Today marks the beginning of the withdrawal of French forces from the Sahel region, specifically from Niger. This move, which was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron on September 24th, is set to be completed by the end of 2023, and it involves the departure of approximately 1,500 French military personnel.
The initial phase of the withdrawal involves the relocation of 400 French soldiers who are currently stationed in Ouallam, near the Mali-Niger border, as part of Operation Almahaou, a joint mission with the Nigerien armed forces aimed at securing the Nigerien Liptako region.
These troops, organized into two inter-armed tactical subgroups in Ouallam and Tabaré Baré, will travel by road to Niamey, the capital of Niger. The soldiers are in the process of organizing convoys and ensuring their combat vehicles are prepared for the journey. The distance to Niamey is relatively short, approximately 100 kilometers, but depending on the condition of the roads, the trip may take up to two days. Upon arrival at the Niamey airbase, these 400 soldiers will immediately return to France via aircraft.
The operation is being conducted with a focus on maintaining order, ensuring safety, and coordinating with local authorities. The French military high command refrains from commenting on recent statements made by the junta, which had suggested that technical coordination for the withdrawal was not guaranteed.