationship between Mali and France needs to be rebuilt but it stems from internal problems within Mali’s government and France’s handling of diplomatic affairs towards Mali. The two countries need to reach a consensus that will benefit both states’ interests and protect the people in the Sahel region from extremist actors.