What if France Ended Operation Barkhane?

Findings of the RAND Webinar on Operation Barkhane

by Michael Shurkin, Sarah Grand-Clement, Paola Fusaro

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On March 4 RAND hosted a webinar, under Chatham House Rule, on the subject “What if France Ended Operation Barkhane?” RAND invited 20 international experts to form a panel and participate in a moderated discussion, with four presenting in the first session and the remainder joining in for the second. The webinar was attended by 100 individuals  from six different countries, who asked questions of the panel. The webinar discussed the consequences of ending Operation Barkhane, focusing on regional security, the terrorist threat and future relations between terrorist groups and local actors.

Key Findings

  • Although most of the participants did not think there would be a quick or even a complete collapse of Sahelian states if France terminated Operation Barkhane, it was clear to all that there would be an increase in local violence as many communities grappled with each other and with various armed groups.
  • All participants agreed that JNIM and ISGS alike merged local conflicts and local politics with radical ideologies, which linked them to some extent to regional and even transnational agendas..
  • Many participants appeared to agree that, at least in the near term, the end of Operation Barkhane would lead to greater conflict at the local level.

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